Why Is CIA Avoiding the Conclusion that Putin Hacked Hillary to Retaliate for Its Covert Actions?

The most logical explanation for the parade of leaks since Friday about why Russia hacked the Democrats is that the CIA has been avoiding admitting — perhaps even considering — the conclusion that Russia hacked Hillary in retaliation for the covert actions the CIA itself has taken against Russian interests.

Based on WaPo’s big story Friday, I guessed that there was more disagreement about Russia’s hack than its sources — who seemed to be close to Senate Democrats — let on. I was right. Whereas on Friday WaPo reported that it was the consensus view that Russia hacked Hillary to get Trump elected, on Saturday the same journalists reported that CIA and FBI were giving dramatically different briefings to Intelligence Committees.

The question the Republicans and Democrats in attendance wanted answered was whether the bureau concurred with the conclusions the CIA had just shared with senators that Russia “quite” clearly intended to help Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and clinch the White House.

For the Democrats in the room, the FBI’s response was frustrating — even shocking.

During a similar Senate Intelligence Committee briefing held the previous week, the CIA’s statements, as reflected in the letter the lawmakers now held in their hands, were “direct and bald and unqualified” about Russia’s intentions to help Trump, according to one of the officials who attended the House briefing.

[snip]

“The FBI briefers think in terms of criminal standards — can we prove this in court,” one of the officials said. “The CIA briefers weigh the preponderance of intelligence and then make judgment calls to help policymakers make informed decisions. High confidence for them means ‘we’re pretty damn sure.’ It doesn’t mean they can prove it in court.”

The FBI is not sold on the idea that Russia had a particular aim in its meddling. “There’s no question that [the Russians’] efforts went one way, but it’s not clear that they have a specific goal or mix of related goals,” said one U.S. official.

Subsequent leaks have continued to make it clear there’s a dispute both about what motive Russia had to target Hillary (to destabilize the US? to get Trump elected?) and how much evidence there is (the FBI thinks it is circumstantial, the CIA thinks it a  smoking gun). In addition, there have been unanswered questions about why CIA only briefed that Russia affirmatively supported Hillary this week, when reportedly they have had the evidence that conclusion is based on for months.

Remarkably, only secondary commenters (including me, in point 13 here) have suggested the most obvious explanation: The likelihood that Russia targeted the former Secretary of State for a series of covert actions, all impacting key Russian interests, that at least started while she was Secretary of State. Those are:

  • Misleadingly getting the UN to sanction the Libya intervention based off the claim that it was about protecting civilians as opposed to regime change
  • Generating protests targeting Putin in response to 2011 parliamentary elections
  • Sponsoring “moderate rebels” to defeat Bashar al-Assad
  • Removing Viktor Yanukovych to install a pro-NATO government

Importantly, the first three of these happened on Hillary’s watch, with her active involvement. And Putin blamed Hillary, personally, for the protests in 2011.

Never mind the relative merit of these covert operations. Never mind that Putin has not, yet, released any evidence to support his claim that Hillary (or CIA) supported the 2011 protests targeting him personally; there is no doubt he believes it. During the primary Hillary as much as confirmed that when her diplomats negotiated the UN voted in 2011, they had regime change in mind the whole time. The US has acknowledged its covert operations against Assad in Congressional testimony. And hackers released a call from Victoria Nuland acting like she was in charge of deciding what post-Yanukovych Ukraine would look like.

In other words, whatever the merits and evidence behind these four events, there is no doubt Putin sees them as a threat to Russian interests and blames the US for all of them, with merit in at least some of the cases.

And yet, this most obvious motive has not been leaked to the press, creating the impression that it has never been considered by the people who carried out these covert actions.

To admit this possible motive publicly, of course, would require admitting that the US still tampers in other governments, including some that are elected (even if in elections of dubious fairness). It would also require admitting that our own government got targeted as a response to these covert interventions, which would make concerns about how novel this intervention was a lot less convincing.

Finally, if this motive were the real reason Putin tampered in our election, it might explain why Obama has been reluctant to respond. Perhaps the US believes that Putin has evidence that might prove — or at least create a convincing case that — that the US did intervene to try to weaken him in 2011. And again, the US has already stated on the record they’ve got a covert operation to topple Assad.

