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Did Russia Elect Trump?

On Friday, the Washington Post reported [1] that the CIA has concluded that Russia acted to aid Donald Trump in winning the election. The story follows accusations that the Russian government was behind the hack of the private servers used by the Democratic National Committee, as well as the Gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. The information obtained was provided to WikiLeaks and other sources like the Romanian Guccifer 2.0 in order to be made public and discredit the Clinton campaign—and potentially influence the outcome of the election. The New York Times is reporting [2] that the Russians also hacked the Republican National Committee server but did not release any of the information obtained. The GOP claims that its system was not breached.

The allegations about Moscow’s involvement in the election derive from a still-secret report [3] prepared by the CIA that represents the intelligence community’s consensus on the issue, though the use of the word “consensus” implies that there was dissent over the conclusions, and there is even a suggestion that not all of the community signed off on the final draft. For what it’s worth, the report does not address whether the hacking influenced the result of the election, and both the Russian government and WikiLeaks have denied that they were acting in collusion or were part of any organized effort to promote the Trump campaign.

The White House has responded to the analysis by calling for an investigation of hacking surrounding the campaign and election. Donald Trump has issued a statement dismissing the CIA claim: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction … it is now time to move on.”

The Trump response is frivolous because the vulnerability of the U.S. election process to outside interference is a serious issue involving both private and public information-sharing systems. It is also important to note how critics of Russia in Congress, including Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are already exploiting the allegations to block any possible initiatives by Trump to improve ties with Moscow, which might have serious consequences down the road.

To determine what precisely is being alleged, it is necessary to rely on media accounts, as neither the CIA nor the White House has made public the classified report. It is, first of all, most important to consider the evidence for the hack and dissemination of the information. The White House is claiming the intelligence community has “high confidence” that the hack of servers and the dissemination of the material related to the election was directed from the top levels of the Russian government.

The wording is significant, as it implies that officials have established a direct chain of custody for the materials stolen, including named individuals in the Russian government and conduits used outside it. To put it another way, the U.S. government and its presumed allies at Britain’s GCHQ are claiming that they have obtained information on the series of “cutouts” used to move the information from the hackers to the outlets employed to disseminate the stories. That is why they are claiming “high confidence,” which implies having hard evidence.

That is a serious claim, but it is currently impossible to know whether it is true or not. Some anonymous government officials are reportedly conceding that the direct link from the Russian government to the actual hackers and then on to the disseminators of the information is lacking. If the intelligence community is nevertheless claiming that they know enough to conclude that it was directed from the top levels of the Russian government, then they should be able to produce documentary or other evidence of officials’ ordering the operation to take place.

If the CIA is to maintain its credibility, it should do just that, even if the report is in a sanitized or heavily redacted version to protect sources. Do they have that kind of information? It is clear that they do not, in spite of their assertion of “high confidence.” And there is a suggestion by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, a persistent critic of Russian spying who is on the House Intelligence Committee, that the information they do have consists of innuendo and is largely circumstantial.

So what do they actually have? They likely have bits and pieces of the transmission belt the information moved along, and are presuming without necessarily knowing that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agreement would have been necessary to initiate such an audacious operation. Putting all of that together, they are positing that approval from the Kremlin leadership was part of the process.

Press accounts indicate that there were two hacker groups tied to Russian intelligence that obtained the information in the first place, and that the material was then provided to others for release, WikiLeaks being the most prominent of the outlets used.

Some in the media are claiming that the Russian hack and dissemination of information had two objectives: first, to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton; and second, to “undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system,” as the Washington Post describes it [4]. I would argue that the “undermine confidence” part is implausible and that no intelligence organization would see that kind of objective as worth pursuing except under very rare circumstances. The Clinton campaign is, however, another story. Hillary Clinton castigated Russia throughout her campaign and made it clear that she would be confrontational in Syria and Eastern Europe. Trump endorsed détente, by contrast, so Moscow’s choice of candidate would have been obvious, and the Kremlin might well have decided to take steps to bolster the Trump campaign in support of Russia’s own self-interest.

Using intelligence resources to advance one’s national interest is what all governments do. The objective is to maintain secrecy, but no one should be too surprised when such activity is detected. Attempts to influence foreign opinion in a targeted country or within a targeted group is referred to in the trade as covert action. All major state players engage in covert action to a greater or lesser extent. The CIA certainly uses its media assets worldwide to place stories supportive of politicians and parties favored by the administration in power in Washington. I would have to assume that President Barack Obama has, for example, approved CIA-generated favorable press coverage of endangered politicians like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, whose policies he strongly supports.

If a covert action involves the media, it will sometimes consist of totally invented stories that usually are quickly exposed for what they are, or accounts that are partly or largely true but also contain spin or some untruths to undermine or influence a prevailing narrative. If the stories are crafted subtly enough, they will be accepted as true by most of the public. Stories placed in that fashion by an intelligence agency, frequently acting through surrogates, can, upon exposure, be considered part of the “fake news” that has so traumatized the media of late.

Far better than fake news from the intelligence-agency point of view is real news, which is why exposure of the Clinton-Podesta-DNC emails was so effective. They were undeniably true, and they bring to mind another Russian intelligence operation in 2014, where the hacked phone of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was exploited to reveal that Nuland thought little of America’s European allies. The lesson that should be taken home from those errors in judgment is that we create our own vulnerabilities that others will exploit. If the DNC wanted to load the dice to make Bernie Sanders go away, it would have been best not to say so in an email. If John Podesta did not trust Hillary Clinton’s impulsive decisionmaking, he should not have written that opinion down and sent it off electronically. If Nuland wanted to commit an act of fornication on Europeans, she should not have discussed it on an unsecured cell phone.

So nearly every country employs espionage when dealing with others and works on promoting its own interests through the use of its intelligence and other national resources. That should surprise no one. And it is impossible to know if the WikiLeaks publication of hacked emails changed the outcome of the recent election, though it is clear that it did not help Hillary. The lesson is not that the Russians spied on the United States and covertly assisted a candidate they favored. That should be a given, well understood by people in the White House and elsewhere in the administration. That information is no longer private in an age where electronic intrusion or hacking can be run out of someone’s garage should also be a given. But when aspirants to high office are careless in what they say, when they say it, and how they communicate to associates, there will be consequences.

Far better to mend our own fences than try to punish the Russians for doing what comes naturally. That would only lead to a tit-for-tat worsening of an already bad relationship.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

72 Comments (Open | Close)

72 Comments To "Did Russia Elect Trump?"

#1 Comment By c matt On December 13, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

I think the real problem is the response this story is getting from certain sections of the conservative right which seem to not understand why it’s maybe a bit of a thing that a foreign government used our elections to further their goals.

Like, oh, I don’t know, donating millions of dollars to your foundation, or paying ridiculous speaker fees to your husband in order to buy influence? Or flat out donating to your campaign? Of course, if the preferred party is the beneficiary, then it’s ok.

#2 Comment By c matt On December 13, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

Meanwhile, the fact remains that our election was actually hacked.

That is not fact – unless you count the voting machines that put in a vote for Clinton if you voted a straight party Republican option. The election was NOT hacked (no direct attack on the legitimacy of vote casting). INFORMATION – apparently accurate – was hacked and disseminated to the public. If “disinformation” qualifies as “hacking an election,” then our elections are hacked every time a candidate opens his or her pie hole.

#3 Comment By Hal Fiore On December 13, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

c matt:

What I meant by that line is that hacking indisputably occurred which was related to the election, and, further down in my comment, that a thinking person would have reason for wondering therefore if the election itself might have been hacked. We have someone out there with the motive, demonstrated by the fact that they did hack the DNC in order to help Trump. And they have at least some capability in the hacking field. So, motive, ability, and I would say opportunity, as attested by known vulnerabilities in the voting machines.

While you assert confidence that none of that could possibly have happened, you also accept in whole the unsupported claim about votes switching from R to D. Please, I would be very interested to see your evidence on that, and I’m sure the Federal Elections Commission would be also.

And yet, in the states with the closest votes, Republicans and the Trump team are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the vote being investigated. What are they afraid of, if it was “rigged” for Clinton?

Trump claimed he won the popular vote if not for the rigging. That would be more than two and a half million illegal votes. Certainly he would want that investigated.

#4 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 13, 2016 @ 11:52 pm

“Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear” – proof those are – gasp! – Russki hackers!

How about a disgruntled Bernie Bro at the DNC?

