On January 6th, the 17 members of the US Intelligence Community released its assessment of Russian hacking and that country’s attempt to impact our recent presidential election. (1) The intent here is to highlight key parts of that document and then analyze how conservatives have responded to each.
Assessment p. i
“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion”.
Conservatives have claimed that the Russian hacking and subsequent release of hacked material through Wikileaks had no impact on voting in the last election. This statement lacks any foundation in evidence or fact, and is a lie. (2) That is because as stated above, the Intelligence Community “…did not make an assessment….” In the same vein, there would be no basis in fact or evidence for anyone to claim that Russia’s behavior did have an impact on voters.
Assessment p. 2
“Cyber Espionage Against US Political Organizations. Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 presidential election, including targets associated with both major political parties.”
In the foregoing, the key phrase is “…including targets associated with both political parties.” This assessment flies in the face of numerous conservative assertions that the Russians were unable to hack RNC computers because as Primadonald tweeted, that organization had a good cyber “defense”. Trump generated that tweet after he had been briefed by leaders of the Intelligence Community so that he knew better. Thus, his tweet was a lie.
Closely related to the p. 2 Assessment is the fact that only material hacked from the Democratic National Committee was released publicly. That happened in spite of the fact that we now know that the RNC was hacked as well. This difference begs the question “Why the release of hacked material from just one source; i.e. the DNC?” That question will be answered near the end of this blog.
Assessment p. 4
“RT’s (RT = Russian Television) coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails, and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health and ties to Islamic extremism….”
It is most certainly a coincidence that the just cited descriptors of Secretary Clinton were the same ones that Primadonald used to disparage his opponent during the campaign. It has been argued that many, many other people would have described her in the same ways. True as that is likely to be, it does not change the fact that it was Trump who employed those terms and did so repeatedly. Remember “Lying, crooked Hillary…(who) lacks stamina (and is )unhinged”?
One way to distract someone from attending to something important is to try to drawn their attention towards a “shiny object”. That ploy is being used by conservatives in the form of an alternative narrative about the Russian hacking. In that regard, what we are getting from the right is the trope that the only reason the Russian hacking is a big deal is because people at the DNC were careless and left their computers unguarded and thus, easy to hack. Notice how this theme skirts the fact that the RNC got hacked as well.
The hacking of both campaign organizations followed by the public release of hacked material only from the DNC is potentially problematic for Primadonald and conservatives more generally. That difference is fully supportive of the Intelligence Community’s assessment that Russia was committed to both denouncing Secretary Clinton while doing nothing to cast a cloud over candidate Trump. Simply put, Trump was Russia’s candidate and that is something that he and his people dare not admit as even a possibility. The introduction of a “shiny object” thus became the order of the day; i.e. There is no real story here other than that it’s all the Democrats’ fault.
In the end, there is nothing in the entirety of the foregoing that can justifiably be used to invalidate Primadonald’s election. He is about to become our 45th president. What the foregoing does do, is raise serious questions about the kind of president Trump will be, especially vis a vis policy decisions he makes regarding our relationship with Russia. That is most certainly something that is going to demand ongoing, constant scrutiny.
- A simple Google search using the key phrase “Intel Assessment Russia” will take you to the Intelligence Community’s full Assessment. Its’ most relevant parts involve just five pages and can easily be downloaded. It is recommended reading.
- “Lie” is not a term that your blogger uses lightly. It is employed only when there is substantive reason to believe that the speaker knows better and is actively involved in leading you away from the truth.