Monday, December 12, 2016

Reports: FBI, CIA Not On The Same Page About Russian Hacking (Maybe Because The Evidence About Russia Helping Trump Is Not Substantiated)

By Matt Vespa

Photo: Trump receives an enthusiastic welcome at the Army-Navy Game, the first President-elect to attend, with the Army ending the Navy’s 14-year winning streak

Contrary to claims made by Democrats about Russian interference helping President-elect Donald J. Trump, there is no definitive proof that the Kremlin ordered such cyber attacks. It’s all based on circumstantial evidence, innuendo, and anonymous sources that are bound by an apparent inter-agency feud between the CIA and the FBI. On December 10, The Washington Post reported that both agencies were not on the same page, which seemed to have angered Democrats:

Sitting before the House Intelligence Committee was a senior FBI counterintelligence official. The question the Republicans and Democrats in attendance wanted answered was whether the bureau concurred with the conclusions the CIA had just shared with senators that Russia “quite” clearly intended to help Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and clinch the White House.
For the Democrats in the room, the FBI’s response was frustrating — even shocking.
During a similar Senate Intelligence Committee briefing held the previous week, the CIA’s statements, as reflected in the letter the lawmakers now held in their hands, were “direct and bald and unqualified” about Russia’s intentions to help Trump, according to one of the officials who attended the House briefing.
The competing messages, according to officials in attendance, also reflect cultural differences between the FBI and the CIA. The bureau, true to its law enforcement roots, wants facts and tangible evidence to prove something beyond all reasonable doubt. The CIA is more comfortable drawing inferences from behavior.
The Post added that the meeting from the FBI briefer reportedly devolved into Democrats trying to corner the briefer on whether Russia had a favorite in this election. It all boiled down to a lack of evidence to definitively say that Russia helped Trump in this election, which is something President Obama has been quiet on, despite the palace intrigue that has permeated the air waves.
Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept also tore into the claims that Russia hacked the election to help Trump, slamming Democrats for jumping the gun on the CIA’s incomplete claims as gospel.
Greenwald added that there should be some pretty basic ground rules when it comes to Russia, hacking, and the 2016 election. No one should be making claims, like Democrats have, concerning hacking without evidence (a no-brainer, right?), that CIA reports should be subject to extreme scrutiny since they lie for a living, that people should take into account the FBI-CIA feud, and that the last 24-48 hours have been rife with contradictions, which should add to the uncertainty.
No one is saying don’t investigate these claims, but the Left, in their inability to actually take responsibility for nominating one of the most flawed candidates to ever run for the presidency, have gone gung-ho with these Russians totally hacked the election to help Trump claims that are unsubstantiated at best.
Moreover, Greenwald also adds the biases between the two agencies; how the intelligence community was staunchly opposed to Trump, whereas those who were investigating Clinton’s email fiasco at the FBI were hoping she would get prosecuted for not following protocol concerning sensitive material or at least stripping her of her security clearance.
At the same time, it’s also a bit surprising since the Clintons reportedly made even members of the intelligence community nervous due to her penchant to play by a different set of rules—or at least that’s what David Ignatius postulated.
Frankly, an unauthorized and unsecure server that was capable of being hacked by foreign actors and most certainly had classified material sent through it (though not classified at the time) is more startling. She actually skirted protocol; Trump didn’t. Three emails that were sent through Clinton’s server were determined to be classified at the time they were sent and received, but were marked improperly.
Regardless, in the end, Greenwald’s main point is that anonymous sources are not akin to actionable evidence:
Needless to say, Democrats — still eager to make sense of their election loss and to find causes for it other than themselves — immediately declared these anonymous claims about what the CIA believes to be true, and, with a somewhat sweet, religious-type faith, treated these anonymous assertions as proof of what they wanted to believe all along: that Vladimir Putin was rooting for Donald Trump to win and Hillary Clinton to lose and used nefarious means to ensure that outcome. That Democrats are now venerating unverified, anonymous CIA leaks as sacred is par for the course for them this year, but it’s also a good indication of how confused and lost U.S. political culture has become in the wake of Trump’s victory.
…The reasons no rational person should blindly believe anonymous claims of this sort — even if it is pleasing to believe such claims — should be obvious by now.
To begin with, CIA officials are professional, systematic liars; they lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades, as have intelligence officials in other agencies. Many of those incidents demonstrate, as hurtful as it is to accept, that these agencies even lie when there’s a Democrat overseeing the executive branch.
Beyond that, what makes claims from anonymous sources so especially dubious is that their motives cannot be assessed.
Who are the people summarizing these claims to the Washington Post?
What motives do they have for skewing the assertions one way or the other?
Who are the people inside the intelligence community who fully ratify these assertions and who are the ones who dissent?
It’s impossible to answer any of these questions because everyone is masked by the shield of anonymity, which is why reports of this sort demand high levels of skepticism, not blind belief.
The timing of the leaks:
To start with, the timing of these leaks is so striking. Even as Democrats have spent months issuing one hysterical claim after the next about Russian interference, the White House, and Obama specifically, have been very muted about all of this.
Perhaps that’s because he did not want to appear partisan or be inflammatory, but perhaps it’s because he does not believe there is sufficient proof to accuse the Russian government; after all, if he really believed the Russians did even half of what Democrats claim, wouldn’t he (as some Democrats have argued) be duty-bound to take aggressive action in retaliation?
It was announced yesterday afternoon that Obama had ordered a full review of hacking allegations: a perfectly sensible step that makes clear that an investigation is needed, and evidence disclosed, before any definitive conclusions can be reached. It was right on the heels of that announcement that this CIA leak emerged: short-cutting the actual, deliberative investigative process Obama had ordered in order to lead the public to believe that all the answers were already known and, before the investigation even starts, that Russia was guilty of all charges.
Greenwald also notes how the Democrats’ anti-Russia fetish is coalescing into a new neo-McCarthyite ethos that’s rather annoying, though entertaining at times, where any mention to the contrary about the Left's claims concerning Russia's intentions during the 2016 election is taken as support for Russia and Putin:
…here’s how I defined the McCarthyite atmosphere that Democrats have deliberately cultivated this year:
So that’s the Democratic Party’s approach to the 2016 election. Those who question, criticize or are perceived to impede Hillary Clinton’s smooth, entitled path to the White House are vilified as stooges, sympathizers and/or agents of Russia: Trump, WikiLeaks, Sanders, The Intercept, Jill Stein. Other than loyal Clinton supporters, is there anyone left who is not covertly controlled by or in service to The Ruskies?
Concerns over Democrats’ McCarthyism never had anything to do with a desire for an investigation into the source of the DNC and Podesta hacking; everyone favored such investigations. Indeed, accusations that Democrats were behaving in a McCarthyite manner were predicated — and still are — on their disgusting smearing as Kremlin agents anyone who wanted evidence and proof before believing these inflammatory accusations about Russia.
To see the true face of this neo-McCarthyism, watch this amazing interview from this week with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the party’s leading Russia hawks (he’s quoted in the Post article attacking Obama for not retaliating against Putin). When Schiff is repeatedly asked by the interviewer, Tucker Carlson, for evidence to support his allegation that Putin ordered the hacking of Podesta’s emails, Schiff provides none.
What he does instead is accuse Carlson of being a Kremlin stooge and finally tells him he should put his program on RT. That — which has become very typical Democratic rhetoric — is the vile face of neo-McCarthyism that Democrats have adopted this year.
Admittedly, maybe I jumped the gun to say that there was no proof of a Russia-Trump alliance based solely on anonymous sources; I usually make a note stressing when something is rumor or based on an anonymous source.
And I’ve always made sure that such stories have a “stay tuned” mention towards the end. Because often times, especially with these stories—we don’t know.
But this is different. As you can see, Democrats are so desperate in their attempts to undercut the president-elect and avoid slamming Clinton as a horrible candidate, that they’re using rumor as proof.
I’ll be sure to make a note of such sources in future posts because as you can see—this whole thing has gone off the hinges. We have the Huffington Post reporting that this unsubstantiated claim of Russian interference in our election is the “political equivalent of 9/11.”
I’m going to sit back until we get on the record remarks from U.S. officials. Because as Greenwald and the Post noted, we really can’t say for sure that Russia directed such cyber attacks to help Trump.