Update: I’ll add that DC Leaks, which has always been conflated with Guccifer 2 (which released only Democratic files) and the DNC and Podesta leaks to Wikileaks, started by releasing documents with very clear ties to Ukraine, including a great many targeted at George Soros. If DC Leaks is considered part of the same operation, it is all the more unbelievable that CIA has not considered this explanation.

Update: At an October 18 event, Michael Hayden said (after 20:30) Putin did this because he believes that we do this to him all the time, citing the Rose Revolution, 2011 protests, and Maidan, but not mentioning Libya and Syria. Hayden did claim that the US doesn’t actually do those things (again, not mentioning Libya and Syria), but earlier he said he had done similar things to the actual hack while Director of NSA.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

45 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    The former US Ambassador to Russia seems to agree with you on Putin’s antipathy toward Hillary personally, holding her accountable for what he views as meddling in his country:

    Russia interfered in the U.S. elections to get revenge against Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. ambassador to the Kremlin said Sunday.

    Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to help Donald Trump win the presidency to hurt Clinton.”Let’s remember that Vladimir Putin thinks [Clinton] interfered in his election — the parliamentary election in December 2011 — and has said as much publicly, and I’ve heard him talk about it privately,” McFaul said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. Interestingly, the AP World Politics test asked what caused US-Russian animosity this year, with the correct answering supposed to be the protests. Everyone got the answer wrong–everyone, so much so that it was a pretty contentious issue inside the AP structure.

      But that’s a testament to how much this history has been suppressed, how much our pedagogy refuses to even consider, if dismissing, such claims against the US.

  2. der says:

    David Price @ Counterpunch: “As a scholar with two decades of academic research studying the CIA, I think many on the American left are letting their dire fear of the damage Trump will surely bring to not fully consider how the CIA is playing these events.” …. “It strains credulity for the CIA to complain about a foreign intelligence operation undermining fair democratic elections; this has been their business around the world, from its early days helping throw elections in post-war Europe to Cold War campaigns in Central and South America. The CIA’s own history of electoral shenanigans makes them an untrustworthy character in this drama.”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/12/historical-structural-reasons-for-skepticism-of-cia-claims-remaining-agnostic-on-claims-of-russian-hackers/

  3. lefty665 says:

    Thank you for pursuing this EW. There has been so much propaganda and innuendo, and so few facts, it has been very hard to form an informed opinion. The Dems doing everything they can to stir up anti Russian/Trump hysteria in an attempt to get Electors to overturn the election results in the Electoral College does not lead to confidence that we’re getting straight stuff either.

    It is usually a lot easier to describe behavior than motivation. Why is a lot harder than what, and why seems where the hype has been most virulent.  It is not surprising that CIA/USG has not been forthcoming that this may have been tit for tat in response to US actions. As you note that would be very good reason for Obama to be reticent, glass houses being what they are.

    It is curious that we are hearing from CIA and FBI. I have not seen NSA mentioned. At least in the what happened department it would seem likely that they have the best information, and perhaps also the most aversion to stirring the domestic public pot.

    Again, thanks for chasing these issues. It seems likely the telling points will be found down in the weeds. Precisely your specialty.

     

  4. fritter says:

    Your missing the most obvious answer, that its all BS. Is anyone acting like a foreign government altered or tampered with an election? No, no one is going to the UN with a formal complaint. No one is being sued or jailed over hacking (Russia(ns)) nor over doctored “evidence” (Wikileaks). Its all super-secret innuendo as a distraction. It doesn’t help that its being peddled by a group of known liars and cheats so there’s that. Why doesn’t the CIA tell disapointed Hillarybots what they need to hear? Its too farcical to be believed most likely.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree. But the chances he is telling the truth are higher in this case as he’s not talking about his own actions.

