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The longer this soap opera drags on, it’s becoming more and more evident that the Russian government did not ‘hack’ into the DNC, and Moscow is not feeding John Podesta’s emails to Wikileaks. For those who are deeply invested in this now official conspiracy theory, this might be a hard pill to swallow.
The White House and the Hillary Clinton campaign are now married to the idea that ‘Putin is hacking the US elections.’ In response, the President is weighing his options – tougher economic sanctions, revoking diplomatic status to Russian envoys in the US, or even deploying his newly developed ‘malicious cyber-activity’ tools.
Even VP Joe Biden wants in on the action, threatening Moscow by saying,”We’re sending a message. We have the capacity to do it.”
It seems that where ever you turn nowadays, someone in Washington is issuing a threat against Russia. Are US-Russian relations really that bad, or does this trend have more to do with the defense industry and power struggles within the US?
What was previously a stance reserved for right-wing neoconservative hawks and Cold War hold-outs has now infected America’s left-wing, and is a firm plank in the Democratic Party platform, as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s constant anti-Russian rhetoric throughout this 2016 election cycle. Along with the White House, Clinton has now transformed the Democrats into the vanguard of Washington’s new anti-Russia movement.
On July 27th, Josh Rogin from the Washington Post wrote, “The Clinton campaign has decided to escalate its rhetoric on Russia. After Trump suggested Wednesday that if Russia had indeed hacked Clinton’s private email server it should release the emails, the Clinton campaign sent out its Democratic surrogates to bash Russia and Trump in a manner traditionally reserved for Republicans.”
Anyone who was paying attention back then knew this ‘Russian hack’ talking point was purely political, but then again, who’s really paying attention these days? Certainly not the US media.
You can trace the genesis of the Democratic Party’s hardcore anti-Russian strategy back to when President Vladimir Putin made a mild passing remark about Donald Trump’s GOP primary success. From that point on, Trump’s political opponents saw this as an open target. In their words, ‘comparing one dictator to another.’
Never one to pass up an opportunity to score cheap political points, President Obama got in on the act, intensifying the Trump-Putin narrative to the level of bromance. “If you’ve made a career out of idealizing Ronald Reagan, then where were you when your own party’s nominee for president was kissing up to Vladimir Putin?” said Obama on Oct 20th at a Clinton rally in Miami.
Backed by the Obama White House, Clinton and the media felt they had a green light to keep pressing ahead with blaming Russia – not only for the controversial DNC leaks, but also for hacking into US election systems in Arizona – a charge devoid of any evidence other than innuendo and speculation. The media’s coverage on this issue was deceptive from the onset. In a leading news release, entitled, “Russian hackers targeted Arizona election system,” we can see how after the cock-sure headline, the first paragraph would always
“Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russians were behind the assault on the election system in that state.”
But then by the time you advanced down the story, the report would quickly retreat into a zone of uncertainty:
“The bureau described the threat as “credible” and significant, “an eight on a scale of one to 10,” Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R), said Monday. As a result, Reagan shut down the state’s voter registration system for nearly a week.”
And then, down to almost nothing…
“It turned out that the hackers had not compromised the state system or even any county system. They had, however, stolen the username and password of a single election official in Gila County.”
At no point was any evidence ever given. Only ambiguous statements like, “Cyber security officials agree that this looks very much like a Russian government-directed hack.”
Are American politicians so callous as to tempt geopolitical conflict in order to further their short-term political ambitions? Better yet, has American political life really arrived in such a dark cul de sac (translated in French: ‘bottom of the bag’) where politicians in power are so insecure as to make-up and propagate wild international conspiracy theories – in the middle a national election cycle? It’s a very depressing prospect, and yet, this is exactly what we are seeing in this 2016 Presidential Election.
Behind Clinton’s wild hyperbolic rants about the Kremlin and Wikileaks, you will find the White House…
On October 7th, the Obama Administration formally accused the Russian government of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and other high-profile individuals including Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta – giving them to Wikileaks.
Soon, there was a queue of ‘national security’ politicians eager to hitch a ride on this bandwagon. Senator Ben Sasse (NE-R), a member of the Homeland Security Committee spouted out, “Russia must face serious consequences. Moscow orchestrated these hacks because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin believes Soviet-style aggression is worth it. The United States must upend Putin’s calculus with a strong diplomatic, political, cyber and economic response.”
