UPDATE Michael Cohen has now stated he has never been to Prague in his life. If that is true the extremely weak credibility of the entire forgery collapses in total. What is more, contrary to the claims of the Guardian and Washington Post that the material is “unverifiable”, the veracity of it could be tested extremely easily by the most basic journalism, ie asking Mr Cohen who has produced his passport. The editors of the Washington Post and the Guardian are guilty of pushing as blazing front page news the most blatant forgery to serve their own political ends, without carrying out the absolutely basic journalistic checks which would easily prove the forgery. Those editors must resign.
The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.
I suspect that we are supposed to “conclude” falsely that the reports were written by Mark Allen at BP. Here are a short list of six impossible things we are asked to believe before breakfast:
1) Vladimir Putin had a five year (later stated as eight year) plan to run Donald Trump as a “Manchurian candidate” for President and Trump was an active and knowing partner in Putin’s scheme.
2) Hillary Clinton is so stupid and unaware that she held compromising conversations over telephone lines whilst in Russia itself.
3) Trump’s lawyer/adviser Mr Cohen was so stupid he held meetings in Prague with the hacker/groups themselves in person to arrange payment, along with senior officials of the Russian security services. The NSA, CIA and FBI are so incompetent they did not monitor this meeting, and somehow the NSA failed to pick up on the electronic and telephone communications involved in organising it. Therefore Mr Cohen was never questioned over this alleged and improbable serious criminal activity.
4) A private company had minute by minute intelligence on the Manchurian Candidate scheme and all the indictable illegal activity that was going on, which the CIA/NSA/GCHQ/MI6 did not have, despite their specific tasking and enormous technical, staff and financial resources amounting between them to over 150,000 staff and the availability of hundreds of billons of dollars to do nothing but this.
5) A private western company is able to run a state level intelligence operation in Russia for years, continually interviewing senior security sources and people personally close to Putin, without being caught by the Russian security services – despite the fact the latter are brilliant enough to install a Manchurian candidate as President of the USA. This private western company can for example secretly interview staff in top Moscow hotels – which they themselves say are Russian security service controlled – without the staff being too scared to speak to them or ending up dead. They can continually pump Putin’s friends for information and get it.
6) Donald Trump’s real interest is his vast financial commitment in China, and he has little investment in Russia, according to the reports. Yet he spent the entire election campaign advocating closer ties with Russia and demonising and antagonising China.
As forgeries go, this is really not in the least convincing. I might add I do not include the golden showers among the impossible aspects. I have no idea if it is true and neither do I care. Given Trump’s wealth and history, I think we can say with confidence that he has indulged whatever his sexual preferences might be all over the world and not just in Russia. It seems most improbable he would succumb to blackmail over it and not brazen it out. I suppose it could be taken as the sole example of trickledown theory actually working.
Weaponized hacking all began with Stuxnet
Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “U.S. agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.
Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT… was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]
Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”
So I am still waiting to see the actual evidence for the Russian direct involvement and have to suspect that there is little to show, or possibly even nothing. Saying that Russian government agents were employed in passing the stolen emails from the DNC server to WikiLeaks raises more questions than it answers, particularly as it is now clear from media leaks that the parties involved were using what is referred to as cut-outs to break the chain of custody of the material being passed. Does the intelligence community actually know exactly who passed what to whom and when or is it engaged in reconstructing what it thinks happened? Does it really believe that intercepted unencrypted phone calls among Russian officials expressing pleasure over the election result equate to an actual a priori conspiracy to determine the outcome? And based on what evidence do they know that conspiracy was “ordered” by President Vladimir Putin as is now being alleged? Or are they only assuming that it must have been him because he is head of state?
And what about the possibility that activity of Russian intelligence agencies to penetrate computers in the United States was little more than routine information collection, which Clapper conceded is normal activity for Washington as well? And above all, where is a truth and consequences analysis of America’s global role as a contributor to the tit-for-tat, obscured by a prevailing mainstream media narrative that prefers to see everything in terms of good guys versus bad guys?
One can reasonably argue that Washington started the practice of cyber-warfare and has been a long-time practitioner of both regime change and election tampering in its relationship with much of the world. The Snowden papers indicate that NSA hacking of targets in China has been going on for many years as has routine interception of cell phones of allied European and other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UN Secretary General. The NSA has deliberately sought to have the capability to penetrate nearly every electronic communications network in the world, frequently in real time, and has come close to achieving that ability under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The information obtained in the huge dumps of intelligence obtained by NSA is, at least in theory, used to confront possible threats to the United States and to obtain competitive advantage over both adversaries and competitors. But the intrusion into systems has also been weaponized, witness for example the creation of the Stuxnet worm in collaboration with the Israelis. Stuxnet was intended to disable key elements in Iranian nuclear research but it also went beyond that, creating dysfunction in other economic and industrial systems unrelated to its laboratories. The assault on Iran was more of an act of war than the hack of the DNC computers. And the damage was not limited to Iran. There have also been concerns that the Stuxnet virus had migrated from the Iranian systems and become viable on other civilian use computers.
There have been numerous military interventions in Latin America ever since the U.S. became involved in the region in the wake of the Spanish-American War. The subsequent interventions in the so-called Banana Wars by U.S. Marines in Central America and the Caribbean were on behalf of United Fruit Company and other commercial interests. The cynical use of force to support American business moved the highly-decorated Marine Major General Smedley Butler to describe himself as “a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers … a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism” while declaring that “war is a racket.” More recently, the CIA arranged for the removal of populist Jacopo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, initiating 60 years of political instability in that country while the Agency role in the military coup in Chile that ousted Salvador Allende and its involvement with the Nicaraguan contra rebels subsequently are similarly notorious.
When I was in Europe with CIA the U.S. government regularly interfered with elections, particularly in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, all of which had active communist parties. The Agency would fund opposition parties directly or indirectly and would manage media coverage of the relevant issues to favor the non-communists. The end result was that the communists were indeed in most cases kept out of government but the resulting democracy was frequently corrupted by the process. Italy in particular suffers from that corruption to this day.
The United States has directly interfered in Russia, using proxies, IMF loans and a media controlled by the oligarchs to run the utterly incompetent Boris Yeltsin’s successful campaign in 1996 and then continuing with more aggressive “democracy promotion” projects until Putin expelled many of the NGOs responsible in 2015. More recently there have been the pastel revolutions in Eastern Europe and the upheaval in Ukraine, which came about in part due to a $5 billion investment by the United States government in “democracy building” supplemented by regular visits from John McCain and the State Department’s activist Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
And then there are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria as well as endorsement of the ongoing carnage in Yemen. The Congress meanwhile continues to call for regime change in Iran. So it leads to the question “Who is actually doing what to whom?”
One can well understand the anger at Russian actions but much of the sentiment is being fueled by a hostile press and deliberate U.S. government fear mongering orchestrated by the Obama Administration as its parting gift to the American people. A new Cold War would be good for no one. Stepping back a bit, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that anything Russia did or is suspected of doing in 2016 pales in comparison to what the United States has been doing for much longer and on a much wider scale. The Defense Department runs a cyber warfare command with a budget of $7 billion and the White House has ordered military interventions to bring about regime change in four Muslim majority countries while also interfering in a number of others since 9/11. The Obama response to an alleged Russian conspiracy that has yet to be demonstrated has been to send more soldiers to the Baltics while ordering a massive politically motivated retaliation that included the persona non grata expulsion of 35 Russian officials and their families. Moscow did not retaliate and instead invited U.S. diplomatic families to a Christmas celebration at the Kremlin. Sure, it was political theater to a certain extent but it has to make one wonder who was actually the adult in the room whenever Obama and Putin would meet.
‘Groundless smear attempt’
Beijing has challenged Washington to explain its own global spying activities following US media reports alleging that China is using two Chinese hotels as spy centres, describing the reports as a “groundless” smear attempt.
On Wednesday, The Washington Times published an article where it alleged that the 4PLA, a unit attached to the Chinese Defence Ministry, used the Jintang and Seasons hotels in the capital Beijing to conduct espionage.
The publication cited an open-source intelligence dossier produced by the Army’s Asian Studies Detachment, as the source of its report. The document does not explain why and how the hotels were allegedly used by the Chinese for hacking.
On Friday the Ministry of National Defense vigorously denied that any hotels in the Haidian District of Beijing served as a base for any cyber-espionage operations.
“The Chinese military has never supported any hacking activities, and the Chinese government has always been firmly opposed to and cracking down on relevant criminal activities in accordance with law, including network attacks,” China’s Defence Ministry said.
“Relevant accusation is totally groundless and a bad act of smearing China,” the statement added, calling on Washington to stop making “groundless accusation against China.”
Instead of blaming China for spying, Beijing challenged Washington to “give a clear explanation on the Prism Gate incident, ” not just to China, but to the entire international community.
