Unpacking the New CIA Leak: Don’t Ignore the Aluminum Tube Footnote

This post will unpack the leak from the CIA published in the WaPo tonight.

Before I start with the substance of the story, consider this background. First, if Trump comes into office on the current trajectory, the US will let Russia help Bashar al-Assad stay in power, thwarting a 4-year effort on the part of the Saudis to remove him from power. It will also restructure the hierarchy of horrible human rights abusing allies the US has, with the Saudis losing out to other human rights abusers, potentially up to and including that other petrostate, Russia. It will also install a ton of people with ties to the US oil industry in the cabinet, meaning the US will effectively subsidize oil production in this country, which will have the perhaps inadvertent result of ensuring the US remains oil-independent even though the market can’t justify fracking right now.

The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.

This story came 24 days after the White House released an anonymous statement asserting, among other things, “the Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” suggesting that the Russians may have been deterred.

This story was leaked within hours of the time the White House announced it was calling for an all-intelligence community review of the Russia intelligence, offered without much detail. Indeed, this story was leaked and published as an update to that story.

Which is to say, the CIA and/or people in Congress (this story seems primarily to come from Democratic Senators) leaked this, apparently in response to President Obama’s not terribly urgent call to have all intelligence agencies weigh in on the subject of Russian influence, after weeks of Democrats pressuring him to release more information. It was designed to both make the White House-ordered review more urgent and influence the outcome.

So here’s what that story says.

In September, the spooks briefed “congressional leaders” (which for a variety of reasons I wildarseguess is either a Gang of Four briefing including Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid or a briefing to SSCI plus McConnell, Reid, Jack Reed, and John McCain). Apparently, the substance of the briefing was that Russia’s intent in hacking Democratic entities was not to increase distrust of institutions, but instead to elect Trump.

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The difference between this story and other public assessments is that it seems to identify the people — who sound like people with ties to the Russian government but not necessarily part of it — who funneled documents from Russia’s GRU to Wikileaks.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

[snip]

[I]ntelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.

This is the part that has always been missing in the past: how the documents got from GRU, which hacked the DNC and John Podesta, to Wikileaks, which released them. It appears that CIA now thinks they know the answer: some people one step removed from the Russian government, funneling the documents from GRU hackers (presumably) to Wikileaks to be leaked, with the intent of electing Trump.

Not everyone buys this story. Mitch McConnell doesn’t buy the intelligence.

In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.

That’s one doubt raised about CIA’s claim — though like you all, I assume Mitch McConnell shouldn’t be trusted on this front.

But McConnell wasn’t the only one. One source for this story — which sounds like someone like Harry Reid or Dianne Feinstein — claimed that this CIA judgment is the “consensus” view of all the intelligence agencies, a term of art.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

Except that in a briefing this week (which may have been what impressed John McCain and Lindsey Graham to do their own investigation), that’s not what this represented.

The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered. [my emphasis]

That’s a conflict. Some senior US official (often code for senior member of Congress) says this is the consensus view. Another senior US official (or maybe the very same one) says there are “minor disagreements.”

Remember: we went to war against Iraq, which turned out to have no WMD, in part because no one read the “minor disagreements” from a few agencies about some aluminum tubes. A number of Senators who didn’t read that footnote closely (and at least one that did) are involved in this story. What we’re being told is there are some aluminum tube type disagreements.

Let’s hear about those disagreements this time, shall we?

Here’s the big takeaway. The language “a formal US assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies” is, like “a consensus view,” a term of art. It’s an opportunity for agencies which may have differing theories of what happened here to submit their footnotes.

That may be what Obama called for today: the formal assessment from all agencies (though admittedly, the White House purposely left the scope and intent of it vague).

Whatever that review is intended to be, what happened as soon as Obama announced it is that the CIA and/or Democratic Senators started leaking their conclusion. That’s what this story is.

Update: One other really critical detail. When the White House announced the Obama review today, Wikileaks made what was a bizarre statement. Linking to a CNN story on the Obama ordered review that erred on the side of blaming Russia for everything, it said, “CNN: Obama orders report into WikiLeaks timed for release just prior to Trump presidency.” Even though none of the statements on the review focused on what this story does — that is, on the way that the DNC and Podesta emails got to Wikileaks — Wikileaks nevertheless interpreted it as an inquiry targeted at it.

