January 6th, 2017

Russian hackers, CIA leakers

Lots of news today about the Russians, the 2016 election, the hacking, and the leaks.

The Russians celebrated the Trump victory. The DNC refused to give its servers to the FBI for an investigation. Trump says it’s a politically motivated witch hunt. The CIA is mad at Trump. And on and on and on.

One of the many problems with this story is that we have grown to distrust MSM reporting almost as much as we distrust the Russians, so Trump’s accusations (right or wrong) have a certain ring of believability. Another is that there is so much leaking from intelligence agencies these days that it’s truly alarming, whatever the political slant that leaking has and whatever side it benefits.

So here’s my effort to sort it out—at least for today. I assume three things. The first is that Russians have had an interest in the outcome of every American election for a long long time, and probably a favorite as well. The second is that they probably have long done whatever they could to influence those elections and to spy on many aspects of the US (and although, in the olden days of my youth, those efforts certainly could not have included cyber-spying, I have long assumed that the Russians have been cyber-spying ever since computers have become our dominant mode of communication). In fact, on that second point, I seem to remember bugging of embassies between the two powers, and the like. Why should that sort of thing have ended when the USSR fell? Wouldn’t the mode of spying merely have shifted towards the cyber world?

And the third is that, as Romney said (and for which Obama and the chorus of Democrats mocked him back in 2012), Russia is our “number one geopolitical foe.” China is in there somewhere, as well.

You know who else tries to influence the outcome of elections by releasing information, including information that is supposed to be secret? Why, Julian Assage of Wikileaks. Also, the leaking members of the CIA. Not to mention the MSM, which includes everyone to whom the others are leaking—that same MSM that is publishing today’s stories, shaping them and deciding what slant to give them.

Everybody has a dog in this race. Heck, even I tried to influence this election (actually, to influence the primaries: I thought Trump was the weakest GOP candidate and argued against nominating him) by writing my little blog.

I don’t think that the Wikileaks information which was released actually did influence the election. I don’t think that blue collar workers in the rust belt gave two hoots about it. But is it the effort that counts?

And why would Russia want Trump as president rather than Clinton? Why would they want the Russia-fearing GOP in charge? Didn’t Obama and company show enough “flexibility” after the 2012 election towards the Russians, as he had promised them? Wasn’t Clinton going to follow in his footsteps? Why Trump? Are we really to believe it’s because he called Putin a stronger leader than Obama?

Seems to me that, if the Russians were celebrating after the Trump win—and if they wanted Trump to win in the first place—it was mainly because they bought into the idea (an idea shared, pre-election, by much of the world) that Trump was some sort of idiot, and that he’d screw things up for the US. It also seems to me that the Russians wouldn’t have been so sad, either, if the eminently hackable Hillary and the demonstrably penetrable DNC had been in charge instead.

Somehow from all of this we are supposed to understand that there is something especially unusual, new, and nefarious about what the Russians did this time (as opposed, by the way, to Obama administration attempts to unseat Netanyahu in the Israeli election). We are supposed to understand that the Russian action caused Trump to be elected, which may not have happened otherwise. We are supposed to understand that Trump is in league with our enemies the Russians, now that Russia really is our number one geopolitical enemy. We are supposed to understand that anonymous CIA leaks are fine in this case, and that the WaPo is just trying to inform us of the truth and not trying to influence anything.

[ADDENDUM: Speaking of the WaPo, veracity, and influence, see this. Note, also, that Glenn Greenwald, the author of the piece, is one of Snowden’s main confederates in the press.]

26 Responses to “Russian hackers, CIA leakers”

  1. Yann Says:

    There’s a more simple reason Russia leaned towards Trump: he was the candidate who wasn’t to go to war with Russia.

    Just ask yourself WHY is Russia the main foe?

    In the case of China, the answer is clear: China wants to be the next top superpower, and the main obstacle for that is US.

    But Russia, why is it a foe?

    Ukraine and Crimea? Well, indeed the east part of Ukraine is Russian. That was a bad boundary line drawn during the fall of the USSR. Russia is never let go Ukraine from his sphere of influence. And that should be OK since US and EU are to blame for the Ukranian boundary problem.

    Asad? mmm…. so we’re supporting Islamic militias now? Bloody hell, Asad is the best option for Syria right now. Why is a conflict there between Russia and US? Shouldn’t US be helping to wipe out Islamic militias and sending them to Hell?

    I just don’t get it. Russia is a natural resources provider, probably the best in the world right now. US and EU industry need natural resources. There’s no even competition in the same market. Why the conflict?

    Unless… the conflict is not between countries. It’s between political parties. Putin right now is supporting nationalist movements all around. Trump was billionaire, but Marie Le Pen, for example, she’s not. Not a conflict between US and Russia, but between the Democrat Party and Nationalisms.

    Do you really want that to become a real war? Would you like your kids going to a war to defend the global l political interests of the Democrat Party?

  2. Artfsldgr Says:

    A hacker claims to have breached the FBI’s official website for the second time, describing their security systems as “lazy.” The hacker, who goes by the name CyberZeist, reportedly breached the FBI’s website and posted some of the private information he obtained to the open source site Pastebin. FBI trying to patch-up their Plone CMS #0day at https://t.co/IRhqdQjNbp, too late!! #ComingSoon #NewYearsEve pic.twitter.com/u7KOXNO3qV — CyberZeist (@cyberzeist2) December 31, 2016 “This leak is totally devoted to the Anonymous Movement,” he wrote. CyberZeist reportedly exposed a vulnerability in the Plone Content Management System (CMS) of the FBI’s, reportedly penetrating the website’s systems

  3. Roy Says:

    I’m with Yann.

    Russia is not our enemy. (They are not necessarily our friend either, but there is no good reason that I can see for our two countries to be hostile towards one another.)

    As far as Putin goes, he might not be my favorite world leader but he is obviously acting in *Russia’s* interests, not ours. What would we do if a country on our border suddenly turned hostile towards us due to foreign influence?

    Obama is acting very dangerously right now by unnecessarily egging on hostilities. There is no good reason for us to have any presence AT ALL in the Baltic states.

    January 20th is just two weeks away, but it can’t come fast enough.

  4. Roy Lofquist Says:

    “I have long assumed that the Russians have been cyber-spying ever since computers have become our dominant mode of communication).”

    Fascinating account of early hacking:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cuckoo's_Egg

  5. Artfsldgr Says:

    Yann, you forget that russia is still communist if not outwardly so… their people are moribund and their feminist movement exterminated a huge swatch of the population… your point ignores history of that state… and its control over the other communist/islamic states it helped create… (we helped too, but no thanks there)

    you have it backwards… Hillary would not fight, Trump would… however, putting that aside as that depends on what they do too and so under their control, they dont make money and such in a moribund world economy…

    ie. yes, they sell raw materials, but who would buy if capitalism isnt running well? and their investments… do you think that russians invest in russia or in the companies in the US stock market.

    here is a hint.. they were the biggest investors in facebook… which gives them a look into everyones lives… a kind of thing the kgb could never have dreamed of…

    and russia is NOT afraid of a war.. we think they are backwards but they are definitely not… they are different focused.. in this case, it was their leftists that gave us the idea of nuclear winter, that we could not survive it, and on and on…

    but note: IF a war breaks out with some form of nukes, all their equipment is hardened and ready for it, ours (us) is not… their trucks and things do not use expensive chips, they are old… which means they continue to run past EMP!!! ours stop dead… (remember, china makes our chips and been inserting counterfeits, chips with viruses, and other chips that can be shut down… )

    there is so much more i cant even begin to discuss it. the longer the time took from a decade ago, all of its piled up… and ten years of such stuff we as a public have not paid much to, and dont have much of an idea of whats really happened other than the gay thing, and a few other things..

    Russia doesnt want a fight till it knows it will win.. period

    China doesnt mind as they have a population so large that you dont have enough bullets to even try to shoot them (how about the ability to call up 35 million men of fighting age? thanks one child policy… and these men have no wifes and westeners are stealing (in their eyes) what is left.

    Russia doesnt want a fight because once it starts, china rolls over them, and nukes are the only deterrent

    on another note:
    Special Report: Trump vs. US Intelligence Community Audio Report: ISMG Editors Analyze the Latest Developments
    http://www.databreachtoday.com/interviews/special-report-trump-vs-us-intelligence-community-i-3440

    [i am in the data security applications programming arena, i just attended two conferences where i gave a round table talk among the leaders. like the ceo of kapersky, and more… and i once did some work for the “agencies” in the early days of the web and netscape…]

    In the report, you’ll hear (click on player beneath image):

    President-elect Trump discuss his skepticism over the intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin was behind the DNC breaches and data leak;
    National Intelligence Director James Clapper compare the difference between being skeptical about intelligence agencies’ security assessments and disparaging those agencies;
    National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers lament how Trump’s tweets critical of the intelligence community could lower morale, resulting in the loss of critical personnel with cybersecurity skills;
    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., advise Trump on how he should view the intelligence community’s value to the United States; and
    Purdue University computer expert Eugene Spafford explain why Trump is correct that sending written messages by courier is more secure than sending an email, but why it’s practically impossible to do.

  6. Artfsldgr Says:

    Do you really want that to become a real war?

    the war is already baked in due to the senkakus…
    china is building islands and putting military stuff on them on territory that is not theirs… squatting…

    but imagine a world with no police (countries have no cops), and where squaters have nuclear weapons…

    now, once they control most of the shipping outside their own, they control all of the pacific shipping from the continents east of half of india.

  7. J.J. Says:

    Testing.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    All the Sturm und Drang from the administration and media propaganda outlets is only meaningful if taken seriously. Open ridicule is the best response.

    I only consider Putin to be a threat if we precipitate confrontation through stupidity. I do consider the ChiCom leadership to be an existential threat. Sooner or later they will confront us. Far better to be prepared for it.

    Just Drain the Swamp (lots of aspects to that), rebuild the military, get the economy moving again and reform immigration.

  9. Eddie Says:

    The most important thing for Russia is energy prices.

    Due to the great invention of fracking, energy prices have cratered (Obama has been the beneficiary, ironically….and he can’t even crow about it).

    So….which candidate was pro-fracking, and which was against? I guarantee you, Russia was supporting the anti-fracking candidate…..so to say they wanted Trump to win is ludicrous…..fake news…..

  10. Yancey Ward Says:

    Neo,

    I have come to the conclusion that these sources for the media in the US intelligence agencies are not properly described as leaks, but rather lies. I don’t doubt for a second that the Russian government has hacked every US government system it can hack, but they are not the source of the Wikileaks. If the Russian government had really wanted to effect the election, they most definitely could have done a far better job than the DNC and Podesta e-mails.

    What is happening here with the CIA and the Obama Administration is a disgrace, and Trump should fire anyone who is involved in promoting this BS.

  11. J.J. Says:

    A few points to be made.
    1. The language used by the media has been biased and imprecise. They keep saying Russia hacked our election. No. Someone (Maybe it was Russia.) hacked the DNC and Podesta and turned the stuff over to WikiLeaks. Apparently nothing that was leaked was untrue, and most of it reflected badly on the Democrat political machine. (Which includes many of the MSM.) The election (the actual voting) seemed to be unaffected. The phrase, “Russia hacked the election,” is designed to delegitimize trump’s Presidency.
    2. The intelligence agencies probably have some good, smart people, but they have also become huge, inert bureaucracies that are now politicized. We know for a fact that CENTCOM intelligence about ISIS was massaged to provide a view that Obama would accept – that they were a JV Team. How much of this sort of thing ahs permeated all of our intelligence agencies? Methinks quite q bit.
    3. My appraisal of Putin is that he is extremely nationalistic and yearns for a return to the USSR or at least nominal control over former satellites. Russia is in a corner as far as its economic situation is concerned and Putin knows it. They are far too dependent on oil and gas to drive their economy, but Putin does not understand or trust free markets so they will not diversify as long as he’s in charge. I believe he wants to ally Russia with Iran with the idea of destabilizing the ME enough to drive oil prices back up. The low oil prices of the last two years have been killing Russia’s economy. I believe he sees Trump’s semi-isolationist policies as being favorable for him to accomplish his goal.
    4. Russia is in no position to go into a major war. They would run out of money and food very quickly. However, Putin recognized that Obama was a true paper tiger, so he has felt free to flex his muscles and kick sand in Obama’s face. If he favors Trump, it is probably because he thinks Trump might be loathe to support a strong NATO, and get involved in the ME, which Putin sees as positive vis a vis his goals of more security for Russia and higher oil prices.
    5. In the Senate hearings yesterday General Clapper stated that the Russians had engaged in disinformation, propaganda, and fake news in addition to the hacking of the DNC and Podesta. It will be interesting to see what they cite as cases of disinformation, propaganda, and fake news. There is so much of that material being fed to the public by the MSM I’m wondering if they believe the crap the MSM delivers but not the less traditional news sources. Who judges what is propaganda, disinformation, and fake news?
    6. One major point made by Admiral Rogers at the Senate hearing yesterday was that we are way behind in standing up cyber-security defenses. We are good at many thins in cyber warfare but we have neglected to build robust defenses into our systems. This should be a major priority for Trump. This should be one of the first major things done to strengthen our military and intelligence capabilities.
    7. If Trump unleashes the U.S. oil industry, it could become Putin’s worst nightmare, as oil prices might stay low for the foreseeable future and many of Putin’s European oil/gas customers might switch to U.S. suppliers. That could have major repercussions on Putin and Russia.

