Russia-gate’s Shaky Foundation

Special Report: The Russia-gate hysteria now routinely includes rhetoric about the U.S. being at “war” with nuclear-armed Russia, but the shaky factual foundation continues to show more cracks, as historian Daniel Herman describes.

By Daniel Herman

Anyone who watches the news knows that Russian hackers gave Democratic National Committee documents to WikiLeaks and hacked voter databases in 21 states. Prominent Democrats call these shenanigans “a political Pearl Harbor.”

USS Maine, which exploded and sank in Havana Harbor in 1898, touched off the Spanish-American War

On the blog Daily Kos, one contributor cries “we were robbed!” (arguing that somehow Russian meddling gave Trump a victory in North Carolina, where his margin was 180,000, and where no evidence whatsoever indicates a successful hack of voter databases).

In a new video propamentary, er, docuganda, or something like that, Morgan Freeman declares “we have been attacked. We are at war. This is no movie script.”

Before we hop on the Morgan Freeman train, we might want to consider some history. In 1898, the American press — taking the word of naval investigators — reported that a Spanish mine had destroyed the battleship, U.S.S. Maine. Leading newspapers promptly called for war, and the U.S. government obliged.

Finally, the U.S. became an imperial power with the acquisition of Cuba and the Philippines and a few other odds and ends, at the bargain cost of 2,500 American soldiers dead, plus another 4,000 lost in the Filipino rebellion that followed, not to mention the lives of tens of thousands of Filipino opposition fighters. Only later did it come to light that the Maine was destroyed by a boiler explosion.

In 1915, leading newspapers again whipped up the American public by announcing that a German submarine had sunk the unarmed passenger ship, Lusitania. Two years later — and in part due to lingering outrage over the Lusitania — the U.S. went to war, this time costing 116,000 American lives and over 200,000 wounded, not to mention creating a patriotic frenzy at home that led to beatings, lynchings, and attacks on civil liberties. Decades later, divers proved that the Lusitania was carrying arms to Britain — contrary to government assurances — thus violating international law. German naval intelligence had proved correct.

In 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed he had a list of men in the State Department who were communists. A credulous press played up his accusations, despite the fact that the numbers on his supposed list kept shifting. McCarthy and his allies in Congress recklessly charged Americans in Hollywood and in government with being either communists or “fellow travelers,” often ruining their careers.

Congress meanwhile passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, which required suspected “subversives” to register with the government. It also permitted the government to round up and hold those same suspected “subversives” on the order of the President.  McCarthy, of course, had no real list, and finally ruined his own reputation by accusing Army brass of communist sympathies. McCarthy’s many allies, however, paid no penalty for overreach.

Fake Intelligence

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the North Vietnamese had attempted a second torpedo attack on an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin, then used the incident to get Congress to give him the power to make war.

President Lyndon Johnson announces “retaliatory” strike against North Vietnam in response to the supposed attacks on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin on Aug. 4, 1964. (Photo credit: LBJ Library)

Thanks to the press endorsing the war effort and cheerleading on the nightly news (at least until the Tet Offensive four years later), the Vietnam War led to 58,000 American deaths and over a million war deaths altogether. Covert U.S. forces, meanwhile, kick-started a civil war in Cambodia that ended in genocide after the Khmer Rouge took power. Cambodia lost over half of its population of 7 million between 1970 and 1980.

It later became clear that there had been no second attack on the destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin; its crew had misread radar signals.

In 2002, U.S. intelligence, via George W. Bush’s administration, told the American public that Iraq had a hand in planning the 9/11 attacks and, moreover, that Iraq secretly maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that might be shared with Al Qaeda. Both claims were utterly false, yet the American press — particularly the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN — led Americans to believe they were true. Far from questioning authority, the press became its servant. The result: 4,500 American war deaths; at least 110,000 Iraqi deaths (some estimates put the figure at over a million); and a destabilized Middle East, wherein both Iran and ISIS (who are bitter enemies) were empowered. In all likelihood, moreover, there would have been no Syrian war had there been no Iraq War.

When the American press and American political leaders loudly accuse another country of “an act of war,” in short, the American public needs to be on the alert. Rather than marginalizing and belittling skeptics, the press and public should give them a fair hearing. Far better to have a spirited debate now than to come to the realization in the future that groupthink created catastrophe.

Hack or Leak? It’s Worth Asking

With all that history in mind, we should be grateful that William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director, is shouting with everything he can muster that the U.S. intelligence community has no solid evidence that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee. The NSA, he says, would have a record of any overseas exfiltration and could release that data without danger to national security; yet the NSA hasn’t. Though Binney left the NSA 16 years ago, he should know: he created the powerful cyber-vacuum that the NSA still uses.

Former National Security Agency official William Binney sitting in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City. (Photo credit: Jacob Appelbaum)

Binney’s organization, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), has produced a report in which they argue that forensic evidence from documents produced by Guccifer 2.0 (G2) suggests — strongly — that G2 was a hoaxer. Skip Folden, a VIPS associate and a former elite tech executive with IBM, has issued his own report that buttresses the VIPS report. Adam Carter (a pseudonymous investigator) and Forensicator (another pseudonymous investigator) have also buttressed the VIPS Report, as have cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr and former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter (Ritter disagrees with VIPS in part but not on the basic charge of insufficient evidence).

To the extent they mention the skeptics, American journalists dismiss them as fringe. Yet the skeptics deserve a hearing. Among the important points they make is that U.S. intelligence has only identified the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups (APT 28 and 29 to be precise) associated with the hacking, and not the hackers themselves. An APT is a set of common parameters — tools, modes of operation, target patterns — used by hackers. But how certain are our intelligence agencies that Russians stand behind APT 28/29?

It happens that Dimitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike — the cybersecurity entity that analyzed DNC servers — was asked that question in June 2016. His answer: “medium-level of confidence that FancyBear is [Russian intelligence agency] GRU… low-level of confidence that CozyBear is [Russian intelligence agency] FSB.”

Skip Folden suggests that Alperovitch’s estimates equal a 37-38 percent probability that Russian intelligence stands behind APT 28/29. It’s not clear how Folden came up with that figure. We should note here that Alperovitch subsequently raised his confidence levels to “high,” but then had to reduce them again in March 2017 after realizing that his new assessment was based on phony data published by a Russian blogger. Meanwhile, in January, Director of National of Intelligence James Clapper’s hand-picked team had used Alperovitch’s “high confidence” assessment of Russian hacking of the DNC, which every major network reported dutifully without so much as a blink.

It’s hard to say what additional evidence the NSA/CIA team might have had — or whether there was any — though there are rumors that a Kremlin mole working for Latvia confirmed that Putin ordered his cyber-warriors into action. The NSA, however, didn’t consider the source fully trustworthy (remember Curveball, the wonderful gift of German intelligence?), hence it committed itself to only “moderate confidence” even as the CIA stated “high confidence.” At any rate, the January report lacked both solid technical evidence and more traditional evidence confirming Russian hacking.

Not Making Sense

Several other oddities stand out: first, why would G2 announce himself two days after the DNC reported being hacked, brag he was the hacker, and add that he had given his material to WikiLeaks? WikiLeaks exists for one reason: to give whistleblowers deniability. Normally, people don’t give material to WikiLeaks and then brag about it publicly.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Photo credit: Espen Moe)

Least of all would Russian intelligence do such a thing, assuming — as some allege — that they routinely use WikiLeaks to disseminate hacked data. Why would Russia implicate its proxy? Why, indeed, would Russia not only cast aspersions on Julian Assange’s honesty, but also cast doubt on the authenticity of the DNC data, given that intelligence services are known to doctor hacked documents? Why, moreover, would G2 give information to WikiLeaks in the first place, given that he had the ability to curate it and disseminate it on his own, as he showed by distributing “choice” (but actually innocuous) data to journalists?

Then there’s the forensic evidence, which shows that (1) G2 put DNC documents into a Russian template; and (2) G2 made those changes on the computer in an East Coast U.S. time zone. Plus, linguistic evidence suggests that G2 showed none of the typical speech idiosyncrasies of a native Russian speaker.

Metadata can be fudged, so it’s possible that (1) and (2) don’t matter. If that is the case, however, one must explain why G2 would drop deliberate clues indicating that he’s Russian — including leaving the name of the founder of the Soviet secret police in one document, along with Cyrillic error messages in another — while also dropping deliberate clues indicating he’s an American leaker. Tricky indeed.

Then there’s another important piece of forensic evidence: the transfer speed, which corresponds to the speed of a download to a local thumb drive rather than to an overseas exfiltration. Critics — including a few VIPS dissenters — promptly insisted that the VIPS report was wrong to assume that such speeds could not be attained in an overseas exfiltration in 2016. Signers of the original VIPS report, however, subsequently conducted multiple experiments to prove or disprove that hypothesis; not once did they achieve a transfer speed anywhere close to that indicated in the DNC metadata.

Critics have also argued that the DNC documents transfer speed may refer to a download to a thumb drive after the initial hack, yet the download would nevertheless have had to have been done on the East Coast of the U.S., since transfer speed metadata correlate to time stamp data. Why would a hacker exfiltrate data to Romania or Russia, then return to the U.S. to download the material to a thumb drive?

Inconsistencies and Uncertainties

The above inconsistencies, I should add, apply to the DNC data, not the Podesta emails. No one, so far as I know, has cast doubt on the theory that the Podesta emails were phished via APT 28. Still, the same rules of caution apply. As Alperovitch himself testified in June 2016, APT 28 does not necessarily prove Russia involvement, and even if it did, no one has proven that Russians gave the Podesta emails to WikiLeaks. There are many other possibilities.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, reported that Republican operatives were desperately reaching out to the hacking community to locate Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails. They made contact with several hacking groups including some that claimed to have the emails and even sent samples. The Republicans told the hackers to turn over the emails to WikiLeaks, but — supposedly — offered no payment. It’s not inconceivable, however, that the same Republican dirt-diggers — or others — indeed did pay hackers to turn over materials to WikiLeaks. Even if that occurred, however, the hackers might well have been non-state actors who occasionally work with Russian intelligence, but who otherwise work independently (more on that later), and who were not under orders from Putin. Or, they may have been hackers who have no connection to Russia whatsoever.

Regarding Roger Stone’s infamous remark that “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” which has been cited as proof that Stone had foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ publication of Podesta’s emails, Stone explained on Tuesday that he was referring to his own research on Podesta’s consulting work for foreign governments in the context of similar complaints being lodged against Stone’s friend and Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Questioning the Investigation

There are worrisome implications here. First, if we are “at war with Russia”; if the hacking was “the crime of the century”; if it’s “bigger than Watergate”; why didn’t the FBI examine the DNC server, given that James Comey admitted that was “best practice”? Why did he rely on CrowdStrike’s analysis, especially given CrowdStrike’s strong ties to the Atlantic Council (created solely to support NATO and heavily funded by foreign entities) and CrowdStrike’s grossly mistaken charges of Russian hacking in other contexts?

