‘Americans should fear election hacking by US establishment, not Russia’

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
Americans have more reasons to fear their own establishment’s interference with the elections, rather than a dastardly Cold War-style hacking plot that Russia is being accused of, backed by no evidence whatsoever, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT.

Special Coverage: US Elections 2016

RT: Vladimir Putin thinks America’s aggressiveness towards Russia may end after the presidential elections. To what extent do you agree or disagree with that?

Annie Machon: I think that rather depends on who is elected to be the next president. I think that these threats coming out of America are very much in response to the leaking of many, many emails which have desperately embarrassed Hillary Clinton, [who is] the Democratic and also the American establishment favorite.

So this is the American establishment retaliating and saying “if this continues then we will do something back.” However, they are basing that on the assumption that it is Russia that has been hacking all her stuff.

Now let’s face it, she broke the law by hosting a number of very sensitive emails, thousands of sensitive emails, on her private server, for which she is yet to be prosecuted. And it is very likely that most of the leaks have come from the fact that her server was vulnerable because it was not protected. I’m willing to bet that the Russian leadership’s private communications are rather better protected.

RT: What is interesting here is that the US is accusing Russia of these hack attacks, but is there any evidence actually proving Russia’s interference at all?

AM: I have seen no evidence whatsoever, and I’m sure if the Americans had it, they’d be waving it from the ... [roof] tops. It does sound a bit spurious, it does sound very convenient politically. It’s also interesting as well that they’re dragging WikiLeaks into this row, because of course a number of these disclosures have been released via WikiLeaks, which is a high-tech conduit for people who have sensitive information which they think is in the public interest.

Now that of course allows the American authorities then to ally WikiLeaks more closely with the Russian leadership, making it sound like some dastardly plot from the old Cold War, which again can be used against Julian Assange and their attempt to try to prosecute him under the espionage act. So there are layers and layers and layers within these arguments.

RT: Speaking of the WikiLeaks, it is now saying that even if there are any cyberattacks planned against Russia it would actually be the NSA, not the CIA. So what do you think about this?

AM: I think that judgment is probably correct, the NSA has the great capability. However, let’s not forget that hundreds of millions of dollars have indeed been pumped into the CIA to beef up its electronic warfare arm. So there’s a possibility, but I would have thought that if such an attack were to happen, the CIA might be the front, but actually a lot of the capability and the intelligence would still come from the NSA.

And it is interesting as well that effectively what the American government is saying is that they will hack sensitive private communications of a foreign leadership and then leak it to cause maximum embarrassment. Now this is precisely the sort of activity that they condemn WikiLeaks for, where they get anonymous donations of information from whoever: hackers, whistleblowers, and then they use it to shine a light in dark corners on the nefarious doings of the American leadership, and that’s what’s been going on during this American election.

I would also suggest as well, one slightly different point is that a lot of blame has been pointed at Russia for trying to unduly influence the American elections by hacking into all this information. Now, one of the things the Americans need to be very aware of is that voting computers themselves, when they go and cast their vote, have demonstrably been shown to fail over many years now. They can be hacked remotely, so that when you vote for one party your vote is immediately transmuted into a vote for another party. So I think actually the Americans might have more to fear from hacking from the American establishment or whomever, than perhaps from Russia.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.