Update: And now David Sanger (whose story on the Obama-ordered review was particularly bad) and Scott Shane reveal the RNC also got hacked, and it is the differential leaking that leads the spooks to believe the Russians wanted Trump to win.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public.

This may be a fair assessment. But you would have to account for two things before making it. First, you’d need to know the timing and hacker behind the RNC hack. That’s because two entities are believed to have hacked the DNC: an FSB appearing hacking group, and a GRU one. The FSB is not believed to have leaked. GRU is believed to have. So if the FSB hacked the RNC but didn’t leak it, it would be completely consistent with what FSB did with DNC.

NYT now says the RNC hack was by GRU in the spring, so it is a fair question why the DNC things got leaked but RNC did not.

Also, Sanger and Shane say “largely documents” from Dems were leaked. That’s false. There were two streams of non-Wikileaks releases, Guccifer, which did leak all-Dem stuff, and DC Leaks, which leaked stuff that might be better qualified as Ukrainian related. The most publicized of documents from the latter were from Colin Powell, which didn’t help Trump at all.

Update: It’s clear that Harry Reid (who of course is retiring and so can leak speech and debate protected classified information without worrying he’ll be shut off in the future) is one key driver of this story. Last night he was saying, “”I was right. Comey was wrong. I hope he can look in the mirror and see what he did to this country.” This morning he is on the TV saying he believes Comey had information on this before the election.

Update, 12/10: This follow-up from WaPo is instructive, as it compares what CIA briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee about the current state of evidence with what FBI briefed the House Intelligence Committee about the current state of evidence. While the focus is on different Republican and Democratic understandings of both, the story also makes it clear that FBI definitely doesn’t back what WaPo’s sources from yesterday said was a consensus view.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

57 replies
  1. Horatio Trobinson says:

    This post is in most respects perfect, except when it comes to describing Saudi Arabia.

    For some reason I can’t understand why Saudi Arabia is presented as some sort of nebulous solution to the problem in Syria, a long shot and a massive leap of faith in such a complex scenario, with multiple local factions, and multiple international forces meddling in the issue.

    Even if that were true  -which it clearly isn’t-  there’s still the subject of the war in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia has most likely committed war crimes, bombing schools, hospitals, and other venues populated by civilians. This has been made possible with abundant material support and tacit approval of the US providing weapons, intelligence services, and maintenance to Saudi Arabia’s actions in that country.

    https://theintercept.com/2016/10/10/u-s-and-u-k-continue-to-actively-participate-in-saudi-war-crimes-targeting-of-yemeni-civilians/

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-defense-congress-idUSKCN11R2LU

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38220785

    This isn’t an opinion, it’s merely the facts.

    No one is saying that every reporter has to become an expert on every war, but on the Yemen war issue at least, it’s one that would at least deserve some minimum consideration before candidly presenting Saudi Arabia as a benign actor.

    Keep up with the good work.

     

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, I in no way wanted to present the Saudis as a benign actor. Sorry if it came off that way. The sole bright point of a Trump Administration, aside from killing TPP, is a critical look at our alliance w/the Sauds.

      I focused on Syria because I think that’s what the real contest here is, if anyone is indeed working from a bias acquired from being too close to the Saudis and/or reliant on their intel. I think most Americans involved in Yemen know what a catastrophe it is. But that’s not the prize. Syria is.

    • Michael says:

      This video interview of former FBI AGENT may lend further proof as to why, these allegations of Russian Hacking into election, in favor of Trump is being perpetuated. https://youtu.be/9S73fkmE0Is

  2. TomVet says:

    Ignore my previous tweet, I can now access this page. It must have been heavy traffic to the server maybe. I tried 3 times before; from the previous story, from Twitter link, and from typing into address bar and got the error msg on all 3.

  3. bevin says:

    Can we stop giving this nonsense about Russia and the DNC emails the attention which it clearly does not deserve?
    There is not a scintilla of evidence that Russia was involved. All that there is is a clear connection between Ukrainian fascists-real fascists- and the Clinton campaign. Mark Ames has the story at Alternet and Counterpunch:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/09/the-anonymous-blacklist-promoted-by-the-washington-post-has-apparent-ties-to-ukrainian-fascism-and-cia-spying/

    • Iarry says:

