Speed Reads

Made in Russia?

NSA chief openly accuses 'nation state' of using WikiLeaks to tip presidential election

Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command, spoke at a Wall Street Journal forum on Tuesday, and much of the focus of his discussion with WSJ Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Blumenstein was about joining government and business to fight the scourge of cyber crime. The number of hackers is "so large and diverse" that it's difficult to identify the perpetrators, he said, but roughly two-thirds of them are criminals looking to earn money from stealing personal information, and the remaining third are state-sponsored hackers.

But Blumenstein also asked Rogers about WikiLeaks, and the slow and steady leak of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's gmail account. "There shouldn't be any doubts in anybody's mind: This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily," Rogers said. "This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect."

The "nation state" in question is almost certainly Russia, which the U.S. intelligence community blames for the political hacking and distribution of internal Democratic emails throughout the campaign, evidently aimed at harming Clinton and by extension helping Donald Trump. James Bell, who used to work for WikiLeaks, notes just how unusual Rogers' statement is:

By the time WikiLeaks started dribbling out the mostly mundane Podesta emails, any mention of Clinton and emails generated unflattering headlines. Russia and WikiLeaks were not responsible for Clinton using a private server as secretary of state, of course, nor did they force FBI Director James Comey to step into the campaign 11 days before Election Day, and again nine days after that. Clinton said the second intervention, where Comey said two days before the vote that there was nothing incriminating in the emails after all, damaged her campaign more than the earlier letter to Congress.