If Wednesday morning’s passive-voice ("Russian hackers are accused of"), evidence-free New York Times article titled "Attempted Hack of R.N.C. and Russian Ransomware Attack Test Biden" has a familiar ring, look who wrote it. The senior author is David Sanger, the NYT’s chief Washington correspondent. Based on Sanger’s unenviable record, the story he wrote with Nicole Perlroth can be dismissed as a proverbial nothingburger with Sanger sauce.
The article claims that Russian hackers breached a contractor for the Republican National Committee (RNC) last week "around the same time that Russian cybercriminals launched the largest global ransomware attack on record". Sanger and co-author Nicole Perlroth cannot resist editorializing in the first paragraph that the "incidents are testing the red lines set by President Biden" at the June 16 summit with Russian President Putin. Biden, they noted, "presented Mr. Putin with a list of 16 critical sectors of the American economy that, if attacked, would provoke a response".
The NY Times does not seem to know if the RNC is included among those 16. Indeed, there is little sign that the Times actually knows what those 16 critical sectors are. No worries, the Russians nonetheless "are accused" of activities that "test those red lines".
The Times, and Sanger in particular, have shown themselves receptive to parts of our government (especially the security services) as well as to those who need an enemy to justify huge defense spending – all of whom have a deep vested interest in painting Russia and Putin in the most dangerous colors. It is a safe bet that this is what is going on here.
Sanger was first off the blocks in parroting former CIA Director John Brennan’s concoction, in the misnomered "Intelligence Community Assessment" of Jan. 6, 2017, that Putin personally directed the "hacking of the DNC emails". Those who rely on the NT Times do not know this yet, but testimony taken under oath by the House Intelligence Committee on Dec. 5, 2017 revealed that no one – not the Russians, no one – hacked those emails.
That testimony was made public on May 7, 2020, 14 months ago, but the mainstream media have suppressed it. Clearly, it does not fit the Times’s narrative. The modus operandi of today’s NYT seems to be "only the news that fits we print". See: https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/sh21.pdf. AND New House Documents Sow Further Doubt That Russia Hacked the DNC.
Still, it is hard to believe how Sanger nor Perlroth (who specializes in cyber security) can pretend to be unaware of the that House Intelligence Committee testimony.
While for the past five years Sanger has been concentrating on the "threat" from Russia and parroting grist from his CIA feeders, he has a long unenviable record as mouthpiece for those asserting WMD in Iraq, to those claiming falsely that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, to those contriving the story about the Russians paying bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops.
His most disreputable performance came in the months before the March 2003 attack on Iraq. For example, Sanger reported "Weapons of Mass Destruction" as flat fact no fewer than seven times in this article of July 29, 2002.
Call me "quaint" or "obsolete", but back in the day we intelligence analysts looked closely at a source’s record before we put his/her words into a serious report.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).