Obama’s Hacking-Retaliation Threat Against Russia 'Dangerous’

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President Barack Obama’s announcement of unspecified US measures against alleged Russian hacking is a serious escalation likely based on speculation, a former scientific adviser to the US Navy’s operations chief told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The White House announced Tuesday that Obama is considering a “proportional” response to claims by Washington that Russia’s government has interfered in the US presidential election through hacking of political groups’ computer systems.

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“I think this is yet another serious and unjustified escalation of empty but highly dangerous rhetoric from the US side against Russia,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology emeritus professor of science, technology and international security Theodore Postol said Thursday.

“The bottom line is, nobody has any idea — nor could they if they were dealing with truly sophisticated hackers — who the true source of the breaches could be. It would all be based on pure guesswork and not on technological insight.”

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Across the mainstream media in the United States, there is now a mindset of demonizing Russia, he said.

“The Western behavior has simply been inexcusably reckless,” Postol asserted. “My informed guess is that the president’s allegations are based on unreliable speculations and inferences.”

In Postol’s view, sophisticated hackers would know how to go about hiding their trail of internet addresses.

“I know that there are many ways to fundamentally make your IP address untraceable,” the professor said. “The claim that the hackers are highly sophisticated is fundamentally inconsistent with the claim that the US government has been able to trace their IP addresses.”

He expressed skepticism that the US government knows where the sources of the hacking are.

“It cannot even be ruled out that hackers totally uninvolved with Russia could be responsible for the breaches of the Democratic [National] Committee’s computer systems. If this is the case, these hackers might intentionally leave indications that might be misidentified as indicating Russian involvement.”

Postol explained that there are many ways WikiLeaks could have received the Democratic committee’s hacked emails, which the leaked-documents website posted.

“There are so many alternative possibilities that depending on the Russians seems to me the slimmest of threads.”

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Postol also suggested that Obama was bluffing when he pledged retaliation against Moscow’s alleged intrusions.

“As for retaliatory actions that the president could order, it is hard to imagine what they could be, since it is almost certain that the NSA [National Security Agency] and other arms of the US government are already doing everything they can possibly do with regard to Russian computer systems.”

Postol is skeptical about the NSA’s ability to uncover the real culprits.

“An organization that is so brain-dead and reckless with government resources is not likely to be restrained in what it is already trying to do with the Russians.”

Postol pointed out that the NSA has used huge resources in collecting millions of communications of US citizens but, according to the White House, has not uncovered a single terrorist plot as a result.

Prior to his academic career, Postol worked for the US Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment, specializing on the MX missile, as well as serving as scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations.

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