The report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” released on January 6th by the Director of National Intelligence could be classified as “spam,” an irrelevant message sent over the Internet to large numbers of users for the purposes of advertising.
Out of the twenty-five pages, there is what some may describe as “news”, if you believe in assessments rather than evidence, of which none is provided:
(1) The heads of Obama’s three intelligence-gathering agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA) assess that, “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump” (disclaimer – I had a clear preference for Trump too);
(2) the three agencies “did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” but none of the Russian activities were “involved in vote tallying”;
(3) Obama’s political appointees “assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks,” although any link between Russian intelligence and Wikileaks was not identified;
(4) “Disclosures [from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democrat officials] through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” that is, the Democrats really said/did those things.
The bulk of the report, however, simply provides information about US intelligence analysis techniques, scope and sourcing, previously published material and describes:
“longstanding Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations-such as cyber activity-with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls,'” especially the role of RT (formerly Russia Today), the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”
None of that is exactly “news” as the report itself admits:
“During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used intelligence officers, influence agents, forgeries, and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin, according to a former KGB archivist.”
What is interesting is an article by another “Russia’s state-run propaganda” outlet, Sputnik News, which said that Annex A of the US intelligence report claims that “Kremlin’s TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US,” but buried at the bottom of that page is a note stating, “This annex was originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center, now the Open Source Enterprise.”
That is, the information cited in the US intelligence report “to provide evidence of RT influencing the American public [in 2016] was compiled in December 2012.”
According to Sputnik News, “The report focuses on television shows and interviews that took place four years before Trump was elected, and well before he was even a politician” and that two RT shows, Breaking the Set and Truthseeker, mentioned in the US intelligence report, were off air before the 2016 election season began.
I would not be terribly shocked to learn that Russian intelligence hacked Democratic Nation Committee computers and John Podesta’s personal email account on Putin’s orders and provided information from those activities to WikiLeaks and DCLeaks.
Neither the first nor the second intelligence report, however, provide direct evidence to support that accusation, but the report authors rely on Americans’ natural inclination to believe it.
The lack of evidence, the timing of the revelations as well as the delayed punitive measures taken against Russia, generate skepticism.
Public reports of alleged Russian hacking surfaced in October 2016 and it was probably known to the US intelligence community much earlier, as their report implies.
Why weren’t Russians expelled, sanctions applied and reports produced prior to the election?
One wonders if any of what has occurred after the election, would have, if Hillary Clinton had won on November 8th.
So, what is the point of the ex post facto intelligence revelations and the diplomatic punishment of Russia other than a result of Obama’s failed Russian foreign policy, his personal animosity towards Putin, a ruse to discredit the election of Donald Trump and a means to hamper the incoming administration?
Perhaps, the Obama Administration can issue a report on that. (For more from the author of “America’s CIA, FBI and NSA Continue to Lose Credibility, Issue Politicized Second Russian Hacking Report” please click HERE)