As a senior IT person with decades of experience, the leaks we’ve encountered have always been inside jobs, with perpetrators often trying to deflect blame to outsiders. Sometimes there’s considerable pressure to see it that way, to avoid criticism of the enterprise’s own internal issues.

A little sanity:

[5]“CIA%27s_Blatant_Lies”%2C_Shows_”A_Little_Simple_Logic_Destroys_Their_Claims”/55732/0/38/38/Y/M.html

[6]

Some of our pols are way dumber, if more manipulative than the folks who voted for them.

#5 Comment By Greg On December 14, 2016 @ 12:16 am

Honestly folks, should every e-mail a campaign writes be subject to public scrutiny? It makes me think about the line that you might like sausage, but you wouldn’t if you saw it made. Should everything be public? Is there no such thing as private communication in a campaign? Why shouldn’t the Democrats and the Republicans be able to talk among themselves, strategize and it be OK that it’s not public? And if it should be public, both sides should be public. The DNC putting their finger on the scale for Hillary is deplorable, but a lot less deplorable than a foreign power doing so. It is after all their party, their (and our) country. Not Russia’s. There is no hypocrisy; it’s a fundamentally different situation. This false equivalence gets really tiresome. It’s like saying that every color is black if it’s not white. Let’s engage in reasoned thinking here.

#6 Comment By M_Young On December 14, 2016 @ 3:22 am

The ‘election’ wasn’t hacked, the DNC servers and Podesta’s email were. Neither of these are the concern of the US government.

#7 Comment By M_Young On December 14, 2016 @ 3:28 am

” Trump’s poll-defying strength came in a handful of states and the margin was not large. ”

See ‘Shy Tory’ or ‘Reverse Bradley effect’.

#8 Comment By kate b On December 14, 2016 @ 10:30 am

“The New York Times is reporting that the Russians also hacked the Republican National Committee server but did not release any of the information obtained. The GOP claims that its system was not breached.”

Is this not of concern? If GOP system was hacked, we can assume it had sensitive material in there that the GOP does not want leaked because it would be damaging. If you do not believe Russia hacked the GOP, then doesn’t that support the notion that Russia had an interest in helping Trump? And if you do believe they hacked the GOP, is it not of concern that Russia is in a great position to blackmail our senators?

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On December 14, 2016 @ 11:07 am

@ Igor, who wrote (Dec 12, 4:33 pm): “And the report of McLaren’s secret, and the CIA report secret. A lot of secrets they have in sports and in politics, and against Russia.”

You make a valid point about the “secrets they have in sports,” Igor. For example, the US media ignored these recent revelations by Ollan Cassell:

“A former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) vice-president has alleged that the number of positive drugs tests at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics was ‘capped’ at 12 despite a higher number of failures. According to Ollan Cassell, a member of the American gold medal winning 4×400 metres relay team at Tokyo 1964 who later served 23 years at the world athletics body, the decision formed part of a pact between then IAAF head Primo Nebiolo and former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Juan Antonio Samaranch. This decision was reportedly taken in order to give the impression they were taking a strong anti-doping stance while avoiding too big a scandal.

“Cassell told the Japan Times that he had been warned by Nebiolo ‘about the decision he and Samaranch had made about capping the number of positive [drug] tests in LA at a dozen’. He added: ‘He said they had done it ‘to protect the Olympics and the USA’ so there would be no scandal.’ This account fits with previous allegations about the covering-up of failed drug tests at Los Angeles 1984.”

[7]

#10 Comment By VikingLS On December 14, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

“Honestly folks, should every e-mail a campaign writes be subject to public scrutiny? It makes me think about the line that you might like sausage, but you wouldn’t if you saw it made. Should everything be public”

Actually it would be preferable if our parties operated in such a way that public scrutiny doesn’t hurt them. That’s NOT whoever released these emails fault.

“The DNC putting their finger on the scale for Hillary is deplorable, but a lot less deplorable than a foreign power doing so.”

Only if you are a Democrat. The reason Democrats are angry about this is that you’re upset that you lost the election. The Russians, or whoever leaked the emails, didn’t actually do anything other than air Clinton’s dirty laundry this NO different than TMZ and the “grab the p***y” video other than it’s your ox that got gored.

“It is after all their party, their (and our) country.”

This kind of thinking is what lost you the election. It is NOT okay for the Democrats to rig their own primaries, and the party is NOT the property of the leadership, it’s the property of the Democrat voters.

“There is no hypocrisy; it’s a fundamentally different situation. ”

You fail to understand the counter argument, probably because you are refusing to process it. It’s not a matter of hypocrisy. As others have pointed out, Wikileaks and their source didn’t generate the emails. The problem was the content.

“This false equivalence gets really tiresome. It’s like saying that every color is black if it’s not white.”

Okay, do yourself a favor and stop imagining it.

“Let’s engage in reasoned thinking here.”

We are, you are the ones that aren’t. For one thing you don’t actually have any evidence that this was the Russians, just a few news stories based on anonymous sources in an agency famous for both deceit and incompetence vs Assange, who is claiming the source wasn’t Russian.

Now you can claim that Assange is making the Democrat source up, but that means he’s risking his reputation, which at this point is really all he’s got left, just to embarrass the Democrats.

That’s not reasonable.

#11 Comment By enjolra On December 14, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

@c matt

It would be nice to live in a world where people wanted to debate what I said, rather than just put words in my mouth and call me a hypocrite. Oh well.

For the record, I don’t think the way the Clinton Foundation was run, and the sums of money it hoovered up, were as above board as it should have been. That being said, there’s a world of difference between paying a politician a speaking fee (which said politician, in full compliance with the law, disclosed) and clandestinely trying to swing an entire election.

#12 Comment By McGraph On December 14, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

@enjolra — you may be right. As much as it irks me to have an election where a foreign power manipulated us, we were (apparently) manipulated. Our votes were cast and the result is what it is.

@VikingLS — I think I’ll look only mildly silly. I’m following the best evidence being presented to me, I recognize there is some chance I (and our intelligence agencies) are making a mistake. If so, I’ll eat the requisite amount of crow.

Of course–if I’m not mistaken–I think the other side will look slightly more than mildly silly. It would mean there is a foreign power treating us like bumbling idiots — and getting away with it. To make it worse, a sizable population out there is, when presented with evidence, deciding they don’t like the implications and sticking their fingers in their ears.

I think the analogy is shaky. This isn’t “someone” turning over emails about a philanderer. It’s a foreign power stealing information and leaking it to strategically to try to install a friendly leader. What if the suspicion that the RNC was also hacked but that information withheld turns out to be true? Will it bother you that information is not just being freed up to the people, but carefully fed to us for maximal impact?

@Greg — well put!

#13 Comment By Michael On December 15, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

My apologies, Mr. Giraldi, but the eloquent Judge Andrew Napolitano has spoken on this subject better than anyone. Here, in part, is what he says:

“In the case at hand, the CIA and the FBI looked at the same NSA-generated raw data and came to opposite conclusions. Needless to say, I have not seen this data, but I have spoken to those who have, and they are of the view that though there is evidence of leaking, there is no evidence whatsoever of hacking.

Leaking is the theft of private data and its revelation to those not entitled or intended to see it. Hacking is remotely accessing an operational system and altering its contents — for example, removing money from a bank account or contact information from an address book or vote totals from a candidate’s tally. When Trump characterized the CIA claim that the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign emails intending to affect the outcome of the election as ridiculous, this is what he meant: There is no evidence of anyone’s altering the contents of operational systems, but there is evidence — plenty of it — of leaking.

If hackers wanted to affect the outcome of the election, they would have needed to alter the operational systems of those who register voters and count votes, not those who seek votes.”

The good Judge opines that much of the leaking was done by disgruntled members of the American intelligence community reacting to the damage caused by Mrs. Clinton’s blatant disregard for the security of classified information.

Of course, both the media and numerous republican politicians despise Trump so they naturally prefer the Humpty Dumpty approach to word usage when it comes to hacks.

” ‘When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master— that’s all.’ ” “Hacks” is the word du jour, folks.

This tells me there is a good chance that no presidential inauguration will take place next month. Why?

If Trump is not stopped at the Electoral College, there is the possibility that he will be when a joint session of Congress gathers to count the Electoral votes on January 6th.

Although the procedure is not well know, any objection to the votes in writing that is signed by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate forces a Congressional vote on the validity of Electoral College votes. As the official House.gov website explains, if both the House and the Senate vote to approve the objection, the votes covered by the objection are not counted. If this happens, I leave the rest to your imagination.

Maybe all those weirdos predicting an Obama third term will have gotten it right after all.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 17, 2016 @ 10:32 am

“That being said, there’s a world of difference between paying a politician a speaking fee (which said politician, in full compliance with the law, disclosed) and clandestinely trying to swing an entire election.”

What about that the millions of dollars were given by bankers for brief speeches which remained secret, because some of the content was that a politician’s public statements weren’t what she would really do, but were necessary only to placate the public, while she assured she was really in favor of the opposite, of serving them?

Additionally, the idea that because some foreign government would prefer one politician over another, that I must therefore vote against my own interests and base my decision on voting the opposite to what they prefer, is absolutely ridiculous, and insulting to voter intelligence.

That’s like saying if a foreign country happened to be against war, and expressed that, then patriotism then requires me to be for war. Gee whillikers.

#15 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On December 18, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

Excellent analysis, Mr. Giraldi and absolutely rational, fair conclusions.
Indeed, “when aspirants to high office are careless in what they say, and how they communicate to associates, there will be consequences”.
In 2009, John Grisham has devoted to this issue his next bestseller
The associate:
[8]
Great language, subtle observation, graceful irony will give pleasure to the readers of the AC who have not read this book before and those who are interested in the topic raised by Mr. Giraldi.

#16 Comment By VikingLS On December 18, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

“Of course–if I’m not mistaken–I think the other side will look slightly more than mildly silly. It would mean there is a foreign power treating us like bumbling idiots — and getting away with it. To make it worse, a sizable population out there is, when presented with evidence, deciding they don’t like the implications and sticking their fingers in their ears.”

McGrsaph,

First of all the intelligence agencies have NOT said anything officially, all we have are some leaks from the CIA saying they think the Russians did it, and some from the FBI saying they’re not convinced. The CIA lies as part of its mission, the FBI does not. First you need to consider whether this is just something you REALLY want to be true so you can feel vindicated.

Second of all, being given information and ignoring it is acting like a bumbling idiot. Not responding to it.

No I want an answer, why would Assange lie about this? Assange unlike the CIA, suffers if he loses.

Don’t tell me you’ll eat the requisite amount of crow if you lose. Defend the opinion you are putting forth now.

Why would Assange lie?

Do you think the leaks should have been ignored, if so, how do you think we should have gone about that?

Finally, why do you think this even affected the election at all?

And no, “The Russians did this, and they are BAD!” which is all you have come up with so far, is not a defense.

#17 Comment By McGraph On December 19, 2016 @ 7:31 pm

Hey @VikingLS, thanks for the follow up.

It looks like now the FBI has joined the CIA in saying that, yes, Russians hacked into various emails and disseminated what they found there in order to tip the election towards Trump [1]. Of course, this again is not an official statement. That being said, it is coming from reputable news sources (yea, I said it, reputable 🙂 ) and has at least as much validity as most stories we believe.

Now, maybe the FBI and the CIA are lying, and that lie was leaked. Or maybe they haven’t come to these conclusions, and the leaks are a lie, but they haven’t denied them so probably not. If both these organizations are lying (though you said the FBI doesn’t lie as part of its mission), then this is a lot of smoke and no fire. But it does seem hard for me to believe that they are both behind this story, along with Mitch McConnell and others. It is deeply inconvenient, and puts them at odds with the incoming administration — who has already made his displeasure known by refusing intelligence briefings. I’ll have to see some proof this is a lie other than the word of Julian Assange.

As for Assange, his hatred for Clinton is well-known [2]. He timed the release of information for maximal impact on her campaign. This signals to me that his interest is not in merely informing the American people, but in influencing them. So maybe he doesn’t know that the information is from Russia, or maybe he would rather say it’s from an inside source to maximize impact. Obviously it would look bad for him to be seen as in collusion with Russia, since he’s already been accused of as much in the past [2]. In either case, believing him on this point is at least as much of an ideological choice as believing the FBI and CIA leaks.

As for how we should have incorporated this information, obviously it makes no sense to ignore it. What I would have wished, though, is for Americans to put it in context. That is, (assuming the CIA and FBI are right) this is information that Russia wants us to know. There is other information they don’t want us to know, and which they have therefore withheld. When judging the importance of that information, we need to keep that fact in mind. We cannot assume that the other option — Trump — is innocent because he wasn’t exposed.

Finally, I have no hard proof it affected the election. Showing a causal link between the leaks and the election outcome will likely be essentially impossible, though I’m sure many will try. That being said, it inarguably garnered a great deal of attention, and generated or solidified negative feelings towards Hillary. One need only look at some of the entries in this thread to see that.

Also I never said the Russians were bad, they’re just not our allies. Having any other nation influence our election would be a bad thing, though. I think we should all be able to agree on that. Had they influenced the election in my favored direction, I hope I would still be uncomfortable with that outcome. On that note, if Qatar had hacked into the RNC and shown embarrassing emails that maybe contributed to a Trump loss, I feel pretty confident Republicans would be much less blase — and Democrats likely more blase. That’s a problem.

[1] [9]
[2] [10]

#18 Comment By VikingLS On December 19, 2016 @ 11:08 pm

“It looks like now the FBI has joined the CIA in saying that, yes, Russians hacked into various emails and disseminated what they found there in order to tip the election towards Trump [1]. Of course, this again is not an official statement. That being said, it is coming from reputable news sources (yea, I said it, reputable ? ) and has at least as much validity as most stories we believe.”

And again, unofficial leaks, not official agency statements.

“In either case, believing him on this point is at least as much of an ideological choice as believing the FBI and CIA leaks.”

First of all the difference is that Assange is on record officially about this. NIETHER of the agencies you are citing are on the record. All you’ve got are some anonymous sources. Nor do the CIA and the FBI face any real consequences for making mistakes.

“As for how we should have incorporated this information, obviously it makes no sense to ignore it. What I would have wished, though, is for Americans to put it in context.”

And you have NO evidence that they didn’t.

“We cannot assume that the other option — Trump — is innocent because he wasn’t exposed.”

You also have no evidence that anybody believed this.

“On that note, if Qatar had hacked into the RNC and shown embarrassing emails that maybe contributed to a Trump loss, I feel pretty confident Republicans would be much less blase — and Democrats likely more blase. That’s a problem.”

And I would have agreed with the Democrats that pointed out that so long as nobody was saying Qatar had fabricated information, the information was more important than the source.

You’ve walked your position back a little, which I appreciate, but the problem I have is that you’re being very emphatic that you’re right about this, and that that subsequently reflects poorly on the right.

Well here’s a counterfactual to consider. Imagine it’s 2008. The Russians were pretty optimistic about Obama. (I was there and I can attest to that.) McCain on the other hand was (and is) openly hostile to Russia, as was Palin. Now imagine that McCain had stated that he was going to enforce a No-Fly Zone directly in the path of the Russian Air Force. Imagine that the Russians had started for the first time in decades practicing air raid drills and discouraging travel to the west. In the midst of all of this an agency leaks internal emails that show the Republicans were secretly working with Fox News, that McCain had a dangerous temper, and that Palin was stupid.

So Obama wins. Russians are visibly happy about that (and again, I was there, by and large they were). The air raid drills stop. Sure the Republicans could, and would, have had a fit about that and said all the things you are saying now and worse.

The difference is that they’d be the butt of every joke on late night TV and treated with a combination of scorn and amusement by most of the establishment.

For Democrats who chose to engage them there would be three obvious responses.

1) How is it a national crises for another country to leak information to us, but US involvement in the affairs of other countries, which is frequently way more intense, is okay. If you don’t like it being done to you, why aren’t you calling for your own government to stop doing it?

2) This would be a bigger deal if you had some evidence that this had any impact, but the emails mostly just confirmed what people who didn’t like your candidate already believed about them, and were ignored by the people who did.

3) Given that the Russians had a lot to lose if they DID do this, maybe you need to consider the possibility that your candidate really WAS a clear and present danger to them, and given the stakes of a Russia/US conflict, the world at large.

The right isn’t having the reaction you think we should because first of all a lot of us think you’re WILDLY exaggerating both your evidence and the impact of the “hacks”. We think you’re scapegoating, and sorry, but most of us are really happy and relieved that Clinton lost.

