On July 22, Wikileaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The emails were exchanged from January 2015 through May 2016.
These clearly reveal a bias for Hillary Clinton and against her lone challenger, Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
One email revealed that Brad Marshall, the chief financial officer of the DNC, suggested that Sanders, who is Jewish, could be portrayed as an atheist.
Sanders’ supporters have long charged that the DNC and its chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, were plotting to undercut his campaign. Now thousands of them are expected to descend on the Democratic convention as furious protesters.
The leak could not have come at a worse time for Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York and Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.
About to receive the Democratic nomination for President, she finds herself charged with undermining the electoral process.
Wasserman-Schultz has proven the first casualty of the leak, resigning from her position as chair of the DNC and saying she would not open the Democratic convention as previously scheduled.
As for Clinton: Her campaign manager, Bobby Mook, blamed the Russians for the leak. Their alleged motive: To help Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Cyber-security experts believe the hackers originated from Russia–and that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have authorized it.
His alleged motive: Trump has repeatedly attacked United States’ membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
He believes the United States is paying an unfairly large portion of the monies needed to maintain this alliance–and he wants other members to contribute far more. Otherwise, if he is elected President, they would be on their own if attacked by Russia.
Trump took to twitter to offer his take on the release: “How much BAD JUDGEMENT was on display by the people in DNC in writing those really dumb e-mails, using even religion, against Bernie!”
Which brings up the obvious question: Why was such sensitive information entrusted to computers that could be hacked?
This is not the first time a major corporation or government agency has fallen prey to hackers.
Name-brand companies, trusted by millions, have been hit with massive data breaches that compromised their customers’ and/or employees’ most sensitive financial and personal information.
Among those companies and agencies:
- Home Depot
- Dairy Queen
- Anthem, Inc.
- Sony Pictures
- The U.S. State Department
- The Pentagon
- The Office of Personnel Management
Perhaps the most notorious target so far hacked is Ashley Madison, the website for cheating wives and husbands. Launched in 2001, its catchy slogan is: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
On July 15, 2015, its more than 37 million members learned that highly embarrassing secrets they had entrusted to Ashley Madison had been compromised.
This included their sexual fantasies, matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.
A website offering cheating services to those wealthy enough to afford high-priced fees is an obvious target for hackers. After all, its database is a blackmailer’s dream-come-true.
And the same is true for computers of one of the two major political parties of the United States.
Among the secrets unearthed in the WikiLeaks document-dump: Plans by Democratic party officials to reward large donors and prominent fundraisers with lucrative appointments to federal boards and commissions.
Most of the donors listed gave to Clinton’s campaign. None gave to Sanders.
According to Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group:
“The disclosed DNC emails sure look like the potential Clinton Administration has intertwined the appointments to federal government boards and commissions with the political and fund raising operations of the Democratic Party. That is unethical, if not illegal.”
Centuries before the invention of computers–and the machinery needed to hack into them–Niccolo Machiavelli offered cautionary advice to those thinking of entering into a conspiracy. He did so in his masterwork on politics, The Discourses.
Unlike his better-known work, The Prince, which deals with how to secure power, The Discourses lays out rules for preserving liberty within a republic.
In Book Three, Chapter Six (“Of Conspiracies”) he writes:
“I have heard many wise men say that you may talk freely with any one man about everything, for unless you have committed yourself in writing, the ‘Yes’ of one man is worth as much as the ‘No’ of another.
“And therefore one should guard most carefully against writing, as against a dangerous rock, for nothing will convict you quicker than your own handwriting.”
In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of France, ordered the execution of the popular Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, claiming that he had aided Britain and plotted against France.
The aristocracy of Europe, still recalling the slaughters of the French Revolution, was shocked.
Asked for his opinion on the execution, Napoleon’s chief of police, Joseph Fouche, said: “It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.”
This may prove to be history’s verdict on the storing of so many incriminating computer files by the DNC.