As time goes by, there is increasing skepticism over the US government’s claim that North Korea was behind the Sony hack. Fabius Maximus has compiled an extensive list of knowledgeable people who have poured cold water on that hypothesis. But it may be too late to overcome this narrative if it turns out to be false. As Mark Twain famously said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” The propaganda system depends upon this fact and that is why the US government quickly rushes out its version of events, knowing that the pliant US media will parrot it as fact and the public will accept it. The Bush administration’s WMD lie is the most recent example of this, though there are many others. Remember the Kuwait incubator story? Gulf of Tonkin?
Sam Biddle also rounds up another set of computer experts who are expressing skepticism that North Korea was behind that hack into Sony’s computer system.
All these experts point to various problems with the North Korea scenario, the chief one being that the supposedly offending film was not part of the original demands and only became part of the story three days after the original threat was released and the media had started speculating about the possibility that it may be the cause.
Later threats also had poor English and Korean that experts say looked like attempts by someone trying to mimic what a Korean with a poor knowledge of the English language might write, and the Korean sounded like something run through a Google translation. The hackers (or people pretending to be the hackers, the whole thing is so confused by now so who the hell knows who is behind what) have released a new message stating that Sony can release the film provided they make changes. It looks to me like whoever these people are are enjoying themselves at Sony’s expense.
What worries me is that with the US government quickly fingering North Korea might set in motion a dynamic where people start braying for revenge against that country and demand that action be taken on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.
Now we learn that North Korea’s internet connection with the rest of the world went dark, though it came back later. Was this retaliation by the US? By a private hacker group that believed the US claims and decided to strike back? By North Korea shutting things down to prevent retaliation? Who knows?
It is also possible that one private group of hackers pretending to be North Korea triggers retaliation by another private group of hackers pretending to be the US, and we end up causing the two nations to engage in a full-bore conflict.
But given the highly uncertain nature about who is doing what to whom and why, it would be a good idea for everyone to go easy on the speculations until we have firm information. And to bear in mind that ultimately we are dealing with a hack into what seems like a corporation’s poorly defended computer system, not Hitler invading Poland, and deal with it accordingly.