    In summing up. There are many movable parts involved in this issue. Navigating through the relationship with Russia for the next four years is going to take some real statesmanship and hard-eyed realism about what our best interests are and how to support them without getting into war.

  12. Paul in Boston Says:

    All this hoopla is just the Democratic party and its camp followers doing their best to delegitimize Trump’s election and weaken him when he assumes office. That’s all it is and if you don’t think so, you’re not cynical enough. Try to keep up.

    I’d always thought of Putin as just one more Russian thug trained by the KGB but gained some respect for him several years ago when he mandated that all Russian high school students read the “Gulag Archipelago”. That took real courage and should in time innoculate the next generation against any dreamy glorificaion of communism.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/26/putin-solzhenitsyns-gulag-archipelago-essential/

  13. parker Says:

    If the dnc-msm is so concerned with foreign hacking they should consider interviewing Merkel about who hacked her phone. This leaking by intelligence agencies is definitely directed towards tainting djt’s incoming regime. I think J.J. has an excellent take on the situation. Nothing is as simple as the Putin crowned the Donald narrative.

  14. Artfsldgr Says:

    I flatly state that Marx was consciously an intellectual swindler for the purpose of maintaining an ideology that would permit him to support violent action against human beings with a show of moral indignation.
    – Eric Voegelin, Autobiographical Reflections, [pp. 48]
    Those who are familiar with the workings of the Communists are aware that the United States is in jeopardy. They are not fearful if the people of the country awake to the danger. But the enemies of civilization, both those in the Communist party and those on the fringe, who are playing with fire in their support of Communist theories, are at work to effect the overthrow of the government. They are working cleverly, insidiously, and are willing to take plenty of time to accomplish their ends, but their main purpose, the goal toward which they are striving, is the destruction of church, home, and the state in America and the raising of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, controlled by Zinoviev and his gang in Moscow, to take the place of the government of the United States.
    – R.M. Witney, Reds In America, 1924, [p. 54]

  15. Artfsldgr Says:

    Vladimir Zhirinovksy, said in a recent interview, “Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump. But if they vote for Hillary it’s war…. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.”

  16. Oldflyer Says:

    Yann & Roy, I wonder what universe you inhabit? If you can justify saying that Russia is not our enemy, it is simply because it is a very weak country. Their natural resources have kept them afloat, but are being devalued on the world market by recent competitive advances; and they put all of their eggs in that basket. On the other hand, Russia is no friend. Putin’s Russia is an adversary–on the cheap. Putin is the classic bully who will seek to exploit weakness wherever he finds it; and revels in turmoil. Russia under Putin may not be an enemy, but it is ruthlessly antagonistic and must be confronted and held in check.

    At the moment Putin and the Russians are having a fine old time with very little effort, enjoying the hacking kerfuffle, thanks to the Dems and the MSM. J.J. is perfectly correct, of course, when he says that distorted language is used to convince a gullible, or hostile, public that the alleged hacking was more than it actually was. That is the norm.