First revealed through the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013, PRISM is a code name of the NSA surveillance program used to gain access to the private communications of users of nine popular Internet services, including Verizon, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.
The system grants NSA access to email, chat logs, VoIP traffic, files transfers, and other social networking data from companies. PRISM is just one of the numerous US spying tools and techniques exposed by Snowden.
Repeating an accusation over and over again is not evidence that the accused is guilty, no matter how much “confidence” the accuser asserts about the conclusion. Nor is it evidence just to suggest that someone has a motive for doing something. Many conspiracy theories are built on the notion of “cui bono” – who benefits – without following up the supposed motive with facts.
But that is essentially what the U.S. intelligence community has done regarding the dangerous accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a covert information campaign to influence the outcome of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election in favor of Republican Donald Trump.
Just a day after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper vowed to go to the greatest possible lengths to supply the public with the evidence behind the accusations, his office released a 25-page report that contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.
The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information – built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump.
But the case, as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses” – as in the U.S. intelligence community “assesses” that Russia is guilty – suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.”
The DNI report admits as much, saying, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”
But the report’s assessment is more than just a reasonable judgment based on a body of incomplete information. It is tendentious in that it only lays out the case for believing in Russia’s guilt, not reasons for doubting that guilt.
A Risky Bet
For instance, while it is true that many Russian officials, including President Putin, considered Clinton to be a threat to worsen the already frayed relationship between the two nuclear superpowers, the report ignores the downside for Russia trying to interfere with the U.S. election campaign and then failing to stop Clinton, which looked like the most likely outcome until Election Night.
If Russia had accessed the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication, Putin would have to think that the National Security Agency, with its exceptional ability to track electronic communications around the world, might well have detected the maneuver and would have informed Clinton.
So, on top of Clinton’s well-known hawkishness, Putin would have risked handing the expected incoming president a personal reason to take revenge on him and his country. Historically, Russia has been very circumspect in such situations, usually holding its intelligence collections for internal purposes only, not sharing them with the public.
While it is conceivable that Putin decided to take this extraordinary risk in this case – despite the widely held view that Clinton was a shoo-in to defeat Trump – an objective report would have examined this counter argument for him not doing so.
But the DNI report was not driven by a desire to be evenhanded; it is, in effect, a prosecutor’s brief, albeit one that lacks any real evidence that the accused is guilty.
Further undercutting the credibility of the DNI report is that it includes a seven-page appendix, dating from 2012, that is an argumentative attack on RT, the Russian government-backed television network, which is accused of portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic.”
The proof for that accusation includes RT’s articles on “voting machine vulnerabilities” although virtually every major U.S. news organizations has run similar stories, including some during the last campaign on the feasibility of Russia hacking into the actual voting process, something that even U.S. intelligence says didn’t happen.
The reports adds that further undermining Americans’ faith in the U.S. democratic process, “RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates.” Apparently, the DNI’s point is that showing Americans that there are choices beyond the two big parties is somehow seditious.
“The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the report said. Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties, So, the implicit RT criticism of the U.S. political process is certainly not out of the ordinary.
The report also takes RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).
Behind the Curtain
Though it’s impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency’s eavesdropping capabilities say Washington’s lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence.
For instance, that’s the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA’s technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.
Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, “With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on ‘circumstantial evidence,’ when it has NSA’s vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA’s capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking.”
There is also the fact that both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied that the purloined emails came from the Russian government. Going further, Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.
In response, Clapper and other U.S. government officials have sought to disparage Assange’s credibility, including Clapper’s Senate testimony on Thursday gratuitously alluding to sexual assault allegations against Assange in Sweden.
However, Clapper’s own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA’s collection of data on Americans. Clapper’s deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his “clearly erroneous” testimony.
A History of Politicization
The U.S. intelligence community’s handling of the Russian “hack” story also must be viewed in the historical context of the CIA’s “politicization” over the past several decades.
U.S. intelligence analysts, such as senior Russia expert Melvin A. Goodman, have described in detail both in books and in congressional testimony how the old tradition of objective CIA analysis was broken down in the 1980s.
At the time, the Reagan administration wanted to justify a massive arms buildup, so CIA Director William Casey and his pliant deputy, Robert Gates, oversaw the creation of inflammatory assessments on Soviet intentions and Moscow’s alleged role in international terrorism, including the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
Besides representing “politicized” intelligence at its worst, these analyses became the bureaucratic battleground on which old-line analysts who still insisted on presenting the facts to the president whether he liked them or not were routed and replaced by a new generation of yes men.
The relevant point is that the U.S. intelligence community has never been repaired, in part because the yes men gave presidents of both parties what they wanted. Rather than challenging a president’s policies, this new generation mostly fashioned their reports to support those policies.
The bipartisan nature of this corruption is best illustrated by the role played by CIA Director George Tenet, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton but stayed on and helped President George W. Bush arrange his “slam dunk” case for convincing the American people that Iraq possessed caches of WMD, thus justifying Bush’s 2003 invasion.
There was the one notable case of intelligence analysts standing up to Bush in a 2007 assessment that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, but that was more an anomaly – resulting from the acute embarrassment over the Iraq WMD fiasco – than a change in pattern.
Presidents of both parties have learned that it makes their lives easier if the U.S. intelligence community is generating “intelligence” that supports what they want to do, rather than letting the facts get in the way.
The current case of the alleged Russian “hack” should be viewed in this context: President Obama considers Trump’s election a threat to his policies, both foreign and domestic. So, it’s only logical that Obama would want to weaken and discredit Trump before he takes office.
That doesn’t mean that the Russians are innocent, but it does justify a healthy dose of skepticism to the assessments by Obama’s senior intelligence officials.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
The undisguised and clearly politically motivated report on the alleged 2016 US “election hack” displays a severe lack of “professional discipline” in the intelligence community, former NSA technical director and whistleblower William Edward Binney told RT.
While the report is full of allegations, it clearly lacks proof and even the wording used in the report points out that the authors have been playing a guessing game, Binney believes.
“I see a lot of allegations in what I’ve read so far of the report, but certainly it’s kind of light on proof of anything… They should’ve included at least some evidence of what they are asserting. And they haven’t done any of that, ” Binney said.
The motivation behind the report is a desire of some in US political circles to incite a “new cold war,” with Russia, according to Binney. The intelligence agencies are eager to push an anti-Russian agenda simply because a big confrontation promises a funding bonanza, the former NSA Technical Director said.
“My thinking all along is that there has been a move over here by members, some of the members in Congress, and by others, primarily I think the Democratic Party, but the Republicans are a part of this too, trying to start up a new Cold War,” Binney told RT.
“And the reason of course they want to do that is because [then] the military, industrial, intelligence complex get more money. That simply means that if you start a new Cold War that means trillions of dollars being taken from taxpayers to pay for advanced weaponry, more spying, more spies, all kinds of activities by these intelligence agencies.”
The report veers off the “hacking” narrative and rather surprisingly, but flatteringly, focuses on RT and its activities in social media especially, which supposedly somehow helped Donald Trump to win the election.
“It’s another attempt to prejudice the issue for the American public. It’s the whole point of it I think. Otherwise they would have presented evidence like if there were things that RT reported that weren’t true, then they should have said that this is not true, and show what is true,” said Binney. “But they’re not even doing that. And in fact the whole idea is not really looking for truth and facts …”
It is a part of the “repetition from multiple directions until it’s believable” tactic used against Russia and Russian media. The repetition usually comes simultaneously from multiple “supposedly authoritative sources,” such as Congressmen, MSM citing anonymous security sources, intelligence agencies, until everyone stops questioning it, Binney believes.
The whole situation is dangerous for the US itself, since it exposes serious immaturity in the intelligence services, which have basically lost the ability to perform their primary duties.
“Basically it means that our intelligence community has lost the professional discipline of an intelligence function. And this is very dangerous. That’s why I’m an advocate for what president-elect Trump is doing by challenging what they are saying, because they need to be challenged,” Binney told RT.
“Because they are not being professional and disciplined in what they’re doing. That’s why they can’t stop any of these terrorist attacks. They are really good, the FBI is anyway, in entrapping people but it’s not in stopping real attacks.”
A highly-anticipated declassified US intelligence report, aimed to prove that Russia supported Donald Trump, has turned out to be a huge embarrassment. The annex that contained factual material that was thought to provide evidence of RT influencing the American public was compiled in December 2012, right after the reelection of Barack Obama.
The report focuses on television shows and interviews that took place four years before Trump was elected, and well before he was even a politician.
In Annex A of the report, intelligence agencies claim that “Kremlin’s TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US.” Buried at the bottom of that page is a note stating, “This annex was originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center, now the Open Source Enterprise.”
Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections Intelligence Report Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections Intelligence Report The report notes that two RT shows, “Breaking the Set” and “Truthseeker”, focused on criticism of US.
The problem is, both of these shows were off air before the 2016 election season began.
The report goes on to detail programming in 2012 about voting booth irregularities, which, again, would have been during Obama’s campaign. Despite being an old report, the topic became largely relevant once again during the Democratic primaries when voters found themselves purged from voting rolls, and hundreds of thousands of ballots went uncounted.
Perhaps most shocking of all, the dastardly RT network dared to host third party debates, as they were not allowed participation in the main debates.
“In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a sham.”
Apparently, the intelligence communities do not agree that some of the people they serve may not fit perfectly into the two neat and tidy political boxes of Republicans and Democrats.
The report states that the network aired a documentary on Occupy Wall Street, an obviously left-wing movement, in 2012. Again, this was the year Obama was elected, so perhaps the Russians actually won HIM the presidency.
They presented evidence that Russian media often reports on infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use. While these issues are all popular topics of discussion in left-leaning media, RT’s reporting in 2012 was clearly part of a long-running plot to elect Trump, right?
“RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and ‘corporate greed’ will lead to US financial collapse,” the report notes. It is unclear if they will next name Bernie Sanders as a Russian spy.
It gets worse, as the report details how RT has the gall to report on fracking, while “highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”
In a bizarre turn of events, US intelligence now presents this report, compiled just after the reelection of Barack Obama, as ‘proof’ of Russia pushing Donald Trump’s candidacy. However, if the report is true and RT the Almighty was swinging votes in 2012, the only beneficiary of the coverage was the now-outgoing president of the United States, who won a landslide victory over Republican Mitt Romney. Four years ago Trump was not thought of as a politician and it remains a mystery how RT’s 2012 coverage could propel him. A mystery, that even a classified version of the report would have a hard time explaining.
The mainstream media’s narrative that the Russian government interfered with the United States election, and that this interference invalidated, or at least tainted, Trump’s election has culminated in President Obama taking a series of measures against Russia, which consist of: imposing sanctions on the GRU and the FSB (the two major Russian intelligence organizations), four officers of the GRU, and two Russian individuals who allegedly used “cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information;” expelling 35 diplomats and intelligence officials; and closing two Russian compounds in Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Long Island, New York. These actions were said to have been taken not only because of Russian interference in the election but for a number of other instances of Russian malfeasance that go back in time and are unrelated to alleged election interference. And there was no evidence provided that showed, or even claimed to show, that the particular individuals and entities covered by these measures had anything to do with the alleged election interference.
Like other common memes—such as anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism—used to silence debate, the exact meaning of Russian interference in the election is unclear—and Obama’s inclusion of a number of extraneous issues in his explanation for taking retaliatory action against Russia muddles the issue even more. The reference to Russian interference in the election includes a composite of alleged Russian misdeeds—“fake news,” computer hacking, and manipulating voting machines  –which are usually lumped together but are actually quite different and should be analyzed separately since the combination approach only serves to obfuscate the issue. Of course—and this probably would not be shocking to most readers of this essay—many of those who promote the idea of Russian culpability are not really concerned about pursuing a Socratic search for truth but instead want to anathematize Putin’s Russia and/or delegitimize Trump’s election victory.
First, let me take care of the most extreme claim—that Russian hackers manipulated election results to make Trump president. This would be a nearly impossible task since voting machines are not attached to the Internet, and it was never pointed out how the Russians could do this on any significant scale. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton was urged by “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” to demand a recount in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—in which Clinton seemed to be slightly ahead in pre-election polls but which were won by Trump by narrow margins. The group claimed to have statistical evidence that the vote had been altered. The basis of this claim, however, was quite flimsy since it simply rested on an analysis that showed that in Wisconsin counties with electronic voting machines, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes than in counties with paper ballots or optical scanners. It was then assumed that the same thing could have occurred in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
There was a recount in Wisconsin in which Trump increased his victory margin by 131 votes; a total of 2.976 million ballots were cast. The recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein who covered the estimated $3.5 million cost of the endeavor. Similar efforts by Stein to get recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania were blocked in the state courts because of her lack of standing by the laws of those states—not having any chance of winning herself, she could not be considered an “aggrieved party.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign did not make official efforts to get recounts in any states. With Trump’s victory in Wisconsin surviving the recount, he had garnered a majority of the electoral votes, which would make him President unless there were a far higher number of faithless electors than turned out to be the case. Nonetheless, half of Clinton’s voters still think Russia hacked the election day voting.
Now to consider the ramifications of Russia’s hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and the reception and release to the public of this Russian-hacked information by WikiLeaks. While this is assumed to be incontestably true by the mainstream media, neither one of these allegations is rock solid at the moment. The alleged consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies is that there is sufficient evidence that Russia hacked the aforementioned emails, but the evidence for this has not been made available to the public nor is there proof that WikiLeaks relied on emails derived from Russian hacks. Given the fact that America’s intelligence agencies are not noted for being honest with the public, one would think that the mainstream media would give some attention to the critics of the dominant narrative.
Reacting to these allegations, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, claims that his organization did not release any information provided to it by Russia or a Russian proxy. And Assange does have a vested interest in being truthful in order to maintain WikiLeaks’ credibility, which has so far been impeccable. Confirming Assange’s contention is Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Assange, though not an official member of the WikiLeaks staff. Murray stated: “As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks.” He goes on to claim: “Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.” Murray alleges that the two sets of emails—from the DNC and from Podesta–came from American insiders but from different sources.
Obviously, the security agencies should provide the public with detailed evidence and describe the actual sources. As Pat Buchanan suggests: “The CIA director and his deputies should be made to testify under oath, not only as to what they know about Russia’s role in the WikiLeaks email dumps but also about who inside the agency is behind the leaks to The Washington Post designed to put a cloud over the Trump presidency before it begins.”
Now it should be pointed out that the actual content of the emails released by WikiLeaks, which the U.S. claims to have been obtained by Russian hacking, has not been falsified. The information harmful to Hillary Clinton included the DNC’s behind-the-scenes support for her over Bernie Sanders (which included then DNC chair Donna Brazile’s feeding answers to Clinton before the latter’s debate with Bernie Sanders); Clinton’s unpublicized paid speeches—on foreign policy and the economy– to wealthy business executives and bankers revealing views diametrically opposed to her campaign positions; the collusion of mainstream media reporters with the DNC. For example, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank requested and got the DNC to do the research for a negative column he wrote about Trump.
If the WikiLeaks information were completely fallacious, it would not have been derived from hacking or even from leaks, but simply fabricated. Nonetheless, this defense is being made. The logical form of this argument is that hacking took place but that the released emails were doctored to make them damaging. But this is based on the fact that it is possible to doctor emails, rather than any evidence that the WikiLeaks’ emails were altered. The assumption being made was that Russia was capable of doctoring the emails, therefore, the emails must be doctored. For example, Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative, was quoted as saying: “I would be shocked if the emails weren’t altered,” and went on to say that Russia was well-known to have used this technique in the past.ix Similarly, Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin asserted: “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton.” He referred to doctored emails that supposedly appeared on websites linked to Russian intelligence as proof that “documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign,” although Caplin did not say that the emails concerning Clinton’s speeches had been faked.x According to James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the spreading of false information by intelligence services “is a technique that goes back to Tsarist times.” Among his examples, he referred to the Soviet-spread rumor that the U.S. government developed the AIDS virus. Needless to say, this, too, had nothing to do with WikiLeaks much less the emails it released on Clinton and the DNC.
MSNBC’s terrorist analyst and a former intelligence officer, Malcolm Nance, tweeted a message, shortly after WikiLeaks’ October release of some of Podesta’s emails, that these emails were “riddled with obvious forgeries,” without ever providing evidence. If any emails released by WikiLeaks were “obvious forgeries,” it would seem quite easy for U.S. intelligence agencies to point this out without using any secret, super-high tech methods, and thus substantiate the case being made.
Interestingly, Nance was also quoted as taking the opposite position: “We have no way of knowing whether this is real or not unless Hillary Clinton goes through everything they’ve said and comes out and says it cross-correlates and this is true.” Here, Nance seems to be saying that WikiLeaks’ could only be considered accurate if Hillary would show this to be the case. Since Hillary is not going to indict herself, this is not going to happen. However, the burden of proof should be on those who claim that the emails were altered to point out the discrepancies between the emails released by WikiLeaks and the DNC’s and Podesta’s actual emails. It would not be necessary to go through the whole tranche but simply focus on the detrimental emails. If this is not done, then claims that the WikiLeaks provides specious information should be dropped. So far, however, there seems to be little effort to show that the damaging information was untrue.
Actually, it seems that much of the hostility to the WikiLeaks’ information has little to do with it being false but rather that the emails were pilfered and made public. Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, who serves as the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Jane Harman, who is currently the president of the Wilson Center and a former ranking Democratic member of the same House committee state: “Russia’s theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we’ve experienced.” Note that these writers charge Russia not only with illicitly obtaining the emails but also of “strategic leaking,” which was obviously the work of WikiLeaks, and for which no evidence whatsoever exists that Russia determined when the materials would be leaked.
The New York Times Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes that “[t]he pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election . . . . By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site’s growing alignment with white nationalists.” Krugman goes on to blame the mainstream media for giving attention to WikiLeaks. “Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people.” However, if nothing harmful was revealed, it is hard to maintain that Russian hacking had a significant effect on the election. If harm were done to the Democrats, it was presumably caused by the media, which falsely implied that serious revelations were being made by WikiLeaks.
Referring to Putin and the Russian hackers, Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson contends: “Their hacking — as interpreted by both the CIA and the FBI — qualifies as state-sponsored aggression. It does jeopardize our way of life. It undermines the integrity of our political institutions and popular faith in them. More than this, it warns us that our physical safety and security are at risk. Hostile hackers can hijack power grids, communication networks, transportation systems and much more.” Even criticizing the position of the CIA—an institution American liberals, not too long ago, looked upon as a force for evil–is now considered a threat to American democracy. As establishment liberal E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post pontificates: “That Trump would happily trash our own CIA to get Putin off the hook is disturbing enough . . . . That he would ignore the risks our intelligence agents take on so many fronts to protect us is outrageous.
Michael Daly of the liberal millennials–oriented Daily Beast writes: “Russians went from simply gathering our secrets to then making them public in such a way as to influence American public opinion and therefore the course of our democracy. Putin must marvel at the fervently patriotic, flag-waving Americans who shrug at the near certainty that a foreign power had subverted the electoral process that is at the heart of America’s true greatness.”
It is not apparent how receiving accurate information regarding political issues—which is what WikiLeaks seems to have provided—could really have a negative impact on American democracy; rather it would seem that it would actually improve democracy. The purpose of Voice of America is supposed to be to provide such information to foreign countries and especially to those where the governments prevent the facts from reaching their inhabitants. The idea is that people in foreign countries should know the truth about their own government and about other governments, as well.
The Washington Post was enraged when, in 2015, Russia shut down the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), relying on a law that “bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’” The Washington Post wrote: “The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.” Presumably, such things as “transparency in public affairs,” fighting corruption, and “freedom of information,” are vital for creating a “healthy democracy” in Russia when promoted by a foreign organization but are a grave danger to democracy if a foreign entity should try to do the same thing in the United States.
The mainstream media has acted as if Russian efforts to influence American policy are something novel, that this had never happened to the U.S. before. And “policy” is used here rather than “election” because affecting policy is apparently Putin’s motive, not simply putting Trump in the White House with U.S. policy toward Russian unchanged. It is quite understandable that Putin would view Trump as a better President from the standpoint of Russian interests than Hillary Clinton since Trump advocated improving relations with Russia while Clinton was oriented toward exacerbating them.
While the mainstream media implies that what Russia was allegedly attempting to do had never happened before, foreign countries had actually tried to shape American policies since the George Washington administration  when the ambassador from revolutionary France, popularly known as Citizen Genet, came to the United States in 1793 and sought to generate popular support to get the United States to modify its strict neutrality policy to one that would be helpful to France in its war with Great Britain. Genet even commissioned privateers to attack British shipping. Ultimately, however, President Washington and his Cabinet, angered by Genet’s activities that violated American sovereignty, demanded his recall. Genet simultaneously fell from favor in France as more radical Jacobins led by Robespierre took power and fearing he might face the guillotine if he returned to France, Genet requested and received asylum in the United States.
In 1867-1868, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. resorted to bribing lobbyists, newspapers, and members of Congress in order to make sure that the U.S. Congress would provide the funds for the treaty already signed by Secretary of State Seward (and approved by the Senate) to purchase Alaska.
In World War I both Germany and England were relying heavily on propaganda in the U.S.—the British goal to get the U.S. into the war on its side; the German goal to keep the U.S. out of the war. In 1917, Britain Illicitly intercepted and decoded what became known as the Zimmerman Telegram, which was a message from the German foreign ministry to its ambassador in Mexico instructing him to inform the Mexican government that Germany would, if the United States joined the war against it, support a Mexican effort to regain its former territory taken by the United States (though technically purchased) as a result of the Mexican-American War. After Britain turned the information over to the U.S. government, the publication of the telegram in March 1917 may have played a supporting role in America’s entrance into World War I in April 1917.
In World War II, British intelligence closely cooperated with the Roosevelt administration and the American interventionists—actually setting up pro-interventionist front groups–and engaged in efforts to destroy the non-interventionists. Soviet agents were also trying to shape American foreign policy during World War II and its aftermath in order to advance the interests of Stalinist Russia. And Israel (and the Zionist agency before Israel’s founding) and its American supporters have played a role in shaping America’s policy in the Middle East policy since World War I.
Finally, let us explore the reasons for Obama’s retaliation against the alleged Russian interference in the election, which included activities—mostly, but not only, involving spying—that had been going on for years. An obvious question is: why didn’t Obama take action earlier?
It should be pointed out that it is commonplace for spies to pose as diplomats. And it is likewise commonplace that a host country does nothing to stop the spying unless it goes too far or if the host country wants to send a message that it is concerned about some other matter and does so by expelling officials for spying who were not necessarily involved in the issue of concern. Obama’s expulsion edict fit the second category and was meant to show the U.S. government’s ire regarding the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. Therefore, Obama’s retaliation against individuals and entities not involved in the matter of concern was not unconventional and if there had not been any alleged interference in the U.S. election, they likely would have been left alone.
Furthermore, it would appear that Obama chose to take action for political reasons: in order to appeal to the Democratic base and the mainstream media, afflicted as those two groups are by Trump Derangement Syndrome, and also to hardline opponents of Russia who loom large in the Republican Party and have become a significant force among the Democratic elite (e.g. Brookings Institution).
In making major foreign policy decisions, Obama’s modus operandi has often been one of reacting to pressure—usually, but not always, from elite opinion—which has caused him to take positions contrary to his own, often more non-interventionist and pacific, inclination. This seems to have been the case regarding Obama’s policy toward Libya, Syria, Israel (his obeisance to the Israel Lobby until the very end of his presidency), and even Russia, where he initially sought a “reset” to achieve friendlier relations.
Although it has been claimed that Obama had entertained issuing punitive measures against Russia before the election, but opted against this to avoid possible Russian retaliation that could affect the voting, it is not apparent that Obama would have taken comparable retaliatory action if Clinton had won a clear-cut electoral victory. While Republican hardliners, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, might have wanted such action, the Democrats would be satisfied with their victory, and Clinton and her foreign policy advisers, even though they might be anti-Putin, would not want their hands tied by such measures. While Obama is not a fan of Hillary Clinton, he did want her to be his successor, since that would have made him look good; there would have been no reason to antagonize her, her supporters, or the Democratic Party elite.
By penalizing Russia, Obama makes it difficult for President Trump to establish a more cordial relationship with Russia. There is extensive support in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans for taking strong action against Russia. As the title of an article in Roll Call, which focuses on the activities of the U.S. Congress , puts it: “Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course.” The author of this article, John T. Bennett, opines that Trump’s opposition to Obama’s retaliation against Russia “will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party.”
While Trump could overturn Obama’s anti-Russian measures, which are based on an executive order, his doing so would almost certainly be countered by legislation put forth by Democrats and some Republicans—the latter led by McCain and Graham, who have already said that they will introduce Russian sanction legislation. In the past few years, an overwhelming majority in Congress has voted for sanctions legislation against Russia, which makes it likely that there would be a veto-proof majority to stymie Trump on this issue.
To conclude, the Russian interference narrative did not serve to prevent Trump from becoming president but it does seem that it will cause serious problems for his presidency and for American foreign relations as well, as America will drift further into Cold War II, which is something that Trump, if not facing obstruction, could have possibly prevented.
