Who’s Faking the News and Who Leaked the DNC Emails?
January 17, 2017
The answer to the second question is: probably not Russia. An answer to the first starts to emerge in the process of answering the second.
The US intelligence agencies are claiming it was Russia that hacked and leaked the Democratic National Committee emails and documents to Wikileaks, based on “evidence” they can’t reveal to the public because it might damage national security.
“Believe us” they say. Here are a few reasons not to and a more likely source of the leaks.
It’s been reported throughout the media that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, ie of all 17 US intelligence services, recently told the Senate hearing on alleged Russian meddling in the US election that he had “very high” confidence that the Russians stole Democratic Party files and emails and passed them to Wikileaks, and that this could only have been authorized by “Russia’s most senior officials”.
Clapper is repeating allegations that go back to mid-2016 which he said at the time there was very little evidence for. A number of intelligence agencies have now apparently been looking closely at the evidence and are coming up with a different conclusion from their view six months ago. That would seem to imply that 17 agencies six months ago weren’t looking particularly closely at Russsian cyber activity in an era when every pundit and media outlet for the past decade have been proclaiming cyber wars as the “wars of the future”.
Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed Clapper as having lied to Congress about NSA spying on ‘millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.’ Lying to Congress under oath carries a maximum penalty of 8 years.
The main witness on Russian meddling lied to Congress under oath (which he has since acknowledged) and is now making statements to a congressional committee without the oath that didn’t inhibit him then.
The 17 agencies are also not particularly known for their truth-telling. Colin Powell, when he made his claim to the UN in February 2003 about non-existent Iraqi WMDs, stated it was based on “solid intelligence” provided by the then 16 intelligence agencies. CIA Director George Tenet caved in to pressure from the Bush administration to provide evidence of Iraqi WMDs and came up with a compromised Intelligence Estimate based on reports from the agencies. No evidence of WMDs had been found but Tenet found himself able to produce a report hedged with doubts that the Bush administration could sanitise in a simplified version for the media and present as “solid”.
Recently one of the 17 agencies, the CIA, informed the Washington Post that Russia had hacked Vermont’s electric grid which promptly published the story. It spread throughout the media and provoked Vermont’s governor to express outrage that “one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin” was meddling in the American “quality of life”.
Unlike the DNC story this one could be easily checked and investigation by the Vermont grid showed that it had been simply made up.
Trump says there’s a “witch hunt” on to get him. He’s right, and part of it are Clapper and others who know they’re not unlikely to be fired once Trump takes office. If they can appear to pin something on him they can claim their sacking was an act of revenge.
The US government, ably assisted by the US media, has been trying to persuade the public that Vladimir Putin is to blame for getting Donald Trump elected. The New York Times, the “paper of record”, finds the evidence that Russia leaked the DNC documents and emails “overwhelming”, leaving its readers to make the connection by innuendo.
The NYT and the rest of the media were also overwhelmed in 2003 by the intelligence services’ “evidence” for Iraq’s WMD and seem quite happy to repeat the experience.
The media have been awash with anti-Russian propaganda ever since Russia had the temerity to react to massive provocation by NATO in pushing to the Russian border. It’s worth remembering that NATO is not a charitable organization but a military alliance. If a Russian-led military alliance were to ensconce itself on the Mexican border it doesn’t take much imagination to envisage how the US would react. The US media are virtually devoid of critical faculties and parrot the view that Russia is “a danger”, which is being echoed across the board from Obama’s post-election briefing to Trump, to Clinton, to McCain’s pushing Clapper to declare Russia’s “interference” an “act of war”.
Imaginary threats to the US have a long history, some of them requiring flights of imagination bordering on science fiction. Previous “dangers” have been Iraq and Iran amongst others. Most people should know by now how much of a threat Iraq turned out to be. Popular fiction has it that Iran is a military threat to Israel which has 200 or more nuclear weapons. Iran has none. If Iran ever made any military move against Israel Iran would be bombed back into the stone-age, or nuked – as Hillary Clinton has already threatened to do.
The idea of Iran attacking the US is just off the planet.
Going back further in recent history, Ronald Reagan declared that the “policies and actions of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. I don’t think this needs any further comment.
In March 2015 Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a threat to US national security. Well that one’s not hard to follow: the US has been meddling in Venezuelan internal affairs for decades, including an attempted coup in 2004, so that quite logically makes Venezuela a threat to the US otherwise why would the US be meddling?