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

Second, why has there been no comprehensive or coordinated Intelligence Community Assessment or a full-scale National Intelligence Estimate — weighing evidence of Russian culpability against contrary theories — by the U.S. intelligence community, given that it has known about alleged Russian election hacking of both the DNC and state voter databases for well over a year?

What we got in January was a hurried intelligence assessment put together by a “hand-picked” team from three agencies, not a consensus of “17 agencies,” as the U.S. press wrongly blared for months. If Russia had committed an “act of war,” then surely President Obama would have ordered the fullest assessment of intelligence that the U.S. is capable of producing; yet he didn’t.

Third, why would Putin order an enormous campaign against Hillary Clinton, knowing that she would very likely win anyway (and did win the popular vote). Would Putin risk the likelihood of President Hillary Clinton finding out about his shenanigans? What implications would that have for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, for additional sanctions, for Syria, for Ukraine, for NATO funding, for the possibility of renewed Cold War? Perhaps — as James Comey contends — Putin hated Clinton so much that he was willing to play “Russian roulette.” Yet one wonders.

Has the Press Fed Hysteria?

Why, moreover, has the U.S. press barely mentioned the fact that U.S. intelligence services — and the press itself — wrongly accused Russia of the Macron hack? France’s head of cyber intelligence, after finding no evidence of Russian hacking, said this: “Why did [NSA Director Michael] Rogers say that, like that, at that time? It really surprised me. It really surprised my European allies. And to be totally frank, when I spoke about it to my NSA counterparts and asked why did he say that, they didn’t really know how to reply either.”

President Donald J. Trump and President Emmanuel Macron on July 13, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Think about those words for a moment; they were not meant to be diplomatic. They were unabashedly chastening.

Why, too, has the U.S. press barely mentioned the fact that German intelligence, after a months-long investigation, found no Russian meddling in its recent election (and moreover, found that the supposed Russian hack of the Bundestag in 2015 was likely a leak after all), despite U.S. intelligence agencies’ insistence that Germany was Russia’s next target?

Why do we not hear that Britain found no evidence of Russian efforts to influence Brexit, despite allegations to that effect? Why has the U.S. press wrongly reported a Russian hack of a Vermont utility; a Russian hack of an Illinois water pump; a Russian hack of north Texas voter rolls; a Russian hack of Qatari news media? Add to those examples the latest round of debunkings: there was no Russian attempt to hack Wisconsin voter rolls, nor any Russian attempt to hack California’s. Despite all the debunked stories, the U.S. press eagerly reports new Russia-done-it stories every time some anonymous source breathes a leak.

Here’s a test you can do at home:  Type “Germany Russia hacking” into your search engine and see what comes up. Then type “Brexit Russia hacking.” Then try “France Russia hacking.” You’ll get an absolute barrage of stories — hundreds of links — that melodramatically attest to Russian hacking and/or meddling in all three situations, but you’ll struggle mightily to find stories refuting those charges.

One can readily see why some curious soul sitting at home who takes it upon himself to do a little internet research would come away utterly convinced of Russian perfidy. Google here becomes an instrument not of truth-finding, but of algorithmic fake news.

Why, too, did former Assistant Secretary of Department of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity, Andy Ozment, insist in September 2016 that hacking attempts on voter rolls were not of Russian origin, but rather were criminal attempts to steal identification data for sale on the dark net? Why did DHS say as late as October that they lacked evidence to blame Russians? Were they simply protecting the nation against mass hysteria that could cast doubt on the presidential vote?

And yet the basic evidence pattern for attributing the attempted hacks to Russia (or anyone else) hasn’t changed; it’s not as if some new damning piece of evidence emerged after September. Even Reality Winner’s leaked NSA document from June 2017 notes uncertainty about the identity of the hackers. If one looks at the leaked chart showing details of the flow of hacked information, one notes that the final arrow on the left pointing to Russian intelligence (GRU) is marked “probably.” Click here and scroll down to see the blown-up chart.

Incidentally, if you think the case of Reality Winner is a bit suspect — i.e., a cleverish ruse to undermine The Intercept (publisher of the “Winner leak”) and puff up the Russia hysteria — you might want to check out this story. I withhold judgment, personally.

What I Am Arguing

Am I implicating Obama in a conspiracy? No way. Am I suggesting that G2 was a DNC actor seeking to blame Russia for a damaging insider leak to Assange? Not necessarily, but not “not necessarily,” either. There is reason for suspicion at least.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Am I suggesting that U.S. intelligence agencies are lying in order to protect massive U.S. funding for NATO and to force Russia to loosen its ties to Iran and Syria, not to mention lay off Ukraine? No, I am not suggesting any deliberate lie, though yes, wishes can father thoughts. Certainly Trump’s campaign talk of defunding NATO, friendship with Russia, and leaving Syria to Assad ruffled feathers in the intelligence community.

I am far from being a cyber-security expert, let alone knowledgeable about IT, so I write all this in modesty. And yet I find myself agreeing with experts who say that APT associations are not grounds for “high confidence” intelligence assessments, and that the American public deserves to see strong evidence not just of hacking — but of actual Russian hacking — given the magnitude of the issue.

I also find myself agreeing with cyber-security experts who tell us that U.S. intelligence agencies — as well as private cyber-security firms like CrowdStrike — tend to build the evidence around hypotheses, rather than letting the evidence lead to its own conclusions.

I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I think there’s bias, groupthink, and boss-pleasing — in both the press and the intelligence agencies — just as there was in the Iraq WMD fiasco.

As Folden points out, there are numerous international crime organizations (an $800 billion industry last year) that might well stand behind APT 28/29. Given the sloppiness of the DNC and Podesta hacks (assuming they were hacks), what’s probable is that Russia isn’t doing the work directly, but might be paying a third party that sells its wares to bidders. Or, perhaps Russia isn’t involved.

As Folden notes, numerous states and international crime organizations have strong economic and/or strategic interests in both internal U.S. campaign information and in U.S. elections outcomes. The same observation goes for allegations of hacked voter databases. Any number of entities have both the wherewithal to employ APT 28/29 and an economic interest in harvesting voter identification data.

We should pause to note here that almost all the state database attacks were just that — attacks — not breaches. Unsuccessful attacks cannot be traced to APT groups, only to IP addresses, which are highly unreliable evidence. What few confirmed breaches there were (e.g., Illinois), moreover, did not change election results, and — as with the alleged DNC hack — can only be traced to APTs, not to actual hackers.

Here’s an aside just for fun: why would Russian hackers imagine for a second they could turn Illinois into a Trump state? Clinton won that state by a million votes. Sure, one can understand why Russians might want to meddle with voter roles in a swing state, but Illinois? More likely the hackers were criminals seeking voter identification info, which is precisely why they downloaded 90,000 registration records. The FBI absurdly claimed that Russians needed all those records to figure out precisely how Illinois voter registration works, thus to improve their dirty work. Really? They needed 90,000 records for that?

Pressuring Facebook

Of course, if the voter database attacks turn out to be no-big-deal, the press still will find some new way to exploit the Russia hysteria. The Washington Post and the New York Times — along with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees — are now investigating Russian attempts to use Facebook ads and posts to help Trump win the election. Facebook — thanks to subpoenas from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and pressure from congressional Democrats — has turned up $100,000 of suspicious ad buys from phony accounts.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

Think of that for a moment: Russians (supposedly) mustered fully $100,000 for ads in a presidential campaign that cost $2.4 billion. Talk about bang for your buck! The current allegation is that over the past three years, a few hundred Russian trolls armed with $100,000 and 470 Facebook accounts (compared to Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue and 2 billion monthly users) deployed issues ads (not primarily attack ads against specific candidates) to out-brigade millions of ordinary Americans who posted campaign pieces on Facebook every day, not to mention Clinton’s public relations army.

Poor David Brock paid a million dollars for his own pro-Clinton troll brigade, but they were children compared to these nefarious Russians. It’s a feat right up there with Xenophon’s Anabasis … a tiny force of foreigners, slashing their way through the Persian hordes! Someone get an epic poet!

Of course Sen. Mark Warner, a hawkish vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, informs us that the $100,000 is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Who knows, maybe the Russians spent $200,000.

Even if these propaganda charges turn out to be 100 percent true — and even if the Russians were clever enough to target voters in the Upper Midwest — it is highly unlikely that they had more influence on the election than a host of other factors, ranging from Clinton’s bad campaign decisions to emailgate to anti-establishment fervor to Trump’s 4-Chan volunteers (did he really need several hundred Russians? Surely he had plenty of home-grown trolls).

Silencing Dissent

So, maybe the Russians did play some small role on Facebook — though I suspect this suspicion, too, will be challenged — but should we therefore conclude that we’re at war, as Morgan Freeman declares? Should we demand that Facebook and Google continue to rework algorithms to shut down posts or ads deemed pro-Russian? Doesn’t that remind anyone of the anti-German hysteria — and censorship — during World War I?

Ukraine’s anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko speaking to the Atlantic Council in 2014. (Photo credit: Atlantic Council)

Should we demand, moreover, that the tiny Russian-owned media outlet RT register as a foreign agent — as the Atlantic Council has insisted, and as the Justice Department is now demanding — but not require the same of the BBC and CBC, which are financed by the British and Canadian governments respectively?

What about the Atlantic Council itself, which, receives much of its funding from foreign nations that seek to strengthen NATO? Should the Atlantic Council be required to register as a foreign agent? Does anyone seriously think the Atlantic Council doesn’t propagandize for NATO and for hawkish policies more generally? Or what about the hawkish Brookings Institution, or a host of other think tanks that welcome money from foreign powers?

The unspoken assumption here is that only Russia propagandizes; no other nation is so shifty. Surely Saudi Arabia wouldn’t do such a thing, nor Israel, nor Ukraine, nor countless other nations that seek to influence American policy. After all, they have their paid lobbyists and press buddies working for them every day; they don’t need several hundred trolls.

Let’s be honest, we live in a world in which foreign powers seek to influence American public opinion, just as we seek to influence public opinion in other nations. Which brings to mind a bill that President Obama signed in December, at the outset of the Russia hysteria: “The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” which created the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center,” which seeks to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.”

The act also offers grants to organizations (think news agencies and research groups) that promise to “counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability” of the U.S. and allied nations. (Shout out to Rob Reiner; did you apply for one of those grants? Might be a good opportunity for you.)

Does no one see a problem with this?  What exactly is foreign propaganda? Is it RT’s occasional charges that the U.S. press treats Trump unfairly? Is it RT’s penchant for left-wing, anti-establishment commentary, e.g., Chris Hedges, Thom Hartmann, and Lee Camp? Our intelligence elites certainly think so, judging from the seven pages they dedicated to RT’s supposed rascally programming in the January intelligence assessment.

And what exactly will it mean to “counter … foreign … disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda”? Will it mean countering any news or commentary deemed anti-NATO or pro-Russian? Any news or commentary deemed pro-Iranian? How exactly will our government define “foreign propaganda”? How, moreover, will it define “national security”? What lengths will it take to deny the American public — not to mention foreigners — access to legitimate opinions?

