Fake News and the Russian Interference Lie – by Publius Tacitus


As a former intelligence officer who participated in covert actions overseas (i.e., actions designed to shape foreign public opinion to fall in line with U.S. policy) I have watched with a mixture of amusement and horror the circus spun up around the ridiculous claim that Russia interfered with the U.S. Presidential election. I do not doubt that Russia, if it put its mind to it, could do a number on our national election. The Russians have an outstanding, capable intelligence service and a much more pragmatic view about the outside world. I can't say the same for the good old USA.

But where's the beef? Where's the actual evidence that Russia interfered in our elections in 2016?  Please go back and take a look at the lamentable so-called intelligence assessment put out by Jimmy Clapper when he was still head of the the DNI (Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections). Here are the key conclusions:

  • We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.
  • Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.

  • We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

  • Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

Sounds very ominous. But it is still quite vague and non-specific. What exactly did those dastardly Rooskies do? Let's go back to the assessment:

  • Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.

  • We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) 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.

  • Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.

  • Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.

That's it–three basic things to "influence" the Presidential election. First, the NSA, CIA and, to a lesser extent, the FBI, believed that the Russians hacked into the DNC and John Podesta emails, then passed that content to to Wikileaks and DC Leaks, who subsequently published the information. Second, the Russians supposedly obtained access to "elements" (undefined) of US state or local electoral boards. Third, Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik News, put out Kremlin friendly messages.


Is this a joke? That's not how the CIA used to steal/influence elections. in the past.   We bought opposition candidates. We funded them and procured outside advisors for them. We sent bags of cash. Any sign that the Russians did these things? No.

The claim that the Russian intelligence service hacked the DNC and Podesta is without evidence. The FBI did not conduct a forensic examination of the computer of either the DNC or Podesta. The belief that the Russians did it is based on a very questionable Crowdstrike examination of the DNC emails.  It is worth noting that one of the owners of Crowdstrike is a strong anti-Russian guy with close ties to Ukraine (Kiev) –hmm, no motive there for mischief. Right?

How about vote buying or rigged machines? No evidence of that either. There is zero evidence that any of the computer "attacks" on the "US state or local electoral boards" actually originated with the FSB, SVR or GRU. And, by Jim Clapper's own admission, those intrusions of the electoral boards did not alter the vote in any form or fashion.
One of the subliminal texts to this whole Russian conspiracy theory is the insistence that the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin or some Russian mobster to sabotage Hillary's campaign.  That smear has been repeated endlessly on the cable channels and has become an article of faith to many Americans, especially Democrats who are in denial over Hillary's implosion. 
So, why the vitriol towards the Russians? Why such a concerted effort to dirty up Trump with the brush of being a Commie dupe? This was done IMO in order to ensure that Trump's hands would be tied when it came time to deal with the Russians on issues like NATO and Syria. One of the real appeals of Donald Trump during the campaign was his willingness to attack George W. Bush (and Hillary and McCain and Jeb)  for starting an unnecessary war of choice with Iraq in 2003. Trump, at least during the campaign, insisted we had no business inserting ourselves into the war in Syria. And Trump correctly noted that NATO was an anachronism.
Now that the campaign is over and Trump is in the White House, the Foreign Policy establishment (referred to on Colonel Lang's  blog as "The Borg" and characterized by others as the "Deep State") has succeeded in getting Trump to walk back his campaign promises. NATO is now said to be an essential organization and Trump has pledged his allegiance to Article 5 of the NATO treaty. In Syria, the US launched an unprovoked cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield under the pretext of "punishing" Syria for using Sarin gas  that the US intelligence community knows was not used (but that's another story for another time). And Trump has surrendered US policy in the Middle East to the Saudis and the Israelis. We are now evidently ready to go to war with Iran.
The average American is ignorant about the importance of Russia in our broader foreign policy. The cartoon painted in the West portrays the Russians as unrepentant imperialist authoritarians bent on global conquest. This is a view I believe a majority of Americans share. With that belief as a starting point it becomes easy to justify multi-billion dollar defense budgets in order to contain the new Russian threat. We also justify putting our ground forces, air assets and naval forces on the borders of Russia to conduct military exercises all in the name of containing the threat.
If a Martian landed in Switzerland (let's go neutral) tomorrow, knowing nothing of World History over the last 27 years, he would only have to ask one question to determine which country is the biggest threat to world peace–What country has carried out the most military operations in other countries and caused the most casualties? Iran? Nope. They have not invaded a single country and their backing for groups like Hezbollah and Hamas have not produced a raft of terrorist attacks. Those two groups have been largely inactive in terms of spinning up global plots. 
How about Russia? Well, it has carried out military operations in the Crimea, the Ukraine and George. Total casualties from those acts of aggression? Less than 5,000 dead.
How about the United States? Let's see–Somaila, Iraq (1991), Iraq (2003) Afghanistan (2001), Pakistan, Libya, Syria and (I'm sure I'm forgetting something). Total dead? Some estimate in excess of 500,000.
Looking at these facts a Martian might conclude that the biggest bully, threat and source of mayhem in the world today is the United States. It ain't the Russians. Trump may have believed such a thing during the campaign, but the Borg is busy whipping him into shape. He will be subservient to the establishment desire for perpetual war. 
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85 Responses to Fake News and the Russian Interference Lie – by Publius Tacitus

  1. turcopolier says:

    I generally agree with PT in this piece but continue to believe that there is no “deep state” in the United States. “Deep State” implies a conspiracy to undermine and control the government as Erdogan asserts has existed in Turkey. I continue to think that “the Borg” better represents the consensus of opinion that exists in the US foreign policy community, a consensus born in graduate schools seminar rooms. this consensus has emerged as an underlying assumption in the foreign policy establishment that globalist internationalism is THE ONLY way to go. pl

  2. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    The term “deep state” is a literal translation of the Turkish term “derin devlet” which, AFAIK, was first used in 2005 by Suleyman Demirel, onetime president and prime-minister(many terms)of the Turkish Republic. A deep-state like organization was described in 1974 by Bulent Ecevit, (one time prime-minister of TC)who called this organization “Kontrgerilla(counter guerilla)”. The current president, tayyip, pushes the meme that this organization originated in the “Teskilati-mahsusa” (special organization) which was a covert ops organization of the Ottoman Empire in its waning years. These three definitions are not identical. Demirel was talking about a group of nationalist Turkish officers, a part of the regular state apparatus, who would take over governance only to save the Republic. An example would be the 1960 coup which removed Menderes. Ecevit was talking about a group of IC professionals in and out of the armed forces who were first and foremost anti-communist; they were responsible for torture, disappearances, drug traffic, etc. in the pursuit of their goals and had strong NATO ties. The subsequent coups,especially 12 Eylul, 1980, are attributed to this group. I have no idea what tayyip is talking about. His definitions are somewhat fluid.
    The following links might be useful to those wishing to examine the issue further:
    Ishmael Zechariah

  3. steve says:

    So Reality Winner didn’t do anything wrong and they should not have arrested her? She released “fake intelligence”?

  4. Keith Harbaugh says:

    PT, your remarks are spot on, IMO.
    The totally-uncalled-for hatred of Russia is running deep and wide
    in media/political circles.
    Look, e.g., at Congress champing at the bit
    to impose yet more sanctions on Russia.
    And BTW, for a real threat of something that could easily escalate out of control, consider
    With regard to Col. Lang’s lead comment to this post,
    in particular his statement that:

    I continue to think that
    “the Borg” better represents the consensus of opinion
    that exists in the US foreign policy community,
    a consensus born in graduate schools seminar rooms.

    [T]his consensus has emerged as an underlying assumption in the foreign policy establishment that
    globalist internationalism is THE ONLY way to go. pl

    The key point omitted by Col. Lang is that of money, specifically,
    who is paying the salaries of all those graduates once they enter the work force,
    especially the media and the think tanks
    which do so much to influence American public opinion, and through that,
    American policies.
    To recall a phrase from the Watergate era:
    “Follow the money.”
    Look at the Washington Post opinion pages, for example.
    The columnists all speak with one voice on most issues.
    And never shall a Patrick Lang, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern, or Patrick Buchanan
    sully their pristinely interventionist opinion pages.
    The reason for that is simple:
    the people who pay their salaries want that uniformity of opinion.
    As another example, consider the “Institute for the Study of War”.
    I thought we already numerous such institutes in the govt.
    But evidently some rich folks decided those weren’t enough,
    and we need a private “non-profit” institution to plump for hawkish positions.
    Again, the issue is: Who funds the ISW?
    IMO, we need some intelligence work done on
    who is paying for all the hawkish propaganda that we read.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Peter Dale Scott is full of crap. pl

  6. turcopolier says:

    What on earth are you talking about? She is IMO guilty of espionage and should be prosecuted for that. pl

  7. Sam Peralta says:

    I continue to think that “the Borg” better represents the consensus of opinion that exists in the US foreign policy community, a consensus born in graduate schools seminar rooms. this consensus has emerged as an underlying assumption in the foreign policy establishment that globalist internationalism is THE ONLY way to go.
    IMO, Col. Lang has described this PERFECTLY! My own view is identical. Consensus of opinion derived from self-selection and pruning those that stray from the groupthink. Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria epitomize this “consensus”.
    I extend this view, that there is also a consensus of opinion among the economic policy establishment, that the economy is a machine and can be tuned by enlightened technocrats. We are living this grand experiment of these technocrats, wherein it is considered perfectly normal, for example, that the Swiss National Bank can conjure up swiss francs with a keystroke, convert them to US dollars in forex markets and then acquire equity in publicly traded American companies to the tune of some $80 billion and growing.
    This idea that there is a cabal of Rothschilds, Bilderbergers, Freemasons, et al, that are secretly exerting control of the levers of power from some smoke-filled backroom, is pure nonsense.

  8. Jack says:

    An example of how this consensus develops.
    “Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, applauded journalist David Ignatius for his writing on Saudi Arabia. Ignatius is notorious for fawning coverage of the kingdom, promoting its supposed efforts at reform and taking its line on regional conflicts without a shred of skepticism.”

  9. Will.2718 says:

    The Donaldo, simply put, just don’t have enough balls to be prez. He’s a whiner and an appeaser. He’s allowed the borg to sidetrack him. Yes, I voted for him. There was no choice given the alternative. He has no autoritas, no dignity, no bearing. He behaves like a jackass.
    The way I would have handled this “stoopid” Russia thing is like this: “Gotta a lot of important stuff to do together to make this country better. Our administration simply, utterly refuses to get sidetracked by this Russia hysteria that has no merit. Therefore, I am giving a blanket pardon to all my staff and associates for any matter, contact, conversation, transaction, with the Russian Federation & its representatives from this day past. finis! Now, let’s move on. Let’s proceed to make this country Great!”

  10. Yeah, Right says:

    I would suggest that a good litmus-test regarding “Borg” versus “deep state” is this: elect a President who has campaigned on a platform of “draining the swamp”.
    If that President is indeed able to drain that swamp then he is dealing with something akin to the Borg.
    If that President drowns in that swamp then he has been defeated by something rather more akin to a Deep State.
    After all, if what he is dealing with is “merely” the consensus of opinion that exists in the US foreign policy community then he possesses the authority to replace that entire community with his own acolytes.
    Is it an argument that a President can’t do that? Because he surely can.
    Is it an argument that an alternative to the existing US foreign policy community doesn’t exist? Because they surely do.

  11. kooshy says:

    PT, IMO the Borg is punishing us the people of this country for not voting in, its preferred candidate to office, basically people rebelled against the system, by voting the only other choice they had, voting for the candidate of the only other major party. Now can one imagine, what and how would have Borg acted, if people would have elected any of the non-major party candidates, god forbid, our Borg controlled media, would be tasked to convince everyone, that the space aliens’ have invaded and our elected president is actually an alien.

  12. Kutte says:

    If there is a difference between the members of the “Borg” and those of the “Deep State”, I suggest you hang one group and shoot the other.

  13. jsn says:

    Sadly, “Deep State” has gone viral, here’s an attempt to tame the ear worm:

  14. Bandit says:

    Thank you, Keith, for bringing up the trillion dollar question. I agree there needs to be a thorough investigation into who, what persons/wealthy families, entities, corporations, etc are funding the borg. But, I won’t hold my breath. It would be a thankless task because the report would be ignored by all MSM, vilified by whatever questionable “experts” the borg has on hand, or dismissed as just another conspiracy theory.
    Aside from that, what would be the point? Americans are just not willing to believe anything that upsets their already precarious world view. We did not arrive at this point because we had an electorate who are critically minded and could actually think for themselves. And finally, any people or organizations who tried to do the investigation would be sidelined, silenced or “neutralized”. There is absolutely nothing the borg or deep state would not do to keep this dirty secret from being widely known.

  15. Old Microbiologist says:

    Ah yes, Kimberly Kagan sister of Robert Kagan and sister-in-law of Victoria Nuland all associate with various neocons like Wolfowitz, Patraeus, McChrystal, etc. they are all in turn associated with the Clinton’s, Podesta, etc. it gets even more interesting when you tie in the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID then toss in some Soros NGO action and you see a very large pattern which crosses all political lines. Call it what you want Deep State or Borg but they are all in cahoots.

  16. Virginia Slim says:

    Good post, PT, and nice discussion. James McCargar, in his excellent little book ‘A Short Course in the Secret War’ points out the hazards of an over-reliance on covert operations, one of which is a decrease in the morale, prestige (and ultimately effectiveness) of one’s diplomats. When the 1st option is thus rendered ineffectual, we are bound to get more policy choices involving the 2nd and 3rd options (open belligerence, covert action). It is thus something of a positive feedback loop.
    As to the deep state, it seems to me this is a concept with two parents:
    1. The very real bureaucracy in Washington DC, the constituents of which often span multiple administrations.
    2. The necessity of keeping much of what the IC does secret.
    Of course, the actions of “I’m protecting the Constitution!” vigilantes who leak sensitive and classified information for political purposes only add bulk to the deep state myth, but I suspect this will change if/when more of these bastards are caught and prosecuted.

  17. turcopolier says:

    If there were a US Deep State one would necessarily have to be a member of the apparatus of the state to belong to it. OTOH any fool who went graduate school in poly sci or who is armed with a degree in journalism or communications can be a Borgist. pl

  18. turcopolier says:

    Yeah, right
    You are an Australian and have no idea of the scale of the US foreign policy community. Countries like Australia and Canada have foreign ministries the size of departments in medium sized US states. Canada’s foreign ministry is housed in an Ottawa building the size of one of the buildings around the “campus” of the state capital at Richmond, Virginia. If the US government part of the Borg were that size it would be easy to replace those who are presidentially appointed (a minority) with the president’s cronies but, in fact it is only theoretically possible because there are so many political appointees and the president has little ability to get rid of a civil servant who are the great majority of government employees. And then, much of the Borg resides in the media, academia, think tanks, etc. where the president has little effect. pl

  19. Joe100 says:

    John Helmer has many posts “following the money” supporting relevant DC think tanks and some columnists like Anne Applebaum. Helmer regularly demonstrates the potential of quality investigative journalism and gets much of his information/insight from on line court records, etc.

  20. Colonel Lang did not “omit” anything. I wrote this piece.

  21. Eric Newhill says:

    Your concept of The Borg makes sense to me and we can certainly observe it and assess it. It clearly is as you say.
    However, would a Borg not strive to create a deep state? Fully assimilated bots with the right credentials, connections, generally fitting the suit, would be promoted to become high ranking members of the apparatus and would be protected by the wider Borg. So Deep State as one available job description for Borgists (other Borg order of specialties would be Journalist, College Professor, Elected Representative, Campaign Worker, Think Tank Wonk, Lobbyist).
    In other words, the Borg is all and all is Borg, yet there is still a Deep State as a defined subset of the Borg.