 Robert Parry, “Details Still Lacking on Russian ‘Hack,’” Consortium News, December 29, 2016, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/29/details-still-lacking-on-russian-hack/
 Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, November 24, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html?utm_term=.370a24364c83
 Jennifer Scholtes , “DHS secretary: Ballot counts are largely safe from cyberattack,” Politico, September 8, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/ballot-counts-cyberattack-jeh-johnson-227891; John Roberts, “5 Reasons Why Hackers Can’t Rig the U.S. Election,” Fortune, August 10, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/08/09/voting-machines-hackers/
 Gabriel Sherman, “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States,” Daily Intelligencer,
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-results.html; Bruce Schneier, “By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/27/by-november-russian-hackers-could-target-voting-machines/?utm_term=.7b415d99cbf3
 Matthew DeFour, “Completed Wisconsin recount widens Donald Trump’s lead by 131 votes,” Wisconsin State Journal, December 13, 2016, http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/completed-wisconsin-recount-widens-donald-trump-s-lead-by-votes/article_3f61c6ac-5b18-5c27-bf38-e537146bbcdd.html
 Kathy Frankovic, “Belief in conspiracy theories depends largely on which side of the spectrum you fall on,” Economist/YouGov Poll, December 27, 2016, https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/12/27/belief-conspiracies-largely-depends-political-iden/
 Craig Murray, “The CIA’s Absence of Conviction,” CraigMurray.org, December 11, 2016, https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/12/cias-absence-conviction/ Murray was also quoted by the Daily Mail as saying he flew to Washington for a clandestine handoff of a “package” in September.
Alana Goodman, “Exclusive: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails – they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for ‘disgusted’ Democratic whistleblower,” Daily Mail, December 14, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4034038/Ex-British-ambassador-WikiLeaks-operative-claims-Russia-did-NOT-provide-Clinton-emails-handed-D-C-park-intermediary-disgusted-Democratic-insiders.html; However, in an interview for the Scott Horton Show, Murray says that while he went to Washington in regard to this issue, he did not personally receive the emails. Scott Horton Show, December 13, 2016, https://www.libertarianinstitute.org/scotthortonshow/121316-craig-murray-dnc-podesta-emails-leaked-americans-not-hacked-russia/
 Pat Buchanan, “The Real Saboteurs of a Trump Foreign Policy,” Unz Review, December 20, 2016, http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/the-real-saboteurs-of-a-trump-foreign-policy/?highlight=Wikileaks
 Linda Qiu and Lauren Carroll, “Were the Clinton Campaign Emails Leaked by WikiLeaks Doctored?,”
Punditfact.com, October 23, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/23/were-the-clinton-campaign-emails-leaked-by-wikileaks-doctored.html
 Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, “Hacked emails appear to reveal excerpts of speech transcripts Clinton refused to release,” Washington Post, October 7, 2016,
 Tim Starks and Eric Geller, “Russians, lies and WikiLeaks,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/wikileaks-russia-hillary-clinton-campaign-democrats-229707
 Glenn Greenwald. “In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots,” The Intercept, October 11, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/10/11/in-the-democratic-echo-chamber-inconvenient-truths-are-recast-as-putin-plots/
 Tim Starks and Eric Geller, “Russians, lies and WikiLeaks,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/wikileaks-russia-hillary-clinton-campaign-democrats-229707
 See for instance: Mike Masnick, “The Clinton Campaign Should Stop Denying That The WikiLeaks Emails Are Valid; They Are And They’re Real,” Tech Dirt, October 25, 2016, https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161024/22533835878/clinton-campaign-should-stop-denying-that-wikileaks-emails-are-valid-they-are-theyre-real.shtml; Blake Hounshell, “Is this what Hillary Clinton really thinks about the world?,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/hillary-clinton-worldview-leaked-speech-excerpts-229704
 Adam Schiff and Jane Harman, “Russia attacked our democracy. That demands intense review by Congress,” Washington Post, December 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/russia-attacked-our-democracy-that-demands-intense-review-by-congress/2016/12/23/291be72c-c865-11e6-8bee-54e800ef2a63_story.html?utm_term=.708975e1d8f5
 Paul Krugman, “Useful Idiots Galore,” New York Times, December 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/opinion/useful-idiots-galore.html
 Robert J. Samuelson, “Vladimir Putin may have done us a big favor,” Washington Post, December 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/opinions/vladimir-putin-may-have-done-us-a-big-favor/2016/12/25/1d5c2950-c93d-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?outputType=accessibility&nid=menu_nav_accessibilityforscreenreader
 E. J. Dionne, “Why a Trump presidency inspires fear,” Washington Post, December 12, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-a-trump-presidency-inspires-fear/2016/12/11/3b2259f8-bfda-11e6-897f-918837dae0ae_story.html?utm_term=.a0c9fedbf9eb
 Michael Daly, “Russian Spies, Mission Accomplished, Get the Boot From Their Long Island Estate,” Daily Beast, December 31, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/31/russian-spies-mission-accomplished-get-the-boot-from-their-long-island-estate.html
 Editorial Board, “Vladimir Putin is suffocating his own nation,” Washington Post, July 28, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/vladimir-putin-is-suffocating-his-own-nation/2015/07/28/3b27ae8e-3562-11e5-adf6-7227f3b7b338_story.html?utm_term=.c095ffa3b331
 Since the British navy controlled the seas, it would have been virtually impossible for Germany to provide military aid to Mexico. Germany, however, had been thinking along these lines and actually taking some actions in line with this view. See Friedrich Katz, The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States and the Mexican Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981)
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Conquest of America by Britain,” (A Review of Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939–1944 Brassey’s, Washington, DC, 1998), Unz Review, January 11, 2000, http://www.unz.com/article/the-conquest-of-the-united-states-by-britain/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Reality of Red Subversion,” Unz Review, September 1, 2003, http://www.unz.com/article/the-reality-of-red-subversion/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski, “Review: ‘Against Our Better Judgment’–The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir,” Unz Review, November 14, 2016, http://www.unz.com/article/review-against-our-better-judgment/
 Jeremy Stahl, “Obama Issues Sweeping Sanctions Against Russia Over Election Hacks,” Slate (blog), December 29, 2016, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/12/29/obama_issues_sweeping_sanctions_against_russia_over_election_hacks.html; David E. Sanger, “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking,” New York Times, December 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/us/politics/russia-election-hacking-sanctions.html
 Trump derangement syndrome–A mental dysfunction causing those detractors with hateful thoughts and feelings about Donald Trump to go unhinged. Urban Dictionary, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trump%20Derangement%20Syndrome
 William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, Robert Windrem and Cynthia McFadden, “Why Didn’t Obama Do More About Russian Election Hack?,” NBC News, December 16, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-didnt-obama-do-more-about-russian-election-hack-n696701
 John T. Bennett, “Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course,” Roll Call, December 29, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/obamas-russia-sanctions-put-trump-hill-gop-collision-course; David Klion, “Obama’s response to Russia is likely to put Trump at odds with the Republican Party,” Business Insider, December 30, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/obamas-response-to-russia-to-put-trump-at-odds-with-gop-2016-12?utm_source=feedburner&%3Butm_medium=referral&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+(Business+Insider); Justin Wright, “Obama’s Russia sanctions put Hill Republicans in a box,” Politico, December 30, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/russia-sanctions-hill-republicans-obama-trump/ ; Ben Wolfgang, “Donald Trump faces bipartisan push to establish ‘boundaries’ with Vladimir Putin, Russia,” Washington Times, January 1, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/1/donald-trump-urged-to-establish-boundaries-with-vl/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS
 Zeeshan Aleem, “Trump can lift some Russia sanctions. But it won’t be easy,” Vox, December 23, 2017, http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/23/14028546/trump-lift-russia-sanctions
The US intelligence community has released the unclassified findings of its investigation into what it says was Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hours after President-elect Donald Trump received a briefing on the probe.
The ODNI devoted seven pages to RT and its influence on the election “by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.” The report claimed “Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.”
RT’s pro-Trump campaign began in March 2016, according to the ODNI, by “consistently” casting Trump “as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets” that were “subservient to a corrupt political establishment.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the report called “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” on Friday afternoon. The intelligence community warned that much of its findings were not included because it is “a declassified version of a highly classified assessment.” Releasing more information would “reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future,” the report explained.
The Russian campaign didn’t just use RT, however. It was “multifaceted” that blended covert intelligence operations, including cyber activity, with official efforts by the government, third-party intermediaries and “paid social media users or ‘trolls.’”
The key judgments made by the US intelligence community came from “a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behavior,” which was based on “the behavior of Kremlin-loyal political figures, state media, and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin.” Similar tactics, the ODNI concluded, were also used to drive “consistent, self-reinforcing narratives” about Ukraine and Syria.
The report claimed with “high confidence in these judgments” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” The goals of the campaign were “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” The Russian government, under Putin, “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
The 25-page report was released ahead of schedule, as James Clapper, the country’s top spy, told a congressional committee on Thursday that the unclassified findings would be made public “early next week.”
The ODNI accused the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) ‒ Russia’s military intelligence agency ‒ of directing the hacks into the personal emails of Democratic Party officials through Guccifer 2.0, DCLeaks.com and Wikileaks. The cyber operation began in March 2016, and by May, the GRU had “exfiltrated large volumes of data” from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The material began appearing online in June.
