Did Trump hack North Korea's missile launch?
With the pathetically humiliating failure of North Korea's missile launch in the wake of a very big puffy buildup, the shark tank must be working overtime over in Pyongyang. You wouldn't want to be one of the North Korean minions who worked on that wretched fizzle-out that has humiliated the vicious little dictator on the world stage. He gets mean when the world is laughing.
And what a coincidence, it happened as Vice President Pence makes his way to South Korea.
And more interesting still, an intriguing leak of sorts has come to light: That the U.S. hacked the launch, ensuring its failure. It comes from former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, who served under Prime Minister John Major, speaking with the BBC in a buried lede if there ever was one.
"It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US - through cyber methods - has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail," he told the BBC.
Riftkind qualified himself by saying that there have been other successful launches. But the hacking possibility took precedence in the popular press. The infomation was mined out by The Sun and front-paged on the Drudge Report, both of which have far greater reach and are sure to reach Kim Jong Un's ears, if the BBC report doesn't.
If it's true, it would be part of a trilogy of victories for Donald Trump - following his successful Syria strike, his MOAB blast at the Taliban in Afghanistan, and now this. Note also that the news of the actual failure was announced by U.S. officials almost instantaneously for the U.S. press, suggesting they may have known it was going to happen. It all comes just in time for Vice President Pence's triumphant visit to South Korea.
The news is intriguing to me because I heard the same thing last night from someone I know from association with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica. RAND is a U.S. intelligence-linked think tank with many tech and foreign policy projects and experts. Hearing it from such a source first and then from Rifkind means it's a 'leak' that's getting around - in Los Angeles and in London, not directly from spies or the Deep Staters who leak to the Washington Post, but from the second tier of policy-watchers not quite affiliated with the U.S. government yet with possible intelligence links. Rather the same way many China links come through its government-affiliated think tanks. That may mean a calculated leak from the real spies - and intended to reach the likes of the Drudge Report for maximum coverage.
If so, it would create deniability for the U.S. for sure. That deniability would be for world consumption and the Council on Foreign Relations crowd.
But t might not even matter if it's true or not. After all, is there anyone out there who thinks Kim Jong Un would believe any U.S. denials?
News of this sort would mean uncertainty for Kim, a psychologically discombobulating worry that he may now be hacked and his every move recorded. Rifkind cautioned that North Korea has already done successful missile tests 'so don't get too excited.' But for Kim, this unsuccessful one raises the possibility that a new spy may be in place, providing the crucial timing or other information needed for a successful hack. He's already seeing a lot of top-level defectors.
If so, it would be a vintage CIA operation. Duane Clarridge, in his superb memoir, 'A Spy For All Seasons' wrote about how the CIA made a Lebanese terrorist group turn on itself and its leader slaughter his lieutenants by having every CIA official loudly approach and crudely attempt to recruit every terrorist associated with it. The result was that the terrorist chieftain got so paranoid he began killing his minions by the dozen. As I recall, Clarridge wrote: "We're pretty good at making people paranoid."
With the possibility of being surrounded by spies dawning on the already-paranoid North Korean dictator, expect the shark tank to be running overtime. The victory may actually be in the skillful manipulation of Kim.