  22. IZ,
    Thanks for that lucid explanation. It is obviously important to be aware that ‘deep state’ can mean many things, so that disagreement about whether such a thing exists in the United States – or indeed Britain – can sometimes reflect different meanings attached to the term, rather than substantive disagreement.
    Also, one should not assume that interference in politics by unrepresentative figures in the intelligence services and military must inevitably be a bad thing.
    The opposition to Hitler that mattered was concentrated in the Abwehr, the military intelligence service, and sections of the military, as well as the Foreign Office – partly because the spooks and diplomats had seen the hero of the German masses close up, and knew that he really was a fruitcake, not just pretending to be one for rhetorical effect.
    Had the British Government listened to such figures, and been less impressed by the fact that Hitler had the overwhelming support of the German people, the world might have been a different place.
    But then, there are few things stupider than comparisons between Trump and Hitler – particularly as so much of the campaign against him relates to those parts of his platform which were likely to reduce, rather than aggravate, risks of war. And so far the effect of his opponents appears to have been to push him towards the Saudis and Israelis.
    A couple of questions about Turkey.
    In relation both to the Khan Sheikhun atrocity and previous incidents in Syria where chemical weapons use has been claimed, the OPCW patently has not been conducting a properly impartial investigation.
    For example, the ‘status update’ of the ‘Fact-Finding Mission’ on the Khan Sheikhun incident, which was forwarded by the Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, to the UN Secretary-General on 15 May, begs a whole range of questions.
    (See http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1714412.pdf .)
    I had assumed that this was due to the fact that, like the UN, the OPCW was not prepared to stand up to the United States.
    However, noting that Üzümcü is a Turkish career diplomat, I wonder whether he may also be influenced by the agendas of the ‘tayyip’. If he does, it could be because he sympathises with them – or simply reflect the fact that he has to think of his future, and may want to keep on the right side of the powers-that-be in his native country.
    (Don’t think this is prejudice, incidentally. If someone like our UN Ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, was ever appointed as head of the OPCW, I would expect the worst.)
    One reason why all this matters is that the reports of autopsies carried out on three victims from Khan Sheikhun in Turkey, whose blood was reported by the OPCW to have tested positive for ‘sarin or sarin-like substance’, have played a critical role in the accusations against the Syrian government – and that the test results on these from two of the organisation’s ‘Designated Laboratories’ are featured in the FFM report.
    The fact that ‘sarin or sarin-like substance’ was present in blood samples however does not establish that this was what killed them. And there appear to be large questions as to whether the autopsy results actually suggest that the three were killed by sarin.
    If the source of death was different – perhaps ingestion of another chemical agent – then this would be very powerful evidence indeed what what was at issue was a ‘false flag’, and that a co-ordinated effort was under way to obscure the fact.
    On 6 April, ‘Hurriyet’ carried a story entitled ‘Turkish Health Ministry says initial findings point to sarin gas in Syrian attack.’
    (See http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-health-ministry-says-initial-findings-point-to-sarin-gas-in-syrian-attack.aspx?pageID=517&nID=111682&NewsCatID=352 .)
    The Health Ministry was quoted as saying that: ‘Based on the test results, evidence was detected in patients which leads one to think they were exposed to a chemical substance (sarin)’. The autopsy apparently suggested that both ‘pulmonary edema’ and ‘bleeding in the lungs’ were detected in the initial findings of the autopsy.
    These are the symptoms which one might expect if the victim had died of acute inhalation injury – which could be caused if, for instance, they had been exposed in a confined space to a gas like chlorine that injures the lungs. By contrast, sarin kills by paralysing the respiratory muscles.
    It is, as I understand it, conceivable that asphyxiation could then cause pulmonary edema, but it would not be the cause of death.
    So while it is possible that the autopsy results suggested sarin was the cause of death, it is also quite possible that they suggested that another chemical agent was to blame.
    Meanwhile, the reference in the ‘Hurriyet’ report to sarin, placed in backets, raises the suspicion that someone might have added this to the original statement – particularly as it would not seem that results of tests on blood samples could have exposed that a ‘sarin or sarin-like’ substance was present by 6 April.
    What is not clear is why the OPCW cannot release the autopsy results, so that competent people can analyse their implications.
    Failing that, it would help if people could see the full Turkish Health Ministry report – rather than the account by ‘Hurriyet’. Obviously, in Turkey as elsewhere, there are many honest officials and experts, who are liable to have their findings distorted by the powers-that-be.
    If either you, or any of the other Turkish-speaking members of this committee of correspondence, knew where it could be located, this would be a great help.

  23. Matthew says:

    Col: Deep state sounds more impressive than Self-Interested Elite, loosely described by Chris Hayes in his book “Twilight of the Elites.”
    Like the British with “Ox-bridge,” we have replicated a community of leaders who all attend the same cocktail parties and echo all the same ideas.
    The only fatal mistake in DC, it appears, is to dissent from the Collective Wisdom.

  24. EEngineer says:

    It’s not nonsense, it’s very effective camouflage. A chaff meme…
    Rooting distractions and misinformation out of peoples’ minds is usually the hardest part of getting them to see objective reality as it really is.

  25. Degringolade says:

    A lot of what you speak of can be boiled down to “This shit sells”.
    It isn’t even a new phenomenon.
    take your example an American Icon, William Randolph Hearst
    “Among Hearst’s employees was the famed illustrator Frederic Remington. In 1897, Remington became very bored by the lack of anything newsworthy in Cuba and cabled to Hearst, “Everything quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. Wish to return.” In response to Remington’s message, Hearst reportedly replied, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

  26. brian weston says:

    It would appear that in the USA the main stream media distort the truth to a great degree. The modus operandi appears to be simply negative propaganda.issue constant negative screams about the president and if some of the mud doesn’t stick, so what, the damage has been done, the negative seed has been planted.
    I understand that 80% of
    The MSM is in the hands of corporations that are anti Trump. I believe that the main reason for this antagonist is that they see Trump as a direct threat to their interests and operations
    Most sensible people seek the truth in most matters. Obviously if the truth is difficult to uncover then some won’t go to great lengths to discover the real truth.
    Surely, apart from the undercover internet sites there must be people and organisations in the USA who will stand up and be counted and actually publish an easy guide to all the disinformation that is issued about issues such as Russia.
    Why doesn’t anybody do this? Is EVERYONE also lily live red or corrupt. Isn’t the state of the nation the most important issue for the USA to it’s people?

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that the sabotage of the Litvinov mission by UK clearly indicated the existence of a group of influential Englishmen (likely with a Welsh or two thrown in for good measure) outside of the English government with sufficient influence to make sure that the only viable alternative to war was not pursued.
    It is noteworthy that there was not a single individual in the sitting government of the time with whom this policy (of destroying Litvinov’s initiative) could be identified.

  28. Thomas says:

    “Americans are just not willing to believe anything that upsets their already precarious world view.”
    Sorry Newbie, this is BS. It is why humans have private conversations and the usurping subversives riding the Borganisn are running the Info Ops at full speed ahead.

  29. Thomas says:

    You see it.

  30. Thomas says:

    “Why doesn’t anybody do this?’
    What the hell do you think has been happening here (SST) over the years?
    A voice in the wilderness is growing into storm.
    It has been an interesting journey watching it all unfold.

  31. Fred says:

    “we need some intelligence work done on who is paying for all the hawkish propaganda that we read.”
    We need a great woman, like Jane Harmon of Newsweek/Dailybeast, to give us the scoop. Just don’t ask why on earth she resigned from Congress.

  32. sid_finster says:

    I don’t see the Deep State as conspiracy so much as shared interests and groupthink.

  33. Sylvia 1 says:

    Today in Bloomberg–all based on anonymous reports i.e. “three people with direct knowledge of US investigation into the matter”. Does this mean the Special Counsel’s office or Congress? I would think we will continue to see these leaks–Mueller has to justify the money he will spend as Special Counsel. Are we in for a repeat of the Kenneth Star/Bill and Hillary Clinton multiyear mash up? After looking at every check covering many decades, and running down every rabbit trail, Star ended up going after Clinton for lying about oral sex in a deposition.

  34. shepherd says:

    Colonel Lang,
    There’s a name, I haven’t heard, happily, in some time. Peter Dale Scott was a professor of a class I had the misfortune to take long ago, and easily one of the dumbest and most annoying human beings I’ve ever known.
    I didn’t realize he’d had a second life, so I give you my opinion without knowing what he’s done since. You could make a complete and utter ass of him, and he never seemed to realize you were jerking him around. If he weren’t so full of himself, I’d have felt sorry for him.
    He was a very left-wing conspiracy theorist back then, god only knows now, but he’d fit right in with the crowd that thinks 9/11 was a hoax. And don’t get me started on his “poetry.” Just avoid it, and you’ll thank yourself.

  35. brian weston says:

    To qualify further what I meant , I understood that Fox News was not in the Disinformation camp and possibly others?
    The problem with channels such as Info Wars is hat they become discredited and ridiculed and trolled. Unfortunately since they are on the fringe many people will not take any notice of them.
    What I am saying is that why doesn’t a normal everyday newspaper for example champion the cause. It is not as if they would be fabricating anything….just simply telling the truth, yet all I see is this propaganda and bending of the truth coming from all sides.

  36. Jack says:

    It is truly insane when a central bank creates “money” out of thin air and buys equity and debt of private entities. Taken to its logical conclusion, a central bank would own all businesses. Nationalization in another way?? I don’t think they understand the long term implications. What would happen when politically well connected people float securities that get monetized by a central bank?
    What does the price of a security mean?
    Here’s a look at what the SNB owns.

