06 Jan 2017

Intel Report on Russian Hacking: We Are Officially in the Twilight Zone

Humor, Politics 41 Comments

I just sent out this masterful tweet:


(BTW I did a screen shot instead of embedding the tweet, because it was making my picture from the report appear first when I embedded.)

The public version of the intel report is here.

This whole thing is really amazing. You could replace “RT” with “Democratic thought leaders” in the report and it would work for a lot of the claims. And note that this isn’t mere hypocrisy. No, it’s much more delicious than that. The justification for the Democratic views is–as the excerpt above shows–often merely actions of Russian outlets that make the exact same claims that the Democrats are now making. My head is spinning.

41 Responses to “Intel Report on Russian Hacking: We Are Officially in the Twilight Zone”

  1. Bitter Clinger says:

    “With all due respect, the fact is we had Donald Trump Elected president.” she said. “Was it because of Russian hackers or was it because of disgruntled DNC staffers out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go disclose some incriminating Emails? What difference at this point does it make?

  2. Bob Roddis says:

    From Page 6 of the report:

    In an effort to highlight the alleged “lack of democracy” in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised thirdparty candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a “sham.”

    Jason Ditz:

    [T]he first page of the Annex on RT……presented the fact that RT America hosted US presidential debates which included third-party candidates.

    There has of course been long-standing annoyance among many in the US that the “mainstream” US media’s debates consistently exclude all but the Democratic and Republican candidates. US spy agencies, however, see this exclusion as such a core aspect of US democracy that they are presenting more inclusive debates as inherently anti-American.

    In 2012 RT hosted a third-party candidates debate which included Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In 2016 RT ran a pair of primary debates for the same two parties focusing on foreign policy as well as electoral reform.


  3. Major.Freedom says:

    The only voter “hacking” that has evidence is the ballot stuffing by Democrats in Detroit.

    The entire “Russia hacked the election” narrative is nothing but political propaganda.

    • Khodge says:

      Well, that and Obama actively campaigning against Netanyahu in Israel’s election.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    “We Are Officially in the Twilight Zone”.

    I disagree. We are officially on The Beverly Hillbillies and Jethro wrote this report.

  5. Aisling says:

    RT hasn’t been claiming the exact same things the Democrats have. Yes, there is overlap, but saying “the Russians hacked it” is somewhat different from the more complicated positions from RT, which is that teenagers can easily hack the election, that the primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary, that the machines are so unreliable that votes can simply get lost by mistake, that there’s fraud in the audits themselves, etc. What the mainstream media (which has been overwhelmingly pro-Democrat lately) often does is selectively pick only certain quotations or facts that fit their agenda, or are vague enough to fit many possible agendas, and hope you don’t go look around or check out their sources. If you do check out their sources, it can sometimes lead you straight to advocates of things very different from the mainstream.

    As an example of the mainstream media hoping you won’t check their sources, see this video put together by BBC, “Aleppo: Trapped Syrians say goodbye on social media”:
    Five brief quotations there, all vague enough that the Democrats could use them to support whatever policy they like, including starting an air war with Russia.

    Two of the five were in English without need of translation, and here is the original full-length video for one of those, along with another video by the same person.
    Just a brief quote for those who can’t be bothered to click watch the videos, “I want to thank those who are still protesting in front of the Russian embassies and consulates all over the world.” This isn’t a call out for help to the Democrats for an air war that might possibly lead to a nuclear war. It’s a call out for help to the civilians of the world to go protest outside of embassies and consulates. A very different thing.

    And here’s the original full-length video from the other English speaker BBC chose:
    I can see why they didn’t want people to listen to the full thing.

    What RT has been doing is hiring a lot of journalists with non-mainstream views, many of whom are actually US citizens, and providing an alternative outlet for those voices, and warning the US that our election machines are vulnerable is just one of the things those journalists have been doing. Just to list a few examples of what they’ve been saying about the US election system:
    “How accurate are U.S electronic voting machines?” (2008)
    “Stealing a US election? Nothing’s easier!” (2012)
    “Hacking voting machines: Easier than ever imagined” (2012)
    “Election fraud special report! (You Won’t Believe This)” (April 2016) (Comedy warning, first 16:16)
    “Our Voting Machines Aren’t Just Hackable, They’re Also Pieces Of Crap” (October 2016) (Comedy warning)
    “Breaking election fraud info, police take blankets from homeless, Trump’s climate change ‘witch hunt’ “(December 2016) (Comedy warning, first 8:39 seconds)

    Definitely not Democrats (barring some sympathy towards Bernie Sanders).

    RT also covered a ton of information about DAPL and Standing Rock, which was neglected by mainstream media.

    And there is also a lot of coverage of both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

    Basically, the Russian government, via RT, seems happy to sponsor a wide variety of non-mainstream views regarding US issues.

    Apparently, this is called “Media Wars”. (The second link goes to a satirical music video, not from RT, but Abby Martin appears at the end.)

    It’s actually all rather frightening. All this about undermining the “the US-led liberal democratic order” (page 7 of the report you linked) etc etc, so I suppose soon that makes all non-mainstreamers… what? Traitors, according to them?

  6. Jan Masek says:

    Is it worth it to read the full 169 page document?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I just read the 26 page version.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      Is there a 169 page version?

      • Jan Masek says:

        Oh, stupid me, sorry. My pdf reader says “pdf 170” at the top, not sure what it is but it’s not number of pages, it is indeed 26. Thank you.

  7. Dyspeptic says:

    The most amusing part of the current tantrum of paranoid Russophobia on the left is that it doesn’t work anymore. I think this fact is beginning to penetrate their pointy little heads and it drives them absolutely insane with frustration. If any of this nonsense actually worked Trump would have been destroyed long before the general election. All the MSM-Establishment Party Propaganda Complex has left is desperate ploys and preposterous, claims. It’s like they’re trapped in quicksand and the more they struggle the deeper they sink. Very entertaining.

  8. Andrew_FL says:

    Your defense of Russia from the accusation that they tried to undermine US Democracy is that they ran false reports claiming US election machines could be hacked.

    Your big gotcha against US Intelligence is that Russia Today made a false claim about the hackability of election machines which the intelligence community has rejected?

    I’m sure I’m gonna get lots of intelligence responses about me wanting to fire bomb Russkie babies, but, I’m less than impressed.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      Let me preemptively apologize for turning into an unhinged liberal Democrat. In my defense I have a nasty cold and also everybody was doing it so I figured it was my turn.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        It’s OK Andrew. You make it clear over at EconLog that you are surrounded by freaking idiots, so I don’t feel singled out.

        • Andrew_FL says:

          If you have a problem with my personal style you could be less passive aggressive about it.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      When Andrew_FL has to use italics, you know you screwed up!

      Some nuance is left out for the purpose of a funny tweet, Andrew. Look at the part about the general will not being respected.

      Suppose RT had told Americans in 2013, “Your election process is unsafe. Your next president will be selected, not through democracy, but by a foreigner named Vladmimir Zutin.”

      Then the intelligence community pointed at that as evidence that Russia hacked our election in 2016.

      Would I be allowed to say that was pretty hilariously ironic, or would you point out that Zutin is not the same thing as Putin?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Andrew, re-reading my post, I regret nothing. I am withdrawing my “I left out some nuance.” Everything I said is 100% correct. Point to what is false.

      Yes, it is hilarious that the intelligence community is saying Russia hacked our election in 2016 by–among other things–telling Americans their elections could be hacked.

      • DesolationJones says:

        “Yes, it is hilarious that the intelligence community is saying Russia hacked our election in 2016 by–among other things–telling Americans their elections could be hacked.”

        I don’t understand the snark because nowhere was this claim made.

