The single most important event of the US Presidential election took place last week and to my knowledge it has gone completely unreported.
This was not the video tape of Donald Trump’s grotesque and deeply offensive sexual banter from 2005.
It was the public confirmation that an intelligence agency is directly interfering in an ongoing US Presidential election.
The intelligence agency in question is not however that of Russia as is being reported. It is that of the United States itself.
To understand why this is so, consider the statement US intelligence published last week on the subject of alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and of other US agencies involved in the election. It reads as follows:
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
(bold italics added)
The statement is an implicit admission that US intelligence has no evidence to back its allegations of Russian hacking.
It is merely “confident” – not “sure” – that it is the Russians who are behind the hacking, and it is clear from the statement that it arrived at this conclusion purely through inference: because the hacks supposedly were “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts”.
US intelligence assumes the Russians were behind the hack not because it knows this to be so but in part because of what it believes Russian motives to be.
The statement backs its claim with a textual trick. It says “the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia”. It then immediately follows these words with the words “for example”.
These lead to the expectation that an actual example of such Russian “tactics and techniques” is about to follow. Instead what is provided are the fact free words “to influence public opinion there”.
The words “for example” lend nothing to the meaning of the statement, which would be exactly the same without them. These two words as used in the statement are actually meaningless. That is a sure sign that their presence in the statement is intended to confuse the casual reader, and that this is true of the statement as a whole.
The words are designed to create a subliminal impression to a casual reader that the Russians have been caught doing this sort of thing before, without however providing a single actual example when this was the case.
Demonstrating how thin the case of Russian government actually is, the statement then goes on to say
“Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.”
(bold italics added)
In other words US intelligence admits the mere fact servers operated by a Russian company may have been used for “scanning and probing” – and presumably also for hacking – is not in itself proof of the involvement of the Russian government.
This is consistent with what I have heard, which is that skilled and well-resourced hackers can use compromised machines to carry out hacks by remote access, and that the mere discovery that a particular machine has been used in a hack does not in and of itself implicate the owner. (I should stress I am not an expert in this field and I may have misunderstood this. However it appears to be what US intelligence is saying).
This part of the statement seems to me intended to prevent challenges to the eventual outcome of the election based on US intelligence’s claims of Russian hacking. US intelligence does not want to be drawn into post-election arguments about the validity of the election outcome, which might lead to demands that it make public its “evidence” of Russian hacking. In the process US intelligence however casts doubt on what is almost certainly the only actual evidence it has of Russian state involvement in the hacking.
In summary, the statement is a mere statement of opinion, it is not a statement of fact, and the evidence upon which it is based is threadbare.
Moreover since the DNC hack is a criminal offence, it is a statement of opinion made about a matter which is presumably being investigated by the police.
The relevant police agency is presumably the FBI, which significantly is not a co-author of the statement.
That in turn begs a host of questions: has the FBI been shown the “evidence” upon which US intelligence expresses its opinion and has made the statement? Has it asked to see this “evidence”? Was it invited to co-author the statement? What does the FBI think of the public involvement of US intelligence in a domestic criminal matter which falls within the FBI’s exclusive competence?
If the statement is merely a statement of opinion based on inference of which guesses about Russian “motivations” apparently form a major part, and one which moreover concerns a matter which is or ought to be the subject of investigation by the police and not therefore the subject of this sort of comment, why was it published at all?
The short answer is in order to help Hillary Clinton win the US Presidential election.
To that end the statement fulfils two purposes: firstly, it discredits the content of any leaks that might otherwise damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign by lending credence to her claim that they are part of a Russian ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against her; and secondly, it lends credence to the claim popularised by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and by Hillary Clinton’s supporters in the media that Donald Trump is Putin’s candidate and that Putin is trying to help him win the election.
That the second is one of the purposes of statement is proved by its reference to US intelligence’s “belief” that the leak was authorised by “Russia’s senior-most officials”. This is clearly intended to refer to Putin, and is intended to give the impression that Putin himself personally authorised the DNC leak in order to damage Hillary Clinton and to help Trump win the election and become President.
US intelligence has meddled in elections in other countries on numerous occasions starting with the Italian parliamentary elections of 1948.
To my knowledge this is however the first occasion that US intelligence has directly and publicly meddled in a US national election, acting to help one candidate defeat another.
It matters not whether this was done by US intelligence on its own initiative, or whether it was pressured to do so by officials of the Obama administration or of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Either way the disturbing truth must now be faced: the practice of US intelligence meddling in and trying to influence national elections has now been imported home to the US.