Updated – see the end of this article.
This is a review of the document Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections. You can read a copy of it here. I am writing this not because I am pro-Trump or pro-Russia or the Kremlin or Putin. But because it appears to me to be a gross inaccuracy and is propaganda, not accurate reporting.
There is very little of any substance to this report. In fact this report in more propaganda than intelligence briefing and does not even take to structure of a normal intelligence briefing. There are more than 10 pages that contain no information other than title etc. and a great deal of it is repetitive.
Many pages are no more than pure speculation. But let us have a look at the few pages that do contain specific claims, well almost specific.
The report argues that Putin wanted to, “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” Why? That would not get Tump in, and if it did, it would just leave questions over his legitimacy.
He also is alleged to want to, “denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” That did not need any help from Putin. She has been denigrating herself from many years. Her record is poor, and her involvement in illegal or immoral behavior does not need exposing by Putin. There was a conspiracy with the mainstream media to give her favorable coverage, even to give her some of the debate questions before time. The release of DNC emails may have accelerated, the process, but she was a self-denigrating candidate.
A further claim is that “the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin’s regime.” If the Kremlin rightly or wrong felt that the US liberal democratic order was a threat to Russia, we should only expect Russia to try to protect itself. Maybe, we should think about that before we practice war drill, just meters from the Russian border.
It apparently is a problem that, “Putin publicly pointed to the Panama Papers.” They were public, maybe Putin reads the papers, and comment on what he reads in them. That proves he hacked the election I guess.
One of the most telling accusation is that “Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012 and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.” Is this not tantamount to an admission that Clinton himself had interfered in Russia, and had incited mass protests against Putin? I guess it is ok for America to do that as they are the good guys, but if Russia does it is it a near declaration of war.
I think the weirdest accusation on page 1 is that “Beginning in June, Putin’s public comments about the US presidential race avoided directly praising President-elect Trump, probably because Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin personally would backfire in the United States.” So, Putin did not publicly praise Tump… he must be guilty.
Putin also is accused of, “publicly indicated a preference for President-elect Trump’s stated policy to work with Russia.” So he wants to work with America… how terrible.
Apparently, Putin was keen on Trump’s, “Russia-friendly positions on Syria and Ukraine. Putin publicly contrasted the President-elect’s approach to Russia with Secretary Clinton’s “aggressive rhetoric.” So, Putin, who has been working to push the Christian killing jihadist forces out of Syria, would like to work with the next president of the USA, rather than having to deal with an aggressive, pro-insurgent president. These are damning accusations indeed.
Another horror to the intelligence community in the USA is that “Moscow also saw the election of President- elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” How terrible, Putin and the Kremlin are against ISIS. Notice that the US intelligence agencies use the anti-Israel term ISIL instead of SISI.
Russia is criticized for its involvement in eastern Ukraine and its denials of involvement. Yanukovych’s decision to not sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013 triggered a mass wave of protests across Ukraine, culminating in the February 2014 coup. In US President Barack Obama’s interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama reveals the United States’ involvement in the Ukrainian crisis from its outset and that the country worked directly with Ukrainian right-wing fascist groups. So Russia is evil for involvement in the Ukraine, but the USA… well, again they are the good guys.
The US intelligence agencies claim that “In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.” Humm, how can this have been to support Trump, as in 2015 he was not considered a serious candidate.
The report claims that “GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal email accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.” Is this not rather shameful for the only world superpower. Why are not people in such important jobs, help to keep their emails accounts secure?
Another claim is that “Content that we assess was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the GRU in March 2016 appeared on DCLeaks.com starting in June.” However, it is considered that the DNC and Podesta security was very poor. It would be very surprising if there was only one person or organization that hacked into this information. Hacking is rampant on the internet, and it can be shown that many appliances that are connected to the internet are at times hacked and owned within seconds of being connected to the internet. So it could have been the GRU, but that fact that they had an interest in this information or even a desire to publicize it, done not prove that they were responsible for leaking this information.
The report goes on, “In early September, Putin said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian “state-level” involvement.” America and Obama are not shy about coming out with comments about other countries. Why is Putin not allowed to make such comments? And he is right. Well, I think he is. If a party that is seeking to hold the most powerful office in the world, is trying to gain that power by both criminal and immoral means, should not the electors be told? Is not Putin right that this who Russia leaked the information a distraction from the fact that the DNC under Clinton was corrupt?
There is much talk about the close relationship between the Kremlin and RT, (formerly Russia Today), however, what is surprising about this? If you watch, RT do you not expect that you are hearing news from a Russian viewpoint? I know I do and I can filter it accordingly. In the same way, we have to do the same thing here in the UK. When you are watching the BBC, you know that it will be pushing a liberal, pro-feminist, pro-gay agenda.
Apparently, few Americans are aware of the fact that their mainstream media is almost if not actually in the pocket of the DNC. Even to the point of sharing some if not all of the debate questions with Clinton. For example, the Observer says, “nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails validated the concerns of Bernie Sanders supporters that the DNC helped rig the primary election for Clinton. These emails provided a glimpse into how the DNC and the mainstream media work together in providing public relations support for the Democratic establishment.” This relationship is so bad that even those media outlets that were for Clinton had to report it. A Washington Post headline says, “Donna Brazile is not apologizing for leaking CNN debate questions and topics to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary. Her only regret, it seems, is that she got caught.”
The close relationship between Julian Assange and RT is again hardly surprising; WikiLeaks mission is to “designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public.” So they are likely to work with an organization that will let them communicate to the public.
The report relates that Russia was “NOT involved in vote tallying,” so why do they keep saying that Russia hacked the election? The may have informed the US electorate about immorality and illegality in the DNC, but that is not the same as hacking an election. Using the term, “Hacked the election,” is hyperbole and is in itself disinformation. So in the very statements that they make about Russia, they are themselves taking part in the same action, they are trying to influence world opinion against Russia. Only at the very worst, Russia used truthful and accurate information, American intelligence agencies, appears to be using hyperbole and disinformation.
When they claim thing like this, (and this is getting rather repetitive, much of this report is just the same empty claim repeated again and again,) “State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President- elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.” So what, the BBC did the same thing but negative on Trump and positive on Clinton.
Another claim is that the Russians painted, “Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.” The former is self-evident, most if not all mainstream media in the USA was anti-Trump, and many leaked emails show the close relationship they had with the DNC, even letting the DNC pre-vet stories before publication.
The American intelligence agencies then accuse Russia of using Trolls as well as RT to promote their message. A troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers. These trolls are said to have amplified stories about Clinton. But they do not seem to realize that the big problem is the accuracy of the stories about Clinton. The reports were accurate, or many of them where. Any amplification appears not to have been in the story as in a distortion of the story but in the spread of the story.
My conclusion is that this is really vapid and an empty piece of propaganda not evidence of Russian interference, or at least no undue interference in the US 2016 presidential election.
Today, (10th Jan 2017), The Washington Times is reporting that the FBI Director James B. Comey, has said that the bureau requested but was denied direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s email servers and other hacked devices as part of its probe of Russian hacking. He said that the FBI made “multiple requests” for access, but in the end a private company, (that by the way was associated wth the DNC), was the one to conduct the forensic review and then shared details about what it found with investigators.
So we are hearing that they know that Russia hacked the US elections, but they are taking someone else’s word for it. We could ask what the DNC had to hide, but let just leave it that we are looking a very serious accusation being made against a very powerful country, in a substantial part based on hearsay!