The Danger of Our Russian Delusion by Publius Tacitus


I'm closing in on 65. Years, not miles. And I do not recall a time where so many people willingly have accepted lies and falsehoods about the threat from Russia and Russians. The combination of delusion and lies about Russia and Putin have attached themselves to our body politic and our public discourse like the monster in the movie Alien. We are infested by a malevolent collection of beliefs. Left uncorrected or unchallenged, these delusions could set off a series of events that could ultimately cause the destruction of our country. 

I realize that sounds over the top, but bear with me. Let's review the new obsession with Russia as the main threat we must defeat through the lens of Russian meddling in our election. Everyone knows, or so we are told on a daily basis, that Russia deliberately tried to subvert our democracy in last year's Presidential election and that Putin is a modern day Stalin intent of taking over the world. Here's an example from just the other day courtesy of CNN:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo stands by US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, the agency said Saturday, despite President Donald Trump saying he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says his country didn't interfere.

"The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," the CIA said in a statement when asked for reaction to the president's remarks. "The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed."

I can understand the media getting this wrong. But the so-called intelligence community also is participating in this charade. What is Mike Pompeo's excuse? 

Let's start with the specious  claim that the “U.S. Intelligence Community concluded” that Russia directed a campaign to influence the election. There never has been a "Community Conclusion." You only have a “Community Conclusion” when you have a coordinated, written document. That means something akin to a National Intelligence Estimate, which has been thoroughly coordinated among the relevant agencies.

What does “coordination” mean? Any analyst worth their salt at the CIA or the DIA are taught from their first day on the job that everything they write, especially if it uses material from the NSA and the State Department, must be reviewed and approved by their at State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research NSA. The purpose of such a review is to ensure that the source intelligence cited in the analysis is represented accurately.

It is different with the FBI. The FBI is not an intelligence organization per se. They don't gather "intelligence" that is shared with CIA and DIA. They collect evidence. Such evidence cannot be routinely shared with intelligence organizations.

If a CIA analyst is writing a piece on Russian computer hacking, and is using original intelligence generated by NSA, then the analyst would coordinate with his or her NSA counterpart. In addition, the analyst also would share the document with State INR and DIA. Only in the rarest circumstances would the analyst seek clearance from the FBI (this would mean the FBI produced and realized to the intelligence community a document that was not part of a criminal investigation).  

Are you keeping count? We are talking about a maximum of four agencies. So why does the media insist that the number is 17? That claim originated with Hillary Clinton.

“We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin. And they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing,” Clinton said during Wednesday's presidential debate in Las Vegas.

The ironically named "Politifact" added to the misinformation by insisting that Hillary was right and they cited the joint statement from DNI's Jim Clapper and Jeh Johnson at DHS (Homeland Security) issued on 7 October 2016:

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

What a joke!! Clapper and Johnson insisted that the USIC was "confident." That's just a weasel word for "belief." But belief is not the same as having actual evidence. More telling was the fact that their written statement was not accompanied by a Community Assessment or Intelligence Memorandum. Just take their word for it.

The next “judgment” of the so-called intelligence community came via a "Joint Analysis Report" from Homeland Security and the FBI:
This Joint Analysis Report (JAR) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This document  provides technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities. The U.S. Government is referring to this malicious cyber activity by RIS as GRIZZLY STEPPE
This had nothing to do with the Intelligence Community. The FBI and DHS are principally law enforcement outfits. They do not issue intelligence judgments. They are supposed to produce things like affidavits. In other words, documents that can be presented to a grand jury and will hold up if presented subsequently in a criminal court.
The only written document from the Intelligence Community came on 6 January 2017 courtesy of the DNI's James Clapper, Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”. Clapper maintained the fiction that this paper reflected the judgment of the USIC. However, the document itself says different:
This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.
Missing form the drafting and coordination is the State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) and the Defense Intelligence Agency aka DIA. The exclusion of the DIA is very curious given several of the conclusions in the report fingering the Russian GRU as one of the main culprits for meddling. This key judgment at the bottom of page ii is typical:
We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and to release US victim data
DIA has the most expertise in the USIC on the GRU. That is what DIA does. They track and analyze the activities of foreign military organizations. If you are doing a legitimate community analysis on the dastardly deeds of the Russian military then DIA should have been consulted. They were not. That point alone tells you that this so-called "Community Assessment" was a fraud.
The 17 Agency lie is now firmly a part of our national political meme. It is an assertion uncritically accepted by a host of seemingly smart people who should know better. As I noted at the beginning of this piece it is inexcusable that someone like Mike Pompeo should endorse this mendacity. It means he really does not know anything substantively about interagency coordination and the process for arriving at community judgments.
This is not a minor error. It is helping condition the American public to accept more lies about Russia. And those lies keep coming. They are cropping up in stories about Russia's activities in the Ukraine and in Syria. Instead of being encourage to see Russia as a potential ally in the war against radical Islam, the American public are being conditioned to see Russia as the reincarnated Soviet Bear intent on devouring the peaceful democracies. Accepting such a lie on such a broad scale moves us closer to war and our ultimate destruction. That's why I do not sleep well at night.
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137 Responses to The Danger of Our Russian Delusion by Publius Tacitus

  1. Publius Tacitus,
    I think you’re conflating an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) with a National Intelligence Assessment (NIE). The ICA of 6 January 2017 clearly states it was produced and coordinated by CIA,NSA and FBI. That is where the expertise in this subject lies. The DIA effort in this field is dwarfed by those three and the State effort is practically nonexistent. Through recent reorganizations DHS is also becoming a major player in cyber analysis and investigation. I would never expect the traditional 17 intelligence agencies to produce such a document as this ICA. What would the Coast Guard contribute?
    Having said that, you are right about the absurdity of the many claims made about the 17 agencies. It’s just flat wrong. However, I don’t see why acknowledging the existence of a Russian influence operation, and a substantial one at that, must lead to war. This was as natural as governments spying on each other. Any government not trying to influence other governments to make decisions favorable to their interests would be negligent and incompetent. Those in high dungeon over this Russian IO and are calling for Putin’s head are wrong. They should be called out on their unnecessary hysteria. But those who deny the Russians would ever do something like this and believe is a benevolent saint with only our best interests at heart are also wrong. Putin is only concerned about Russia’s best interests. Our interests often coincide and we should continue to cooperate when they do. There’s no reason we can’t work together while telling Putin we know what you did… you got us good this time… it’s not going to happen again, mudak.

  2. You don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to how the intel community works and how a “Community Assessment”, regardless of whether it is an NIE, a PBD, an intel memorandum, is produced. When a product on Russian hacking, with the GRU as the alleged perpetrator, is produced, excluding DIA is both insane and a sign of incompetence. DIA knows more about GRU than CIA and NSA combined.

  3. Fred says:

    Which other governments interfered with our election in 2016?

  4. per says:

    “But those who deny the Russians would ever do something like this and believe is a benevolent saint with only our best interests at heart are also wrong. Putin is only concerned about Russia’s best interests.”
    Granted that Russia only cares about Russia, was it in Russia’s best interest to meddle? It seems that Russia shot itself in the foot big time. In return for some petty, clumsy meddling that did not affect anything, they got sanctions and massive anti-Russian hysteria in return. On the other hand, the meddling greatly benefited Russia’s enemies. Is Putin stupid?
    In the realm of world politics, what is Russia trying to achieve? The grand strategy is to promote the Old World Order: the Westphalian system/International Law, the idea that states are sovereign and equal irrespective of regime and that they do not meddle in the internal affairs of one another. This is in contrast to the New World Order/American Exceptionalism: the idea that USA and its allies are the final victors of world history, with a god-given right to meddle in the internal affairs of other states in the name of democracy. This conflict is something that is very dear to Putin: it is a constant theme in his speeches. It is the cornerstone of Russian diplomacy. Russian meddling in US elections therefore undercuts Russia’s own grand strategy.
    On a tactical level, Russia seeks cooperation with the West. In Syria, Russia has eagerly tried to establish military cooperation with the US. In the Ukraine, Russia has been seeking cooperation with West European governments for a political solution. Again, meddling in elections undercuts these efforts.
    So the idea of Russian meddling does not pass the Cui Bono-test. Who benefits from Russian meddling? Russia’s enemies.

  5. outthere says:

    #1 = Israel

  6. outthere says:

    Just ask Senator Charles Percy

  7. robt willmann says:

    The CNN television network on its Sunday, 12 November show, “State of the Union”, had former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on in a segment of around 17 minutes. They continued to push the narrative that Russia interfered in the presidential election, and obviously were there because earlier president Trump said around some reporters that they and former FBI director James Comey were “political hacks”–
    On a different subject, the death on 4 June of Army Special Forces Sergeant Logan Melgar in the company of two Navy Seals in Mali, Africa has resulted in suspicion that he was killed by the Seal Team 6 members. A 29 October 2017 article in the New York Times raised the issue, and a story from the Daily Beast website of 12 November raises the possibility that Sgt. Melgar had discovered that the Seals may have been pocketing money from their informant fund–

  8. Mathiasalexander says:

    Is there any reliable information about how many members of the general public believe these lies and falsehoods?

  9. Dubhaltach says:

    What’s the fuss about? Even if the allegations were true – which I find dubious at best, so what? Governments try to influence each other in ways favourable to their interests. The hysteria that we’re witnessing is more a combination of Russophobia and American exceptionalism than anything else.
    Sauce goose, gander.

  10. Ingolf Eide says:

    Nicely put. That’s been my working premise throughout. As you say, from Russia’s point of view, the risk/reward was just terrible.

  11. Tel says:

    I agree with you PT, this whole “Russia hacking” thing is a crock. It started right after the election when they needed a convenient excuse, and instead of evidence they give us brutal repetition. However I think there’s a little bit missing from the story.
    PT: “We are infested by a malevolent collection of beliefs.”
    Firstly, don’t forget the deep and prescient words of DJ 900 Foot Jesus: “Truth. Is. Out of style.”
    Secondly, it’s a social thing. By buying into the Russia narrative, you demonstrate your cred as anti-Trump. Now I’m not saying that it’s impossible that some trivial amount of money might have got through from the Kremlin by indirect means and purchased a handful of irrelevant Facebook advertisements for Black Lives Matter. That’s entirely possible, but to believe that there was top level control which actually swung the outcome of the US election, is ultimately just a way of saying that Trump didn’t win it by his own campaigning. It’s an excuse to make the losers feel better.
    Hey look Dems, Hillary was a poor choice of candidate, and blatantly cheating in the Dem Primary was a poor strategy when the Bernie-bros were hoping for some kind of integrity. If you don’t learn from this, you can never move on. Bernie supporters stayed home on principle after getting burned; Trump won the election.

  12. JohnB says:

    PT Is right when he says that he can’t sleep at night.
    The danger of Nuclear Armageddon is nearer to us than at any time than 1962. Even in the 1980s you always felt that the calmer heads were in the WH than they are today.
    The atmosphere both sides of the Atlantic is very poisonous towards any rapprochement with Russia. During the depths of the Cold War the hope of better relations between the West and the Soviet Union was something that we could strive towards.
    I really don’t see anyway forward here until Putin has been removed or we have a global war which there will be no winners. I fear relations will continue on this trajectory until they reach their logical conclusion.
    I think Trump wanted better relations with the Russia but he was never going to be able to achieve that goal given the dominance of Neo-Cons & Liberal Interventionists in foreign and security policy formulation. Now all he can do is to be swept along by events that he has no real control over.
    Did Russia meddle, interfere or try to influence the US election? I think they would have been stupid not to influence to be honest. The prospect of a HC win would have propelled us closer to the end game. No Fly Zones in Syria would have been attempted and we can all speculate where that would have led too.
    The US/UK/France & Israel and Russia/Soviet Union have all tried to influence elections since WWII to enhance their FP objectives. They will continue to do so, Did the Russian attempts, which seem fairly low key, have any influence on the election result? For me, no they didn’t! Was the Brexit Referendum in the UK influenced by ‘so called’ Russian meddling? Once again a big NO but can be used as convenient excuse to ignore the real reasons why results went the way they did.
    On a final note – Unlike during the Cold War there is a much bigger consensus among politicians of left & right and opinion former’s that Russia is bad, that Putin is the devil incarnate. Look at the furore over here last week when Alex Salmond announced he was having a show on RT. Crazy stuff indeed!
    Why is Russia seen as such a threat? It can’t be to do with economics as Russia is a capitalist country, there are no difference with the West on that. Is it Russia standing in the way of Western hegemony? This partly explains the hostility. However, I think it goes even deeper than that. Russia offers a potential model for Europe that the Liberals in particular are scared of. What is driving the liberal or ‘so called’ progressive opinion is Russia’s opposition to the identity/cultural agenda. Russia offers conservatism and tradition and a break on globalization which the Liberals fear could gain a major foothold among Europe’s populations.
    I am probably on the left compared to most correspondents on here but I have to say that the only critique to the group think around FP and Security policy in the US seems to be coming from the traditional conservatives.
    From my experience in the UK there is no critique at all. Granted Jeremy Corbyn offers some hope but in reality even if he was to come to office he would be neutered by his own MP’ – in the same way that Trump has been – as the majority of Labour MP’s are in the Liberal Interventionist camp.
    So what we have is unholy coalition of Liberals & Neo-Cons in regard to Russia which I can’t see changing in a generation.

