On the document, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”

January 7, 2017


Above is a link to a document, released yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, titled Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution. I’ve skimmed through it; although the document asserts, without presenting any evidence, that Russia engaged in cyber espionage against US political organizations and hacked state and local electoral boards (see pp. 2-3), most of the document actually consists of a diatribe against the network RT, which it blames for consistently and publicly favoring Mr. Trump’s candidacy over Mrs. Clinton’s. E.g., on p. 4, it notes that “On 6 August, RT published an English-language video called ‘Julian Assange Special: Do WikiLeaks Have the E-mail That’ll Put Clinton in Prison?’ and an exclusive interview with Assange entitled ‘Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money.'” The document says nothing as to whether it is true that Mrs. Clinton and ISIS are funded by the same money, that is, by Saudi Arabia and Qatar; it simply presents RT’s reporting this as evidence of unfair bias. Nor does it argue that e-mails possessed by WikiLeaks do not contain evidence of criminal activity by Mrs. Clinton; instead, it insinuates that a Russian media outlet has no business reporting on this possibility.

Surely most Americans who choose to watch RT are aware that that news outlet is funded by the Russian government, just as Americans who choose to watch the BBC are aware that that outlet is funded by the government of Great Britain. If in fact many Americans do find the reporting on RT of interest, it may be because they see America’s mainstream media as, in important ways, failing to do their job of keeping the public informed. Or, to put it more simply, a lot of Americans are tired of being “entertained” and lied to by news organizations that should be telling them plainly what their own government is doing; if they can get better information from abroad, so be it. In fact, the CIA has a long tradition of attempting to shape the way news is presented in this country (do a search on “Operation Mockingbird“). Read in the light of that history, Clapper’s document can be seen as expressing chagrin at the US intelligence community’s inability to shape the public narrative in ways that it used to.

Perhaps it is even the case that some Americans, reflecting on our foreign policy, are unhappy with what our government has been doing in recent years in places like Syria, Libya, and Ukraine, and would like to see a change in direction. Perhaps some Americans, seeing a choice between favoring Saudi Arabia and its jihadist proxy troops on the one hand, and a practical cooperation with Russia on the other, favor the latter policy. It is remarkable that this document nowhere considers that as a real possibility — that is, that the American public are educated enough to make up their own minds on things that matter, and might actually favor a cooperation with Russia.

2 Responses to “On the document, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections””

  1. rlprior Says:

    Good review.

    My own comments are embedded in the ICA Report.

    In summary, Europeans had far more influence on the US Elections than Russia. See “A message from Brussels” on youtube.

    Breitbart had 1,000 times more influence on the election result than RT.

  2. bekkos Says:

    Some further links:

    Masha Gessen, in the New York Review of Books:

    Abby Martin, a former reporter for RT, gives her assessment of the intelligence report:

    RT editor [Margarita Simonyan] disputes US hacking report’s implication of Russian news channel: “Simonyan called the report ‘a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the American intelligence analyst community’. ‘The agencies’ only charge against RT is that we were critical of Clinton in reporting actual facts about her,’ she wrote. ‘This is our supposed crime! What a resounding endorsement of journalism and freedom of speech…. Apparently … all foreign media organisations have to follow an approved script of acceptable coverage, lest they are accused of interference. And make no mistake, we’re not talking about neutrality. The only acceptable approach was, “Support Clinton, attack Trump”.'”

    Adam Garrie: “Prior to the launch of RT, there was no large media outlet broadcasting in the West which offered a critical view of the mainstream, establishment narrative.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: