In-depth investigation with Evan Davis. How should journalists treat stolen information in the era of state hacking? Plus the latest on the Aleppo evacuation.
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He says history is being written today by every citizen of Syria.
But what kind of gruesome history is it?
At last, there is peace in eastern Aleppo, or what's left of it.
But the Syrian war is far from over, unless politics can intervene.
In the meantime, rebels are being evacuated to another enclave,
which could be the scene of the next battle.
And as people leave Aleppo, we'll talk to this doctor
who's on his way back the region to help the injured.
Also tonight: The new geopolitical weapon - hacking.
I believe the leak was a large part of why Hillary had real problems
with him enyams and why she did not hit her targets in the states trump
won. Could it have been the difference? Absolutely.
Well, we have to be very careful of this 1930s comparison.
The fact is, it's the only history that's taught in our schools.
One of the reasons everyone's mentioning it
is because it's the only history anyone knows anymore.
Where does history tell us we may be heading?
When the world looks back on the last 17 days of horror that
eastern Aleppo has just endured, it will undoubtedly wonder how
the brutality of medieval warfare could have imposed itself
Why did the two mechanisms of world authority -
the United Nations and the United States - both fail?
And how could the battle have gone on so long once one side
These are interesting questions, but today, at least,
there are more hopeful images from Aleppo than we've
Let's have a look at four scenes that tell the story of today.
First, the Syrian flag being raised over eastern Aleppo.
Let's not forget, this is the day that Assad hailed
what he called Aleppo's liberation as an historic event.
Second, the buses on their way to evacuate civilians,
rebels and their families from the remaining rebel-held
Meanwhile, overhead, Putin is watching.
This is footage of the buses today from the Russian Defence Ministry.
And finally, civilians waiting to move back into East Aleppo.
The children are chanting in praise of Assad -
a useful reminder that not all Syrians are anti-Government.
It was not a day for joy, but it was one of relief.
Now the professional journalists have had difficulty in getting
access to Eastern Aleppo, but the shelling there has been
vividly reported thanks to smartphones and social media.
And if that's been true of the attack on Aleppo,
The skies are clear, the birds chirping and people are leaving
besieged Aleppo and I'm hoping that I will be doing the same thing.
Dr Zaher Sahloul is from the Syrian American Medical Society
and is part of a medical convoy heading to the country this weekend
to help build a hospital to treat those injured
How much contact have you had today with the people there in terms of
how the evacuation has been going? I was fixated on my cellphone looking
at the reports and texts coming from my colleagues inside Aleppo. These
are the doctors and nurses I spent my last medical commission with
right before the siege. And they were updating me about the
evacuation process and I had a sigh of relief that it happened without
hiccups this time. Relatively smooth. When you get back there,
there will be a generation of children deeply scarred by what
they've been through. Every child I've seen in Aleppo, even before
these last few months, was scarred. They have been under siege, they
have shortage of food, medicine, there is no schooling, there is
bombing and every one of them will have trauma deep in planted in their
psyche for the rest of their lives. And physically disabled as well?
Yes, and this is a problem Syria has to live with in the long term. We
saw the child motionless in the ambulance. How quickly do you think
those kids will recover? It will take a generation or more for them
to recover. Syria does not have the capacity to deal with the cycle --
psychological impact of the crisis. We also have a large number of
people injured because the amputations and spinal cord injuries
in Syria. It will take a look of effort and let's not forget that we
have 50% of the refugees outside Syria who are children. -- a lot of
effort. Do you ever reflect on how the human race could do better in
solving these disputes? Iowa to reflect on the fact that the
president of Syria was trained to be a doctor and he is overseeing the
destruction of many cities in his country, displacement of Hop
population, the injury of one and a half million people. -- his
population. The day that Nero burned Rome, the emperor, that was a
historic day. It is a historic day when you have a president trained to
be a physician overseeing the killing of 350 hospitals and the
killing of doctors and nurses in Syria. I was at school with him and
nobody expected him to be that brutal always was. Have you met with
him since? Yes. I asked him about introducing democracy in Syria and
he said they are not ready for democracy, Syrians. You never, ever
see a clue as to what horror can be inflicted by him from the kid you
knew at school? No. Many of us believe he is a war criminal and any
person who believes in the stability of Syria, they don't perceive him as
being part of the picture of the future of Syria. Do you think it
took too long for the point of surrender to be reached in eastern
Aleppo? Definitely. It was over weeks ago. They couldn't win from
that position. And of course there was a lot of suffering in the last
days as they held out. Definitely. Everybody knew this was happening.
