What’s Left of Russiagate — Are We Down to the 1,000 Paid Trolls?
Those who pay attention to what is going on — as opposed to passively consuming the obsessions of MSM — know that the Clinton-related material published by Wikileaks emerged from leaks, not hacks. Assange has stated in no uncertain terms that the Russian government was not responsible for providing the material Wikileaks published, and his friend Craig Murray — a whistleblower hero who exposed the torture practiced by the government of Uzbekistan while he was British ambassador there — indicates that he has direct knowledge that the DNC and Podesta Wikileaks releases derived from leaks, not hacks. In fact, he met with one of the people involved in September of last year in Washington D.C.
And Wikileaks has just tweeted an audio recording of Seymour Hersh in which he indicates that, according to an FBI source he considers “unbelievably accurate and careful, he’s a very high-level guy”, there is an FBI report indicating that the FBI examined Seth’s computer and determined that Seth was the Wikileaks DNC source. Whether or not Hersh’s source is correct — Hersh has not published this info, and refuses to be interviewed on it — it is not conceivable, at least to those of us who appreciate Wikileaks’ integrity, that Wikileaks would have tweeted this if Seth weren’t their source.
Now, just in time for the anniversary of Seth Rich’s death, forensic analyses — by the pseudonymous ‘Forensicator” — have clarified that the “Guccifer 2.0” releases of DNC material in September 2016 resulted from local downloads, via thumbdrive or LAN, of DNC computer files, rather than hacks from a distant location such as Russia or Romania — contrary to the assertions of our intelligence community; the rate of data transfer, as of mid-2016, was far too great for a remote hack to be responsible.* Indeed, the rate was precisely what one would expect if the download had occurred via USB2.0 memory stick, and cyberexpert/journalist Adam Carter has argued that the downloaded files displayed “FAT filesystem anomalies” likewise pointing to a memory stick download. Moreover, time stamps reveal that this data transfer occurred on the East Coast.
Of no less importance is the fact that the metadata of some of the released Guccifer 2.0 files (those released on June 15th) had been intentionally altered to leave clues that Russian hackers may have accessed the material, in a clear effort to falsely implicate Russians in the hacking of those files. And, as noted below, there is strong reason to suspect that these modifications had been made on a computer that once belonged to Joe Biden’s staff. The clear implication is that someone affiliated with the Clinton campaign or DNC created the persona of Guccifer 2.0 to trick our gullible intelligence agencies into concluding that Russian hacks had been responsible not only for the Guccifer 2.0 releases, but for the WIkileaks releases as well — thereby devaluing them in the eyes of the American public. “Guccifer 2.0”, of course, topped off the scam by claiming he was the Wikileaks source.
As Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have emphasized, the timeline of Guccifer 2.0’s first appearance is curious. On June 12, Wikileaks announced that it would soon be releasing Clinton-related emails. On June 14, the DNC announces that it has been hacked. On June 15, the DNC cybercontractor Crowdstrike announced that it had found malware on the DNC computer which they suspect originated from Russia, and, in seeming coordination, Guccifer 2.0 proclaimed that he was the hacker who supplied Wikileaks with its Clinton material — posting documents that bore “Russian fingerprints”. (And why would a hacker genuinely working for the Russian government go out of his way to advertise himself?) Then the main trove of DNC material subsequently released by Guccifer 2.0 on his website was downloaded locally from DNC computers on July 5th — five days before Seth Rich was murdered by hitmen. These facts are consistent with the thesis that the DNC, or someone affiliated with the DNC, hoaxed our intelligence services to blame the Wikileaks releases on Russia. Could they then have gotten rid of someone who could have spoiled this narrative?
Possible collusion between Crowdstrike and Guccifer 2.0 is suggested by the fact that, in their June 14th announcement, the DNC indicated — presumably based on claims by Crowdstrike — that the hacker had targeted Trump Opposition Research. This was indeed one of the documents that Guccifer 2.0 released the following day. Adam Carter refers to the Crowdstrike claim about Trump Opposition Research being targeted as “specious”, as they “never demonstrated or explained” how they could have known this. Carter concludes that this likely indicates collusion between Crowdstrike and Guccifer 2.0, and suggests that perhaps the persona of Guccifer 2.0 was created by someone at Crowdstrike. (And it hardly seems likely that Crowdstrike would have concocted such a scam without the knowledge and encouragement of top officials at the DNC. Though this brings up an interesting alternative possibility — could Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her felonious IT specialist Imran Awan have conceived and executed Guccifer 2.0? It’s not clear whether Awan has the requisite measure of sophistication.) Another peculiarity is this: if Guccifer 2.0 was employed by the Russian government to damage Hillary and help Trump, why would one of the first documents he released be Trump Opposition Research?!