  5. bevin says:

    “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

    Mike Whitney puts it most eloquently in Counterpunch today. This is how he begins:

    “The Democratic Party is doing incalculable damage to itself by shapeshifting into the party of baseless conspiracy theories, groundless accusations, and sour grapes. Hillary Clinton was already the most distrusted presidential candidate in party history. Now she’s become the de facto flag-bearer for the nutso-clique of aspiring propagandists at the CIA, the New York Times and Bezo’s Military Digest. How is that going to improve the party’s prospects for the long term?
    “It won’t, because the vast majority of Americans do not want to align themselves with a party of buck-passing juveniles that have no vision for the future but want to devote all their energy to kooky witch-hunts that further prove they are unfit for high office.
    “The reason Hillary Clinton lost the election is because she is a polarizing, untrustworthy warmonger. Period. Putin had nothing to do with it….”
    If we were being rational we would understand that, while it is unlikely that Putin liked Hillary, they are very likely to have reconciled themselves, rather comfortably to the prospect of four more years of the same , disastrous, foreign policies that the US has been pursuing under Bush, Obama and Hillary at the State Department.
    Why? Because they have led to defeat after retreat for the US, have left millions of square miles of failed states in their wake and have cemented Russia, China, Iran and much of Eurasia into a defensive alliance which, for the first time since 1948, impinges upon US dreams of hegemony.
    Exhibit A (for there is no reason why this discussion should always be evidence free): Syria, Turkey and Egypt.
    The truth is that Trump’s policy, if it does turn out to be one of favouring Russia and isolating China while renewing hostilities with Iran, is far more threatening to Putin than the current policies which have seen his popularity in Russia soar into 80% approval territory.
    Trump’s charm offensive in Moscow is very likely to comfort and reinforce the dwindling ranks of ‘westernisers’ and Atlanticists, who in the past few years, and thanks in large part to Hillary’s crude aggressions, have been reduced from a share of power to marginality.
    As Obama said it is necessary to look forward rather than backward as the new Administration takes office. Democrats fixated by the ‘Russia done it’ myth are morphing into the birthers of 2017.

    • Brad says:

      Don’t generally care for Whitney’s politics, but the point of the likely superiority of Trump’s strategic approach of pulling Russia away from China and going after Iran is right on the money.   It is also why I think the Trump  Admin won’t end up as marginal among the American elites as first appearances suggest.  Trump likely has sympathetic allies in the US military establishment.

      And yes, the Lib Dems have completely lost their minds. Rely on the CIA to influence electors to flip the election – or to undermine the Trump Admin after Jan. 20th – is that really a precedent we want to establish?

  6. martin says:

    “It strains credulity for the CIA to complain about a foreign intelligence operation undermining fair democratic elections; this has been their business around the world, from its early days helping throw elections in post-war Europe to Cold War campaigns in Central and South America.”

    Bingo!  The 800lb gorilla staring Congress in the face.  I mean, this is beyond hysterical.  CIA has now redefined the word laughingstock.

  7. RUKidding says:

    Thanks for some speculation that’s possibly more grounded in a sense of reality than anything else I’ve heard or read on this topic. Like gregorylent, above, I also don’t know what Russia actually did. Possibly nothing at all.

    I finally braced myself to listen, albeit briefly, to NPR “faux nooz” on Sunday just to learn what propaganda they were spewing. It would be laughable, if it’s not all so bizarre and insane. They pretty much said (almost verbatim) “All US citizens are directed to be afraid of and angry at Putin/Russia.” Not that much of an exaggeration. We were adjured that there was “concrete evidence” that Boris & Natasha had hacked into something or other and had somehow put their thumb on the scale for Trump. It’s really really true, and we should all run around with our hair on fire.

    IOW: a bit fat nada. No real info; just propaganda “directing” us on what to think and feel. And somehow it’s all about Trump getting underhanded help from his BFF, Putin, which enabled Trump to win. I agree with Trump’s response which was something like: why the eff would anyone believe anything the CIA says?

    I cringe witnessing some “leftish” blogs going all in for how “reliable” the CIA is and this definitely proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump “only” won because of cheating … or something. And now we should all write to the EC and get the electors to effect a coup to put Inevitable Hillary on the throne. UGH.

    It is confusing bc the FBI – the late action of Comey notwithstanding, which really pissed me off – pretty much seems to be saying that there are some real issues with Clinton, and on that score, I agree. But then the CIA says: nope, it’s Trump that’s the problem.

    Here’s my Q: if, in fact, somehow Putin/Russia did something or other to allegedly throw the election for Trump, then how does that square with stupid Hillary’s stupid email server???? Didn’t that make her more vulnerable for just this sort of covert activity? And so, how does that square with somehow making her the “best candidate”?? Rhetorical Qs.