According to a Washington Post report by technology editor, Ellen Nakashima, the only ‘evidence’ that seems to be available on this story is a corporate analysis of the alleged ‘Russian government hacks’ – provided by a US cyber security company called Crowdstrike. No actual specifics are given, so we are meant to take private firm Crowdstrike’s word for it.
The Post’s Nakashima then added:
“The administration also blamed Moscow for the hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the subsequent leak of private email addresses and cellphone numbers of Democratic lawmakers.”
An online persona calling himself Guccifer 2.0 has claimed responsibility for posting the material. Those sites and that persona are “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the joint statement said. “… We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
Moscow’s press secretary’s reply: “This is some sort of nonsense,” said Dmitry Peskov.
Despite the constant repetition by Democrat media surrogates, and as CNN’s Maria Cardona said last night, no US national intelligence agency has really “confirmed” that Russia was behind the email hacks – and still no evidence, other than speculative guesswork, has been presented.
Likewise, US intelligence agencies have never actually said definitively on record that “Russia did it,” thus, leaving the door open to walk-back the accusation at a later date. Standard Washington procedure of ambiguity. This little detail doesn’t seem to matter in this hyperbolic political climate though. It seems that the White House, Hillary Clinton and media operatives like Cardona – are quite happy living in what John Kerry recent dubbed as a ‘parallel universe.’
Still, during the final Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton proudly crowed how “17 US intelligence agencies” aka the “Intelligence Community” – all agreed that Russia did it.
The announcement, albeit vague, actually originated from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election,” said Clinton. “I find that deeply disturbing.”
What’s even more disturbing is the fact that Clinton is lying in front of a national audience. The highest levels of the Kremlin? Here are Clinton’s ’17 agencies’:
Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, Energy Department, Homeland Security Department, State Department, Treasury Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, Navy Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
What does the Coast Guard Intelligence, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency or the Drug Enforcement Administration know about John Podesta’s emails? Answer: nothing.
The exact same thing happened following Wikileaks first trove of DNC emails back in July 2016. The US government issued a vague accusatory statement, but would not actually name the culprit. Some might call that propaganda.
In both instances, the Obama Administration refused to present any evidence. Translated: there was no evidence. If there had been, the White House would have been shouting from the rooftops and using it as leverage to apply muscle in the UN over Washington’s flagging efforts in Syria. Both Obama Administration announcements were nothing more than dog whistles for Democrats and “journalists” working for hopelessly partisan outlets like New York Times and CNN – none of whom have bothered to press the White House for one ounce of evidence pertaining to the Party’s decree that “Russian is hacking the US election process.”
If you actually look at the joint DNI-DHS statement issued on the matter, it contains no definitive statement:
“… [the hacks] are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
According to NSA intelligence worker-turned whistleblower William Binney, when asked about WikiLeaks and whether the Russians are ‘hacking’ US elections, he concluded that the cyber efforts against the DNC were more likely to be the work of a “disgruntled U.S. intelligence worker.”
Under partisan pressure from senior Democrat Senator Harry Reid, the FBI also initiated another investigation into “people linked to the Trump team with Russia.” Reid was unset about the DNC hacks and the Podesta emails and demanded the FBI do something about the Trump campaign. To date, the FBI haven’t come up with anything.
To be fair, Hillary would have every reason to believe that the Kremlin is behind the hack – because her staff read it to her from the campaign’s daily intelligence briefings, presumably, supplied from the US government’s much vaunted Intelligence Community. Of course, that’s the same Intelligence Community that briefed George W Bush about Saddam’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program, and who also briefed Colin Powell about Iraq’s imaginary “Winnebagos of Death” aka mobile anthrax labs disguised as senior double-wide camper vans. So, of course, they would know if Putin directed the DNC leaks and Podesta email hacks.
For those us who are skeptical of the great oxymoron known as ‘Washington Intelligence,’ I can almost hear the mainstream rebuttal now, “No, that was Iraq, that was Bush. We’re not like that. No, this time it’s different. This time we are sure the Russians did it!”