Another clue pointing to Guccifer 2.0 as a DNC associate is that he used a computer whose Microsoft Word was registered to “Warren Flood” to imprint the “Russian fingerprints” on the documents that he released publicly on June 15th. Warren Flood had worked as technical director for Joe Biden at the White House, and subsequently worked for the Obama campaign in 2012, but there appears to be no evidence that he was still working in Washington D.C. at the time that Guccifer 2.0 was created; he currently lives in Georgia. Presumably, Guccifer 2.0 had gained access to this computer by the time that he emerged on June 15th. This evidence is likewise discussed in the Adam Carter analysis. There is no clear evidence that Warren Flood himself played any role in the Guccifer 2.0 fraud.
Furthermore, Carter’s analysis of the times of G2.0’s tweets and blog publications points to someone in the U.S. rather than Russia — unless he was bizarrely nocturnal.
Carter also discusses linguistic research which demonstrates that, in his communications, Guccifer 2.0 makes a very amateurish effort to impersonate a native Russian attempting to speak English, being very inconsistent in his linguistic errors. His overall impression of Guccifer 2.0 is encapsulated in this description: “A donkey in a bear costume”. In his latest update, Carter notes: “The only language expert willing to be cited without being anonymous was professor M.J. Connolly from Boston College and he stated that Guccifer 2.0 lacked any traits he would expect to see from a Russian communicating in English!”
In an interview with a journalist from Motherboard/Vice News, Guccifer 2.0 described the technique he used to hack the DNC servers. Carter points out that the cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect has analyzed this claim, and found it to be technically impossible. It is unclear whether Guccifer 2.0 has any hacking skills whatever.
Here’s a great new video about the Guccifer 2.0 affair by “Panda Bear” that I strongly recommend:
For clarity, it’s important to note that, contrary to the assertions of some enthusiastic commentators, the forensic findings of Forensicator and Adam Carter pertain only to the releases of Guccifer 2.0, cannot prove that the DNC server was not hacked, and have no clear relevance to the DNC emails released by Wikileaks or the activities of Seth Rich. These issues must be addressed with other lines of evidence. What these forensic analyses do strongly point to is that people affiliated with the DNC consciously hoaxed our intelligence community to try to paint Hillary as a victim of Russian perfidy, with Wikileaks as their devious accomplice. And they also reveal that, in pointing to Guccifer 2.0 as the source for the DNC Wikileaks releases, our “intelligence community” has once again demonstrated its gross and criminal incompetence.
There were also files taken from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that were published prior to the election on Guccifer 2.0’s own website. (Is the DCCC collaborating with the DNC in this scam?) This episode has received little attention, and in any case, if the goal of the Russian government was to impede Clinton’s election, why would they care about the DCCC? Who believes Russia would want to elect more Republicans? In any case, if Guccifer 2.0 was indeed the source of these leaks, they weren’t hacked by Russians, so let’s move on.
Finally, there is DC Leaks, which, beginning in July of last year has released purloined info on a diverse range of targets, including the former commander of NATO, Senators McCain and Graham, the Soros Foundation, and personal info of 200 Democratic lawmakers. This has received little media commentary, possibly because it is hard to see how this effort was an attempt to influence the election. Nonetheless, the cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect claims that DC Leaks is a front for the hacker group Fancy Bear, which they claim is linked to Russian intelligence. They also think that Guccifer 2.0 is involved. Sounds a lot like the analyses that linked the Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks releases to Russian intelligence — and we’ve seen how credible those analyses were.
Then there was the NSA document leaked by Reality Winner, in which it is “assessed” that Russians at the behest of the Kremlin targeted a number of local government operations in spearphishing operations just prior to the election. Scott Ritter has carefully analyzed the NSA document and demonstrated that the NSA agents responsible had nothing but speculation to link these spearphishing attacks to the Russian government.
Recent claims that Russia tried to hack into 21 state electoral databases prior to the election have been skewered by Gareth Porter, who shows that, in the only one of these attacks that was successful, the perpetrators merely extracted personal information saleable to criminal networks, without making any effort to alter electoral data. Evidently the work of cybercriminals, not Russian government operatives.
The Department of Homeland Security is now posting retractions of these claims:
And cyberexpert Jeffrey Carr has determined that the criminals involved were English speakers.
Alleged claims from our intelligence agencies that Russia was responsible for election interference in Germany and France have been debunked by the intelligence agencies in those countries:
Last month, CNN reported that “Russian hackers had breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation….US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies.”
