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No Smoking Gun on Russia Hack

The eagerly awaited report on the alleged Russian influence operation and hack linked to the recent American presidential election finally appeared on Friday. It is quite possible that President Obama, the intelligence community, and Congress now hope that the case has been definitively made to tighten the screws on Russia. If that is so, they are delusional. Moscow and Vladimir Putin may or may not be guilty as charged, but the paucity of the evidence being presented by the White House and the Director of National Intelligence suggests that the American people are being very poorly served by those who have been entrusted with protecting the nation.

The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was entitled “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.” [1] It followed the short “Joint Analysis Report” that appeared on December 29, produced by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. The earlier paper was entitled “Grizzly Steppe—Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” [2] but, apart from assertions of suspected Russian activity connected to an unnamed political party, it provided absolutely no evidence that the alleged intrusions into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and John Podesta emails were anything beyond probing for vulnerabilities to collect information, and carried out by unknown parties. In fact, it didn’t even provide the evidence for that and was instead largely a primer on how to avoid being hacked.

The short report’s first page had a telling disclaimer: “This report is provided as is for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.” In fact, the information allegedly contained was difficult to discern, making the report completely useless for those seeking to learn the actual evidence behind the alleged Russian hack. 

Friday’s longer and updated report was clearly intended to address those shortcomings. It was also thematically linked to the oral testimony provided by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the previous day. The unclassified report is 17 pages, while the original classified version has been described in the media as being 50 pages [3]; this suggests that the evidence supporting claims made was more-or-less completely redacted, a reasonable conclusion given the paucity of information one might consider sensitive in the public document. Nevertheless, the language used and how judgments are expressed often suggests the sources and methods that were exploited to prepare the original document.


In truth, I had fully expected that the report, which is evidently considered to be the “last word” on the claimed Russian hack, would be much more forthcoming, if only to dispel criticism. Seven pages, nearly half the content, consist of analysis of programming by RT International, a Russian-government-owned television broadcasting service. (Full disclosure: I have appeared on RT frequently.) And there are several pages of charts as well as an expansive explanation of analytic methods and terms used, so the actual substantive content is a bit on the thin side.

Before reading the report, I believed that the government would have considerable solid evidence to back up several of its claims, at least some of which might be judiciously used to provide a modicum of credibility for the entire package, but that was hardly the case. Indeed, the report, like the “Grizzly Steppe” effort, includes an unusual disclaimer, noting in an appendix on “Estimative Language” that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

The report’s “key judgments” and the subsequent echo-chamber coverage [4] in the national media are focused on six “findings” that support the thesis that “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election” reflect an escalation in Moscow’s program to “undermine the U.S. led liberal democratic order.”

The first conclusion is that “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” This claim is the most elusive and is based on the premise that, as head of state, Putin must have known and approved. But if U.S. intelligence does not have access to Putin’s private papers or communications, whether he personally ordered the campaign cannot be known. If it is known through indisputable evidence, the finding should have read something like “There is definitive intelligence indicating that …” The use of the expression “we assess” is weasel wording, meaning that the conclusion is not supported by actual evidence and is a judgment.

The second claim is that “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.” This is also preceded by “we assess” and is pure speculation unless the intelligence community has a document revealing such an intention in more or less those words.

The third allegation is that “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” This is another “we assess.” No doubt Russia saw Clinton as hostile and would take steps to discredit her using both media and intelligence resources based on its own self-interest, but, again, lacking any documentary or Humint (human intelligence) source providing a clear insight into Russian thinking, the conclusion that it was done to help Trump is speculative. This reservation is supported by a comment at the end of the finding itself, stating that the National Security Agency (NSA) had only moderate confidence in the conclusion. That is a low grade, meaning that there was little or no actual electronic intelligence collected that supports the judgment.

The report also states its belief that in June, Russia shifted its strategy to help Trump by ceasing to say good things about him publicly: “Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin personally would backfire.” The report then goes on to contradict itself, noting that other “pro-Kremlin figures” continued to praise Trump for his “Russia-friendly positions.” However, one can’t have it both ways if one were actually trying to run an “influence campaign.”

