In what amounts to nothing more than a speculative assessment — which contains no actual evidence of Russian hacking — the much anticipated “Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” report from the Intelligence Community was released yesterday.
The report is sorely lacking in any hard evidence, providing nothing new to support their dubious politicized claims of “Russia hacking the election,” and instead devoting a majority of the report to speculative claims about Russian motives and criticism of the Russian television station RT.
As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity succinctly noted:
What’s the $80-plus billion dollar per year US Intelligence Community’s big beef with RT? One of its big complaints is that RT undermined US democracy when it “broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates…” We are to believe that Russia undermined our political system by giving voice to official yet minor US political parties? Democracy is undermined when the democratic process is highlighted?
The Intelligence Community report also blamed two RT programs, “Breaking the Set” and “Truthseeker” for undermining Americans’ confidence in US electoral processes. One problem: these programs have not been on television for more than a year.
RT is guilty of undermining US democracy, found the report, because an RT reporter traveled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to interview Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who has received asylum there since 2012. Presumably this report was prepared before conservative Fox News personality Sean Hannity did the exact same thing this past week…or Hannity is going to have some explaining to do.
Abby Martin, former host of “Breaking the Set,” took to social media shortly after the report was released to express the absolute absurdity of the claims in the report, noting that the show had actually ended 2 years ago – significantly prior to the DNC and GOP presidential candidates even being nominated — let alone affecting the election results.
Taking the IC report to task, McAdams went on to note:
The Kremlin funds RT to the tune of $190 million per year, states the report, and its audience keeps growing. The report does not mention that the US government spends vastly more — $780 million for 2017 — on its worldwide propaganda effort through the government-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors. Do what we say but not what we do…Another problem the US spy agencies have with RT is that it reports on the surveillance state created by those same spy agencies. The Report states, “RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties.” So RT is guilty of being a Kremlin plot to undermine our freedom because it points out that the US government has already undermined our freedom?
RT is on the US Intelligence Community’s bad list because, “Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome.” Is this really such a shock to the delicate American viewer? According to a recent survey conducted by the Charles Koch Institute, most Americans oppose Washington’s interventionist foreign policy. Are the Kochs also on the Kremlin payroll?
And RT is evil because it points out that the neocon project to import jihadists into Syria to overthrow that secular government was not such a great idea. Writes the Intelligence Report: “RT is a leading media voice opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict.”
The one thing that can be ascertained from this report is that there is scant evidence to directly implicate Russia in doing anything different than what the U.S. does in elections across the globe, including Russia, on a regular basis. The report attempts to bolster the IC assessment by noting that the conclusions are reached with “high confidence” – the same “high confidence” that was given in 2002 on the IC report about suspected Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – and we all know how that turned out.
The report is severely lacking in any hard evidence, and extremely rife with speculative judgments, such as the following:
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.
We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment.
But do all three agencies actually agree with this assessment?
While it appears at first glance as if the intel agencies are in agreement, upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that there is disagreement in the IC, as the report notes that while the “CIA and FB have high confidence in this judgment; (the) NSA has moderate confidence.”
So, what do these distinctions of “high” or “moderate” confidence mean?
High confidence generally indicates judgments based on high-quality information, and/or the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment. However, high confidence judgments still carry a risk of being wrong.
Moderate confidence generally means credibly sourced and plausible information, but not of sufficient quality or corroboration to warrant a higher level of confidence.
Interesting, the one agency that based their assessment strictly upon hard evidence, and not speculation, only gave a nod of “moderate confidence,” which certainly does not embolden confidence in this highly politicized report.
In fact, William Binney, one of the architects of the NSA’s current domestic spying apparatus, has publicly stated that the NSA should have solid irrefutable evidence of Russian hacking if it were to actually exist — leading him to suspect that the information was not hacked, but rather taken on a thumb drive from someone on the inside and then leaked.
The true insanity contained within this report is that it essentially lays blame on Russia for influencing the election by accusing them of allowing Americans to see truthful information.
Only in some type of strange Orwellian paradigm can a government claim that people having access to actual factual information about political candidates is a threat to democracy.
Ironically, what is taking place is extremely similar to events that unfolded in Russia during their 2012 election cycle. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was forced out of Russia amid accusations of undermining Russian sovereignty and attempting to influence their internal election politics. Of course, when USAID was kicked out over these allegations the U.S. loudly cried foul, as they claimed the organization was simply promoting Western democratic values to strengthen the Russian democracy.
Senior Russian officials claimed that some of the agency’s programs, such as some human rights groups and election monitoring, worked to undermine Russia’s sovereignty, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti.
On election night in Moscow in March 2012, Vladimir Putin capped off his victory speech with a comment directed at foreign influence in Russian elections when he said:
We showed that no one can impose anything on us — no one, nothing! We showed that our people can distinguish between the desire for renewal and political provocation that has but one goal: to destroy Russia’s statehood and usurp power.
Prior to that, in December, he had blamed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for giving a “signal” to Russians protesting his rule to turn out for street demonstrations.
So there you have it.
Essentially, during the 2016 U.S. election cycle, the Russians operated in a similar manner to what the U.S. did in Russia during their 2012 elections.
Perhaps the lesson is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – meaning that if we choose to meddle in the internal presidential politics of other states, then the U.S. should expect that same favor to be returned. To feign indignation over claimed interference, when operating in virtually the same manner, is disingenuous and exposes a true lack of legitimacy and leadership of which the American people have largely tired.
With virtually the whole of U.S. military posture over the past 65+ years directed at planning for and mitigating a potential global conflict with the Soviet Union/Russia, there are extremely powerful and entrenched bureaucratic interests that essentially refuse to accept a new paradigm between the Cold War foes.
Make no mistake that what you are seeing is not a legitimate concern to the fabric of our democratic system, but rather a contrived problem, meant to propagandize the American public into accepting a continuation of the Cold War by ratcheting up tensions with Russia – with an intention of creating conditions that won’t allow Trump to proceed with a rapprochement with Russia, as he has stated he plans to do.
For all intents and purposes, this exercise in American propaganda is actually a manifestation of the deep state/military industrial complex attempting to wrestle control back from the American people after they elected a highly divisive President that ran on a platform of peace with Russia.