What is the surprise is that the international community and Nato and
the United Nations did not intervene earlier. The evacuation of 250,000
people from their homes and neighbourhoods happening now, this
is what is called ethnic cleansing, forced evacuation, and this is a
tragedy we have to live with for the foreseeable future. It is obviously
a tragedy. The scary prospect is that you will get the same thing
again in the place people have moved to. How can that... I mean, what is
happening here? How is it saying to move people from one enclave to
another where they can be pummelled again? Everything happening in Syria
is that history is rewritten and the use of chemical weapons, more than
168 times, the use of siege as a tactic of war, on both sides. What
happened in Aleppo happened in the city of Homs, as well as other
cities before. Killing children, bombing hospitals. These are the new
norms in Syria. It is dangerous not only for Syrians but for refugees.
The rise of the extreme West, sorry, right. And the terrorism we are
witnessing is all what is happening in Syria. You are going back to
what? Under whose auspices do you go back and build a hospital? Under the
Syrian government? You will be in their region now. The NGOs have been
part of the solution and they are the hope Syrians are looking for.
There is a British NGO and representatives, and they are going
symbolically to build a hospital that was destroyed. This is our
statement to tell the doctors of Syria we are with them, we are
standing up with them, and this is also to say, shame on you, you did
not stop the genocide in Syria but we will do our part and we will be
the ones we're building the country after it has been destroyed. Thank
you. The news yesterday that Yahoo had,
without noticing, been robbed of data on a billion users capped
a year in which hacking has rarely The idea that the Russians might
try to steal emails in order to discredit a candidate
in an American election would have Now it's what intelligence services
think actually happened. It's a development with all sorts
of implications, not least the questions it raises
for journalists about how Newsnight's editor Ian Katz,
who was involved in covering some of the biggest leaks of recent
years, dusted off his Our digital world is frighteningly
leaky. The medical records of top athletes, the internal debates of a
presidential campaign, scarcely a month goes by without some new cache
of sensitive data being thrown into the harsh glare of public scrutiny.
And, increasingly, it is states who are putting them there. It's a new
kind of information war. One that challenges the very idea of what
pre-assy means in a digital world. And one that poses new and difficult
questions for journalists. The President earlier this week
instructed the intelligence community to conduct a full review
of the pattern of malicious cyber activity related to our presidential
election cycle. An election full of twists has saved one of its most
breathtaking till last. A President-Elect is locked in a
stand-off with the CIA over whether Russia mounted a hacking campaign to
help put him in the White House. I think it's ridiculous. WikiLeaks
today released a brand new batch of hacked e-mail. Mira served as a
close aide to Hillary Clinton and was a confidante of John Pedester
who's hacked emails were leaked daily during the last weeks of
campaign. As the emails were leaked there were a string of awkward
headlines. Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private
e-mail and has that person been drawn and quartered? I was watching
TV. There was one of my emails on TV. The next day, a Twitter storm
developed because of something I'd said. It was just like, it became a
daily humiliation. Just ever-present terrible experience. It became one
where every morning I'd have to brace myself for some new e-mail
coming out in which I'd have to apologise to somebody or mostly deal
with people ruffling through your most private thoughts and sticking
them on the internet. It was the worst experience I've ever had
professionally. Whatever the precise intention of those behind the hack,
it. Anden has little doubt about its impacted. I believe the leak was a
large part of why Hillary had real problems with Millenials, which is
why she did not hit her targets in the three states Trump won. Could it
have been the difference? Absolutely. People have to live with
that. There's nothing new about states hacking system of other
states for commercial information and security secrets. And nothing
new about getting hold of embarrassing information to
discredit them. The Russians even have a word for it. What the latest
attacks have done is bring together these two tactics to create a new
one, the data leak has been weaponised. So, the from e-mail at
first glance looks like Google security. If you go into the text
behind the e-mail, you can see it's send from a Yandex e-mail account.
