In light of the CIA’s allegations today, which are being assiduously spread by Obama administration officials speaking anonymously to the news media, that Russia materially assisted Donald Trump to win the US Presidential election, I will repeat here something I wrote on 31st October 2016.
Note that this was written a week before the US Presidential election, and that the title of the article in which it was written was “Hillary Clinton just planted a bomb under American Democracy”
“By far the most irresponsible and dangerous Hillary Clinton has done is however to accuse a foreign power – Russia – of meddling in the election in order to prevent her winning, and to impose Donald Trump on the American people.
This is dangerous and irresponsible at so many levels that it is difficult to know where to start.
Firstly, it is not true. There is no evidence Donald Trump is a Russian agent or has any connection to Russia, or that Russia backs him. All the ‘evidence’ cited to prove he is and that it does – down to the misquotation of a single comment of Putin’s and the claims about Trump’s supposed Russian business connections – has proved to be so unconvincing that even Hillary Clinton has stopped talking about it.
Secondly, it is polluting the US political system by using agencies of the US government to spread this false story.
I have previously put on record my own strong doubts that Russia is behind the DNC and Podesta leaks. Now Craig Murray – a former British ambassador who (unlike me) is a personal friend of Julian Assange – has come forward to say that he knows 100% as fact that Russia is not behind the leaks (see here).
Craig Murray is a man of proven integrity who as a former senior diplomat has handled classified intelligence material and who therefore knows how to separate fact from fiction. If he says he knows 100% for sure that Russia is not responsible for the DNC and Podesta leaks, then given the sources he has that is good enough for me, as it should be for all reasonable people.
What that must means is that the recent statement by US intelligence that Russia is behind the leaks is untrue. I have previously discussed the deeply manipulative language used in this statement, which in fact proves that US intelligence does not have the evidence to back up what it says.
I have also pointed out that it is actually unprecedented for US intelligence to interfere in a US election in this way.
Now that we have Craig Murray’s confirmation that the claim of Russian responsibility for the leaks made in the statement is untrue, we can judge even more clearly what a deeply dishonest document this statement is.
The big question is what persuaded US intelligence to make this statement? Based on everything we know, the suspicion has to be that Hillary Clinton and her campaign, almost certainly with the help of senior officials in the Obama administration, somehow persuaded US intelligence to put out this statement in order to swing the election in her favour.
If so then it should be said clearly that using the nation’s intelligence services to spread a false story in order to defeat a political opponent in a democratic election is a far worse thing than anything Richard Nixon ever did, whether during the 1972 election campaign or at any other point in his career.
Thirdly, these false claims about Russia are corrupting public debate, making a proper discussion of the US’s vital relationship with Russia – a nuclear superpower – all but impossible.
The result is that the ‘realist’ positions that are now becoming associated with Donald Trump – which have a long and respectable history in US foreign policy (they were the policies of John F. Kennedy in the months immediately before he was assassinated, of Lyndon Johnson, of Nixon and Kissinger, of Ronald Reagan in his second term, and of George H.W. Bush) – are no longer being taken seriously, since they are being associated with a man who has all but been called a traitor.
Fourthly, these false claims complicate relations with Russia almost beyond reason.
How can either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton now negotiate with Putin when the first has been publicly all but accused of being Putin’s agent and the other is being presented as the President that Putin tried to stop? How – if Hillary Clinton becomes President and tries to make a deal with Putin – does she explain it to her supporters after all the things she has said about him?
Fifthly, and most dangerous of all, making this completely false claim is planting a bomb under the legitimacy of whoever is going to be the next President of the United States.
If that person is Donald Trump, then he will have to contend with the fact that he is the candidate Hillary Clinton, her campaign, most of the political establishment, nearly all the media, and the US intelligence community, have publicly claimed Russia is helping to win.