Another cyber intrusion began in early 2014, as Russian intelligence “accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards,” the report said, adding that the systems the Russians compromised “are not involved in vote tallying.”
Russia’s influence effort was the “boldest yet” in the US, but was built on KGB intelligence activities during the Cold War, the report said. Such efforts will become the “new normal,” as “Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.”
Indeed, Russia began a new “spearphishing campaign” immediately after Election Day, the report said. The efforts target “S Government employees and individuals associated with US think tanks and NGOs in national security, defense, and foreign policy fields.”
“This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans,” the ODNI added.
The ODNI accused the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) ‒ Russia’s military intelligence agency ‒ of directing the hacks into the personal emails of Democratic Party officials through Guccifer 2.0, DCLeaks.com and Wikileaks. The cyber operation began in March 2016, and by May, the GRU had “exfiltrated large volumes of data” from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
“Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” the report said, contradicting claims by Clinton campaign officials that the documents were tampered with.
Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Election on Scribd
“RT was very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights, etc. Whatever crack, fissure they could find in our tapestry, they would exploit it,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, at a hearing about cybersecurity challenges.
In addition to hacking, Russia used fake news, social media and RT to influence the recent US elections, Clapper argued.
Though the US intelligence community has not been able to gauge the actual impact of any of these actions, “the totality of that effort, not only as DNI but as a citizen, I think is a grave concern,” he said.
The latest mantra of CIA-linked media since the “Pizzagate” leaks of data alleging that Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta and other highly influential political persons in Washington were connected to an unusual pizza place near the White House run by a 41-year old James Achilles Alefantis called Comet Ping Pong, is the need to crack down (i.e. censorship) on what is being called “Fake News.” The latest step in this internet censorship drive is a decision by the murky social media organization called Facebook to hire special organizations to determine if Facebook messages are pushing Fake News or not. Now it comes out that the “fact check” private organizations used by Facebook are tied to the CIA and CIA-related NGO’s including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
In the last weeks of the US Presidential campaign, Wikileaks released a huge number of emails linked to Clinton Campaign Manager, John Podesta. The contents of thousands of emails revealed detailed exchanges between Podesta and the oddly-influential Comet Ping Pong pizza place owner, Alefantis, as well as the Clinton campaign, which held fundraisers at Comet Ping Pong.
The Pizzagate scandal exploded in the final weeks of the US campaign as teams of private researchers documented and posted Facebook, Instagram and other data suggesting that Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong were at the heart of a pedophilia ring that implicated some of the most prominent politicians in Washington and beyond.
The New York Times and Washington Post moved swiftly to assert that the Pizzagate revelations were Fake News, quoting “anonymous sources” who supposedly said the CIA “believed” Russia was behind hackers who exposed emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. Former NSA senior intelligence expert William Binney claimed the Podesta and Clinton campaign data were leaked, not hacked. The NSA, he pointed out, would immediately identify a hack, especially a foreign hack, and they have remained silent.
The uncovering and release to Wikileaks of the Podesta emails were immediately blamed on Russian intelligence by the CIA, and now by the US President, with not a shred of proof, and despite the fact that NSA. Wikipedia, whose content is often manipulated by US intelligence agencies, rapidly posted a page with the curious title, “Pizzagate (Conspiracy Theory).”
To make certain the neutral interested reader gets the message, the first line reads, “Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory which emerged during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle, alleging that John Podesta’s emails, which were leaked by WikiLeaks, contain coded messages referring to human trafficking, and connecting a number of pizzerias in Washington, D.C. and members of the Democratic Party to a child-sex ring.”
‘Fake News’ Mantra Begins
My purpose in mentioning Pizzagate details is not to demonstrate the authenticity of the Pizzagate allegations. That others are doing with far more resources. Rather, it is to point out the time synchronicity of the explosive Pizzagate email releases by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks web blog, with the launch of a massive mainstream media and political campaign against what is now being called “Fake News.”
The cited New York Times article that Wikipedia cites as “debunking” the Pizzagate allegations states, “None of it was true. While Mr. Alefantis has some prominent Democratic friends in Washington and was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, he has never met her, does not sell or abuse children, and is not being investigated by law enforcement for any of these claims. He and his 40 employees had unwittingly become real people caught in the middle of a storm of fake news.” The article contains not one concrete proof that the allegations are false, merely quoting Alefantis as the poor victim of malicious Fake News.
That New York Times story was accompanied by a series of articles such as “How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study.” Another headline reads, “Obama, With Angela Merkel in Berlin, Assails Spread of Fake News.” Then on November 19, strong Clinton supporter, Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is quoted in a prominent article titled, “Facebook Considering Ways to Combat Fake News, Mark Zuckerberg Says.”
Facebook uses CIA Censors
Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of the world-leading social media site, Facebook.com, the world’s 5th wealthiest man at an estimated $50 billion, has now established a network of “Third Party Fact Checkers” whose job is to red flag any Facebook message of the estimated one billion people using the site, with a prominent warning that reads, “Disputed by Third-Party Fact Checkers.”
Facebook has announced that it is taking its censorship ques from something called The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). This IFCN, a new creation, has drafted a code of five principles for news websites to accept, and Facebook will work with “third-party fact checking organizations” that are signatories to that code of principles.
If we search under the name International Fact-Checking Network, we find ourselves at the homepage of something called the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.
OK. If we look a bit deeper we find that the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network in turn, as its website states, gets money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations of George Soros.
Oh my, oh my! Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who partners with Soros in numerous nasty projects such as convincing African countries to accept Genetically Modified or GMO seeds? Google, whose origins date back to funding by the CIA and NSA as what intelligence researcher Nafeez Ahmed describes as a “plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority‘ “?
The Omidyar Foundation is the foundation of eBay founder and multi billionaire, Pierre Omidyar, which finances among other projects the online digital publication, The Intercept, launched in 2014 by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.
And the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Government-financed “private” NGO behind every Color Revolution CIA regime change from the Ukraine Color Revolutions to the Arab Spring? The NED was a CIA project created in the 1980’s during the Reagan Administration as part of privatizing US intelligence dirty operations, to do, as Allen Weinstein, who drafted the Congressional legislation to establish the NED, noted in a candid 1991 Washington Post interview, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”
And if we dig even deeper we find, lo and behold, the name George Soros, convicted hedge fund insider trader, tax-exempt philanthropist and giga-billionaire who seems to fund not only Hillary Clinton and virtually every CIA and US State Department Color Revolution from Russia to China to Iran through his network of Open Society Foundations including the 1990’s Jeffrey Sachs Shock Therapy plunder of Russia and most of former Communist East Europe.
Another one of the media working with Zuckerberg’s Facebook censorship of Fake News is the Washington Post, today owned by Amazon billionaire founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos is a major media business partner of…. The US Central Intelligence Agency, a fact he omitted to inform about after taking over ownership of the most important newspaper in Washington.
Bezos’ Washington Post recently published a bizarre list of 200 websites it claimed generated Fake News. It refused to identify who gave them the list. Veteran Washington investigative reporter, Wayne Madsen, exposed the source of the McCarthy-style taboo list of so-called Fake News. It was a “website called PropOrNot.com that has links to the CIA and George Soros.”
It’s not merely the Pizzagate revelations that have triggered such a massive attack on independent Internet websites. It seems that back in January 2014 at the Davos World Economic Forum control of information on the Internet was a top item of discussion. At the time, Madsen noted, “With the impending demise of World Wide Web ‘net neutrality,’ which has afforded equal access for website operators to the Internet, the one percent of billionaire investors are busy positioning themselves to take over total control of news reporting on the Internet.”
It’s not even the foxes who are guarding the Internet Henhouse. It’s the werewolves of CIA and US Government censorship. Whether the explosive Pizzagate Podesta revelations merely triggered a dramatic acceleration in the timetable for the CIA’s planned “Fake News” operation as the successor to their 1980’s “Conspiracy Theory” linguistic discrediting operation, it’s clear this is no unbiased, objective, transparent public service to protect the Internet public from harmful content.
And, besides, who are they to tell me or you what you are allowed to read, digest and form your independent ideas about? This is a 21st Century reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisition, one by the real fake newsmakers–Washington Post, AP, ABCNews, Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, the CIA and friends. I would say it’s an alarming development of cyber warfare, not by Russia, but by those CIA-run networks that are fomenting Fake News to demonize any and everyone who opposes Washington intelligence propaganda.
As Official Washington’s latest “group think” solidifies into certainty – that Russia used hacked Democratic emails to help elect Donald Trump – something entirely different may be afoot: a months-long effort by elements of the U.S. intelligence community to determine who becomes the next president.