Though it did not appear in the report, some news stories [5] have revealed possibly leaked information indicating that Washington had intercepted phone calls made by senior Russian officials expressing joy over the election results. Desperate to confirm Russian involvement, the calls are being regarded by some as additional evidence that Moscow must have aided Trump.

The fourth claim is an assessment “with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (GRU) relayed material to WikiLeaks.” This comment is on firmer ground, even though it is also a “we assess” and appears to indicate that the intelligence community has at least some names and additional corroborative material. It identifies Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks as possible conduits that released “U.S. victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.” But it does not indicate who actually might have carried out the alleged hacks and, again, this raises the question of whether the U.S. government does or does not have the type of information that connects the dots, linking together the transmission belt for the information and the identity of its couriers in a chain of custody that goes directly from the alleged hack in the U.S. to the GRU in Moscow and then on to WikiLeaks in Moscow. I doubt that they do have that kind of information, but would concede if I were running a hacking operation combined with an influence or disinformation one, concealing the connections through use of cut-outs (mutually trusted intermediaries) would be an essential in maintaining plausible deniability. In other words, if the Russians actually did it, they would make it difficult to identify how it took place.

The fifth allegation is that “Moscow’s influence campaign … blends covert intelligence operations … with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state funded media, third party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’” The report is claiming that Russia’s overt media is part of the plot and that the production of what is now being referred to as “fake news” was all part of the game. RT International is referred to as the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” Assuming there was in fact some kind of plan, one would expect Moscow’s state-owned media to be following an official line on developments in the United States. Even if there were no conspiracy, Russian news would almost certainly reflect a government viewpoint. That is also true in the United States, where the media rebroadcast assertions made by the White House uncritically. Or even worse, like the completely false reports [6] of Russian hacking of utilities in Vermont. Hasn’t Clapper or anyone else on his team read the Washington Post lately?

An odd assertion in the report used to denigrate the coverage provided by RT International and Sputnik news claims that the two Russian state owned outlets “consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional U.S. media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.” It certainly looked that way to me and to many other Americans, which is possibly why Trump won in the first place. Other “evidence” provided in the report consists of analysis that Russian media was “consistently negative” regarding Clinton. It fails to note that Clinton was consistently negative regarding Russia, regularly seeking to tie an allegedly evil Putin to Trump.

And finally, the sixth assertion is that “Moscow will apply … lessons learned … to future influence efforts worldwide.” This is also preceded by a “we assess” and is sheer speculation unless the intelligence community has somehow obtained a document stating that that is what Russia intends to do or has intercepted a phone call in which Putin has indiscreetly outlined his plans.

I would assume that there were disagreements over some of the findings identified above, but that does not come through in the unclassified version of the report, apart from the one comment about NSA taking a “moderate” position. Given the frequency of “assessments” and “judgments” in the document, the lack of dissent is astonishing. One wonders if disagreements appear in the classified version. Possibly not, particularly if one goes by the example of historic intelligence assessments like the Soviet Estimate and the Iraq WMD reports, which were damaged goods produced under heavy White House pressure to conform to preexisting notions about what should appear.

As one works through the new report, suspicion grows that the so-called analysis is largely derived from an in-depth critique of what was appearing in the Kremlin-controlled media, which might or might not provide an insight into broader government policies. Fully half of the account focuses on Russian overt media operations and reporting, which are, to be sure, highly critical of the U.S. government, and include regular coverage of national surveillance programs and civil-rights infringements. RT also is indicted in the report for opposing “Western intervention in the Syrian conflict.” Well, I and many other Americans who are not useful idiots working for the Kremlin hold the same view. An annex to the report even describes RT International as promoting “radical discontent,” an odd expression that might have been coined by the Comintern.

I am personally quite familiar with RT International and also with quite a few of the American and European contributors who have appeared on their programs, many of which feature speakers holding quite adversarial positions [7] on issues of the day. I am unaware of anyone ever being coached or pressured to adopt a certain viewpoint to conform with an editorial policy and believe that on most issues RT is no worse than many American and European news outlets. If RT coverage of the American election was biased, it is little different than what was occurring in the U.S. media—and if there is a problem with that for the drafters of the report, it appears to be attributable to the fact that the slant was unacceptably pro-Trump rather than pro-Clinton. Trump has said that the only reason [8] anyone is concerned with the possible Russian involvement is that Hillary lost. He is probably correct. Did Russian media coverage really amount to an attack on the United States and our way of life? Did people in America actually vote in large numbers based on what RT International was reporting?