  37. Imagine says:

    littlesis.org is a first pass at a relationships clearinghouse. FYI, YMMV.

  38. Patrick Buchanan, in a column dated today, uses this terminology:
    “That the objective of [Washington] is to bring Trump down via a deep state-media coup is no secret. Few deny it.”
    “The real criminal ‘collusion’ in Washington is between Big Media and the deep state, colluding to destroy a president they detest and to sink the policies they oppose.”
    “[Trump] should campaign against the real enemies of America First by promising to purge the deep state and flog its media collaborators.”

  39. turcopolier says:

    mistah charley Ph. D.
    I do not care what Patrick Buchanan or anyone else calls anything. Do you really think the “pitchfork man”‘s utterances are or have ever been a standard for my discourse. Actually, the very fact that you want to attack me over this confirms my opinion that you are a troll. pl

  40. turcopolier says:

    Your definition of Deep State is incoherent. What are the shared interests among civil servants, academics, the media, etc.? pl

  41. BillWade says:

    I agree with you 100% and would also like to see a major network news show with just news and not spin that also has reporters who question the “facts” the government hands out to them. I’d also like to see a law that makes it a felony to publish “facts” from “reliable”, “unnamed”,”anonymous”, “trustworthy” or the like sources.

  42. Col Lang –
    I am sorry that quoting a well-known person. who uses terminology in a way you do not prefer, is construed by you as an attack. I will not attempt to post here again.

  43. b says:

    I investigated the “Sarin” claim in khan Sheikhun at that time.
    The result:
    Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident
    Lots of sources linked in there.
    I have since seen nothing that would debunk it.

  44. Heros says:

    Outside of the US bubble it is clear that the deep state is not a US phenomenon, but a global one. That is the purpose of Bilderberg, Davos, etc. The fact that the global elites act in complete harmony is proof that either the global borg are being dictated to from Washington, or Washington and the elites of the western world are being dictated to by an even more powerful force. To me MH17 is the proof that the “borg” are a global power, not just US based. Any member of the EU could have vetoed the sanctions against Russia imposed by the the EU, yet none did. Not Poland, not Bulgaria, not even Greece. All these countries suffered far, far more than the US from these sanctions, yet they went along with it and still do. Why? Because Washington dictates to them? I think not.
    Another example is Norway having special forces in al Tanf. Why? Because Washington commanded them? I think not. It was someone else, some international force.
    The global media instantly picks up US memes and propagates them so fast it cannot have been unplanned.
    And what of the international banks and the control of finance. This is not a consensus out of Washington.

  45. turcopolier says:

    mistah charly ph.D
    Good. your intent was clear. pl

  46. VietnamVet says:

    Colonel & PT,
    Clearly, I am not a member of the Borg or the Deep State. All I know is second hand. There has been a change in government and companies in the last fifty years. Government switched from regulating industry to facilitating corporations and their offshoring of jobs and wealth. The company my Dad worked for changed from a Seattle based airplane manufacturer to a Chicago based Multi-National. Boeing spent billions to open a second 787 production line in South Carolina in order to bust Washington State unions and now is setting up its first overseas factory in China. “American exceptionalism” is last century. Today it is the New Corporate World Order (Globalism) verses democracy and the remains of sovereign western governments that once were by and for the little people.

  47. lucopter says:

    Why the strong objection to the term Deep State? Who cares what its called. The effects of this entity on the direction of things is still the same.
    I learned the term Deep State on Steve Sailor’s blog last year and have found it very fitting to our current situation. Sailor’s view is that we are currently going through a byzantine phase where a small but a powerful group of elites within the Government/Media/Business apparatus have colluded together to change the direction of the policies of the United States against the wishes of the American people, without the latter knowing that a coordinated effort against them even exist. It is the anti-populism feature combined with the shadowy characteristic of this elitist group that makes the term Deep State more fitting.
    I personally don’t think the term Deep State sufficiently explains the state of things. All other terms that I can come up with are none PC, so I am left with Deep State.

  48. Keith Harbaugh says:

    So, all the Trump-haters are screaming at the top of their lungs:
    “The Russians interfered in our (U.S.) elections, and political process.
    Further, Putin’s forces are interfering in elections all across the West.
    This is a threat to democracy.”

    According to Dick Cheney, some even claim it could be considered an act of war.
    My question, which some who read and comment on SST may know the answer to, is:
    Precisely to what extent has the U.S. government and various U.S. organizations
    tried to influence the Russian political process?

    In an interview, Putin asserted that the U.S. has and does interfere in Russian politics.

    “Put your finger anywhere on a map of the world, and everywhere you will hear complaints that American officials are interfering in internal electoral processes,” he said.

    So the whole issue is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    Is Putin right? (I would bet that he is.)
    Is this a case of total U.S. hypocrisy?
    I tried to google that question, without much success.
    Anyone at SST able to answer that question?
    (References and sanitized information accepted.)

  49. anon says:

    colonel saunders founder of deep fried chicken is less known for being a member of the kentucky deep state,otherwise known as the Order of Peck.pitted against the “peckers” as they are sometimes known are the “commie bum boys” belonging to the Order of Put In.
    It is rumoured that a certain gregory had crossed the line and was a member of both the peckers and commie bum boys.
    true patriotic americans have there peckers cut out for them in exposing the commie bum boys for the spreading of all sorts of political disinfo including the rumour that jeff has sometimes crossed the line himself.for a little johnny cash

  50. Keith Harbaugh says:

    What URL do you recommend to access the work of John Helmer?

  51. DianaLC says:

    Thank you, PT, for this post. I spent much time today watching as senators tried desperately to seem very important and to ask what they thought were really intelligent questions. I just couldn’t help but think that they were all trying to get into the history books alongside all the players during the Watergate era.
    Sessions, I felt, held up well by simply telling the truth from his point of view and from his long experience.
    I kept screaming in my head (and sometimes aloud) that the USSR no longer exists, as I also tried to talk through the television to remind them about our own country’s meddling in elections
    And all this time seemed to be spent to distract themselves from doing the real jobs they were elected to do: legislate.
    I keep reminding myself that things never change no matter how much things change. I’ll reread Ecclesiastes perhaps.
    To use a title from the 18th Century,today’s hearing was a tempest in a teapot. I am just not convinced that I should be ducking and covering right now.
    “The Borg,” “Deep State,” or whatever term or group we have to recognize, we the people who sit watching–between watering plants and doing everyday chores–just shake our heads and pray fervently to God, Who is really in control.

  52. Valissa says:

    Not gonna happen, unfortunately…
    The Media Can Legally Lie http://projectcensored.org/11-the-media-can-legally-lie/
    In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
    Back in December of 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox “Investigators” team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1997 the team began work on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation. The couple produced a four-part series revealing that there were many health risks related to BGH and that Florida supermarket chains did little to avoid selling milk from cows treated with the hormone, despite assuring customers otherwise.
    According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox’s actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)
    Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury’s words) “a false, distorted or slanted story” about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida’s whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.
    FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre’s threat to report the station’s actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida’s whistle blower statute, because Florida’s whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted “law, rule, or regulation.” In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a “law, rule, or regulation,” it was simply a “policy.” Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.
    During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so.
    … What is more appalling are the five major media outlets that filed briefs of Amici Curiae- or friend of FOX – to support FOX’s position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc. These are major media players!
    … The position implies that First Amendment rights belong to the employers – in this case the five power media groups. And when convenient, the First Amendment becomes a broad shield to hide behind. Let’s not forget, however; the airwaves belong to the people. Is there no public interest left-while these media giants make their private fortunes using the public airwaves? Can corporations have the power to influence the media reporting, even at the expense of the truth? Apparently so.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yet Bernard Baruch and his un-Named collaborators were going to initiate a ear against USSR in 1948 had Marshall not opposed that ad “a very bad idea”. There are such cliques in every country, i dhould imagine.

  54. Rodney says:

    Always cracks me up people saying how 9/11 wasn’t a hoax. It’s so friggen obvious when building 7 comes free falling down in less than 7 seconds.

  55. Kutte says:

    Who then do you think is more dangerous, the people of the borg who brain-washed themselves and each other into believing they are doing something magnificent, and who are so sentimental and romantic, or the deep state people, who at least realize what they are doing, and who obvoiusly have a mocking contempt for their borg counterparts.

