Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2016
Suffice to say, we think after all the build-up and hysterics about 'Russia hacking the election' (establishing the 'fact' of which was the entire point of Obama's lame duck operation to poison the well of U.S.-Russia detente prior to Trump taking office) the amount of 'evidence' provided has been laughable. The seven page report, most of which is about steps to reduce vulnerabilities to cyber threats, is little more than the circumstantial APT28/FANCY BEAR 'attribution' compiled by the NATO Atlantic Council think tank, Democratic National Committee (DNC) hired firm Crowdstrike. For some reason too, the released report features a laundry list of perhaps NSA generated cutsie code words for various allegedly Russian threat actors, with the overall cyber operation dubbed GRIZZLY STEPPE. Perhaps STALIN HAMMER or VLAD IMPALER were already taken?
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 29, 2016
Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, making the rounds on the networks along with White House press secretary designee Sean Spicer (who embarrassed the NYT and CIA by denying that the RNC had been hacked by the Russians or anyone else that could be verified) both admirably stuck to their script -- Obama ought not to try and tie the hands of his successor when it comes to foreign policy, and the timing was politicized:
To ensure U.S.-Russia relations are in tatters before Trump takes office, we're severely punishing Russia. https://t.co/DkFQVqADZm
— U.S. Dept. of Fear (@FearDept) December 29, 2016
Robert Parry reports that the Obama administration still withholds proof of the alleged Russian 'hack,' https://t.co/3Wo7hLEAiH
— Robert Parry (@Consortiumnews) December 30, 2016
“A top aide to President-elect Donald Trump speculated Thursday that the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election may have been aimed at restricting Trump’s policy toward Russia.
Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s campaign and will serve as a counselor to him in the White House, cited a New York Times article saying President Barack Obama was trying to “box-in” his successor by issuing the sanctions with just weeks left in his presidency.
”I will tell you that even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this today was to quote ‘box in’ President-elect Trump,” Conway told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “OutFront.” “That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can’t help but think that’s often true.”
She added: “That is not the way that peaceful exchanges [of power - JWS] work in this democracy.”
Moreover, the Trump confidant painted the focus on Russia’s potential involvement in Democratic Party hacking as something of a distraction.
”All we heard through the election was ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’” Conway said. “Since the election, it’s just this fever pitch of accusations and insinuations.”
Conway argued the hacks targeting the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta did not cause Clinton’s loss nearly as much as her failed campaign strategy did.
”I don’t believe Vladimir Putin deterred her from competing in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan,” Conway said.
The Trump confidant also hit the Obama administration for its policy on Israel, calling the decision to allow a UN resolution against settlements in the West Bank “sanctions” of their own kind, and knocked the DNC for improper security procedures that left it open to a breach, a similar line offered by incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer just hours earlier on CNN.
In a statement following the announcement from the Obama administration, Trump called on the US to “move on,” but said he’d be briefed next week about the issue.
”It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” Trump said in a statement.”
US Govt. tolerated a Russian "spy base" 60 miles from DC for 44 years, but Podesta's gmail hack was the final straw? https://t.co/aP72dNZdfU
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) December 29, 2016
Independent and recently fired by Vice News journalist Michael Tracey (@mtracey) raises another amusing point about this entire diplomatic spat, which is President Obama by executive order shutting down for spying activities a country retreat in Maryland the Russians have used for...45 years. Perhaps, if we take ex-NSA counterintelligence officer turned former U.S. Naval War College professor John R. Schindler at his word, the FBI agents tasked with nearly round the clock surveillance on the place when the Russians were there simply missed the antennae those clever Rooskies buried in their back yard one night in 1985 [as depicted during The Americans Season 4...we kid] to pick up signals headed for Washington or Ft. Meade...and nobody has been the wiser since!
Shutting down RIS "diplomatic" compound in MD makes it more difficult for Russians to collect SIGINT, esp against #NSA. Again, long overdue.
— John Schindler (@20committee) December 29, 2016
“If there’s any doubt that Cold War 2.0 is upon us, it should be dispelled after today. Here’s what The Baltimore Sun writes:
In what amounted to the strongest retaliation against Russia that the U.S. has pursued in decades, the administration sanctioned two Russian intelligence services as well three companies officials said aided them. The administration also denied access to a recreational compound in Queen Anne’s County that officials said had been used for “intelligence collection activities.”
It should be noted that this article originally referred to the Russian-owned Maryland facility as a “spy base,” but has since been revised without explanation or notation to use the word “retreat” instead, which is quite a shift. One of the authors of the article, Ian Duncan, put it thusly:
So suddenly we’re bombarded with allegations that “the Russians” secretly carried out “intelligence collection activities” from what may or may not be a “spy base” 60 miles outside Washington D.C. The facility had been in operation since 1972, and the U.S. Government casually tolerated this state of affairs until…today. Oh, OK.”
— Just Blame Russia🙄 (@greeneyes0084) December 30, 2016
The #NeverTrump cuckservatives like ex-CIA and Goldman Sachs Mormon neocon Evan McMullin have been beating their usual drums all day. Fanatically anti-Trump EU(SSR) propagandists like Jakub Kalensky have also been retweeting jokes about the 'Russian spy base left open at Mar A Lago' (Trump's estate in Florida). Somehow once Trump consligliere Steve Bannon places a few political appointees of his at the State Department or better yet the now disbanded Broadcasting Board of Governors run VOA and RFE/RL, we doubt Jakub will be laughing then. Not when team Trump decides it's time to put the EU bureaucrats in their place...