So the latest attempt to nail perfidious Moscow is, to my mind, yet another mish-mash of soft facts combined with plenty of opinion and maybe even a bit of good old Cold War-style politics. A lot of sometimes wild speculation and judgments based on fragmentary information taken together are not a good basis for determining foreign policy, particularly if one is dealing with a powerful foreign state that is heavily armed with nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile delivery systems.

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

38 Comments (Open | Close)

38 Comments To "No Smoking Gun on Russia Hack"

#1 Comment By AJ On January 8, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

When James Clapper recently spoke to Congress, he played the patriot card. He maintained that disbelieving what was then only strategic leaks from the report on Russian hacking was dishonoring our brave men and women in the field. That’s when I knew Clapper was lying to Congress. Again.

#2 Comment By Carl On January 9, 2017 @ 1:10 am

If they had the evidence they would’ve certainly produced it. This was their one throw to save themselves from the wrath of the new CinC.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 9, 2017 @ 1:13 am

Alternative and more critically thought assessments such as yours, Phil, do not enhance military industrial revenue streams or grow government budgets for conflict.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On January 9, 2017 @ 8:41 am

The report confirms the politicization of the Intelligence agencies. If you actually read it, it is filled with inflammatory language designed to get the reader (aka gullible MSM) to hate Russia. The fact that they even brought up RT is evidence of this. Hint, anyone reading or watching Russia Today is aware that it has a Russian bias.

It would be as if the IC did a report on Pollard’s spying, and the Senate demanded a special committee on Israeli spying and they produced a report on all Israeli activity designed to influence the U.S. govt. I’ll leave it to your imagination on how that could be worded. I would not condone an unprofessional report using inflammatory language regarding Israel either.

This report was designed to please its target audience and was light on substance and heavy on innuendo and subjectivity. I’m certain that the Russians routinely do try to hack our servers as we do theirs. Of course we have to enhance our security, not start WW3.

#5 Comment By connecticut farmer On January 9, 2017 @ 8:54 am

Excellent article. Russia was been in the espionage business before the United States even existed, going back at least to the reign of Peter the Great (when colonists in America were still busy fighting off Indians). While one cannot totally rule out the allegations being made against the Russian government, I find it hard to believe that so sophisticated an operation as the KGB would have left fingerprints. Absent a smoking gun, the allegations remain as such–allegations. Nothing more, nothing less. The bottom line is that we may never find out who was responsible for the hacking.

And, yes, Trump is right: this has been ginned up by the MSM because, after all, their candidate lost the election.

#6 Comment By John S On January 9, 2017 @ 9:03 am

Since Friday’s briefing, the Trump team’s language suggests they are now reluctantly convinced that Russia is responsible.

#7 Comment By The Colonel On January 9, 2017 @ 9:22 am

Dear US intelligence community and government elite class,

Welcome to the 21st century, in which media travels across international borders and casual correspondence by email is subject to interception.


The Surveilled Masses

#8 Comment By Tiktaalik On January 9, 2017 @ 9:24 am

>>The fifth allegation is that “Moscow’s influence campaign … blends covert intelligence operations … with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state funded media, third party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’”

Are there any recommendations to wear tin foil hats?

#9 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On January 9, 2017 @ 9:32 am

The CIA had definitive proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Now they have definitive proof that Russia weaponized cyber-attacks on US soil. I believe them totally.

#10 Comment By Blounttruth On January 9, 2017 @ 9:34 am

Not only “no smoking gun”, but evidence collected was from 2012, and yet Obama pokes the Russian bear via sanctions with no proof of influence other than post election celebrations. A non story other than how dangerous Obama is by taking actions against a nuclear armed nation with no evidence other than political posturing. A very dangerous man indeed.

#11 Comment By Johann On January 9, 2017 @ 9:49 am

In addition to the concerns Mr. Giraldi makes about the report’s obsession with RT America, two other examples of RT propaganda that the report cites is 1)a portrayal of the US as a surveillance state and 2)claims that the two party system excludes many views and people from the political system. Well, I would guess that if not a majority, then a sizeable percent of Americans believe this to be fact and not propaganda. That our intelligence community more or less unanimously thinks this to be untrue is disturbing.