Allegations of “threats” and “dangers” are part of standard US government vocabulary used to manipulate public opinion and are meaningless outside of that context unless backed by evidence, which the current ones are not.
McCarthy era again?
We seem to be living through a mini neo-McCarthyist era, “Reds under the beds” ‘n all. Non-mainsteam news sources that have been critical of Washington for decades are being accused of peddling Russian propaganda. One example was an Orwellian – wait for it – fake news story about a fake news story that appeared November 2016 in the Washington Post and spread like a virus throughout the US media, alleging that Russia planted fake news in well-known anti-establishment outlets like Truthdig; the evidence for which being that amongst other critical analyses of government actions they were questioning evidence-free stories about Russian interference in the US election. Enough to make Orwell dizzy trying to follow it and a bit like calling, let’s say Noam Chomsky, a Commie rat who’s being manipulated by Vladimir Putin.
Or collateral benefit on the “Grand Chessboard”…The recidivistic geostrategic derangement once called the ‘Great Game’, since re-named by Zbigniew Brzezinski the ‘Grand Chessboard’, grinds along its timewarped path, its nineteenth-century thought patterns having survived the millenium unhindered by their mediocrity… Russia is still the enemy.
One could ask the question why, right now,there’s so much anti-Russian propaganda, but nobody in the media does. One of the benefits of the Cold War was to counteract a surfeit of democracy in the sixties and seventies by providing a long term external threat. The current huge tide of discontent is being exploited by Trump, but it was a new phenomenon that many US citizens were beginning to think vertically, ie to see banks and corporations as the cause of their problems instead of foreigners. Ratcheting up a Russian threat might in classic fashion be expected to divert their attention, and simultaneously sideline Trump, Clinton having been the banks’ and corporations’ preferred candidate.
And mere citizens have to be kept at a respectful distance from the workings of the power structure.
The motivation of the Democratic party lies in the fact that it has a problem: how to explain its defeat by Trump. It lost because it betrayed the working class and swathes of the middle class and sold out to the neo-liberal delusion. That’s quite a big one to explain. Blame the electoral system. And Russia is an easy scapegoat.
Blaming Russia will benefit nobody except the armaments industry and adds fuel to the already unhinged anti-Russia ballyhoo, putting all of us in danger from a confrontation between two nuclear states, or an actual nuclear exchange, accidental or otherwise.
But the Democratic Party clearly has other priorities.
Blurring of Issues
Trump himself is being cited as a witness for the prosecution against Russia because he said, or admitted, “it was Russia”. He didn’t: he said he believed Russia had hacked the DNC. There are two separate issues which are frequently conflated : hacking; and passing information to Wikileaks. Everybody hacks to find out what’s going on in the US election – France, China, and probably Iceland and Micronesia too, so it wouldn’t be surprising to find traces of Russian spyware on Democratic Party websites. No evidence has actually been provided to the public about Russian hacking but even if it had that says nothing about who leaked the emails and documents.
According to Julian Assange a 14 year old could have hacked the DNC emails.
Amidst all this delirium it’s worth reminding oneself now and again what colour the sky is.
Sources who have Access to Information – Leaks not Hacks
Julian Assange says categorically that the leaks came from a “non-state actor”. Assange as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks is closer to the source than anyone. Wikileaks have never been proved wrong in the ten years of their existence or been shown to have lied about anything.
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan says the leaks – not hacks – came from inside the Democratic Party, from members disgusted about the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tactics used to rig the primary against Bernie Sanders. He met one of the leakers in secret in a Washington DC park. Murray is close to Wikileaks and helped “in a small way” to enable the leaks . He says that “the person who was responsible for getting the information out had legal access to the information” in both the DNC case and the John Podesta case.
Unlike General Clapper Murray appears to be a reliable witness. In 2006 he was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity for putting his job on the line, and losing it, through exposing “that the intelligence authorities of the UK and the US were receiving and using information extracted by the most sadistic methods of torture by Uzbek authorities.”
We’re told there’s a lot of fake news around. The biggest fake news is that fake news is new. It’s been around for a long time and some of the biggest peddlers of it have been those complaining most loudly about it now, the liberal media. The antidote to fake news is to use ordinary common sense and look for evidence. What the news media are now reporting as fact about Russia passing Democratic Party documents to Wikileaks is largely free of that quaint appendage and is itself almost certainly fake news.
The statements of Assange and Murray constitute eyewitness evidence so it’s probably best to look in the direction they point, which is a long way from Russia.