      Nonsense or not, bevin, I do not believe there is even one chance in a million that you have any privileged information about the subject you’re expounding on so unconvincingly that contains even “a scintilla of evidence” that you know what you’re talking about.  And exactly how do you know what you claim to be the absolute truth?  The fillings in Alex Jones’ gnashing teeth?  Yes I read Mark Ames’ thorough opinion piece at Counterpunch, and yes it does make a solid case that the WaPo blacklist story could very well be merely a hit piece by fascistic allies in western Ukraine and on the WaPo editorial board.  That wouldn’t be shocking or even surprising really.  And I agree that it’s an outrageous and dangerous effort for WaPo to have collaborated with.  But none of that proves one way or another that Russians weren’t messing with the U.S. election in ways known and unknown.  I mean, why wouldn’t they try?  The U.S. has been destabilizing first the Soviet and now Russian sphere of influence for about 100 years now (uh, U.S. and western armies invading Siberia and the Vladivostok area) and may as well have personally lifted Yeltsin onto that tank back then after the wall not-so-passively fell and the Soviet bloc dissolved.  We gamed them, stripped Russia of ownership of much of its great resources and other wealth, broke vows we made to them at the time, and now are still tightening a geopolitical-military noose around Russia, so why wouldn’t they tactically try to deter us by playing the same or a similar game?  I think neither side should be rocking the boat in this way, but please your rhetoric isn’t soaring, bevin, it’s a shrieking that can’t back up what you swear to be true with facts – which is the exact thing you accuse others of doing.

    • Desider says:

      “Scintillas” – aren’t those a kind of mink jacket? Ah yes, the supposed horrible fascist Kiev onslaught with recreated gas showers and what not. Sorry, but Poroshenko & crew may be corrupt, but they haven’t been the springboard to the Fourth Reich that you Kremlin fanbois have been pimping for almost 3 years now. But as this year’s election has proven definitively, showing that a repeated claim is bullshit doesn’t make it ever go away or cause its spouters to undergo the slightest self-reflection. Just banal cheerleaders of nonsense on the internet. It’s not even that the bullshit has to be convincing – it just has to be there so the pack can find it and adopt it – they’re willing self-delusionaries, after all. Just look at the Counterpunch piece – so shittlily written, mashing every little trinket of digruntlement going back 60 years into paragpraph after paragraph after paragraph – only a true believer could find this readable, much less compelling. Ah well, gives me an idea on a blog to write.

      • Bob In Portland says:

        Since the CIA slipped over a million bucks into the Italian elections in the late 1940s it has been interfering with foreign political elections around the world, buying them, releasing false information, undermining the elections, undermining governments, overthrowing governments. Anyone who looks at the JFK murder and Watergate knows that the CIA has been interfering with US elections too.

        Since the CIA has such a remarkable history of interfering with the democratic processes of countries around the world, I find the CIA’s concern to be laughable. Considering how they operate I would not be surprised if the CIA’s fingerprints are on this too. Maybe through their Nazi buddies in Ukraine.

        It’s become clear that if the Russians did anything, they did not hack voting machines, which undoubtedly were hacked by both parties, but released information to show that Clinton was the duplicitous hack and whore of Wall Street that progressives found so distasteful.

        That would mean that the great sin of the Russians, if even true, was to show that Clinton was a liar. As for Russia favoring Trump, I would suggest that since she was threatening a Third World War with the Russians by installing a no-fly zone over Syria then I too might prefer the other guy.

        If the Democratic Party can’t withstand the truth of what it is, pointing fingers abroad may not be the best resolution of a thoroughly disgusting election cycle.

        Where’s the man on the white horse?

  4. Tracy Coyle says:

    I want to know what the Coast Guard has learned that it can contribute to the Intelligence Assessment (it is one of the 17 agencies).

  5. Barber1 says:

    Or maybe when Russia looked at the RNC emails, they didn’t find the massive amounts of wrongdoing found in the DNC emails so there was nothing to release?

    • The Kid from Kerry says:

      Or maybe when Russia looked at the RNC emails they thought they might wait until comrade Trump was elected and keep some morsels with which to coax a hesitant Trump or Flynn or Bannon or (fill in the blank) into coming around on a certain position that might not appeal to them. Lord knows that there might be things that would cause unbearable discomfort for them. “Massive amounts of wrongdoing found in the DNC emails?” Like what?

  6. Petey says:

    “Remember: we went to war against Iraq, which turned out to have no WMD, in part because no one read the “minor disagreements” from a few agencies about some aluminum tubes. A number of Senators who didn’t read that footnote closely (and at least one that did) are involved in this story. What we’re being told is there are some aluminum tube type disagreements.”

