The Russiagate Hoax — Cutting to the Chase

I have written a rather comprehensive debunking of the “Russia interfered in our election” narrative that has obsessed the MSM for most of a year. Since its first posting, I have been updating it; its expanded form is available here:https://medium.com/@markfmccarty/whats-left-of-russiagate-are-we-down-to-the-1-000-paid-trolls-222bb4c3b3ff
I don’t pretend to be an investigative journalist — rather, what I have done is to assemble the findings of respected journalists, intelligence experts, and cyberanalysts who have examined the interference narrative with a critical eye. The links are the best part of my essay, and I refer you to them if you want verification for the views I express below.

What I would like to do here is present, in summary form, my own best guess as to what actually happened, in light of the evidence and analyses I cite. Other interpretations are possible, but most of these have a Rube Goldberg-type complexity and illogic that render them quite dubious. Whereas this interpretation fits the known evidence rather straightforwardly:

Seth Rich was the source for the DNC emails which Wikileaks published; Assange has been silently screaming this for months, both through statements and tweets, while strenuously denying that the Russian government played any role in this regard. How Seth obtained these emails, and how he conveyed them to Wikileaks, remain to be determined. If the FBI inside source which Sy Hersh discussed in his taped conversation with Ed Butowski is accurate, Seth provided them by drop box, giving Wikileaks the password. There is a recent claim that Seth had had a raucous argument with Donna Brazile regarding DNC unfairness to Bernie; this concern may have motivated Seth’s leaking, though he may also have sought payment for his risky efforts.

On June 12th of last year, Wikileaks announced that it would soon be releasing material pertinent to Hillary’s campaign. Whether the DNC knew at this time that Seth was the source is unclear. What is clear is that DNC officials, who had previously been informed that their server had been hacked, quickly decided to convince our intelligence agencies, the press, and the public that Russian hackers, acting at the behest of the Russian government, were the source of the damaging material to be released — in that way, focusing attention on the evil machinations of the Russians, slamming Wikileaks, and detracting attention from the content of the released material.

On June 14th, the DNC, in conjunction with the Crowdstrike cybersecurity firm that they had hired, announced that its servers had been hacked, and that a file on Trump opposition research had been taken. An entity dubbed “Guccifer 2.0” popped up online a day later, claiming to be the source for the soon-to-be-released Wikileaks DNC material, and obligingly posting a file on Trump opposition research, as well as several other files. Forensic analyses have indicated that the posted documents had had their metadata intentionally altered to leave “Russian fingerprints”. Moreover, this alteration had occurred on a computer whose MS Office had been registered to the former technical director for Joe Biden, Warren Flood; hence, this computer presumably had been used in the past by Joe Biden’s staff.

On July 5th, Guccifer 2.0 downloaded from the DNC server a number of additional documents, some of which — all of them relatively innocuous — he subsequently posted on his own website. Forensic analysis of this download indicated that it occurred locally, most likely via USB port, and that it took place on the East Coast.

An overview suggests that the Guccifer 2.0 persona was created by people with inside connections to the DNC — on the East Coast, with direct access both to the DNC server and to a computer that had been used by Joe Biden staffers. The evident intent of this charade was to trick our intelligence agencies into concluding that Guccifer 2.0 was the Wikileaks source and was acting at the behest of the Russian government. The fact that he released Trump opposition material a day after the DNC proclaimed that it had been taken by hackers strongly suggests collusion between top people in the DNC and the people concocting Guccifer 2.0. As Adam Carter notes, it is not at all clear how the DNC/Crowdstrike could have known that this particular file had been taken. Carter suspects that principals at Crowdstrike played a key role in creating Guccifer 2.0, as they would have had the expertise required to pull off such a scam. (Whether Imran Awan possesses such skill is not clear.)

Five days later (July 10th), Seth Rich was murdered, most likely by hitmen. The DNC might have known by this point that Seth was the leaker to Wikileaks — and that he therefore would have been in a position to completely destroy the Russian interference hoax if he had chosen to do so.

Crowdstrike, whose founders are known to despise the Russian government, rapidly concluded that the DNC server had been hacked by Russians affiliated with Russian intelligence. According to experts who have examined this claim, the logic behind this conclusion is unconvincing and puerile. Moreover, Crowdstrike’s previous effort to implicate Russian intelligence in a hack had been shown to be bogus. Nonetheless, the FBI chose to accept the Crowdstrike conclusions, even though they had never been able to examine the DNC servers themselves because the DNC had refused to turn them over, and the FBI had failed to subpoena them.

If Hersh’s source inside the FBI is to be believed, the FBI has known for over a year that Seth Rich was a Wikileaks source, and has kept this knowledge secret. The FBI states that they have not participated in the investigation of Seth’s murder — thereby tacitly implying, without saying so directly, that they have not examined his computer. Given that Assange, who presumably has direct knowledge on the issue, has hinted as strongly as possible that Seth was one of his sources, the FBI would be severely derelict if indeed it has not examined Seth computer(s).