Alien and Sedition Acts

Perhaps the real analogue here isn’t World War I after all, but the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Of course it wasn’t Russians that President John Adams worried about; it was hot-blooded Irish radicals and French émigrés with their revolutionary idealism, which was ostensibly corrupting the nation. Ordinary Americans were suddenly refusing to vote for their Federalist political betters, and those betters determined to make them pay. Far better to jail Jeffersonian editors and drive out foreigners than to let them endanger America’s “national security.”

John Adams, the second president of the United States

We are forsooth reliving the age of Hamilton, I fear, when political elites dance to Wall Street theatricals about anti-democrats while feeling virtuous about opposing “deplorables.” Just don’t expect them to care about free speech. Thanks to our government’s push against so-called fake news, both Google and Facebook have already altered algorithms to such an extent that they have pushed down readership for one old and revered progressive venue, AlterNet, by fully 40 percent (other progressive venues have seen similar declines), thus starving them for ad revenue. Meanwhile neoconservative researchers are trumpeting inch-deep investigations into supposed Russian propagandizing that — thanks to vast funding — may get churned out for years to come.

Let’s not kid ourselves; this project isn’t about shutting down “fake news.” From the moment the Washington Post ran its infamous PropOrNot story in November 2016, the message has been clear: the real threat isn’t Russians, it’s any media outlet that fuels anti-establishment politics.

The Universality of Hacking 

All that said, it is still very possible that CrowdStrike and the intelligence community are correct to attribute at least some DNC exfiltration of data to Russians or to loose-leashed teams working as subcontractors, or, alternatively, criminal organizations that sometimes answer to Russia. The one thing that the skeptics (of whom I am obviously one) have not answered is why the CrowdStrike investigation found uniquely modified X-TUNNEL source code in DNC servers, which would seem to have been created for this particular hack.

The New York Times’ connect-the-dots graphic showing the Kremlin sitting atop the White House.

Since I don’t have years to become a cyber-security expert, I’ll leave the technical experts to further argue that question. However, I am left to wonder whether X-TUNNEL indeed betrays a Russian hack of at least some DNC emails, but that another party altogether — a leaker — was nevertheless responsible for handing the full complement of DNC documents to Wikileaks.

None of the skeptics are claiming that the Russians for certain didn’t hack the DNC (which wouldn’t be that surprising, really; we probably hack their political entities, too). The skeptics are only claiming that G2 was an insider who downloaded documents onto a thumb drive. Both claims can be true.

I’ll add — just to be clear — that I am quite certain that the U.S. intelligence community is correct that the Russian government is engaged in broad hacking attempts aimed at targets all over the world, many of them associated with APT 28/29. But that doesn’t mean they carried out the particular hacks at issue here (or, at least, it doesn’t mean that Russian state actors were behind the WikiLeaks releases, or the attacks on state databases).

And it certainly doesn’t mean — contrary to what over-wrought bloggers claim — that Russians changed 2016 vote tallies. The answer isn’t to shout “war” and create hysteria; the answer is to secure U.S. infrastructure.

I’ll also add that even “high confidence” that Russia hacked the DNC, Podesta, and/or state databases is insufficient grounds for aggressive policy — e.g., harsh sanctions and diplomatic ejections, not to mention military action — let alone grounds for announcing “we are at war.” Suppose for the sake of argument that “high confidence” is 75 percent probability. Would we convict an accused murderer on 75 percent probability?

If we did that — and if the accused were then put to death — we would be knowingly killing 25 innocents out of every 100 we adjudge. The same logic should apply to foreign policy. We should not be taking punitive measures unless we can assess culpability with greater certitude, else we risk harming millions of people who had no role in the original crime.

Where We Stand

It seems to me that we are in uncharted waters. Not everyone can be a cyber-security expert; we must trust those who are. And yet in doing so, we put enormous powers into the hands of unelected technocrats with their own biases and agendas. As others have noted, moreover, the cyber-war community is at odds with the cyber-security community.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

On the one hand, intelligence operatives are constantly developing new tools to exploit cyber vulnerabilities of other nations and criminal actors. On the other hand, cyber-security people (e.g., DHS) seek to patch those same vulnerabilities to protect U.S. infrastructure. The problem is that the people who know how to exploit the vulnerabilities don’t want to report those vulnerabilities because it means years of work down the drain. Why make your tools obsolete?

We need to resolve these contradictions in favor of security, not cyberwar.

I cannot say this loudly enough. This whole episode isn’t just about Hillary Clinton losing the election, or Russian hacking of the DNC, or Deep State bias and boss-pleasing. The upshot is that we are entering a cyber-arms race that is going to become ever more byzantine, hidden, and dangerous to democracy, not just because elections can be stolen, but because in guarding against that, we are handing over power to unelected technocrats and shutting down dissenting speech. We are entering a new era; this won’t be the last time that hacking enters political discourse.

We might already be in the midst of a cyber Cold War, though the American public has no idea — flat zero — what sort of offensive gamesmanship our own cyber-warriors are engaging in. (One interesting theory: The Russians deliberately implicated themselves in the DNC hack in order to send a warning to U.S. cyber-warriors: we can play dirty, too).

Presumably not even our cyber-security experts at the DHS and FBI know what the CIA and NSA’s cyber-warriors are up to. Thus Russian hacking becomes “Pearl Harbor” rather than an unsurprising reciprocal response. Both the State Department and the CIA, after all, have been in the foreign propaganda business for decades; the American public, however, has not the vaguest idea of what they do.

We might also be on the brink of something else nightmarish: an international cyber-war with multiple parties participating — attacking one another while no-one-knows-who-did-what.

The intelligence community’s whispered “trust us, we’re the experts” simply isn’t good enough. If we don’t demand hard evidence, then we’re following the same path we took in 1898, 1915, 1950, 1964, and 2003. Let’s not go there.

Daniel Herman is Professor of History at Central Washington University. He specializes in American cultural history and the American West.

106 comments for “Russia-gate’s Shaky Foundation

  1. Jack Albrecht
    October 11, 2017 at 04:42

    Very interesting article. I literally laughed out loud at the irony of the the NYT showing a “connect the dots” of the “Kremlin” over the White House. That isn’t the outline of the Kremlin. It is the outline of St. Basil’s Cathedral, which sits across Red Square from the Kremlin Palace. They missed with a connect the dots, but supposedly got it right connecting the as yet unproven hacking to the Russian government?

  2. Simple Truth
    October 6, 2017 at 08:51

    Watch/read some real news and stop believing this crap! Probably written by Russians. smh

  3. Kevin Beck
    October 5, 2017 at 16:53

    I also consider William Binney the expert in the room on these issues. He comes across as more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton, Mark Suckerpunch (er, Zuckerberg) or any of the cronies from that firm the DNC hired so they could bypass the FBI and possibly hide some illegalities they were using.

  4. Z54
    October 2, 2017 at 20:22

    All I can say is, if you trust the US Government by all means keep on trusting. Personally, I trust the US Government about as far as I can throw it. That will be always and forever!

  5. Sello
    October 2, 2017 at 17:53

    Thanks for the good article. I wonder why the U.S.consider itself ‘an indispensable nation” while the people there are unable to understand basic logic and therefore lied to easily. Remember the lie of Syria gas attack in Ghouta while U.N. officials where in the country? yet Americans, with their professor of law president Obama believed the story. Its easy to lie to Americans, especially when the prospects of the death of thousands of people is a real possibility. How else can they demonstrate their immense military power except to unleash bombs such as MOAB on impoverished, war raved countries such as Afghanistan?

    But why should anybody be surprised. The killing of innocent people is normal in America, as long as no members of “the nation” are affected. You remember what Madeleine Alright said after she killed close to 500 000 Iraq children because of their sanctions, ‘it was worth it”, and Hillary after the death of Qaddafi, she enjoyed and laughed. The U.S lerdership behave differently from normal people.

  6. Joe Tedesky
    October 2, 2017 at 13:03

    Caitlin Johnstone talks about this article here….

    • Skip Scott
      October 3, 2017 at 08:14

      Thanks Joe. Great link. Caitlin really knows how to tell it like it is.

  7. Gareth Bales
    October 2, 2017 at 12:58

    I feel as though the “meh russia” crowd is already in wayyyy too deep with this Russian “collusion” (super vague term) nonsense. It’s easier to keep believing in this insane conspiracy than just admitting they’re wrong. It’s almost as if people forget that Mueller testified under oath about weapons of mass destruction as well. Guess people have a short memory.

  8. John
    October 2, 2017 at 08:47

    Excellent analysis which is encouraging, questioning our news sources for sure, especially for American citizens to wake up to stop it’s “runaway train ride” toward unending wars. The U.S. is not a victim. Never has been. Our country is a warrior nation (“the US since 1776 has been at war for 93% of the time – 222 years out of 239 years”. To quote: “Can we ever reteach and relearn the truth—that the people can make the peace”, despite the forces of government against it? Or will we just continue to ‘support the troops’, hang yellow ribbons, wave the flag, and sing God Bless America to continue to champion the Truman Show reality about what our nation is not?

    • John Snyder
      October 2, 2017 at 08:50

      I made the comment above and am not the “John” on October 2nd using foul language, although his point is no doubt accurate.

  9. Robert Charron
    October 2, 2017 at 07:21

    There may not be an organized conspiracy, but in the sense that the word conspiracy is derived from the Latin “a breathing together” there certainly is undeniable evidence that the media and the Democrats and Republicans have been “breathing together.”

    MSNBC has been in the forefront of whipping up hysteria over Russia and Putin, and their news consists largely of their fanciful speculations on Russian actions. They go on and on justifying their wildest claims by saying that this is something an enemy would do and Russia being our enemy therefore must have done this. But the other day they even made me shake my head when one journalist confidently stated that Russia has derived immense benefits from their supposed meddling. “Immense benefits?” What immense benefits. They are victims of sanctions meant to cripple their economy, they have been expelled from many organizations, their RT station has been removed from most outlets here and they are being forced to register as a foreign agent, their athletes have been banned from international competition for the most part. immense benefits?”

    The worst is that now anyone who tries to state facts that disprove the hysteria against the Russians now is regarded as being an agent of Russia or a stooge of Russia.

    Why are we Americans so susceptible to these hysterias. There was the Spanish-American war, then in WWI a hysteria against all things German, and recently when France did not support our UN Resolution to give us the go ahead to invade Iraq, for three months our media went on a campaign to see who could ay the nastiest things about the cowardly French. The media has a lot to do with this, but it succeeds because the american people are so ignorant and so hyper nationalistic.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 2, 2017 at 08:11

      Well put, and may I add, if the shoe were on the other foot, and diplomats, singing military choirs, not to mention a personal chauffeur died under mysterious causes, why MSNBC would be calling for all out war.