That's a Russian free mail web service. Tony is a former Pentagon
analysts who spends her time identifying new online threats. The
so-called spear fish Mel which caught out John Pedester was a scam
all e-mail users are familiar with. But it bore the digital fingerprints
of a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence. There's a brazenness
in the attacks we've seen this year that is has been surprising. The
Russians don't seem to care that this activity is being attributed to
them. There's also a meanness to it. They're willing to dump a tremendous
amount of personal and private information as part of these
attacks. These attacks have been attributed by the US Government as
something shared by the number of companies in the private sector.
Where does this leave reporters and editors who avenue always had to
think carefully about a source's motives. Five years ago I
collaborated with WikiLeaks to publish stories of thousands of
leaked US cables. Some criticised but few doubted the motivation of
the person who leaked them. Bradley, now Chelsea manning, was so
convinced she had to expose what she considered to be an abuse of power,
she was prepared to go to jail for it. But how should news
organisations behave when they're effectively handed thrives of
confidential information by foreign states with transpartent --
transparent motives. Some say we're becoming useful idiots when we
publish damaging stories a hostile Government wants us to. What's to
become of a cycling super hero? We questioned with that on Newsnight
earlier this year. We ran a series of stories based on the medical
files of top athletes, files we were pretty sure had been hack hacked by
the Russians. It felt uneasy giving Moscow just what it wanted. But the
public interests in examining if one of Britain's sporting here rows had
broken the spirit of the rules if not the rules themselves was clear.
Not all the revelations in these leaks are quite as significant.
Thanks to Russian hackers, and a little help from chief stirrer
Julian Assange, I can now make a pretty pass able risotto. As John
Pedester said, it is all about adding the stock slowly. I also know
this time, thanks to the north Korean yaps, that Tom Hanks uses the
ail ya Johnny Madrid and Scot Ruden thinks Angelina Joel ary is a minute
imalley talented spoilt brat. The question is, have we become too
willing to serve up every tasty morsel provided by the hackers?
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, some of those who've seen their own private
communications sprayed across the internet, think it is. You have a
quote from someone about somebody else. Under the veneer of
journalism, reporters were totally trafficking in gossip. That's what
they were doing. The New York Times has run a string of stories this
year based on the Pedester emails and, before that, material hacked
from the democratic national committee. I asked the paper's
editor if the thought he might be doing Vladimir Putin's bidding keeps
him up at night? Sure it does. But it would keep me up at nice worse,
or at least longer, if I had information from a hack that I knew
was accurate that voters and citizens needed to know and I'm not
publishing because maybe it came from the Russians. I can't imagine a
slipperier slope than that. At what point is my safe at home filled with
information I can't report because I'm nervous about the source. If
someone had brought you a carton of papers, actual hard paper papers and
you knew for certain those were burgled from John Pedester's home,
would you treat those the same as a caceh of emails? That's a good and
hard question I've not had to confront yet. I would go through it.
If it was really significant and important, I would publish it. It
would make me nervous. I would admit to people how we got it. But I think
the information Trumps all. There's a powerful argument it doesn't
really matter how organisations like the New York Times and the BBC hack
material because in the Wild West of the internet, there'll always be
someone willing to publish. Some argue we should just accept there's
no such thing a prove assy in our digital lives. One high profile
victim of a major hack told me he communicates about all sensitive
matters by fax or phone. Kieran Martin is the man charged with
defending Britain against cyber attack. He's about to step out of
the shadows of GCHQ to lead the new cybersecurity centre. He told me
measures were taken to protect the British election from hackers but
there is a danger the recent US experience will inspire Ore tackers.
