16 Words: “The British government has learned that Vladimir Putin recently sought significant quantities of votes for Trump”

This morning, I managed to remind the NYT in the NYT of its role in spreading leaks that led us to war in Iraq. I did so not to defend Donald Trump, but to point out how the flood of leaks leading up to the Iraq War is similar to the one we’ve had in the last week, insisting that Putin hacked Hillary specifically to get Trump elected. Here’s the comparison, which you’re familiar with from my posts in the last week.

Trump is not quite right when he claims that, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” Neither the entire intelligence community nor even everyone at the C.I.A. was wrong about the Iraq intelligence. Rather, leaks like the ones we’re seeing now ensured elected officials didn’t hear from the skeptics who got it right.

That time, as members of Congress were demanding the Bush administration show its case for war, anonymous officials told this newspaper that aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq could only be used for nuclear enrichment. By the time Congress got a report, a month later, saying that might not be the case most members never read it; they had already been convinced that the case for war was a “slam dunk.”

This time, just hours after the White House revealed President Obama had ordered a (belated) review by the entire intelligence community of how hacks have tainted our democracy, the C.I.A.’s incendiary conclusion got leaked to the press: First, anonymous leaks said Russia had hacked Democrats not just to cause chaos, but specifically to get Trump elected. Last Wednesday the leaks went further: Putin himself oversaw the operation to put Trump in the White House. On Friday, another C.I.A. leak came out minutes before Obama started a news conference where he said, “I want to make sure … I give the intelligence community the chance to gather all the information.”

The point of my post is not — as numerous people who refute it without reading it suggest — to argue Russia didn’t hack Hillary. While I have lingering questions, I think that likely.

Rather, it is to ask why the CIA is so invested in the narrative that Putin specifically intervened to get Trump elected, rather than the more obvious explanation, which is that he intervened to retaliate for real and imagined CIA-led covert operations targeted at Russian interests?

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.

34 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    I remain curious why people are so invested in this distinction. An attempt in retaliation would be against Clinton. But any attempt to harm Clinton is, by definition, an attempt to help Trump. Not to mention, both scenarios align for Putin and the Russian government. The Ruuskies weren’t doing it all for good old Jill Stein.

    • bevin says:

      No, the Russians weren’t doing it for Jill Stein.

      Or anyone else. This hysterical campaign of propaganda, pursued with not a shred of real evidence being produced to back up these, on the face of it, ludicrous claims is reaching  mediaeval witch hunt proportions. No good can come of this collective insanity.

      This link to Diana Johnstone’s analysis might help:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/19/the-bad-losers-and-what-they-fear-losing/

      Here’s a taste:

      “If the 2016 presidential campaign was a national disgrace, the reaction of the losers is an even more disgraceful spectacle.  It seems that the political machine backing Hillary Clinton can’t stand losing an election.
      And why is that?
      “Because they are determined to impose “exceptional” America’s hegemony on the entire world, using military-backed regime changes, and Donald Trump seems poised to spoil their plans.  The entire Western establishment, roughly composed of neoconservative ideologues, liberal interventionists, financial powers, NATO, mainstream media and politicians in both the United States and Western Europe, committed to remaking the Middle East to suit Israel and Saudi Arabia and to shattering impertinent Russia, have been thrown into an hysterical panic at the prospect of their joint globalization project being sabotaged by an ignorant intruder….”
      Then there is Jonathan Cook:
      http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/19/clintons-defeat-and-the-fake-news-conspiracy/
      You’re welcome.

    • emptywheel says:

      Why the CIA might be? Because any scrutiny of their covert ops might show Putin retaliated and the US does very similar things, even to Russia, contrary to what America wants to tell itself?

      But it is the CIA that is pushing this distinction, with great energy, so if you have a beef, take it up with them.

      • bell says:

        maybe bmaz thinks the cia only does good deeds, and of course until the ‘proof’ of the cia’s role here is readily available, it is all idle conjecture… and of course every thinking american knows the usa would never function like this and want to force a particular regime in a faraway country… only russia is capable of this, lol…

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The CIA is well worth inquiring about.  It has interfered in foreign elections – and overthrown winners it didn’t like – since its inception.  The usual suspects include Iran in 1953; Guatemala in 1954; Cuba, well, forever; the Congo in 1960-61, Chile in 1973, Australia in 1975.  It has frequently interfered in Japanese and French elections.  It was active in the Italian election in 1948; its predecessor after the Second World War helped re-establish organized crime in Sicily and Marseille (hence, the French Connection).

