The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

DEFINITELY Political!

The “Intelligence Community Report” has been released and, as I expected, it doesn’t say anything. The IC claims that (1) Russian President Vladimir Putin  ordered a campaign to influence the US election, (2) that Russian intelligence services conducted cyberespionage against US political establishments and (3) that they used certain outlets – the Russian English language TV channel and RT.com, DCLeaks.com, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks –  to disseminate the information. Yet they only offer supposition with no actual evidence to back up their claims. Of course, they insinuate that such evidence is classified.

Let me mention a few things. First, I am an Air Force veteran and held Secret and Top Secret clearances. I was required to read classified documents and attended classified intelligence briefings. I am also a published author and was cleared by the Air Force to access classified documents while doing research. I was advised that documents are classified for three reasons – (1) to protect national security matters (2) to protect relations between the US and foreign governments and (3) to protect reputations, meaning the reputations of high placed government officials and military officers. Classified documents are routinely declassified after a specified period of time. For instance, Air Force unit records are classified for thirty years but some documents have been classified for as much as half a century and perhaps longer. An example is the intelligence report of the interrogation of the senior Japanese officers responsible for the defense of Kyushu, the Japanese island where the Allies planned to land in the initial invasion of Japan. This report was classified for a half century for one reason – to protect the reputation of President Harry Truman, who ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The claim that Putin personally ordered a campaign to affect the US election is very sketchy, although the report claims that the three intelligence agencies involved, the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency agree “with high confidence.” They also claim that Putin and the Russian government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” However, while the FBI and CIA claimed “high confidence” in this claim, the NSA’s confidence is “moderate.” That the NSA’s position is essentially “maybe” is significant because it is the agency that actually collects electronic data.

The report uses the term “to denigrate Secretary Cinton” and “discredit Secretary Clinton” numerous times, which indicates that the report was political. Bear in mind that this report was requested by President Barrack Obama AFTER Donald Trump was elected. This is an indication that he intended it for political purposes, specifically to foster discontent among Clinton supporters and to undermine President Trump’s administration.

The “Intelligence Community” is actually of recent origin. It came into existence in 1981 by executive order of President Ronald Reagan, who sought to increase the access of the CIA to classified information. The role of the IC was increased in 2004 by President George W. Bush. Bush’s order established the new Director of National Intelligence to oversee ALL intelligence agencies of the US government, both civilian and military.  The office was initially proposed by Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller and Bob Graham. The position was formalized by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The DNI is a political appointee, as is the Director of the CIA and the Director of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) although the latter is an active duty military officer.

Although the report states that there’s no evidence of actual Russian tampering in the election, such as hacking voting machines, it states that the Russians were influential in disseminating information to “denigrate” and “discredit” Secretary Clinton. Never mind that the DNC leaks revealed information about how the committee operated rather than anything about Clinton, other than that the DNC favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders as the candidate. They claim that the Russians disseminated information through RT, a Russian television and internet network. However, the information put out by RT was no different than that circulated by conservative web sites and news outlets. I would consider the claims made in the report as disinformation, meaning that it is not really information at all.

I rate the report as nothing but political bullshit.

 

“Intelligence” or Supposition?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile because so much has been going on I’ve not decided which to talk about. Now that the so-called “intelligence community” is making waves about “The Russians” and Julian Assange is saying essentially that they’re full of shit, I’ve decided to talk about government intelligence. I’ll preface this by stating that in 12 years in the Air Force I had a few intelligence briefings and did some things that weren’t talked about.

Let me start this off by saying that the term “seventeen intelligence agencies” used by Hillary Clinton in her claim that these agencies had determined the information published on WikiLeaks came from “the Russians” is a misnomer. There are actually only two intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, but there are fifteen organizations that have intelligence-collecting arms that report to the Director of Intelligence in some form or fashion. These organizations use the term “intelligence” but their role is actually the gathering of information from other countries by spying. In short, the “intelligence community” is a euphemism for America’s spies. Take a look at the list at the link above to see who they are and, to some extent, what they do.

Intelligence is collected in a number of ways. Some are sophisticated electronic intelligence gathering methods using airborne, seaborne and ground stations to record radio communications and other means of electronics communications of foreign governments. Others are as simple as eavesdropping on conversations in hotel bars or reading newspapers. The CIA uses foreign intelligence sources including paid informants who may be anything from a janitor in a foreign government building to high-placed government officials who are passing on their government’s secrets to US agents, for an often sizeable fee. Such information may or may not be accurate.

The problem is that the “intelligence community,” meaning Director of Intelligence James Clapper, a retired USAF general and Barack Obama, claim that the Emails published several months ago by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks were hacked and leaked by “the Russians.” Assange says the information did not come from the Russians, which has caused a big uproar in Washington. Craig Murray, a British politician and former diplomat, has said he picked up the document in Washington, DC and turned them over to Assange. (Assange, who has promised never to reveal sources, has said Murray doesn’t speak for WikiLeaks.) Clapper’s claim seems to be based on information provided by CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm employed by the Democratic National Committee.

Now, “intelligence” is one thing, but drawing the correct conclusion is another. Each of the intelligence organizations employs large number of “analysts” whose job is to look at the information that has been gleaned from various sources and come up with some kind of report. Sometimes they get it right, but more often they don’t. One of the biggest intelligence failures in history was the Allied forces in Europe’s failure to detect the massive German attacks in Belgium that led to the “Battle of the Bulge.” General George Patton’s G-2 correctly reported that the Germans were building up their forces in the Ardennes but Eisenhower’s own G-2 ignored the report. Intelligence failed to predict the North Korean attacks on South Korea in 1950, intelligence failed to predict North Vietnamese attacks on South Vietnam in 1972, intelligence failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union and intelligence claimed Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” when, in fact, all such weapons had been destroyed. In short, the intelligence community has been wrong about some of the most important events in recent history. If they’ve been wrong about so much, why believe them now?

What bothers me most about the current claims is that “the Russians” were blamed for the alleged hacks on the Democratic National Committee Email system as soon as they were released by WikiLeaks by the Clinton Campaign, then the White House backed her up. Those Emails contain devastating information that showed that certain DNC officials were manipulating the Democratic primaries to give Clinton an advantage over Bernie Sanders. The information was so devastating that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was immediately fired. “The Russians” claim timing is very suspicious. A few days after the WikiLeaks revelation, a DNC employee named Seth Rich was mysteriously murdered. The murder has never been solved and some believe his death is connected to the leaks. Julian Assange hinted that Rich was one of his informants, and took the unprecedented step of offering a sizeable reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer.

There is something else that needs to be realized. Right after the CIA was established, the Agency initiated Project MOCKINGBIRD, a campaign to influence American public opinion. When the project was originally established, the goal was to promote opinion against communism. However, since then the CIA and other intelligence agencies have become more leftist in outlook. For example, current CIA director John Brennan is known to have voted for a Communist Party USA presidential candidate and to have voiced far left opinions.  Can he be trusted?

So, regardless of what the “intelligence community” claims about Russia and the election, just remember that no intelligence is conclusive and the US intelligence community, once called The Cult of Intelligence, can’t be trusted.