  10. exiled off mainstreet
    October 2, 2017 at 02:17

    While the author is being overly careful, he is perhaps pointing the uniniated in the right direction. The obvious fraud of the allegations and the tenacity of which they are maintained indicates more purpose than the author is willing to admit. Crowdstrike and Dmitri Alperovich are known to be close to the Ukrainian post-coup regime installed by the yankee deep state and its vassals. As is indicated in the article, the allegations have been convincingly debunked by intelligence operatives no longer under the control of the yankee regime. The whole thing is redolent of past odious regimes’ propaganda efforts against those countries they were intent on destroying.

  11. John
    October 1, 2017 at 22:13

    We know Russia hacked? Show proof, someone’s word is not proof. We know all this bullshit how? Crooked cocksuckers tell us but don’t show any hard proof that Russia did a thing. Just words!

    • exiled off mainstreet
      October 2, 2017 at 11:27

      I agree. Not only has no proof been shown, but contrary evidence has proven the falsity of the allegations every time a new claim was put out there. Ian Fleming, in the James Bond series, voiced a useful concept I can only poorly paraphrase: once can be happenstance, twice makes it very likely; three times or more it is a proven pattern of behaviour. Anybody who has any real (not feigned) residual doubt about the falsity of this propaganda campaign who is candidly viewing the evidence is a total bozo. What is frightening is that the inference that the purpose of the campaign is to instigate a potentially fatal conflict with Russia is so convincing.

  12. Charles Anesi
    October 1, 2017 at 01:12

    Excellent article. I would add that mere espionage — including theft of information — has never been considered an act of war. Nor has distributing propaganda been considered an act of war. Granting arguendo that Russia hacked the DNC and posted ads and propaganda on Facebook, it’s still just espionage and propaganda. Using digital means does not alter the nature of the acts at all. They are not acts of war, and certainly not casi belli.

    Now, if the Russians launched an attack that crippled the U.S. internet and made modern commerce impossible, or actually interfered in elections by sabotaging the voting process or altering votes, then such actions might be considered a breach of territorial integrity and/or political sovereignty. Such attacks might be considered acts of aggression, and casi belli. But of course nobody suggests anything like that has happened.

    • Sam F
      October 1, 2017 at 11:12

      Hacking of voting systems, although never shown, is a ruse to cover supplier-rigged voting systems. That is the story covered up by hacking allegations, and the fact that we do not hear of regulations to prevent that, proves that oligarchy has the machines rigged.

      If hacking were even possible then the machines were designed to invite hacks: there is no excuse for connecting any critical equipment to internet. They can communicate over dedicated redundant channels.

      • Susan Sunflower
        October 1, 2017 at 18:16

        that’s what I’m finding increasingly worrisome — the old “accuse others of what you yourself are doing” that we have seen for a very long time in conservatives, but more recently unabashedly by the (official) Democrats

  13. Susan Sunflower
    September 30, 2017 at 23:53

    new volley — and bad news — “reports” that “Russians” created faux-activist sites in faux-solidarity with Black Lives Matter and other African-American groups ..

    long history of knee-jerk “anti-communist” reactivity in African-American community fostereed by “stories’ of commies (and jews) exploiting “black struggle)

    I’ll be watching for the take down of this “story” which corresponds, of course with the “taking a knee” against Trump meme/narrative …

  14. September 30, 2017 at 22:39

    No new facts. No new thoughts. But I guess worth to remind ourselves things are not always as major media tell us.
    The ending “we are entering a cyber-arms race”, “We are entering a new era” Really?
    1. we HAVE entered the new era YEARS ago (e.g. Google “CIA virus”)
    2. so so so long article – no single word about the fact that in any fight there are TWO sides, KGB/FSB v CIA NSA FBI – so, Russians did they thing, what did the counterpart do? Did they actually do anything? Didn’t or couldn’t? Or did not know how to? Where incapable? If so – why?
    Why Did Russian Cyber Forces Beat Their U.S. Adversaries in 2016? The Answers Is Rooted In The State Of Education In The U.S.

  15. Tom
    September 30, 2017 at 19:13

    All that matters is the hype factor. What can we hype for maximum profit? Who’s bankrolling “The Committee to Investigate Russia”? Is this like the House UnAmerican Activities Committee?

  16. Darrin Rychlak
    September 30, 2017 at 18:00

    Did anyone see the Clinton Whitewater investigation? That’s how this Mueller investigation should proceed. Open the door and let Mueller see what he can find just as Kenneth Star did.

    Frankly, I don’t give one shit about the protestations of left leaning hand-wringers like the newspeople on this website, the Russia investigation is yielding enough facts to support warrants, grand juries, and subpoenas.

    That is not fake news.

  17. David Robinson
    September 30, 2017 at 16:40

    Superb. A must read for all who are concerned about free speech and we should be simply expected to believe and not question what Government agencies tell us.

  18. Eric Thompson
    September 30, 2017 at 14:21

    Every advanced country, and most others as well, are busy hacking. This particular accusation against Russia, however, is just garbage, and I’m sick to death of it. If we are to have a conversation about foreign hacking of our election process, it should be about sending electronic voting machines into large refuse sites where they belong, and bringing back paper ballots. None of our representatives seem to have enough cognitive ability to even bring that up. Amazing. Dare call it “conspiracy?” I do, even if you won’t. That movie with Robin Williams, “Man of the Year,” was a hint. Too bad people didn’t really pick up on it. In the movie, the faultiness of the voting machines is assigned to a programming error (resulting from names containing double consonants — huh?), which is ludicrous on its face, since all these things have to do is add: Y=X+1. But the movie alludes to the proprietary code and patents that drive those machines, and that should REALLY be worrisome to everybody. Melt those damn things down.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 30, 2017 at 21:10

      Eric you are right, and the U.S. is failing due to its own success.

  19. Bob In Portland
    September 30, 2017 at 12:39

    Disappointed that the author so carefully avoids “conspiracy” when that’s essentially how our government operates. But may I suggest a better word?


    Did Hillary Clinton, the DNC, the intelligence agencies and who else network to create this casus belli? Yes, of course.

    And I would bet the people crying the loudest were the Ukrainians who worked on this, hoping to drag the US into a war with Russia. But there is still plenty of time.

    • laninya
      September 30, 2017 at 13:51

      Wow. Bob, good point! Yes! Networking.

      Just as what used to be called ‘propaganda’ is now (thanks to Eddie Bernays) labeled ‘public relations’ (unless a rival is doing it, of course).

    • hatedbyu
      September 30, 2017 at 13:57

      port in bobland,
      i think now maybe a good time to relay yet another angle. this whole thing stinks from the getgo. and as i mentioned in another article of the same subject, this russia boogey man thing has long roots. longer than just the syria thing.

      if anyone wants to take the time, there is a great movie called “the weight of chains”. it is a story of what happened to the former yugoslavia during the end and after the breakup of the soviet block. it really should be watched in conjunction with the bbc tv series “the death of yugoslavia” to get a fuller picture of what really happened between the inhabitants there. there are some seriously messed up grudges that were fanned to create this mess.

      but the most interesting part of the story is where the grudges end and where the banks and western powers come in. that part of the story is in “weight of chains”. among the “experts” in the movie are john perkins and michael chossudovsky. they and others lay out a really amazing case of collusion of the western powers to destabilize and destroy the country. then acquire the valuable industry at pennies on the dollar.

      it is, in short, the story of every color revolution we have witnessed in the last ten years. i’m thinking that this is what the establishment in the us and the other nato countries had in mind for russia. and probably would have already done so if they weren’t dealing with vlad the colluder.

    • evelync
      September 30, 2017 at 14:20

      Yeah, and add to that network some of the most “prestigious” universities which don’t speak out against failed war policies but instead punish the whistle blowers. Just like Harvard’s JFK School uninvited Chelsea Manning from her honorary Fellowship.
      In order to find honest critics of our unfair, dangerous and wrongheaded policies these elite schools are generally not the best place to look because they are complicit. State universities are more likely to produce honest work, IMO.
      The patronage system that produced the great thinkers that deregulated our banking system and crafted regime change wars extends to include people from our most “prestigious schools”, sadly.

  20. arnaud
    September 30, 2017 at 11:28

    “Never trust a Prankster”

    • hatedbyu
      September 30, 2017 at 13:09

      never prank a trust funder.

  21. evelync
    September 30, 2017 at 11:01

    What’s so absurd is that Russia is being built up as a huuuuge threat when according to Andrew Bacevich Russia is not a top tier power. He says that the world is becoming a multi polar power – U.S. China India Europe – while Russia is a somewhat lesser power.
    More than even the content of the emails – which IMO just proved what seemed apparent – rhe big truths that everybody knew during the election are that endless regime change wars are making us less safe and the predatory financial deregulation/bad trade deals wiped out millions of Americans.
    Hillary Clinton supported those policies.
    Con man Donald Trump was able to succeed because all the people he toppled were part of that problem because they supported those bad policies.
    It’s hard to know what’s going on but the hysteria against Russia in my opinion, represents an effort to distract people and hang onto power.
    Official Washington also seems obsessed with breaking up the Russia Iran Syria alliance. The allies Washington prefers have not always been good examples of democratic governance.

  22. Herman
    September 30, 2017 at 08:42

    “I’ll also add that even “high confidence” that Russia hacked the DNC, Podesta, and/or state databases is insufficient grounds for aggressive policy — e.g., harsh sanctions and diplomatic ejections, not to mention military action — let alone grounds for announcing “we are at war.” Suppose for the sake of argument that “high confidence” is 75 percent probability. Would we convict an accused murderer on 75 percent probability?”

    Professor Herman makes this essential point. It is not grounds for war to those who would look at the world objectively. No one denies we have been engaged in what the Russians are accused of, and at a far higher of level. But it does provide fodder for those who want to ratchet up tension and arrogantly feel it will not end in disaster. They, those who want to escalate tensions, seem to believe the unthinkable is impossible.

    Like the old but telling tale of the guy falling from a rooftop fifty stores high who announces as he passes each window in each floor, “so far, so good.”

  23. hatedbyu
    September 30, 2017 at 08:17

    man, the russia gate thing is now getting out of hand here on contortion news. we know. we know…..

    the mainstream media is pushing it so hard that i’m actually having to start asking if this is a purposeful psychological operation.

    not at actually proving russia did anything but at discrediting the left and the media. but to what end?

    i’ve not seen anything like this before.

  24. Realist
    September 30, 2017 at 04:55

    There are so many convincing reasons to believe the entire Russia-Gate caper is a complete fabrication that one could write a book on the subject, and Daniel Herman nearly does so here in this lengthy article.

    The American people will be highly irate when they finally realise they’ve been played by a bunch of elitist insiders from both parties who simply want to overturn the results of the election so they can get on with their war for global domination. The ruse is so obvious even the blind and the dead will soon clearly see it and call bullshit.

