Countering Trump, Bipartisan Voices Strongly Affirm Findings on Russian Hacking

TOI : US agencies said to identify parties who gave hacked emails to WikiLeaks, Intel chief doubles down on assessment Russia interfered in election; Moscow reportedly celebrated Trump win in intercepted communications


WASHINGTON — A united front of top intelligence officials and senators from both parties on Thursday forcefully reaffirmed the conclusion that the Russian government used hacking and leaks to try to influence the presidential election, directly rebuffing President-elect Donald J. Trump’s repeated questioning of Russia’s role.

They suggested that the doubts Mr. Trump has expressed on Twitter about the agencies’ competence and impartiality were undermining their morale.

“There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Russian hacks. He added that “our assessment now is even more resolute” that the Russians carried out the attack on the election.

The Senate hearing was the prelude to an extraordinary meeting scheduled for Friday, when Mr. Clapper and other intelligence chiefs will repeat for Mr. Trump the same detailed, highly classified briefing on the Russian attack that President Obama received on Thursday. In effect, they will be telling the president-elect that the spy agencies believe he won with an assist from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Then Mr. Trump will have to say whether he accepts the agencies’ basic findings on Russia’s role or holds to his previous contention that inept, politicized American spies have gotten the perpetrator of the hacking wrong. That would throw the intelligence agencies into a crisis of credibility and status with few, if any, precedents.

In a pair of Twitter posts early Thursday, Mr. Trump appeared to back away from the scorn he had previously expressed for the intelligence agencies’ work, as well as from his embrace of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which released most of the hacked emails of Democratic officials.

“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in agreement with Julian Assange — wrong,” he wrote. “I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

But on Thursday night, the president-elect returned to Twitter and appeared to underscore his doubts about the F.B.I.’s investigation of the hacking.

“The Democratic National Committee would not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia,” he wrote, a day after a report by BuzzFeed on the issue. “So how and why are they so sure about hacking if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers? What is going on?”

Early next week, the public will get its fullest information to date on the evidence the agencies have to support their contention that Mr. Putin’s government used the hacked emails to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and help Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Clapper said he would “push the envelope” to include as much detail as possible in the unclassified version of the intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian operation.

The hacking, he added, was only one part of that operation, which also included the dissemination of “classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

Mr. Clapper will step down as intelligence director later this month after a career in intelligence and military service that began when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1961. His replacement is expected to be Dan Coats, a retired senator from Indiana, a Trump transition official said Thursday.

A low-key conservative who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Coats would oversee the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies in a job that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to improve the sharing of information, but that is sometimes criticized as adding a layer of bureaucracy.

The Coats news came on the same day that R. James Woolsey, a former C.I.A. director, stepped down as a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, citing his diminishing role in the transition.

The Senate hearing on Thursday, devoted to foreign cyberthreats, was unusual as much for its context as its content — a public, bipartisan display of support for the intelligence community that seemed aimed, at times, at an audience of one.

Though Mr. Clapper and most Republican senators were careful to avoid antagonizing the president-elect directly, the hearing spoke to the rift Mr. Trump has threatened to create between the incoming administration and the intelligence officials assigned to inform it.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the committee, said the purpose of the gathering was “not to question the outcome of the presidential election” but to move forward with a full understanding of what had happened.

Repeatedly, though, Mr. McCain and his colleagues seemed to undercut Mr. Trump’s past messages of support for Russia, and for Mr. Assange of WikiLeaks.

“Do you think there’s any credibility we should attach to this individual?” Mr. McCain asked.

“Not in my view,” Mr. Clapper said. Another witness at the hearing, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command, said he agreed.

The intelligence director said he welcomed skeptical questioning from Mr. Trump, allowing that the intelligence community was “not perfect.”

“We are an organization of human beings, and we’re prone, sometimes, to make errors,” Mr. Clapper said. But he said the agencies had learned from their failures, notably their declaration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Democrats on the committee repeatedly coaxed intelligence leaders to rebut Mr. Trump’s multiple assertions that a random individual hacker might have hacked Democratic targets.

Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, told Mr. Clapper that in the conflict between the intelligence agencies and Mr. Assange over Russian responsibility for the attack, “We’re on your side every time.” He asked Mr. Clapper to convey his level of confidence in attributing the election attack to Russia, rather than “someone in his basement.”

“It’s, uh, very high,” the laconic intelligence director replied.

At one point, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, wondered aloud “who benefits from a president-elect trashing the intelligence community.”

Ms. McCaskill said there would be “howls from the Republican side of the aisle” if a Democrat had spoken about intelligence officials as Mr. Trump had.

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and Mrs. Clinton’s running mate, used the occasion for an aside about Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, who has a history of sharing discredited news stories and conspiracy theories. Mr. Kaine said that he was unsure whether Mr. Flynn was acting out of “gullibility” or “malice,” but that it was a cause for “great concern” that Mr. Flynn shared stories that “most fourth graders would find incredible.”

No Republican lawmakers embraced Mr. Trump’s remarks casting doubt on the intelligence conclusions, though some were more conspicuous than others in their efforts to distance themselves.

Perhaps the closest to a defense of Mr. Trump came from Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas. Denouncing “imprecise language” stating that Russia “hacked the election,” Mr. Cotton asked Mr. Clapper to confirm that the actual balloting was not affected.

Mr. Cotton also suggested that the conventional wisdom that Mr. Putin favored Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton might be wrong. Mr. Trump promised a stronger military and more American oil and gas production — policies Mr. Cotton suggested would not be to Russia’s advantage.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, criticized the Obama administration for its response to the Russian attack. He said the White House had lobbed mere “pebbles” in retaliation for the interference.

“When it comes to interfering with our election, we better be ready to throw rocks,” he said. Then Mr. Graham issued a warning for fellow Republicans who might be inclined to brush off any attack on an opposing party.

“Could it be Republicans next election?” he asked. “It’s not like we’re so much better at cybersecurity than Democrats.”

January 6, 2017 | 23 Comments » | 138 views

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  1. the same clapper who acknowledged lying to congress and the People. don’t believe a word of it , the intelligence agencies are lying and NOT acting in the best interests of the People

  2. @ Deserttrek:
    Their “proof” seems to be limited to the fact that the Russian leadership celebrated Trump’s election victory over Clinton. The same as did the majority of voters in some 90 per cent of the counties in all of the 50 United States of America.

    Retired President Harry S Truman, when he learned of the CIA-planned and managed Bay of Pigs debacle at the expense of President John F Kennedy, reportedly said that he regretted his acquiescence in establishment of the CIA during his first term of office.

    The entire intelligence gang in our country should be restructured, probably slimmed down to appropriate size, and limited more or less to information gathering in foreign countries. All of which, I understand, is what Trump and his key staff have in mind for after January 20.

    Arnold Harris, Outspeaker

  3. The antidote to this Congressional circus on Russia, from Scott Johnson at Powerline:

    “Ishmael Jones: From Russia with doubt
    The pseudonymous Ishmael Jones is a former CIA case officer and author of The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. He writes with a timely comment on the current intelligence controversy that is reaching a fever pitch. Mr. Jones advises that his commentary has been reviewed and approved by the CIA’s publications review board. He writes:

    CIA intelligence reporting stating that the Russian government hacked the presidential election in order to elect Donald Trump is false. It is merely a political attack against Donald Trump with the goal of delegitimizing his presidency. …”

    Posted on January 5, 2017 by Scott Johnson in Intelligence, Russia

  4. 1. Alleged Russian Hacking….Remember these allegations originated with the Democratic national committee and Democratic members of Congress last summer and that Ben Rhodes has played a key role in orchestrating this scenario.

    2. While I would like to see Julian  Assange hung for treason for giving away defense information which jeopardized the lives of those cooperating with us in Afghanistan, I have to acknowledge that in  his 10 years of operation he has been 100% accurate and 100% honest in his presentation of information.

