The CIA is up to its old tricks: overthrowing a democratically elected government. Only this time it’s our government.
As they are now legally allowed to do ever since the law against covert CIA propaganda in the United States was repealed, the Agency has leaked to the Washington Post reports – via anonymous third parties – of its alleged assessment of a Russian campaign to hand Donald Trump the White House:
“The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
“Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to US officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“’It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,’ said a senior US official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to US senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
The reaction of the Trump transition team was swift and cutting: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’”
This reference to the “intelligence failure” that led us into the most disastrous war in our history is not mere rhetoric: if you’ll recall, there was plenty of dissent within the intelligence community over the Bush administration’s conclusion that Iraq had WMD, and was getting ready to deploy, but this was stripped from the public documents. Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby made several trips to Langley to browbeat analysts into submission and give the administration the talking points they wanted to justify the invasion.
It’s important to note that this leak was published just as President Obama announced he was ordering a full-scale review of the intelligence: the Washington Post story was an effort to get out ahead of that and put the CIA’s conclusions on the record before the review could be made public. This is obliquely alluded to in the Post’s story:
“The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal US assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior US official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.” [emphasis added]
As we get down into the weeds, these unspecified “minor disagreements” seem a bit more major than the reporters at the Post would have us believe:
“Intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin ‘directing’ the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior US official said. Those actors, according to the official, were ‘one step’ removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.”
What does it mean to be “one step removed” from the Russian intelligence apparatus? Well, it means anything the CIA wants it to mean: it is clearly a subjective judgment, akin to the “criteria” by which the web site propornot.com identifies “Russian agents”: if you hold certain views, you must be “Putin’s puppet.” Another similarity to the propornot scam is that the “officials” cited throughout the Post piece are anonymous: we don’t know their motives, their positions, or whatever other information is necessary to evaluating their credibility.
What is missing from the Post’s story is any evidence: it is simply a series of assertions, offered without proof of any kind. That the Democrats, the warmonger wing of the GOP, and the media (or do I repeat myself?), are seizing on this was all too predictable. What separates this out from the usual rhetorical overkill that has characterized this election season is that it is being invoked as a reason for the Electoral College to vote for someone other than President-elect Trump.
“Ex”-CIA analyst Bob Baer – the unofficial media spokesman for the Deep State – is calling for “a new election,” although he wants to “see the forensics first.” (Guess what, Bob, there are no reliable “forensics”!). John Dean, White House counsel under former president Richard Nixon, “called for the intelligence report on Russia’s role to be made available to the 538 members of the electoral college before 19 December, when they formally vote to elect the next president.” Retiring Senate minority leader Harry Reid accused the FBI of covering up the intelligence assessment, and called on director Comey to resign. The “progressive” Twitterverse lit up with hysterical accusations of “treason,” and not so subtle hints that the Electoral College must repudiate Trump.
Meanwhile, former British diplomat Craig Murray threw a monkey wrench into the coup plotters’ campaign by asserting what I’ve been saying in this space all along: that publication of the DNC and John Podesta emails weren’t hacks, but rather were leaks. Murray, a close associate of Julian Assange, had this to say to the Guardian:
“Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims ‘bullshit,” adding: ‘They are absolutely making it up.’
“’I know who leaked them,’ Murray said. ‘I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
“’If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States. America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”
Of course we had to go to the British media in order to read this.
Let’s be clear about what we actually know – and, just as importantly, what we don’t know — about the WikiLeaks email releases:
1) There is not a lick of evidence that the Russians, or anyone else, “hacked” the DNC/Podesta emails. That is, we don’t know if someone used electronic means to obtain them, or if it was an insider, i.e. a person with access who subsequently turned them over to WikiLeaks
2) It is nearly impossible to trace the source of a hack using “scientific,” i.e. purely technical, means. As cyber-security expert Jeffrey Carr puts it, the methods of the professional cyber-security industry are essentially what he calls “faith-based attribution.” Furthermore, the methodology that firms such as CrowdStrike used in supposedly uncovering the “Russian hackers” in the DNC case are classic examples of confirmation bias and laughably inadequate.
3) Julian Assange denies that the Russians are the source of the emails, and although he refuses to identify the person or persons responsible, someone he has worked closely with and his known to have his confidence, Craig Murray, is now telling us that it wasn’t a hack, it was an insider who leaked the documents. That this is being steadfastly ignored in the American media is hardly surprising: after all, it was WikiLeaks that exposed the “mainstream” media’s active collaboration with the Clinton campaign, and the media was clearly in Clinton’s camp.
