Tuesday January 10, 2017
Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “US agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.
Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “ While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT…was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]
Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”