  13. J says:

    Spying, Espionage, Propaganda, Information operations (I/O) all seem to have a grip on mankind that won’t quit.
    So long as there is Big Money to be made spreading the false narrative, things like the fake news and falser Russian dossier type thing-a-mabobs will continue unabated.
    There is money to be made spreading the inflated Ruskie threat, just ask Clapper and DHS. It’s called big budgets or a huge hog feeding trough.

  14. J says:

    Colonel, TTG,
    FYI: Info coming to light regarding the Navy SEALs murder of a Green Beret at a Embassy in Africa. Seems he discovered their ill gotten lure.

  15. elev8 says:

    There is a serious semantic problem here. The term “meddling” is either meaningless or unwarranted. There are well-financed propaganda efforts undertaken by both Russia and the US.
    “Cyber” operations are similarly nothing where there would seem to be a large disparity between the two sides. The claims regarding the DNC emails, however, appear to be unsubstantiated and even wrong.
    I would like to draw attention to Australian economist Steve Keen’s recent unapologetic explanation of why he goes on “Russia Today”. The gist of it is that, while RFERL once made it possible to source news from other than the poisoned Soviet wells, now media conformity in the West has reached such levels that RT occasionally serves as a useful antidote to the output of the consent-manufacturing industries this side of the once iron-made curtain that is hopefully not going to come down again.

  16. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    Is it possible that the DIA was like “Lol nope, not going to sign that. Any other military intel agency excluding the GRU is going to relentlessly make fun of us forever if we do that. GRU meanwhile would be really insulted.”
    I mean, this was crowdstrike alleging that a supposed User Name of Felix Edmundovich means that it was the GRU, and well, I would expect the DIA to know how “fond” the GRU is of the Cheka in general and the Chekas founder in particular.
    After all, the “bad blood” between the FBI and the CIA is pretty tame compared to the real blood between GRU and any Cheka successor.

  17. Fred,
    I don’t know if any other government tried to directly influence that election, but I would include Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the list of countries making major efforts in influencing our government’s decisions.

  18. per,
    Russia does not want to see a unified US government with a unified populace espousing the “New World Order/American Exceptionalism” you wrote about. It is in their interest to prevent that. They sought a weakened Clinton presidency presiding over a divided United States or something other than the “New World Order/American Exceptionalism” that Clinton espoused. They got that. Whether their influence op had anything to do with that outcome is another question. From their point of view, I think it was worth the effort.

  19. Terry says:

    It is established that the Russians did not change a single vote and did not change the outcome of the election. The “meddling” claim is based on the idea that the Russians provided access to ideas, memes, and information (leaked emails) outside the mainstream US media narrative. At the heart of this idea is that US voters are largely simplistic, easily swayed stooges that must be protected from outside ideas. This is staggeringly un-American and yet also ironically being proven true by how easily the “Russia did it” narrative and other lies have been sold. Science is proving that higher brain functions, including analytic and moral functions, are reduced when people are in a group. This effect is strongest where people are physically together (lynch mobs, flash mobs, sporting events) but also works whenever people become strongly identified with a group. Just threaten the group and you get useful idiots.

  20. Publius Tacitus,
    I’ve been involved in this field from the earliest days of MOONLIGHT MAZE until 2009. I represented Defense HUMINT during those early NIC-sponsored community meetings regarding MOONLIGHT MAZE. I worked closely with various NSA, CIA and FBI offices during that time and worked with the DIA analysts more than my own Defense HUMINT chain of command during many of those years. In that time, I’ve seen how intelligence products in this field evolved from the standard intelligence product. I’ve seen DIA-NSA products and FBI-NSA products. I’m not at all surprised that this is a CIA-NSA-FBI product.

  21. rms says:

    The big counter argument here seems bureaucratic, that these intelligence views and reports are not as uniform as presen ted ? This seems like small potatoes to me. As a technical person familiar with social media platforms, My own eyes saw this large coordinated 1) disinformation campaign, 2) persuasion campaign, in real time which worked. This was a new thing – but it seems have had a devastating effect on the reasoning power of a large swath of other wise intelligent seeming people, like many of posters on this blog, for instance.
    Its just dead obvious that Trump is unfit for, well really, most any situation I can think of. Anyone who thinks otherwise, well your judgement is compromised. As this comment is critical, I expect it will disappear.

  22. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    “But those who deny the Russians would ever do something like this and believe is a benevolent saint with only our best interests at heart are also wrong. Putin is only concerned about Russia’s best interests.”

    I agree. And based on what the two candidates were saying during the campaign Putin would have been in breach of his duty therein if he had not directed the Russian government to attempt to influence the outcome in Trump’s favor. Of course the Borg finally got to him after a few months in office. Whether by blackmail, pointed references to President Kennedy’s misfortune or whatever, we’ll probably never know.

  23. Really impressed with your experience. You clearly learned nothing from it. The point of my piece, which appears to escape your “twisted genius” mind, is that Jim Clapper, from the very beginning, was claiming the conclusion of Russia hacking the DNC as a CONCLUSION OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY. That is bullshit and if you were being honest you would acknowledge that. Instead, you are being intellectually dishonest in my view.
    If it was truly a judgment of the intelligence community then DIA and State INR would have been in on contributing a clearance. The process of interagency clearance was ignored in this case. Your refusal to acknowledge that fact makes your opinion in this matter useless as far as I am concerned.

  24. blue peacock says:

    Despite the hysteria on Russia, DJT noted this in a tweet.

    When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!
    Does this look like a POTUS that will order attacks on Russia, despite the belligerence of the intelligence agencies?

  25. J says:

    The Russians are testing a man portable thermobaric.
    I’m sure several of our assets are monitoring this one closely.

  26. JamesT says:

    I agree with TTG that governments attempt to influence one another all the time. There is an interesting post currently on zerohedge about Germany trying to “interfere” in Polish elections:

  27. Fred says:

    How about Mexico?

  28. Fred says:

    That would be a neat trick since he’s been dead half a decade and was out of the Senate almost 3 decades before that.

  29. LeaNder says:

    TP, picking up on some type of mental undercurrent.
    Yes, without doubt Clinton’s statement about the claimed unisono opinon of the 17 by Clinton was suspect from the very, very start. At least if degrading the US to some type of information tyranny wasn’t her intention.
    With a single statement she verbally turned the 17 into some type of echo choir. Without any doubt.
    But: Can we assume she ever took the trouble to understand what the 17 actually signify? Did she ever try to seriously grasp it? Or did her statement suggest she may have never bothered to understand, and thus might even have misread whatever ‘signals’ she received? …
    Put another way: is she a highly well connected sly string puller, as your chronology may or may not suggest, well connected, relying on a neatly streamlined use or misuse of the US power under whatever US admin?
    Hyperintelligent, since she studied law at Havard? Or alternatively stupid, or manipulating trying to score an easy point with the audience in a very, very special setting to get elected?
    Less well connected to a more general public sentiment at the time?
    Much harder to grasp the larger post 9/11 activities as far as cyberwar and related subjects: the semi-collective effort to open source intelligence (a new branch of business, it felt at one point) and the no doubt pretty neglected subject of cybercrime and its history within the respectively legal national limits to fight it in the real larger cyberworld out there for the commoners.
    And last but not least. could it be that simple information warfare is mixed up with some of the former in the larger Russiagate debate? And how exactly would we define it in our brave new post 9/11 universe?
    In which of the respective jobs offered by the 17 could the latter four be neatly fitted in precisely? Would the problems for the commoners surface at all?

  30. Imagine says:

    TTG Sir,
    The problem is not other states’ putative meddling in American elections. The problem is the Deep State successfully creating a wave of McCarthyism II, keeping the American public emotional and off-balance, which leads to their being easily pulled in bad directions and brought down. Recall “The Crucible”, and the wars with Iraq.

  31. Imagine says:

    Some evidence points to Internet Research Agency being a CIA false-flag operation. In particular, (1) this never was a real company, but apparently operated out of an address whose building had not been opened yet; (2) Russia apparently arrested the principals of IRA on charges of being foreign agents for America. If this line checks out, it would cast a whole new light on the matter.

  32. Imagine says:

    Other evidence points to this being a standard clickbait Internet marketing attempt. In particular, something like 56% of the “Russian” ads ran after the election. Clickbait artists run from all over the world, and it is certainly not surprising that some of them would be based in Russia. Basic steps: (1) Run ads based on what people are talking about; (2) Drive them to your website; (3) Capture names & emails, sell to other marketers; (4) and/or Sell them ebooks or widgets. Make a slim profit based on percentage sales vs. ad costs. Because none of the ads were “please overthrow your country in favor of glorious Mother Russia”, this interpretation is actually the most likely explanation for the original ads. Why Congress is pumping the issue is a different matter.

  33. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, first intended to respond to you, and then on the way seem to have changed my mind and addressed Publius instead …
    Will you forgive me, AIS?

  34. GeneO says:

    PT –
    I have no clue as to TTG’s experience. But I have long been impressed with his many posts and his rational comments on this blog. I tend to believe his points of view. Yours too sometimes. But you should tell us of your experience and what makes your opinions superior to TTGs on this matter.

  35. BillWade says:

    well, you can vote for another candidate come 2020 then. What I remember is the MSM telling me that HRC was a shoe-in while my eyes told me that there were 42 Trump yard signs for every 1 of HRC’s in my town. Laughing here.

  36. Fred,
    I just don’t know. I would think Mexico would be foolish to the point of criminality if they did not attempt to influence the colossus to the north. Perhaps all the “we’re not paying for your f$%king wall” was part of this. I think it was more of a visceral reaction to a series of insults from Trump.

  37. jld says:

    The portable thermobaric has been operational for quite a while, used in February by the Ukrainians to assassinate a DPR commander they could not take out in combat.

  38. Eric Newhill says:

    IMO, Your focus is way too narrow, too fixated and, frankly, way too far into the geek zone.
    As PT says, the Russia interference narrative is destructive to US internal political culture and fraught with serious risks for the future for the both the US and international relationships.
    There is no real evidence to date that Russian activities had any meaningful impact on the election results. To repeat the meme that Russia both made efforts to interfere and that those efforts had tangible results is irresponsible.
    I will go farther to say that even *if* Russian efforts were real and had tangible results, the meme should still be killed. The damage caused and risk created by that knowledge in the minds of the general populace far outweighs any benefits. As you (and PT and Col Lang) are certainly aware, all kinds of things happen all the time that influence the US in very real ways that the general public is not aware of and likely never will be. The general public wouldn’t know how to handle the info, how to put it in context, assign the proper meaning and tie into a larger picture of the world. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; more dangerous than no knowledge.
    IMO, this is an issue that should be quietly studied and quietly addressed (if there’s anything to it) by quiet professionals. That is what a responsible government would do.

  39. turcopolier says:

    I do not want PT to describe his experience to you. To do so would be to reveal his identity. His experience is extensive. pl

  40. Fred says:

    Would that response include incentivising Mexican citizens to move North without visas, to register to vote in the US without citizenship and to work on campaigns without lawful ability to do so? If so how many election cycles do you think this occurred in and how many local and state level elections may have been decided by such efforts?

  41. Peter AU says:

    If there was any reflexive control used, it was used directly on Obama and Clinton, rather than the US public.
    Clinton kicked of Russian meddling as an election tool, and Obama cemented this in many peoples minds in the days after the election by publicly initiating an investigation and expelling Russian diplomats.
    After a decade or so of being the sole superpower, the US moved to a wonderland where nothing is real, it could do or say anything. Political hacks posing as heads of intelligence…
    Russia is now in the enviable position in the current information war where it only needs to put out facts, reveal information, be it ISIS oil convoys, emails or NSA/CIA hacking tools.

  42. rjj says:

    The Russian influence was secondary; it was Victoria Nuland and her Ukrainian meddling nulanding who changed a lot of votes.

  43. sid_finster says:

    Clapper is a perjurer.

  44. outthere says:

    Stephen F Cohen knows so much about Russia, and for so long. He just went again to attend the ceremony for the opening of the new memorial for Stalin’s victims. He sat with his old friend Gorbachev. Here is the report:

  45. Charles Michael says:

    Personnaly I don’t buy much of this Russia meddling, and anyway that’s not the point I want to emphasize:
    apart from the usefullness of the Putin did it during the camapign and after to bring some sollace to Hillary Clinton, the Russia story has now a very clear and strong utility: limiting the power to act of the newly elected POTUS.
    and thus bringing a very divided population quite often clause to hysteria and rather unable to do some deep reflexion on itself and the real state of the Union.

  46. different clue says:

    Not all. Some bernie supporters, even if only a few, came out and voted for Trump as a matter of principle AND vengeance . . . and saving America from the spectre of a President Clinton.

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree with you about the dangers.
    The failure of the Enlightenment Project (or a child thereof) in USSR has removed the pretension and the convenience of a common language between the these two antagonists, US and the Russian Federation (the successor to USSR).
    That means that as this antagonism persists and develops fully, it will become another civilizational confrontation at the level of religion, culture, historical experience and what constitutes Justice.
    Just like the antagonism with Iran.
    At such a point, the differences will be cemented and frozen, with nary even the theoretical possibility of a resolution – a Hopeless Armed Peace.
    The turbine-based jet-engines can reach Mach 2.5; the Ramjet ones start at Mach 3.5. US, Russia, China, India, Western European states are all working on developing hyper-sonic weapons to deliver a bomb within 15 minutes on any point on the surface f Earth.
    The technology for seeding of the Earth’s oceans with passive and active sensory arrays feeding manned and unmanned semi-autonomous submerged weapons-platforms is only a matter of time and money.
    We are rapidly approaching a great dystopia, with robots, sub-humans, and humans slugging it out across the planet.