    Fair enough, Marcy. But…

    The “aluminum tube type disagreements” in the run up to the Iraqi Misadventure came from the deliberate attempt by elements of the W administration to politicize intelligence assessments.

    Unless you are suggesting the BHO administration was trying to deliberately politicize intelligence assessments of Russian interference with the US elections, which I’ve got prima facie issues with, then the comparison breaks down.

    Also, I don’t have a link to refer to, but if memory serves, the lack of unanimity in the intelligence community on Russian interference with the US elections came from the FBI’s reluctance to sign off with the other agencies, which given Comey, casts further doubts on your doubts.

    In short: I’m not opposed to your reflexive suspicion here, but I think this is not a good analogy.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. But that statement stopped short of saying what CIA is now saying, almost certainly bc they still lacked a key piece of evidence. That statement basically said, “we’re certain RU hacked DNC, and we have confidence that they leaked the docs to WL, but we’re confident in the latter bc that’s the kind of thing they do.”

  7. richard young says:

    I don’t understand why the author characterizes the Syrian conflict as a “covert war by the Saudis” against the Syrian government.  For the past five years our own US President has been openly calling for “regime change” in Syria; and it is no secret that our Government has been both directly and indirectly supporting the “Syrian rebels” — who are in fact largely non-Syrian Sunni extremists, led by self-declared affiliates of Al Qaeda.  The simple truth is that for the past five years our US Government has been openly supporting the violent overthrow of the government of a nation which has never attacked or even threatened to attack our nation. Why make it more complicated than that?

    • emptywheel says:

      Because “covert” is a legal term which means we pretend that we’re not responsible. That is precisely what is going on, and precisely the reason CIA is in the center of it.

  8. Erik Moeller says:

    We don’t need to just rely on US intelligence data. The SecureWorks analysis found a clear smoking gun by analyzing a group of phishing links associated with the same bit.ly account and used to target both the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Russian civil society actors, and US political parties and actors. Such a phishing link can also be found in the John Podesta emails (and the Colin Powell emails) and was indeed clicked on from the United States in the relevant timeframe after a Clinton IT staffer encouraged him to click on it. See:

    https://www.secureworks.com/research/threat-group-4127-targets-google-accounts
    https://www.secureworks.com/research/threat-group-4127-targets-hillary-clinton-presidential-campaign
    https://motherboard.vice.com/read/how-hackers-broke-into-john-podesta-and-colin-powells-gmail-accounts

    “Not a scintilla of evidence” is only true if you ignore the evidence.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Nope. Anyone can setup the bit.ly and because lots of upstream routers can and have been hacked, internet traffic can magically appear to come from any ip address that the real hacker wants to blame.

      • Erik Moeller says:

        None of this is relevant to the analysis.

        1) The bit.ly links were created with a logged in user account, presumably so the attackers could use bit.ly’s advanced tools that are behind a login walls.

        2) At the time (as can be verified with the wayback machine), bit.ly exposed public links created by a given user. This allowed SecureWorks to see all links created by the same user(s).

        3) Analysis of the URLs they resolve to revealed a mix of targets chiefly of interest to Russian intel + US politicians.

        Either Russian intel attacked US politicians, or someone wanted to make it look like they did. Given how clumsy Russian hackers have been in the past and how connecting the hacks to Russia seems to have not accomplished any meaningful political outcomes by itself, the former seems more likely.

  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    The Colin Powell leaks did not help Trump? These leaks exposed rumors of Bill Clinton’s ongoing marital infidelity. This exposure in turn resonated with the Trump campaign’s (simultaneous? subsequent?) efforts to equate Hillary’s tolerance of Bill’s sexual misconduct with Trump’s own sexual misconduct.

    • Neau says:

      Only his supporters would care about that. MSM dismissed that part and focused on the negative emails toward Trump. Remember they were only trying to sway the undecideds.

  10. Don says:

    When will people get enough moral fiber to admit that the foreign nation most aggressively trying to sway US elections is Israel, they’ve been doing for decades and exert tremendous influence, the person they tried to get elected in 2016 was Clinton, and their agents are not only in the USA but in positions of importance in the government?