    Frankly, the CIA’s record is so horrid in regard to throwing & fixing elections, not to mention outright murdering millions across the globe, plus drug & gunning running everywhere, that I refuse to believe a word they say unless they provide iron-clad, absolutely irrefutable proof. And so far, all we’re told is: oh the CIA has this iron-clad Intel, but they can’t “share” it bc safety or top secret or you’re too dumb to understand. The CIA can go eff itself.

    Per usual, witless Democrats are providing nothing of any value to the conversation. I don’t get why they’re even in office anymore. We might as well just be done with it and let the Republicans run the show bc that’s what’s happening anyway. Corporate duopoly.

    My take: nothing of any real substance with come out of this fiasco, but Trump better remember the Zapruder film and watch his back, sides and front.

  8. PeasantParty says:

    Has the source of those protests been noted yet?  I haven’t seen it if it has been.  Just wondering if Soros, or Brezinski were the culprits.

  9. TM says:

    The only thing that doesn’t make sense about this narrative is Hillary’s wide-open home server. A 13-year old could have hacked it and you can be sure Russia did so more than once and downloaded whatever they pleased. Why didn’t they dump her emails instead of Podesta’s?

    • bmaz says:

      Oh yes yes. And you are a “Cyber Security Expert” exactly how to make this claim? And your evidence in the face of years of FBI investigation is exactly…..what?

      Thanks for playing.

      • Desider says:

        Yes, and her having that email server justifies everything else – OMG, an email server, the horrors, the FOIA requests denied, the appearances, the possibility that maybe just maybe 1/millionth of the damage Snowden did *may have* happened. These folks aren’t asking that Snowden be caught and jailed, it’s only “lock her up”.

        BTW – you seem to have been quite right with the recount attempt, though in the end it might still have helped with the current discussion with electors as they look towards confirming or not. Maybe. I’m more alarmed that Obama didn’t seem to put any additional precautions in prior to the elections – even the threat of voter “checking” only prompted a handfull of informal observers.

      • Dave S says:

        That was a tad snarky Bmaz lol
        And i have to add even respected lawyers like J. Turley have said it looks like she broke the law.  She was clearly not going to be prosecuted while arguably robbing Sanders of the nomination was she?  Trumps and idiot but he does have some redeeming traits such his seeming anti war for the most part stance.  Hillary Clinton embodies how completely corrupt and lawless the political establishment has become.

        • Desidero says:

          “how completely corrupt and lawless ” – right, an email server makes one completely corrupt and lawless, as does her pizza paedophelia, hanging dildos from the White House Christmas tree, and terrorizing Bill’s bimbos. Not say taking kickbacks and embezzling, having opponents killed or jailed or beaten, running drugs, obstructing voters, closing lanes on the freeway at rush hour, pussy/dick grabbing & rape, stiffing customers & suppliers, hacking into people’s emails or photo collections, setting up a private intelligence & war unit in her part of the White House, firing federal attorneys for political reasons, or stealing a Supreme Court pick, illegally foreclosing on mortgages and selling poisonous assets – the kind of things we typically associate with “corrupt & lawless”. If anything, it’s the Martha Stewart school of “we’ll obsess on your $45K sale while letting billion dollar banking criminals go free”. Boy, that showed Wall Street.

          Let’s look at her “pro-war” stance – like dozens of her party and UN members she voted for a war authorization that was a foregone conclusion as a way of pushing for inspections (which did happen, the war only came *5 months later*). And that war in Libya was started as a no-fly zone tied to protecting civilian protesters in Benghazi/Arab Spring as proposed by Britain & France with agreement from 9 NATO countries (and her boss the President signing off on it) – hardly a unilateral approach. Meanwhile Aleppo is bombed to shit with vast civilian damage and I don’t see anyone terribly upset at Russia for its participation – just past our ability to give a fuck at this stage since there’s no one we hate to blame.

          Sure – Donald has redeeming qualities, Hillary is incorrigible. Say G’night, Gracie.

  10. sponson says:

    Separate from the “evidence” or lack of it, of Russian activity to aid Trump in the election, these leaks about intelligence on Russia seem to have easily baited Trump into flatly insisting that Russia never did anything whatsoever and had no connection at all to these intrusions. I feel confident in predicting that both the Obama-ordered report and the eventual, highly politicized, Senate report will conclude otherwise. This seems a safe political play by Trump’s opponents in and of itself.

      • martin says:

        Says the brilliant attorney who is all seeing because he holds a certificate of human achievement and should be hailed by all who witness his words of authority.  ..

         

        hahahahahahahahahahahahahha…

        • martin says:

          Dear bmaz.. you don’t own any more cognizance of truth, reality, what’s going on, than any one else. Please refrain from exerting your professional certificate to wield a sword of knowledge you do not own… at least yet.

      • sponson says:

        I don’t even understand what you mean by “anti-Trump false flag,” I am referring to the leaks that began Friday night with the Washington Post story. Leaking of the details of past CIA briefings to Congress. I’m saying that even if the Russian activity is “old news,” that by raising it as an issue, Trump seems to have been baited into taking an unwise position (insisting there was no Russian involvement whatsoever in WikiLeaks, etc.) on the whole issue.  I’d appreciate not being accused of “false flag” conspiracy theory generation.

  11. sponson says:

    Less than 1 minute after I posted that, the lede of the NBC Nightly News was Lester Holt saying “Unprecedented attack on US Intelligence by Trump, refusing to accept Russia was behind election-related hacks.”

  12. Evangelista says:

    bmaz,

    You wrote to TM: “…your evidence in the face of years of FBI investigation is exactly…..what?”

    Good catch on TM’s errors: The girl, who must be who TM was referring to, more like “phished” than “hacked” Weiner’s computer to give the FBI, script-kiddies class hacking failures for years, as you note, the mouse-hole in to Weiner’s computer to find the additional Hillary e-mail-server files (and some others that everyone seems to want to cover up [which are probably foreign state actor associated, judging by the big push to define a counter-balancing Trump association with ‘foreign state actors’ of the current bogey-nation]) that gave them a leg-up to on-the-ball (and threw Comey into a fluttery tizzy of total confusion). And she was 15, not 13.

  13. JerryN says:

    For the sake of what I’m going to ramble about, let’s assume that Russia was involved in some of the leaks. I think there are 3 possible reasons for them to leak (rather than just hold the intel for other uses): 1) generally disrupt the election, 2) harm HRC, 3) help DJT. It seems that what changed in the last few weeks has been that the Intel communuty has largely concluded that the motive wasn’t 1. The reporting since Friday has favored 3, while our host favors 2. But 2 & 3 are effectively two sides of the same coin given that they were the only major candidate. So I’m going to try to tease it out by guessing what Russia would have done with this sort of intel in a few alternate scenarios.

    1. The race is between HRC and JEB. Given the Bush family ties to Saudi Arabia and the probable foreign policy team, I would bet that Russia would have opted for a bit of general disruption if they did anything, since neither outcome would be favorable.

    2. HRC vs. a random Republcan. I think you would have seen something very much the same as what we actually saw. Payback for Obama / Clinton covert actions and hope for the best with incoming team if the Republicans won.

    3. BS vs. DJT. This is a tough one, since there’s no way to know what relevant intel, if any, they would have gotten on Sanders. For argument’s sake, assume they would have some. Would a Trump presidency be that much more in their interests to make leaks against BS worthwhile? Maybe but I think that would be a close call given DT’s volatility.

    4. BS vs JEB. I think they go after JEB because of Saudi ties.

    5. BS vs random R. Disruption if anything.

    So, I guess I’m going with payback as the most likely motive Thoughts?

  14. Kevin Hayden says:

    I should think the first pursuit is to determine if the Russian government did attempt to distribute information via Wikileaks that would cause damage to Clinton. Then to determine if Julian Assange was aware that the info was being provided by the Russian government. Both are important to know.

    The third pursuit should be, has Russia hacked or done any similar action in an attempt to influence elections in 2014, 2012 or 2010? I believe Obama’s order encompassed those elections, too. The CIA is tasked to deliver that report by January 19th, not December 19th, as Obama’s request was not to sway the EC vote, but to determine if US cybersecurity can be fixed to protect against future efforts to manipulate US elections (if such manipulation has demonstrably occurred).