But now, as reported by WaPo, US officials have concluded that the UAE had arranged this hacking to demonize Qatar:
(The story on CNN, of course, is that UAE denies this: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/17/middleeast/uae-qatar-report/index.html. Cue the laughter: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-16/cnn-caught-faking-news-again-us-intel-accuses-uae-not-russia-orchestrating-qatari-ha).
But What About all that “Evidence”?
But what about all the “evidence” our intelligence agencies have for Russia’s nefarious election interference?
Official claims in this regard began with the release of this joint statement by DHS and ODNI on Oct. 17 of last year:
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona 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.”
Note how James Clapper, with the backing of Jeh Johnson of DHS, imperiously represented his views as those of “The U.S. Intelligence Community”. Hillary Clinton subsequently seized on this to make the hyperbolic self-serving claim that “17 intelligence agencies” had reached this conclusion — a claim that was echoed by our servile MSM until it recently was retracted by the New York Times.
The supposedly definitive statement of our intelligence agencies on alleged Russian election interference was an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), a de-classified summary of which was released on Jan. 6th. As subsequently admitted by Clapper in congressional testimony, this assessment was not a formal National Intelligence Estimate, which would have required the participation of all intelligence agencies and would have included any dissenting opinions, but rather represented the opinions of a couple dozen intelligence operatives hand-picked (likely by Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan of the CIA) from the CIA, NSA, and FBI.
It is useful to understand these things about Clapper: He played a key role in convincing the nation that Saddam had ample stores of WMDs before our Iraq invasion. When these WMDs failed to appear, he stated that Saddam had had them shipped to Syria just prior to the invasion (subsequently debunked). He lied under oath before Congress and the nation regarding surveillance of American citizens by the NSA. And in a recent interview with Chuck Todd, he revealed himself to be a near-psychotic Russiaphobe, claiming that Russians were virtually “genetically programmed” to foment chaos for us.
So what do you think is going to be the outcome when a psychotic Russophobe is allowed to hand-pick the members of an intelligence panel intended to evaluate alleged Russian meddling? As acclaimed investigative journalist Robert Parry noted:
“Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.”
As to the unclassified report itself, the most cogent observation is that it provides no hard evidence whatever to back up its conclusion that Russian operatives had interfered in our election on the orders of Vladimir Putin. Rather hilariously, over half of its length is devoted to splenetic venting about the Russia-sponsored TV network RT, which nefariously had featured Third Party political debates and criticisms of fracking — and of course the seditious ravings of that evident Kremlin puppet Larry King. If RT constitutes vile and unacceptable election interference, what have we been doing with Voice of America for decades?
Most tellingly, the declassified ICA barely mentions Wikileaks, and provides no clue as to how it was concluded that Wikileaks received its Clinton-related emails from Russian sources. The key point of the Russiagate narrative is not just that Russians were hacking the DNC and John Podesta, but that, at the behest of the Russian government, they were transferring their booty to Wikileaks for release to the public. In his congressional testimony, Clapper seemed to admit that the link between Russia and Wikileaks was speculative:
It is hard to escape the conclusion that our intelligence agencies have no hard evidence whatever that Wikileaks received its Clinton-related emails from sources commissioned by the Russian government. And of course Assange, who presumably knows how he got the material he himself published — and has far greater credibility than Clapper could ever have — vehemently denies this.
In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, our intelligence agencies at least deigned to convey to us some “evidence” that Saddam did indeed still have WMDs. In the present instance, they are effectively just saying “Trust us”. In the context of the fact that our intelligence agencies used wholly bogus evidence to propel us into an Iraq involvement that led to the death, maiming, or exile of literally millions of people in Iraq — not to mention thousands of American deaths and casualties, and catastrophic expense — anyone in our government or our media who is willing to just “trust” a hand-picked cabal of intelligence agents on an issue that may foment a new Cold War with the second-leading nuclear power, is engaging in gross criminal negligence.
The credibility of the report’s conclusions can be judged by this key passage:
“We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
As we have seen, “Guccifer 2.0” is someone on the East Coast, with local access to the DNC computers, who is doing a rather half-assed job of appearing to be Russian — “A donkey in a bear costume”. So much for their “high confidence”.
In formulating its ICA, the panel relied on the conclusions of a private cyber company, Crowdstrike, with respect to alleged hacking of the DNC server, because the DNC had repeatedly refused to turn their server over to the FBI — and the FBI had failed to subpoena it. Crowdstrike was recruited for this purpose by the Clinton campaign, and had previous associations with Hillary Clinton. Its founders are affiliated with the Atlantic Council, a think tank known for its virulently anti-Russia stances. Its previous effort to incriminate Russia in a hacking attack has been shown to be wholly erroneous.