    3. Assange claims that the Democratic national committee information did not come from a state actor. Further the CIA contractors describe the murkiness and competition of the various hacking groups within Russia. That both of the main groups penetrated the Democratic National Committee makes unlikely that Putin or anyone else at the top coordinated their efforts.

    4. This  is an unclassified summary of knowns/ unknowns  compiled by actual  qualified operators…   December 16, 2016

    ALL PARTIES AGREE:     Podesta’s email inbox was hacked when he responded to a phishing email requesting that he enter his email credentials. Podesta’s password was “password”, which is not a high barrier.

    6.    The White House and the  upper political echelons  of US intelligence agencies now publicly claim that that they believe the hack of Podesta’s email inbox originated somewhere in Russia. 

    7.     An outside contractor [Dmitr Alperovich] specializing in computer  security claims the following: ”The phishing email itself bore hallmarks of prior Russian espionage attempts and the link in the phishing email directed him to a server used by the “Fancy Bear” cyber espionage group, which is widely considered by cyber experts to be affiliated with the Russian FSB. The same “Fancy Bear” group has been implicated in attacks aimed at dissidents in Ukraine and Georgia, as well as military attaches in Western Europe and dissident Russian journalists.”

    8.     The maximum statement to this belief can be found during the interview of Angela Stent on the PBS news hour, December 15, 2016    [transcript below]. 

    9.     The Russian government disputes that they were actively involved. 

    10.     FBI Director James Comey has suggested that the hack might have been carried out by a private individual operating from within Russia.

    11.     Julian Assange,in an interview with Sean Hannity  December 15, 2016 states that “no state actor was involved.” They then play the statement by national security director James Clapper which supports this view. [James Clapper’s statement begins approximately at the 2.3 minute point].

    12.     The best review of the entire actual situation is:  MILITARY INTELLIGENCE  Monday, November 7, 2016 WHAT IS PUTIN’s REAL GAME

    13.     To put  these specific hacking’s into  perspective, in the year 2016 ,there have been many hundreds of hackings, intrusions, compromises, hijackings, etc.   The following site presents a very vivid graphic  illustration of the scope and magnitude of the hacking phenomena: 

      Here is a sample of 5 other links:

    14. FACT: Our electric grid is in trouble. Over the past couple of years the clarion call for action has grown louder and louder but it continues to fall on deaf ears in our gridlocked government.

    Experts, including esteemed journalist Ted Koppel, have warned repeatedly that our electric grid and infrastructure are so weak that a single natural disaster or terrorist attack could create a “domino effect” and take down large swaths of our nation.

    It’s so bad it won’t matter if it’s a giant storm, an accidental outage or an outright attack on our unstable power grid…
    Because it’s not a matter of if… it’s a matter of when.

    See: “Too Little, Too Late From Obama On Infrastructure Security” by Paul Brewer   and  “Impact of U.S. Shale Oil Revolution on the Global Oil Market, the Price of Oil & Peak Oil” by Mamdouh G. Salaamed.

    15. In a cyber war we have a lot more to lose than the Russians given the comparative dependence on networked systems.
    Also, ISA reports that the  Levano computers  used  by the  lawyers that Hillary Clinton engaged to screen  her emails   were hacked by the Chinese.

    16. From:MIL-ED:Putin strongly favored Hillary Clinton in the election.

    Putin  is  a cold-blooded, self-enriching opportunistic  bully.[ An unrepentant KGB agent].  He is ruthless, with a record of murdering critics and opponents.  His goal is to expand Russia’s control over the old Soviet republics and Eastern Europe, disband NATO  and to become an influential power in the Middle East.

    Putin holds both  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in  low regard.

     Contrary to  claims emanating from the Obama administration and from the Clinton , Putin strongly favored Hillary Clinton in the election.

    Most important to Putin  is the  very favorable political and  economic outcomes to Russia that would have occurred from Hillary Clinton’s expected actions relating to fracking.

    Hillary Clinton would have   vastly curtailed fracking, either, by direct prohibition or through moratoriums; geographic area limitations; regulations; etc

      [Fracking is an important innovation in oil and gas extraction. It  has helped  America  make great strides  toward   becoming energy-sufficient. See:U.S. Now Has Largest Oil Reserves in the World, Thanks to Fracking July 7, 2016 by Jake Green ] 

    This would  give  Putin a vast increase in the value of Russia’s petroleum reserves  and petroleum exports. It would restore Russia’s  previous  political and economic lock on  East Europe’s  energy supplies.[ It would  also give  Iran  greatly increased petroleum income to finance its extensive terror and penetration operations throughout the world.]

    A second reason is Putin’s belief, [based on many years of   observation of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry]  that a  Hillary  Clinton administration would continue the parameters and trend lines  established by Barack Obama .


     a. Bill Clinton:  announcing  complete success of  his negotiations with North Korea…  North Korea will  abandon their quest for nuclear weapons  and completely demolish their nuclear development infrastructure.
    “Resolution of the North Korean nuclear threat” [William J, Clinton
    …. ]

    b.  Barack Obama ; Hillary Clinton ;  John Kerry:

    The Obama administration has pulled back in every confrontation with Putin’s Russia.  Putin has seen this US  pattern and has resolved to remain the first mover, not expecting much American pushback except in words.

    Obama’s  rebuke  to Romney during debate (Obama to Romney:”……you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,”

     Obama’s open microphone (Tell   Vladimir  “that after my  election I have more flexibility”]

    Clinton’s “re-set button”   ;

    Acceptance  of Putin’s aggressive intervention  in Ukraine; 

     Iranian nuclear deal which permits Russia to sell advanced weaponry to Iran and receive hard currency (furnished by the United States); Strategy of  bringing Russia into the Middle East as a major player (as discussed in Obama’s Syria Policy Striptease Tony Badran The Tablet September 21, 2016 ) .

     Obama’s White House has cut  the military “out of the loop”in key international  and military decisions [testimony of Secretary of  Defense  Ash Carter and the Joint Chiefs of  Staff…]

    So far, Trump has surrounded himself with military and intelligence advisors that are highly regarded by the American military and intelligence communities.  Voter support for Trump in both communities is high. Trump appears to have superior knowledge relating to the impacts of Hillary Clinton’s energy policies on the US economy , on Russia,  and on Iran. Trump  will not be the detailed oriented model of Jimmy Carter. He will not be the “I am the commander-in-chief” model of Barack Obama. It is expected that Trump will operate in the manner of a “Chairman of the Board”

  5. @ LM Howard:

    Good post…. There seems to be a joining of forces of the ideological left and the neocon/globalists and some military contractors seeking to tie Trumps hands and options even before he assumes official office. I think they are prepared to take America to war in-order to preserve their power wealth and influence. Can’t remember when a President elect faced such a toxic and dangerous lineup of enemies within America, working independently and in concert. Hope Trumps personal security is up to snuff …. Nuff said

  6. @ Russell Lang:
    @ LtCol Howard:
    I posted the N YT article because I wanted everyone to know what the Democrats were saying. Then I added the link to give another opinion. I was going to post more contrarian views.

    I am happy that Lt Col Howard posted his summary. I trust him implicitly.

  7. Trump has the DUTY to challenge all the US security agencies! Their decision on the non-existent WMD in Iraq has resulted in a loss of $4-5 Trillion, thousands of dead soldiers, thousands of wounded soldiers, thousands of destroyed families, an impoverished American population, a significant recession while the elite and the have became wealthier while watching the events from the comfort of their homes and to top it off, attacking the wrong target (Iran) and empowering the fanatics from Tehran!

  8. @ stevenl:
    Was the CIA responsible for false allegations that there were WMDs or false allegations that there weren’t?