4) A key element of the CIA campaign is that the Republican National Committee was also hacked by the same Russian spooks, and yet nothing was posted on WikiLeaks Note how this assumes the premises of the conspiracy theorists: that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC/Podesta emails and that WikiLeaks is merely an extension of the Kremlin. Also note that the Republican National Committee denies it was hacked, and furthermore please note the fact that Colin Powell’s emails were indeed posted by DC Leaks, along with routine emails from various GOP operatives that had no particular significance.
So what is going on here?
When Trump supporters opined that the “Deep State” would never allow the populist real estate mogul to take office, I was skeptical. This seemed to me like a made-for-television movie script rather than a real possibility: after all, what could they actually do, aside from using force to prevent him from taking the oath of office?
However, as the campaign progressed, and the Clintonites became progressively more unhinged in their attacks on Trump, the Russian angle became more prominent: former acting CIA Director Mike Morell’s accusation that Trump is an “unconscious agent” of the Kremlin, and “not a patriot,” seemed over the top at the time, but in retrospect looks more like it was laying the groundwork for the current CIA-driven propaganda campaign.
But why would the CIA, in particular, have a special aversion to Trump? Marcy Wheeler, whose analytical abilities I respect despite our political disagreements, has this to say:
“First, if Trump comes into office on the current trajectory, the US will let Russia help Bashar al-Assad stay in power, thwarting a 4-year effort on the part of the Saudis to remove him from power. It will also restructure the hierarchy of horrible human rights abusing allies the US has, with the Saudis losing out to other human rights abusers, potentially up to and including that other petrostate, Russia. It will also install a ton of people with ties to the US oil industry in the cabinet, meaning the US will effectively subsidize oil production in this country, which will have the perhaps inadvertent result of ensuring the US remains oil-independent even though the market can’t justify fracking right now.
“The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.”
The Saudis, having given millions to the Clinton Foundation, along with their Gulf state allies, were counting on a Clinton victory. The CIA has a longstanding relationship with Riyadh, and together they have been working assiduously to not only overthrow Assad in Syria but to forge a “moderate” Sunni alliance that will effectively police the region while establishing the Saudis as the regional hegemon. This was the Clintonian strategy while Hillary was at the helm of Foggy Bottom: Libya, Syria, the alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, are all examples of this utterly disastrous “Sunni turn.”
Trump represents a threat to this grand design, and therefore has to be stopped by whatever means necessary. His desire to “get along with Russia,” his opposition to regime change in Syria, his critique of the Libyan misadventure, his foreign policy stance in general – all this meant that he would come to power and “drain the swamp” of the CIA and the State Department.
The irony here is that the accusation leveled at Trump – that his historic victory represents a successful attempt by a foreign power to take control of the White House – is a classic case of projection. What we are witnessing is a joint CIA-Saudi operation to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States.
In a recent speech given on his “victory tour,” Trump said the following:
“We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. Our goal is stability not chaos.”
For the whole of its existence, the CIA has been in the business of toppling regimes that didn’t bow to Washington’s dictates, from Guatemala to Iran to Chile and on and on. The production of chaos is their whole reason for existing. Trump would effectively put them out of business. No wonder they want to destroy him.
We have heard much about how the CIA “assessment” needs to be made public, at least partially: of course, the details will never be published so that ordinary Americans can see them. It’s the old “we have to protect sources and methods” excuse. But cries – from both those who support the CIA and the few skeptics – for an “investigation” into the charges are simply playing into the hands of the Langley crowd. For an investigation assumes that the premises of the CIA’s case – that WikiLeaks is a Russian front, that the emails were actually hacked rather than leaked, and that there is some validity to the assertion that Trump is a “Russian puppet,” as Mrs. Clinton put it – are anything other than the basis of a smear campaign designed to undermine our democratic institutions. We might as well have an “investigation” into “Pizza-gate” or the belief that the moon landing was faked.
Yes, we do need an investigation – into this brazen attempt by the CIA to subvert our democratic institutions, and undermine the office of the President. When Trump takes the oath of office, the very first thing he must do is to launch that probe – and clean house at the CIA. The cancer of subversion that is festering at the core of the national security bureaucracy must be excised, and Trump is just the man to do it.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.