I was told by a well-placed intelligence source some months ago that senior leaders of the Obama administration’s intelligence agencies – from the CIA to the FBI – were deeply concerned about either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump ascending to the presidency. And, it’s true that intelligence officials often come to see themselves as the stewards of America’s fundamental interests, sometimes needing to protect the country from dangerous passions of the public or from inept or corrupt political leaders.
It was, after all, a senior FBI official, Mark Felt, who – as “Deep Throat” – guided The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their Watergate investigation into the criminality of President Richard Nixon. And, I was told by former U.S. intelligence officers that they wanted to block President Jimmy Carter’s reelection in 1980 because they viewed him as ineffectual and thus not protecting American global interests.
It’s also true that intelligence community sources frequently plant stories in major mainstream publications that serve propaganda or political goals, including stories that can be misleading or entirely false.
What’s Going On?
So, what to make of what we have seen over the past several months when there have been a series of leaks and investigations that have damaged both Clinton and Trump — with some major disclosures coming, overtly and covertly, from the U.S. intelligence community led by CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey?
Some sources of damaging disclosures remain mysterious. Clinton’s campaign was hobbled by leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee – showing it undercutting Clinton’s chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders – and from her campaign chairman John Podesta – exposing the content of her speeches to Wall Street banks that she had tried to hide from the voters and revealing the Clinton Foundation’s questionable contacts with foreign governments.
Clinton – already burdened with a reputation for secrecy and dishonesty – suffered from the drip, drip, drip of releases from WikiLeaks of the DNC and Podesta emails although it remains unclear who gave the emails to WikiLeaks. Still, the combination of the two email batches added to public suspicions about Clinton and reminded people why they didn’t trust her.
But the most crippling blow to Clinton came from FBI Director Comey in the last week of the campaign when he reopened and then re-closed the investigation into whether she broke the law with her sloppy handling of classified material in her State Department emails funneled through a home server.
Following Comey’s last-minute revival of the Clinton email controversy, her poll numbers fell far enough to enable Trump to grab three normally Democratic states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – enough to give him a victory in the Electoral College.
Taking Down Trump
However, over the past few weeks, the U.S. intelligence community, led by CIA Director Brennan and seconded by FBI Director Comey, has tried to delegitimize Trump by using leaks to the mainstream U.S. news media to pin the release of the DNC and Podesta emails on Russia and claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally trying to put Trump into the White House.
This remarkable series of assessments from the CIA – now endorsed by the leadership of the FBI – comes on the eve of the Electoral College members assembling to cast their formal votes to determine who becomes the new U.S. president. Although the Electoral College process is usually simply a formality, the Russian-hacking claims made by the U.S. intelligence community have raised the possibility that enough electors might withhold their votes from Trump to deny him the presidency.
If on Monday enough Trump electors decide to cast their votes for someone else – possibly another Republican – the presidential selection could go to the House of Representatives where, conceivably, the Republican-controlled chamber could choose someone other than Trump.
In other words, there is an arguable scenario in which the U.S. intelligence community first undercut Clinton and, secondly, Trump, seeking — however unlikely — to get someone installed in the White House considered more suitable to the CIA’s and the FBI’s views of what’s good for the country.
Who Did the Leaking?
At the center of this controversy is the question of who leaked or hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. The CIA has planted the story in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets that it was Russia that hacked both the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped the material to WikiLeaks with the goal of assisting the Trump campaign. The suggestion is that Trump is Putin’s “puppet,” just as Hillary Clinton alleged during the third presidential debate.
But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has publicly denied that Russia was the source of the leaks and one of his associates, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, has suggested that the DNC leak came from a “disgruntled” Democrat upset with the DNC’s sandbagging of the Sanders campaign and that the Podesta leak came from the U.S. intelligence community.
Although Assange recently has sought to muzzle Murray’s public comments – out of apparent concern for protecting the identity of sources – Murray offered possibly his most expansive account of the sourcing during a podcast interview with Scott Horton on Dec. 13.
Murray, who became a whistleblower himself when he protested Britain’s tolerance of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, explained that he consults with Assange and cooperates with WikiLeaks “without being a formal member of the structure.”
But he appears to have undertaken a mission for WikiLeaks to contact one of the sources (or a representative) during a Sept. 25 visit to Washington where he says he met with a person in a wooded area of American University. At the time, Murray was at American University participating in an awards ceremony for former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was being honored by a group of former Western intelligence officials, the Sam Adams Associates, named for the late Vietnam War-era CIA analyst and whistleblower Sam Adams.
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, a founder of the Sam Adams group, told me that Murray was “emceeing” the event but then slipped away, skipping a reception that followed the award ceremony.
Reading Between LInes
Though Murray has declined to say exactly what the meeting in the woods was about, he may have been passing along messages about ways to protect the source from possible retaliation, maybe even an extraction plan if the source was in some legal or physical danger.
Murray has disputed a report in London’s Daily Mail that he was receiving a batch of the leaked Democratic emails. “The material, I think, was already safely with WikiLeaks before I got there in September,” Murray said in the interview with Scott Horton. “I had a small role to play.”
Murray also suggested that the DNC leak and the Podesta leak came from two different sources, neither of them the Russian government.
“The Podesta emails and the DNC emails are, of course, two separate things and we shouldn’t conclude that they both have the same source,” Murray said. “In both cases we’re talking of a leak, not a hack, in that the person who was responsible for getting that information out had legal access to that information.”
Reading between the lines of the interview, one could interpret Murray’s comments as suggesting that the DNC leak came from a Democratic source and that the Podesta leak came from someone inside the U.S. intelligence community, which may have been monitoring John Podesta’s emails because the Podesta Group, which he founded with his brother Tony, served as a registered “foreign agent” for Saudi Arabia.
“John Podesta was a paid lobbyist for the Saudi government,” Murray noted. “If the American security services were not watching the communications of the Saudi government’s paid lobbyist in Washington, then the American security services would not be doing their job. … His communications are going to be of interest to a great number of other security services as well.”
Leak by Americans
Scott Horton then asked, “Is it fair to say that you’re saying that the Podesta leak came from inside the intelligence services, NSA [the electronic spying National Security Agency] or another agency?”
“I think what I said was certainly compatible with that kind of interpretation, yeah,” Murray responded. “In both cases they are leaks by Americans.”
In reference to the leak of the DNC emails, Murray noted that “Julian Assange took very close interest in the death of Seth Rich, the Democratic staff member” who had worked for the DNC on voter databases and was shot and killed on July 10 near his Washington, D.C., home.
Murray continued, “WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture of his killers. So, obviously there are suspicions there about what’s happening and things are somewhat murky. I’m not saying – don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that he was the source of the [DNC] leaks. What I’m saying is that it’s probably not an unfair indication to draw that WikiLeaks believes that he may have been killed by someone who thought he was the source of the leaks … whether correctly or incorrectly.”
Though acknowledging that such killings can become grist for conspiracy buffs, Murray added: “But people do die over this sort of stuff. There were billions of dollars – literally billions of dollars – behind Hillary Clinton’s election campaign and those people have lost their money.
“You have also to remember that there’s a big financial interest – particularly in the armaments industry – in a bad American relationship with Russia and the worse the relationship with Russia is the larger contracts the armaments industry can expect especially in the most high-tech high-profit side of fighter jets and missiles and that kind of thing.
“And Trump has actually already indicated he’s looking to make savings on the defense budget particularly in things like fighter [jet] projects. So, there are people standing to lose billions of dollars and anybody who thinks in that situation bad things don’t happen to people is very naïve.”
An Intelligence Coup?
There’s another possibility in play here: that the U.S. intelligence community is felling a number of birds with one stone. If indeed U.S. intelligence bigwigs deemed both Clinton and Trump unfit to serve as President – albeit for different reasons – they could have become involved in leaking at least the Podesta emails to weaken Clinton’s campaign, setting the candidate up for the more severe blow from FBI Director Comey in the last week of the campaign.
Then, by blaming the leaks on Russian President Putin, the U.S. intelligence leadership could set the stage for Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College, opening the door to the elevation of a more traditional Republican. However, even if that unlikely event – defeating Trump in the Electoral College – proves impossible, Trump would at least be weakened as he enters the White House and thus might not be able to move very aggressively toward a détente with Russia.
Further, the Russia-bashing that is all the rage in the mainstream U.S. media will surely encourage the Congress to escalate the New Cold War, regardless of Trump’s desires, and thus ensure plenty more money for both the intelligence agencies and the military contractors.
Official Washington’s “group think” holding Russia responsible for the Clinton leaks does draw some logical support from the near certainty that Russian intelligence has sought to penetrate information sources around both Clinton and Trump. But the gap between the likely Russian hacking efforts and the question of who gave the email information to WikiLeaks is where mainstream assumptions may fall down.