There are all sorts of threats from state cyber attackers. Threats to
critical national systems. Threats to our economic well-being through
commercial espionage. There may be a perception now this is a successful
model for intervention in societies such as ours and our allies and
that's something we need to be prepared to deal with. He insists
we're a long way from giving up on the idea of prove assy. Stealing
information for political, financial purposes is as old as human activity
itself. The digital world gives people an opportunity to do that on
a different scale. There's plenty to do to defend ourselves. We need a
demystify ourselves. If we wrap the problem in a shroud of mystique.
People eh people sitting at computers in far away places that
cannot be contested that is an incressbly damaging attitude to
take. Perhaps one detail of the US hacking story embodied the very
human vulnerability Martin and his counterparts can do little about.
When John Pedester received his mail, an aid and staffer replied
saying it was legitimate. It was a type owe. He meant to type
illegitimate. The course of mystery perhaps changed by two missing
letters. There an extended interview on
hacking on the Newsnight YouTube channel.
It'll be our last programme tomorrow,
There's always a tendency to think the moment we're living in
but this year has surely been dizzyingly interesting.
What's the right frame to view it through?
But first, how will historians look back on it?
We like to be first with the news, so I've been speaking to three,
to get an early draft on the year that was, in its own way,
President-Elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
The year could be remembered for lots of things.
The British people have made a very clear decision
Well, Lenin said there are decades when nothing happens
It was the year that globalisation went into reverse.
And the nation state reasserted itself
After decades of walls coming down...
..it was the year of barriers going up.
A year that nationalism and naked tribalism
I also want to fight for the preservation of our own identity.
A year that traditional politics and its parties began to fall apart.
Owen, you know perfectly well what the answer is - I voted remain.
I'm very surprised and actually quite disappointed
that you should even raise this question.
The year the truth became stretched
You bragged that you've sexually assaulted women.
I don't think you understood what was said.
Whether you like him or not, and I don't,
he is clearly an incredibly talented 21st-century communicator.
People will expect that from their leaders after 2016.
For me, 2016 has been something of a blur.
Not just a sense of events overtaking us.
they've just been rather important ones.
More a sense of assumptions changing.
For many, it's disorienting and they reach out for historical parallels.
Some reassuring ones or some obvious and rather dark ones.
The most commonly cited comparator is the 1930s.
You have outsider parties or outsider movements that arrive on
the political scene saying, we're not the same as other people,
that are not working for ordinary people.
That becomes enormously seductive to people who
do feel they've been left behind or their voices are disregarded.
It wasn't just the Nazis - Italy, Spain all had their fascists too.
There was Oswald Moseley in the UK and the
left-wing populist Huey Long over in the US.
Those outsider parties have been relatively contained in Western
democracies since the end of the Second World War.
And they're here and we're very worried about them.
The '30s can also be remembered for a US-led
adding to the disintegration of international co-operation.
But I also think issues are very tricky at
the moment in terms of the breakdown of what have been very, very secure
Especially the EU, Nato, for all its faults.
And these seem to be under great pressure.
If you lose the structures of international collaboration,
such as they are, which allow people to think collectively
or to think internationally, then, it is lost.
internationalists were very, very difficult to find.
VOICE-OVER: A vast pro-Nazi gathering,
carrying on the pro-Nazi campaign of back to Germany.
But historians are never keen on glib comparisons,
By reaching for the most familiar piece of history,
We have to be very careful of this 1930s comparisons.
The fact is, it's the only history taught in our schools.
It's the only history anyone knows anymore.
There are no militarised paramilitary organisations as there
were in the 1930s, that really characterised 1930s.
There aren't Stormtroopers or Blackshirts.
This is, in many ways, the working of democracy.
The working of democracy in the sense that?
One of the great things about democracy is it reflects
And they can make changes, radical changes,
without having to turn to revolutionary violence.
One of the roles of the media has to be not to
indulge in hyperbolic Hitler-spotting.