  11. Absynthe says:

    It’s always been a battle over Russia’s Natural gas pipeline vs Iran’s, through Syria to the EU. The day Al Assad refused to sign permission for Iran’s, was the last peaceful day Syria had. He ordered his soldiers to go out & shoot defenseless young male ciyizens on the street the next day. The people pushed back against wholesale brutality. Al Assad started this war on his own people. Koch Bros. illegally sold Iran the refinery equipment via funneling it through their French corp. arm. There are no innocents here, but the Syrian people. Russia will do anything to force their pipeline through – all Syrian casualties in Alleppo are acceptable to them. Those that escaped, aren’t treated much better. What is the price of Russia’s nat. gas line for profit to EU? They don’t give a damn, as long as they win the war, suppress USA for 4 years via Trump! I’d said from the beginning of Syrian war, it was about Nat. Gas pipelines. Was laughed at. Now it all makes much more sense, if you pull USA’s fangs & neuter it, from interfering for a few years, right? Turn America into an Isolationist Society, knock her down from World Power status. I say, NAY! Never make USA a coward, afraid to do anything. Keep us strong!

  12. Neau says:

    I just care about facts. I cant believe that the soldiers are briefed on intent in these kinds of things, if Russia did it only the highest circle would know the intent. It seems Obamas government created an intent and then looked for facts to support it. Has anyone debunked the claim by wikileaks that Seth Rich leaked them ? THe first cybersecurity agency analyzing the case mentioned the DNC email was not hacked.

  13. Tom21 says:

    Emptywheel, you say that the same person who wrote the NYT article about the RNC also being hacked, originally wrote a “particularly bad” one about the obama review. How was it bad? For some reason I cannot find that NYT article, only the newest one about RNC.

  14. Tim says:

    I’m sorry, am I missing something. Why does it matter *how* the WikiLeaks information was obtained. Isn’t the content of those leaks what was/is important? The DNC were/are corrupt to the core. We don’t want them or their candidate anywhere near the WH or Congress. The leaks didn’t so much help Trump win as they helped the American people dodge a very deadly bullet.

    • The Kid from Kerry says:

      The American people certainly did not dodge a very deadly bullet. Rather, they have a lot of deadly bullets to contend with, namely, Sessions, Bannon, Flynn, Pruitt, Puzder, Tillerson, etc. The DNC are amateurs compared to this racist, anger management needing, environment wrecking, worker disrespecting/misogynistic, real buddy of Putin/with the great retirement package cabal. Imagine for a moment: the CEO of ExxonMobil may be the next U.S. Secretary of State. DNC?

  15. Michael says:

    Could this former FBI AGENTS claim, be the reason the Obama administration is now calling for a full investigation into the alleged hacking of the election by the Russians, to give Trump the election? Watch video interview: https://youtu.be/9S73fkmE0Is

  16. DingoBoat says:

    Final part of this article is allegedly false. RNC communications director states they were never hacked or had systems breached; attempted to inform NYT of this correction numerous times, but NYT ignored and published anyway. Quite possible no RNC leaks occurred because no hack did, but the NYT is still pushing the narrative that there was (despite being contacted directly by the RNC with a correction) because it would be too humiliating now to step down. Also take into account the two “journalists” pushing this story out don’t have a good track record, as pointed out in the article.

    https://twitter.com/seanspicer/status/807442009778688000

    • Tom21 says:

      Just because Sean Spicer said that doesnt mean its true. The NYT article shows that senior officials reported with high confidence that the DNC and RNC were both hacked. I choose to believe them over this guy Sean Spicer.

      • DingoBoat says:

        The hypocrisy it takes to make a statement like this and blindly believe it. Just because NYT said that doesn’t mean its true. The NYT, which has been fundamentally dishonest this election cycle, is stating that the CIA has senior officials which have heard there might be Russian involvement in the RNC based on parts of leaked memos. Notice the memos are never released, reports not detailed, and officials never named. Literally, none of the proof can be seen apart from “The NYT says the CIA says this”. I choose not to be believe a hear-say story pushed out by the CIA, using the same NYT reporters who pushed out the editorialised fake news stories which started this in the first place.

  17. Jay says:

    In my experience and understanding, the term “senior U.S. official” is NOT used to describe any member of Congress, but instead would be limited to an administration official.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      translate ‘senior u.s. official’
      to ‘someone that leaked some *formation’ to
      this reporter that sucks up for stories,

      And when you see ‘senior u.s. official’ you should assume it is misinformation or disinformation. It may happen for foreign consumption. It may just be a ‘fact based narrative’ (devoid of real information).