As to the “logic” which Crowdstrike employed to impute hacking of the DNC to Russian intelligence, it appears to have been puerile. Here are the comments of Scott Ritter:
“CrowdStrike claimed that the presence of the X-Agent malware was a clear ‘signature’ of a hacking group — APT 28, or Fancy Bear — previously identified by German intelligence as being affiliated with the GRU, Russian military intelligence…. The CrowdStrike data is unconvincing. First and foremost, the German intelligence report it cites does not make an ironclad claim that APT 28 is, in fact, the GRU. In fact, the Germans only ‘assumed’ that GRU conducts cyberattacks. They made no claims that they knew for certain that any Russians, let alone the GRU, were responsible for the 2015 cyberattack on the German Parliament, which CrowdStrike cites as proof of GRU involvement. Second, the malware in question is available on the open market, making it virtually impossible to make any attribution at all simply by looking at similarities in ‘tools and techniques.’ Virtually anyone could have acquired these tools and used them in a manner similar to how they were employed against both the German Parliament and the DNC…. The presence of open-source tools is, in itself, a clear indicator that Russian intelligence was not involved.”
Cyberexpert Jeremy Carr fully agrees:
“It is both foolish and baseless to claim, as Crowdstrike does, that X-Agent is used solely by the Russian government when the source code is there for anyone to find and use at will.
Once malware is deployed, it is no longer under the control of the hacker who deployed it or the developer who created it. It can be reverse-engineered, copied, modified, shared and redeployed again and again by anyone. In other words — malware deployed is malware enjoyed!
If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn’t means either that the evidence doesn’t exist or that it is classified.
If it’s classified, an independent commission should review it because this entire assignment of blame against the Russian government is looking more and more like a domestic political operation run by the White House that relied heavily on questionable intelligence generated by a for-profit cybersecurity firm with a vested interest in selling “attribution-as-a-service”
More recently, he has stated:
“There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the DNC attack to the GRU, FSB or any agency of the Russian government.”
Indeed, he is so irate regarding the impact on international affairs of the flawed logic employed by Crowdstrike that he demands an investigation of them:
“I think there should be commission that reviews the technical evidence which is being sold to the US government by and for profit by the cyber security companies like Crowdstrike. I think this deserves a deeper investigation, because based upon invalid assumptions and lack of proof they have created an international strain in international relations between the US and Russia,” said Carr.
If you had a friend who was trying to solve a murder, and he told you: “We know that the victim was killed with a gun, and the Mafia uses guns, so we know that the Mafia killed him,” you would rightly conclude that your friend was a bit half-witted. Yet Crowdstrike, using quite analogous “logic”, while throwing around technical terms that that are obscure to people who aren’t cyberexperts, receives awed respect from MSM journalists.
A further indication of the intellectual acumen of Crowdstrike is their response to a reporter from the Washington Times when they were asked to comment on the blockbuster VIPS report on Guccifer 2.0.:
“ ‘We find the argument unsubstantiated and inaccurate, based on a fundamental flaw,’ a company spokesman said.
The CrowdStrike spokesman said that by July 5 all malware had been removed from the DNC network and thus the hackers copied files that were already in their own systems.”
Uh, precisely how would the existence or nonexistence of hacking malware on a computer influence one’s ability to download data on a thumbdrive?!!
Here’s another oddity about Crowdstrike: As of May 5th, they had installed their supposedly state-of-the-art anti-hacking program Falcon on this server — and yet the latest of the DNC emails which Wikileaks released was created on May 25th.
Steve McIntire writes:
“There were no fewer than 14409 emails in the Wikileaks archive dating after Crowdstrike’s installation of its security software. In fact, more emails were hacked after Crowdstrike’s discovery on May 6 than before. Whatever actions were taken by Crowdstrike on May 6, they did nothing to stem the exfiltration of emails from the DNC.”
Of course, there is nothing at all odd about this if the Wikileaks emails stemmed from a leak.
However, Crowdstrike has subsequently characterized its installation of Falcon as a measure to monitor ongoing hacking. Alperovitch of Crowdstrike has referred to Falcon as “monitoring software”:
Allegedly, Crowdstrike took definitive measures to cleanse the DNC servers and institute new passwords on the weekend of June 10–12. Are we expected to believe that they just monitored ongoing hacking for a month while doing nothing to stop it? Here’s an analogy: You are informed that a gang rape is in progress. Instead of immediately sending the police, you send photographers (apparently without film).
However, Crowdstrike’s own promotional literature refers to Falcon as software for preventing hacking:
So is Crowdstrike throwing its own top-of-the-line product under the bus to maintain the credibility of the claim that hackers provided Wikileaks with the DNC emails?