  48. different clue says:

    The ruling upper classes within this country also fear the longer term threat that the non-ruling middle and lower classes right here might want a
    National-Economic Sovereignty system right here for this country.
    The better the Russian economy does behind the unintended protection of the sanctions, the better Protectionism looks and the more Americans might want it for America. The globalist elites don’t want Russia to live long enough to make the case for Protectionism by Russia’s own better example.

  49. Fred,
    Do you have any evidence of widespread, or even minimal, voter fraud perpetrated by Mexicans? As far as I know the only people pushing that story line are the same ones saying the moon landing and the Sandy Hook killings were both hoaxes.

  50. SmoothieX12 says:

    Russia does not want to see a unified US government
    Actually, Russia wants to see a US government which is treaty-worthy and could be reasoned with. This, by definition, requires unified government. The fact that Russia completely rejects neocon or US exceptionalist vision is not a secret and it is reflected properly from military Doctrine to the whole spectrum of opinions in media. It is not a secret. The other issue here is that this very “exceptionalist” approach to foreign relations is damaging to the US itself and mechanism of this increasing and accelerating damage is not something hidden–it is in the open.

  51. There is absolutely zero evidence that Russia tried to “meddle” – whatever that word even means – in the US election, either by hacking or by media.
    Neither would they make any serious efforts to try, since they would know with absolute certainty that nothing they do would offset the efforts of the US mainstream media and the general flow of US social media as well as the state of the US electorate. The US is not Ukraine or Poland or some other benighted European doghouse.
    People who think a quarter million dollars worth of ads from Russia are going to influence the US electorate are delusional. When the US tries to “meddle” it spends millions upon millions of dollars funding NGO’s, bribing foreign officials, and even handing out cookies on election day. No one anywhere saw anything even remotely like that coming out of Russia.
    The only “disinformation campaign” that existed is the one run by John Brennan out of CIA, as referred to by Sy Hersh. It was highly effective because it had the entire US mainstream media and most of social media on its side as well as at least three agencies of the US intelligence community.
    The entire Russiagate meme relies on two events, both of which are being nibbled away as being false flags: 1) the alleged DNC “hack”, which never occurred; and 2) the “dodgy dossier”.
    If anything, the latter might be considered a Russian influence operation, since it’s quite likely the Russians saw a chance to insert a load of nonsense into Steele’s report while getting paid for it and assuming that whoever used it would find it blowing back on them. That’s something I could believe a Russian intelligence agency doing.
    Instead, the dossier full of nonsense was BELIEVED by everyone who didn’t like Trump. I’m sure the Russians are either irritated by that or laughing hysterically.
    Far from being a Russian influence operation, the US electorate is its own worst enemy.

  52. Anna says:

    “…he USA and its allies are the final victors of world history, with a god-given right to meddle in the internal affairs of other states in the name of democracy.”
    It seems that the meme “spreading democracy” has been worn out completely.

  53. John_Frank says:

    There seems to be a misunderstanding about what the President said while overseas and the significance of his remarks.
    During the flight from Da Nang to Hanoi, Vietnam on Air Force One, he spoke with the media.
    Remarks by President Trump in Press Gaggle Aboard Air Force One en route Hanoi, Vietnam | 11/11/2017
    Mr. Trump never said that he believes Mr. Putin’s claim that Russia did not meddle in the election.
    What he said was:

    “I believe — I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

    It meaning meddle.
    So, all Mr. Trump was saying was he believes Mr. Putin means it when he says he did not meddle.
    Now, some people sought to use that to claim Mr. Trump was being manipulated by Mr. Putin. Wrong.
    How does pushing Mr. Putin to admit that Russia did in fact meddle in the election, which Mr. Trump believes Mr. Putin is not going to do, help mend relations between the United States and Russia?
    By not bashing Mr. Putin over the head, and by in essence saying, we will agree to disagree on the matter, does this not create an opening to improve relations, even in the face of the serious sanctions imposed by Congress?
    As an aside, follows is a link to the text of the joint statement that was issued as a result of the discussions between the two men and their respective teams:
    Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the President of the Russian Federation
    Later, during the Joint Press Conference with the Vietnamese President, he was asked by John Roberts of Fox News:

    Q Thank you, Mr. President. And if I could throw a little bit of a change up here, I’ll ask both leaders a question as opposed to just one.
    Mr. President, to you, if we could first. On the way here to Hanoi, from Da Nang, you talked about your meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday in which you said you received further assurances from him that he did not meddle in the U.S. election.
    PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s true.
    Q There was some uncertainty that brewed back in the United States over your statement that you said, “When he tells me that, I believe that he means it.” That was taken in some circles, including Senator John McCain, to think that you believe that he is saying he did not interfere in the election. Could you, once and for all, definitively, sir — yes or no — say whether or not you believe that President Putin and/or Russia interfered in the election?
    PRESIDENT TRUMP: What I said there, I’m surprised that there’s any conflict on this. What I said there is that I believe he believes that, and that’s very important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.
    As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly. There weren’t seventeen as was previously reported; there were actually four. But they were saying there was seventeen; there were actually four. But as currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.
    Now, at the same time, I want to be able — because I think it’s very important — to get along with Russia, to get along with China, to get along with Vietnam, to get along with lots of countries, because we have a lot of things we have to solve. And, frankly, Russia and China in particular can help us with the North Korea problem, which is one of our truly great problems.
    So I’m not looking to stand and start arguing with somebody when there’s reporters all around and cameras recording and seeing our conversation. I think it was very obvious to everybody. I believe that President Putin really feels — and he feels strongly — that he did not meddle in our election. What he believes is what he believes.
    What I believe is that we have to get to work. And I think everybody understood this that heard the answer. We have to get to work to solve Syria, to solve North Korea, to solve Ukraine, to solve terrorism.
    And, you know, people don’t realize Russia has been very, very heavily sanctioned. They were sanctioned at a very high level, and that took place very recently. It’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken. Those are very important things. And I feel that having Russia in a friendly posture, as opposed to always fighting with them, is an asset to the world and an asset to our country, not a liability.
    And, by the way, Hillary Clinton had the reset button. She wanted to get back together with Russia. She even spelled “reset” wrong. That’s how it started, and then it got worse.
    President Obama wanted to get along with Russia, but the chemistry wasn’t there. Getting along with other nations is a good thing, not a bad thing — believe me. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

    Remarks by President Trump and President Quang of Vietnam in Joint Press Conference | Hanoi, Vietnam

  54. Anna says:

    “They sought a weakened Clinton presidency presiding over a divided United States or something other than the “New World Order/American Exceptionalism” that Clinton espoused. They got that.”
    Considering that during period in Russian history when Clinton was in power, Russia was a mortally weakened state toyed by the Harvard Boys and experiencing the shock economy, epic thievery of national natural resources, and destruction of national industries, your suggestion that Russia had been shaping the US policies and US moral image is rather doubtful. Could you name anyone in the Russian government who has inflicted as much harm to the US as the homegrown Clinton, to mention just some of his exploits: repeal of the The Glass–Steagall Act; the war against Yugoslavia, including the Kosovo “independence” (does not Crimea bite today?); “corporations are persons”.. After Clinton it was Bush the lesser and his extended brain Cheney el al (mostly ziocons) that saddled the nation with the Middle Eastern wars – or you believe in your heart that the tremendous waste of the US resources in the Middle East was the result of “Russian conspiracy?”
    The lack of universal health care, the shameful absence of paid maternity leave (on a par with Papua Guinea), the racket of college education, the Quantitative Easing, and more – these all are the “natural” homegrown products. No need to blame Russian influence for the US internal policies.
    By the way, in the 90-s, life expectancy for men in Russia was 57 years. Add to that several huge waves of emigration, which washed away the large numbers of the brightest, best educated, and ambitious to the western countries… It is a miracle that Russia was able to survive and regroup. Instead of making a partner, the US “exceptionalists” (with strong financial interests) have been making a believable and profitable enemy out of the nuclear state on the other side of the planet. Not very smart.

  55. Anna says:

    Look at a recent story involving “Lord Polak” (a creation of bastardly Cameron) and some Priti Patel, a British MP whose heart lies with Israel rather than with UK:
    What’s the difference between AIPAC and Conservative Friends of Israel in the UK? – Zero. Except that the Israel-firsters in the US government meet no scrutiny.

  56. Murali says:

    Twisted Genius I beg to defer with your statement “ou got us good this time… it’s not going to happen again, mudak.” What is wrong with exposing the corruption in the Hillary camp. If I am not wrong at the time of the release of those emails the Great Mesaiah Obama said don’t pay attention to the content pay attention to the fact that our democracy has been compromised. This speaks volumes about the rotten corruption in our body politic. Thanks

  57. Tim B. says:

    How exactly do you “know” what Russia “wants?” Moreover, exactly how do you know what Russia “sought?” Frankly, this whole Russian influence scandal is based mainly upon speculation, not evidence. Do you have any actual evidence to back up your claims?

  58. Eric Newhill says:

    That’s a good point. A year into this silliness and we are still using vague non-legal/non-meaningful terms like “meddling”, “election-hacking”, “collusion”, “interfering”.
    If the Russians and/or Trump actually did something then let’s employ the proper legal terminology. Let’s call things by what they are specifically….but we can’t. Which is very telling.
    Mueller is investigating a non-legal allegation, “collusion”.
    Language is important. Crimes have names and definitions. These are written in official books containing legal codes. Evidence must be produced that confirms that what the legal code says is a crime actually happened. This is done so the people are protected from rogue law enforcement making up crimes on a whim to suit their persecution of someone they don’t like.
    Yet here we are with an investigation and a 24/7 news cycle going on and on with no allegations of actual laws being broken – nor of espionage – and no evidence to suggest that anything of the sort occurred other than a very lousy candidate that falls on her face in the gutter losing an election and not accepting responsibility for the loss.
    What’s worse, the lousy candidate did violate actual laws with actual names in actual legal code when she maintained a private unprotected server with classified material on it. And got away with it, aided by the very people conducting the current investigation (or associates of these people).
    Let’s say 40% of the country sees it the way I do. I think that’s a fair number. WTF is the Mueller/Borg conspiracy going to do? If they make a move against Trump without a real clear large caliber smoking gun that is a violation of actual pre-existing named law, they will have a civil insurrection on their hands and, longer term, probably a total and permanent breakdown of US society.
    And if they find a similar smoking gun involving Russia (but not Trump) what will they do about that? More sanctions? Big whoop? Start a war? I don’t think so. And they will have set a precedent that may be applied to other countries that we know influence our processes, like Mexico, Israel, KSA, etc. There are lots of “colluders” in Congress and elsewhere where those countries are involved. Do those people want their gravy trains shut down? Do they want to be investigated for “collusion”?
    IMO, the Borg doesn’t have the the smarts to make this crap work as intended. Their cleverness appears to stop at getting a bunch of incurious dummies that already hated Trump and Putin due to long established biases to jump on board a crazy train. In other words, they got a mob going. Now what?

  59. TimmyB says:

    Actually, that comment you quoted is little more than a huge big straw man and red herring. No one here claims Russia would never do anything like this nor do people claim Putin has our best interests at heart.
    Instead, the actual claim is that there is little to no actual evidence that the Russian government hacked the DNC or Podesta or released any of their emails to Wikileaks. Additionally, there zero evidence the Russian government has any control or undo influence over Trump, or that the Russian government influenced the American voting public to vote for Trump.
    Is Putin a saint? Of course not. But he’s not Hitler either.

  60. And your evidence of Russian misdeeds? I’m asking for real evidence instead of an opinion born of a dislike of Russia.

  61. Eric Newhill,
    I think you have gotten to the crux of the matter. The very idea that Russia conducted a broad influence operation to interfere with the 2016 election is damaging to the Trump brand. I’ll grant you that. I think it’s most damaging to Trump’s psyche. The Mueller investigation focusing on possible conspiracy to violate the election laws of the US and obstruction of justice is definitely damaging and, if charges are lodged, downright devastating to Trump and those around him. IMO those in absolute denial that Russia could hack the DNC and Podesta emails and mount a broad, sustained influence op against the US are invested in the Trump brand. They seek to silence any mention of this narrative to protect their investment in the Trump brand.
    However, I don’t see it as damaging to the United States. Russia was able to take advantage of advances in media techniques and technologies to attempt to influence us. I don’t see any evidence that any of these activities changed the actual votes. I seriously doubt that happened. We should be proud of that. I do think that Russian influence op contributed greatly to the divisiveness in the populace. It certainly shaped crowd actions. An example is the demonstration and counter-demonstration organized in Houston outside a mosque on 21 May 2016 by two Russian-produced facebook groups (Heart of Texas and United Muslims of America). Or the alt right bloggers (@Jen_Adams and @TEN_GOP) who turned out to be Russian creations. The more these things are publicized, the better prepared the populace is to recognize these attempts in the future. This education and any ensuing changes in social media technologies will make us stronger.
    Russian cyber operations against us have been quietly studied and addressed for many years. I fought that quiet war myself for those years. However, those cyber operations themselves have become noisier. In 2015 and 2016, the Russian hackers fought back against us as we sought to remove them from JCS and DOS unclassified systems. Until then, that was unheard of. If the DNC and Podesta files were never made public, I doubt those hacks would have been publicly acknowledged by the DNC or the USG. When it moved from cyber-espionage to influence ops, the rules changed.
    The Russian-US relationship was much worse in the 70s and 80s than it is now. We weathered that and still managed to cooperate on certain things. I’m confident both the US and Russia will weather this… in spite of all the breathless talk in the US.
    Oh yes. I am definitely way too far into the geeky zone. I’m working on a fuller explanation of what went on with the influence op and the AI assisted, social media-based propaganda machine (totally legal at the present time) that will be the hallmark of any successful national political campaign from this day forward.

  62. Anna says:

    The “fake news and falser Russian dossier” happen to be amazingly stupid, into-your-face bad quality, particularly considering the money and repercussions involved. As if the most stupidest individuals made some collective effort to impress the populace…
    Perhaps the most important outcome of the “Ruskie threat” story (re national security) is the revealing of the mediocrity-in-charge. As Mike Whitney explains, “…Brennan was not operating as a free agent pursuing his own malign political agenda, but as a strong-arm facilitator for the powerful foreign policy establishment which includes leaders from Big Oil, Wall Street, and the giant weapons manufacturers. These are the corporate mandarins who pull Brennan’s chain and give Brennan his marching orders.”
    The visible actors are the willing opportunists and puppets of the real deciders – “the powerful foreign policy establishment”

  63. Anna says:

    Two points are prompted by your post:
    1. Should not CrowdStrike’ Aleprovich be investigated for anti-American activity, such as the willing incitement of hostilities between two nuclear powers by producing and publicizing the fraudulent “analysis” of important data? (The data should have been handed directly to the proper governmental agency)
    2. How come that Awan affair – the greatest breach in national cybersecurity – has not been not treated as such? Mrs. Wasserman was quite pro-active in preventing the DC police from doing their job re Awan affair. Is she in federal prison? – No. Where the national security services have been while the foreign nationals were busy browsing the classified information on Congresspeople’ computers – for years!

  64. Good Lord man. Do you have a brain freeze? You assert a broad Russian influence operation during the 2016 election. Do you really believe that nonsense? Where the Russians behind the leak of the Billy Bush tape? Did the Russians run Hillary’s campaign into the ground? Did they secretly persuade her to hide her emails and use a private server?
    I don’t know what election you were observing, but the main issues and story lines had nothing to do with Russia until Hillary made the unfounded, baseless charge. Her chutzpah is that she, her campaign and the DNC were actually working with foreigners to inject Russia into the campaign.

  65. Fred says:

    I asked about influence not fraud.
    “Mexico would be foolish to the point of criminality if they did not attempt to influence the colossus to the north. ”
    Here’s an example of former President of Mexicon speeking on immigration – not into Mexico either.
    I would say this would have influence on Mexicans who were American citizens in 2010 and how they would vote. If memory serves he also spoke at the Detroit Economic club on multiple occasions saying essentiall the same thing.

  66. Anna says:

    More on the “liberated” (nulandized) Ukraine:
    “According to UN data, almost 60 percent of Ukrainians live below the poverty line. In 2015, 28.6 percent did. Thirty-four percent of Ukrainians want to leave their country. The highest share of potential emigrants (55 percent) are people younger than 30 years-old.
    Only 1.9 percent of Ukrainians trust President Petro Poroshenko. An overwhelming 78.1 percent do not. In fact, Poroshenko is so despised in Ukraine that one store in Kiev prints “Poroshenko asshole” on their receipts.”
    Guns prevail over law. Yuriy Bereza, the deputy head of the Parliamentarian faction backed by Minister for Interior Arsen Avakov, promised to massacre the opposition if it ever tried to return to power. He said, “I have a plan B. There will be no civil war. The will be no revanche. There will be the Night of Long Knives. That’s it.”

  67. Anna says:

    Should be CrowdStrike’ “Dmitri Alperovich.” Sorry for the typo

  68. Anna says:

    “…the US moved to a wonderland…” – was not it Karl Rove, this stinky stain on the history of the US, who proclaimed “we create our own reality…”?

  69. Eric Newhill says:

    I see now very clearly.
    I think we could raise the allegation that you are an anti-Trump, anti-Russian Lithuanian agent with Ukrainian connections. Your posts/comments and probably other online activities are part of a larger influence-ops.The public needs to know this so we can study you and your techniques. In the climate of witch hunts anyone can be a witch, you know. Hey, don’t worry if you drown, you’re not a witch and your name will be cleared.
    Seriously, the Russians contributed to the divisiveness of the population?!!?? Some black law professor has a popular op ed in the NY Times about how he has taught has children to never trust white people. The Russians are behind that? The Russians caused Hillary to call half the country “deplorables”? The Russians are behind Obama calling half of the country “Bitter clingers”?
    George Soros funded groups had nothing to do with Antifa and BLM? That’s Russians too? The Russians caused BLM types to shoot a bunch of cops during the election cycle? To burn Ferguson and Baltmore?!!? The Russians want the CW statues torn down? And to be fair and balanced, the Russians are behind Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones?!!!??!!
    Sorry, but you have totally lost me.

  70. Imagine says:

    Air Force resurrects Pournelle’s “Rods from God” weapon concept. Create precision nuclear-level explosions deliverable anywhere on Earth in 15 minutes by circumventing treaties, starting an arms race, weaponizing space and dropping a hypersonic tungsten phone pole on inconvenient cockroaches from a presumably unhackable suborbital platform controlled by SkyNet. Win Friends And Influence People. Wile E. Supergenius. What could possibly go wrong?
    Remember, whatever can be done for you, can be done to you.
    Let’s think about this. Is this really the kind of world you want to leave for the children?

  71. VietnamVet says:

    A reconstituted Russian state would have intelligence agencies to watch others and protect its national interests. My opinion is that they were caught flatfooted by the Ukraine Coup and the shoot down of MH-17. However, the Syrian intervention indicates that Russia is back up to speed. On the other hand, America is falling apart due to incompetence. CIA and NSA had their most secret internet hacking tools stolen and they are out in the wild. The basic corruption of the US political systems was exposed for all to see. It is so much easier to blame GRU than a pimply Bulgarian in his basement.
    The restart of the Cold War and the horrible risk of a nuclear holocaust indicate that there isn’t the slightest concern for the wellbeing of Americans. The primary drive for the western establishment is to keep financiers and war profiteers fat and rich.

  72. TonyL says:

    I don’t think you have helped your argument with that “brain freeze” stuff. I respected both TTG and you, who have apparently worked in intelligence for many years. You both have a reasonable thesis, so the discussion has been helping us to understand, and draw our own conclusion.

  73. J says:

    Colonel, PT,
    Putin it appears was still in the KGB when he entered Russian politics, not the official line where he quit the KGB to go into politics. If this is true, then his ascent into Russian politics was a KGB orchestration aka a new KGB post for Putin. And while he was in his international relations posting, was it for spying/recruiting spies/reconnaissance on the student body, like he did when he had the KGB post in Dresden? If so, then Putin’s position in the Leningrad government was in fact a KGB posting. Something interesting from the Moscow Times review of a book by one of his KGB colleagues a Vladimir Usoitsev (which has since been scrubbed from the Moscow Times site) that Putin’s former KGB colleague Usoltev suggested that Putin was working for Mayor Sobchak as a KGB officer on a special mission. So in essence a KGB operative was taking operational control over the city government of Leningrad, whereupon the city reverted to its old name of St. Petersburg.
    What was interesting it that it appears that Sobchak did not sign any document unless it was previously signatured by Putin. Doesn’t history denote also that during Putin’s tenure the city became known as the crime capital of Russia. Russian journo Masha Gessen describes Putin as the godfather of the mafia clan who by 2007 had amassed a personal fortune estimated to be $40 Billion with a B.
    Now to Putin’s relationship with Kissinger, Kissinger was one of those who created the BRICS. So here we have Nixon’s Sec-O-State and the leader of the Kremlin schmoozing, wherein their relationship goes into the personal/and financial realm. Putin in a short time span of 3 1/2 years came from an unknown to the Presidency of Russia. Such speed takes powerful forces (globalists like Kissinger for one?) working in the background arranging such. And we have individuals playing his opponents in the public realm who also worked behind the scenes in placing Putin into the Presidency. Playing scapegoat with a hidden purpose. While FSB head Putin purged everyone who wasn’t part of his goodfellas and put the goodfellas in FSB positions of power.
    Researching continues…….

  74. TonyL says:

    Hi Eric,
    You are not qualified to judge TTG or PT about intelligence matters. I would like to hear their arguments.
    Whatever you argue for is just a layman’s opinion.

  75. Grazhdanochka says:

    While I flirt between the Extremes of both Lamenting and Laughing at the Insanity and Schizophrenia this Election has brought out from varied Camps,
    I did think of something… IF you asked me to suggest what Russian Government has done *IF* it has done anything – I would suggest relatively simple Idea to Hypothesize…. While far fetched it does not require much of the Assumptions many other Theories do.
    Let us look at US-Russian Relations from say 2003 when the first real Indications that Russia under Putin was not simply going to consent to everything as dictated to it by Washington…. Prior this while Russia had Issues with certain Policy – (ABM Treaty for one) it was not exactly out against Washington. We can push the Clock Forward 10 Years through increased frustration from Moscow over Kosovo, NATO Expansion, Georgia, Syria, Libya etc and we get to Maidan – A matter most close to Russian State Interests demonstrates most decisively for Policy Makers and to most all Russians that Relations with the USA are unlikely to change as the Image held of us is fixed Culturally for many be they Media, Politicians, Security Services etc.
    Move the Clock forward to the US Election Cycle, we see a Candidate in Donald Trump whom unlike most all others – IS suggesting the Desire and Possibility of working together rather than necessarily against Russia.
    There is certain Advantages to be said for different Candidates – Clinton by this Point had been Secretary of State Prior, while alarmingly Hawkish she demonstrated no real Competency for the Task and can be considered – A Known Quantity….
    Trump – Somewhat Unpredictable and relatively unknown Quantity as we have seen since the Primaries. But he does speak positively of Relations with Russia.
    Now it is important to Note – For Russians this has been Aspect that at Times has made Democrats seem less Trust Worthy than Republicans – As while both often seemingly act the same – Republicans make fewer Pretenses…
    This Factor coupled with a Feeling of somewhat unreliable US Policy Making (Look at the Negotiations after the ABM Treaty for a Joint Shield that the US slowly walked away from) means that no matter who won the Election there would be Number of those in Russian Ministries whom simply would not rely on their Rhetoric to mean improved Relations.
    The next thing we need to consider is – What were the Experts on US Elections suggesting? Well pretty much through the entire Process (and increasingly so over the Race you had the Media, The Pollsters, the Political Elite, the Think Tanks all saying the same Mantra – Clinton will possibly win, probably win, definitely will win, she cannot lose.
    Intelligence which often involves the simplest of things – Reading Foreign News Papers, Statements and things far less Glamorous than a Bond Lifestyle can see much of this and increasingly so….
    Looking at this with all the Candidates the possible Conclusion may have been reached that – No Matter what Relations are unlikely to Improve… Both because Trumps Odds maybe considered lower than they proved to be and because all the other Candidates were relatively Hawkish – Ukraine, Syria etc..
    So what is possible to do? Well in addition to simply gathering Information (And if you DID hack a Service or talk to Campaigners this can start as simply routine Information Gathering)
    Why not feed the Frenzy? Especially after the first Accusations came out against Trump…
    If Clinton or half the Candidates win, you are very likely not going to have better Relations anyway, and Trumps unlikely to win or if he does probably will not be able to change Bureaucratic Culture so why not give them exactly what they want?
    There is saying – If you advance to quickly it is a Trap… Maybe so?
    If Foreign Intelligence (Hmm Mr Steele as just a basic Example) starting asking his Russian Contacts about Trump, why not give them what they have an Appetite for? Why yes Mr Steele my Rumor has it there is this Tape and Trump is Compromised by Russian Government!!
    Increase Contacts with Campaign Figures through unreliable, unprofessional “middle Men” that you would not really rely on were you actually colluding with someone you have Compromising Material on, Agree to set up ‘Back Channels’ that obviously were never going to be secure, leak certain Details even… Hell why not hack things (Voter Registration Services etc) that have NO real benefit in the Scheme of things but they give all the Fingerprints…
    What this Theory and again – Fat Fetched though it may be is is that you give exactly that what is sought, in the end these Threads you are feeding do not really go anywhere and sound far more salacious than they actually are but given the Appetite from the Media, from Believers etc they will be consumed
    and promoted… But No Sex Tape of Trump will ever come to Light to prove it, Nor is anything of Substance said in ‘Secret Communiques’…
    In doing so they offer multiple possible Outcomes:
    A) Clinton Wins, she can blame Russia but whole Election is Tainted not only by leaked details of her Campaign Activity. Plus Interference was not enough to affect outcome – So not much of a Case..
    Probably she will inherit a somewhat increased frustrated US Electorate as those Details have not gone away.. This acts as a limited Political Anchor Chain…
    B) Trump wins, Relations Improve despite the Insinuations or Bureaucratic Inertia
    C) Trump wins, Relations get worse – Trump faces Situation he does now where Political Issues at Home have somewhat Immobilized his Presidency and where any and all activity of the POTUS is Questioned…
    In either Case RF continues to move forward in its Policies and really does not stand to lose a lot more than current Trends suggested anyway
    In most all Outcomes it only further exasperates Division in the US as no strong basis for a Case is actually offered, not only does it make half the Political Figures look silly it further more allows Western Media to increasingly undermine itself through its own propensity for poor Reporting..
    This Theory also gives each Nations Intelligence Community a Degree of Credit for Competency – Russias Plot does not have them being simulateously able of controlling entire US Democracy but competent enough to cause some Havok achieving Goals and know that likely outcome that Embassy Communications may be insecure for such a ‘Plot’ were it real..
    US Agencies likewise do not need to be considered completely incompetent to somehow have been able to prevent this ‘take over’ of Democracy or miss that Russian Activity might be occurring – But also perhaps not so perfect to either realize its Intent or if realizing it – in cases happy to use it for own Purposes despite the questionable Ethics..
    Of course the ultimate outcome of this Theory would be however – That the Resist Folks, all those most intent on stopping Russian Interference would in fact be the Pawns most responsible for creating it… Which would be unpalatable for many..
    Anyway that was just one crazy Theory I figured to throw out there ))

  76. Grazhdanochka says:

    To some there is apparent Signs Putin is flirting increasingly with Idea of breaking away from our Soviet Past more and more (This has been long process) but now increasing more possible with the older Generations passing.. There is even a few who have Suggested that Sobchak (who has advocated the removal of Lenin among a few others) are simply acting as Lighting Rods for the Kremlin to see how theory of such things Resonate with People
    Personally I could not care one bit about Lenins Tomb, I generally prefer not to disturb the Dead whoever they are and his Tomb has Queues extending outside Red Square so I guess good for a few Rubles more… But the Memorial is something I can get more further behind and I think younger Generations are far less encumbered in this Discussion that such will likely only grow more – The Powers that be certainly I think realise this

  77. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    How long have you been following this site?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  78. SmoothieX12 says:

    it has only gotten worse the past 10-20 years..
    Yes, it did. In fact, it is much worse than it seems, especially military aspect of the matter.

