by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
The true patriotism, the only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.
– Mark Twain, The Czar’s Soliloquy”
At this point, pretty much everyone in America has seen the results of Hillary Clinton media pet, John Harwood’s recent Twitter poll.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) January 6, 2017
The significance of the above cannot be overstated. U.S. intelligence agencies, like so many other national institutions, have lost nearly all credibility in the eyes of the American public. The list is long, but includes economists, politicians, the mainstream media, central bankers, the financial system, and a lot more. The loss in credibility is well deserved and has nothing to do with Russia. Rather, it’s a function of a disastrous 21st century outcome for U.S. citizens both at home and abroad. A result that was achieved under eight years of Republican rule and then eight years of Democratic rule. The results were the same whether a donkey or elephant was in charge, because the people determining policy behind the scenes never really changed (same economists, central bankers, intelligence officials, etc), and the people selling the catastrophic policies to the public definitely never changes (mainstream media and its worthless pundits).
So here we stand at a moment where trust in essentially all U.S. institutions is at a well deserved all-time low, and the best the establishment can come up with is to blame Russia. Even worse, those pushing the whole “Putin is to blame for everything” conspiracy theories, consistently refuse to back up their assertions with any evidence whatsoever. In fact, with each passing week the case looks increasingly flimsy, with the latest declassified document issued Friday being particularly suspect. Even many of those largely convinced of Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election admit the most recent report was pathetic, embarrassing and proved absolutely nothing.
Robert Parry of Consortium News summarizes the farce perfectly in his recent piece U.S. Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’. Here’s how he begins the article:
Repeating an accusation over and over again is not evidence that the accused is guilty, no matter how much “confidence” the accuser asserts about the conclusion. Nor is it evidence just to suggest that someone has a motive for doing something. Many conspiracy theories are built on the notion of “cui bono” – who benefits – without following up the supposed motive with facts.
But that is essentially what the U.S. intelligence community has done regarding the dangerous accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a covert information campaign to influence the outcome of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election in favor of Republican Donald Trump.
Just a day after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper vowed to go to the greatest possible lengths to supply the public with the evidence behind the accusations, his office released a 25-page report that contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.
The DNI report amounted to a compendium of reasons to suspect that Russia was the source of the information – built largely on the argument that Russia had a motive for doing so because of its disdain for Democratic nominee Clinton and the potential for friendlier relations with Republican nominee Trump.
But the report’s assessment is more than just a reasonable judgment based on a body of incomplete information. It is tendentious in that it only lays out the case for believing in Russia’s guilt, not reasons for doubting that guilt.
For instance, while it is true that many Russian officials, including President Putin, considered Clinton to be a threat to worsen the already frayed relationship between the two nuclear superpowers, the report ignores the downside for Russia trying to interfere with the U.S. election campaign and then failing to stop Clinton, which looked like the most likely outcome until Election Night.
If Russia had accessed the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication, Putin would have to think that the National Security Agency, with its exceptional ability to track electronic communications around the world, might well have detected the maneuver and would have informed Clinton.
So, on top of Clinton’s well-known hawkishness, Putin would have risked handing the expected incoming president a personal reason to take revenge on him and his country. Historically, Russia has been very circumspect in such situations, usually holding its intelligence collections for internal purposes only, not sharing them with the public.
Another very good breakdown of the clownishness of the latest intel report was written by noted anti-Putin activist Masha Gessen in The New York Review of Books. Like many others, she finds the obsession with RT within the report bizarre to say the least. She notes:
Finally, the bulk of the rest of the report is devoted to RT, the television network formerly known as Russia Today.
A seven-page annex to the report details RT activities, including hosting third-party candidate debates, broadcasting a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement and “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health”—perfectly appropriate journalistic activities, even if they do appear on what is certainly a propaganda outlet funded by an aggressive dictatorship. An entire page is devoted to RT’s social media footprint: the network appears to score more YouTube views than CNN (though far fewer Facebook likes). Even this part of the report is slightly misleading: RT’s tactics for inflating its viewership numbers in order to secure continued Kremlin funding has been the subject of some convincing scholarship. That is the entirety of the case the intelligence agencies have presented: Putin wanted Trump to win and used WikiLeaks and RT to ensure that outcome.