  56. turcopolier says:

    As I wrote, I do not think there is a Deep State in the USA. pl

  57. Kutte says:

    I actually meant: Who is more dangerous, the borg in the USA or the deep state in e.g. Turkey, since either could start a world war.

  58. Bandit says:

    Newbie? Just a way to dismiss the validity of my statement. Our recent and past history is replete with examples of those who paid a very steep price for enlightening citizens as to the real wizard behind the curtain. Indeed, there are courageous writers who forge ahead with the task at their own peril. But, when the information gets too personal, as to naming responsible parties, then the writers enter a danger zone where the full force of the borg comes down on them.
    I assume, not being a newbie like myself, you are well enough informed to not need a list of writers and citizens who paid the ultimate price. It happens in most countries, not the least of which is the US. As the most obvious examples, do we really need to revisit the Kennedy assassination or 9/11 to conjure up the dead and destroyed people who tried to reveal the truth of their experience? The bottom line is that it is a very dangerous enterprise to not only contradict the official narrative, but to give specific, well researched, undeniable facts to their exposure.
    Yes, writers have been connecting the dots for some time, but you will rarely find them working in the MSM, and clearly most alternative media, which are already compromised, have their limitations, lines they will not cross. Aside from an intelligent and dedicated few, the great majority of journalists just follow orders, and most Americans, unlike yourself, uncritically feed on the BS. How else could you get a majority of Americans to praise Trump as “presidential” for firing missals at the Syrian military? Personally, I think most Americans have their heads up their asses. How else do you account for the US the current state of affairs?

  59. Pundita says:

    Last year I watched RT TV for three months and did so on a daily basis. What I found most striking about the reportage was the large amount of coverage it gave to European issues. I also found it notable that RT TV coverage of the European situations was reasonably balanced.
    I noticed the same about Sputnik’s website when I began closely following the site after the Russians entered the Syrian War. Sputnik carries many translated news reports from European press.
    I pay less attention to RT’s website but I’d say they also carry a large number of reports relating to European/Nato/EU issues.
    It has been my perception (all my adult life) that the American government hasn’t wanted the American public to be well informed about events in European Nato countries and East European non-Nato ones — and that the US TV media, which is overwhelmingly Natoist in orientation, has always gone along with this.
    RT’s television news is a remarkable challenge to this European news ‘brownout’ in American TV news. It’s also a challenge to the British government’s, which has always dominated American public broadcasting news via editorial slant and almost exclusively BBC footage accompanying PBS daily news reports (PBS NewsHour).
    So it could be that RT/Sputnik’s European orientation, even more than or as much as “Kremlin friendly messages” explains why the US and various Nato govs, in particular the British one, are so determined to quash the Russian sites in the West.
    Of course Europe isn’t the only world region that’s greatly ignored by U.S. TV news. But given the region’s strong connection to Nato, the news brownout has effectively blinded American voters to how Washington is using that powerful policy tool. Often, Americans are the last to know of important events on the European continent that directly involve Nato actions.

  60. b,
    It was an excellent piece. But I think we can take the arguments further.
    1. As you noted, chain of custody is central. And here, the position gets worse.
    Talking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria on 13 September last year, the former British Army CBRN expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon described his role, and that of an organisation called UOSSM (Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations) in retrieving samples from incidents subsequent to Ghouta. As he explained:
    ‘I have covertly been in Syria collecting evidence of chemical weapons attacks and have been giving it to the OPCW and the UN. They cannot get to the places the chemical weapons attacks have happened because they’re in rebel held areas. When I present evidence with our teams from UOSSM, we are not an international body etcetera etcetera. We provided the evidence of the chemical weapons attack in a town called Talmenes in April 2014, on the 29th of April 2014, three weeks after the attack; two weeks ago, two years later, the UN Security Council announced to the world that they had conclusive evidence that the regime had attacked Talmenes in April 2014 with chemical weapons. There is a two year gap. My point being, is we need to be more flexible on how we accept evidence collected in war zones.’
    (See http://www.appgfriendsofsyria.org/2016/09/remarks-by-hamish-de-bretton-gordon.html .)
    In my piece ‘Sentence First – Verdict Afterwards?’ posted on SST back in April, which developed Seymour Hersh’s argument that the 21 August 2013 Ghouta atrocity was a patent ‘false flag’, I discussed Colonel de Bretton-Gordon’s dual role, both in retrieving samples from incidents in Syria and in producing ‘StratCom’ against the Syrian government.
    (See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/sentence-first-verdict-afterwards-a-revision-by-david-habakkuk-14-april-2017.html .)
    There has to be a strong ‘prima-facie’ case that he and UOSSM were involved in the retrieval of the samples from Khan Sheikhun. Any incident in which he was involved would automatically be under suspicion of being a ‘false flag’, even if there were no further grounds for scepticism.
    (For further information on Colonel de Bretton-Gordon’s role, see the pages entitled ‘Talk: British involvement in Syria, on the ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ site, at http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:British_involvement_in_Syria .)
    It is not surprising that early reports from Khan Sheikhun suggested that chlorine had been used, as since 2014 the main story had been that the Syrian government was dropping bombs containing the substance. However, the UOSSM had twice claimed that it had used nerve agents – on 13 December 2016 and 30 March 2017.
    http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/breaking-chemical-weapons-attack-latamneh-hama-injures-70 .)
    2. As to the ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formulation, it turns out that this is probably a red herring.
    The same formulation was used in a report analysing claims made by the Syrian authorities about incidents in which chemical weapons had been allegedly been used produced by the Fact-Finding Mission in December 2015. Among these was an incident at Darayya on 15 February 2015. The results of the tests on blood samples carried out at one of the ‘Designated Laboratories’ are described in Annex 9 and Annex 8, which is by the OPCW Head of Laboratory, Hugh Gregg.
    What emerges is rather complex. In establishing the presence of sarin – rather than the details of its composition which may point to who was behind an incident – ‘blood’ samples can be invaluable, because both sarin and other organophosphates form ‘adducts’ (compounds) with blood proteins, which are relatively stable. The process involves what is known as a ‘leaving group’ – the atom of group of atoms which are detached to form the compound.
    A technique called ‘fluoride regeneration’ restores the ‘leaving group’, so that the actual organophosphate is detached from the blood protein, and can be identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis.
    However, as Gregg makes clear, the tests carried out on the Darayya samples were not able to identify the ‘leaving group’ as fluorine, rather than chlorine. So they could rule out a number of nerve agents, such as cyclosarin, VX, and diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP), which is sometimes used as an insecticide.
    What they could not rule out was the possibility of chlorosarin, which has a chlorine atom, not a fluorine one, as sarin does. On this basis, the ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formulation was used in relation to the Darayya incidents.
    As chlorosarin is as hard to produce as actual sarin, and not as toxic, we can be relatively confident that what was involved was actual sarin – both in the Darayya samples, and those from Khan Sheikhun.
    The $60,000 question is how it got there.
    3. Here, there are a whole range of problems with the FFM report on Khan Sheikhun. One is that the crucial evidence consists of ‘Samples from the impact point of the alleged munition and the surrounding area.’ As Professor Postol has demonstrated, the evidence supposed to demonstrate that the crater which is the supposed ‘impact point’ was created by a munition fired from an aircraft is, shall we say, somewhat less than persuasive.
    Moreover, the fact that the results feature hexamine prominently suggests that the OPCW may be collaborating with the attempt in the 26 April French ‘National evaluation’ to resurrect the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, which was effectively demolished by Professor Postol in his July 2014 paper ‘A Brief Assessment of the Veracity of Published Statements in the Press and Elsewhere Made by Dan Kaszeta, A Self-Described Expert on the Science and Technology of Chemical Weapons’.
    (See https://cryptome.org/2014/08/postol-debunks-kaszeta.pdf .)
    Actually, there is a lot more to be said about the OPCW’s account of the test results on these samples.
    4. For the moment, however, a critical fact is that if sarin was present but also another chemical agent such as chlorine – or indeed fluorine, which is used to fumigate barns and grain silos, and was stockpiled by rebels in Aleppo – that would obviously require explanation.
    As you noted in your post, ‘pulmonary edema’, which was referred to in the account of the autopsy reports, seems to point to chlorine, rather than sarin – it could also be explained by fluorine. It would seem extremely unlikely that this would be found in victims who had been killed within a few minutes by the respiratory paralysis which sarin produces.
    However, a Japanese account of the Aum Shinrikyo sarin attacks published on the OPCW website suggests that, in relation to the 1994 attack in Matsumoto, the autopsy findings did include pulmonary edema.
    (See https://www.opcw.org/news/article/the-sarin-gas-attack-in-japan-and-the-related-forensic-investigation/ .)
    So it would seem premature to see its appearance as absolutely ruling out the possibility that sarin was the cause of death. One would need to establish that it could not have been found in victims who died more slowly, or as a consequence of asphyxia brought on by the failure of the respiratory system.
    What however we need to sort these issues out are both the autopsy reports, and also more details of the tests on the blood samples, together with the clinical histories. The quantitative values on the fluoride regeneration tests both on those killed by sarin and others could be critical if establishing whether they had actually ingested a substantial dose of the substance.
    A gas like chlorine, unless released in huge quantities, will not kill people unless they are in a confined space. So if the evidence suggests it was used, this would point to captives having been deliberately massacred, with preparations made in advance.
    5. It does seem distinctly likely that – as you suggested in your piece – chlorine was prominently involved at Khan Sheikhun. As with the sarin, the question would then be how it got there.
    There are a number of possibilities. One – which you pointed out was the initial suspicion of many – was that it was used in a chemical weapons attack. Another is that an attack unexpectedly hit a chemical weapons storage site – which was the original Russian position. Yet another is that supplies of materials held for other purposes were accidentally destroyed – chlorine and fluorine both have other uses, as do organophosphates. And then, finally, there is the possibility that captives were indeed massacred, and sarin as it were ‘planted’ both on some who were killed, and, in small enough doses, on volunteers.
    Reverting to Hugh Gregg’s discussion of the Darayya samples, it is worth noting both that he points out that the chain of custody was established, and also that the choice of the ‘Designated Laboratory’ was that of the Director-General. It would be interesting to have clarification as to whether or not the two such laboratories to which the samples from Khan Sheikhun were sent were Le Bouchet and Porton Down.
    If a DG who is a Turkish diplomat chose to send samples to laboratories from countries both of which have been actively involved in trying to topple Assad, without these being identified, the grounds for scepticism about the impartiality of the OPCW would become even stronger than they are already.

