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The real significance of the ODNI report on “Russia’s election interfering”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper In a speech at the LBJ Presidential Library on Thursday, Sept. 22nd, 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper discussed national security as we prepare for an election year change in the White House. Following his remarks, Admiral Bob Inman, former Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA, and Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor, joined Clapper on stage for a conversation moderated by LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove on the pressing national security issues facing our nation. LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 09/22/2016 LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 09/18/2016

Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on The Saker

Then I listed to a Ukrainian blogger, Anatoli Sharii, making fun of this report for over 10 minutes.  Listening to him my first reaction was “can’t be – Sharii is in overkill mode”. But then Sharii began quoting the report at length and I simply could not believe my eyes (I was reading the original English text which Sharii had translated into Russian): every word Sharii said was true.

That’s when I decided to download this document and read it. Here it is embedded for you to read.  Please do read the full text.  It is absolutely amazing:

Before we go into the details, I also recommend that you go through the following two examples of how the US corporate media “helpfully” provided their readers with a “guide” to better understand/interpret this report:

CNN: 10 most damning findings from report on Russian election interference

VOX: The key findings from the US intelligence report on the Russia hack, decoded

Again, even if it is painful, I recommend that you read the full text of the “guides” provided by these media outlets.

Now let’s turn to the contents.

First, remember what the stated goal of this report was: to convince President-Elect Donald Trump that the Russians had actively interfered in the US Presidential elections.  Since Donald Trump openly and repeatedly expressed his deepest skepticism about this entire issue, this report is the best the Neocons got to try to make him change his mind.

Second, there is this key sentence in the first page of the report: “while the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.”

Translated in plain English this means this: “while we cannot tell you exactly how we know what we know, lest the bad guys find out about a super-secret intelligence gathering methods, we promise you that the conclusions made public today are supported by our research.”  In other words, while “sources and methods” are kept secret, the conclusions made public do faithfully summarize our findings.

In even simpler words we could say “our conclusions are exhaustive, there are no other findings kept secret, only our methods and means have been classified”.  Basically this means that, this is all the Neocons got.

So what does the report say:

  1. The Russians were critical of the US democracy process (page ii)
  2. Putin & Co preferred Trump over Clinton (page ii)
  3. The Russian media (state and private) was critical of Clinton (page ii)
  4. The Russian military intelligence agency GRU is behind well know hackers (page ii and iii)
  5. The Russians obtained access to US electoral boards but that did not affect the vote count (page iii)
  6. The Russians will use that experience in the future against US allies (page iii)

That’s it.  Seriously.  That’s all they got.  The rest of the report is just a kind of vague discussion filled with “we assess”, “we believe” and other such “estimative language” (explained on page 13 of the report).  The most amazing thing is that in the 25 pages of the report there is not ONE SINGLE ELEMENT OF PROOF.  Absolutely nothing.

What we have are what I can only call “political complaints” (points 1 through 3 above) and totally unsubstantiated allegation of illegal monitoring of various US servers/networks/computers.  And that, my friends, is absolutely stunning.  Why? Because in the first instance the US intel agencies are complaining that the Russians are using their God given right to express their opinions and preferences and while in the second instance the US complains that Russia is doing exactly that which the biggest US intel agency – the NSA – has been officially (and secretively) created to do: monitor others.

About half the report is basically a long, paranoid rant about how effective RT and Sputnik are and how popular they have become in the West.  Seriously, they are trying to convince Trump that the Russians are bad bad bad by saying that RT has good talkshows!  This simply blows my mind.

As for whether the GRU is in any way linked to Guccifer or DCLeaks.com – this is plain laughable and they might as well claim that the Martian intelligence services are linked to Wikileaks or that Russian time-travel machines were involved in the assassination of JFK.  Frankly, this is as lame as it is pathetic.

I don’t know what Trump was thinking when he listened to this load of bovine excreta, but I know that had I been in his position I would have literally kicked the folks presenting this report down the stairs of my house and that I would have immediately fired all the persons and offices linked to the drafting of this text.  Why?

Because as somebody who wrote analytical reports himself I know that this report is so bad and vague that it would have been unacceptable even coming from a first year junior analyst, nevermind top intelligence officials.  Second, because this report contains absolutely no actionable intelligence whatsoever.  So the Russian don’t like Hillary and they say so.  What’s the big deal?

Hillary was the most incompetent and russophobic Secretary of State in US history and had she been elected the risks of thermonuclear war would have been immense.  Does it really surprise anybody that most Russians (including yours truly) absolutely hate, despise and fear her?

What is Trump suppose to do now: call Putin and tell him “Vladimir, please tell RT not to criticize US public figures?!”.  And what was Trump supposed to answer if Putin replied to him “Donald, the USA has been deeply interfering inside Russia, you ran our country in the 1990s, you rigged out elections, your snipers shot our people from the roof of your embassy in 1993 and your media has been demonizing me personally for years now – and you want me to tone down RT?!”.

The good news is that Trump did the right thing: he ridiculed this absolutely laughable report and reiterated his desire for a good relationship with Russia:

However, this should not be the end of the story.  Not only is this report a botched and pathetic attempt at serving the narrow political interests of the Neocons, it is also am immense stain on the already battered reputation of the US intelligence community. We already had Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, we already had the zig-zaging nonsense about the Iranian military nuclear program, and now we have this Kindergarten level direct interference in internal US politics.

If the USA was some kind of tiny and irrelevant country like, say, Estonia, that would be no big deal.  But when the US tax payer spends many billions to fund not one, not two or three, but 16 intelligence agencies and all they can produce is this kind of total crap, this is a problem.  A problem made worse by the fact that this kind of “intelligence” is what the President will use to have to make critical decisions, including the one to go to war or even to use nuclear weapons.

So funny as this all is, this is also scary.  It appears that the US intelligence community has been so totally politicized that it is unable to fulfill its most important task: inform US decision makers.

Yet again I come to the same conclusion: Trump needs to crack down hard, very hard, on the US intelligence community, especially the CIA.  The entire community must be reformed and dramatically reduced in size.  In intelligence matters, bigger is not better, and a bloated immense intelligence community of 16 agencies is something not a single country in history has every tried.  This is not only a total waste of resources, this is outright dangerous.

For years now the Russian have been complaining about what they politely called the “lack of professionalism” of their US colleagues.  No doubt that now they will openly begin to deplore the “lack of professionalism” of the US intelligence services.  Why?  Because Russia’s security very much depends on the US intelligence community truthfully and competently reporting about Russia to the US President.

A competent US intel community would tell the President that Russia is no threat whatsoever and that working with Russia on the basis of healthy self-interest, basic common sense and mutual respect would be in the interest of both countries.  But right now the US intel community is only making matters worse, and that harms both the USA and Russia.

Trump should appoint somebody at the head of the FBI with “a cold head, a burning heart and clean hands” (to borrow the expression of Felix Derzhinskii) and order a massive crack-down on Congress, the US media and the US intelligence community.  Just like Putin did it in Russia, and how the US dealt with the likes of Al Capone, he can probably get most of them on charges of corruption, obstruction of justice, fraud, abuse of power, criminal conspiracy to defraud, etc. Congress (which always felt above the law) and the intel community (which uses secrecy to hide corruption) should be especially vulnerable to such tactics.

For Trump and, I would argue, for the USA as a country, it is vital to purge the top levels of power from such incompetent and dishonorable clowns.  Besides, they will not leave Trump alone nor will they give him a fair chance to prove himself.  And the Neocons cannot be appeased, they always want more.  Unless Trump takes immediate action against them as soon as he enters the White House his Presidency will be doomed, as will the future of the USA.

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