biden laptop
The former intelligence officials who couldn't shut up during the Trump years have gone oddly silent over their baseless election-year allegation that the Hunter Biden laptop story was likely "Russian disinformation."

They sure picked a weird time to go quiet.

There were 50 former intelligence officials who signed a letter last year claiming, without evidence, that Russia was likely behind the laptop story. Now, they largely refuse to explain why they alleged such a thing right before the 2020 election, the Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy reports.

"Among those to sign their name to the letter were Obama CIA Director John Brennan, Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former George W. Bush CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta, and former Obama acting CIA Director Mike Morell," Dunleavy writes, "none of whom responded to the Washington Examiner's questions."

He adds, "Glenn Gerstell, former National Security Agency general counsel, declined to comment. The vast majority of the other signatories did not provide on-the-record responses."

Of those who did respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment, most did so only to defend the joint statement, coming as near as possible to saying "close enough" without saying "close enough."

Never forget that their baseless accusation, which made its way into an actual presidential debate, was amplified and parroted last year without question by a more-than-eager news media.

Then-Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand, ever the faithful servant of the intelligence community, authored a report titled "Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say."

The letter didn't even say that. Its signatories said they suspected the laptop story was "Russian disinformation."

The Politico article's third paragraph states: "While the letter's signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them 'deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case' and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin's hand at work."

Contrary to popular media opinion, "fake but accurate" is not a good editorial standard.

The New York Post published a scoop in October 2020 revealing the existence of a laptop reportedly belonging to Hunter Biden. The computer's contents allegedly came into the possession of then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, after the younger Biden apparently abandoned several electronic devices at a repair shop in Delaware in 2019. The computer repairman, John Paul Mac Isaac, claims he made a copy of the laptop, which he eventually gave to Giuliani.

Federal officials confirmed for the New York Times that the FBI "seized the laptop and an external hard drive as part of an investigation."

Giuliani then gave "a hard drive or a laptop or something to that effect" to law enforcement officials in Delaware, according to a spokesperson for Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings. Delaware officials said they likewise turned everything over to the FBI.

The New York Post's exclusive coverage included the publication of some of the computer's alleged contents, including emails purporting to show Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, "to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company."

Federal law enforcement officials and other government officials have confirmed the authenticity of the documents reportedly retrieved from the laptop.

Infuriatingly enough, after doing its part to dismiss the entire story as "Russian disinformation," Politico published a follow-up report after Election Day titled "How 'Obamagate' and Hunter's 'laptop from hell' fizzled."

National Public Radio News Managing Editor Terence Samuel said shortly after the New York Post published its scoop that his newsroom would not "waste" its "time on stories that are not really stories."

"We don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions," he said.

NPR Public Editor Kelly McBride said in her daily newsletter, "There are many, many red flags ... Intelligence officials warn that Russia has been working overtime to keep the story of Hunter Biden in the spotlight."

CNN, meanwhile, attacked the New York Post, calling its coverage "dubious."

The Washington Post even published a report with the totally unintelligible headline, "Biden relies on pattern of activity to blame Russia for release of data from what is said to be his son's laptop."

"Trump embraces reported Russian anti-Biden disinfo campaign," MSNBC declared in a headline.

The media were far less interested when the "disinformation" narrative was disputed. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said later that the information contained on the laptop, including potentially damning emails, "is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign." The Justice Department and the FBI concurred with Ratcliffe's assessment.

Yet, months after current members of the intelligence community vouched for the authenticity of the laptop and its contents, members of the press continued to peddle the letter's "Russian disinformation" theory.

In March, for example, certain journalists intent on proving the letter correct reported inaccurately that a newly declassified report proves the Hunter Biden laptop story was indeed "Russian disinformation."

The declassified report said nothing of the sort.

"The laptop story was discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations," NPR alleged in a since-amended news report in April.

Imagine being in the journalism business and uncritically repeating an evidence-free allegation that not even the former spooks who produced it will defend.