I am writing this in response to a request from a longtime friend, a former CIA Operations Officer, who has watched the propaganda meme unfold, which declares that Russia stuck its runny red nose into our election and helped Trump win. My friend, a woman who had extensive field experience and worked on the Iraq weapons of mass destruction mess, has a personal experience witnessing the so-called "Intelligence Community" ignore real intel and seize on bullshit in order to justify a war that political masters were keen on launching. The actual intelligence was ignored (but that is a another story for another day).
She has a problem. She is a person of integrity and, despite her own politics, is unwilling to slant intelligence to serve a political agenda. She suffered terminal damage to her career because she refused to play the political game. God bless her. She exemplifies what a genuine intelligence officer is supposed to be.
She asked me the other day what I made of the repeated meme that the Russians–Vladimir Putin in particular–intervened in our election and put their (his) thumb on the political scale in order to help Trump. Here is my answer:
Let's begin with the continued refusal of the DNC to allow DHS or FBI to examine the computer/computers of the DNC where the alleged hack supposed took place. Instead of insisting that the FBI examine their computers, the DNC turned to a private organization–CrowdStrike.
It was CrowdStrike that uncovered the “Russian hacking” of the DNC, and when the DNC refused to allow the FBI access to their servers to see the evidence for themselves, it was CrowdStrike that told the FBI that it was the Russians.
Here’s the problem with this: CrowdStrike’s reputation is currently unraveling. Why? It seems that CrowdStrike is as politically motivated as everyone else in Washington, D.C. The company is itself an opponent of Vladimir Putin and Russia and was recently caught fabricating a report that attempted to blame Russian hacking for problems with Urkainian military technology.
Yes, you read that correctly. CrowdStrike was forced to retract portions of a report that blamed Russian hacking for problems that didn’t actually exist. This realization completely undermines any reason we have to trust their analysis of the DNC servers. Since the DNC refused to allow the FBI access, we only have CrowdStrike’s word that the Russians hacked the DNC. Now that we know CrowdStrike has been caught lying about Russian hacking in another instance, we simply cannot give them the benefit of the doubt on the DNC email leak.
One of the owners/founders of Crowd Strike is a Mr. Dmitri Alperovitch. Dmitri was born in Russia but does not like Russia. He is not an objective outsider. CounterPunch called out Crowd Strike and Alperovitch on their deficient objectivity:
The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016. Voice of America, a US Government funded media outlet, reported, “the CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.” The maker of the military app allegedly hacked called CrowdStrike’s report “delusional,” and told VOA that CrowdStrike never contacted him either before or after they completed their report. VOA News noted Ukraine’s rebuttal to CrowdStrike received little media attention as CrowdStrike’s report was widely cited in media outlets throughout the United States as further evidence of Russia hacking the United States. Alperovitch, who gave several interviews on CrowdStrike’s initial report to the Washington Post and other media outlets, refused to comment on VOA News’ report.
The Washington blog lays out some of the problems with the Crowd Strike analysis:
The difference between Dmitri Alperovitch’s claims which are reflected in JAR-1620296 and this article is that enough evidence is provided to warrant an investigation of specific parties for the DNC hacks. The real story involves specific anti-American actors that need to be investigated for real crimes.
For instance, the malware used was an out-dated version just waiting to be found. The one other interesting point is that the Russian malware called Grizzly Steppe is from Ukraine. How did Crowdstrike miss this when it is their business to know?
Later in this article you’ll meet and know a little more about the real “Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear.” The bar for identification set by Crowdstrike has never been able to get beyond words like probably, maybe, could be, or should be, in their attribution.
When the DNC alleged hack occurred, the Clinton campaign charged right out of the gate and blamed Russia for the leaked email. They insisted that the FBI informed them that the Russians were responsible. But hoow could the FBI know such a thing so quickly if they had not been able to conduct a forensic exam?
Here is the US News report from 25 July 2016:
The FBI said Monday it is investigating how thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were hacked, a breach that Hillary Clinton's campaign maintains was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump. . . .Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta added fuel to the debate Monday, saying there was "a kind of bromance going on" between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. The Clinton campaign says Russia favors Trump's views, especially on NATO.
Then you have the NY Times, one day later, making the claim that the “INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES” agreed it was Russia but they weren’t certain of the motive:
American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.