  61. helenk3 says:

    from what I can see the only Russian interference was lynch and comey playing Boris and Natasha.
    just my opinion

  62. LeaNder says:

    Litvinov? Interesting, vaguely assuming that maybe you didn’t misspell.

  63. fanto says:

    you are very correct about the lack of real world news in american media. I find the China Global Television Network (CGTN) to provide the best – continent by continent – news of the world, with least slant.

  64. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I think the analysis posted by “b” is most probably correct: this was no “sarin” attack. The symptoms reported and the PPE worn by the caregivers attest to that. Unfortunately, unless someone leaks it-a perilous undertaking- we will not get access to the full Turkish Health Ministry Report.
    The Turkish regime is fully complicit in Borg’s Syria (mis)adventure. Once Russia got into the game tayyip’s gambit collapsed-but he is still trying to play both sides against the middle. I took the announcement from the Ministry of Health to be part of this game.
    I was not aware of Ahmet Üzümcü’s existence until the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the OPCW; Obama also received the same prize.
    If I learn anything worthwhile I will post it.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  65. shepherd says:

    Here’s how we used to screw with Peter Dale Scott. We’d agree with him, wind him up, and then start introducing all sorts of totally imaginary, made up crap into the conversation. There was really nothing, no matter how preposterous, that that man wouldn’t buy, so long as it fit his preconceived notions of the universe.
    Think about it.

  66. Keith Harbaugh,
    You are right. This is total hypocrisy. We have a long record of interfering in other’s politics often with bloody consequences. We call it democracy building. Remember Nuland boasting about spending five billion dollars over ten years for that bloody mess in Kiev? What the Russians did (and I believe they did do this) was bloodless and elegant. And I see no proof that they, in effect, put Trump in office. Their efforts may have changed minds, but they didn’t change votes. In fact the report of pervasive attacks on the electoral system shows that our system is pretty damned secure and largely impervious to such tampering. We can be proud of that.
    All this talk of cyber attacks being acts of war are dangerous. Does that mean the Stuxnet attack on Iran was an act of war? Should we consider widespread IRGC attacks on our homeland as a suitable response to our initiation of a war of aggression? It’s just a fact of life in international politics that we spy on each other, conduct black ops against each other and conduct IO on each other, including cyber espionage and operations. Now it’s often called intelligence preparation of the battlefield. Those calling for a “massive kinetic response” as an appropriate response to a cyber attack are dangerous hotheads and should be slapped down.

  67. Oops! – poor proof-reading.
    What I wrote was:
    ‘For the moment, however, a critical fact is that if sarin was present but also another chemical agent such as chlorine – or indeed fluorine, which is used to fumigate barns and grain silos, and was stockpiled by rebels in Aleppo – that would obviously require explanation.’
    What I meant to write was not flourine, but phosphine.
    From the entry on that substance on the site of the ‘International Programme on Chemical Safety’, which provides ‘Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations’:
    ‘The respiratory tract is a major target for phosphine poisoning. The initial symptoms include cough, sore throat, tightness in the chest, retrosternal pain, dyspnoea, followed by persistent coughing, pulmonary oedema and respiratory distress syndrome which may induce mortality. In a study of 59 cases of phosphine poisoning by Harger & Spolyar (1958), 26 patients died mainly due to respiratory disorders. The commonest finding at autopsy was congestion of the lungs with marked oedema.’
    (See http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/chemical/pim865.htm .)
    So, one can see an immediate difference.
    In relation to sarin, we are trying to find circumstances in which pulmonary edema could conceivably be found in people killed by sarin.
    If it was suspected that phosphine – and, subject to correction, I think also chlorine – might have killed people – pulmonary edema would be one of the most obvious results for which to look in autopsy reports.
    But does the OPCW – or indeed its ‘Designated Laboratories’, including the French at Le Bouchet and the British at Porton Down – explore the possibility that chlorine or phosphine was responsible for the fatalities at Khan Sheikhun?
    Perish the thought.

  68. Clwydshire says:

    Those who don’t believe that Col Lang’s term “the Borg” is vastly superior to the term “deep state” need to acquaint themselves with Jean Wedel’s description of “Flexians” in her 2009 book “The Shadow Elite.” Such people move back and forth through non-profits, corporations, public office, media, and government bureaucracy but their loyalty is given only to their own group, and building their own “brand” within that group. Its all well documented in the first couple of chapters of that book, as I recall. Wedel returned from studying corruption in Eastern Europe and was shocked to find the same kind of in-crowd taking over American government. She has written a new book “The Unaccountable” that follows the same theme further.
    Flexians exude contempt for the formal rationality of making decisions and being held responsible for them. These people not only do not belong in any meaningful way to the state, they regard anyone actually loyal to its institutions as a fool. After all, you too can be a Reality Winner. (OK, she was a wannabe, but she understands the mode of operation, she just didn’t have the status to practice it.)