        The point of the report was made pretty clear.

        “It covers the motivation and scope of Moscow’s intentions regarding US elections and Moscow’s use of cyber tools and media campaigns to influence US public opinion… 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.”

        To the extent that intelligence community claims Russia “hacked” our election, the report says that was done done via cyber attacks to political organizations like the DNC email thing. To the extent that they Russia ran a media campaign, it was partly done by state funded media (RT). You’re conflating the report’s evidence of a media campaign with the reports’s evidence of hacking. Even if you meant hacked in a more colloquial way like “influenced”, that still wouldn’t be true because they made no assessment of success.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          DesolationJones I’m not being sarcastic, I’m genuinely asking: Do you live in the United States? Are you aware of how Americans have been hearing about Russia and what they did vis-a-vis the 2016 election? (Ever since Hillary lost, I mean?)

          • DesolationJones says:

            Your posts are specifically mocking the intelligence community. Everything you said is 100% correct and lacks no nuance after all.

            I live in the US. Yes, there’s a problem about how this is being reported and how we’re hearing about it, but you seem to be you’re contributing to this by incorrectly interpreting and mocking the report.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              DJ I’ll give you this one: “Everything you said is 100% correct and lacks no nuance after all.”

              So OK, yes there is some nuance needed in that I am assuming the broader context that the intelligence community knows full well this report is going to be taken to substantiate the claims that “Russia hacked the election” and that Trump is full of it when he denies his victory was due to Putin.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            OK Desolation Jones, suppose the major media all ran around saying how Putin hacked our election and that the intelligence community had proof of this. Then Clapper et al. release a report that says “2+2=4” and the media report on it, saying it is the proof that Russia hacked the election. Nobody in the intelligence community pipes up to contradict that narrative.

            If I make fun of the intelligence report and say the IC is full of it, are you going to come back and say, “Huh? They’re saying 2+2=4. You deny that Murphy?”

            They know full well what role they are playing in this.

            • DesolationJones says:

              “Nobody in the intelligence community pipes up to contradict that narrative.”

              You’re welcome to listen to the 3 hour hearing with intelligence officials including Clapper from a few days ago. In which, by the way, the “election hacking” narrative from media was specifically addressed.

              Cotton: We’ve heard a lot of imprecise language here today and it’s been in the media here as well. Phrases like “hacked the election,” “undermine democracy,” “intervened in election.” So I want to be more precise here. Director Clapper let’s go to the October 7 statement. That says, quote, “the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions including from US political organizations” was directed by the Russian government.” Are we talking there specifically about the hack of the DNC and the hack of John Podesta’s emails?

              Clapper:: Yes.

              Cotton:: Are we talking about anything else?

              Clapper:: That was, essentially at the time, what we were talking about.”

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Right DJ, and you haven’t shown anything to the contrary of what I claimed. Clapper didn’t say, “So when people say ‘Putin hacked the election’ that is totally misleading, and they should really stop saying that.”

            • DesolationJones says:

              The justification for the war Iraq is a case where I think the IC’s silence was damning seeing how the president and the media made false claims based on a report that was completely classified.


              In the case, where they release a report with enough declassified information where their findings are clearly stated, that’s where the media could be mocked. But I don’t understand the mocking of the IC for saying accurate things.

        • Khodge says:

          The intelligence community has certainly made it clear that, as long as Trump did not get elected, they are completely apolitical creatures, pure as the driven snow.

      • Andrew_FL says:

        Don’t casually conflate influence peddling with election machine hacking, is my complaint here, and I still feel your joke only works if you do that.

        I’m kinda dizzy right now and my vision is kinda swimming so maybe I’m wrong, sorry.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          AF wrote:

          Don’t casually conflate influence peddling with election machine hacking, is my complaint here, and I still feel your joke only works if you do that.