The Baltic states and the U.S./EU propped up failing state kleptocracy in Kiev are making a big deal of hosting Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mrs. McCain Lindsey Graham (R-SC) this weekend. The latter claimed 99 out of 100 Senators (perhaps a pointed reference to Sen. Rand Paul) accepted the CIA and purported pan-intelligence community assessment that Russia sought to influence the U.S. election in Trump's favor unconditionally. Somehow, given the flaws in the much ballyhooed report and the skepticism revealed by public opinion polls (which also show half of Democrat respondents belief that the Russians actually tampered with voting machines or voter roll databases), we doubt that.
Even if one were to accept the premise that Russian state sponsored hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's (Kiev, Ukraine-based spearphished Gmail account) happened, the CIA/NSA apparently can't demonstrate even in a highly classified setting a chain of custody linking the 'hacked' emails to Wikileaks:
“[The ‘GRIZZLY STEPPE’ report] doesn’t mention Wikileaks … not even once. In other words, the report does not allege that the Russians gave any Democratic Party or Podesta emails to Wikileaks
It doesn’t raise the fact that recent intelligence service allegations that Russia hacked the NSA and Germany turned out to be false
It doesn’t address the fact that Russia is too sophisticated to have used widely- known hacking methods (and wouldn’t have prominently paid tribute to a famous Russian intelligence officer within the hacking code), and that anyone could have copied these methods and names
It doesn’t address the fact that top NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA possesses records showing exactly how the emails went from the Democratic Party to Wikileaks, as it tracks all electronic communications in the U.S.
It doesn’t address the fact that top former NSA and CIA officials (and Wikileaks) claim that these were not hacks at all … but rather leaks by American insiders
It doesn’t address American intelligence services’ less-than-stellar history of truthfulness, and the fact that they routinely skew intelligence to justify preordained policy outcomes
It doesn’t address the fact that – according to the Los Angeles Times – the U.S. interfered in foreign elections 81 times between 1946 and 2000 … compared to only 36 times by the Ruskies
It doesn’t address the fact that most Americans aren’t buying the whole claim that the Russians hacked our election”
The Russians for their part, are predictably furious, and have reportedly taken the harsh step of shutting down the Anglo-American school in Moscow that provides primary and secondary schooling for children from 60 countries including the offspring of U.S. and UK diplomats. But since the source of that report is the C(IA)NN/Clinton News Network, take it with a grain of salt as of this hour (12:45 a.m. Friday, December 30, 2016).
CNN reports re closing of Anglo-American school in Russia premature, it seems. MFA’s spox Maria Zakharova denies it.
— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) December 30, 2016
While the Russians have also vowed to take retaliatory measures in kind which will almost certainly involve the expulsion of 35 American official covers/diplomats from their country, most of their rhetoric has been focused on Obama himself, not the agencies that delivered the assessment of Kremlin 'election meddling' through hacking. In her video statements, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokeswoman Maria Zakharova spoke about the Obama Administration as a group of 'foreign policy losers, bitter and narrow minded':
“We talked about this for several years: people who occupied the White House for 8 years - are not Administration, it is a group of foreign policy losers, bitter and narrow-minded. Today, Obama admitted it officially.
The most amazing thing, after not being able to leave any achievements on the international arena for the history of presidency, the Nobel laureate managed to leave with a fat blot instead of an elegant point.
In this group of spoilers only Kerry deserves compassion. He was not an ally. But he tried to be a professional and preserve human dignity.
And for four years he was mocked by his colleagues, creating roadblocks for his work. God forbid any Secretary of State has to endure what Kerry had to go through. Mr. Kerry, in this difficult time for the United States allow me to express words of solidarity - You did everything possible to prevent foreign policy collapse of Your country. But as they say in one Russian proverb, a whip is not enough for Obama.
Today America, the American people were humiliated by their own President. Not by international terrorists, not by enemy troops. This time Washington received a slap in the face by its own master, maximizing the number of urgent matters for the incoming team. Complex steps are needed for the Middle East, not for revenge.
Curtain call. The bad play is over. The whole world, from the orchestra to the balcony, is watching a devastating blow to America’s and its leadership’s prestige caused by Barack Obama and his illiterate foreign policy team, which disclosed its main secret to the world - the exceptionalism is a disguise for helplessness. And no enemy of the United States could do more harm.”
‘Not the Russians’: John McAfee talks hacking allegations, cybersecurity with Larry King (VIDEO) https://t.co/2ukWOTsiI4
— RT (@RT_com) December 30, 2016
Interestingly enough, in her video remarks translated with subtitles below Zakharova also made a small reference to the hack of the State of Georgia's electoral database discovered after the election -- an intrusion which the state's Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp blamed on Obama's Department of Homeland Security. On December 16 The Hill newspaper dutifully reported DHS' denial and claim that the breach was just an innocent error on the part of one employee, but Mr. Kemp has written to president elect Trump seeking his assistance in opening a federal investigation. It's interesting that Ms. Zakharova took note of the Georgia flap, while also basically saying, together with the Russian Embassy in London, that the present lame duck Administration can't be gone fast enough:
Look at these beautiful letters written to @realDonaldTrump by Russian schoolchildren
— Ðᴏɴᴀʟᴅ ҎΓΞƵ Ŧʀᴜᴍᴘ (@DonaldPrezTrump) December 24, 2016