Liberals Should Be Very Concerned About Russian Conspiracy Theories and Their Neocon Bedfellows
Yesterday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that “ If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russia connection.” And then CNN actually went as far as to fact check it.
Indeed, many on the Left have been all but obsessed with one Trump-related Russian conspiracy after the next. But from where I sit, the evidence looks weak and liberals should think long and hard about whether this is the angle they want to go after Trump with.
After all, this fear-mongering over Russia, or Russophobia perhaps, has been going on for a while and has been lead by two the of the most hawkish Neocon Republicans out there; Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Bill Kristol — the founder of The Project for the New American Century, which literally dreamt up the Iraq War — tweeted the following when General Flynn was forced to resign after it came to light that he had discussed sanctions with a Russian diplomat,
“Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”
Are these really the kind of people the Left wants to get involved with? These are the guys who are clamoring for every war they can get. And flirting with war with a nuclear-armed Russia is just outright insane. I mean, just watch Lindsey Graham throw a hissy fit because we weren’t going to invade Syria or something like that.
And then there’s space cadet Louis Mensch… you know what, I can’t. I just can’t even.
Regardless, as far as anti-democratic warmongering goes, the so-called “deep state” is little better than the neocons (as much of it is populated by neocons).
Some on the Left have realized this. As the leftwing publication Jacobin notes “The CIA Is Not Your Friend,” or as Glenn Greenwald puts it “The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer.” The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.
Michael Tracy, another liberal, has put together a 13 point formula for every shocking Russia/Trump revelation. It starts with some article in The New York Times or Washington Post. Then it gets countless retweets. Then it’s shown to be lacking. Then repeat. With all sorts of noise in between.
This was the case with the “Russia hacked our power grid” hoax.
Same goes for the PropOrNot Russian bots nonsense.
And of course, the veracity of the “Trump Dossier” is now all but gone.
As for Senator Sessions supposedly lying about his contacts with Russia, that is an extreme stretch to me. Just listen to the convoluted question Al Franken asked him and ask yourself whether Sessions had every reason to think he was asking about contact with the Russians as part of the Trump campaign. Indeed, if we’re going to be so literal, in blasting Sessions, Senator Claire McCaskill ended up lying about not having a “connection” with Russia.
Further, former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and probably would have become the CIA director if she won, concluded that,
“ On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes also stated there is “no evidence” so far in the investigation of collusion between Russia and Trump, although Democrats have accused him of being politicized.
It should also be noted that Clinton has quite a few ties to Russia. Would these have needed explaining too if she was elected? Is Putin pulling all the strings? Those connections include:
- Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved selling 20 percent of the American uranium supply to the Russian firm Uranium One after Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a speech to a Russian bank.
- John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign manager, failed to disclose he was a board member of a company named Joule Unlimited, which three months after he arrived, accepted a $35 million investment from a Russian backed firm.
- Tony Podesta, John’s brother, was a lobbyist trying to remove the sanctions on Russia.
Furthermore, at least from where I sit, it’s still not by any means certain that Russia was behind the hack of the DNC and John Podesta’s emails (which, by the way, revealed plenty of actual collusion between Clinton and the mainstream media). For one, the process of attribution on these types of things is by no means an exact science. Also, unlike what Hillary Clinton said during the campaign, 17 agencies did not conclude that Russia did it. In fact only two did, the DHS and ODNI in a joint statement, which noted that the hacks were “… consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”
Does that really sound damning to you?
In the Intelligence Community Assessment's 25 page report on Russian influence during the election, they discuss the Russian’s government’s TV station RT for seven full pages, including how they talked about the Occupy Wallstreet protests in 2011. Yes, I’m serious. They somehow found that to be noteworthy in an intelligence assessment. They also said that the Kremlin was celebrating Trump’s victory. But so what? Clinton was very hawkish on Russia and Trump wanted to work with them. One pro-Putin Russian commentator even said “[The American people] are voting for peace on planet Earth if they vote for Trump, but if they vote for Hillary, it’s war.” So of course the Russian government would be happy that Trump won. The Mexican governmen wanted Clinton to win, but that doesn’t mean Mexico interfered in our elections.
Now I feel like I’m running out of synonyms for “furthermore.” Anyways, in addition, the FBI never even investigated the DNC servers. It all came down to an investigation done by a cybersecurity firm named Crowdstrike. A firm, as Counterpunch points out, whose “ CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
Furthermore, the story Crowdstrike tells has been called into question. As Glenn Garvin notes in the Miami Herald,
“The CrowdStrike argument relies heavily on the fact that remnants of a piece of malware known as AGENT-X were found in the DNC computers. AGENT-X collects and transmits hacked files to rogue computers.”
Garvin then quotes Jeffrey Carr of the cybersecurity firm Taia Global, Inc.
“AGENT-X has been around for ages and ages, and its use has always been attributed to the Russian government, a theory that’s known in the industry as ‘exclusive use… The problem with exclusive use is that it’s completely false. Unlike a bomb or an artillery shell, malware doesn’t detonate on impact and destroy itself.
“You can recover it, reverse-engineer it, and reuse it. The U.S. government learned a lesson about that when it created the Stuxnet computer worm to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Stuxnet survived and now other people have it.”
Finally Garvin notes, “Carr said he is aware of at least two working copies of AGENT-X outside Russian hands.”
And to make matters even worse for Crowdstrike, the firm just had to walk back a major report they issued about Russian hacking in Ukraine.
Finally, let’s talk about Wikileaks, which used to be a hero to the Left when it was releasing damning evidence on the Bush administration’s malfeasance. Julian Assange has denied that the Russian government had anything to do with either leak. Here’s a guy who has never released an inaccurate document in 10 years. And what’s he going against? The Deep state? Or more specifially, the CIA? An institution that is literally based on deception, has interfered in at least 81 elections abroad, has paid journalists to plant stories and which a previous CIA chief stated that weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were “a slam dunk.”
And then there’s Vault 7, which I won’t even get started on but to say that it could presents more problems regarding attribution.
I should also mention that the respected former British ambassador Craig Murray has said he met the hackers and stated“ I don’t understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn’t true.”
But still, perhaps Russia did interfere and maybe even some people within Trump’s circle had inappropriate contact with them. I doubt it, and although the evidence produced so far is weak in my opinion. I’m not against an investigation. There are certainly rational reasons to oppose Trump that I can fully understand. But is “muh Russia” really the right one? Remember, the warmongering neocons hate Trump as much as the Democrats do. And the reason they hate him is because they’re not sure he’ll give them as much war as they would prefer.
Thus, those on the Left, particularly the anti-war Left should be very concerned about this kind of neo-MacCarthyism and the warmongering neocons they’ve suddenly become allies with. At least, I would hope they’d be.