        Thanks also for pinpointing an issue the MSM is adept at avoiding.  It often reports on foreign actions without context, as if they happened in a vacuum.  It tends to report consequences, but not causes.  We get front-page pictures of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn fighting goons on a dance barge, but have no idea what brought them there or what happened to them after they swam away, which is usually the more interesting story. Thanks for highlighting a link missing in our understanding of an issue that will likely be part of Team Trump’s actions for the duration.

        • emptywheel says:

          FWIW, I think we’ll ultimately learn that Obama engaged in a shit-ton of awful covert activity — there’s a lot of reason to believe that. Love or hate the op, Libya and Syria are both acknowledged covert regime change efforts. It’s fairly shocking that’s not more shocking.

          I think it likely that’s why CIA doesn’t want this to be abt Poot’s retaliation. Because might focus some attention on the blowback from their activities, raising real questions about why we engage in this.

          • lefty665 says:

            And before, as in al Qaeda and Bin Laden were to a large extent creatures of, and blowback from, our anti Russian adventure in Afghanistan in the ’80s.  CIA was up to its eyeballs in that and worked hard to change the subject after 9/11, just as Brennan is now.

            The Russians may not yet be happy with us about their body bags coming home from there either.

            As with Afghanistan, we are likely to find that ISIL and its offshoots have long legs from our not so excellent adventures in places like Iraq, Syria and Libya this millennium. But, future blowback is a different issue for a different post, and perhaps even a different generation and Agency to deal with and to rationalize anew.

             

    • greengiant says:

      The TLAs,  WaPo,  NYT are doing it for ProporNot.   No more links to alt-media if they disagree with the deep state.   FB used to get 3 adverts from Monsanto anytime someone read a share from an anti GMO site.   Was not effective enough.  Rumors they are gaming for search engine results as well.   It is a three for,   clamp on anti Clinton/NeoCons,  clamp on anti Saudi,  clamp on anti XYZ.    So far Facebook, AP,  slate are all in for censorship.    Facebook has become a battlefield,  twitter is worse and has been deleting and hiding tweets.

  2. lefty665 says:

    If at 12:01pm on 1/20 Trump doesn’t have a passel of spooks at CIA cleaning out their desks and escorted out the door by armed guards he will be off to as bad a start as Obama was.  Brennan should be at the head of the line.

    I’m not quite as sure as you are bmaz.  An attempt to derail Clinton, if successful, has the effect of helping Trump, but it is a fair leap from there to ascribe intent as in “an attempt to help Trump”.  I don’t think much of either prospect, but also understand that it is a game we too have played again and again.  Clinton as Sec State intervened in Russian elections, specifically Putin’s. It’s personal with her.

    Putin has every reason to do what he can to prevent the neocons and liberal hawks from inflicting more damage on his country and the world.

     

    • Karl Kolchak says:

      Even this rational explanation leaves out the fact that the information hacked and leaked was all FACTUAL.  Not one document was shown to be a forgery.  What killed Clinton’s chances was the truth, exemplified by her actual record, however it came to be known.

      • bmaz says:

        This is a common argument, and yet is one of the silliest and most obtuse imaginable. Every campaign has pedestrian information and communications  that could look bad to the outside. The RNC and Trump leaders would have had some beauties too. Arguing that it was “true” is inane when the point is that it was done selectively, unfairly and is commonly viewed as having been done so to tilt the election.

        • lefty665 says:

          They included things like the content of Hillary’s speeches to Goldman-Sachs that she worked hard to hide, and the DNC’s conspiracy to defeat Sanders. Those are not either silly or obtuse.

          Oh, publishing it is “unfair”, give me a break, that makes you sound like Trump. “Commonly viewed as… to tilt the election” is the intent of the CIA and Clinton propaganda campaign and does not mean actual. That is the central point of this thread.

        • Tom in AZ says:

          All this talk of Putin wanting to retaliate for Hillary meddling so he hacked the DNC and Podesta. Maybe. But it seems to me that everyone is forgetting that it is and was Julian Assange and Wikileaks actually releasing this stuff, and deciding the timing. And he certainly has an ongoing beef and animosity towards Hillary Clinton and the administration in general for its ongoing attempts to get its hands on him. And at this point he is more than pissed off enough to release all this to do the most damage to her campaign, and if wreaks havoc on the establishment, even better. Or, is it the ‘consensus’ opinion around here that Putin is running Julian like a puppet?

            • greengiant says:

              The guy who released Chelsea Manning’s leaks…   Who Clinton “joked”  can’t we just drone this guy?   Not a US citizen,  no presence in the US?  but subject to the laws of the US?  Who had his bank and credit cards cancelled at US bidding while on the road.   Took the Swedes 6 years to drop by for an interview?   God forbid bmaz ever does something the secretary of state finds obnoxious.

