Debunking Russiagate, Part 1

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This is the first of a three-part series of arguments from the crowdsourced journalism project, The Big Fat Compendium of Russiagate Debunkery, which I have now divided into segments for ease of loading and viewability.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Russiagate is like a mirage: from a distance it looks like something, but once you move in for a closer look, there’s nothing there. Nothing. Nothing solid, nothing substantial, nothing you can point at and say, “Here it is. This hard evidence justifies saturating the media waves with obsessive 24/7 coverage, escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower, stagnating political discourse in America and fanning the flames of a hysterical, xenophobic McCarthyist feeding frenzy.”

Let me preface this article by affirming that I am not a Russian propagandist or shill and I have never received any money from the Russian government, nor, contrary to a blatant lie currently being circulated by establishment loyalists, have I ever written for any Russian publications of any kind. Due to the aforementioned McCarthyist witch hunt this obnoxious accusation will inevitably be leveled by more than a few people as a result of my circulating these arguments, but anyone who does so is wrong. My loyalty is and always has been to truth and peace, in that order.

The other day I asked my social media circles for their very best links, ideas and arguments countering the anti-Russia sentiment that the American psyche has been pummeled with relentlessly by establishment politicians and the corporate mass media, and the response was overwhelming. There’s no way I can use everything I was given, but for right now here are 27 solid reasons to reject the narrative being promulgated by the American power establishment about Russia.

1. There is no proof.

This was by far the most common point I saw people emphasizing in my exercise in crowdsourced journalism that gave rise to this article. People who question the establishment’s Russia narrative are acutely aware that the American people have seen no solid, tangible evidence of either the alleged Russian hacking or of collusion between Trump and the Russian government to win the 2016 election. We have seen analysis reports in both official and now unofficial releases, but none of them contain a single shred of hard evidence, raw intelligence, or testable data.

In reality, the certainty that establishment liberals feel in Russia’s having meddled in US elections and Trump-Russia election collusion is built entirely upon the way official-looking people have been saying in official-sounding voices that these things have happened and repeating this self-assured assertion until their audience assumes that there must be some solid evidence underlying it. There is not. There’s just official-looking people pointing at unsubstantiated claims in a confident tone of voice and trying to connect them to innocuous factors like businessmen doing business with a newly-capitalist nation in the nineties.

We have been shown no proof. They refuse to show us any proof. That is extremely suspicious, and by itself is sufficient reason to be intensely skeptical of the Russiagate narrative.

“Eh, you could just start with evidence,” Eoghan O. points out on Facebook. “There is none. I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to the first person to provide me actual direct evidence of Russian hacking interfering with the US election. Or Brexit, the French elections or the German elections. Silence. Evidence.”

“ ‘Because I Said So’ is not evidence,” Liz B rightly notes.
“Or if Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid say it a million times,” adds Greg G.

“As a lawyer, when you accuse someone of a wrongdoing, the burden is ON YOU to provide evidence. They have not provided any evidence to support that assertion,” says Esha Krishnaswami.

2. The NSA could at any time provide public proof of Russian hacking without compromising any intelligence sources, and yet they don’t.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has attested that the NSA “certainly” has evidence that could prove Russians hacked the DNC, but the NSA has refused to share this information with the public despite the massive impact that the Russian hacking allegations have had on the American people, on US foreign policy, and on the relationship between two nuclear superpowers. This entire dispute could be settled without blowing the cover of any US spies and without revealing any sources or methods, but instead the American people have to settle for “trust us, we wouldn’t lie to you” from an organization that knowingly kept its domestic surveillance programs a secret from the public, and which James Clapper brazenly lied about to the US Senate.

The NSA either has proof and is refusing to share it for stupid reasons, or there is no proof and they therefore cannot provide it. And speaking of the NSA…

3. This is all coming from the same people who told us, incorrectly, that Russia hacked the French election.

NSA Director Mike Rogers asserted that his agency “watched” Russia hack the French election infrastructure. For the last month establishment media outlets and establishment loyalists have been repeating this allegation as unquestionable fact, in the exact same way they repeat the Russian hacking narrative of the 2016 US elections as an unquestionable fact. And yet they were all dead wrong. Guillaume Poupard, the head of France’s cyber security agency, told the Associated Press that there was “no trace” of Russian meddling and that the hack of the Macron campaign “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

In fact, Rogers was so off the mark from France’s own findings that Poupard was absolutely baffled as to what he could have been talking about.

“Why did Admiral Rogers say that, like that, at that time?” Poupard asked. “It really surprised me. It really surprised my European allies. And to be totally frank, when I spoke about it to my NSA counterparts and asked why did he say that, they didn’t really know how to reply either.”

Speaking of Mike Rogers, guess who was one of the handful of intelligence officials publicly suggesting that Russia hacked the DNC?