    Now somebody has leaked the info that the CIA believes this did occur in the 2016 election. The CIA or a Senate intel committee source are the likely suspects for leaking that. What could be the motive for such a leak? There’s several:

    1) Leaking the info puts GOP Intel Committee members on the spot. If they kill any Senate effort to conduct an investigation, that makes it look like they’re trying to thwart an import US security investigation. So the leak could be designed to increase the likelihood of a dual investigation.

    2) It could be an effort to discredit Assange and Wikileaks, to limit his effort to influence the outcome of future elections. If investigation(s) yield evidence of deliberate collusion between Assange/Wikileaks and the Russian government, the credibility of Wikileaks would be further damaged. It might even result in counter-actions by our government and allies.

    3) As the majority of US voters were opposed to Trump, the leak could be designed to cast doubt so electors would vote against Trump. No investigation can be completed within one week, so doubt is the only weapon that might achieve that. While the voting majority would love to see that (which accounts for the online uproar) this remains the LEAST likely reason for the leak. It would be a Hail Mary pass tossed into a fog bank. Considering the partisan makeup of the EC, that’s hoping a school of fish will bite a hook with theoretical bait. I doubt this is the motive of the leaker.

    4) An internal CIA investigation will result in a report that could be so redacted that the public will gain little beyond the conclusion. A Senate investigation is likely to yield more public detail. Trump is very effective at stating lies that distort the ‘reality’ that results from his repetition (a useful – to him – propaganda tactic.) So a more public investigation that yields a conclusion that the Russian government helped get him elected would – to some degree – further delegitimize his administration. The public currently provides him the lowest approval ratings of any PEOTUS in modern history, so lowering it further would weaken his power even more.

    Conclusion: Though other motives may exist, there’s 3 that seem more likely than the faithless elector Hail Mary one. Those three increase the likelihood of a Senate investigation in the public eye. If the investigation yields evidence of election tampering, public support to take corrective action would be strong. The corrective measures would have to be strong enough to convince the public that a repeat of foreign meddlers is impossible. Should the public lack confidence in the corrections, that could reduce future voter participation. I think that’s why Obama ordered the internal investigation, hoping to bolster confidence in our election systems. Reduced confidence could threaten our participatory democracy process, perhaps killing it completely.

    Okay, still with me? If Putin has a justifiable motive to be vengeful towards Clinton, that’s important to know as it could influence the the future conduct of foreign policy. The CIA, since WWII has been complicit in assassinations, assassination attempts and other destabilizing moves that have led to regime changes. But would it yield a public outcry to rein in similar CIA actions in the future? Perhaps some. But if the public believes most or all of the past CIA actions benefited our national interests, such calls for reform would be muted.

    Could it yield the result that the public believes Putin has been misunderstood? That he’s merely defending Russia’s interests against the manipulations of the US government ? If we surmise that it could happen, we could surmise that it would defuse tensions between the world’s two greatest nuclear superpowers. Yet both of those sound more like wishful thinking. More likely it would put the State Department and CIA under greater pressure to be more choosy about such undertakings and to do so more covertly.

    So I respect Marcy’s efforts to get at all the truth that can be found. But I think the primary goal of our elected officials should be to maintain and restore faith that our election processes are free from foreign manipulators. We already know Putin’s been harmed by actions that occurred while Clinton was at State. And more of the public should know that. But I doubt any will then say “Oh, we deserve that. Sorry Vladimir.” They may call for reforms, but the greatest desire will be to have a failsafe election system.

    I hope that adds a little more perspective to the motivations, aims and desirable conclusions amid all the uproar about what hopes, wishes, conspiracy theories and conjectures are being floated.

    • sponson says:

      Very good point about preventing future attacks, this should be the bipartisan goal and they should take it seriously. As I suggested above, another possible motive for Dems causing this uproar now, might be to bait Trump into behaving (“no puppet!”) as he has in the past when it comes to Russia, which is acting paranoid and defensive. He has already insisted that there’s absolutely no evidence that Russia had any involvement in the DNC and other hacks whatsoever. We’ve already learned that any investigative conclusion from any body is going to show that claim by him is false. If nothing else, on a pure political level Trump has already been baited into gratuitous false statements defending Russia, and into making will attacks against the entire CIA. And it cost the Democrats essentially nothing politically, to do this.