    On the subject of veracity; we know that Putin was helping Trump because we were told so just yesterday by DNI Clapper. Yes, that’s the same Clapper who previously testified that the U.S. government was not spying on Americans.

  17. Frog Says:

    The heads of the various components of the so-called intelligence community are pure political appointees of Obama. There is no reason, none, to trust their public representations. About anything, since they are politically driven in the most lying Administration in history.
    The Federal government has been hacked repeatedly during Obama’s terms and nothing, zip, nada was done to harden those systems. 23 million Federal identities were stolen by the Office of Personnel Management hack and it was a big “So what?” in Obamaland. FBI, DOD, DOS have been hacked…big Democratic yawns followed. Not any embarrassment!

    IF, and it’s a big if, Russkies hacked DNC and phished Podesta in order to influence the election by seeming to favor a Hillary victory, I propose it was because Putin knows he can handle her. Putin favors a Trump loss, because he will be a meaningful adversary; or b) if Trump wins, he will be hamstrung by voter distrust in the verity of his election and being seen as favored by Putin. So either way the hackers, if Russian, win.

  18. texexec Says:

    I agree with what J.J. said, especially with his point #1.

  19. parker Says:

    Oldflyer,

    Everyone is the enemy until proven otherwise. 😉

    Russia is an enemy, no doubt. As is most of the planet. Every man for himself.

  20. Smokey Says:

    If the Russians could swing an election, wouldn’t they put their fellow traveler Bernie Sanders in?

  21. Tim Turner Says:

    Did Russian officials actually celebrate, or did they just want us to think so?

  22. Beverly Says:

    Oh, Jean, the intel community wouldn’t be any more politicized than, say, the IRS or the State Department, would they?

    Trump seems to have “blundered his way” into the Presidency rather cleverly. Much like we Americans blundered our way into Berlin, gauche tho we were.

    One of these days, people will stop underestimating the man. Until then, it will probably work in his favor. (As a Southerner, I’m used to the phenomenon.)

  23. Beverly Says:

    JJ, I think you have the right of it.

  24. Yann Says:

    Yann & Roy, I wonder what universe you inhabit? If you can justify saying that Russia is not our enemy, it is simply because it is a very weak country.

    You don’t have to justify that somebody is not an enemy. You have to justify that somebody is an enemy, because there’s a reason for a conflict and opposed interests.

    So, you must justify what opposed interests have US and Russia.

    I don’t anyone. However, I see opposed political interests between Democrat Party and Putin as a nationalist leader.

    On the other hand, Russia is no friend. Putin’s Russia is an adversary–on the cheap. Putin is the classic bully who will seek to exploit weakness wherever he finds it; and revels in turmoil.

    Yeap, but that doesn’t make him an enemy. What makes an enemy is that your country and other country want something and it’s not possible that both have it. For example: it’s not possible for China and US to be the Big Superpower at the same time.

    That, for example, it’s a reason for a conflict.

    Russia under Putin may not be an enemy, but it is ruthlessly antagonistic and must be confronted and held in check.

    You keep repeating the same again and again, rephrasing with different words, but you still don’t say WHY.

    On the subject of veracity; we know that Putin was helping Trump because we were told so just yesterday by DNI Clapper.

    And Angela Merkel was helping Hillary Clinton. So what? Going to war with Germany too?

  25. brinster Says:

    With all the noise generated by the Russians hacking the DNC, it all comes down to the TIMING of these revelations. Two weeks before the inauguration. Everything under the sun, including those idiots in the House yesterday attempting to de-certify the electoral vote, has been done to try to delegitimize Trump’s presidency. The guy’s still standing. I think he thrives on all this.

  26. Frog Says:

    From the Washington Free Beacon today, the political opinion of our esteemed intelligence agencies: “Regarding Trump, the agencies concluded that Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for Trump, a judgment the three agencies gauged with “high confidence.”

    All we have is their opinions. Like Clapper’s.

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/u-s-intel-report-says-putin-led-cyber-enabled-disclosure-operation-help-elect-trump-discredit-clinton/?utm_source=Freedom+Mail&utm_campaign=48fd9f6816-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_06&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5e6e0e9ea-48fd9f6816-46066129

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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