Three intelligence agencies – the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA – have issued their much-touted report on alleged Russian intervention in the presidential election, and after reading it one question remains: Where’s the evidence?
We are told from the outset that the actual evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails as part of a wide-ranging campaign to put Donald Trump in the White House cannot be revealed: “source and methods” must be kept secret. This in spite of DNI director James Clapper’s pledge that he would declassify as much of the evidence as possible in the interests of transparency: but then again, Clapper is an admitted liar.
One interesting note is that the key conclusion – that Vladimir Putin personally ordered a Russian campaign to “denigrate” poor little Hillary Clinton and elect Trump – is endorsed with “high confidence” by the CIA and the FBI, but only with “moderate confidence” by the National Security Agency. The NSA dissent is significant because if there is any hard evidence behind these assertions, it is surely the NSA – with its ability to intercept communications of Russian officials – that would secure it.
Hiding behind the old “sources and methods” pretext, we are then treated by our spooks to a compilation of arbitrary assertions interspersed with complaints about the supposedly key role played by RT, formerly Russia Today, a news organization run by the Russia government which very few people in this country even know about, never mind listen to. Both RT and Putin, we are told, said mean things about the US, Hillary Clinton, and “the liberal-democratic order.” Will the republic survive?
And while we are told that the insidious Russian campaign to elect Trump was a “covert” operation, much of the report cites Putin’s alleged public support for the GOP nominee, although the authors don’t bother quoting the Russian leader’s words verbatim. While it’s true that Putin welcomed Trump’s statements that “it would be nice if we got along with Russia,” one wonders what other response from the Kremlin would be remotely possible.
The report avers that Moscow “saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State” – a goal that conflicts with the CIA’s canoodling with Islamist “rebels” in Syria affiliated with al-Qaeda, but certainly one that is perfectly understandable. (Again, this is just an assertion: no source is cited.)
The report claims that “Pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory, judging from their social media activity.” Really? In reality, the hashtag #DemocracyRIP was used by anti-Trump activists on Twitter to protest the election results: and they’re still using it. The hashtag was also used earlier by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to protest what they viewed as undemocratic methods utilized by the Labor Party leadership to thwart Corbyn. Twitter’s search function reveals no such election night campaign in support of Trump.
So what’s the purpose of this mountain of bullshit being passed off as “intelligence”? What do the authors hope to accomplish, aside from the obvious, i.e. undermining Trump’s presidency? There’s a hint of what is coming in the following:
“By their nature, Russian influence campaigns are multifaceted and designed to be deniable because they use a mix of agents of influence, cutouts, front organizations, and false-flag operations.”
The paranoid style in American politics – a phrase often deployed against anyone who challenges the conventional wisdom – is now the dominant trope emanating from both the mandarins of liberalism and their newfound neoconservative allies. It is as if we have been transported back in time to the 1950s, when anti-communist hysteria led to a wave of political repression exemplified by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and its infiltration of both the antiwar and civil rights movements. What is being prepared is a new version of the apparatus of repression, where Congress (and the media) investigates “Russian subversion.” Are you an “agent of influence”? Is this web site or organization a “cutout” or a “front organization” for the Kremlin?
We’ve already seen this with the Washington Post’s elevation of the PropOrNot web site as an authority whose pronouncements about who is a “Russian agent” we are supposed to take seriously. Indeed, the CIA-FBI-NSA report reads like a rewritten version of PropOrNot’s output: the same grand assertions, the same accusations offered without evidence, the same McCarthyite methodology utilized in an effort to smear anyone and everyone who questions the Washington Establishment’s unremitting hostility to Russia. As long as the principals of PropOrNot choose to hide behind the veil of anonymity, it is reasonable to assume that they had at least a hand in the CIA-FBI-NSA report: the methodology and even in some instances the phraseology is nearly identical.
The report claims that RT and the Sputnik web site “began openly supporting Trump’s candidacy.” This is untrue: if you bother to look at RT’s YouTube channel, for example, it’s clear that if they were supporting anyone it was Bernie Sanders. And a simple search of RT’s news stories shows that the station regularly echoed charges of racism directed at Trump by his opponents. With “support” like that, Trump doesn’t need opponents.
When we get into “Annex A” of the report we fall down the rabbit hole and enter Never-Never Land. My favorite bullet point is this assertion:
“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.’”
Aside from the absurdity of claiming the coverage of third party candidates is somehow inherently subversive, one has to wonder if PBS – which not only broadcast the third party debate but also conducted its own third party “conversation” – was part of this sinister Putinite plot. What about CNN’s “town hall” broadcasts featuring both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein? The falling prestige of both “major” political parties and the growing number of those who identify as independents is a widely noted trend: is this, too, due to the Kremlin’s manipulations? The whole argument is ridiculous on its face, and a mark of the rank amateurism of our “intelligence” analysts – who don’t seem all that intelligent, if you ask me.
As I’ve said from the beginning, this entire effort is designed with one goal in mind: to undercut Trump’s presidency. Some ancillary goals are to 1) sabotage any effort to reach an accord with Russia, 2) launch a political witch hunt against anyone who dissents from the anti-Russian propaganda campaign, and 3) shore up the rapidly disappearing Democratic party, which not only lost the presidential election but has been practically eliminated from contention on the local level except in heavily “blue” states like California and New York.
For all the hysterics about “Russian interference,” for which there is not one lick of hard evidence, this phony report is solid proof of interference in our domestic politics from a far more dangerous source: the CIA and other elements of the “intelligence community.” Let us recall that the New York Times once reported that John F. Kennedy threatened to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” Unfortunately, a “lone gunman” assassinated him before he could do so and so this was never accomplished. One can only hope that President Trump will recognize the dire threat coming from Langley and take up where Kennedy left off.
Update: The latest chapter in the CIA smear campaign against Trump is covered here, wherein the salacious details are fully described so I won’t bother going into them. Of course it had to come down to sex: that’s how these people operate. But aside from the sexual preoccupation, what’s astonishing about this story is that the “intelligence community” brought it to the attention of the top congressional leadership, via Senator John McCain. A story that had been shopped around to the media by GOP anti-Trump operative Rick Wilson, and pointedly rejected for publication, got the respectful attention of our spooks.
Of course it did.
And of course CNN and BuzzFeed went ahead and published it: we don’t trust them anyway, so why bother to verify? That’s what the “fake news” business is all about.
The “story” is already falling apart, but that doesn’t matter to the Smear Brigade. The point is to generate headlines, in the not-so-unlikely hope that that’s all people read, in order to create a general impression. Truth? Who cares?
This episode underscores what I’ve been saying in this space all along: the “intelligence community” is out to destroy the President-elect. Why? Because their regime-change agenda is doomed as long as he’s in the Oval Office. Billions of dollars are at stake, as are jobs, reputations, and a gravy train that runs from Washington to the capitals of Europe, Asia, and beyond. The Empire isn’t going to allow itself to be dismantled. Not without a fight.
And we are seeing that fight play out right now.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
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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.