If Putin’s not in it, he’s behind it: Western media’s new spin on Panama Papers
“Given Russia’s vaunted hacking capabilities, a special cyber unit in the Kremlin may have been able to obtain the documents,” Clifford Gaddy, who works with the Brookings Institution, a private US nonprofit organization, wrote on its website, suggesting that “Putin’s personal financial intelligence unit” had been involved before part of the stolen data was submitted to the German newspaper.
The other part may be being withheld for “blackmailing the real targets in the United States and elsewhere,” according to Gaddy.
The Panama Papers leak, the largest breach of financial data in history, contains more than 11 million documents from four decades, including the financial information of about nearly 150 politicians from 50 countries.
Having stated that “the Panama Paper [sic] stories run off Putin like water off a duck’s back,” the economist from the organization that describes itself as “devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions” suggested that because the Russian leader has been targeted by journalists “far out of proportion to the evidence” revealed in the documents, he must have masterminded the whole thing.
Though he admits that “as soon as one delves below the headlines” the Panama Papers are a “non-story, ” Gaddy is nonetheless concerned that the disclosure is having “a negative impact on Western stability,” warning that it could be used as “a weapon for blackmail” in Russia’s hands.
“In the hands of law enforcement, such information can be used to prosecute companies and individuals; in the hands of a third party, it is a weapon for blackmail,” the theory’s author said, explaining that it is “the absence of incriminating information about Americans” that has led him to the alleged Russian trail.
“You reveal secrets in order to destroy; conceal in order to control. Putin is not a destroyer. He’s a controller,” he told his readers, warning that the leak may be only the first part of a bigger plot.
The theory has been propagated further by some Western media outlets, with the Washington Post calling it “not-completely-crazy.”
“Perhaps it is the Russians who are behind the leak,” the Washington Post said, adding that the idea “is especially noteworthy” because of its originator.
Having introduced Gaddy as “one of the foremost Western experts on Russia’s economy,” the publication goes on to cite an email in which he stresses that his suggestion “ought to be seriously investigated.”
These kinds of Western implications, which are “literally trying to say that because he [Putin] is not mentioned, proves that he must somehow be involved,” are “hilarious,” political cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall told RT.
“There is a great desire on the part of many in the US and Western media to try to catch President Putin doing something wrong... It seems that they have conclusions that they would like to reach and then they’re working backwards in order to try the evidence fit those conclusions,” he said.