Cyberexpert Adam Carter suspects that Crowdstrike might have been involved in creating the Guccifer 2.0 fraud. The purposely tainted Guccifer 2.0 releases, in conjunction with Crowdstrike’s conclusion that Russian agents had hacked the DNC, could have readily led unsuspecting intelligence agents to indict the Russians.
Oh, and guess who the DCCC hired to investigate its breach?
Another key difficulty with the ICA has been raised by William Binney, a co-founder of the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center. He indicates that if the DNC had been hacked, the NSA would know precisely when this had happened, and where the data had gone:
“Because NSA can trace exactly where and how any “hacked” emails from the Democratic National Committee or other servers were routed through the network, it is puzzling why NSA cannot produce hard evidence implicating the Russian government and WikiLeaks. Unless we are dealing with a leak from an insider, not a hack, as other reporting suggests. From a technical perspective alone, we are convinced that this is what happened.”
Intriguingly, it was the NSA which indicated that they were only “moderately confident” about the ICA’s conclusion.
And finally, there’s the intriguing detail that the declassified ICA contains a preamble indicating that the “assessments” it provides are not necessarily equivalent to “facts”. In other words, they are “best guesses”. Ray McGovern has pointed out that, in spyspeak, “assess” effectively means “guess”. So those trumpeting the “proven” election interference by Russia are relying on the guesses of a couple of dozen people hand-selected by the virulent Russophobe James Clapper.
Getting back to the issue of whether Seth Rich was the source of the DNC Wikileaks releases: In one corner we have Julian Assange and Craig Murray, who have sacrificed their freedom and their career (respectively) for their insistence on spreading (inconvenient) truth. Nothing ever released by Wikileaks has been found to be fraudulent. Assange states without qualification that the Russian government was not responsible for his DNC releases, Murray states bluntly that both the DNC and Podesta emails Wikileaks releases resulted from internal leaks, not hacks (having met personally with one of the sources), and Assange, both by direct statements and by re-tweeting key reports, is implying as strongly as he can without saying so directly that Seth is a Wikileaks source. Assange and Murray have direct knowledge of their DNC source if anyone does. Celebrated journalist Sy Hersh indicates that an anonymous FBI source he values highly indicates he has seen an FBI analysis of Seth’s computer which concludes that Seth provided the DNC material to Wikileaks via a drop box. And — for what it’s worth (which might not be much, but we’ll see) — Kim Dotcom also claims to have evidence that Seth was a Wikileaks source. (He states that he cannot come forward with this evidence without getting an immunity deal, because otherwise he could be subject to legal sanctions for participating in the leaking.)
In the other corner, we have committed Russophobes James Clapper, John Brennan, and a group of hand-picked acolytes who assess (guess) that Russian hackers — including Guccifer 2.0 — were the Wikileaks source. They obviously have no direct knowledge in this regard, and they have made this assessment despite the fact that no federal agency has been allowed to analyze the DNC server; the private company which made the assessment which they rely on likewise has a strong political bias. They also provide no clue whatever as to how they have concluded that the alleged hacks were transferred to Wikileaks. Their declassified ICA has been ridiculed by independent cyberexperts for failing to provide any hard evidence whatever. Their conclusion that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian hacker is an evident farce. Clapper is notorious for his misjudgments prior to and following the Iraq invasion, and also perjured himself under oath to Congress. Both Clapper and Brennan have strong motivation to slam Russia.
And yet virtually all of our MSM and political class accept as a matter of course the conclusions of the ICA, and ridicule as a “conspiracy theorist” anyone who even broaches the possibility that Seth could be the Wikileaks source. Of course, these are the same people whose sycophantic credulity enabled the grossly criminal and catastrophic Iraq invasion — so why be surprised?
Topping it all off, of course, is that the key crime that the Russians are alleged to have committed — a crime that has been likened to an “act of war” by some over-the-top commentators — was to provide the American public with true facts regarding the ways in which the DNC, in violation of its charter, leaned over backwards to favor Hillary Clinton over her rivals in the 2016 primary — and also finally gave us access to Hillary’s Wall Street speeches in which she helpfully clarified that she had two sets of views — those for the public, and those for her donors, who clearly were the ones that really mattered. (Of course, it’s not as though percipient observers didn’t know these things already.) Isn’t it the role of our MSM to be providing such “interference”?
Craig Murray has summed much of this up in a recent excellent essay:
And the fabulous Caitlin Johnstone has assembled a voluminous summary of pertinent facts on Russiagate here:
But the Russian Trolls!