    America won’t face a civil war fought with guns, because that can never be won against the U.S. military and its police auxiliaries, but both political parties as we presently know them will be abandoned and left for dead. The educated meritocracy who make the country work and pay its bills with their taxes will lead the revolt against the aristocracy. Economic collapse and tax revolts will bring societal chaos. None of that means the good guys will win in the short or long run. The times are not just “a-changing,” they are about to get “interesting,” in the sense of the Chinese proverb.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 30, 2017 at 10:12

      If the election of putting Donald Trump into the White House is any kind of indication of the citizens ‘backlash’ against the system, as it is an example of the public’s unrest, then we have a long and bumpy road ahead of us.

      Currently I believe we are being fed a bowl of lies, that only separate us as a united citizenry. Keeping us apart, and having us pick on each other’s political persuasion is the plan, the way I see it. Whether we argue over transgendered folk in our military, or who exactly was in that protest march in Charlottesville you know like the many good people who wanted to keep their civil war statues, and to now whether a professional football player should or shouldn’t take a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, are the issues that drive the wedge between us as a whole.

      The bigger question to all of this, is what will spark this citizen ‘backlash’? How will a citizen revolt be organized without a mass media to inform it? Will a huge street protest ever be enough up against a well armed police force aided by the national guard?

      • Dave P.
        September 30, 2017 at 11:46

        Joe, Good post. You have put very good ideas there in your comments. To start people into thinking – what is happening in the present, and what action is possible.

        • Tedesky
          September 30, 2017 at 21:03

          Dave the most difficult issue to deal with, is how to change all this from within. I’m a big believer in people getting active in their local politics. I would also like to believe, that you could vote for a candidate who would represent your own values. It’s preached from on high, how we should all vote. Okay, but what does a citizen do when every candidate a voting citizen votes for then goes into that office, and immediately does all the opposite things the citizen voted for them not to do? Eventually the frustration is going to bring the chickens home to roost. Thanks for your comment Dave. Joe

    • anon
      September 30, 2017 at 21:05

      While a “civil war fought with guns… can never be won” now, I’m not sure how the “educated meritocracy …will lead the revolt against the aristocracy.” They must either persuade or use force in some form. Persuasion of aristocracy never works, and the net will be shut down if they persuade many others. So that leaves revolt by economic and information power.

      Such a rebellion requires extensive public debate, communications, strikes, and boycotts, all easily prevented, monitored, shut down, or infiltrated by opportunists. Of course with very broad dissidence and great effort at secure communications that would be more difficult. But to evade surveillance, the federal security agencies would have to be in rebellion or infiltrated, and they can always be paid enough to ensure general loyalty.

      Economic collapse is a likely precursor, but tax revolts may be more likely among the aristocracy. Widespread hunger, homelessness, poverty, relatives dying without heat or medical care, loved ones disappearing in police raids, those are the drivers. Then the anger is poorly directed, but leaders could set up militia to raid gated communities and corporate offices to engender fear in the aristocracy. Then, as in the 1960s civil rights riots, they pretend to be reasonable and start looking for the MLKs to negotiate with.

      The real hope is always the angry poor who suffer most, led by middle class tacticians, with loosely connected intellectuals serving as a political front.

      • Realist
        October 1, 2017 at 01:31

        You will note I didn’t say that the “educated meritocracy” (the people with the skills to keep the wheels of society turning) will engage in an organized rebellion with specific goals and recognized leaders. And I deliberately said that “the good guys” whoever they may be in the sudden or gradual erosion of societal efficiency may well not (probably won’t) win, won’t be able to change their lot for the better.

        More so than riots in the street, I am envisaging a systemic sclerosis of the standard operating procedures that move society along from day to day: getting the mail delivered, the garbage picked up, your paycheck credited to your bank account, your cable, phone and internet service working reliably, enough subs to teach your kids at school when the regulars don’t show up because they’re feeling used and fed up, the work-days missed by the parents of college-educated kids for whom there are no jobs, then get busted for turning to crime or drugs and must be bailed out of jail by mom and dad causing them to miss work or turn to drink. Those sorts of niceties. You can imagine the endless personal scenarios. I’m thinking of the mass scale ennui that supposedly defined the Soviet Union in its days before economic and political collapse. The people that make things work just stop caring out of a sense of hopelessness and give a taste of their despair to everyone depending on them. Then the system falls like a row of dominoes when the money and life essentials stop flowing. Even the lawyers will cease being able to pay their bills and the champagne shipments may not get through to the 1%.

        That’s the fuse that will ignite the coming collapse. Violence by the middle class will only be reactive: it will happen in response to police brutality directed against them. When the police get their orders to start pushing people around to intimidate the population back into complicity, it will probably be directed against the lower classes, maybe deliberately to serve as an example to the useful people, maybe because the overlords are simply obtuse, but that will be the origination of any violence which will be brutally snuffed by the combat weapons now at the disposal of all police forces. Only then, in a post-collapse society transmogrified into a totalitarian police state will the real resistance slowly crystallize and emerge. Look at other countries that have gone through such cycles. A successful rebellion usually takes a generation or more… and then relapses into tyranny again. Just consider most of Latin America, which, admittedly, is usually poisoned by interference from Washington speeding up the cycles.

        So, if you thought I was implying that Wall Street interns, the Occupy movement, or an army of geeks from Silicon Valley would rise up, disseminate inspirational rhetoric not heard since the days of FDR and change anything… not hardly.

        • Joe Tedesky
          October 1, 2017 at 02:01

          The generation coming on board will be able to do all that with a app on their phone…shut er down baby!

        • laninya
          October 1, 2017 at 10:07

          Crisis + opportunity. It’s going to get very interesting.

          The US population may or may not have what it takes to turn its gigantic ship of state around (it’s a supremely intractable situation with roots that go way waaay back into pre-Independence history and that spread in a tangled mass around the globe). The helm of this ship is supposed to be in the peoples’ hands, isn’t it? Isn’t that how the system was set up? So, how the heck did a pirate crew get control of it? There was never a violent coup or armed take-over that I’m aware of (outside of the Civil War), so I can only assume the people just turned their ship of state over to the pirates by default. Either they fell asleep at the wheel, or some kind of deal was made. I am aware that in my lifetime people suddenly stopped referring to themselves as ‘citizens’ and started calling themselves ‘consumers’. As I recall, I’d peg it to somewhere in the late ’70s, early ’80s. People consciously “took the blue pill”. Oops!

          There’s a whole genre in literature and film about the Faustian bargain and someone who tried to get out of one by outsmarting the Devil. Maybe it’s time to start reading and watching some of those stories again. Get some pointers.

          It’s gonna get real interesting.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 1, 2017 at 10:49

            I think as far as retracing our steps backwards we could start with Cecil Rhodes, and then the Federal Reserve, the CFR, the CIA, then dig deep into America’s assassination era like the JFK and MLK murders, and right on up and into the PNAC era where we all are now currently living in.

        • anon
          October 1, 2017 at 10:50

          Yes, my response is exploratory rather than critical. You well note the “sense of hopelessness” among “the people that make things work” causing “money and life essentials [to] stop flowing” leading to economic collapse and then a police state, with slow emergence of a real resistance.

          We could add military defeats discrediting the warmonger tyrants of oligarchy, and likely future economic collapses without much recovery. I will not expect much until organized small militias show the guts to raid gated communities and corporate offices, without being caught by expanded surveillance, bringing fear to the aristocracy.

          So I have long anticipated that the downtrodden poor minorities would be the only groups with the courage and despair to save democracy from the tyranny of aristocracy, but that appears to depend upon their personal prospects and the discrediting of hopey changey propaganda.

  25. Joe Tedesky
    September 30, 2017 at 02:00

    I got into reading Professor Herman’s detailed pressure points describing how every time our country the USA goes to war it uses basically the same play book with its long history of lead up’s to war. I think when it comes to lead up’s to war that it shouldn’t surprise anyone here on this site, but as you all well know we are in a fairly big lead up to war right now. Maybe the biggest one yet, I mean who the hell knows. This is global.

    Like Professor Herman started his essay with, by describing past lead up’s to previous war historical examples, where the passing of time with history has opened up more secrets than was known in it’s day. Now, with all the various divisions of the MSM, like news, entertainment, movies, radio, books, all on the same page bashing Russia, and Putin, or is it Putin, and Russia, no difference it’s is all a gigantic media driven lead up to war with Russia. I’m sure there are a number of papers written in American Think Tanks expounding upon the subject of getting Russia to take the bait. Only Vladimir ain’t biting.

    As is often noted on this sites comment boards Russia is being punished, but Hillary is the one who’s got the paranoia…or could it be a guilty conscience? Well maybe, but she gets a pass anyway, don’t ask me ‘What Happened’. But here we are from Maddow, to Maher, to Morgan & Reiner, and don’t forget the press, NYT, WaPo, would you please rise? It’s lunacy….with evil madness on top of more lunatic thinking to come, or it least appears that way to me. How about you?

    On our American domestic level we are on the downward side of our turning into a police state. Case in point, all this goings on about Zuckerberg and Facebook colluding with Russia is getting some noise on the cable networks. Not only is it going after Russia, this campaign of no good will is going to crush our American Constitutional First Amendment rights, by taking over our internet media platforms. There is a terrible hell to pay for Hillary’s losing this past election, the Shadow knows. Although the phrase is all to often quoted it fits this Silicone Valley crisis, and the phrase is, ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’… I have always thought this phrase was first said by Milton Freedman, but the after effect of this crisis will only spoil a free press society, so it doesn’t much matter who said it even if it could have been the fiddling Nero capitalizing on a terrible fate. Who cares, right? Don’t worry the ‘State’ will you protect you, all of us, from any bad literature or various media could corrupt our patriotic minds….stand you Yankee Doolde Dandy.

    I’m waiting for Israel and Hezbollah to get things going here pretty soon. My guess will be for some U.S. Coalition to drive towards Iran, and then on towards Russia and China….think of what I’m describing, it’s madness. Somebody pretty damn well should check if everything works before we take that leap….I mean we got Navy ships hitting into sea going cargo vessels. Yeah shit happens, but guess what in war shit happens to, and are you ready for that. While the elite study the strategy models pragmatist on the ground are directing the rest of the complex logistics on to when to kill, and how to die with valor. The only one we should have compassion in these wars are the soldier/sailor/airman because they served to protect, or the military was a step up. The U.S. Although broke, should be made to pay reparations, and this should be binding that all civilian collateral damage and other wise must be compensated for their losses.

    Yeah, this going after Russia is too a constant, too on going, the continuity of the bashing is to aimed, and determined, to not be a campaign to go against Putin. The process of ousting Putin has been underway since the Bush years. Cheney I believe in 2004 made disparaging remarks about Putin’s anti-democracy Russia. So going after Russia has been on the itinerary of the Shadow Government ever since 1991. I’m going to quit now.

    • Realist
      September 30, 2017 at 05:11

      There was an article a few days ago on the ICH site outlining how a world war twenty years from now would be fought mainly versus China as the ascendant world power (after a less capable Russia, mainly because of population, has been pushed aside) with the United States quickly being routed because of the strategies we have presently chosen to build our military and they theirs. If there is any credibility in that analysis, it is no wonder Washington seems eager to start the war now while it still has the upper hand. Apparently, agreeing to peaceful co-existence is not an option for our leadership which MUST have full spectrum dominance.

