There is another story that should get A full court press. It is not, and maybe it is understandable given the multiple bombs sent to two former presidents and a former Secretary of State. The list also includes a former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, a former Attorney General and a sitting member of the House. And of course, CNN. But it is one that in a less tribalistic age would be breaking news. It would even be a scandal. It is one that I hope breaks through, even if this is highly technical, into your tv. Perhaps tomorrow it will.
Granted, this story has broken in the more sedate world of the printed press.
The President of the United States got hacked by a foreign power. It is China. In fact, Russia too.
The New York Times reports:
American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.
The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.
Now here is why this matters. It is not just the fact that the president is a regular target of foreign signals intelligence. This is actually Tuesday in the world of intelligence. However, the president refuses to leave his iPhone at home, and use secured encrypted communications.
I know it is highly inconvenient to do that. It takes time to set up secure communications, and chiefly it takes discipline. The President of the United States and foreign leaders are usually targets of each others intelligence services. If you are one, you are not paranoid, they are out to spy on you.
However, here is a wrinkle in the story. When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State she had a server at home. It was convenient. That was one of the reasons she did that. It was one of the many shifting reasons she gave.
As NPR reported in October of 2016:
Hillary Clinton said she decided to employ a private email server “for the purpose of convenience” in early 2009 and doesn’t remember “specific consultations” about using that account to conduct State Department business, the Democratic presidential nominee told lawyers in material related to a Freedom of Information Act case released Thursday.
In written responses to 25 questions from the conservative group Judicial Watch, Clinton largely hewed to her prior statements about the email controversy, often saying she did not recall details about the arrangement. Clinton signed the court filing “under penalty of perjury” on October 10, one day after her debate with Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Here is where this matters. Both are violating basic tenets of national security and both do not take this security seriously. Trump ran on her emails, as a violation of security. Some of us, albeit we were very few I suspect, understood how serious Clinton’s laxness with security was. We also understand it, that what Trump is doing, is just as dangerous. Perhaps more, in fact.
I do not expect the Republican House to call Trump in for a twelve-hour hearing. They should. If they were consistent, they would at least denounce this for what it is. Trump, like Clinton, is putting national security at risk. And in this case, it is not even by having to hack into a server, of which there is no evidence. In this case, they are listening in, we know this to be factual. To use a term young Trump would have understood, he has a bunch of friends in his party line.
And if you care about national security, both of these politicians have to be called to the carpet. National security is a very serious issue. Those we entrust with it, need to listen to those who know better. Convenience will cost lives.