  69. Old Microbiologist – is this not is a re-run of the old debate on whether trade follows the flag or the flag follows trade?
    Each pushes the other on. I don’t believe, however, that neocon foreign policy is primarily driven by those seeking commercial opportunities. I don’t believe that Bush said “Lets do it for the oil” when considering Iraq, nor that Mrs Nuland helped the Ukrainian coup along because she wanted to do a favour to Biden Junior. Nor do I believe that Syria was slated for destruction in order to keep Lockheed Martin’s share price up.
    Such commercial activities may be facilitated by Neocon policy. They quite possibly may have an input into neocon policy, and because the input is so visible we may confuse it for a prime cause. But I believe neocon foreign policy is first and foremost driven by non-commercial consensual imperatives.
    That may not be the case so much in Europe. Here, I think. politicians and influential figures are more interested in the main chance. For example, a prime American neocon imperative is the support and protection of Israel. I think many American politicians would insist on that whether there was money in it or not, and the fact that many money making opportunities and activities are clustered around that policy does not, I believe, drive that policy. In Europe, however, I do not see that deep ideological commitment to Israel and the politicians here in their policy towards Israel are motivated more by calculation of advantage rather than by conviction.
    Allowing for the differences in ideological commitment between the two main sets of neocons, the American and the European, what are those underlying consensual imperatives that drive neocon foreign policy?
    Any number, no doubt, but I would identify one driver that is seldom acknowledged. That is the force of patriotism, or rather, what may be termed “extended” or imperial patriotism.
    Patriotism is a gut instinct that may well go along with commercial advantage for some but is for most of us unrelated to it. The welfare and defence of the community is perhaps our deepest political instinct. “My country right or wrong” is a given for most of us.
    I do not believe it is fanciful to trace the “extension” of patriotism in England from the eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. In the 18th century patriotism was primarily an expression of concern for the nation. There was empire enough even then but that was an add-on, not a central part of being English. The tolerant, inconsistent but essentially insular patriotism we see at its purest in, say, the actions and sayings set out in Boswell’s life of Johnson is loyalty to one’s country.
    By the time we get to Kipling’s era times have changed. Loyalty to one’s country is still core – it’s England the first world war poets invoke, not empire – but superimposed on that national loyalty is an imperial loyalty. We’re no longer bound by a silver sea, there’s red all over the place and wherever that red is on the map it’s ours and worthy of the same loyalty. The national loyalty has extended to an imperial loyalty and my country right or wrong has extended to my empire right or wrong.
    That extension of national loyalty to imperial loyalty is to my mind a most pernicious extension. It ignores the plain fact that we’re taking in as part of us someone else’s country and no excuse of inevitability or of humanitarian intent can gloss over that error.
    Pernicious or not, once you’ve made the jump to that extension then all the excesses and mistakes of empire are covered by that gut instinct, that normal instinct of patriotism, that we all possess.
    Not all made the jump. I’d say most English didn’t. A sense of the ridiculous is fortunately an instinct too, and the pretence that a cobbled together network of trading outposts and territories grabbed here and there was comparable with the great civilisational empires of the past wasn’t something that most could swallow. But the English administrative and military classes swallowed it hook line and sinker. From the late nineteenth century onwards and for those classes in particular, extended or imperial patriotism and all that went with it was the norm.
    Imperial stratagems and pretensions too. I look with horror at what we got up to in, say, nineteenth century India or mandate Palestine and wonder, not how we could do those things, but how we found men to do them. There aren’t that many psycho’s around, and not an unlimited supply of chancers and cronies, so what happened? Did we all become criminals?
    Of course not. British Imperial policy was carried through by honourable men – with of course the usual proportion of crooks but in the main honourable – for whom patriotism, normal unthinking patriotism but extended to an imperial scale, was a quite proper part of their thinking and of their ethos. What those men did was not some pathological aberration. It was their normal duty and they’d have been negligent had they not acted in accordance with it.
    The British and the American empires are of course quite different. They have to be. It’s no longer possible to conquer vast regions with a few Gatling guns or some beads. It’s no longer possible to impose an alien administration on those regions, not with IED’s and anti-tank rockets around and certainly not when in many parts national identities have emerged that resent such imposition. But these are differences of circumstance only. The attitudes are the same. In particular, the central assumption that we have a right to dictate to people who live in other countries, and a right to regulate their affairs in accordance with our views and to suit our convenience.
    Once you get honourable men with those assumptions and attitudes then the way is open for those men to be used for neocon purposes. If they’re serving their country what need for those honourable men to question further? If national loyalty is extended to imperial loyalty then serving their country covers all that is needed for neocon policies to be pursued.
    I thought of this when I saw General Flynn being interviewed a while ago. I was appalled by his assumptions – assumptions held by the class he represents too – that he or his forces had a perfect right to interfere in other countries in a way he would certainly not have accepted had the boot been on the other foot. Yet here was no ranting neocon or chancer. Here was a normal officer carrying out his duty as he saw it. The abomination was not the man, but the imperial pretensions that informed his concept of duty.
    This notion of “extended patriotism” answers the question that bothers me whenever I think of us giving covert assistance to the Azov battalion or training up Jihadis we know are going to behave murderously. The neocons don’t go out the field and do it themselves. They wouldn’t know how to do it and there aren’t enough of them. But they have at their disposal great numbers of perfectly normal men and women who will do it for them because it is their proper duty. As would most of us who found themselves in their place.
    Ideally we need to shift “patriotism” back to its proper meaning. A desire to look after one’s own country, not a right to screw up someone else’s. A simplistic and unattainable ideal, no doubt, but failing that shift the neocons will never lack for willing hands.
    From that perspective the question of whether trade follows the flag or the flag follows trade becomes irrelevant. The flag shouldn’t be going anywhere in any case. It should stay at home.

  70. TonyL says:

    PT said:
    “What exactly did those dastardly Rooskies do?”
    I do have some technical knowledge about this subject. And I agreed with TTG’s comment in the previous thread:
    “There is a simple truth about Russian and Chinese cyber operations that you and most Americans have not been able to grasp. Both these countries use vast armies of unorganized and semi-organized patriotic hackers to further their national goals.”

  71. Croesus says:

    They are also the people who ensure that the pension and retirement savings systems for an increasing number of retirees — the Boomer bulge — produce adequate income to sustain them through a no-longer-productive span that is growing longer than most planners anticipated.
    On the other hand, the other day Treasury Sec’y Mnuchin told a House committee that he “spends 50% of his time monitoring OFAC (terror finance) programs and sanctions on Iran.”
    First, when one knows as a concrete principle that an economically unstable state is more likely to experience and also export chaos, it is mystifying why intentionally seeking to destabilize a large, significant and vibrant nation is rational, much less moral.
    Second, when his own nation is facing debt as far as a yet-unborn generation can see, shouldn’t the US Treasury Sec’y be tending to his own knitting, fine-tuning US finances to eliminate every instance of waste and exploit every penny of revenue, rather than seeking to destroy the financial stability of other states?

  72. LondonBob says:

    Mueller seems to have a clear conflict of interest and should step down. I don’t know what Rosenstein’s deal is but that Special Counsel thing sure looks like a formalisation of the get Trump campaign. As Frank Qattrone and Martha Stewart could tell you you don’t even need to have done anything wrong for them to get you. Trump needs to get some good advice and start pushing back aggressively. He still has public support and he needs to start communicating with the people directly as FDR or Reagan did.

  73. So what? Deal with my original question–What was actually done? What is the import of attempted hacking of election boards that achieved nothing?

  74. Alaric says:

    “continue to think that “the Borg” better represents the consensus of opinion that exists in the US foreign policy community,”
    I agree. I’m going to call them “the borg” from now on. Most really don’t think anyway.

  75. Dr.Puck says:

    I’m waiting for the results of the full investigation of what the Russian government and its proxies demonstrably–this rooted to facts–did in an attempt to interfere with our election. Clapper’s report is a preliminary finding in the context of what may become known in the future.
    I’m unconcerned by whether or not Russia’s effort was effective, (although I do note the preferred choice of the Russians did win the electoral college.) So far, a thin gruel has been served up.
    This means PT we’re agreeing to disagree? You do identify three elements that refute your headline.
    I wonder if the Trump campaign’s social media operation, led by Brad Parscale, located in San Antonio, and (at the time) leveraging Project Alamo, will be investigated by Mueller? It was the only really practical vector for coordination, imo.

