Letter: Jason Ross, Purcellville

Editor: Six months into the presidency of Donald Trump, the “Russia-gate” scandal continues to swirl around the White House. Did Russian President Vladimir Putin “hack” the 2016 election to put Trump in office? Is the U.S. now a tool of Russia? With so much talk in the air, it is easy to forget the origin of the scandal. That is, upon what evidence are these claims based?

A memo published July 24 by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity takes aim at the central piece of purported evidence of Russian hacking that was included in the Jan. 6 Intelligence Community Assessment. This assessment was authored by members of several U.S. intelligence agencies (not all 17) and assessed that Mr. Putin had directing an influence campaign on our election. The VIPS memo, “Was the ‘Russian Hack’ an Inside Job?” reports that evidence of Russian “hacking” was deliberately planted in leaked documents. The memo also reports that documents released by supposed Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 have metadata indicating they were simply copied, rather than hacked, from Democratic National Committee computers.

These doctored documents, with such silly “clues” as Cyrillic text naming the founder of the Soviet secret police as the last-modified-by user, were used to deflect attention from the documents provided to WikiLeaks (as a leak, not a hack), and to create a story of Russian interference where there wasn’t one.

Read the VIPS memo, and reassess U.S. priorities. Last week, the Congress passed a new sanctions bill against Russia. With thousands of Americans dying from opioid overdoses every month, and even more than that dying from alcoholism, with stagnant wages and a shrinking labor force participation rate, why should Russia be our focus?

Jason Ross, Purcellville

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