How in that case, if Trump does win, would he as President be able to command the respect and loyalty of the foreign policy bureaucracy, of the intelligence community, of the military, of the media, and of Congress, when they have all been told that he is the preferred candidate and quite possibly the agent of a foreign power? Would they not see it as their duty to obstruct and disobey him at every turn, so as to stop him selling out the country to his foreign puppet-masters?
How does Trump contend with the insinuation, which will be hanging over his Presidency from the first day if he is elected, that it was only because of Russian help (right down to the hacking of voting machines) that he won, and that he is not therefore the true choice of the American people? Would not Trump have to fear possible impeachment proceedings in the event that he made the smallest mistake, with many Americans feeling that any steps were justified to remove a President who they had been told was the agent of a hostile power?”
The latest story circulated about the CIA report into Russia’s role in the election confirms every point that I made.
To be clear the CIA is saying nothing new. It is not claiming that Russia hacked voting machines and manipulated the voting because despite Jill Stein’s and the Hillary Clinton Campaign’s efforts to find evidence of this through the vote recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, evidence of that there is none.
The whole case still rests on entirely on the allegation that Russia was behind the DNC and Podesta leaks. No more evidence of that has however been provided than was provided before, for the simple reason that no such evidence exists.
I previously pointed out that the manipulative language in the statement made during the election by the US intelligence community accusing Russia of leaking the DNC and Podesta emails in fact confirmed that no evidence against Russia existed.
I also asked what the FBI – the agency with competence to determine this question – thought about the “evidence” the US intelligence community was relying on and whether it had been shown it. It subsequently turned out that the FBI had been shown the “evidence” and that it refused to co-author the statement.
It now turns that the CIA in fact has no evidence against Russia, that the entire case against Russia is inferential, and that some sections of the US intelligence community are now starting to have doubts. That all this is so is confirmed by the following passage in the Washington Post report of the CIA’s report
“The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.
For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has said in a television interview that the “Russian government is not the source.””
(bold italics added)
The “identified individuals” – who are not officials of the Russian government – are of course not identified, though the careful placing of Julian Assange’s name at the end of this passage appears to be intended to suggest that he is one of them. If so, then even to hint that Julian Assange may be ““one step” removed from the Russian government” is an outrageous and untrue slur.
Regardless this passage confirms that the “identified individuals” – whoever they are – are not officials of the Russian government and – since they are referred to as “middlemen” – that they have no confirmed connection to it. Indeed the wording suggests they may not even be Russians.
Putting all this aside, Donald Trump obviously did not win the election because of help from Russia, and the CIA’s report actually falls short of saying he did.
The CIA statement however shows what Donald Trump is up against.
Already the Hillary Clinton Campaign has been actively lobbying electors on the Electoral College to switch support to Hillary Clinton from Donald Trump. Though this campaign is apparently meeting with little success, the CIA and the media are now assisting it, just as before the election the US intelligence community was trying to help Hillary Clinton win.
In both cases the method used is the same: the spreading of false stories and paranoia about Russia. The implication is that Donald Trump is in some way the agent of Russia, making any step to prevent him becoming President a patriotic duty.
I need hardly say that this is playing with fire. Never before in US history has there been an orchestrated campaign against an individual elected President in order to prevent him from being inaugurated. Never before has the US intelligence community involved itself in such a campaign.
Though I expect this attempt to fail, no-one should be in any doubt as to the huge anger of the tens of millions who voted for Donald Trump were it to succeed.
Though I expect this attempt to fail and Donald Trump to be inaugurated President on 20th January 2017, there is no doubt the campaign to destabilise him by painting him a Russian agent will continue after he is inaugurated.
Probably the only way he can stop it is if he publicly renounces his policy of rapprochement towards Russia, as some are already demanding.
Regardless of what eventually happens, it is both sinister and unprecedented for US intelligence to interfere in the US political process in this way.
As I said at the end of my 31st October 2016 article, the American Republican is living through dark times. Perhaps given that the political situation in Washington is starting to bear the hallmarks of what in other countries would be called a pre-coup environment, it is not so surprising if Donald Trump is choosing to surround himself with generals.