  76. TonyL,
    I think some background is appropriate.
    The former Soviet Union, and other communist countries, placed great stress on scientific and technical education. One result of this is that it was reported last December that in a competition for the ‘best universities in the world for learning to code’ the first, second and third institutions were in Russia, China and Vietnam respectively. The top US university, Berkeley, was fourth, while the sixth place went to another Russian university, and the seventh to one in Ukraine.
    (See https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/news/best-universities-world-learning-code#survey-answer .)
    One effect is that there are eminently likely to be a vast number of capable hackers in these countries.
    However, the question of the beliefs and political agendas of such hackers is likely to be a complex one. Back in Soviet days, it would have been eminently possible that many of the products of the Russian universities who are high in the rankings in that competition would have been extremely sceptical of their own government, and sympathetic to the West.
    Unsurprisingly, if you have a system which encourages scientific education while basing its legitimacy on a pseudo-science, Marxism-Leninism, most of whose predictions turn out flat-out wrong, you end up with problems.
    As the late great Moshe Lewin explained in the 2005 study ‘The Soviet Century’ in which he summarised his life work, as far back as 1968 Andropov submitted a report to the Politburo from an informant among Odessa students which dealt with ‘the total, abysmal failure of the whole party structure and its politico-ideological arsenal among the student body.’
    In his summary of the report’s conclusions, Lewin noted that Andropov was told that ‘students’ preference for anything Western was scarcely surprising given their lack of respect for those whom they heard criticizing the West.’ While the ideological foundations of the system were collapsing however, the country ended up being ruled by – to quote Lewin again – a ‘deadlocked Politburo around a brain-dead Brezhnev’.
    What resulted, when Gorbachev attempted to reform the system, was that power eventually fell into the hands of people whose hatred for the existing system made them extraordinarily naïve about the problems of emulating the successes of Western economies – and also unfortunately willing to accept the pretensions of Western academic ‘Fachidioten’ at face value.
    Unfortunately, not only are very many Western economists grossly deluded about the extent to which one can explain things in terms of ‘rational choice’ theories, but they do not realise that ‘rational’ action is a matter of context. If the ‘invisible hand’ is to work in a relatively benign way, this presupposes legal frameworks which can regulate the ownership and exchange of property, and a functioning state which can enforce these. It also is of some help to have a culture of respect for law and private property.
    Absent such things, ‘rational choice’ leads, quite naturally, to a kind of ‘plunder economy’. Those who were successful at appropriating the assets of the old Soviet system – above all, the oligarchs who effectively ruled Russia under Yeltsin – could not rely on a functioning state.
    So not only people like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky but also shadowy figures like Mogilevich who managed to get their tenacles into critical economic relations built their own private security and intelligence services. Moreover, quite rationally, oligarchs secured ‘krysha’ from unambiguously criminal organisations: Chechen mafiosi in the case of Berezovsky.
    At the same time, consider what ‘rational choice’ means for members of the vast military, internal security and intelligence apparatus of what has justly been called a ‘counter-intelligence state’, when it is precipitately demobilised.
    You have no job, no pension, no prospects – your government is now denouncing the system in which you were taught to believe. But you have very marketable skills. So if people like Berezovsky or Khodorkovsky, or indeed Mogilevich, are offering them jobs, a lot of highly competent people aren’t going to be too picky. And, likewise, one suspects a lot of highly skilled computer experts were recruited into private security and intelligence services.
    The situation is then transformed by Putin’s reconstruction of the Russian state. What he does is to offer the oligarchs a deal. So long as they keep out of politics, and make some contribution – such as actually paying some taxes and not secreting all their wealth abroad – they can keep their plunder, and indeed have state protection for it.
    These are terms to which Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky mount an overt challenge, and both end up losing – despite valiant efforts of Western security services on their behalf. And their effective expropriation makes it easier for Putin to insert his ‘siloviki’ associates into key positions in the economy. Turning them into quasi-oligarchs may, of course, have the advantage of ensuring their loyalty.
    Those oligarchs who accepted Putin’s terms, at least overtly, prospered. How far they are all really reconciled to their loss of political power, and how far some of them may dream of regaining it, would seem an open question. Likewise, how far such people still maintain private security and intelligence systems seems an open question.
    Moreover, when it was unclear who was going to win out, for very many people at different levels of the system, ‘rational choice’ commonly suggested that it was wise to keep one’s options open. A not surprising result has been a labyrinthine and extraordinarily Machiavellian politics, in which ‘information operations’ are commonly very difficult to unravel. For reasons I do not understand, this style of politics also seems to have spread to the West.
    One consequence is that when hacking operations appear to come from Russia, it can be extraordinarily difficult to make sense of who is behind them.
    It is, unfortunately, the case that Western policy since 1989 has gone a very great way to eliminating the reflexive pro-Western sentiment among large sections of the educated classes in Russia on which Andropov’s spies reported almost sixty years ago. Moreover, the argument for keeping one’s options open is very much weaker, because of the decisive nature of Putin’s victory over challengers.
    However, the notion that competent hackers in Russia are all rallying monolithically behind the Putin’s agendas seems to me implausible. And this is all the more so, because the Russian ‘sistema’ is, patently, not monolithic.
    Where actions are such as to have the potential to further undermine relations between Russia and the West, there are, in the nature of things, a whole range of possibilities. So, they could actions sponsored by Putin, as has been claimed in relation to the DNC hackings.
    Likewise, they could be ‘false flags’ orchestrated by elements in Western intelligence agencies – or the surviving elements of the security apparatuses of anti-Putin oligarchs, or elements in Ukraine. My own very strong suspicion – based on what I can find out about figures like Dmitri Alperovitch and Matt Tait, and what I know about Christopher Steele – is that some combination of these elements have indeed orchestrated ‘false flags’ to cover up the fact that the DNC materials were leaked.
    However, hackings could be orchestrated from Russia, but by elements either in the Russian government or outside it who think that Putin is much too concerned to try to maintain relations with the West. Equally, however, they could be Russian hackers acting on their own account – who may or may not like Putin.
    (One can imagine a conversation which goes something like this: ‘It’s been a boring day in the office. Let’s see what Hillary Clinton is up to. In any case, we’re tired of those Lithuanians. Of course, nobody wants to invade them – who wants to pay for the old people’s homes? But we can have fun rotting up their computer systems. Our FSB contact told us to be cautious, but he’s a boring old fart.)

  77. Fred says:

    So the Russians convinced Donna Brazile and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to rig the Democratic Primary? The Russians convinced Hilary and her campaign manager to blow through a billion dollars of campaign funds by spending it on all the usual democratic consultants, media companies and focus advertisements in all the usual places? Good thing Hilary isn’t in office now, just imagine what those nefarious Russian and Chinese cyber operators would be convincing them of doing.

  78. Mark Logan says:

    I suspect the unwritten rule is propaganda is OK but messing around with vote counting isn’t. The reports are the GRU conducted probes into the later. Should anyone be shocked if that did happen? Perhaps, but if so the shocked are automatically attributing that to Putin and/or the Russian leadership in general. Is it correct to suspect the Russians use the same sort we do in the hacking game? Kids. Twenty-something whiz-kids whose brilliance is only exceeded by their zeal and ignorance? Kids who to a degree intimidate their over-seers with their ability to prove a man an oaf with two lines of code?
    I suppose these may appear to be rhetorical questions but they aren’t.

  79. Panos says:

    Publius is correct. Someplace somewhere, someone is laughing with incredulity at this charade. What is almost certainly a frame-up of an investigation has morphed into a special counsel investigation concerning the obstruction of said frame-up. How does one obstruct a baseless investigation? There is no evidence Trump colluded with Russia.
    Moreover, if the worse of Russia’s transgression was leaking the all-too-well-known fact that Bill is still dicking bimbos, then we can all sleep comfortably (unless you’re a bimbo).
    As far as cyber spying and hacking goes, I’d more concerned about how a dozen spies enlisted by the CIA in China could have been murdered or imprisoned dating back seven years ago. That is a far graver matter.

  80. ked says:

    I think it helps to distiguish Deep State from Borg in this fashion; a DS is a hierarchical organization that exercises power in a nation-state such that it directs and executes state policy in a secretive manner that is opaque to its public. A Borg is a political-social-economic elite class having shared values and behaviors that collectively bound the range of acceptable discourse and decisions allowed in its nation. Or somthing like that, w/ apologies for sounding polisci-ish.
    In a DS, there are formal rules & a “wiring diagram” (if secretive) of rulers to execute specific plans – a gang of sorts.
    A Borg is an informal, evolving collective of influential players holding the same belief system that acts in concert to effectively define a nation’s range of choices – a club of sorts.

  81. IZ,
    Thanks for that.
    When I get a moment, I will read the Wikipedia pieces to which you link. Unfortunately, while Turkish politics turns out to be a critical element in a lot of puzzles, I am grossly ignorant about it.
    What has been revealed about the Health Ministry report certainly makes it look as though it were part of an ‘information operation’ – and as you point out, particularly given the mess that tayyip has got himself into, anyone leaking the full text would be taking their life into their hands.
    Whether the leadership of the OPCW can continue to justify in essence colluding in make accusations against the Syrian government, while suppressing the detailed evidence, including the autopsy results, we shall see.
    If you do have any more information or thoughts on the Turkish angle of this affair, both I and I think a lot of others would be very interested.

  82. Babak Makkinejad says:

    One could only hope that there is a place called Hell somewhere and Yigor Gaidar is a denizens of its lowest level.
    On the urge to destroy: many Iranian dissidents would do likewise; destroy Islam, Sharia, everything – as though 800 years of sitting on one’s hands by one’s ancestors could be overcome by the rapid destruction of the existing Traditions and Culture.
    Worked very well during Reconstruction.

  83. turcopolier says:

    I would agree with you that the DS (when extent) is hierarchical and easily depicted by a line an block chart. The Borg would best be described as you did and a visual would be something like a Venn diagram. pl

  84. TonyL says:

    David Habakkuk,
    Thank you for your analysis. I would agree that “they could actions sponsored by Putin, as has been claimed in relation to the DNC hackings” or “they could be Russian hackers acting on their own account – who may or may not like Putin”.

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