Author and intelligence expert James Bamford says the reports of Russian interference in the 2016 US election, which is being treated as one of the biggest stories out there right now, are overblown.
So far, Bamford argues, no evidence has been presented that this is anything other than the type of intelligence gathering or operation that countries are engaged in all the time.
Bamford is critical of the hyped, 24/7 coverage of Russiagate. Indeed, he sees widespread hacking by Russia, the United States, and other online spies as old news. He has special criticism for his colleagues in the media, who have “squandered their objectivity and precious resources on a single story.”
He points out that the best known use of cyberweapons is America’s insertion of the Stuxnet virus into the automated centrifuges at the heart of Iran’s nuclear program. Despite this, he notes, many American leaders present the US only as a victim of cyberattacks.
In this Radio WhoWhatWhy interview, Bamford also talks about the recent failures of the intelligence community, including the theft of NSA hacking tools and the CIA’s bungled efforts to retrieve them.
He calls the operatives of both agencies “Keystone spies,” and criticizes the extreme public responses that have compared hacking to Pearl Harbor.
James Bamford has written a number of books and articles about America’s intelligence community, with special focus on the National Security Agency. He has also produced Frontline documentaries for PBS on these subjects. His recent article in the New Republic offers his overview of Russiagate.
Bamford is the author of The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization (Penguin Books, September 1983); Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (Anchor Books, April 2002); The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (Anchor Books, July 2009); A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies (Anchor Books, May 2005).