The Obama administration was soon fully on board with the “Russia interfered” narrative, which initially shielded Hillary from the full import of the Wikileaks revelations, and, after the election, provided Hillary’s campaign with an excuse for its failure while enabling an ancillary “Trump colluded in the interference” narrative that could be employed to disable the Trump presidency. Despite Hillary’s concocted claim about “17 intelligence agencies” verifying the Russian interference story, the Obama administration made sure that the standard appropriate process for our intelligence agencies to provide a balanced evaluation — a National Intelligence Assessment, entailing participation by a number of agencies and including any dissenting judgements — was NOT FOLLOWED. Rather, the histrionic Russophobes James Clapper and John Brennan were allowed to hand-pick a group of a couple dozen intelligence personnel from just 3 agencies. The declassified version of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) which they drafted, free of any dissents, accused the Russian government of a conscious campaign to support the candidacy of Trump by hacking several key political websites and providing their contents to Wikileaks and other outlets. Guccifer 2.0 was specifically cited as a Wikileaks source.

Critics immediately noted that the declassified ICA provided no hard evidence whatever to document its claims, and that over half its length was devoted to a criticism of the RT television network as a supposed propaganda outlet. In particular, no insight was provided as to how the authors of the report had concluded that the hacked documents had been transferred to Wikileaks. The conclusions of this report evidently fit seamlessly into a broader strategy of demonizing Russia, the intent being to insure that our military-industrial complex and NATO continue to receive an outrageous level of funding, and that the warped policy agendas of the neo-cons are satisfied.

Our MSM immediately embraced the conclusions of the ICA as Gospel truth, frequently referring to “our 17 intelligence agencies” as the source for this report. They completely ignored the fact that the “assessments” of this report are in effect just “best guesses”, that the preamble of the report pointed out that “assessments” should not necessarily be equated to “facts”, and that the NSA — which, as William Binney notes, should have been able to obtain definitive proof for any actual hacking that had occurred — expressed only “moderate confidence” in the conclusions. This sycophantic credulity is particularly inexcusable in the context of the previous “Saddam’s WMDs” hoax which they likewise had swallowed uncritically, resulting in an illegal war with utterly catastrophic consequences.

The initial claims of Russian interference were soon embellished by media reports claiming that, according to anonymous intelligence sources, the Russian government had attempted to hack into the voter registration files of 21 states, had conducted hacking operations intended to interfere in German and French elections, and had hacked into the Qatari state news agency to plant a fake news story. The veracity of each of these unsourced claims has been called into question, and in some cases disproved, by cyberanalysts, intelligence experts, and journalists. The conclusions of the NSA document leaked by Reality Winner have likewise been shown to be purely speculative. Claims that Russian bots and paid trolls assaulted our social media in the months prior to the election are poorly documented, and, in any case, rather comical.

Following the election, the Russian interference narrative was echoed unceasingly by the Democratic establishment, as this was the necessary concomitant of the “Trump collusion” claims that they were using to slam and cripple Trump — in the hopes of eventually impeaching him. (It presumably would have been hard for Trump to collude in Russian election interference if in fact there had been no Russian interference.) Hysterical attacks on Russia accelerated to the point that some pols referred to the “Russian interference” as “an act of war”. This New McCarthyism ultimately led to our Congress placing severe new sanctions on Russia which also harm our European allies, and which these allies decry as illegal. In other words, we are punishing Russia for a crime they almost certainly did not commit, alienating key allies in the process, and amping up a Second Cold War, with all the expense and severe danger which this may entail.

All because the DNC and its associates concocted an overt fraud to protect and excuse Hillary, and to use as a cudgel over Trump — a fraud that was readily lapped up and sold to the public by hand-picked Russophobes in our intelligence community, and by a MSM that cares far less about truth than about access and ratings.

We need to determine who created the Guccifer 2.0 hoax, and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. The “intelligence agents” who concluded “with high confidence” that Guccifer 2.0 was a Wikileaks source need to be fired or demoted. If the FBI has known all along that Seth was a Wikileaks source, those who shielded the public from this crucial information need to be unmasked. The “journalists” who have been credulously spreading the “Russia interfered” narrative 24/7 for most of a year, without making the least effort to question the veracity of these assertions, should be recognized by the public as the willing tools of lying warmongers that they are, and their future work studiously ignored. The sanctions recently implemented on Russia should be lifted, and the politicians who played the most egregious role in hyping the Russian interference narrative and pushing the sanctions should be repudiated at the polls when they come up for re-election. (I confess, however, that I will not hold my breath waiting for any of these things to happen.)

And let’s do our best to find out who murdered Seth Rich, and why. The DNC and its media acolytes have been heaping hysterical abuse on anyone who entertains the possibility that Seth may have been a Wikileaks source, or who undertakes to investigate his murder. Donna Brazile and Seth’s brother Aaron have done their best to impede the investigative efforts of Rod Wheeler. There is reason to suspect that the DC police have backed off the investigation of the murder, accepting the very dubious view that Seth’s murder was just a “botched robbery”. And why did Democratic operatives feel it necessary to supply the Rich family with a “crisis consultant” after Assange mentioned Seth — when they couldn’t be bothered to offer an award for apprehension of Seth’s murderer? This behavior is highly suspicious — if Seth was indeed the victim of random street violence, what would the DNC have to fear from further investigation? Let’s get to the bottom of this!

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