#19 Comment By McGraph On December 20, 2016 @ 1:59 pm

@VikingLS, I’m really liking this exchange! My rebuttal: (though I think perhaps we will never come to an agreement on this topic)

So, you can see here a statement by Mitch McConnell on this issue: [11]

Here is a statement by the Director of National Intelligence: [12]

These official statements say that the intelligence is that Russian government agents were behind the hacks. The unclear part is only their motives. McConnell’s speech suggests that our intelligence agencies cannot responsibly (or even maybe legally) make official statements beyond what they have said. So holding out for official statements around motive is an unrealistic standard for proof. The leak from a “senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators” (Washington Post) is about as good as you can get on these things.

I disagree with your claim that the FBI and CIA are operating in a riskless environment here. They are currently inflaming the (fiery) passions of the incoming administration against them, and may face repercussions. Their funding and access depend on the current administration. Also, as McConnell said, they could face legal consequences for saying too much. One might argue that by inflaming suspicions against Russia, the intelligence community stands to gain more funding, but that seems unlikely given the political response so far. A good motive to lie seems lacking.

Both Assange and Russia have much to gain by furthering the belief that the information did not come from Russia. Assange maintains credibility and helps off a political opponent. Russia does the same.

This call for proof, I think, is laudable. Though I think it is simultaneously a bit of a dodge. You would be as hard-pressed to show the hacks had no effect, or that voters incorporated the new information carefully, taking into account its source when deciding on its import.

So the question then is, even if it had no effect, would it still be a problem that a foreign government stole information in order to influence an election? I think the answer must be yes. It is a threat to self-government. Besides which, the idea that more information is universally better is flawed, I believe. Biased information, even if true, can lead to bad decision-making. If you have two job candidates and one gets their phone stolen by a friend of the second, you can bet that no matter what is on the phone of candidate 2 and no matter how much better candidate 1 is in general, candidate 1’s whiny texts just got them in big trouble. We have trouble balancing information that has come to light against uncertainty on the other side.

As for your point #1, I think the history of US intervention in others’ government is a prime example of why we should be worried. Look no further than those who lived under Pinochet, the Shah or Mobutu for evidence that when a people lose control of their own government, things turn out poorly. And, I am calling for my own government to stop doing it, and have been for a long time.

It feels a little disorienting to have to argue that foreign interference in our elections would be a problem. Even if I cannot prove it had a measurable impact this time around, it is still cause for alarm. I am bolstered in this belief by the fact that actors on both sides of the political spectrum are as alarmed as I am, despite the fact that they are happy with the end result of Clinton not being elected. You can be as happy with the outcome as you want, thanking a foreign power for tipping the scales is still really worrisome.

#20 Comment By VikingLS On December 21, 2016 @ 12:20 am

@McGraph

Okay I am going to make this as simple for you as I can.

1. I remain unconvinced that we know the source of the information.

2. I don’t believe the emails made any real difference to the election because I don’t think there was much in them people didn’t already know.

3. This seems to be fairly common on the right, who are treating this whole thing as a bit of a joke.

What all that means is this that I am not happy the Russians tipped the scales for us, for the simple reason that I don’t think that even if they DID hack the emails that is made any real difference.

That means this

“You can be as happy with the outcome as you want, thanking a foreign power for tipping the scales is still really worrisome.”

is a complete misrepresentation of my position, and I would suspect, most Trump voters.

So recap

I don’t know if the Russians hacked the emails, they might or might not have.

I do not believe those emails had any affect on the election.

Your whole argument has been based on the presumption that I believed otherwise, and that presumption is wrong.

No why is that so hard for you understand?

#21 Comment By ray smith On January 6, 2017 @ 6:56 pm

“Conservative” who are helping Russia take over America. Goldwater and Reagan are spinning in their graves.

#22 Comment By thinkingabovemypaygrade On January 17, 2017 @ 1:46 am

Read the above with interest…and maybe some confusion.

Still no CONCRETE specifics…agreed on by experts…on exactly what Russia is supposed to have done to allegedly help Trump.

What notable negative Hillary issue were NOT tied to issues known from various public sources?

Leak known Hillary info…things she said/did?

Certainly as an election judge…I knew that each state has its own voting method (they do vary slightly). Each county has various districts…they each have their own machines, etc.

As far as I heard, no one seriously believes the actual machines in any location were hacked into.

Tho I saw some media show videos of people voting while they ran the Russa hacking story…