Summary: Democrats are excited about Friday’s bombshell WaPo story about Russia’s interference in the 2016. Too excited to question its oddities, or see how it shows that Trump (although a clown as President) is right about leaks. Perhaps eventually we will learn what is happening — and why.
The WaPo gives us another hot story based on anonymous leaks from our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The article has many oddities that its authors either do not see or choose not to mention. Here are a few of them, and some important conclusions we can draw from them.
Sources of these secrets
The article is rich with (alleged) facts and filled with first-person testimony. Such as these quotes by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
- “At one point in the White House deliberations …Rice pointed to the FBI’s McCabe and said: ‘You guys have been begging to do this for years. Now is your chance.;”
- “McCabe was among others in the Situation Room challenged by Rice to go to the ‘max of their comfort zones’ in deciding retaliatory measures.”
Where did the WaPo’s journalists get all this information?
“This account of the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.”
I love how these articles say that their official sources leaked secrets only anonymously. That is an understandable measure by officials to protect themselves from public censure, administrative punishment, prosecution (perhaps under the Espionage Act of 1917) — and jail.
Journalists writing about these official leaks seldom explore how their sources differ from those the government prosecutes mercilessly. How are their motives different? How is the material leaked any different? Can they be trusted more — or less?
Who benefits from the CIA’s big reveal?
“Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ‘eyes only’ instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
“But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. …
“The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.
“It took time for other parts of the intelligence community to endorse the CIA’s view. Only in the administration’s final weeks in office did it tell the public, in a declassified report, what officials had learned from Brennan in August — that Putin was working to elect Trump.”
This is astonishing in several ways. First, that the US has penetrated Putin’s inner circle. Has anything the US public learned been as valuable to us as that news was to Putin?
Second, that the massed resources of Russia were able to accomplish so little. The big score was (allegedly) leaking DNC emails — telling Americans about hidden truths. The rest was adding a little to the clutter of misinformation that dominates US elections.
Third, that the WaPo’s experienced journalists believe this story — or pretend to believe it. Much later in the article is this cautionary note, mentioned but not followed up.
“Despite the intelligence the CIA had produced, other agencies were slower to endorse a conclusion that Putin was personally directing the operation and wanted to help Trump. ‘It was definitely compelling, but it was not definitive,’ said one senior administration official. ‘We needed more.’
“Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.”
Some journalists lack the WaPo’s credulity. For example…
“I don’t believe this story is true. Because Putin’s inner circle is watertight. Thus, idea CIA has mole there is too far-fetched.”
— Tweet by Bryan MacDonald (an Irish journalist based in Russia).
Other acute observers draw grimmer conclusions from the Deep State’s preference for leaks instead of releasing information to the public through normal channels. Perhaps they tell us about RussiaGate using leaks …
“because when it is totally fabricated, it is not a leak of anything that exists.”
— Tweet by Maximilian Forte (Professor of Anthropology, U Concordia).
For a detailed analysis of the WaPo scoop
See “The Compartments in WaPo’s Russian Hack Magnum Opus” by Marcy Wheeler (bio) at EmptyWheel.
Trump tweets on leaks
Trump is a clownish president, but his tweets about leaks are accurate. He is justified in demanding a crackdown. But apparently so far he has been ignored by his own officials. Sothe leaks continue.
“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” (Source.)
“Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years.” (Source.)
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security “leakers” that have permeated our government for a long time. They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW!” (Source.)
“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” (Source.)
“I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community. (Source.)
Update: The CIA goes meta
Fun interview by Bloomberg’s Andrew Mayeda of CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “Trump’s CIA Chief Says U.S. Plans to Stop Leaks, ‘Punish’ Leakers“. A card-carrying US journalist, Mayeda doesn’t ask if Pompeo plans to bust the leakers in his senior team. Also wonderful to see Mayeda seriously repeat Pompeo’s claims that a bunch of tiny nations are the great threat to America — Iran, North Korea, and Russia (South Korea’s GDP is larger than any of them — and 8% of US GDP).
Conclusions: the big reveal
Now for the big reveal from this story: we are among the most gullible people to ever walk the Earth. See The Big List of Lies by our Leaders. Post it everywhere to change America. Our officials lie to us often, even about critical issues. Even on the record (why not, since they seldom suffer a penalty from being caught lying).
They lie to us again and again and again — yet we still believe them. Fixing this is the key to reform of America. See those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic. Understand why we are so credulous. Then swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
For More Information
Essential reading to understand these stories: “The Big Fat Compendium Of Russiagate Debunkery” by Caitlin Johnson.
- Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
- Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.
- Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia.
- Exposing the farcical claims about Russian hacking of the election.
- What Trump told Russia, why it matters, and why journalists ignore the smartest man in Washington.
- Trump and the Democrats stumble into a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’.
- Debunking the Reality Winner leak about Russia hacking the election.
- The verdict on the stories of Russian hacking in the 2016 election.
Two good books about Putin’s Russia