Perhaps then the year should be seen as one in which the elite were
overthrown. I don't think it's so much the 1930s. Perhaps the 1830s is
a better one. Then you have the Chancellor of Austria, the prince,
and a group of like-minded monks and statesmen actually deciding what was
good for Europe for 30 or 40 or 50 years, and they believed, a bit like
the EU elite today, that they were absolutely right, there was no other
way but their way, and of course gradually bubbling under was
resistance to this, so maybe the 1830s instead of the 1930s. It's
hard to make sense of 2016. The end of one kind of order but we haven't
yet seen the construction of a new one.
Two or three times you get a junction in the court -- course of
history. And we had one. In the confusion of different directions.
And that explains many of the contradictions we are seeing. Donald
Trump getting the support of Americans are -- American
Conservatives even though he's not a Conservative. He's an
interventionist. Brexit. A vote against globalisation, and yet the
Brexiteers say that we are going to become a beacon of global free
trade. We all are over the place and a complete mess.
So perhaps there are useful parallels to be drawn between the
messy upsets that come along every now and then in the form of
revolutions. Lenin definitely would have recognised this as a
revolutionary moment and he would have found a way of seizing on it.
Revolutions happen when assumptions that generations have had for very
long periods have broken down and people no longer believe in them. We
are seeing that very much in 2016. Russia, of course, had two
revolutions in 1917. One overthrew the Czar and the odd assumptions. It
was the second, months later, that saw an opportunistic Lenin grabbed
power. He promised people everything and anything. He lied unashamedly.
He identified a scapegoat that he could then blame for everything. He
used the word "Elite" a lot. He said people had heard too much from
experts. One feature of the current situation is not that events are
just unpredictable, but that you can get perverse outcomes. Democracy has
its foibles and the public can get things that perhaps they never
really intended. You can have a binary vote, very evenly matched,
but then that leads to quite an extreme outcome. Public preferences
are quite complicated things. We all want the public to have their say
but the challenge is to reduce that down to something simple while
capturing some of the nuance, and to make sure that in the process the
public does get what it really wants.
Can the outcome sometimes be very perverse? That there is a sort of...
The intended outcome of the revolution is not where the
revolution ends up? Yes! One obvious one is the French Revolution. One of
the most famous of them all, when they wanted to get rid of a king and
ended up ten years later with an Emperor! Hitler was called to become
Chancellor in 1933 and at that time he was intended to be the puppet of
right wing Conservatives, and of course within weeks, he was out of
control. So there is an unintended consequence of a major, major sort.
1830s, 1917, 19 30s. Each history has something useful to say but none
can really tell us where 2016 will lead. I don't think you've had the
revolution yet, Evan. If the revolution is coming will know about
it. It won't just be two unexpected elections. This is not 1917. This is
the year democracy actually spoke. Comeback in 100 years and I'll tell
you about 2016! Mary Kaldor is from
the London School of Economics and John Fredricks is a Talk Radio
host and joins us from Virginia. Mary, do you find yourself at all
attracted to any comparisons to the 1930s, or are you Hitler-spotting if
you look for them? There are two comparisons. This sense of
foreboding. This sense we're in a phoney war and we haven't really
felt the effects of Brexit and Donald Trump. And that something bad
is going to happen. The other is this is all about the crisis of
political representation. What is really disturbing, which ask is what
happened in the thirties, is the way the opposition a caving in. You see
the opposition on Brexit in this country, is totally accepting
Brexit. Nobody is saying, look, we may have voted for Brexit but it's
really bad for us. Everyone is caving in on immigration. We can't
actually control immigration. If the opposition goes on and agrees to
talk about control of immigration, it just feeds of right-wing
discourse. And, more alarmingly, I think, it legitimises the growth of
hate crime. I'm really nervous about where it will lead. We won't be able
to control immigration. I think it could lead to really dangerous
racism and violence in the future. That's a pessimistic view. John
Fredricks. You're not in that camp. What do you think about people who
evoke the 1930s at this point? Even, first of all, thanks for having me.
Mary just gave you the view of the globalist elitist who don't really
understand what's going on across the world. First of all, this has
nothing to do with the 1930s movement towards fascism. That was
about nationalism. This is about Severnity and jobs. This is a
workers revolution. Has nothing to do with ethnicity or race. It is not
a revolution of nationalism, it's a work lash. This is about jobs.