      It may really be factual, but because the media sucks up to this stuff, they have lost their creds.

  18. greengiant says:

    This WaPo article thesis and counter story is germane to CIA etc, the same WaPo that put out the blacklist. As far as the election goes, the second Comey flip occurred because yet another copy of the e-mails was in hands of the ( choose one or more ) other elements of the FBI, NYPD etc. But what happened to Assange’s threat of burying “Can’t we just drone this guy” Clinton? Qatar’s 1 million donation to the foundation, DOJ Peter Kadzik sitting on the FBI, is that all wikileaks could come up with in the last few days? Weak, very weak. Didn’t the Republicans get more voters from pizzagate and Clinton’s “lack of security, let the maid run the “US eyes only printer” blitz.

  19. Roz Judycatta says:

    The whole “if Obama really believed this he would have acted much sooner” is silly and, worse, ignores and obscures very recent history.

    Please don’t drop down the memory hole the salient fact that everyone, Obama and the Republicans included, thought Trump was going to get creamed in the elections. He may well have decided that releasing the CIA’s revelations back in, say, July, would if anything be seen as awfully partisan on his part and spur a backlash. Therefore Obama, whose signature moves have always involved seeking bipartisanship and avoiding drama at all costs, felt that so long as Hillary won the EC in despite of Putin, there was no gain in releasing this news.

    Now, of course, it turns out that Rudy Giuliani’s work with the New York FBI office and James Comey may have done what Putin alone could not. At least, that’s what both Trump’s and Clinton’s teams think.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/2016-presidential-election-10-moments-trump-clinton-214508

  20. Merriiman says:

    Are the leaked conclusions all from the CIA September briefing or are some from more recent briefing representing updates on the prior investigation or possible a newer separate investigation. There seems to be major defects if leaks are all from September.

  21. Mr.M says:

    WMD precursors and nuclear well head penetrates for dirty bombs. Story was leaked from resulting inventory loss in former Iron Bloc members of eastern EU. That was final nail in coffin for assuring coalition support. Likely Russian sourced.

  22. Mr.M says:

    Russian interference only pushback was same group that clung to aluminum tubes. People mistaking them for support of election hack here not as its opponent.

  23. Teddy says:

    From today’s NYT:
    “To have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions — wow,” said Michael V. Hayden, who was the director of the N.S.A. and later the C.I.A. under President George W. Bush.
    “We usually only see this with sitting GOP Vice Presidents, making one trip after another to Langley to change CIA findings,” he did not add.

      • SpaveLifeForm says:

        Yep. Really wow.

        ‘fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together’

        You only have to consider the source and
        the partial sentence construction to know it is bs.

  24. IpsoFacto says:

    MW re: analogy w/ Al+++ tubes.

    Seems like a more pertinent analogy would be the failed WH Aug30|13 “government assessment” regarding the Ghouta “sarin attack,” which “government assessment” was a prelude to the red-line retaliatory attack on Syria that did not happen because the “government assessment” turned out to be bunk.

    If memory serves, the reason there was no proper “intelligence assessment” was that a bunch of intelligence officers refused to join in and so the WH had to concoct a whole new propaganda animal and call it a “government assessment.” The problem was that there was insufficient evidence linking Assad to the Ghouta attack, which, it turns out, was not carried out by Assad or with sarin, but, almost certainly by the head-choppers using carbon monoxide or cyanide.

    ~~~~~~~

    @Don re: Government of Yisrael (GoY)
    Down, boy. Down. It’s not about lack of “moral fiber;” it’s about GoY knocking on your door to put a couple of matzo balls between ur eyes.

    But your point is well taken. If anyone has been buggering US elections (especially Congressional) since the JFK/RFK murders, it’s been AIPAC and GoY. Hopefully, Barry will include GoY in his upcoming review of election improprieties. Ha, ha, ha, . . . that’s a joke. Haim Sabin and George Soros would get it.

    ~~~~~~~

    @Tim re: actual contents of the Podesta emails and how that proves the corruption of the DNC – Debbie Schultz would like to have a word with you.