Really, the whole idea of our intelligence agencies providing an analysis of RT America’s programming when the programming is not secret is absurd. Private nongovernmental organizations like the media and others can do that analysis. If this is what we are paying our so called intelligence services to do then they are worthless. And actually, all they have done is expose their bad judgement.

#12 Comment By Phil Giraldi On January 9, 2017 @ 10:11 am

John S – Not exactly. On Fox yesterday Reince Priebus said that “He [Trump] accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue.” In an earlier statement, Trump acknowledged that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat(ic) National Committee.”

There is a lot of wiggle room in both those comments and no acknowledgment that the Russian government was behind it or that it was ordered by Putin or that the objective was to help him and hurt Hillary. Note the use of “entities” and “outside groups and people.”

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2017 @ 10:11 am

The report is the child of outgoing Democratic President Obama and several of the outgoing President’s outgoing political appointees.

Because “the paucity of the evidence” in the report fails to prove the report’s claims, there is every reason to conclude that the report’s claims are politically motivated and serve two politically-motivated aims: (1) To discredit the incoming Trump administration and (2) to make an improvement in US-Russia relations more difficult.

Those who hatched these politically-motivated claims will soon be gone. But the mainstream media – those who accepted uncritically and promoted far-and-wide the unsubstantiated, politically-motivated claims — will, alas, remain with us: Proof that prostitution remains the oldest profession.

#14 Comment By Viriato On January 9, 2017 @ 10:23 am

Thank you for the common sense, Mr. Giraldi. You and others like you do the critical thinking and analysis that our so-called “free” press fails to do.

#15 Comment By Mikel On January 9, 2017 @ 10:42 am

I wonder how many supporters of Russia’s meddling in our elections have children currently serving in the U.S. Military?
I bet it’s zero.

#16 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2017 @ 11:05 am

It’s not unusual for high school students to “pad” assigned termpapers with cut-and-paste appendices and annexes.

However, you don’t expect to see the termpaper-padding practices of high school students carried over into a much-ballyhooed US National Intelligence report.

But “padding” is just what we have in Friday’s 17-page document. As Philip Giraldi points out: “Seven pages, nearly half the content [of the report], consist of analysis of programming by RT International, a Russian-government-owned television broadcasting service.”

On the positive side, if you’re the high school teacher marking the padded termpaper, you have to be appreciative when the student who is doing the padding at least acknowledges the padding in a footnote.

And that’s exactly what the authors of Friday’s report do: They openly acknowledge/footnote their seven-page “pad” (see bottom of first page of Annex A):

“This annex was originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center, not the Open Source Enterprise.”

“Published on 11 December 2012”!?? What-the-heck was a four-year-old public document doing pasted into Friday’s report?

Am I missing something? Why not paste in a couple of pages of recipes for borscht?

#17 Comment By Rossbach On January 9, 2017 @ 11:58 am

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

This statement nullifies the entire “report”. Either they have evidence of wrongdoing by Russia or they haven’t.

Even if President Putin did order the hacking of Podesta and the DNC and then handed it to WikiLeaks with the aim of getting people not to vote for Hillary Clinton, why is that Donald Trump’s fault? Is there evidence that Trump colluded with Putin in this alleged endeavor? If not, is there any proof that Trump knew of the hacking in advance and could have stopped it?

If the Obama regime’s intelligence experts have evidence that Trump was elected because of active foreign interference in the 2016 election and that this was done with his blessing, let them present the evidence. Anything less is little more than a parting smear.