But wait — there’s still the 1,000 Russian trolls, paid by the Kremlin to spread “fake news”TM to the gullible American public. As far as I know, the only source for this is a statement by Sen. Mark Warner of the Intelligence Committee, referring to unspecified “reports”:
Hillary embellished this narrative at a recent sit-down comedy performance at the 2017 Code Conference — for which she received rave reviews:
After repeating her by-then-debunked lie about the “17 intelligence agencies”, she focused on the Russian trolls and bots who had helped to tank her campaign:
“So the Russians…could not have known best how to weaponize that information unless they had been guided. Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.”
Her implication was of course that the people providing this guidance were the Trump campaign. And apparently this guidance was so astute that, according to Warner, the trolls targeted the rust-belt states that Hillary gave short shrift to. According to tweeter Maple Cocaine — “Pretty big indictment of the Hillary campaign when the fucking Kremlin knew to campaign in Wisconsin but she didn’t.”
Of course, it’s hard to see how, with tens of millions of Americans active on social media, a thousand or so Russian trolls could have had a significant impact — how many of those pestilential buggers did David Brock employ on Hill’s behalf? — but who needs logic.
A rather hilarious variation on this theme is the claim that Russian troll armies were actually writing the “fake news” stories that denigrated Hillary during the campaign:
“The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are looking into the rash of anti-Clinton fake news that originated in Russia and was spread online by Trump supporters in advance of last year’s election.”
Apparently, Russian fabulists are supposed to have dreamed up Pizzagate, the neurological problems which Hillary is hiding, the lengthy lists of Clinton opponents who have died mysteriously, Clinton’s raving fits and abuse of Secret Service agents, and just about every story denigratory to Clinton that the MSM won’t touch. Should we give our fellow Americans so little credit for perceptiveness and creative imagination? This has now truly degenerated to the level of farce.
And note the title of this story: Investigators: “Fake News Now at Center of Trump Russia Probe”. Which suggests that at that point we really ARE down to the 1,000 Russian trolls.
I can see the scenario now: “Vladimir Vladimirovich, what are your suggestions for this week’s troll assault?” “Our young friend Donald Donaldovich informs me that Wisconsin, especially the Milwaukee area, could be a fertile ground for the Pizzagate fantasy that Kuryakin dreamed up last month. Give that a try.”
Robert Parry notes: “As for the relatively small number of willfully produced ‘fake news’ stories, none appear to have traced back to Russia despite extensive efforts by the mainstream U.S. media to make the connection. When the U.S. mainstream media has tracked down a source of ‘fake news’, it has turned out to be some young entrepreneur trying to make some money by getting lots of clicks.”
Rather hilariously, Parry discusses a fake news website created by an unemployed Georgian student in Tbilisi who was trying “to make money by promoting pro-Trump stories. The owner of the website, 22-year-old Beqa Latsabidse, said he had initially tried to push stories favorable to Hillary Clinton but that proved unprofitable so he switched to publishing anti-Clinton and pro-Trump articles whether true or not.”
A vastly hyped claim that a variety of fake accounts, presumed to be associated with the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, had spent a total of about $100K over 2 years to purchase about 3,000 ads on Facebook (annual revenue $27 billion) to promote Trump’s election, allegedly at the behest of the Russian government, has devolved into farce, as Facebook acknowledged that “The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election or voting for a particular candidate.” Yet Sen. Warner gravely assures us that this may just be “the tip of an iceberg”.
I will rapidly skip over the “Trump campaign colluded with the Russians” fantasy because it surpasseth understanding how the Russians would need the permission or guidance of Trump if they did indeed intend to interfere. And yet this has been the chief obsession of our MSM for lo these many months.
This narrative got its start when, in light of claims by intelligence experts that Russia, China, and other nations had very likely hacked Hillary’s private server during her tenure as Secretary of State — and the fact that Hillary’s crew had managed to bleach-bit out of existence tens of thousands of Hillary’s “personal” emails then under court subpoena (with no legal consequences) — Trump joked that Russia should hand over those deleted emails to us to expedite our legal process. The Clinton campaign, echoed by the MSM, chose to interpret this as a treasonous request that Russia hack Hillary’s server — an interpretation that was particularly absurd in light of the fact that Hillary’s SOS server had been offline for many months.
The latest variant on this theme is consternation over a meeting Trump Jr. had with a Russian lawyer whom he was informed had dirt on Clinton which the Russian government was eager to spread. Alas, the lawyer had no such dirt, she denies that she is affiliated with the Russian government or is acting at their direction, and the email which proposed this meeting was from a British music promoter whose credentials as a Kremlinologist are a mite suspect. Moreover, the MSM breathlessly pushing this revelation have neglected to mention that friends of the Clinton campaign paid money to Russian sources — via “piss dossier” entrepreneur Christopher Steele — to invent imaginative slanders of Trump, which, incredibly, were appended to the classified version of the ICA by Clapper.