As ex-Ambassador Murray has said, U.S. intelligence was almost surely keeping tabs on Podesta’s communications because of his ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments. So, the U.S. intelligence community represents another suspect in the case of who leaked those emails to WikiLeaks. It would be a smart play, reminiscent of the convoluted spy tales of John LeCarré, if U.S. intelligence officials sought to cover their own tracks by shifting suspicions onto the Russians.
But just the suspicion of the CIA joining the FBI and possibly other U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in the American people’s choice of a president would cause President Harry Truman, who launched the CIA with prohibitions against it engaging in domestic activities, and Sen. Frank Church, who investigated the CIA’s abuses, to spin in their graves.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
I fear that soon the curtain will finally be brought down on the puppet show that passes for democracy in America, and those who for decades have been pulling the strings will come raging into the light, red in tooth and claw.
The illusion that the people really have a choice of president every four years will be irreparably shattered.
The old British truism that “it does not matter whom you vote for, the government always gets in” can also be applied to the US presidency – usually all candidates are approved and massively funded by the modern incarnation of Eisenhower’s infamous “military-industrial complex” and then assiduously supported by cheerleaders in the old corporate media, leaving the electorate with damn little meaningful choice.
This has been true from Reagan to Bush the First, from Clinton the First to Bush the Second and then on to Obama (the First?). It was supposed to have been true in the most recent election, where the elite’s choice pointed towards a contest between Bush the Third or Clinton the Second, either one of whom would have worked to the interests of Wall Street and continued the increasingly dangerous, interventionist, and hawkish global US foreign policy.
As a little aside, since when did the USA fall for the concept of inherited political power, a de facto new monarchy? But then an oxymoronic billionaire “man of the people” crow-barred his way into the contest and slashed all the strings of puppetry and privilege. Enter, stage left, the bullish, seemingly bigoted, and bemusingly successful Donald Trump.
As a Brit, currently cut adrift in a pre-Brexit Europe, I hold no brief for the dangers he may or may not pose to the much-vaunted American way of life in the good ol’ homeland. However, as I have stated before, with The Donald’s apparent determination to follow a strategy of US isolationism, to cut a deal in Syria, and effect a rapprochement with Russia, the wider world may just have dodged a nuclear bullet or at least an era of unending war.
Plus, the American people appear to have wanted a change, any change, from the hereditary privilege of the Washington elite. That change could well have come from another outsider, Bernie Sanders, if he had been given a fair chance. However, as we know from the leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Podesta emails, the Democratic Party would stop at nothing to ensure the anointing of the chosen one – Clinton the Second.
So why do I think that there may be a coup d’etat looming in America’s very near future?
Trump was elected on the promise of “draining the swamp” of the Washington political and corporate elites – this is deeply threatening to the vested interests, not least the CIA, whose daily briefings have been spurned by Trump, thereby rupturing the co-dependent relationship between the president and the politically compromised intelligence agencies that has existed since 9/11 and which has caused so much global harm, starting with the ill-informed and illegal rush to war in Iraq in 2003. I shall return to the CIA later.
The American elite is facing the inauguration of a self-professed outsider who is threatening all their easily-bought privileges, one who seems more interested in cutting deals with countries than bombing them. Nor do they like his nominees to high office, especially that of Rex Tillerson, the current CEO of ExxonMobil, to the post of Secretary of State – after all, he has a track record of cutting deals too and with the Russians no less. Such a person as the top US diplomat might, gasp, help to bring to a close the new not-so-Cold War that is so important to the hawkish warmongers and their masters in the thriving US arms and security industry.
Therefore, once Trump had been declared the official Republican nominee, the establishment push-back was all too predictable. The story of “Russian hacking” was initially trailed merely as media bait to divert the press from the real story – Hillary Clinton’s potentially illegal use of a private web server while acting as Secretary of State.
Then in November Wikileaks began to release even more damaging emails from the DNC and the Podesta files, which demonstrated quite how the Democrats had stitched up the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The Democrats immediately cried foul – it must indeed be the Russians hacking their files and handing the information to Wikileaks (now cast as a ‘Russian stooge’ – a move extremely useful in America’s ongoing attempts to frame the prosecution of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange as “espionage”, even though he is an Australian publisher stuck in Europe).
Unusually, Assange went on the record to say the emails Wikileaks published did not come from the Russians: Wikileaks traditionally refuses to discuss its sources.
Then former UK Ambassador and Wikileaks ally, Craig Murray, went public by saying that, while he was in Washington earlier this year, he was given files that were then published on Wikileaks. His view is that the information came from a Democrat whistleblower with legal access – it was a leak by an insider, not a hack by an outsider.
Also earlier this week a group of former senior US intelligence officials, including the former Technical Director of the NSA, wrote an open letter to Congress explaining that, if indeed the Russians had hacked the DNC, the NSA would have been able to provide evidence to to prove this. Yet, at such a time of potential constitutional crisis, none has been forthcoming, either directly or via the CIA, even in the face of calls for the usual congressional hearings and special investigations.
So there is apparently no substantive evidence of Russian hacking during the election. However, there does appear to be some evidence around the issue of Clinton’s illegal server.
Eleven days before the American election the Director of the FBI, in the wake of the Anthony Weiner sexting case, reopened the investigation into the Clinton server scandal and published the fact, as he said, in the national interest. This caused howls of rage from the Democrats, and again “Russian hacking” was hyped in the media, thereby easily conflating the concept of the illegal server, the alleged hacks, the Russians, into one big lump of geek-speak that most people would not have the will to disentangle. Two days before the election, James Comey backed down, but the hacking seed had germinated.
Now it is coming into bloom – last week the CIA re-entered the fray, with reports about Russian hacking leaked to both the Washington Post and the New York Times. Since then, nameless “intelligence sources” and grandstanding politicians have been falling over themselves to speak to this subject, but it all remains very evidence-lite.
Plus there is apparently by no means a consensus among all seventeen of the US intelligence agencies with regards to the CIA’s claims. Indeed, until recently the FBI has directly contradicted them, and the FBI is in the business of pulling together evidence to prosecute a case under law.
That, now, is all changing. Only recently it was reported that the FBI is now supporting the CIA’s “beliefs”. I was puzzled about this volte face until I read this prominent op-ed by Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, in the Washington Post where, in addition to blaming the Russians for “hacking the election” (note, no longer just the DNC emails and his own), he is attacking the FBI and its head, James Comey, and suggesting that the organisation is broken and “what’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly”. Perhaps, for whatever reason, Comey can see the overturning of the election result as a real possibility now and is desperately rowing back.
In parallel, it seems that the CIA is fearful of retaliation if, against all their endeavors, Donald Trump does indeed get sworn in as the 45th president of the USA on 20th January next year. That goes some way to explaining why they are challenging the election result by pushing this line that the Russians “hacked the election”, the new headline that has morphed through the global MSM over the last couple of days from belief to established fact, with no evidence produced.
The CIA claims that Russian “hackers” were delving around in the emails of both the Democratic National Congress as well as the Republican equivalent for months before the November election. And yet only the Democrat emails were, the CIA asserts, passed on to Wikileaks and thereby published to order to sway the election result. Where is the proof? They have produced no evidence, in the face of of expert testimony from former senior intelligence officers as well as direct assertions from Wikileaks about the source of the DNC leaks. Indeed, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is refusing to brief the Congressional intelligence committees, despite repeated requests from the members.
That has not stopped the global mainstream media from whipping up an imagined new truth: that the Russians “hacked the election”. And the media frenzy has grown exponentially over the last few days.
This is why I fear an American coup d’etat, possibly starting as soon as 19th December, the date when the Electoral College meets to ratify the election of Trump. All this Cold-War, anti-Russian hysteria is being used as a stick to beat the Electoral College members into ignoring their duty and vote in the way directed by the majority of the people of their state whom they are pledged to represent. Plus, who knows what juicy carrots may also have been offered?
If enough prove faithless to the electorate, then the election result will be overturned and Clinton the Second could ascend to the American throne. Even if the Electoral College does its sworn duty to the people, I fear that the CIA anti-Trump campaign may now have gathered so much momentum that the establishment may still find a way, any way possible, to stop Trump’s inauguration as president – after all we still have five weeks to get through before 20th January.
Trump is a known unknown and retains potential possibilities intriguing to the wider world. However, if the Electoral College starts a coup d’etat on Monday and against all constitutional norms the coronation of Clinton proceeds, we know all too well what lies ahead: war.
Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer for MI5, the UK Security Service, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incompetence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Drawing on her varied experiences, she is now a public speaker, writer, media pundit, international tour and event organiser, political campaigner, and PR consultant. She is also now the Director of LEAP, Europe. She has a rare perspective both on the inner workings of governments, intelligence agencies and the media, as well as the wider implications for the need for increased openness and accountability in both public and private sectors.