Two years ago last Saturday (May 7, 2020) Adam Schiff (D, California), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was forced to perform what Nixon co-conspirator John Ehrlichman famously called a "modified limited hangout."
On that day, Schiff released sworn testimony that there was zero technical evidence that Russia – or anyone else – hacked those DNC emails so prejudicial to Hillary Clinton (later published by WikiLeaks).
Now, please, before you put me in Putin’s or Trump’s pocket, read on: The testifier was Shawn Henry, the head of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. For reasons former FBI Director James Comey would never really explain, he deferred to CrowdStrike to do the forensic work on the DNC computers that were supposedly "hacked." Comey told Congress that CrowdStrike "would share with us what they saw."
In June 2019, it was revealed that CrowdStrike never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, according to the Justice Department.
Are you starting to smell a rat? What about the "modified limited hangout"?
Well, if some or all of this is news to you, it is because the NY Times and other major media have deep-sixed it for exactly two years now, and counting. It gets worse – much worse.
What Did Schiff Know and When Did He Know It?
Fasten your seatbelts: It was on December 5, 2017 that Shawn Henry gave sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee – see the official transcript. Henry testified that there was no technical evidence that Russia, or any other entity, hacked the DNC emails that were published by WikiLeaks just before the Democratic Convention in July 2016. (The emails showed how the deck had been stacked against Bernie Sanders – in the primaries, for example.)
Shawn Henry is a longtime protégé of former FBI Director Robert Mueller and headed Mueller’s FBI cyber investigation unit. After retiring from the FBI in 2012, he took a senior position at CrowdStrike. At his testimony on Dec. 5, 2017, he had Graham M. Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie, as well as David C. Lashway of Baker & McKenzie in support.
Falling Silently in the Forest
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, relying on (1) the extensive expertise and professional experience of two members who happened to have been Technical Directors at NSA, (2) the revelations of Edward Snowden, and (3) the immutable principles of physics, had already concluded that the accusation of that Russian hack on the DNC was phony. (That Brennan’s CIA "believed" it to be credible helped not a whit.)
Below is how we began "Allegations of Hacking are Baseless," our Memorandum of December 12, 2016 (a year before Shawn Henry was forced to choose between telling the truth or perjuring himself). We wrote:
A New York Times report on Monday alluding to "overwhelming circumstantial evidence" leading the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin "deployed computer hackers with the goal of tipping the election to Donald J. Trump" is, sadly, evidence-free. This is no surprise, because harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else. (See: "US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims.")
We even included a brief tutorial on the difference between a "hack" and a leak, but we were already, in Dec. 2016 going up against deeply encrusted popular "belief" based on intelligence-corporate media connivance.
‘Modified Limited Hangout’
Schiff was able to hide Shawn Henry’s testimony for two and a half years. Under considerable pressure from a new Director of National Intelligence, who threatened to release the testimony himself, Schiff finally relented and released it (as mentioned above) on May 7, 2020. As for Establishment media, the transcript of Henry’s testimony fell like the proverbial tree in the forest with no one around to hear it.
Did the NY Times, et al. get "The Memo" ordering all to avoid Henry’s testimony like the plague? Actually, in this particular case, corporate media had quite enough incentive of their own to hide from media consumers the fact that "Russian hacking," the cornerstone of Russia-gate, was a crock, and that viewers and listeners had been had.
When I wrote about the released – well, sort of released – Shawn Henry transcript the following day, there was a wealth of background information to provide context to this sordid affair. I included a four-minute discussion I had had with Schiff just five days after Trump took office, a reminder that the Dems were well into "Russian hacking" as the centerpiece of Russia-gate from the very start. (That clip, and lots else, is embedded here)
So Schiff knew on Dec. 5, 2017 that "Russian hacking" of those DNC emails was bogus. I was recently asked, why do you suppose he did not tell Robert Mueller, the "Inspector Javert" in hot pursuit of "Russian election interference," whose $32-million investigation of Russia-gate lasted from May 2017 till March 2019? Good question. Did Shawn Henry misplace the telephone number of Mueller, his old boss and mentor? Or did Mueller know, and despite knowing, continued his Javert-like chase until after the mid-terms in November 2018. (That worked for the Democrats; and, not incidentally, Schiff took back the reins of the Intelligence Committee.)
Most of Americans have no idea how they’ve been had on Russia-gate. And the NYTimes, et al. have every reason to keep them in the dark about "Russian hacking." Most people have little idea as to how the steady drumming on Russian perfidy has conditioned them not only to distrust "the Russians," but to hate them. (What, after all, could be more hateful than for being responsible for giving us four years of Trump?) Sadly – and admittedly – it cannot be considered unreasonable to be convinced that everything out of Trump’s mouth is a lie and that he would never ever tell the truth about Russia – given what Obama and others call his "bromance" with Putin.
There are, of course, dangerous implications in all this for what Americans may be asked in terms of confronting Russia on Ukraine.
On wider Russia-gate issues over the past five years and my tree-falling-in-forest attempts to expose the malfeasance of our corporate-captive media, readers may wish to review this.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).