4. The “17 intelligence agencies” narrative was a lie.

Since October, Hillary Clinton has been advancing the falsehood that “17 intelligence agencies” agreed that the Russian government was responsible for hacking Democratic party documents and giving them to WikiLeaks. This assertion has been repeated as fact in thousands of articles and by countless pundits, and anyone who debates this stuff regularly has heard it repeated as fact by establishment loyalists ad nauseum. This was an extremely funny-looking assertion from the beginning since, as WikiLeaks notes above, in order to be true it would need to include opinions from agencies which would have no business involving themselves in such a case. And now it has been thoroughly debunked.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry of Consortium News reports that on May 23, former CIA Director John Brennan testified that the only agencies involved in the hacking report were the NSA (see debunkeries #2 and #3 in this list), the FBI and the CIA, along with James Clapper’s (see debunkery #2) overseeing Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Clapper himself had said the same thing in another hearing on May 8, stating that only a couple dozen “hand-picked” experts from these three agencies were involved in compiling the report Clinton falsely referenced.

This has been a known, established fact since May 8, reinforced on May 23, and yet Clinton repeated the same falsehood in her interview at the Recode Conference on May 31, saying, “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”

Now we know for a fact that she wasn’t merely speaking a falsehood out of ignorance. She was lying, she knew she was lying, and to this day establishment pundits like Megyn Kelly are repeating this same lie:

These people are deliberately lying to make the evidence seem far more overwhelming than it is. It wasn’t “17 intelligence agencies”, it was two dozen hand-selected establishment stalwarts. On this point Parry rightly notes, “as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you ‘hand-pick’ the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.”

5. The CrowdStrike report on the alleged DNC hack is extremely suspect.

Because the DNC refused the FBI access to their servers to investigate the alleged hacking incident, third-party cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike took on sole responsibility for that investigation, which means that the security report from CrowdStrike is, as Progressive Army puts it, “literally the only link that exists that is pointing the finger at Russia.”

The trouble, apart from the fact that the DNC are the ones who financed this singular crucial report, is that CrowdStrike itself is sorely lacking in credibility. Dmitri Alperovich, its chief technical officer, is a senior fellow with the Saudi-funded, virulently anti-Putin Washington think tank, the warmongering neocon Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council, which Paul Craig Roberts calls “the marketing arm of the military-security complex”, has been cranking out think pieces with such vitriolically anti-Kremlin titles as “Distract Deceive Destroy: Putin at War in Syria” and “Six Immediate Steps to Stop Putin’s Aggression,” and is funded by a Ukrainian billionaire.

As if this weren’t incriminating enough, Consortium News reports that this neocon think tank is also a longtime supporter of one Hillary Rodham Clinton. Indeed, the Atlantic Council presented Clinton with its Distinguished International Leadership Award in 2013. Mike Sainato reports that the aforementioned Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, donated at least $10 million to the Clinton foundation.

CrowdStrike’s credibility took an even bigger hit when it came to light that data they’d cited in their report to marry the hacks to the Russians has been denounced as erroneous by two of the parties involved, the Ukrainian military and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The report asserted that Russians had previously hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists, and that the same fingerprints of that hack were found in the DNC hack. According to a report by VOA which names Alperovich specifically, however, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense asserts that these combat losses and hacking never happened, and IISS says CrowdStrike reached its conclusions by misreading IISS data.

Jeffrey H. writes the following:

How many people have actually read the Crowdstrike and joint intelligence agency reports, publicly available and very brief considering the gravity of the allegations. Some highlights:
- Crowdstrike prejudicially renamed the APT28 and APT29 malware to the now infamous “Fancy Bear”, “Cozy Bear” and “Grizzly Steppe”. There was no reason whatsoever to do that, apart from propaganda.
- Crowdstrike used the words “likely” and “suggests”, in the absence of concrete evidence.
- Joint intelligence reports took the Crowdstrike report as a starting point and quoted liberally from it, adding their bureaucratese: “we assess” with “high [moderate in the case of NSA] confidence”. William Binney pointed out that when you see words like that, it means there is no evidence — otherwise they would have said “we have direct evidence that…”
- Joint intelligence reports spent 2 -3 pages repeating the Crowdstrike material, adding no new evidence, then fluffed out to 12–13 pages with diatribes against RT’s exercise of their First Amendment rights, and windy explanations of how to detect malware in general.
- Which of course led to the “scandalous” discovery of malware on one non-connected laptop at Burlington Electric Co. (Sanders’ town — huh!) and the media erupts with fantastical claims about attempts to hack the power grid.
- APT28 and APT29 are everywhere, loose in the wild.

So the evidence for Russians hacking the DNC is paper thin and highly suspect. Oh yeah, and guess what?

6. There’s no good reason to believe the Russians (or anyone) hacked Podesta’s emails, either.

When the Seth Rich murder investigation spiked in public interest recently, the CIA-funded Washington Post hastened to tell its readers that Seth Rich being the source of the DNC leaks wouldn’t invalidate Russiagate because Russia still definitely hacked the Podesta emails. The following completely debunks this assertion.

There’s a common belief that Clinton campaign manager John Podesta was using the word “p@ssw0rd” as a password, but that was just a temporary one given to him after he carelessly left his phone in a taxi in early 2015. An under-appreciated WikiLeaks document reveals that Podesta’s password was actually “Runner4567”, and from the context of the email appears to have been commonly known among his office assistants. He’s seen asking his assistant Eryn Sepp if she knows his password, and she tells it to him “in case Milia hasn’t gotten it to you let [sic],” referring to Podesta aide Milia Fisher. This remained his password for many months, and still wasn’t changed after WikiLeaks began publishing his emails, which was almost certainly how one of the naughty boys on 4chan was able to access Podesta’s Twitter account and make this tweet:

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The Twitter hack was confirmed by the Clinton campaign, and Podesta hasn’t had any issues with that account since. That mischievous /pol/ anon was able to get in there because Podesta not only used this very weak, easy-to-remember password for months, but apparently used it for everything, not just his Apple ID.

So we’re really meant to believe that this guy who couldn’t even keep track of who at his office knew his weak password, and who used that weak password for everything, needed to be hacked or phished by Russian operatives in order for those emails to make their way to WikiLeaks? In an environment like that, anyone who spent any time around his office could’ve gained access to those emails; read the drama about Podesta’s taxicab experience for a clear picture of how involved his assistants were in his passwords and technology access. Anyone with any insider access could have leaked Podesta’s emails to WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks ally Craig Murray insists that this is exactly what happened. Podesta’s email security was as airtight as a sieve, so there’s no reason to attribute their release through WikiLeaks specifically to Russia.

7. Many experts are highly doubtful of the hacking narrative.

8. Also worth noting: the CIA is known to have actively cultivated the ability to forge signs of Russian cyber intrusions.

“The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation,” WikiLeaks wrote upon release of the first of their Vault 7 CIA leaks.

9. The Democrats are flat-out lying when they say the WikiLeaks emails didn’t contain anything incriminating.

So as we’ve discussed, both the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails have massive, gaping plot holes in the official establishment narrative about how they were released. These hacking allegations were what sparked off the anti-Russia blame game we experience today, but the Democrats knew they could never get away with simply saying “The Russians cost us the election by telling the American people the truth!” They needed a new narrative, which was where all the talk about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” came in.

If you’re feeling a bit masochistic, watch Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance at the Recode Conference for a pure picture from the horse’s mouth of what this carefully-crafted narrative is meant to look like. She says the information in the Podesta emails are nothing but innocuous run-of-the-mill shop talk and calls them “anodyne to boredom”, then goes on to speak about how bits and pieces of these 100% boring, innocuous emails were picked up out of context by outlets like Infowars and spun into “the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine.” Throughout her interview she speaks of how “weaponized information” like this was spun into “fake news” and then circulated by Russian agents in targeted areas.

So to reiterate: the establishment narrative, per Hillary Rodham Clinton herself, is that there was absolutely nothing incriminating in the WikiLeaks emails, but they were spun into fake news stories and circulated throughout America by a sophisticated Russian propaganda network, which Clinton asserts was probably informed by the Trump camp.

The trouble with this narrative? The emails were intrinsically very, very incriminating on their own; they didn’t require any fake news or Russian propaganda to be seen as incriminating by anyone who read them.

In reality, the conspiring and “us vs. them” language between DNC officials in their leaked emails unquestionably reveals a blatant violation of Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC Charter, which promises the American people that the DNC Chairperson (who was included in and participated in many of these emails) “shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.” This plainly did not happen, as a glance at some of the nastiest emails reveals. The DNC Charter was revised with this promise to prevent a DemExit after the 1968 fiasco in Chicago, and in 2016 they undeniably broke this promise.

And as bad as the DNC Leaks were, the later leak drops were far more incriminating. From Donna Brazile serving as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passing multiple debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton, to an email from a CitiGroup executive instructing Obama what cabinet picks (who would then go on the shape policy for dealing with Wall Street crooks after they caused the 2008 global financial crisis) he was permitted to choose from prior to his election in 2008, to the Clintons taking bribes from Qatar and Morocco and knowingly accepting funds from political bodies that arm ISIS, to evidence that the DNC was stacking the deck for Clinton as early as 2014, to a suggestion that the Clinton campaign had some sort of “leverage” over Bernie Sanders, to Clinton promising a group of Goldman Sachs executives that she would lie to the American people for their benefit by assuring them that she understood the importance of having both a “public position and a private position” when it comes to economic matters, there was more than enough shocking data there to rightly hurt Clinton’s approval rating.

So this notion that fake news and Russian propaganda were needed in order for the WikiLeaks releases to hurt the Clinton campaign are blatantly deceitful. Clinton wasn’t hurt by fake news and Russian propaganda, Clinton was hurt by the truth.

Click here for Part 2 of the Debunking Russiagate series.

Click here for the Index of Russiagate Debunkery.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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