  15. Kevin Hayden says:

    There is one more thing I deliberately left out of my first comment. The most partisan thing I can envision is not that Democrats will somehow ‘cheat’ Trump out of his EC victory. But if the investigation(s) yield the finding that Trump, his business reps or his Cabinet nominees actually colluded with the Russian government to get hacked info released to the public during the primaries or the general election, that would surely lead to an impeachment effort. So there’s that.

  16. blueba says:

    How does emptywheel respond to this:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/

    Sense emptywheel has already “concluded” that Putin with his 10,000 hackers in the Kremlin basement is responsible for atrocities across the world what difference does it really make that there is no evidence, but plenty of conjecture and speculation.

    Does emptywheel contend that the NSA could not get or does not have the physical evidence? That is if such evidence actually exists which according to this credible group such evidence does not exist.

  17. blueba says:

    I love the way emptywheel deploys the NYT method of using “the swarm of evidence (circumstantial)” or “the preponderance of evidence” or the “mounting evidence” to state as fact that the Russians, no rather Putin himself, are responsible for these hacks – which may not have been hacks at all but rather leaks as here described by a rather credible and knowledgeable group  https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/

    If there is evidence bring it forward if not this is little more than Neoliberal establishment Russia bashing Putin demonizing and warmongering.

    The idea that the CIA has such evidence is without foundation.  Emptyhwheel does not know that such evidence exists. Not even the CIA can prove a negative.

     

  18. Bitter Angry Drunk says:

    Isn’t it also good to remember that the CIA, which, in addition to its long history of lying and exaggeration, was backing Hillary, while the FBI, which has been downplaying all this, largely supports Trump? Is that what’s motivating CIA to say “smoking gun” and FBI to pooh-pooh it? Absent any evidence that the vote count itself was rigged, isn’t our ongoing turf war between the CIA and FBI (which probably contributed to 9/11) really the scariest aspect of this?

  19. greengiant says:

    Some additional motivations and if you are not offended you damn well should be.
    1. Smear Wikileaks and add more to Assange’s secret indictment
    2. Justify Chelsea Manning’s rectal prolapses
    3. Aid Trump’s attack on media and Clinton’s attack on non main stream media, a long term project. See ProporNot, Themis, Palantir, Endgame systems, HBGary Federal, Berico,
    https://theintercept.com/2016/10/16/i-am-fully-capable-of-entertaining-myself-in-prison-for-decades-if-need-be/
    4. Justify ongoing social media and search engine censorship, and ghost deletion of posts and tweets
    5. Give the lie If you ask any questions you are abetting Putin.
    6. Confuse the DNC server leak with the Podesta gmail Phish. Hello, google et al reads all your gmail, searches, and any link you touch on the web.

    • RUKidding says:

      Thanks.  Everything on your list are concerns that I have.  Everyone should consider these points carefully.

  20. Timothy says:

    What I really want to know is if the trump campaign had any contact with the Russians in re: to their toying with the election. Has anyone read this article? [Oct 2016 Slate article about Trump server]

    Trump was making deals with the Russians. He was offering them deals along the lines of “20% off at Trump Hotels if you book this week!” By all appearances this server was operated by a subcontractor of a Trump Hotels IT provider for normal advertising purposes. The story seems willfully ginned up, trying to make something out of the nothing that’s some DNS queries for a Russian mail server.

  21. Hieronymus Howard says:

    NYT = Pravda I
    WaPo = Pravda II

    But it’s so obvious the Russians did it. They like to mess around with me too. They’ll move my shopping cart when I’m in Wal-Mart to where I can’t find it. Hate when that happens. Those sneaky bastids.

    (Oh, looks like the wide space option is gone for posting. Oh well.)

  22. GKJames says:

    Agreed. The refusal to look at the most obvious explanation certainly is consistent with the broader echo-chamber narcissism that has the US breaking crockery worldwide while either denying it (who, us?) or justifying it (our objectives were noble). Recall Washington’s continuing refusal to acknowledge publicly that US actions and policies are a contribution to rather than a legitimate and proportional response to terrorism.

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