  79. jpb says:

    “Brain freeze” is the vernacular for amygdala hijack….”Part of the thalamus’s stimuli goes directly to the amygdala, while other parts are sent to the neocortex or “thinking brain”. If the amygdala perceives a match to the stimulus, i.e., if the record of experiences in the hippocampus tells the amygdala that it is a fight, flight or freeze situation, then the amygdala triggers the HPA (hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and hijacks the rational brain. This emotional brain activity processes information milliseconds earlier than the rational brain, so in case of a match, the amygdala acts before any possible direction from the neocortex can be received. If, however, the amygdala does not find any match to the stimulus received with its recorded threatening situations, then it acts according to the directions received from the neocortex. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively.[3]”
    This is the mechanism of PSYOP inducing a reality bubble incidentally or intentionally. We observe this phenomenon in fear based cultures such as Israelis or Eastern European’s irrationally reacting to decades old or even generations old painful events or narratives. Fear and pain are powerful inhibitions to rational assessment of the real world. I know these things, and yet I am troubled by the amygdala hijack of my rational faculty without careful reflection.
    The old aphorism “count to ten, before you speak’, is good advice.

  80. LeaNder says:

    Anna, I was in babbling mode yesterday.
    Should not CrowdStrike’ Aleprovich be investigated for anti-American activity, such as the willing incitement of hostilities between two nuclear powers by producing and publicizing the fraudulent “analysis” of important data?
    Lock Alperovich up? On what basic charge? Incitement? Anti-American activity?
    I am no expert on the topic. Meaning I only glimpsed the surface of the ‘science of attribution’ in the larger security sector. But while they no doubt may make mistakes, connect the wrong dots in the heat of matters, are heavily limited in a private contract, there may be solid reasons behind the more general ‘science’ of attribution in the larger professional community to consider a state actor versus a purely criminal network. …
    In the field of information the two fields tend to merge somewhat anyway. Put another way, there is more complex relationship between the two.
    We long passed the age of purely mischievous script kiddies a long time ago.

  81. LeaNder says:

    Smoothie, I understand the military aspect is what brought you here. I recall one clash in the larger SST community concerning past matters.
    But considering this:
    This, by definition, requires unified government
    What does this mean? Or what’s on the top of your head here? Past, present, future wise?

  82. JT McPhee says:

    There are a lot of people “involved in intelligence matters” who are no doubt subject-matter experts in the postholes they occupy or occupied within the “intelligence community” (community being a singularly unfortunate choice to describe what apparently really goes on behind all the fog and fraud and deniability).
    Lots of those people “involved in intelligence” have for generations busily sought to “influence” and shape the awareness and activities of not only USians but people all over the world, and their governments and other institutions too — academia, religious, etc. At home we got various CIA and other “intelligence operations,” designed to “influence public opinion” with carrots and sticks of many sorts, including heavy injections of “fear, uncertainty and doubt” into public discourse across all media. Same thing for more global activities. (not the strongest citation but there’s a whole literature on this, some linked within the wiki piece.)
    Propaganda and espionage are ancient arts, of course. Always, there are studious efforts to update the techniques and “bring them into the __th century,” e.g., No doubt the bookshelves of “intelligence community professionals” are full of many more on the subject.
    So there is this cast (and caste?) of “intelligence professionals,” whose toolboxes are full of gadgets and playbooks on how to deceive and obfuscate and manipulate and destabilize, ostensibly “in service to the nation.” In prosecution of “national objectives,” that are pretty much straight imperial and corporate advantage and, in the current dream language of our rulers, “full spectrum dominance.” There is lots of occasionally visible internal rivalry and shenanigans and incompetence within the “intelligence community,” e.g., in the runup to 9/11, and from what I understand, that has been the case since people started sedentary agriculture and built walls to protect the granaries.
    A concerned citizen, trying to participate in the kayfabe of democracy as wisely as possible and to vote responsibly, tries to make sense of all the competing messaging and claims that get fed into his or her awareness in a manipulated flood. And also incorporate, in personal “estimates,” as much of the history of large and tiny deceptions, and all the other stuff that “the intelligence community” and the rest of the visible stuff that military-security apparatus has done or failed at, as he or she can accommodate in memory. Good thing, I guess, for the movers and shakers who drive “policies” and “operations,” that most of us can be driven to accept the manufactured consensus that our owners present to us.
    So to me, a claim of “long experience in the intelligence community” is as much an impeachment as a credit.
    But of course my personal sense of the value of such claims counts for diddly-squat, in the large context and contest of powers and principalities. It is nice to have a range of claims of expertise and claims of informed insider knowledge of how things are (supposed to be) done inside the panopticon and the quarters of the manipulators. Sorting what’s true and real, in context and meaningful, from the rest, when there is so much untruth and fog generated and propagated by so many crafty and intelligent people, is a nice invitation (as likely intended) to just giving in to a sense of futility. To just go with the flow of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, to just continue to labor to earn just enough to survive on while generating the profits and extracting the resources that keep the privileged living so very large, and live in fear that some whim or miscalculation by the insiders might sweep it all away.
    One other pet peeve: “national actors” get reified so glibly: “Russia wants,” “the US plans” and so forth. Which parts of these vast collections of moving parts are the speaker talking about, when making such generalizations? I know it’s part of the lexicon, but still, when claims of accurately spotlighting strategies and tactics and policy goals are made, how about a little detail from those making the assertions?

  83. Eric Newhill says:

    Ultimately, one or way or the other, this issue – like the election itself (and all elections) – will be settled by laymen; hopefully clear headed thinking ones. We are still a constitutional republic as far as I know. The will of the people applied via the structure of law set forth in the Constitution still counts – above all else.
    If the trump administration is going to be “brought down” due to collusion with Russians or we are going to go to war with a potentially valuable – and certainly lethal – ally, then three things are going to have to happen that haven’t yet (a year + into this thing) or there will be total hell to pay. Those three things are;
    1. Solid evidence produced that Russia (btw,the actual govt and not some hackers that happen to be Russian) invaded the DNC’s systems and/or invaded other online sources with pro-Trump and/or anti-Clinton political material. 2 Solid evidence produced that the cyber invasions actually had an impact on the election. 3. Solid evidence produced that Trump was working with the Russians to implement these cyber invasions.
    I have no doubt that sneaky cyber footprints of Russian origin can be found all over the internet. For example, Russian sources have most infamously infiltrated porn sites and have become a vector of viruses from those points of contact. That’s entirely different from saying that I voted for Trump because Russia influenced my thinking with something or another that they placed on my searches or on my facebook feed (of which there is no evidence produced to date). The latter is rather insulting. It implies that Trump voters are mindless idiots. Even that doesn’t pass the sniff test. If we are so mindless, why didn’t the massive amounts of influence material that the Clinton campaign spent untold $millions on cause me to vote for her?
    I have listed in my previous comment just a few of the topics that caused me to vote Trump. I know a lot of Trump supporters. Their list of topics is similar to mine. We don’t like the “PC culture”, we don’t like all the immigration, especially the illegal type, we are sick of foreign wars that achieve nothing of value to the US. We don’t like pampered asshole athletes taking a knee when the national anthem plays. We want a business friendly economy. On every point it is an issue that has been brewing in the US for years. It isn’t something new that we just read about on the internet in 2016. The sniff test is important because the layman public is what counts; not some just-trust-us govt agent or agency lurking around in the background.
    Maybe TTG truly is aware of some little thing here or there that the Russians did. Laymen don’t care. That would be geekish making of mountains out of mole hills. We all know that, if true, it pales in comparison to what, say, George Soros has done on the left. US laymen are sick of the hypocrisy that always favors the leftists. Where is the investigation of Soros and his Clinton connection? We know Soros is funding Antifa and BLM riots. God only knows which politicians he owns in addition to the Clintons.
    The “hacking” of the DNC server also doesn’t pass the sniff test. It’s not – as TTG asserts – we are so naïve to believe Russia would never do such a thing. It’s that the evidence for it having happened is scant and somewhat tortured. PT disputes what TTG offers up. As does a group of retired intel experts. So that “evidence” isn’t convincing to experts. Which bolsters the layman’s perspective that if the Russians “did it”, then there should be strong evidence that leads to strong consensus among intel experts. There isn’t. Julian Assange says the “hack” didn’t come from the Russians. Assange has not been asked to testify. Even laymen know that Clapper can’t be trusted because he has lied to our faces before (as well as Congress’).
    Juries are typically made up of laymen.Voting is done by laymen. That is the US system.
    TTG doesn’t need to convince PT, though I enjoy learning from their interactions. TTG needs to convince laymen like. So far he is an abject failure in that regard.

  84. J says:

    Colonel, PT, TTG,
    Speaking of Russian I/0 ops, let’s turn to the channel Russian Television America (RT America for short).
    I personally like RT because I can get tidbits there I can’t get from U.S ‘fake news’ sites like CNN/ABC/CBS/NBC/MSNBC/Fox. All of which when one takes three steps back they’re all I/O of one or several U.S. Government agencies.
    Anyways getting back to RT America, seems that because of DOJ digging, the ‘sole employee’ and ‘manager’ of RT America was forced to file as a foreign agent (if we could only be so lucky regarding forcing Israel’s 5th column operating inside the U.S. to register themselves as foreign agents). Seems that this sole employee/manager of RT America garners a salary of $670k annual, but in just the two months of August and September of this year spent $6.6 Million. Mikhail Solodovnikov, the general director and sole employee of T & R Productions LLC. Mikhail doesn’t specify who gives him money in Russia. The U.S. unit RT is registered in the U.S. as T & R Productions LLC and is subordinated to the Russian non-profit organization ANO TV News, which in 2017 received almost 19 billion rubles (just under $320 Million) from the Russian budget. RT stated that the Russian Federation “largely finances ANO” TV-news “, but that RT does not know “who” regulates, owns, manages, controls or sponsors “this NGO”.
    Remember how Putin and the Duma have been wailing and are now restricting U.S. NGOs operating inside Russia. Hmmm……
    Anyways back to it….RT sayz it received $350 thousand at the end of October from Russia.
    Mikhail Solodovnikov has been the director of information broadcasting at RT America since 2012. Before that, he was a correspondent for the Rossiya TV channel in D.C. for 6 years. (Sounds like an SVR posting to me)
    When asked about the political component of their work, the RT channel replied that its task is “to inform, not to influence.”
    And now we know that that RT was forced (by DOJ circumstance) to register as a foreign agent.
    Currently, the Russian government is working on a framework of a symmetrical response wherein a bill that will oblige foreign medias, to register as foreign agents. Plans are underway in the Duma to adopt this law in record time.

  85. SmoothieX12 says:

    What does this mean?
    A unity in stating and conducting a policy–any policy. From developing military and trade doctrines to foreign policy. Currently this is not existent in the US government, especially foreign policy which is nothing more than several groups fighting for influence and each having own, often irreconcilably contradictory, views and interests. Enough to take a look at AIPAC and the way neocons and lib. interventionists dominate US foreign policy. Well, they dominate also a domestic agenda too–enough to look at this anti-Russian hysteria. This is not the government one can negotiate anything with. What’s the point?