People in various countries, they want their countries back. They've
seen their jobs shipped all over the globe because the elite, globalist
international gangsters bangster network has scoured the earth for
cheap labour and shipped their jobs everywhere or they've let I will
leaguals come in to take their jobs. This has nothing to do with anything
accept people wanting jobs. Let me tell you something, with all the
talk about whatever Mary was saying, the elitist gobble de gook you just
heard, let me tell you something, economic prosperity and jobs is the
great equaliser. The great unifier. A pay cheque has no ideology.
Putting... John, can I come in... Very briefly. You're saying it is an
anti-globalisation thing but it's not a nationalism thing? That's
quite a subtle distinction. What's the difference between wanting your
country back, making America grate again and being a nationalist?
Because it's not about America. It's about American jobs. OK. That's
good. This is a jobs revolution. OK. Mary? I completely agree that this
was an anguished vote of those left behind by globalisation. But the
answer to that cannot be nationalism. The answer has to be in
Terre nationalism. It has to be dealing with those multinational
corporations and taxing their safe havens which is what the European
Union does. Regulating financial speculation. If we really want big
programmes of sub lick spending in a globalised world, we can only do it
through institutions like the European Union. And, so to argue
this is an answer to the problem is crazy. Look, can I suggest what this
year has been is a collapse of left/right dichotomy. What we have
now represented here in this discussion is a new dichotomy. Open
to the world. International collaboration is the solution to the
nation state being the answer to the world's problems. John, you're
basically, it's not really a right-wing or left-wing thing
anymore. I can't place Donald Trump. He's an interventionists difficult
to place. We know where he stands on the national versus globalism
spectrum. Is that fair as to where politics as moved, John? Evan,
you're right. This is a transformational president.
President-elect trump is transforming the hub can party in
America. The real bottom line to this is, I disagree with Mary on
this, Mary, what this whole movement is about across the globe, both in
the UK and France, just happened in the United States, is people want
their countries back but it's not a movement of nationalism. It's a
movement of protecting jobs. The international bankster network
scours the earth for cheap slave labour in order to cut out workers
that make a decent wage. When you get down to it, this whole argument,
everything that's happening, the reaction is to the globalist search
for cheap slave labour and they cut out the jobs of people in those
sovereign nations. So, I want to stop this. Get my jobs back. Mary, I
think of you as a liberal left-leaning person. John is
sounding so much more left-wing than you do. Almost a Marxist, this is a
capitalist not almost to drive wages down? I don't disagree with him
about globalisation. But I think globalisation has also brought huge
benefits. The problem is, we've had dramatic economic growth. But it's
only benefitted the rich. If we want, we can't go backwards on
globalisation. Globalisation is not just about multinational
corporations and free trade. It's about international communication.
It's about inter dependence. So, if we want to do anything about it, the
only way is by having a say. Taming it by international co-operation?
Yes. And, by the way, I want to add, it's rubbish to say it's not
nationalism. That stuff about making America great again, not allowing
Muslims into the United States, that is not just about jobs. That's pure
racism. I think we've lost John. At this point we need to stop anyway.
Mary, thank you. John, we might have lost the sound feed to you,
annoyingly. Your point was well made.
But before we go, we couldn't leave you without marking the 250th
They began life in the mid-1700s, when so-called "dissecting puzzles"
were handmade by cartographers to help teach children about maps,
and really took off at the turn of the last century after production
was sped up by the invention of a new mechanical saw known as -
An exhibition celebrating the puzzles opened today
at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London.
Anyway, here's what a Newsnight jigsaw might look like.
We got our resident hand model to solve it for us.
Hello. Still no sign of anything particularly cold on the horizon. A
mild start to the day tomorrow. Rain for Northern Ireland pushing into
The latest on the Aleppo evacuation with Evan Davis.
How should journalists treat stolen information in the era of state hacking?
And just how momentous was 2016?