          Well, I’m dizzy at this point now, too. The message being sent to Americans through several channels is that “Russia hacked the election; Hillary should be our prez; are you trusting Trump or the CIA on this one?” So I make a joke about that. And now you’re mad that I’m conflating the two different meanings of “hack”? Right, that’s the point.

          • Andrew_FL says:

            Sure several “channels” are conflating the two things. The CIA is not actually doing that, though, so I’m not sure why your joke is on them instead of media outlets/Democrats that are doing that.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              OK see my comments to Desolation Jones on this.

              • Andrew_FL says:

                Sure, fine, I’m just a humorless nag.

  9. Dan says:

    I felt your joke was lacking a thorough explanation on why it is funny. Thankfully, Andrew and Desolation helped to eliminate that problem.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      See, Bob may think I’m an obnoxious ignoramus who only thinks he’s smarter than literally everyone, but even I serve a useful purpose.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Andrew_FL I never said you were an ignoramus!

        (See what I did there?)

      • DesolationJones says:

        Can’t blame us for not completely understanding the joke, when Murphy doesn’t even seem to clear on what he’s mocking.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          DJ, there are a lot of things you can say about this episode, but “Murphy doesn’t even seem to [be] clear on what he’s mocking” is not one of them. If you asked Abbott & Costello to explain “Who’s On First” they might end up saying something slightly off, and then have to amend their explanation. Doesn’t mean they didn’t get their joke the whole time.

  10. Bob Murphy says:

    Last thing and I’m moving on with my life: Andrew_FL and DJ, look again at the WP story that fueled all of this. There is a quote from an anonymous CIA official. So this isn’t a mere case of the media botching the details, there is a very misleading quote (unless they are making that part up).

    Now DJ, look at this follow-up WP story. It had this headline: “Kremlin defers to Trump on the CIA assessment that Moscow helped him win”

    So this is analogous to the WMD thing, DJ. People really were trying to take actions based on this. Here’s a headline from the Guardian: “Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for US election hacking”

    A senior Obama official is quoted in that story as saying:
    “There has to be a cost and a consequence for what Russia has done,” a senior administration official said. “It is in a extraordinary step for them to interfere in the democratic process here in the United States of America. There needs to be a price for that.””

    if you want to say, “Well Bob this isn’t QUITE as bad as the WMD case” OK fine I have no problem with that. But you’re acting like there’s nothing going on here and I’m overreacting to some sloppy copy editors. No way, the intelligence community is ginning up this story to discredit Trump as he takes office.

    In fact, there were attempts to change the Electoral College vote because of this stuff. Here’s an article in The Hill, with the headline: “Electoral College must delay, or else Putin picks the next US president”

    An excerpt:
    “To preserve the foundations of the American political system and strengthen the president-elect’s legitimacy, the electoral college should delay voting until the dual White House and Senate reports on Russian involvement in the election are issued.
    According to reports, the consensus view within the CIA is that Russia has blatantly interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Not just to destabilize the electoral system, but to pick the winner.”

    This is definitely in the same ballpark as the WMD stuff, especially since the crucial link in the argument–namely that it was people working for the Russian government who did the actual hacking / phishing–is not established in the declassified report. I guess you are taking it for granted that that’s solidly established in the classified version.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      “In fact, there were attempts to change the Electoral College vote because of this stuff.”

      The people of a state electing your party’s electors does not technically entitle you to their votes.

      For what it’s worth I agree the intelligence community is not trying to dictate interpretation of their report to people. I don’t agree they are being silent to misinterpretation for nefarious reasons.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      “I guess you are taking it for granted that that’s solidly established in the classified version.”

      Also for the record, no, I’m not.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Hey Andrew,

        I think we may be partly misunderstanding each other and then getting huffy. I was making a snarky joke about the way this narrative is going down. Then in response to your somewhat self-deprecating line I was answering in kind blah blah blah. So I am prepared to call a truce on this one.

        • Andrew_FL says:

          Gladly. Sorry about being kind of a jerk I really am sick and it really is messing with my head.

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