#18 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On January 9, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

With all due respect to the author, and speaking with zero experience in intelligence operations, beyond Tom Clancy and W.E.B. Griffin novels; show me successful operation which produces a ‘smoking gun’. Therein lies the rub. If a true ‘smoking gun’ existed, would the intelligence agencies tasked with preventing (and conducting) cyberattacks make this information – how they came to locate and confirm the ‘smoking gun’ – available to the general public? Conversely, were the CIA, NSA, FBI, et al unable to find a ‘smoking gun’, does anyone here believe this (perhaps, more damaging) ‘news’ be made public? This is the reality of intelligence operations. Was the Gulf of Tonkin North Vietnamese aggression, or a ‘false flag operation’? Was it both? The sad irony of this (and the relationship between intelligence operations and political operations) is as old as history itself. The DNC and other agencies were hacked. How President-elect Trump, the Military-Industrial complex (and its Congressional pimps), respond to this “intelligence” is defined by each entities “investment” in (relationship to) the “operation”. Throughout the campaign and the period of transition; Trump has presented himself as an unstable, undisciplined (Twitter), narcissistic autocrat. Perhaps this “cover” is itself part of a larger political operation. Again, expecting either the Trump team, or the national intelligence “team” to behave otherwise, is somewhat naïve.

#19 Comment By gk On January 9, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

Mr Giraldi sidesteps the obvious Big Question.

The Big Question is not The Smoking Gun. It’s Illegitimacy of the election based not in ‘voting machines’ but in the nature of Doubt.

Doubt has replaced Illegitimacy as the psychological centerpiece, despite the energetic efforts to eliminate it from our innermost minds.

So no Smoking Gun was even necessary. All the Russians needed to accomplish was Permanent Doubt, injected into the DNA of this presidency. And they have succeeded. Every thinking American—including those who supported Mr Trump—will have Doubt as a fixed feature for the next four years.

For the duration of Mr Trump’s presidency, the electorate, in its collective consciousness, will be saying: ‘Well sure, he’s our president, but not really.’

#20 Comment By Fred Bowman On January 9, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

Why am I not the least bit surprised. Of course the majority of the Americans will continue to believe what they want to believe thanks in part to America’s mainstream news/propaganda networks. Be curious how this report gets spun.

#21 Comment By Jim Bovard On January 9, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

Great piece, Phil! Thanks for shading the light of your expertise on this issue.

#22 Comment By Jimmy J. On January 9, 2017 @ 1:44 pm

They got bupkes.

#23 Comment By John S On January 9, 2017 @ 1:56 pm

Mr. Giraldi, my point is he and his team are backing away from the “there’s no evidence whatsoever” argument. And that speaks volumes.

Perhaps his ties to Mogilevich are a motivating factor for his consistent shielding of Putin.

#24 Comment By Skeptic On January 9, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

Wait, gk, what did you just write? Isn’t it precisely the purpose of this whole campaign against “Russia hacking our democracy” (despite the paucity of evidence for any such thing, as Mr. Giraldi notes), to create Doubt about Trump’s legitimacy?? This has been done by the Obama administration and by the DNC and its acolytes — not by the Russians. Sheesh.

#25 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

“gk” writes:

“Mr Giraldi sidesteps the obvious Big Question. The Big Question is not The Smoking Gun. It’s Illegitimacy of the election based not in ‘voting machines’ but in the nature of Doubt. Doubt has replaced Illegitimacy as the psychological centerpiece, despite the energetic efforts to eliminate it from our innermost minds…Every thinking American—including those who supported Mr Trump—will have Doubt as a fixed feature for the next four years.”

I’m laughing – falling off my chair laughing.

So that’s the fall-back position, is it, gk?

No smoking gun necessary. No evidence necessary. No proof necessary.

Just the performance of a kind of mass national hypnosis –- or some sort of power of suggestion — so that we all supposedly fall into some sort of modern psychological state of permanent doubt?

Here’s some belated advice, gk: Knowing from the start that you had no evidence — no proof — don’t you think it would have been smarter to run with the psychological-doubt thing from the very beginning?

I say that because now it looks as if your psychological-doubt thing is just what it obviously is: Your own Custer’s-last-fall-back position.

Let me end with one important question, gk, and I do use my real name here: Have I ever taken your community college creative writing course? The one that you build around Harry Potter and the Hobbit? I think maybe I have, but I can’t be sure. (OMG! Doubt is coming over me!)

#26 Comment By gk On January 9, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

“We in the intelligence community can’t gauge the impact it had on the choices that the electorate made.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

#27 Comment By Richard Steven Hack On January 10, 2017 @ 12:39 am

Evidence – much better evidence than has been produced so far – is building that any hacks – as opposed to leaks – that were done to the DNC were likely done by Ukrainian hackers as a false flag to get Russia blamed for them.