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 30, 2017 at 09:46

        Realist you bring up an excellent point. In fact the premise of the Project for a New American Century is centered around ‘while we have the military might’. So time is a wasting.


        On another subject, I have been trying since yesterday to post a reply to Abe and Dominic on the comment board under Robert Parry’s article ‘The Slimy Business of Russia-gate’, and everytime I go to post my reply my comment disappears. So thanks Abe and Dominic, and to consortiumnews I’ll just say WTF. Joe

        • Gregory Herr
          September 30, 2017 at 16:30

          And the PNAC recognized that a new Pearl Harbor would provide the impetus and false rationale for expanding “security” budgets and invasions intended to secure said “dominance”.
          And, with a little help from their friends (Bandar, Mossad, CIA), by golly, the new Pearl Harbor was right on cue.

          • Tedesky
            September 30, 2017 at 20:50

            Yes Gregory, business as usual, because we got to keep that conveyer line moving. For all practical purposes on 1/17/61 Eisenhower would have done better to go golfing, instead of issuing his ignored warning about the over bloated MIC, and the dangers it posed. Now here we are fifty four years later watching our American war machine roll from one conflict to another, and no one knows how to stop it, and for the ones who could stop it, well they don’t want to.

    • Al Pinto
      September 30, 2017 at 09:53

      Going after Russia with propaganda/sanctions is one thing, starting a war with Russia is entirely different. It would not be lap sided wars like the ones currently raging in the Middle-East. Russia would hit back hard, with WMDs, and the casualties would be in the millions.

      All this propaganda/sanctions and NATO military exercises at the border of Russia did is to activate the “Dead Hand” order. The Dead Hand is a computer system that autonomously lunch all nuclear weapons across entirety of Russia, if an when an nuclear strike is detected. It could be triggered by as little as the US lunching ICBMs and yes. Russia did detect them previously, almost resulting in to a nuclear war, and has the capabilities to detect them now…

      Can the US defend against all of the missiles? Anyone believing that they could is a fool. Both the EU and the US would be hit hard with casualties that we have not seen in previous wars. On the other hand, we may not see it anyway, if it happens. And that’s probably the best case scenario for most of us, instead of the pain and suffering from radiation….

      • Joe J Tedesky
        September 30, 2017 at 10:50

        You probably are more correct than I Al Pinto. No doubt what our instigators in charge are up to, is regime change in Russia. At least, that could be the goal trying to be pursued here is. Let’s hope your right, and I’m wrong. Joe

        • Brad Owen
          October 1, 2017 at 09:33

          I also think regime change for Russia is the goal of our covertly corporate/fascist Establishment. During the collapse of USSR era, and Deregulation/Privatization ensued, MANY Oligarch criminals were created, just waiting in the wings to join the West in a global looting spree for their piece of the action. Putin put a stop to this, sort of like FDR where the State and Law and General Welfare of the 99ers prevails over the newly-minted Oligarchy. “The Establishment” (mostly a Euro-Brit phenomena, with American wannabes thrown in) seeks to destabilize what Putin built, and via false flags, destabilization ops, economic hardships, etc…open the door to their Oligarch allies in Russia, to create a PanEuropa from the Atlantic to Alaska, while sowing seeds of conflict between China and USA(a long-time target for Synarchist take-down; Opium Wars showing similar animosity for China too, and don’t forget Hong Kong, the Wall Street of the East). No plans for World incineration, just a global Empire with its three biggest Nationalist challengers ( America, Russia, China) effectively broken and neutralized. The New Western(Europe) and Eastern(Russia, with real history behind it) Roman Empire emerges…the REAL NWO. Fundies with their oh-so-accurate knowledge (NOT!) of the Book of Revelations should have some real fun with explaining this outcome.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 1, 2017 at 10:15

            Brad you always quote EIR and what they say on that site, and I think EIR is right. It is not right that somewhere in the MSM a news anchor, or a newspaper reporter, wouldn’t take the talking points of EIR and take that narrative. Instead we have hacks basically all reporting the same thing. If only the average person could hear about the truth, or at least get a different alternative of how all this is shaking out. Ignorance is bliss they say, but the consequences of a misinformed society may prove to be deadly. Let’s hope I’m overacting, and somehow the world won’t go nuclear in an instant when it’s all too late. Joe

    • laninya
      September 30, 2017 at 13:37

      Hey Joe,

      Let me run something by you… You wrote:
      “It’s lunacy….with evil madness on top of more lunatic thinking to come, or it least appears that way to me. How about you?”

      As I mentioned on an earlier thread, I’m in Canada, though I originated in the US and migrated northward as a teenager. A friend with whom I gossip about geopolitics originated in Canada, spent many years as a young adult in the States, and is now back in Canada.

      Nowadays when we look southward, we’re gobsmacked. We’ve never seen anything like it. During one of our geopolitical gossip sessions, my friend exclaimed, “What the heck is in the water down there!?” Good question, isn’t it? Because we know there’s lead, and some other heavy metals. And, we know there are plastic molecules, which act as a sort of ersatz estrogen in the human body. And, the other thing I’ve read about, and which turned the light on in my head, was that we know there’s a problem with excess pharmaceuticals (incl. antidepressants and antipsychotics) getting in to the groundwater.

      Quote: (from
      “— the spectrum of medications is significant, including antibiotics (both human and veterinary), analgesics, antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering and anti-hypertension drugs, anti-convulsants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, reproductive hormones, and chemicals common in plastics, as well as insecticides, fire retardants and solvents.”

      See also:

      I’m gonna suggest that what you’re experiencing down there is the long tail of Better Living Through Chemistry, and the accumulation of all these elements in the groundwater is generating a sort of group psychosis.

      What do think about that hypothesis?

      (Or, do you just think people are evil?)

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 30, 2017 at 22:49

        Well laninya, on a couple of previous comment posts in the past I made, I did in a joking manner, claim how we Americans are all drugged up. I also say that about my fellow country men when I’m driving, and get behind someone who drives too slow or to erratic. Just for the record I don’t get all road raged up, I just drive around it. I guess in some ways my humor stays somewhere close to the truth. I guess?

        Although we citizens in the U.S. are all certainly ready for rehab, for it’s no wonder, after all we citizens need to find away to put up with our elected and appointed spoiled brats who run our dysfunctional government. This generation of AIPAC/MIC bribe takers, are all living on Americans past greatness of success. Sort of like the Steelers of the 90’s living off the reputation of the Black & Yellow Champions of the 70’s. No that’s a bad comparison, because even the Steelers of the 90’s were better than these conceited asses we now have in charge of running our nations business. My apologies to my hometown 90’s Steelers.

        Like the guy I knew who I never saw him drunk until one day I met him when he was sober, is a good way of assessing our current crop of warmongers. God how I wish it were drugs that makes them do what they do. If that were the case, then maybe instead of a revolution we citizens could just merely confront our leaders with a citizens intervention. Is there a doctor in the house?

        Let me ask you a question. Are the Canadians embarrassed by their American cousins?

        Good to hear from you again laninya, your interesting to talk to, and that quality on a comment board is worth applauding. Joe

        • laninya
          October 1, 2017 at 09:09

          Are the Canadians embarrassed by their American cousins?

          Ah! Well, I don’t know for sure, but I rather don’t think so. We have no real cause to be, frankly. Some Canadians may make noises that make it sound like they are tut-tutting their big neighbour; but, press them hard enough on any point and they’ll rally to your defence faster than you can say ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’.

          Canada’s a country that celebrates 1867 as its year of birth as a nation. Then along comes 1914, when the nation’s significant French population refused to go to war for the British crown and there’s a big kerfuffle about that, and it turns out Britain still controls Canada’s foreign affairs. Oh ah! In 1919 Canada was allowed it’s own seat at the League of Nations, though England didn’t affirm Canada’s ‘independence’ until 1931. After that, while Canada was blowing its horn for being The True North Strong and Free, it didn’t even have its own constitution! Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (francophone) forced that through in 1982. And, to this day (swear to G*d), Canada still stamps the picture of the Queen (of England!) on its legal tender. The role of Canada as a nation on the world stage is rather like that of the ‘kept woman’.

          So, I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about whether or not Canadians are embarrassed for you.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 1, 2017 at 10:39

            I have relatives in Montreal who over generations have loss touch with us here in the States. I was a big hit with a bunch of Canadian Italians who live in our condo building in Florida. I’m a big hit with the Canadians in our building, because during a big condo meeting I reminded my fellow American condo shareholders of how for every dollar an American spends to keep this condo afloat a Canadian pays a dollar thirty six. I also brought up how the condo board should hold all important business until after the Canadians return from Canada, and not while they are away back home in Canada. This is an on going trick our condo boards have all pulled to get things approved without our condos Canadian vote, and yes there are no Canadians on the condo board. The condo board is filled with a bunch of sneaky people, kind of like our country’s congress. So yeah laninya I’m a big hit with the Canadians in our Florida condo.

            Accept for the War of 1812 Canada and the USA have been pretty good friends. I don’t know what Mexico did to the U.S., but the Mexicans it seems are always in the dog house with us Americans, and with that life goes on. The sorry point is, is that most people I believe are good, but it’s too darn sad the minority of bad selfish bastards seem to be in charge. I’m not for all out anarchy, but on certain days when the system is to overbearing anarchy almost sounds to good.

            If the NWO someday does get it’s own way, well laninya our grandchildren, or at least our great grandchildren in Canada, Mexico, and the USA, will all be living in one country, if the NWO does decide to still call these realms of theirs countries.

            Always fun and enlightening laninya, take care. Joe

          • Realist
            October 1, 2017 at 17:48

            Joe, one of my neighbors is a Canadian citizen (I guess that makes him a neighbour). Uncle Sam requires him to go home to Canada once or twice a year, but at least he gets totally free medical care during those visits. My younger brother just turned 65 and his Medicare policies will cost rather more than the Obamacare policy he had been buying here in Florida since retiring about five years ago. That stunned both of us, as my state retirement plan comes at much lower cost and provides more comprehensive health benefits–which is why Obama insisted on taxing it as a “Cadillac,” which irks me. But getting back to the shakedown of Canadians living in the U.S., was your $1.00/$1.36 ratio of living expenses based merely on the exchange rates of the buck vs the looney? You must also take into account that Canadians will never qualify for the substantial “homestead exemption” that we Florida residents receive on our property tax bills, so every snow bird is subsidizing us. Of course, it’s possible you are a snowbird too, paying more to fix my streets and educate the Florida younglings than I do. Also our Canadian neighbours have no say in whom we Americans (s)elect as the imbecilic maniac de jour (du jour) in the White House though he (or is it really she?) runs (ruins?) their lives as well (whether here or there).

