The Washington Post has published a sneak peak of the classified version of a report that is being circulated by the intelligence community to bolster the incredible claim that the Russians intervened in the US election with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win. Before we go further, let’s take a moment to recall what was claimed.
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.
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.
“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.”
As I’ve said before, this is a rather extraordinary claim. If true, it calls Trump’s election into question and would constitute casus belli. If false, it is as scurrilous a claim and as despicable an act that has ever been perpetrated by one political party upon another. It is not a claim that should be made lightly to brush back from the plate an incoming president that the outgoing administration loathes.
So, what do we know?
Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.
The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials — including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election — contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House.
Other key pieces of information gathered by U.S. spy agencies include the identification of “actors” involved in delivering stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website, and disparities in the levels of effort Russian intelligence entities devoted to penetrating and exploiting sensitive information stored on Democratic and Republican campaign networks.
You’re sh***ing me, right? Because I went to sleep November 8 pretty confident that Hillary was going to win. When I checked the returns early on November 9, I nearly had a hernia and an Eichenwald-esque seizure from laughing.
And some of this report is already questionable because we know that NO ONE actually examined the DNC servers (because intelligence agencies are not chartered to operate in the United States, they can’t have examined the server either) so any conclusive link on who did what on whose orders is pure speculation if not out right wishcasting.
How about another thought. The Russians screwed with the election. And peed themselves when Trump won (sort of like me). Same facts but a lot different context.
Let’s look deeper.
There is this quote:
“The Russians felt pretty good about what happened on Nov. 8 and they also felt pretty good about what they did,” a senior U.S. official said.
Pretty conclusive, right? But the very next paragraphs are:
U.S. officials declined to say whether the intercepted communications were cited in the classified version of the report commissioned by Obama, and they emphasized that although the messages were seen as strong indicators of Moscow’s intent and clear preference for Trump, they were not regarded as conclusive evidence of Russian intelligence agencies’ efforts to achieve that outcome.
“There are a variety of different exhibits that make the case, different factors that have provided the intelligence community with high confidence” that Russia sought in part to help elect Trump, said a second senior U.S. official who has reviewed intelligence findings on Russia’s cyber operations.
Officials emphasized that “signals intelligence,” as such communication is known, is treated by analysts with caution because statements can be taken out of context and sophisticated adversaries including the Kremlin are adept at spreading disinformation.
Read the bold parts again:
they were not regarded as conclusive evidence of Russian intelligence agencies’ efforts to achieve that outcome.
can be taken out of context and sophisticated adversaries including the Kremlin are adept at spreading disinformation.
Then there is this:
U.S. officials said the captured messages, whose existence has not previously been disclosed, added to the confidence level at the CIA and other agencies that Putin’s goals went beyond seeking to undermine confidence in America’s election machinery and ultimately were aimed at tilting a fiercely contested presidential race toward a candidate seen as more in line with Moscow’s foreign policy goals.
Even so, the messages also revealed that top officials in Russia anticipated that Clinton would win and did not expect their effort to achieve its goal.
Russian officials “were as surprised as the rest of the world,” said the second U.S. official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
“In this case, you do learn things after the fact based on how they feel about it,” the first official said, adding that the intercepts added to the intelligence community’s “shifting level of confidence.”
What this guy is describing is not analysis, it is a post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy (Trump won; the Russians laughed; therefore, the Russian hacking must have been intended to help
Trump.) What is even more telling is that he says that if Trump had not won, they would never have come up with the idea that the Russians wanted Trump to win. Presumably the narrative would have solidified around “the Russians are trying to discredit American election,” which, I think, is eminently defensible and plausible based on their known behavior in Europe.
This is the bottom line. You don’t have to like Trump to accept that. All we are dealing with here is blue smoke and mirrors. A sham. We are expected to believe that the man who says no one could have predicted the goat-f*** that is US policy in Syria can accurately divine the intentions behind the Russian hacking.
While Clapper disingenuously mewls about being “disparaged” he seems to lose sight of the grave disservice he has done his nation with this shameless harnessing of the credibility of the United States intelligence community to participate in this cheap and transparent partisan attack. Does he seriously believe that anyone from the sub-cabinet level up will believe anything the the intelligence community says after this shameful episode. The damage he has done to this nation to serve the desires of his master is incalculable and people will die because Clapper did lie.
People can believe whatever they want to believe, so I’ll give you my two cents. We are well past the stage where anyone who had anything to do with this claim deserves the slightest benefit of a doubt or any semblance of respect. This is nothing more or less than a political attack by the Obama administration on the incoming Trump administration for the express purpose of questioning his legitimacy and limiting his ability to act. People need to be fired over this and they need to be fired in large numbers.