Everyone needs to read these articles:

Why Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Story Fell Apart – Say Hello to Fancy Bear

Did a Ukrainian University Student Create Grizzly Steppe?

Russia Hacking the Election the Inside Story

I had been suspicious of the Russian theory due to Jeffrey Carr’s articles on Medium (Google for them, they are vital to understanding the issues) which debunk most of the evidence. I wondered why it was that the equally logical possibility that Ukrainian hackers might have done the hacks as a false flag operation to frame Russian for them was being ignored completely.

I noted that the “evidence” that the compile times for the malware were allegedly during “Russian business hours.” If you look at the time zone maps, you’ll see Moscow is just one hour ahead of Kiev, Ukraine. So that “evidence” was meaningless.

Secondly, I read an article by WordFence, a company which does WordPress blog security, that the PHP malware used was provably Ukrainian and open source, i.e., available to anyone aware of it. There is nothing “Russian” about it.

Then I found the above articles which pretty clearly show connect the dots evidence that the head of CrowdStrike, the company that the FBI RELIED ON for the “evidence”, is run by an anti-Russian Russian ex-pat who has DIRECT connections to Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who are DIRECTLY connected to the Democratic National Committee and who themselves have DIRECT connections to apparently competent Ukrainian hackers. I mean these articles lay it out in chapter and verse based on publicly available data.

I now believe that it is entirely possible that the entire DNC “hack” accusation is a false flag operation organized by Ukrainian individuals, with or without Ukrainian state help, and with or without the knowledge of the Clinton campaign, for the purpose of further ruining US relations with Russia.

The DNC documents themselves were likely “leaked”, not “hacked”. But hacks were done solely for the purpose of getting Russia blamed for them.

Stay tuned. The last word is not the ODNI/FBI report.

#28 Comment By marc j On January 10, 2017 @ 4:39 am

Even if you assume Russia tried to inluence the election, so what? Who didn’t try to inluence the election? If the process were some utopian affair where only the “best and brightest” stood for office it might matter. As it is, billions of dollars were spent and all sorts of organizations and individuals tried to influence the outcome. Top of the list was HRC and the DNC aided and abetted by CNN, NBC,FOX etc.
Very much a case of “she was “known” before she became a virgin”

#29 Comment By stinky rafsanjani On January 10, 2017 @ 8:14 am

does the comment system work?

ladies and gentlemen, yes, the russians do
try to “hack” our systems. that’s a given.
does the nsa hack into russian systems, and chinese systems, and german systems, and so on? of course they do. that’s the way the world works. governments spy on other governments.

hacking goes on all the time, so of course the russians were in our systems, just as we are in the russian systems intercepting congratulatory phone calls. oops.

the question is how did this info get released? you can blame the evil russians if that makes you feel better about losing an election, but you better be able to prove it.

otherwise, indications are the dnc info was leaked by an insider, not hacked. (seth rich perhaps?) and podesta fell for a phishing spoof email…..something any nigerian prince could have put together.

anyhoo, now that i have your attention…here’s what you need to think about: now we KNOW the russians (and others) are in all our networks, regardless of how safe and secure they may be. so tell me now why you think ms. clinton should not be persecuted for storing highly classified state department communications on her unsecured homebrew server?

think about it…..for years the russians have had access to all top level communications in our state department.

#30 Comment By EliteCommInc On January 10, 2017 @ 3:31 pm

Ohhh brother.

For two years, democrats liberals and more so called “conservatives” than I would like to admit have barraged the country with so much silliness concerning the election that those issues are engaged seriously as if they had any efficacy.

This is just one of many rabbits the media is going to pulling out of their hats over the next few years. All to avoid the process of governing. No. This is not the admin.’s outgoing dig. This is an elite whose agenda took a very serious low to the head by an election they assumed was in the bag. This is a thousand and more Merryl Gummers (Streeps) clamoring for their view of the country. This is hundreds of think tanks whose analysis has fallen on its face. This a large swath of people in leadership whose failure must be placed on anyone but themselves. There are times when others do things to us. When we are duped, where those with power muddy distort, etc. to get their way. The dysfunction here is that those who actually engaged these tactics this time were re-soundingly beat. And beat when they held all the cards. They remain shell shocked. This is hundreds of thousands of women in places of influence, trying to figure how their slam dunk didn’t even reach the rim. This is a serious struggle for determining a nation’s world view of reality.