  86. J says:

    65 years is a youngster. Just think, your mind still believes that you’re 16, while your mind wants to write checks your body isn’t quite sure it can cash.
    Ain’t life grand. 🙂

  87. J,
    I really would not believe everything you read in the ‘Moscow Times’ – still less, claims by Masha Gessen. If you want to understand why Russian ‘liberals’ have minimal support among their fellow-countrymen, I would recommend a piece she wrote in the ‘New York Times’ in July 2015, entitled ‘What the Russians Crave: Cheese’: it gives the phrase ‘cheese-eating surrender monkey’ a wholly new meaning.
    (See .)
    This is actually a key reason why Western élites consistently misread Russia: that they take a tiny minority of ‘Westernised’ people who despise their fellow-countrymen and are generally distrusted if not loathed by them as representative. (So Julia Ioffe, who is as silly as Gessen, was treated as an authority at the Aspen Security Forum.)
    As to the KGB, the notion that by the end of the Soviet period it represented some kind of unitary cohesive force is patent nonsense. The erosion of the system’s traditional ideological foundations meant that the whole Soviet ‘counterintelligence state’ was by then a weird combination of very different kinds of people and very different kinds of ideas – ranging from some of the most despicable human types to some rather admirable ones.
    Following Gorbachev’s January 1986 nuclear abolition proposal, Anatoly Chernyaev – who not long after, at the instigation of Georgiy Arbatov, would become foreign adviser to the General Secretary – wrote the following in his diary:
    ‘Gorbachev’s statement. It seems he really decided to end the arms race at all costs. He is going for that very “risk,” in which he has boldly recognized the absence of risk, because no one will attack us even if we disarm totally. And in order to revive the country and set it on a steady track, it is necessary to free it from the burden of the arms race, which is depleting more than just economics. My God! How lucky we are that in the PB there was a man – Andropov – who showed some truly “authoritative” wisdom, who discovered Gorbachev and pulled him out of the provinces! … And him personally: while there are, I think, 95 regions and oblasts in the USSR. And then he stuck him to Brezhnev!’
    (See .)
    So, a frontal attack on the institutions and assumptions of the ‘Brezhnevite’ Soviet Union was actually in the process of being mounted by a Communist Party ‘apparatchik’ who had been plucked out of obscurity by the former head of the KGB.
    One really could not make sense of this process within the familiar categories of Western interpretation – from which, I add, I myself started. Attempting to do so meant that, as the whole process of ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ unfolded, the intelligence bureaucracies in the United States and Britain were totally convinced that this was simply an exercise in ‘reflexive control’ – to use TTG’s phrase.
    In relation to Putin’s rise to power, by the time he was appointed Prime Minister by Yeltsin in August 1999, people of with Masha Gessen’s views and mentality had successfully reduced the former Soviet Union to a state where a disintegration of a larger part of Eurasia into criminalised anarchy, from which recovery would have been very difficult, was extremely likely.
    This would have been a disaster not just for the people involved, but for ourselves. As recent history in the Middle East has amply demonstrated, chaos in apparently distant parts can feed back into our own more comfortable parts of the world in very dangerous ways.
    What however this also meant was that a group of former KGB people could emerge as a kind of ‘third force’. In essence, they could broker a ramshackle kind of ‘social contract’, in which the oligarchs could retain their ill-gotten gains (obtained courtesy of Larry Summers, et al) in return for surrendering political power, while the mass of people would have some kind of protection against the oligarchs.
    Ideologically, Putin moved towards a Russian tradition of ‘liberal conservatism.’ Adherents of this tradition were not necessarily in any way hostile to democracy as such. They simply believed – as Western ‘republican’ thinkers have traditionally done – that there were preconditions for its successful realisation, and that they were absent in Russia.
    Clearly, Putin started out as an admirer of American democracy. If his view has changed, this is in large measure because of the patent inability of Western élites to cope intelligently with the problems facing them. A political system which puts Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov, Michael Fallon and Nikolai Patrushev in charge is hardly self-evidently a worse bet than one which puts, for instance, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael and Alex Younger at the helm.
    It is a mark of the intellectual, and moral, bankruptcy of our élites that, rather than trying to comprehend the backlash which their own actions have done so much to provoke, they prefer – in good Stalinist-style – to blame it on malign external influences: in this case, Russian ‘reflexive control.’
    Unfortunately, in the United States very many of those ‘making the running’ are former victims of the Russian and Soviet states and their descendants, who appear largely incapable of seeing contemporary Russia except through a distorting lens of apparently ineradicable trauma. In Britain we have some of this, but a lot more good old-fashioned indigenous Russophobia.

  88. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is why I am championing emigration of all nations, ethnic groups, religious groups with their mutual antipathies to extra-solar planets. These groups could then live in splendid isolation from one another to their hearts’ content.
    Personally, I think that very many would not take that offer; I mean, what good does it do for Group X if their despised Group Y is not nearby to make them feel superior and their life bearable?
    And then there is also this: let us say that there would a planet called “Azat Gard” – for a certain Middle Eastern ethnic group – which one visits after 100 years; to find it mired in the worst form of antiquated tribalism, with technology at the level of Iron Age – pregnant women often dying at child bed, majority of children dead before age 5, but they would proud, ah so so proud, of their tricolor flag.

  89. Your commentary is magnificent and instructive. Thanks for taking the time to write with such erudition. Too bad TTG seems incapable or unwilling to follow your example.

  90. LeaNder says:

    What’s the point?
    Not sure, what it is, consider it babbling mode.
    Unfortunately, I gave up my Russian language lessons, admittedly since I deeply detested my then prof …
    Ever heard of Stephan S. Stepanovich Sulakhin? Recently met him and his mathematical cum social science theory on Arte (French/German channel). Here is the French link:

  91. SmoothieX12 says:

    I tried to listen and watch the piece but it is very difficult to try to listen to Russian overdubbed by French and then English in French. I gave up, but from the video intro I saw–seems to be same ol’ narrative in the West about Russia, which has no relation to reality on the ground.

  92. PT,
    Thanks for the kind words.
    On the previous thread, I attempted to point out to TTG what I think is crucial – the links between what Alperovitch initially claimed, the intervention of the former GCHQ operative Matt Tait, who introduced ‘Felix Edmundovich’, and the dating given for the first memorandum in the dossier attributed to Christopher Steele.
    The response from TTG was ‘I think you are far too fixated on Alperovich as a reason to discount the idea of a Russian hack of the DNC servers.’ This did not address the questions I raised. It reminded me of trying to argue with Marxists when I was young. Mostly, the only interest was in ascertaining the reasons why they were so determined to cling to patently absurd beliefs.
    It was clear that TTG had absolutely no interest in the unresolved problems relating to the role of GCHQ and MI6. As it happens, some of these seem to have passed more intellectually curious observers by.
    For example, in his defence against the lawsuit brought by Aleksej Gubarev, Steele has tried to ‘wriggle out’ by claiming that there was a duty of confidentiality on the part of Fusion GPS which they violated. When probed on this claim by Gubarev’s lawyers, he responded by claiming that a ‘written non-disclosure agreement’ had been concluded in January 2010.
    It is interesting that a single agreement is supposed to have had force continuing for years. It is also interesting that it was said to relate to work conducted by Fusion for Steele, not the other way around.
    There are a whole series of puzzles about Fusion, which in turn bring one back to the puzzles around Browder and the Magnitsky affair.

  93. Fred,
    Yes, I would call that Fox speech as influential. The use of the phrase “build bridges, not walls” is certainly catchy. His call for Pan-American cooperation probably would influence Mexican-Americans. I would think it would also appeal to Canadian-Americans. That even appeals to me. I would prefer that than our constant meddling in the Mideast, Asia and Europe.

  94. SmoothieX12 says:

    Ideologically, Putin moved towards a Russian tradition of ‘liberal conservatism.’ Adherents of this tradition were not necessarily in any way hostile to democracy as such.
    Economically he pursues a hybrid economy which still maintains a firm state control over strategic resources and industries–this remains a desire of overwhelming majority of Russians. It is also the only way to mitigate the issue of 1990s robbery of Russia through privatization. One of the interesting moments which escapes many Western observers is a very significant fact of first meeting of Putin in the capacity of newly elected President of Russia with media in 2000. His meeting was with Alexandr Prokhanov chief-editor of Zavtra newspaper and Chikin–Sovetskay Rossia. Only them. Both newspapers of openly, let’s put it this way–Soviet (not Communist) leaning.

  95. Publius Tacitus,
    Why would I claim any of this to be Russian misdeeds? Espionage, including cyber-espionage is an accepted government function. Sure it’s illegal if caught on foreign soil, but it’s not illegal in itself. Hell, I made a good living at it and I don’t consider my life a series of misdeeds. I don’t consider a Russian influence operation against the US as a misdeed, either. Nor is it an act of war. It’s a tool of statecraft just like espionage.
    I could offer first hand evidence of the successful implementation of a coordinated Russian cyber-espionage and influence operation. Unfortunately that would quickly lead to a gaggle of FBI special agents on my porch. I’ve signed those secrecy agreements like many of us here have. So I can’t offer proof of that any more than I can offer definitive proof of Russian “interference” in the 2016 election cycle. The unclassified ICA says basically the same thing. It was based on intelligence information collected and disseminated by CIA, NSA and FBI, but that information was not included in the unclassified ICA. So we’re left with bits and pieces to form our own conclusions.
    One of my conclusions is that many do not want any Russian activities concerning our 2016 election to be investigated or made public because it damages Trump and those around him even if there was absolutely no collusion between Russia and Trump. I prefer a policy of sunlight and firmly believe the United States and the American people can handle it.

  96. blue peacock says:

    David Habakkuk
    I find your posts very informative and thought provoking. I second Publius Tacitus that they not only are erudite but prompts much thinking. Thank you!
    Have you thought about how western groupthink has evolved to this rather untenable position and where it may lead to?

  97. Eric Newhill says:

    Since you have already (incorrectly) lumped me in with those who you think don’t want Russian cyber-ops exposed to the light of day b/c you think I’m worried about damaging Trump, I wish to clarify my position.
    First, it has little or nothing to do with damaging Trump per se.
    Second, I do believe that the American people can handle the idea that Russia (and other countries) do all sorts of covert cyber things in the US and, indeed, all over the world. IMO, the American people accept this as a normal feature of modern life. Hollywood long ago promoted the concept and even glamorized it. It’s already well imbedded in the American psyche.
    My concern is the way the political hacks and media would twist, distort and weaponize the knowledge – as, indeed, they already have. And that is what this is all about; the selective presentation of Russian cyber-ops activities to attempt to unseat a lawfully elected POTUS. If we are going to share information pertaining to Russian cyber-ops with the public, then it *all* needs to be shared. The public needs to be able to establish context. You don’t get to share just the little snip that is politically expedient to certain interested parties.
    Furthermore, the cyber-ops, need to be placed in the larger context of all forms of influence-ops. Good old fashion corruption via graft, bribery and blackmail comes to mind; as does George Soros, KSA and Israel.
    If the government is not willing to make such widespread info available, then the limited info about Russian cyber activities during the election cycle should also be kept quiet. That is where I am coming from.
    Yeah, Trump is my guy. You’ll just have to take me at my word that if Bernie or Hillary had been elected that I would be equally opposed to the Russian hacking meme if the Republicans had tried to use it to remove one of them from office. Remember, I did vote for Obama. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard.
    Finally, You, yourself, are not being clear in parsing out routine Russian cyber activities from the Trump victory. If your parsing was clear and consistent, then I would be more sympathetic to hearing your angle on Russian activities. However, you flip flop back and forth. One minute you’re saying that there was no influence on the election and the next you’re stating that the Russians hacked the DNC sever and provided captured damaging (to Clinton) to Wikileaks, which, in turn, helped gain Trump a Nov victory.

  98. J says:

    I’m not arguing that Putin has not been ‘good’ in many ways for the rebuilding of Russia and expanding the Russian Federation, quite the contrary. What I was showing that when Putin started his march into politics, that it appears he was still a working KGB officer, and that the KGB apparatus had decided to ‘assign’ Putin the task of Leningrad government and its rebuilding. As for the Russia Good-fellas, Putin appears to have understood that one can ‘carefully’ use the weight of the good-fellas that operate inside and outside of the Russian Intelligence world if they understand it. I just mentioned Masha Gesson’s description of Putin and his FSB entourage and that there was possibly some personal pocketing taking place in the process. If you talk with the elderly Russian pensioners who were living in the crumbling housing in Leningrad now known as St. Petersburg, they will tell you that Putin was a God-send, and that he accomplished what the rest of the yahas in government couldn’t. Putin accepted no excuses, and he used the power of the good fellas to get things fixed while he was in city government.
    What I see as the U.S. Government and Langley’s misreading of Putin, and Russia in general, is that both are caught up in the Operation Paper clip mindset of Russia is all things RED which it isn’t. Putin was an anti-communist nationalist who kept his opinions to himself while he was KGB as to have voiced them would have sent him to Lubyanka and ended his KGB career.
    Putin if you notice has pulled to his chest nationalists like himself from the KGB ash heap to help him rebuild a lively Russia from the stodgy Soviet system that stopped going any further.
    As for Putin schmoozing with the globalist like Kissenger (which is what Trump is doing and has had several closed door meeting with Kissinger), Putin appears to be using the old adage of keeping his enemies closer, which it appears is how he views the globalist based on many statements Putin has said regarding them. Putin could very well be playing the globalists and the Queen’s banker Rothschild globalist banksters like a card and they don’t even realize it.
    There are a good many Russians just like a good many Americans who are very wary of both Putin and Trump and their quick rise to power, and see them not as elected, but as selected by the globalist in the backdrop. As it takes a lot of umpfh to rise so quickly in the power pyramid.