    ~~~~~~~

    As I noted over at MoA, the Comey double-tap on Hilton and the WLeaks hit on Podesta were absolutely egregious interferences with the election – on a level equal to or exceeding the USSCt intervention in the 2000 Florida recount. And there is no disputing that the latest twiddling had an enormous impact, benefiting the Republicans, as did the USSCt intervention. So we could well be talkin’ Lee Atwater/Karl Rove sort of bullshit here for all we know.

    And so it seems to me that an investigation of elections back to 2008 is not, objectively, unreasonable, and DTDuck sure as hell ain’t gonna’ be the one to demand such an investigation. I would take it all the way back to 2000.

    What I choke on is the way the results of the investigation have been preordained. Obama destroyed any benefit the investigation may have produced by the way he has rolled it out. IOW, this guy ain’t all that smart, and never has been, as his 2012 red line comments made clear.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Denis.

      I believe you have been warned about sock puppeting and appearing under multiple names here. That is a violation of our commenting rules.

      Stop.

  25. Rayne says:

    I have some concerns about oil development assumptions in relation to the alleged influence of Russia over the U.S. election.

    Assuming a Trump administration, fracking (and possibly shale oil) is economically tenable or viable only if taxpayers subsidize the difference between the cost of the oil and the market price.

    This may be a LOT of cash given the current actual cost of fracked oil (estimated at $54/bbl average) and the average market price over the last two years (between $30-$52/bbl) . This loss of cash doesn’t yield improvements to the economy; we can’t create enough jobs with this cash stuffed in the pockets of banks and the frackers and pipeline owners. They’d only be at break-even; if they make a profit, we can’t expect them to turn the money around back into job-creating investments because they haven’t done so when they had record profits in the last ten years.

    Let’s assume the U.S. becomes tight with Russia. How do Russia’s oil revenues improve if we are subsidizing U.S. fracked/shale oil, increasing the amount of oil on the market? How do Russia’s revenues improve enough to dig them out of the hole they’ve been in for the last two years?

    The more oil on the market, the lower the price — this is Econ 101, Intro to Supply and Demand. Iran entered the market after the P+6 agreement and began to sell oil; oil prices plummeted.

    The only way oil prices go up and Russia’s revenues rebound is if oil supply dries up, and that means U.S. fracked/shale oil must dry up.

    Or we are talking about a virtual shut out of Saudi+OPEC+Iran oil to make both Russia+U.S. viable.

    The Saudis were already beginning to position themselves for a post-oil economy, with the creation of a massive sovereign wealth fund from the IPO of Aramco, and changes to its internal politics (including the recent beheading of a prince, something previously unthought of).

    But then the Saudis complicated things with investment in Russia by two different sovereign wealth funds. Are they really having a problem with Russia over Syria if they’re sinking billions into Russian projects?

    On top of this muddled market mess, moves the Trump/Pence are making with appointments and transition plans further confuse the picture. Picking pro-fossil fuel people (in a manner which very bluntly tells Al Gore to piss up a rope) says much about their intent to develop U.S. oil resources including fracked/shale oil.

    But what about the implications that climate science will be squelched in addition to alternative energy development? They can purge anybody who worked on alternative energy, halt reporting about climate change, but they can’t hide tankers floating out at sea chock full of oil. They can’t hide the strategic petroleum reserve. They can’t force the market to pay more for oil unless they truly shut off the spigots and the moves they are making suggest they are doing no such thing.

    It looks more like people who don’t really understand the fundamental laws of supply and demand are making these decisions. Who could that be?

    One could argue forces in play are trying to break the petrodollar forever, but doing so could screw with the golden goose — the U.S. economy, still the largest in the world. If they stop consuming oil, all jockeying for position is worthless.

    I can’t imagine the economics around natural gas being any less convoluted, though a shift toward Russian dominance would hurt the EU far more so than the U.S.

    Two additional facts to note:

    — The largest single consumer of energy in the world is the U.S. military. Their energy bill may be the single largest expense the U.S. taxpayer supports. How does this figure into the equation?

    — Elon Musk, the progenitor of Solar City and Tesla’s electric cars, has been trolled by persons posting ‘fake news’ stories about him. Why?

  26. RexFlex says:

    Questions:
    At what point BEFORE Trump was selected as the GOP’s nominee did the Russians possibly have any influence?
    Was this just a crime of opportunity or a grand scheme?
    If the latter, how were so many Republican primaries compromised?
    Doesn’t this make HRC’s callousness with her emails even more threating to national security?