This is the long arm (tentacles) of the Clinton Foundation and similar organizations planning their next move.

By every measure they have employed to make their case it turns against them in the previous elections. For it surely based on the media reporting and the response by the European community. The current executive was by the influence of US electoral process by the EU. Sealed with a Nobel Peace prize for a man who had done absolutely nothing.

This has become silly.

As for the Russians being inside everything we do. I seriously doubt it. I will admit that during the 1950’s and even now the Russians may have us beat on human intel infiltration. That’s not saying much in an open society. And in the end, it unraveled and what existed wasn’t very helpful to the Soviets.

Our failures have not been to the fail of what others know about us. It has been the result of what we have failed to know or comprehend about others.

Their motives, the allegiances, their agendas long term, and the veracity of what they claim about any of the above. We are further fractured by multiple actors within our own system doing what seems looks like their own agenda running cross purpose to the advantage of the goals of the US. As an outsider, it looks like a government frayed and dysfunctional, trying to cover up the same.

#31 Comment By Carroll Price On January 10, 2017 @ 7:18 pm

Sorry, but I place as much trust in the NSA’s conclusions (regarding Russia’s alleged hacking of the DNC) as I put in the 9/11 Commission Report. Which is absolutely none.

#32 Comment By David Peterson On January 10, 2017 @ 10:48 pm

Oh dear. This article could use an update. That is, unless no one here believes anything at all that our intelligence agencies have discovered. I’m just wondering exactly when was it that we started trusting Putin over our own?

#33 Comment By Will Porter On January 11, 2017 @ 2:22 am

“In other words, if the Russians actually did it, they would make it difficult to identify how it took place.”

Phil states this as if it were a concession to the other side of the argument, but I don’t think it helps their case at all!

It’d be one thing if they were more careful and hedged their positions a bit more, but the level of certainty they’re proclaiming doesn’t square with the fact that the Russians, If they are indeed guilty of this hacking, would make it very difficult to prove.

Cyber security consultant Jeffrey Carr has made a similar point in reference to CrowdStrike, the company the DNC hired to investigate the hacking allegations. Basically, his point is that attribution in hacking incidents is so hard to prove that you ought to doubt anybody who claims total certainty.

I think that also applies to the U.S. intelligence community.

#34 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 11, 2017 @ 3:19 am

Every previous day’s unconfirmed propaganda become’s the next’s incontrovertible foundation to build the next accusation upon.

Now we have accusations that Trump has been an agent for Putin for years, blackmailed by Putin’s recording Trump paying prostitutes to urinate where Michelle Obama, who he supposedly hates, had slept in Moscow.

What addition tomorrow, will be built on top of these accusations?

It appears that at some point, the entire Republican Party except for John McCain and Lindsey Graham, will be indicted for treason before Obama leaves – if he does.

Does that mean that Hillary Clinton will finally take her rightful place as President?

It seems the well has now been poisoned beyond redemption, between the coasts and the center of the country. There is no longer any middle ground.

#35 Comment By Cato On January 12, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

“Oh dear. This article could use an update. That is, unless no one here believes anything at all that our intelligence agencies have discovered. I’m just wondering exactly when was it that we started trusting Putin over our own?”

If I have two people, both of whom have a record for lying, which both the CIA and Putin do, I’m not going to just trust one of them because he has some nominal connection to me.

#36 Comment By Tarnold On January 12, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

The US has been interfering in foreign elections for many years – e.g. Ukraine and Georgia.
Obama also told the UK how to vote on “Brexit”.
The US has also been overthrowing governments for a long time.
It is trying to do so in Syria.
Really,it takes a lot of gall.

#37 Comment By FreeOregon On January 12, 2017 @ 5:20 pm

Goodbye trust and confidence in government.

#38 Comment By Marcus Aurelius On January 15, 2017 @ 12:57 am

None. Nada. Zionists could not provide any evidence.