  99. Grazhdanochka says:

    On the Subject of the KGB – Of course it was neither unified and it may be worth to Note that for Members in First Directorate/Foreign Service particularly they had open Access to Western Economic, Political Realities which no doubt had an Influencing Effect on their own Perceptions of what necessarily to be done and the way forward. Like wise that some strayed far further into more questionable Enterprise (Look at General Filipp Bobkov – Media-Most and his previous ‘Expertise’)
    That the KGB was a Monolithic Group Think Entity as commonly depicted and imagined in the Minds of Western Commentators is I think a large Source of the problem with Analysis, this is what allows for the type of ‘He was KGB, by definition he has no Soul’ type of nonsense that we see on Display by some Elites..
    You had People in KGB Border Guards Service – Hardly any different to that of Coast Guard etc but by loose Definition – KGB
    Nevermind such an obvious Example, that the different Directorates and Services in the KGB may recruit and result in shaping different Personalities is rather much a Bridge too Far…
    “Unfortunately, in the United States very many of those ‘making the running’ are former victims of the Russian and Soviet states and their descendants, who appear largely incapable of seeing contemporary Russia except through a distorting lens of apparently ineradicable trauma. In Britain we have some of this, but a lot more good old-fashioned indigenous Russophobia.”
    I think is an excellent Observation that sadly all too few Westerners seem capable of making.. You see it to degree with many contemporary Emigres and worse still Defectors for whom the Lenses they look through and subsequently the Image they see is so permanently burned through that it not capable of keeping with a changing Situation…
    In Part this is from Trauma, in Part this is a Mantra some will tell themselves to avoid having to face reality and the Decisions they have made. Having lived abroad and returned I know just a Fraction of what some of my Friends have not and will not allow themselves to consider in essence as a Justification one tells them self.

  100. Fred says:

    You mean all those college professors on the left are Deep State operatives? I’m shocked to find that out.

  101. jpb says:

    I want to express gratitude for an extraordinary thread and link to a documentary film financed by the Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. The film is a a glimpse into the anarchic world of the nineties in Russia. It seeks to document, from an oligarch’s perspective, “The Rise of Putin and The Fall Of The Russian Oligarchs”.
    I think the dangerous disinformation campaign surrounding Vladimir Putin and the resulting American hysteria has been and continues to be fueled by the disposed Russian oligarchs, especially including the contemptible William Browder who was banned from Russia after his Hermitage Capital looting operation was bankrupted. The man had the audacity to claim as his brand The Hermitage, one of the worlds greatest museums located in St Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage is the home of Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son, which I was privileged to see in 1991.
    The oligarchs, mostly Jewish with their access to Western money, were able to buy Russian State assets worth billions for a few million. Vladimir Putin is compared to these opportunists, yet when I watch his speech’s and interviews, it is obvious he is not motivated by simple greed and lust for power as are the oligarchs portrayed in the documentary.
    Vladimir Putin seems a decent and competent man who emerged on the stage of history to restore and preserve the sovereignty and traditions of the Russian culture. He used his legal and intelligence connections and training to command respect and effort from competent human beings. In the worst of times life brings to the fore competence and integrity to answer the deep subconscious longings of humanity for more than deception and fraud.
    I fear our country enters the same cycle of corruption which engulfed the Soviet Union. I appreciate the effort of those here, who attempt to stem the tide of ignorance, greed and fear which threatens our country. Anyway, I hope the linked documentary is useful in your efforts.

  102. jpb says:
    Watch Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump’s interaction in Vietnam about 3:30. Could it be history has blessed America with a competent president?

  103. Fred says:

    “Personally, I think that very many would not take that offer;”
    For proof just look at those who leave thier homes to come to “first world” countries rather than build that type of civilization back home. It’s certainly easier to buy a ticket with a cell phone app than to build a civilization.

  104. Eric Newhill,
    “One minute you’re saying that there was no influence on the election and the next you’re stating that the Russians hacked the DNC sever and provided captured damaging (to Clinton) to Wikileaks, which, in turn, helped gain Trump a Nov victory.”
    Here’s where I stand on this. The Russians hacked the DNC sever, as well as the Podesta email account, and provided captured damaging info (to Clinton) to Wikileaks. I also believe they also ran a social media-based influence op. If this is proven to the public’s satisfaction, I don’t see how that could be used to bring about an impeachment, 25th Amendment removal or resignation. What Russia did is not Trump’s fault. And, most importantly, I could be wrong. I doubt it, but I could be.
    I’m not at all convinced if any of this actually helped Trump win. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. I don’t think that question will every be definitively answered. The reasons you voted for Trump are valid and I believe the basis for Trump’s victory against a horribly flawed opponent who promised only more of the same old shit. Even if the Russian effort did help Trump, that isn’t his fault and not a basis for removal… even without context. It would be a basis for screaming, crying and caterwauling, but not removal.
    The only thing that would truly endanger the continuation of the Trump Presidency would be a finding of a Trump team conspiracy to violate election laws with the Russians and/or obstruction of justice. That’s where the Mueller investigation is focused. I think by next Summer that question will be answered one way or the other. If Mueller finds something like this, all the context in the world won’t help the Trump Presidency.
    As for your idea of context, I’m all for shining a light on the influence ops of George Soros, KSA and Israel. I think the likes of Rebekah and Robert Mercer should also be investigated. Of course Mueller may shine his light on those two at some point. I was glad the ugliness of the Clinton machine was exposed during the campaign even though I disapprove of the way the info was obtained. The same goes for the NSA collecting on American citizens. Like I said, sunlight is good.

  105. rjj says:

    mission accomplished???

  106. per says:

    Something I have been wondered about. It is claimed by the US Intelligence Community that the GRU was behind the DC Leaks. The DC Leaks revealed e-mail correspondence of luminaries such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and exposed personal phone numbers of about 200 Democrat legislators. Now, why would GRU, the military intelligence, do such a thing? What military benefit could this have? Was the purpose to inflame bipartisan anti-Russian sentiment in Congress? How could this benefit Russia? Would the DIA hack into Duma computers and reveal to the world personal data of Russian legislators? Is this normal operation of military intelligence?

  107. Babak Makkinejad says:

    For a country of immigrants, that is an invalid objection.
    For EU states, on the other hand, what you state is certainly true – that imbues their attitude towards foreigners who are now residing in their countries.
    On the other hand, every summer, when the schools ends, hordes of German tourists flood Italy.
    I wonder what would happen if Italians left the Earth altogether; removing from this planet the most civilized country that currently exists?
    What would all those North Europeans with their spic & span social formations, their work ethic, and their clean governments do?
    Would they contract Disney to run the territory of Italy as a huge theme park – staffed with Italian look-alike people – so that North Europeans have some place to go in summer? [Very good fake]

  108. blue peacock,
    As to where it may lead, I shudder to think. It has absolutely staggered me to see the way that Western élites have resorted to what are, in effect, a kind of soft neo-Stalinist method of handling dissent.
    It simply becomes impossible to respond at all effectively to problems, if you have silly scapegoating like that involved in the preposterous claim that the materials provided to the DNC were provided by hacks orchestrated by the GRU – and those who dissent from the ‘narrative’ on one issue are another are treated as disseminating ‘fake news’, if not indeed Russian propaganda.
    The late Soviet Union was not – like that of Stalin’s day – a society dependent on massive and frequently extraordinarily random and capricious violence. It was largely run on what has aptly been called ‘bullshit’ – ‘Ishmail Zechariah’ provided some more relevant links in a recent comment.
    And it did not end well.
    As to why people in the United States and Britain have decided to, as it were, ‘go Brezhnevite’, I have theories, but I still find myself racking my brains to explain the sheer scale of the disintegration of the political intelligence of élites in Britain in my lifetime.
    Nothing is commonsensical, nothing down-to-earth, and actual expertise born of experience and/or serious empirical study is not valued.

  109. per,
    This was a new experience for the DNC and FBI. They were surprised when the info stolen from the servers was made public in the manner it was. They assumed the DNC and related hacks were another series of cyber thefts. However, and in hindsight, it was just a logical process of cyber-intelligence collection supporting an ongoing information operation. Think of it as a nation-state sponsored doxing.
    Within the USG, the lines between the fields of intelligence collection and information operations is blurry, especially when the cyber prefix is attached to the words. In the DIA, we did collection and analysis as well as the unique functions of the Defense Attache System. We did not do information operations, but we supported those information operations conducted by other DOD entities. The CIA does conduct information operations through their Special Activities Division. Functions within the GRU are most certainly organized differently. At one time the GRU was responsible for Spetsnaz units. Perhaps the GRU is now responsible for conducting information-based warfare.

  110. SmoothieX12,
    I was amused to discover, quite late in life, that a sometime alumnus of the Cambridge college of which I was an irreverent and undistinguished member was Sir Thomas Fairfax. As Lord General he commanded the New Model Army when Charles I was decisively defeated at Naseby in June 1645. Subsequently, he parted ways with his sometime Lieutenant-General, Oliver Cromwell, and was instrumental in making possible the Restoration.
    My sympathies, in relation to both the English and American Civil Wars, have always been with those who sought to prevent polarisation happening, chose sides when it became clear that there was no longer any possibility of compromise, and after the conflict had been fought out to the finish tried to find reconciliation and heal the wounds.
    It has long seemed to me absolutely clear that this has been Putin’s approach, both in relation to the legacy of the conflicts involved in the Russian Civil War and the creation of the Soviet state, and also to the new divisions precipitated by the way it ended.
    Of course, those who – like the original Bolsheviks, or the French Jacobins on whom in part they modelled themselves – dreamed of ideal worlds might want a situation where everyone in any way involved in the Soviet system repented and ‘wore sackcloth and ashes.’ But, leaving aside questions about how the history of the past century is to be evaluated, that was never going to be practical politics.
    So, a good ‘Fairfax man’, like me – and like, for instance, Paul Robinson, who is a kind of British ‘liberal conservative – will tend to think that Putin was, really, rather good news for us all.
    (As for ‘neo-Bolsheviks’ like David Brooks, they are ‘the enemy within’, and we have reluctantly realised that compromise is in this case impossible, that everyone has to choose sides, and this war has to be fought to the finish. It may be that at some point quarter will be appropriate, but if that is so, it is a long way down the road.)
    What possessed people in London and Washington to get involved in a kind of ‘bare knuckles fight’ between Putin and his ‘siloviki’ associates on the one side, and the oligarchs who did not accept the bargain he offered on the other, has long had me scratching my head.
    Even being Machiavellian and leaving aside moral considerations: Why pick what from reasonably early on should have been clear was going to be the losing side – when even if it turned out that Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky could come out on top, all this could have led to was a violent confrontation some way down the road?
    And why do people think that the oligarchs who did accept his terms can be inveigled into trying to topple Putin? Can they not see that people like Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan are doing very nicely thank you, and can possibly see an alternative scenario in which they might end up dangling at the end of a rope?
    Part of the answer however came clear to me when, as it were, the ‘wizard behind the curtain’ was revealed, and it turned out to be a superannuated Cambridge University Students’ Union politician from, interestingly, Girton College.
    (In the days when there were men’s colleges and women’s, and only one in ten of the students were women, it used to be a place populated by beautiful girls, ugly ‘bluestockings’, and a lot in between. I vividly remember the two-mile walk up the hill, on a cold winter’s night – a cold wind blows from the East, as everything is flat, between Cambridge and the Urals. In Steele’s day, after co-education became the norm, it became a place where men and women went, if they weren’t good enough to find a place somewhere closer in.)
    Believe me, I have a more diverse experience and knowledge of people like Steele than most. And I can think of no more devastating indictment of MI6 than the fact that in 1986 – at precisely the time when it should have been becoming clear that Marxism-Leninism was, as it were, ‘an idea whose time had gone’, and one needed people who could think – someone like him could have been recruited to the organisation.
    Ironically, my prejudice that MI6 only recruited people devoid of any kind of wider culture and imagination turned out to be wrong, because Alastair Crooke clearly has both in abundance. But he was marginalised. Maybe we need a ‘Smiley moment’, when he is brought back to restructure the whole organisation, and send the Sir Percy Alleline figures out to pasture – perhaps with Philip Giraldi as a consultant.
    How anyone in the United States takes someone like Steele seriously I have difficulty in understanding. But then, ‘TTG’ thinks that Alperovitch is a reliable source, and the DNC and the FBI are truth-tellers.
    ‘If I am dreaming, let me not be woken’, as the old operetta song has it.

  111. Fred says:

    My family has been on this continent close to 400 years. “On the other hand, every summer, when the schools ends, hordes of German tourists flood Italy.”
    Tourist eventually go home. Kind of like some “immigrants” in that “country of immigrants”. They are, to use the phrase coined by Steve Sailer, “Extended Stay Americans”.

  112. turcopolier says:

    I am completely opposed to mixing collection and analysis with information operations other than providing the propagandists with an understanding of reality. If you mix the two the work product of the intelligence people will be completely unreliable just as the opinion of CIA DO is unreliable with regard to any covert action in which they are involved. pl

  113. shepherd says:

    TTG, you seem to be fighting a lonely battle. All of the major social and digital advertising platforms have provided a lot of evidence of Russian attempts to influence US public debate, much of it in sworn testimony before Congress. People like me find the evidence compelling—not least because we know the players, and it was only admitted under threat of subpoena.
    I don’t find the Russians guilty at all in this. Far from it. I’m envious of all the fun they’re having. My beef is with the media platforms that have so long denied such things were going on and have been so late to take basic steps to make this harder. I drew up a report on similar stuff for one of my clients last year. It was complete with examples of how someone was creating double memes with the same image in the same day, each targeting different sides of the American divide. Only a professional organization could pull that off.
    I look forward to your piece on influence ops and AI-assisted (machine learning) campaigns. I think that this is a very important yet extremely poorly understood topic, and urge you to make it available as soon as possible.

  114. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not think so, Steve Sailer is wrong, the immigrants are not “Extended Stay Americans” but “Pre-Americans”.
    US problems – social, political, economical, are not caused by non-European immigrants – they are caused by men and women who are akin to lost children – devoid of a sense of Judgement.