              • bmaz says:

                Took the Swedes 6 years to drop by for an interview? 

                That belies a complete ignorance of Swedish criminal procedure and the nature of the flight from justice occasioned by Assange. Try reading any of the appellate decisions from the UK and Sweden instead of listening to the blathering bullshit propaganda spewed by Assange and his little cult.

  3. Peterr says:

    Put me down for both, or rather, all three.

    The best retaliation for past grievances in this case combines (a) screwing with our elections (what Putin believes we did in Russia in 2011) and (b) humiliating Hillary by helping elect her opponent, who (c) is much more favorably disposed toward Mother Russia than Hillary.

    You can argue about which might make Putin happier among these three, but why choose? He got them all.

    • emptywheel says:

      I actually think it started as attack Hillary to helping Russia. THe confidence in Democracy stuff was always a bogus argument, one used to avoid the Hillary thing from the start.

      But your (b) is mis-stated. The IC also believes that RU didn’t think they COULD elect Trump at the beginning. So even if towards the end they decided he might win and they should go for it (I think Putin did it bc he recognized Trump for a chump, more than a belief Trump would make good on promises), the start was not about hurting her by causing her to lose, but hurting her to hurt her. Strict retaliation.

      That’s the important distinction bc it retaliates for equivalent perceived or real actions.

      • Peterr says:

        I don’t think the Russians were anticipating a Trump victory when they started screwing around with things, but — as you said — it was simply “let’s mess with Hillary and the US.” But in his dreams, what could be more humiliating that seeing her lose, and lose to a “vulgar talking yam” (h/t Mr. Pierce)?

        To borrow from the Dread Pirate Roberts, this is Putin fighting Hillary not to the death but to the pain. Says Putin to him minions, “For years to come, I want Hillary will walk down the street and hear people say ‘She came close, oh so close, but she lost . . .’ or ‘Poor Hillary – she almost was the first woman president.’ Day after day, she’ll be painfully reminded that she failed.”

        These things are never strictly one thing or another. There may have been a primary motive at the start, but once it got rolling (the campaign in the US and the Russian activities therein), some avenues opened while others closed off.

        As for the importance of the distinction you describe, I disagree. Putin was not agnostic as to who should win this election. Beyond policy differences between Clinton and Trump, pnce the Russians started their interventions, Putin had much more of a reason for Trump to win: truncating any US reaction to the meddling, post-election. Hillary is not nearly as damaged by the leaks and messing around by Russia if she wins, and would enter the Oval Office seriously pissed off and in a position to do something about it. For Putin, he is much much better off attacking Hillary like this if she also loses to Trump and he becomes president.

        To borrow from Emerson, if you strike at the queen, you better kill her. (I’m sure there is a parallel maxim in Russia, substituting “Stalin” for “the queen” and “him” for “her.”)

        As for the “confidence in Democracy,” I think that mis-states what Russia might have been trying to do. I think it was more at hitting at the confidence in party leaders — not just Hillary, but “party elites” in the parlance of the day — in the same manner that Trump hit at them. Leaving Trump out of this for the moment, by driving down the general willingness of the populace in the West to trust or accept what their leaders are saying, when Russia does something and those same Western leaders start condemning it, it is less believable by the Western people — thus helping Russia withstand condemnation.

        This is why Germany, France, and Great Britain are as concerned about this as the US is — and not because they’d prefer to see President Hillary than President Donald. For example, see this from Politico earlier today:

        Long before the CIA and FBI came to the public conclusion last week that the Kremlin had interfered in the U.S. presidential election with the aim of helping Donald Trump, a senior German intelligence official told colleagues that Russia was interfering in German politics.

        The federal security agency had observed “active measures” from Russia to influence public opinion, Thomas Haldenwang, the deputy president of the domestic security agency BfV, warned senior German security officials at a conference in Berlin in June.

        The aim, Haldenwang said, was “to influence public perception and opinion in our country, to the detriment of the German government.”

        Much more at the link, including a year’s worth of political hacking aimed at undermining Merkel and her coalition, especially around sanctions put in place because of the annexation of Crimea.

        • emptywheel says:

          I don’t disagree here. But with Hillary it’s different for Putin because she has “done” these things against him. It’s not “let’s mess with Hillary,” it’s “let’s do to Hillary what she has done to us.”

          It’s easy to fuck with Europe, though the weaponization of refugees by our Middle Eastern allies has done far more damage to Europe than Putin could dream of (not just me saying it, it’s also some EUPs I met in October who deal with this issue). With Hillary it’s something else, IMO.