    • Name says:

      Which email? clintonemail.com?
      Doesn’t this make HRC’s callousness with her emails even more threatening to national security?
      “Callousness” is merely outcome of old age. I don’t personally understand why State let Clinton retain the blackberry (even if for personal use), instead of the General Dynamics clunker.
      Even worse question is why haven’t all levels of government enforcing confidential internal/similar communications since the mid-90s?
      How many retired non-CS persons do you know who use GPG at minimum?
      Skype?
      Gmail in a browser?

  27. IpsoFacto says:

    From Bmaz, above:

    Hi Denis.

    I believe you have been warned about sock puppeting and appearing under multiple names here. That is a violation of our commenting rules.

    Stop.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hey, Bmaz! That you, dude?  Could hardly recognize you without a string feculent F-bombs running from one side of the screen to the other.

    No, dude. There has never been any comment or complaint by you or anyone else about my “sock puppeting (didn’t know it was a verb!) or using multi names.  Up until I changed to “IpsoFacto” I have gone only by “Denis,” so you are obviously just spewing more of your bullshit.

    FYI a sock puppet is someone who uses multiple handles w/in a given thread to hide their identity. All I have done is change my name since the last time I was here in late Nov.  And judging by the fact that all of the handles in this thread look new since then, it looks like I am not the only one changing his/her handle.

    Didn’t realize I was required to get your permission to change my own handle. Care to cite the rule?

    I would point out that I have always linked my handle to my website — logophere.com — so anyone who wants to find out who I am can do so easily and see my name and a bit of my bio, which includes a bachelor of science (biology, Ohio State) a PhD ( UVa, neuropharmacology), post-doc (Harvard), patent lawyer, and an ex-Marine combat vet w/ a Purple Heart, not in that order.

    You?

    Well, I see you prefer to hide behind your anonymity, which is to say, totally lacking the intellectual courage of Marcy, Ed, and Jim. I guess it’s up to you; it just looks bad.

    As far as your command to “Stop” — I like the new handle, IpsoFacto, and I’ll continue using it. For now.

    Cheers,
    Denis O’Brien, PhD/Esq. aka IpsoFacto

  28. Chris says:

    As for comparing consensus and formal US assessment (unanimity?), the FBI is one of the 17 agencies in the Intelligence Community and to my eyes, Comey+FBI were definitely tipping the election.

  29. GregLBean says:

    “Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

    “I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

     

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/12/cias-absence-conviction/

    • Name says:

      Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”… it’s an insider. It’s a leak
      Whose identity Murray can’t reveal.

      so we have at best, a “They say; He says” conflict.

  30. Ryan Mark says:

    This is a very helpful article. I found the article by searching for the answer to the question “what evidence is there that Russia hacked the DNC.” The answer right now appears to be there is very little evidence. The WaPost’s article from 12/10 explains that the CIA and FBI are using two different standards for proof of evidence: the FBI the criminal standard, beyond a reasonable doubt; the CIA by a preponderance of the evidence (the evidence shows something to be true at a level higher than 50%).

    This assumption that the CIA tends to base its investigative findings on a preponderance of the evidence makes sense for a couple reasons. One, if the CIA had proof beyond a reasonable doubt there would be no reasonable doubt coming from the FBI. Two, while it is certainly possible hackers might leave digital fingerprints in various situations, nothing suggests the cyber security of the DNC or other email accounts that have been in the news required such a daring hack so as to actually leave behind digital fingerprints. In some cases, “don’t click on the phishing email” would have sufficiently thwarted the hack. Three, the conclusions of the CIA are essentially the same as the assumptions of most Americans. If someone hacked a US political party’s server who would it be? Most ordinary Americans would likely respond with “Russia, China, North Korea” etc.

    The reason that confuses me as to why the CIA would use a preponderance of the evidence standard is that Russia is a nuclear power. If you are going to level accusations of such a serious crime against a nuclear power/country it would seem to make sense to weigh evidence in the same manner that is used for petty thieves, not a lower standard of evidence.

  31. Czernobog says:

    At first I thought “wildarseguess” was a German word I haven’t heard before but was expected to be familiar with (like schadenfreude, or volksgeist) I read that sentence three times trying to infer it’s meaning from the context before realizing what it was.

  32. Name says:

    “subsidize oil production” (aspect of corporate statism)
    leads to increased exports and faster domestic consumption, thus more rapid depletion of most accessible raw hydrocarbons.

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