  115. Eric Newhill says:

    What is wrong with Russians, or anyone else, using social media to present their views and to influence the views of others? Why should that be stopped? How is it even a crime?
    Perhaps it’s ironic – and perhaps not and merely explanatory – that the purveyors of social media tend to be believers in One World. The internet was supposed to bring us all together, right?
    So now we have people and influences from all over the world communicating and influencing each other electronically. I thought diversity is our greatest strength. What? It isn’t? One World and diversity are wonderful only as long as everyone agrees with and acts like American liberals and helps further their cause?
    Are you shocked that bad actors and sociopaths misuse the platforms for self-profit or for the glee of sowing confusion? So sad, another utopian dream succumbs to human nature. Who would have guessed that such a thing could happen?

  116. Linda says:

    “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; more dangerous than no knowledge” Wow, that is quite a statement and certainly would not represent a democracy. I was a member of the intelligence community for 28 years and I know that a lot of classified information should be kept classified and how coordination works. But a blanket statement like this boggles the mind.

  117. Linda says:

    Presenting them as their views is fine, presenting them as the views of certain Americans is not

  118. Linda says:

    I personally am fed up with the discussions of Hillay’ transgressions and Russiam meddling. My concern is that I fear Trump is damaging national security.

  119. turcopolier says:

    How is he damaging national security? pl

  120. shepherd says:

    Is it a crime? No, it is not a crime. I’ve never taken the Internet to be a utopia. I get paid a lot of money to explain to large corporations how to use its tools to influence people. So I’m the last person you should address such a list of rhetorical questions.
    The problem is that you’re framing this in terms of right and wrong. It’s really about what’s the goal of the influence campaign and whether you agree with that goal.
    So what is an influence campaign? Let’s start with what it’s not. PT is trying to argue with everyone here. He is presenting what he considers logical truth, and he tries to beat people over the head with it. Such an approach is incapable of persuading anyone of anything. If you aren’t already inclined to believe in the goodness of Russia—and you might ask yourself why you have suddenly started concerning yourself so much with this particular country—he will not convince you.
    An influence campaign is different. It starts with a set of goals—say, dividing Americans—and then creates metrics, known in the civilian world as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These measure your progress towards your goals. Then you create activations (ads, memes, Twitter users, Facebook pages, fake news sites, and so on) and measure their success or failure against your KPIs. You continue to do things that work and abandon things that don’t in a perfectly dispassionate way. And in the modern world, you can do this in a highly automated, AI process that automatically optimizes your efforts for you in real time.
    So, in my estimation and that of TTG and most people experienced in this kind of thing, the Russian goal is not to elect Trump, but to stir up divisions, particularly at the fringes of society: BLM, Antifa, the alt-right, Texas separatism, and so on. The idea is to try to mainstream the more radical elements of society and set them against one another. But to do so, it has a problem: there is a big talent gap at the fringes. People at the fringes, with a few exceptions, are just yellers.
    The influencer’s approach is to supply the fringes with the talent and facts it otherwise lacks. It creates alluring fictions or embellishes events that incite people to anger, fear, and other such emotions. It tries to create communities of likeminded people and provide them with evidence that their beliefs are true, and that the rest of the world is filled with sheep.
    For example, the organic BLM movement is pretty much hopeless at promoting itself. So why not step in and do the job for them? If they are incapable of collecting every possible instance of police brutality, do it yourself, post it to a fake Facebook group, and make up stuff besides. Paint the dead as saints, and the killers as racists. Climb into the comments section of your own Facebook page and start saying it’s time to start killing cops. And be sure to have a contingency PR plan in place in case someone takes you up on it. Don’t worry, everyone sympathetic to that movement will take it all completely at face value.
    Likewise, the alt-right, by itself, is likely composed mostly of the kind of angry idiots you saw in Charlottesville. Such people do not build movements. So why not create a hot, Texas woman who actually tells great stories? Why not flood sites with bots that repeat beliefs as though they were facts and make what’s really a small fraction of the universe seem much larger?
    You can also make up facts. This is important because fringe beliefs typically are fringe because there is little evidence for them. Immigrants, and especially illegal ones, for example, have a bad habit of not committing crimes. But rape and violence from the dark hoards are what will drive your KPIs. So in the absence of such crimes, you have to get creative. One of the most interesting activations I’ve come across was a woman who got kicked down a flight of stairs outside Berlin. The police couldn’t figure out who the perp was, so they released a video asking for the public’s help. Within hours, the video was circulating in two different versions on both alt-right and radical pro-immigration sites. In the first, the headline identified the woman as German and the perpetrator as a Muslim immigrant. In the second, the headline identified the perpetrator as a neo-Nazi and the woman as a Muslim attacked for wearing a hijab. With just a few spare words, those stories were shared millions of times around the world, including here. And they’re completely made up. Such things do not occur by random chance, rather there is an influence operation behind them, designed to rapidly get in front of such stories, and let the truth lag behind.
    So it’s not about whether this kind of activity is right or wrong. That’s not my concern. It’s whether you recognize and agree with its goals and whether you wish to see them achieved. And remember that one important goal of any such operation is to recruit what we call “advocates” or ordinary people so passionate about your positioning that they willingly go forth and argue for it.

  121. shepherd,
    Very well said. You obviously understand this process and are able to explain it clearly. If you don’t mind, I’d like to use some of your comment in my article on this subject. I should get it out before Thanksgiving if I can get ahead of my pre-winter yard and house preparations.

  122. Eric Newhill says:

    You’re not telling me anything I didn’t already know. I can’t speak for PT, but I’m not arguing for the essential goodness of Russia. That’s a straw man/ red herring. I am arguing that if Russia engaged in any of what you describe, it is a mere drop in the ocean. What you describe is performed 24/7 by both cable news and the written media. It is also performed by many individuals and groups on social media. Again, I ask, not rhetorically, why all the talk about Russia and not, for example, George Soros?
    I can go to a leftist outlet like “Mother Jones” and it appears that they live on an entirely different planet than the folks at a site like “Red State”. No Russians needed.
    Then there are the colleges and universities that seem to produced severely brainwashed zombies in certain study tracks.
    The involvement of Russia is a tempest in a teapot.
    I dispute that the goal is merely to divide the populace. There is no value or profit in that. The goals are more long term and sinister.
    I further dispute your implied assertion that the people are a bunch of stupid rubes that are easily conned by the kind of BS that you make a living selling and propagating. We know what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears. We can think and reason. I ask again – not rhetorically, but directly to you – if the people are as you think they are and your product so effective, then why did Hillary lose? She was after all the biggest slinger of the crap you sell. Why weren’t people brainwashed by it? And isn’t that, at the end of the day, what’s got you so upset? That your product didn’t stick.

  123. Eric Newhill says:

    I think you just sided with my opinion despite your expressed disgust. You want to classify information and keep it hidden. Fine. I agree. Then who decides what little bits to let out and when? I don’t trust the IC. They have proven themselves to be dangerous liars. I am thinking about Clapper and I am thinking about the “evidence” leading to the Iraq, just for starters.

  124. pl,
    Not mixing collection and analysis with information operations is a good general rule. I agree with for the reasons you stated. In real life I often had collectors, analysts and DOD IO specialists huddled around the same keyboard doing all three specialties simultaneously and symbiotically.

  125. turcopolier says:

    In that case the work product of the DoD parts of the IC is largely worthless except as propaganda or something about targeting or water depth, etc. In the “good old days” that did not happen anywhere I held sway. Maybe that is why Clapper was so eager to remove me. A “general rule” is no rule at all. pl

  126. David Habakkuk,
    You’re right. I still believe Alperovitch is a generally reliable source despite the retraction he was forced to make concerning the effectiveness of that Ukrainian artillery app malware. I also consider Shawn Henry of CrowdStrike to be reliable, largely based on my experiences with him at the FBI. A new source I found is Robert Johnston who worked for CrowdStrike under Henry at the time. His story has only recently been made public. I find it compelling and convincing. Since I doubt Johnston has any ties to Cambridge University, I would be interested in hearing your reasons for discounting his story.
    As for Steele and anything out of the DNC, I don’t rely on their accounts in forming my opinion on this subject. And most statements out of the FBI and DOJ require viewing them with a jaundiced eye. As for MI6, I don’t pay much attention to them, either.

  127. TTG,
    I regret to have to say this, but I no longer trust you. It seems to me you are a naturally decent, honourable and courageous man, but I also think you are a traumatised Lithuanian – for very understandable reasons – and my confidence in your ability impartially to assess any evidence regarding matters to do with Russia is zilch.
    Just a brief excursus to clarify. Last year, my wife and I met up in Vienna with the lady who was my mother’s au pair when I was a small child. (She was in Munster when it was bombed, my parents met in South-East London during the blitz. We talked about it.)
    Her son’s second wife, like my sister in law, is from Galicia. After his disastrous first marriage, she has made him really happy. Her father was deported to Russia for ten years after Galicia was reincorporated into Soviet Ukraine.
    I really like her. But I know that there is no point in expecting that she will have any understanding whatsoever of the ways in which very many people in Crimea and the Donbass feel, any more than there is of expecting that many people there would have any understanding of how she feels.
    In the same way, your comments on the NATO production about the ‘Forest Brothers’ made it absolutely clear to me that your views on any matters to do with Russia are not reliable. The point is not that the – patently visceral – responses from people like Zahkarova, Rogozhin, and – in particular – Joseph Kobzon to the video are necessarily any more guides to any kind of absolute truth than yours. (You might listen to Kobzon performing ‘Zhuravli’ at the 2015 ‘Victory Day’ concert.)
    It is simply that some people can escape from the traumas of the past, and others can’t. From what I can see – and I do not like saying this – I do not think you can.

  128. Fred says:

    non-European immigrants, “pre-Americans”, have made thier native lands shining examples for the world to emulate. That’s why everyone is heading to Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Venezuala, India. etc.

  129. pl,
    My collection team along with the analysts and IO operators we worked with never produced work product or finished intelligence. That was the realm of the DI analysts as it always was. My only connection to that process was the granting of release of LIMDIS or ORCON information reports for use in the analysts’ finished products. I was allowed to review the draft of these products, but only as a courtesy. I had no editorial control.
    The embedding of collectors and analysts into operational units became a major feature of DIA in Afghanistan and Iraq and every other place our troops were fighting. It lead to the emphasis on “actionable intelligence” over finished intelligence product. This process preceded Clapper at DNI and, I have heard, only accelerated under Flynn at DIA. AFAIK, the DI within DIA is still independent of the DO and produces its own work product. I’m not sure about recent reorganizations at CIA. I would think their attempts to fully integrate the DO and DI would lead to a weakening of the DI and their analytical independence.

  130. David Habakkuk,
    That’s your prerogative. Perhaps deep down I am still a traumatized Lithuanian. However, if you look back on my contributions to SST, you will see I’ve been a cheerleader for Novorossiya and the reintegration of Crimea back into Russia. I’ve also been complimentary and supportive of Russian actions in Syria. I’ve even been complimentary of Russian skills at IO and definitely consider their current theoretical framework (reflexive control) for IO far superior to ours. I fail to see how this marks me as an emotionally crippled Russophobe. Outside of these contributions, I’m quite fond of all manner of Russian culture, although, if given the opportunity to confront the NKVD and MVD troops or the Communist officials that sought to eradicate my family, I’d gladly kill them.
    Yes, my Lithuanian connection definitely led me to swell with pride at the “Forest Brothers” NATO propaganda video. I was also surprised at the visceral reaction to that video by Russian media and government officials. Putin has done very well in owning Russian history, the good and the bad. I don’t understand how the Soviet treatment of the Baltics can be defended.

  131. turcopolier says:

    Thanks for the clarification. pl

  132. turcopolier says:

    I should add that you are a highly valued guest author here and friend and I hope you will stick with us. Opinions can vary among colleagues. pl

  133. pl,
    I remain your friend and brother in arms. I truly enjoy the spirited give and take with fellow correspondents. It’s how we all grow. Echo chambers rot the mind. Of course I’ll stick with SST.

  134. mikee says:

    I can do without their arguments. Arguments are not evidence. IMO the REAL influence campaign is home grown and it is ongoing. The Uniparty sees people like Trump as a danger that must be crushed.

  135. Dude,
    You realize, don’t you, that the CIA and NSA and the FBI completely missed the fact that the Russians allegedly launched some massive meddling campaign. Only one of two possible conclusions–1) our intel community was, once again, completely asleep at the switch or 2) it never happened as subsequently explained.
    The truth of the matter is the latter.

  136. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Oh yes, and the Ghetto and the NAZIs and the Fascists were paradigmatic examples of Liberalism, Tolerance, Liberty, Motherhood, American Pie.
    As is said in Persian; “Why go so far?” – Detroit is an splendid example of the Western Diocletian Civilization at its finest.
    And today, is not the political posture of the West the primary threat to the continued existence of the Human Race?
    I think it will be a good idea to climb down from your high horse – in reality, only a goat-on-steroids.

  137. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Pardon me for this duplicate comment,
    but I think this comment really is highly relevant to the post above.
    For future reference, I hope the moderator(s) will allow it here,
    as well as at .
    WaPo on Friday published a really massive (four broadsheet pages) attempt to influence American opinion on Trump and Russia:
    “Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin
    and leaves a Russian threat unchecked”

    By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker
    Washington Post, online 2017-12-14, in the print edition of 2017-12-15
    PT and others: If you have the time and interest,
    I think it would be valuable to do some inspection for bias
    in this story.
    I don’t have the expertise to do that myself,
    but think it would be valuable for some to do so.

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