          Also don’t forget that the US is backing the far right in Ukraine. It’s not like we’re not fiddling and haven’t been.

          • bmaz says:

            Clinton made some rather pedestrian statements about Russia’s election. Hard to say she has done what Putin et al have done here, the respective acts are far different in severity. Did Putin have impetus to hurt Clinton? Sure. But the acts are not equivalent.

            • harpie says:

              Clinton made some rather pedestrian statements about Russia’s election.

              As she said the other day [transcript of talk to donors]:

              So I [3:01] issued a statement, that’s what Secretaries of State do, and I basically said, based on independent observations and analysis, this was an unfair, not free, illegitimate election. […]

              Her initial thoughts about the Russian election were delivered on Dec. 5, 2011 from Bonn toward the end of this news conference:

              http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2011/12/178267.htm

              Concerning Russia, we’re watching the election results with great interest. [etc.]

               

               

              • lefty665 says:

                There was also the matter of the actions of her Department. Lots of money funneled through NGOs to stir up dissent. We saw that model again in Ukraine where Nuland bragged about investing $5 Billion to overthrow the elected government.

      • Desider says:

        No worry about Manacort and Trump’s Russian/Ukrainian connections?

        BTW, that far right neo-nazi thing in Ukraine has turned out to be quite the paper tiger. Much ado about nothing?

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Keep an open mind, think outside the box. You know my theory on those behind the machinations.   Keep finding dots to connect.  Until any TLA shows their worth we can trust none of them.

     

  5. Hieronymus Howard says:

    I sense we’re all gonna miss ol’ Barry & his benign incompetence (his “legacy”) when he’s gone.  But I’ll be gladdest when all this foolish obsession with “the Russians” meddling in our election is over with.  Hillary lost the Electoral vote because she’s repulsive.  Putin had nothing to do with it.  Didn’t need to.

    I didn’t realize Marcy was so enamored of NYT & WaPo.  Was somewhat of a disappointment.

    I liked e-wheel when it was focused on the chicaneries of the NSA.  What I’d like to know is, how many of those photon-stream-splitting gizmos have they bought.  Must be tens of thousands by now.  Our wonderful government is buying ’em up as fast as they can crank ’em out.  What does such a unit cost these days?  How much have they spent on ’em so far?  (Who’s ends up paying for all that again?)

    The wicked Putin straw man is a ridiculous diversion from what’s really interesting, which is our burgeoning dystopian panopticon police state here in “the homeland” (die Heimat).  702 cannot lead to a nice place——but we’re going there fast.

    Putin probably thought Hillary would start WWIII by messing around with NATO forces on his border.  Victoria Nuland et al. “stirrin’ up shit & blamin’ Putin for it.”  No wonder he was concerned.

    “Russians ruined our election” will be used to nullify the vote & let Congress put somebody else in——preferably Hillary——but anyone besides Trump will do.

    Oh dear, nobody here is gonna like me any more.  But they never did anyway, so fuckit.

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Notes from the grog: (all about rootkits, and people not updating their server boxen. Basically, any older nix box is pwn-able).

    (also lots of doubleword names)

    Old CDR boxes (Call Data Record) are pwned.

     

    ##### Stoicsurgeon Ctrl Usage, Installation and Troubleshooting Script #####

    ### WARNING! READ THIS! WARNING! READ THIS! WARNING! READ THIS! WARNING! ###

    #

    # NEVER explicitly reference any cloaked file or directory from an unprivileged

    # process. Wildcards are ok, but explicit references are not. Stoic will

    # self-destruct if an explicit reference to a cloaked file ever occurs from an

    # unprivileged process. This includes the cloaked directory, any files inside

    # the cloaked directory, any files/directories hidden after installation using

    # Ctrl, the /proc entry of cloaked processes, etc.

    #

    # Examples:

    # Assume /lib/.0123456789abcdef is a cloaked file or directory

    # -lt /lib/.0123456789abcdef ##### BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD #####

    # -lt /lib/.012* ##### GOOD, WILL NOT SEE OUTPUT FOR CLOAKED DIR,

    # ##### WILL NOT SELF-DESTRUCT

    #

    # Assume 12345 is a cloaked process

    # -lt /proc/12345/exe ##### BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD #####

    # -lt /proc/*/exe ##### GOOD, WILL NOT SEE OUTPUT FOR 12345

    # ##### WILL NOT SELF-DESTRUCT

    #

    # The cloaked directory will be in one of the following directories:

    # (the first one of these directories that exists and is on the same disk

    # partition as the root of the filesystem “/”, see output from “df” or

    # “mount” commands)

    # -lt /var/tmp

    # -lt /lib

    # -lt /dev

    # -lt /etc

    # -lt /

    #

    # Refer to what the `pwd` from triggering Dewdrop returned if possible

    #

    ### END WARNING END WARNING END WARNING END WARNING END WARNING END WARNING

     

      • greengiant says:

        This is in Linux or Unix operating system land.   They seem to have Stoic monitor any access or listing of their key files and directories and to self destruct those files with prejudice (explicit overwriting I would hope) if the same occurs.    Lot of people more informed than me.   Reads like they have hacked the operating system software as well.   Rumors they have hacked disk drive firmware, any programmable hardware,  and so forth is old news.