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 1, 2017 at 20:11

            Realist I forgot about the Florida Homestead Act, and when it comes to my own feeling about that I’m okay with it. To be honest just recently my wife and I decided to put our Florida condo up for sale. My wife doesn’t like the rising cost of condo fees, and the condo boards bad management. I on the other hand would like to sell while the market is fairly good, a little soft I’m finding out, but still better than when we purchased our condo after the 2008 Crash. Plus, been there did that, has set in.

            Our condo board literally exempts as much as they can the Canadian folk who live in our building. I actually know a couple of homegrown Americans who sit on our condo board who don’t like our Italian-Canadian friends. To bad for the racist, because I love these Canadian Snowbirds.

            Always good my man, take care Realist. Joe

  26. GMC
    September 30, 2017 at 01:38

    America has a very powerful domestic ” Weapons of Mass Destruction” and it’s called the Main Stream Media, Hollywood,and Washington. It’s owned by the Zionists which are as close to Nazism, Fascism and modified Communism as it gets. Interesting the way McCarthyism is once again – center stage. Spacibo Mr.Herman

  27. Nancy Wightman
    September 29, 2017 at 21:51

    Another important point that was not covered in this paper (or any other) is that there has been not one email shown to have false information, and the emails do contain lots of information that shows collusion with media personalities and evidence that the California Dem Primary was rigged, etc.
    Russia doesn’t have to do anything to the US to bring down the tottering US government, they can just get out the popcorn and watch us destroy ourselves.

  28. Dave P.
    September 29, 2017 at 21:01

    While we discuss all these issues, there is almost a daily report about the Syrian War Front on the Saker. For some time now , U.S., SDF, and ISIS have been working in tandem to stop the Syrian Army’s advance in Deir ez-Zor area. Here is the link to report on Sep. 29, 2017:

    You can see all the hypocrisy and the lies fed to the Americans every day that we are fighting ISIS and the Terrorists. The West – U.S. and U.K. created ISIS as they created Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

  29. September 29, 2017 at 20:32

    Thanks for Professor Herman not only mentioning my report, “Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge”, but for having read it carefully. The report was received by the Office of Special Council, Office of Deputy Attorney General, House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and House and Senate Judicial Committees. None of these esteemed recipients have acknowledged its existence. The estimated average Alperovitch confidence level of 37-38% was arrived at as follows: 50% (GRU) + 25% (FSB) / 2 = approx. 37-38% confidence level for these Russian intelligence entities. Sources are identified in the report. At any rate, these confidence levels individually or together in no way support “high level of confidence” in APT 28 and 29 being GRU and FSB.

    • Vincent Castigliola
      September 29, 2017 at 21:03

      I find it difficult to quantify absurdity.
      Though I enjoy math and even spreadsheets, there has to be some basis for factual input.
      Where is it in this scenario?
      Whether an institution has a high, medium, or low level
      Is of little significance if the institution
      Lacks credibility
      I fear we are in a bad place

    • Sam F
      September 30, 2017 at 08:54

      Thank you. Perhaps you can clarify the article’s note on skepticism of the download hypothesis that does not explain “uniquely modified X-TUNNEL source code in DNC servers… created for this particular hack.” But the Invincea link states that this is old shareware that originated in the US, so it does not seem to point anywhere, and could be residue of a past virus attack.

    • D5-5
      September 30, 2017 at 12:19

      Thank you Skip Folden. I recommend Skip’s report be featured here on CN. This for example is striking:

      The timing between Assange announcement of pending Hillary Clinton emails of June 12, 2016 and the June 14, 2016 (only two days) Crowdstrike Russian hacking announcement and the following day, June 15th , emergence of a Guccifer 2.0 persona alleging to be a Wikileaks source, strongly implies motive to taint anything coming from Wikileaks as Russian sourced. See “expanded explanations”

      • Sam F
        September 30, 2017 at 13:59

        Yes, this suggests that the Russia-gate diversion may serve to conceal a US-based hack/leak operation, as well as serving existing anti-Russia opportunists. That suggests that the US-based hack/leak operation has sponsors to be protected, such as government agencies, Repub sponsors, corporate sponsors, etc. who wanted any Repub rather than any Dem.

        The most likely hackers would seem to be NSA/intel proxies with Repub sympathies and all of the hacking tools and false-flag tools, just doing it themselves based upon political prejudices, or quite possibly with corporate/Repub oligarchy sponsors.

        • Sam F
          September 30, 2017 at 14:20

          So if the DNC data was hacked it was probably done by a US-based operation. If it was leaked by an insider at DNC, it might have been a Sanders supporter or a Repub infiltrator.

        • D5-5
          September 30, 2017 at 15:56

          A year ago back in June results in the CA primary were slow in emerging. It was said Hillary had won, but only 2 million (of the eventual 5 million plus votes) had been counted. Hillary had been prominently endorsed the night before the election, June 6, by Obama and I believe Warren. Hillary was on a roll as convention time neared and she had the super delegates wrapped up. Whereas Sanders had sworn he would go to the convention and fight for the last delegate vote, including challenging HRC’s super delegates as to who could beat Trump, this he did not do, folding directly after the CA primary, and soon thereafter conceding the nomination.

          This is the context. Into this moment Assange entered with a dire prediction he would sink Hillary in November by exposing her emails through a leak, which is what happened. Now fit into this context the above piece of information from Skip Folden’s report. Almost immediately, and despite Clinton’s strong position AT THAT MOMENT against Sanders, having just won the CA primary, although the vote counting was very slow, there is an IMMEDIATE response to discredit Assange, protest Clinton, and cast aspersions on to a “Russian hack.”

          “Highly coincidental timing” indeed. The scenario to pass on the attack to the Russians then continues after what is revealed by the Assange-based leak and revelations of corrupted DNC processes, Clinton assisting, then grows worse with the Podesta leaks, and with Trump’s win and the need to do the evasion dance of why she failed, and why she might need to avoid further criminal investigation.

          I said “striking” as to Skip Folden’s reference here because it seems very odd to me that at the very moment, after a long campaign, Clinton was at her highest point in turning away Sanders (and he had quit) she and her organization IMMEDIATELY leap to the Russia did it story, including what we now know is the likelihood of the leak operated on US soil and by a phony American agent pretending to be Russian and leaving incriminating traces on his work.

          In view of the long chain of abuses Herman covers and our recent experience with WMD in 03, surely we do have some skepticism to employ, not just a bull-like reaction from both ends of the animal when the red flag is waved in its face.

          • Alta Harding
            October 1, 2017 at 09:12

            The first Wikileaks dump of the DNC emails was before the convention. I know this because one of the signs I held at the protest outside the convention was “read the Wikileaks”

  30. September 29, 2017 at 19:31

    All good comments, and what a bad joke, anyway, are US elections since the 2010 Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court and 2014 decision of McCutcheon vs FEC. Elections in this “Land of the Free” are free to the highest bidders. Hillary had those superdelegates sewn up a year before the race was officially on, if my memory serves me.

  31. Zachary Smith
    September 29, 2017 at 18:43

    Finally, the U.S. became an imperial power with the acquisition of Cuba and the Philippines and a few other odds and ends, at the bargain cost of 2,500 American soldiers dead, plus another 4,000 lost in the Filipino rebellion that followed, not to mention the lives of tens of thousands of Filipino opposition fighters. Only later did it come to light that the Maine was destroyed by a boiler explosion.

    The numbers I’ve seen are in the hundreds of thousands of dead in the Philippines. The destruction of the USS Maine was awfully fishy, and remains so. If I had any notion of who might have had a financial motive for war with Spain, I’d move directly into “False Flag” conspiracy country.

    Should we demand, moreover, that the tiny Russian-owned media outlet RT register as a foreign agent — as the Atlantic Council has insisted, and as the Justice Department is now demanding — but not require the same of the BBC and CBC, which are financed by the British and Canadian governments respectively?

    In my opinion every single Israeli propaganda outlet ought to be included as well.

    Does no one see a problem with this? What exactly is foreign propaganda?

    Foreign propaganda is anything that causes people to disagree with the Official Story coming out of Washington. The eventual aim of the neocons is to use that Act and others like it to shut down sites like Consortium News. Every place which was on the Jeff Bezos’ WP PropOrNot list is a likely target. Both the WP and NYT are getting more and more aggravated to be seen as the CIA/Israel *hores they really are.

    • anon
      October 1, 2017 at 09:40

      The USS Maine was sunk by a coal bunker explosion, shown in a 1970s study by a retired US admiral. Remains showed hull plating bent outward by an internal explosion. Of course that is disputed by some. Coal can cause fires when it gets wet, releasing combustible gas which can also explode. That and its inconvenience in moving to boilers were the principal motives that Britain sought oil in the Mideast as fuel for its navy.

  32. Karl Sanchez
    September 29, 2017 at 18:04

    The RussiaGate Big Lie is entirely for domestic use and consumption as the author notes without saying. The omission of statements by Assange and Murray is inexcusable for an essay on this topic–Murray having admitted that he–personally–delivered the leaked data to Assange: Why is his confessional not included?!?! Then there are the 11 criminal agencies known for some peculiar reason as intelligence all led by the #1 criminal enterprise on the planet–The CIA: Why trust their word about anything whatsoever?!?!

    The stated policy goal of the Outlaw US Empire is to totally dominate the planet and its people–Full Spectrum Dominance–which was actually announced publically and its guiding documents openly published, not once but twice–Vision 2010 during Clinton and Vision 2020 during Bu$hCo–both of which are based on the strategy laid out by the late war monger Zbigniew Brzezinski that specifically, crucially called for the negation of any nation capable of rising to the same ability level of the former USSR, so GHW Bush’s New World Order could be established. Russia with China in tow have clearly risen close to that ability level and have been targeted, with Russia seen as the more important threat. It’s too bad the author doesn’t discuss any aspect of this as being the motivation for RussiaGate, for that’s exactly what it is. There are some very clear-headed analysts who know and write about what’s happening as Hybrid War, and that the Third World War will be a Hybrid War long before it becomes a “traditional” hot war. So, Morgan Freeman’s propaganda video is correct as the Outlaw US Empire’s been waging a Hybrid war against Russia since at least 2008 and certainly since 2014 when it criminally overthrew the Ukrainian government.

    • Linda
      September 30, 2017 at 21:35

      Absolutely 100 percent correct!

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 2, 2017 at 08:04

      Karl may I say, that writing comments like this one you wrote here, very good by the way, may prompt an author who post their essays on this site to address these topics the way you just described it. Joe

  33. Bill
    September 29, 2017 at 17:04

    Hold on just a minute there. This is a conspiracy, and it does come from President Obama.

  34. WC
    September 29, 2017 at 15:56

    Poor old Donald is so besieged that he has to drum up what’s left of American patriotism by waving the flag at the NFL, NBA, and anyone else that doesn’t respect the political swamp and what it now represents.

    Jim Kunstler was right. Hillary should have been elected. At least then, when the Big Flush happens, the ones responsible would have been held to blame. Now, The Donald is left holding the bag.

