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Smoking guns and glass houses in Russia Vs Clinton

Posted by on January 7, 2017.

In the ongoing saga of Russia Vs Clinton, a declassified version of the US Intelligence Community assessment of Russian involvement in the 2016 US election has now been published. But if you hoped for a smoking gun, dream on.

The document states very clearly that it is primarily the agencies’ conclusions; any actual proof has been withheld for fear of alerting adversaries to methods, etcetera. Now I fully understand why any agency anywhere in the world would not like to reveal its methods: field agents can easily be exposed through the nature of evidence disclosed; and the ability to crack opponents’ ciphers is best kept secret.

Nevertheless, as far as I can see, absolutely zero evidence beyond ‘we believe’ and insinuation has been presented. There is less evidence in this report than you would normally expect from a security vendor’s own white paper. Furthermore, I am immensely disappointed in the language that is used.

For example, there is this bit explaining why the stolen documents were released via WikiLeaks:

Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.

Does anyone think that first sentence would stand up in a court of law? What is the purpose, beyond negative insinuation, in the ‘self-proclaimed’ comment? It is meaningless and invalid – especially since the very next sentence states that the leaks really were authentic. And this is something we tend to forget: whether it was Russia, China, Wall Street or the City of London who stole and exposed the emails, it was still Clinton and her cohorts that wrote them; and the DNC that allowed them to be hacked.

There is a huge section in the report denigrating RT (formerly Russia Today). It claims that RT is the mouthpiece of the Kremlin. Quelle surprise! I tend to think that the Daily Mail is the mouthpiece of the British government, and several US media outlets are US government outlets.

Proof of the anti-American stance from RT includes comments like this:

RT aired a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement on 1, 2, and 4 November. RT framed the movement as a fight against “the ruling class” and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations. RT advertising for the documentary featured Occupy movement calls to “take back” the government. The documentary claimed that the US system cannot be changed democratically, but only through “revolution.”

Now, I don’t want to upset the American people too directly, so let’s just say that if this statement was aimed at the UK political system, there is not a single phrase with which I would disagree. And I am neither subversive nor a member of the Occupy movement. Once again, it is a comment that proves nothing but is designed to appeal to the nationalist emotions of the reader.

The overall purpose of the document is to paint Russia as an antagonist interfering in American democracy. On balance, and without having any proof that it really was Russian agents who hacked the DNC and released the documents, I admit that I think it probably was. But what I really don’t understand is the hysteria that this invokes. You may recall the ‘Orange Revolution’ in several east european states following the collapse of the USSR. From the Guardian, written by Ian Traynor in 2004:

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box…

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.

In the centre of Belgrade, there is a dingy office staffed by computer-literate youngsters who call themselves the Centre for Non-violent Resistance. If you want to know how to beat a regime that controls the mass media, the judges, the courts, the security apparatus and the voting stations, the young Belgrade activists are for hire.

This is what self-confident opposing ideologies do to each other. Both Russia and America are guilty. Russia Vs Clinton is just the continuation of a long line of two-way nation state interference. Why the surprise?

Whether we like it or not (and I don’t) Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States – just like Theresa May (and I don’t like her either) is the unelected prime minister of the UK. There comes a time when we have to accept reality and get on with it.


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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions, News, News_politics | Tags: