. . . Dr. Jerry Pournelle, who has some pretty extensive personal experience in the field, has a few very interesting thoughts on his blog, The View from Chaos Manor. Here are a couple of excerpts.
The squabble over who hacked who, and did the Russians try to influence our elections, and who’s going to investigate who seems to be boiling, but there’s very little there. Actually, there’s a lot to worry about, but none of the serious stuff is being talked about at all.
First, there’s the question of who, precisely, is this “Intelligence Community” which may or may not have a consensus about the Russians and their activities and intentions. As far as I know, that “community” doesn’t exist; it certainly didn’t exist back in the days when I was an intelligence consumer. The Army had its intelligence people, the State Department had some, the Navy had its share, and while the Air Forces came late to the game, they managed to come up with Intelligence people as well. The three Service Intelligence organizations were sort of supervised by the Defense Intelligence Agency, headed by a three-star General ... who reports directly to the Secretary of Defense, and sometimes to the President. It has both humint (spies) and sigint (electronic intercepts) and usually acts as if it doesn’t want anyone to know it exists.
. . .
There are others, but this should be enough to make it questionable just how such a diverse group of rivals can be called a community. The Director of Central Intelligence was supposed to calm their squabbles and produce a National Intelligence Estimate, but after the 9/11 disaster, something had to be done.
The something was the creation of the Director of National Intelligence who by law was the head of the Intelligence Community ... It gets more complex, but that, by law, is the way the “Intelligence Community” comes into being, and the DNI, who has (at least in theory) no spies or hackers or case officers or black ops agents under his direct control is supposed to keep the Community in line and deliver the real poop to the President. Those of you who wonder how anyone possessed of his senses thought that adding another layer at the top could form a community out of a group of rival organizations with radically different origins are permitted to do so.
. . .
We can also add the relatively recent Department of Homeland Security which is trusted by almost none of the traditional intelligence workers, some of whom believe it to be outright incompetent.
Finally, we add that over eight years nearly all the senior people within the “Intelligence Community” have been appointed by the current President, and many of the career people within those agencies do not respect their appointed bosses.
With that background, which is known to anyone who cares to look, we can now look at the claim that the Russians have hacked various electronic sources within the United States. The question is absurd. Of course the Russians listen to any electronic source they can find, as to the Brits, the French, the Swiss, the Chinese, the Nigerians, the Danes, various Arabs, the Israelis, and nearly everyone else including Boy Scout Troops. Some are more successful than others. I can’t comment on the security of government communications between government servers which are said to use security measures comparable to those used by banks to transfer huge sums of money; I can comment on private servers used by government officials for various reasons mostly of convenience – really secure systems are cumbersome – and which are routinely hacked – listened to – by teenage pranksters who buy a script for a few bucks on the dark net and go fishing.
I don’t know personally what scripts were available for the server that sat in the Clinton family home basement; but I am told that several were for sale at various prices; so I would be astonished if there were anyone who seriously wanted to know about the Secretary of State’s emails was denied that knowledge; and from my acquaintance with various members of subsets of the Intelligence Community I’m pretty sure that that server was examined by experts with malicious intents. Certainly anyone in the KGB or GRU who worked for me would have a junior officer whose job was the scan the printouts daily once the first classified document showed up.
There's more at the link. Dr. Pournelle provides a lot of feedback from knowledgeable readers in the following day's blog. Both entries are worth reading in full.
In the immortal words of H. L. Mencken:
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
I'm convinced this is precisely what President Obama, and the entire Democratic Party machine, and their allies in the mainstream media, are trying to do right now with their emphasis on the Russian menace. No hard evidence whatsoever has been presented to justify it; and unless and until some is, I'll regard the whole imbroglio as being, as Shakespeare put it in another context, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Basically, they're clutching at any straw that comes to hand to excuse their loss to President-elect Trump, who is (in their eyes) clearly unfit for office, and can therefore only have beaten their Chosen One by fraudulent or criminal means.
Sucks to be them, I guess . . .