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

I have to confess that my first reaction was to simply ignore this report as an irrelevant load of nonsense.

The Saker

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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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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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