It seems to me that that is the documented Russian interference in the election.
And now it is alleged that the music promoter who lied to Trump Jr. when setting up the meeting, as well as the Russian lawyer who attended, are associates of GPS Fusion, the company which concocted the Trump “piss dossier”. Sheer coincidence?
Michael Tracey has detected a pattern to the seemingly endless wave of evanescent pseudo-scandals regarding Trump campaign contacts with Russians that have consumed MSM discourse for months:
Even if we were to presume that the Russian government did interfere in our recent election, the fact that millions of Americans immediately jumped to the conclusion that Trump and his associates had treasonously acted as co-conspirators in these efforts — in the absence of any evidence, simply because Hillary had suggested it — does not speak well of the intellectual integrity or even sanity of the American public.
But we’re still left with the issue of the 1,000 paid Russian trolls. Surely Clapper can provide us with the names and addresses of these demons — they seem to be in Russia, or Macedonia, or somewhere else sinister; and we want to see the receipts for their payments. Come on James, this is all you’ve got left — you’d better not blow this.
And by the way, WHERE THE HELL IS MY PAYMENT, VLAD?!
A Personal Coda
So why I am so hellbent on driving a stake through the heart of the Russiagate hoax?
Here’s my perspective. Russia and the Russian people are not our enemies. Our true enemies are the people who are trying to brainwash us into despising and fearing the Russians.
Watch this speech by Bernie delivered to Congress a quarter century ago.
Bernie recognized that the collapse of the Soviet Union was our chance to turn away from our catastrophically expensive militarism, and to devote more of our attention and finances to meeting the real needs of the American people. And that goal is still a worthy one.
Russia is not threatening to invade the Baltics or re-establish the Soviet empire — such an aspiration would be totally insane. With respect to Ukraine, the reason there was a Ukrainian civil war is that, after Yanukovich had negotiated a deal with the EU to hold accelerated elections, after which he would step down — a deal which Putin wholly endorsed — neo-Nazi troops stormed the Kiev government buildings, establishing a coup government which the US immediately recognized — thereby rendering moot the Yanukovich/EU deal that would have prevented civil war. After the coup government quickly dropped official recognition of the Russian language, and neo-Nazi gangs burned to death dozens of Russophiles in Odessa, eastern Ukraine rose up in revolt. (What do you think would happen in fly-over America if a coup in Washington DC installed Hillary as President?) Russia helped to make sure their Russian-speaking compatriots in east Ukraine had enough arms to defend themselves from the battalions sent to crush them.
In Crimea, which had been part of the Russian empire for nearly 200 years and where nearly everyone grows up speaking Russian, the duly elected Crimean parliament held a referendum in which the people overwhelmingly endorsed rejoining Russia. The Crimean parliament then petitioned Russia for reunification, which the Russian government gladly assented to. (However, they did not agree to annex any of eastern Ukraine proper). Russia never invaded Crimea, because tens of thousands of Russian troops were already stationed there under a longstanding agreement with Ukraine; Crimea hosts Sevastopol, Russia’s only southern port. Most Americans don’t know, because MSM has never told them, that Khrushchev inexplicably gave Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in the 1950s without asking the permission of the Crimean people. Most Crimeans consider themselves Russians, a minority are native Tatars (whom Stalin oppressed and exiled) — almost none consider themselves Ukrainian. And the Crimeans appreciate that Russia has a relatively stable economy, whereas Ukraine is now a basket case.
And with respect to Syria, the Russians are acting legally in response to a legitimate request from the Syrian government; they are trying to prevent Syria from being overrun by the psychotic jihadi hordes who have infiltrated Syria and are armed and funded by the CIA, the Saudis, and other bad actors. Only a very small percentage of the so-called “rebels” are actually Syrian. Our MSM have brainwashed the American people on this issue as well as on so much else.
In fact, it is WE who have antagonized Russia. We have completely welshed on the promise we gave Gorbachev that, in return for East Germany being allowed to unite with West Germany and join NATO, we wouldn’t move NATO “a single inch” to the east. Instead, since Bill Clinton’s administration we have expanded NATO steadily to the east, until it is on Russia’s doorstep. The desire of the neocons to now incorporate Ukraine into NATO is a bridge too far for Russia — they will only accept so much humiliation. And Russia sees our ringing of their country with ABMs — under the transparently phony pretext of protecting Europe from nonexistent Iranian nuclear missiles — as an effort to establish first strike capacity. This terrifies the Russians — and should terrify us too, because who knows what the Strangeloves in our Deep State are capable of.
And we in recent years are largely responsible for a string of catastrophic, illegal wars, motivated by capitalist venality and justified with lies, that have devastated much of the Middle East and North Africa. Russia as well as other nations have decried these wars as illegal, but their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
So tell me what is so terrible about Russia, another capitalist nation that would like to do good business with us, and which reached out to help us after 9/11? Okay, so they have some growing up to do when it comes to gay rights, but 50 years ago we were very backward on that issue too. We should respond by showing them a good example. If their political system is still somewhat authoritarian — that’s their problem to cope with, not ours; it’s not as though our effective plutocracy is ideal. And we are in official alliance with some countries that are grossly authoritarian and horrific on human rights.
And perhaps we should remember and appreciate the fact that it was the incredible heroism and sacrifice of the Russian people that was primarily responsible for the allied victory over Hitler in WWII.
Consider also the treasures of music and literature with which Russia has gifted world civilization.
As to the Russian people themselves, check out these flash mob videos:
N.B.: Irving Berlin was a Russian émigré.
These are the people we’re supposed to fear?!
The reason the Deep State needs us to hate Russia is so that we will continue to plow tons of money into the massive boondoggle of NATO — which should have dissolved after the Warsaw pact was dissolved. And hatred and fear is absolutely great for arms sales. Plus Israel wants us to hate Russia because Russia is allied with nations that oppose the land grab of Greater Israel. None of this has anything to do with the real needs of the American people — except for those engaged in weapons production.
The real danger of a new Cold War is not only the massive diversionary expense, but the fact that it greatly increases the risk for a catastrophic nuclear exchange to be triggered accidentally — an exchange that potentially could wipe out not only human civilization, but much of life on earth, owing to nuclear winter. Such accidents nearly occurred several times during the previous Cold War. As long as both we and the Russians have massive nuclear arsenals, it’s very smart indeed for us to get along well with them. Caitlin Johnstone has discoursed eloquently on this point.
What is especially galling about Russiagate to me is that fact that it is the Democrats that are driving this hysteria. Traditionally, during the Cold War, it was the Democrats who were less hawkish — now the situation is flipped on its head, thanks to the fact that Trump’s common sense tells him that getting along with Russia is smart. (God knows I’m no fan of the unqualified buffoon Trump, but his instincts on Russia are on target. Whether the neo-cons whom he inexplicably has appointed to his administration allow him to make any progress on this score remains to be seen.)
Here’s an idea — how about we take to heart Rodney King’s admonition — “Why can’t we all get along?” Step back and realize that, in many ways we really do have a wonderful world. We can enjoy Thai cuisine, Russian and German symphonies, fine French wines, fuel-efficient Japanese cars, American jazz and popular music, world soccer, Italian opera, the range of American sports, English drama, Chinese art, Jamaican reggae — the fusion of all the world’s great cultures can give us a very rich life. With a few notable but rather paltry exceptions like the jihadi psychotics of ISIS, the peoples of the world are eager to get along with each other and collaborate in making the world better for all of us. They are eager to cooperate in minimizing the damage done by global warming, to establish trade deals that protect the interests not only of plutocrats, but of workers, consumers, and the environment, to enjoy the cultural riches which each society can bring to the table. We need to minimize the scourge of war by returning to the principles of international law — which our own great Eleanor Roosevelt helped to establish. The baseless hysteria of Russiagate has no place in such a world — nor does the neo-con-fueled obsession of the US to dominate all other nations by force of arms. Let’s get our act together America, and join the rest of the world in mutual respect and appreciation. Let’s fight our wars on soccer fields, basketball courts, and in Olympic stadia. Let’s just be cool.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
With respect to the Guccifer 2.0 data transfer event discussed here, Scott Ritter has pointed out that forensic analysis cannot prove that the computer from which these data were transferred was a DNC computer; in other words it is theoretically possible that the data involved had been transferred from the DNC earlier, and that the transfer analyzed reflected subsequent transfer of these data from one storage device to another. If this rather dubious (but possible) scenario were true, it would evidently negate the importance of the data transfer speed. However, the conclusion stands that this transfer occurred on the East Coast of the US, and hence did not involve Russian hackers. If we assume that Russian hackers had accessed this data at an earlier date, why would this data subsequently be transferred between two devices on the US East Coast, prior to its ultimate publication? And the counterargument that Guccifer 2.0 might have altered time zone settings on his computer to mask Russian involvement, is impossible to square with the fact that, in June, he was falsifying clues to point to Russia.
Bear in mind also that Guccifer 2.0 used a computer with software registered to a Biden aide. The intelligence agencies’ claim that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian hacker lacks any credibility whatever.
Note: Published originally on the Way of the Bern subreddit.