  35. D5-5
    September 29, 2017 at 15:37

    For (long and thorough) disinterested review of Guccifer 2.0 take a look here–


    “When you consider all of these various facts in aggregate and understand that Guccifer2.0 never demonstrated any genuine hacking skills, realize his actions only ever served to undermine leaks, ultimately caused no harm to the reputation of anyone except himself and needlessly and inexplicably gave the mainstream press fodder on which they could write headlines branding leaks as “fake”, “discredited”, “tainted by Russia”, etc., had some non-hacking means of acquiring the DCCC documents and has had his claims of breaching the DNC network debunked by ThreatConnect. – It becomes clear that Guccifer2.0 did more to serve the interests of the DNC than really act maliciously against it.”

    • D5-5
      September 29, 2017 at 15:44

      Above reference = analysis by Adam Carter titled Guccifer2.0 Game Over, Sept 23, 2017

  36. mike k
    September 29, 2017 at 15:35

    A document such as this essay will never be read by the American public, and if it was it would not have the credibility of some empty headed reporter spouting simple propaganda on the MSM. All the caveats and maybes the author includes unnecessarily dilute it’s impact. It would be better if it were only half as long also.

    I would really like it if what goes on here at CN could change the disastrous direction of American policy, and the ignorant mind set of the American public, but that is not going to happen. About the most that can happen here is to sharpen and deepen our own understanding of these matters. And after all, I would rather pass on having known some of the reality of life, rather dying in deluded ignorance as most of my fellows will do. But to imagine that my clear thinking will save the world from the course it is intent on following, would only enroll me in the ranks of the self deluded.

    • Realist
      September 30, 2017 at 05:49

      So, the clarity you have sought all your life promises you only that you can never attain the “satisfied mind” that would truly leave you happy?

      Is the condition described in this country classic* never achievable except by imbeciles? Or can you rest easy knowing you tried the best you could?


      • Flart Blooger
        September 30, 2017 at 08:11

        i’ll see your nudie suit with wagon wheels and raise you a snowflake and some strangers…..

      • September 30, 2017 at 11:09

        Realist, …that’s a great reply to Mike’s pessimistic mood! …Mike, most of us feel like we’re living on a shrinking oasis…keep on doing your thing!

        • September 30, 2017 at 11:10

          Flart Blooger,…also!

  37. Thurgle
    September 29, 2017 at 15:00

    Good piece but with one salient omission: Wikileaks denies Russian involvement. Former UK ambassador Craig Murray has said that the Podesta emails were leaked not hacked and that he know who the leaker was (someone in the US government). Also Assange has expressly denied that Russia was the source of either the DNC or the Podesta hacks. Assange has never been caught in a lie and has everything to lose by being caught in even one, whereas the US intelligence agencies and media lie/misrepresent truth all the time and seldom if ever pay any price for it (e.g. Clapper being caught lying to Congress under oath and being let off scot free). To overlook these facts in the laying out the case for skepticism seems to me an egregious omission.

    • mike k
      September 29, 2017 at 17:34

      Too bad there’s nothing in Donald’s bag but hot air.

    • Leslie F
      September 29, 2017 at 19:01

      He said the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked. Podesta was hacked. He was using Gmail, not a DNC server.
      It still could have been an Insider.

      • hatedbyu
        September 30, 2017 at 08:08

        podesta’s password was “password”.

        those rascally russians. they are just too clever.

        • Beard681
          October 3, 2017 at 14:35

          Well actually it was Pa$$w0rd. However the issue is that he was stupid enough to open a phishing email, click on a link and enter the password into a phony web page. That and he was too lazy to archive or delete his old mail.

  38. SteveK9
    September 29, 2017 at 14:57

    You are much more generous to the promoters of ‘Russia-gate’ than I would be, but I don’t know how any rational person can read this article and not conclude, ‘with high confidence’ that Russia-gate is self-serving garbage by the War party, and Trump-hating Democrats.

    • Sam F
      September 30, 2017 at 09:01

      Yes, that is clear, although I would not rule out cooperation by Repubs.

      The Repub oligarchs are among the most likely sponsors of DNC hacking attempts and leaks. They had far more to gain by leaks and by diversion of attention from their responsibility, little risk of loss due to deniable proxies, and far more resources than most other suspects. If more data is found, it may well lead to them.

      • Dave P.
        September 30, 2017 at 11:38

        Sam F – The “Repub Oligarchs” or “Dem Oligarchs”; add to the pack The ZioNeocons, they are all the same – two faces of the same coin. It is just a name we attach to. Their agenda is the same – concentration of wealth and power, Full Spectrum Dominance, rule over the entire World by the Chosen Few etc.

        There has been no murmur against this Russia Gate Nonsense from any group so far – including the Church. If you mess up the minds of the American Public, and beyond, it is easy to implement their agenda.

    • Sam F
      September 30, 2017 at 09:16

      I should add that with experience of hundreds of software engineers (but few declared hackers) it seems that the hackers’ gaming mentality of tricks-leading-to-gold is far more likely to lead to Repub than Dem sympathies. So it is probably not a coincidence that the Dems were hacked rather than the Repubs.

      It is very surprising that no one has pointed to the most likely suspects.

  39. Vincent Castigliola
    September 29, 2017 at 14:55

    When Mrs. Clinton first blamed Russia for her election loss, I thought it a patently outrageous claim that would be soon recognized as a fabricated excuse. After a year of intense propagandizing the farce has morphed into a truth. There has been a conviction of Russia and imposition of punishment in the form of sanctions without sufficient proof of a crime much less any credible evidence that Putin committed the alleged crime.

    We have an NSA which captures every email, and yet no evidence has been presented of an internet transfer that contained 10’s of thousands of emails. What comes to mind is the image of a pig swallowed by a python. Although the pig is inside the python and not directly visible, its shape is obvious to the most primitive observer. How could the NSA not have observed, recorded and investigated such a transfer within the data lines it monitors?

    More important than “Democracy” is the rule of law. Nowhere in the Constitution will you find the word democracy, but you can readily find the requirement that there be no taking of life, liberty or property without due process. We were led into WWI to “make the world safe for democracy” but instead brought about conditions that gave birth to Hitler and Stalin. Had we heeded the Constitutional mandate of proof before taking life, liberty, or property, much death and destruction could have been avoided.

    Today, warlike actions are taken without credible evidence. Those who promote such acts should, under the rule of law, have the burden of proof. Not only has that burden not been met, but people outspoken in their support of “democracy” are destroying the respect for law which is far more important than how holders of government office are selected.

    In addition to the loss of our God given freedoms, I fear we are at risk of promoting a war which would very quickly go nuclear.

    • Realist
      September 30, 2017 at 05:29

      We should coin a new term to describe the phenomenon you mentioned.

      When an outrageous self-serving lie morphs into what the public considers a truth through incessant propaganda the process ought to be called “Clintonizing” the situation.

      So, verb, transitive, to Clintonize, Clintonized.

      Bill Clinton will wish Hillary had kept Rodham as her surname.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 1, 2017 at 01:36

      Vincent when you said….

      “Today, warlike actions are taken without credible evidence. Those who promote such acts should, under the rule of law, have the burden of proof. Not only has that burden not been met, but people outspoken in their support of “democracy” are destroying the respect for law which is far more important than how holders of government office are selected.”

      I thought that should be made a disclaimer to go on the cable news screen, or any cover or heading.

      It’s like we the people fall for the same old trick everytime. We live in a time where when a right thinking person sends a message against the DOJ for their handling of Black minority injustice gets so confused and easily turned around, that ‘the well meaning message’ offends a grief stricken family of a fallen warrior, who the family believes the fallen loved one died in believing the lie was the truth, is a series of all kinds of humans suffering from all this war, and brute policing by a minority of officers who disgrace the badge. I only bring this up, because all this war drives a society nuts. People don’t think straight, because they want to be good Americans. They don’t have the time to drill down on the news, so these good Americans get brainwashed by the MSM instead, and God Bless America, oh and keep those utilities paid on time.

      Sorry for the rant Vincent, but I liked how you wrote your comment, it made sense. Joe

  40. john wilson
    September 29, 2017 at 14:37

    Interfering in another countries election is a difficult concept to define. Many people and politicians from the UK and I sure many other countries, castigated Trump when he was running for elections. Is this not counted as Interference? Israel financiers gave millions to Clinton for her election campaign, clearly with a view to bolstering her chances of success. If this isn’t trying to influence the outcome of the election, then what is? The farce of the emails attributed to Russia, although obviously from Wiki leaks, is just another example of outsiders trying to influence the election. Curiously, people inside America like the MSM who battered Trump when he was on his campaign trail don’t seem to come in for any criticism, but their attacks put anything the Russians or Wikileaks may or may not have done into the shade. As far as I can see the main Russia gate accusations are about the Clinton emails which apparently were all true. So what’s wrong with the truth if it exposes serious wrong doing? I hold no brief for Trump, but I hope he gets through his four years just to spite those who would rob him of his election win.

  41. Sally Snyder
    September 29, 2017 at 13:41

    While the United States is pointing the finger at Russia for its alleged role in the 2016 election, here is a look at which nation is really meddling in American politics:

    American politicians are for sale and those who want to influence American politics know it.

    • Pat
      September 30, 2017 at 02:16

      Thanks, Sally, for the link. A very good article with charts showing how much money the Israel Lobby spends on Capitol Hill. I find it odd that the public at large seems quite keen to know of alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election, but seem oblivious to the decades long far-more toxic interference, influence, and meddling committed by Israel (and its many political action committees) constantly. US politicians seem quite content that it stays below the radar, as almost all of congress is “owned” by Israeli interests, which also appear to direct US foreign policy. That political influence might also be a factor in congress raising US funding to Israel to about $11Million per day, guaranteed for the next 10 years. And I believe the new proposed military budget has an additional $700+ Million for the coming year.*

  42. September 29, 2017 at 13:37

    March 3, 2017
    Is Blaming Russia a Diversion, Designed to Hide the Treachery of Western War Criminals?
    [much more info at link below]

    • Sam F
      September 30, 2017 at 08:03

      Exactly, Russia-gate = Israel-gate, a diversion from the exposure of oligarchy control of Congress, the Executive, and the mass media. The exposure of oligarchy control of pseudo-democratic institutions is the issue of our times.

      The restoration of democracy in the US is the sole historical meaning of our era, the sole meaning of our lives, and nothing will happen while the oligarchy focuses the public upon fake foreign monsters.

      • JWalters
        October 1, 2017 at 20:23

        The Zionist mafia running the oligarchy will fall with the thundering crash of a Goliath. The mighty New York Times’ fraudulent propaganda will be stripped naked by the intelligent and accurate reporting of independent news outlets like Consortium News and Mondoweiss. The oligarchy did not forsee the internet, and they are getting desperate.

        Robert Parry’s articles on journalistic ethics and practices, analyzing the massive failures of the New York Times and Washington Post, will be required reading in college journalism courses of the future. Of course, those colleges will first have to be freed from the grip of the Zionist mafia (along with the press and congress). They will honor Robert Parry for his role in obtaining that freedom, along with the many excellent authors and commenters who join him in that effort.

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