  7. PeasantParty says:

    Why?  In my opinion Hitlery needs to stay relevant for her backers, and Pals.  They want war and lots of it.  They have been plotting war with Russia for a very long time, as well as, China.  Reports are coming out that the CIA, or special agents of the US, Saudi, Israel, Turkey, and UK have been trapped in Aleppo.  Because Russia helped the Syrians, the CIA is going to do whatever they can to get a war on, immediately.  They want those agents back and before too much time has passed.  Those CFR and International Cold War jerks still have their eyes set on world dominion.

  8. RexFlex says:

    I can’t square giving HRC so much parallel clout against Putin, enough so to be his nemesis that required his retaliations by interfering with our election and at the same time knowing she risked compromising national security by using a home-brew server.

    Wouldn’t that call for more encryption, not opening the damn door to her emails?

    How can we know for sure what Putin knows about her conversations?

    We can’t. Trump winning was just gravy for Vlad. At least she’s out of government and no longer a risk of compromise.

    Trump brings a whole new dimension of compromise.

    We may get new politicians, but unfortunately we still have the same military, Wall St. and Intel services.

    ahh, stability.

     

  9. RUKidding says:

    Where’s the clear proof that Putin or “the Russians” hacked the DNC and Podesta’s email? Has anything been released? To my knowledge: No. But please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Frankly, Clinton lost bc she ran a sh*t-rotten campaign, completely dissed and disparaged Sanders voters even after she “won” (eg manipulated) the Primary. And despite lots of solid advice to her to campaign in the Rust Belt states, Clinton chose instead to go after wealthy Republican votes. This is not speculation on my part. There’s loads of info out there about this. Clinton was waaaay more enamored of gaining rich REPUBLICAN votes than she was in garnering votes from the disgusting, loathsome Democratic voter proles of whatever ethnicity and gender. La Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to visit WI because she was too busy holding $1000 plate dinners with rich movie, pop and sports stars.

    Do I think Putin or the Russians hacked those emails? Well it’s certainly possible, and Putin would have had some real reasons (in his mind) to do so. But do I axiomatically believe that Putin “did it”?? No. Not unless I’m shown solid proof.

    I do not trust BigSpy, Inc. They lie like rugs, and they’re VERY GOOD at messing around in other countries’ elections to gain the results that they want. My point? They have loads of experience putting their thumbs on the scale for the results they want. Why not do it in the Heimat?

    I’m supposed to trust the CIA? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha… saddens me to see so-called “leftists” adjuring me about how faaaaabulous the CIA is and how they’re “looking after our interests.” Yeah, right. Pull the other one.

    And so on….

    Trump won. I think we need to DEAL with that.

  10. seedeevee says:

    The real question is why is bmaz such a sad sad little man? Assange is a hero. bmaz, not so much.

    bmaz says:
    December 20, 2016 at 9:18 pm
    Wait, you are talking about that pasty ass international fugitive from rape charges? That guy??

    bmaz says:
    December 21, 2016 at 1:00 am
    Took the Swedes 6 years to drop by for an interview?

    That belies a complete ignorance of Swedish criminal procedure and the nature of the flight from justice occasioned by Assange. Try reading any of the appellate decisions from the UK and Sweden instead of listening to the blathering bullshit propaganda spewed by Assange and his little cult.

  11. greengiant says:

    >>  why the CIA is so invested in the narrative …  Why 1.  They are either blowing smoke or they actually have something on Trump or someone close to Trump.  The goal would be impeachment,  blackmail,  or make Trump less powerful.   Trump’s proxies were talking about Clinton’s handling of SAP documents and saying lives were lost.  No small number of voters were upset by Clinton’s server.  DNC hack, not so many IMO,  although it enabled O’Keefe to make some humorous videos.   Team Trump spent a lot of energy going low.   Can’t think of a reason Team Anti-Trump is less willing.

    Why 2.   Neverending war.   With associated budgets, profits, contractors, and power.

    Why 3.  CIA is owned by the Saudis?   BCCI was.    Will Trump pull out of Yemen and Syria?

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