But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election. also reported:
How do the “intelligence agencies” reach such a conclusion without having access to the actual forensic evidence? If this was the “conclusion” based on CIA sources then that means it had to be based on a human source. Similarly, if it was based on NSA evidence–i.e., we intercepted a communication between Russian sources–then NSA could have weighed in. But they did not have such evidence. If such evidence existed it would have been written up in a Top Secret document and briefed to the President and key members of Congress. That did not happened. Here’s the reality—we do not get a written assessment until January 2017. And that so-called assessment, as I wrote about in a previous piece, did not offer one shred of actual intelligence to buttress their claim. Which begs the question. How in the hell can they brief Obama in July but then not come up with a “judgment” until six months later? The truth is simple. They did not have such information.
Also, if you have read the January “Assessment” it is a joke. Compare that to the White Paper on Iraq, which was at least full of sourcing (of course, the Iraq White Paper was still a pack of lies). The ironically labeled "National Intelligence Assessment" was not a genuine Intelligence Community product. Such an Assessment normally goes through the National Intelligence Council and ensures that all agencies/analysts with substantive expertise on the matter are given the chance to coordinate and comment on the assessment. That did not happen in this case. In fact, the Defense Intelligence Agency–which has significant expertise on the Russian GRU–was excluded from the process.
I made some inquiries of my own. This exclusion of DIA caught my eye. An old friend and seasoned intelligence professional who still occupies a senior slot in the Intel Community, responded to my inquiry by archly noting that there is no there there. In other words, no intel to back up the anti-Russian propaganda.
If we step back and look objectively at the media blitz/propaganda campaign being directed against Russia I think we are dealing with something that goes far beyond Hillary’s campaign. This is far bigger than her. I don’t think there is one single source for the anti-Russia meme. In fact, it involves several players. First, the pro-Nato crowd that wants to expand NATO and do more on Russia’s frontiers. Second, the anti-Iran crowd who see Russia as a great enabler of Tehran and want to punish both (the Saudis, along with their money, are very active on this front). Third, the military/industrial complex that reaps enormous financial benefits, such as building missile defense systems, to confront the IMPERIAL RUSSIAN threat. You’ve heard the message repeatedly I’m sure, i.e.”Vladimir Putin is keen on reconstituting the Soviet Empire and is working, like Hitler, to make it happen.”
I suppose it is easy to swallow that lie as long as we ignored our own sins in threatening Russia. We ignore the promise that Bill Clinton made to the Russians to not expand NATO and not conduct operations on Russia’s western border. Well, both Clinton and Bush broke that promise. We directly “meddled” in the Ukrainian elections (hell, Victoria Nuland is caught on tape discussing some of our manipulation). That’s just the latest in our fifty year history of backing coups and funding opposition political parties and planting stories in the media. I wonder if Iraq, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Greece, Italy and the Dominican Republic consider our past actions “meddling?”
I don’t trust a single US intel agency to do the right thing. They all have a proven track record of lying and deceit. They oxymoronic Intelligence Community insisted in late 2002 and early 2003 that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they knew that was not true. They also knew what the White House wanted to hear. The leadership could have stood up and don) the right, honorable thing, but they chose to play politics. That is what I’m still seeing. It does not matter whether Trump or Obama is sitting at the White House. The CIA and NSA serve their own interests and, if those interest don’t jibe with those of the Republic, the Republic is told to fuck off.
The CIA is very well versed in the art of "meddling" in elections. We have a robust historical record of how this is down. But we have not limited ourselves to just meddling in elections. We have helped organize and mount coup d' etats. You doubt me? Just ask Iran and its Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. How about Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz (1954). We could add to that list the Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile, Vietnam, Greece and Italy. Hell, even Barack Obama got into the act with Israel in 2013 and 2014.
According to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), the State Department gave $349,276 in U.S. taxpayer-funded grants to a political group in Israel to build a campaign operation, which subsequently was used to try to influence Israelis to vote against conservative Benjamin Netanyahu in the March 2015 election for prime minister.
Sure sounds like "meddling" to me. The rest of the world watches our faux outrage with a mixture of bemusement and bewilderment. Surely, they wonder, we cannot be so clueless. Answer. We are. As Colonel Lang perceptively noted in a previous piece, the average American knows more about Captain America and Wonder Woman than they do about our actual deeds in mucking around in the affairs of other countries.
Now we are feigning outrage at a Russian intervention that never occurred. We are oblivious to facts. We go only with emotion and fantasy. This is a dangerous concoction.