    “…The Plame affair (also known as the CIA leak scandal and Plamegate) was a political scandal that revolved around journalist Robert Novak’s public identification of Valerie Plame as a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer in 2003.[1][2][3]
    ‘In 2002, Plame wrote a memo to her superiors in which she expressed hesitation in recommending her husband, former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, to the CIA for a mission to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had arranged to purchase and import uranium from the country, but stated that he “may be in a position to assist”.[4] After President George W. Bush stated that “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson published a July 2003 op-ed in The New York Times stating his doubts during the mission that any such transaction with Iraq had taken place.[5]…”

    And recall the articles about the post Saddam government selling its stocks of uranium yellow cake and much later Isis getting its hands on Saddam Hussein’s stocks of chemical weapons. But why didn’t they say they found anything at the time? is the obvious question.

    Sometimes, as in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story, “The Purloined Letter,” the best way to hide a secret is in plain sight. There is a wikipedia article about the story though it doesn’t mention this principle.

    Here’s a related article on that thought I found by googling: Purloined letter politics hiding in plain sight:

    “Thursday, May 5, 2011”
    “Hiding in plain sight? So was The Purloined Letter”

    “It seems intuitively unlikely, as so many have pointed out, that Osama bin Laden could have been hiding out in a large, obvious compound in a wealthy suburb less than a mile from a military academy without Pakistani authorities–or at least Pakistani intelligence officials–knowing about it.

    ‘Many would be more convinced of Pakistani government claims of ignorance if OBL had been hiding in a cave, as some imagined.’

    ‘But I’m reminded of the great Edgar Allan Poe story “The Purloined Letter,” one of his Auguste Dupin detective pieces (the others include the gruesome “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”) You can read “The Purloined Letter” online here. I won’t entirely spoil the plot, but basically a letter has been stolen and the bumbling police can’t find it despite a careful search of the premises of the main suspect; Dupin shows them that the letter was hiding in plain sight.’

    ‘So imagine that OBL got tired of living in caves, and that he wanted to be near civilization, live with his family, and have something approaching a normal life (which, given his Islamic fundamentalist asceticism, did not require him to go dancing or to the cinema.) Where better to hide than in plain sight?’

    ‘I am not saying this is what happened, I am just saying that it could have happened this way, and what seems logical to conventional minds is not always the truth. After all, U.S. intelligence agencies, with all their satellite technology and human assets, took several years to track OBL down. Was it an intelligence failure, or just a failure of the imagination?’

    ‘Update: Now that I’ve written this, I Googled to see if anyone else had made this connection. A number of people have, which I find heartening for two reasons: 1) Not everyone follows conventional reasoning, and 2) American literary traditions are still alive.”‘

    “Photo: William S. Niederkorn, Berg Collection, New York Public Library
    Posted by Michael Balter at 5:22 AM
    Labels: Politics”

    I might add, haven’t you ever had the experience of searching all of your home for something like a watch or a phone or your keys, say, without being able to find it, only to happen upon it later in plain sight but positioned at an angle that you wouldn’t have expected to see it in if you had been looking for it. We often only see what we expect to see. Or are led to expect. That’s one of the things that makes the professional magician’s act possible. Remember Saddam Hussein playing games with the inspectors? Remember how his army just dissolved? Do you seriously think he left no one behind to continue rear-guard work? Only a fool would think that they could withstand our frontal assault. Our enemies haven’t thought that way since WWII or maybe Korea. Israel’s since the Yom Kippur War.

  9. 12 days and they gone. Plowed under like lightweight trash.
    Clapper, a confirmed liar, the CIA mole at the CIA and the fumbling FBI fellow… Sure I trust them.
    Hillary lost because she is unworthy to even run for election let alone be a president.
    Hacking: Done by all to all. Even our Radio Free Israel Site was hacked numerous times.
    Rino pack. They are known elements and will go down the next election cycle.

  10. @ Ted Belman:
    Serious guide by Gilead Ini, translating the NYT’s ‘narrative’ on Israel, in the Jan 2017 The Tower:

    At the New York Times, Special Words Reserved for Certain Territories

    Gilead Ini is a senior research analyst at CAMERA

    [The NYT narrative is why it is so difficult to believe anything they write. Gilead Ini does a great job pulling the curtain away]

  11. @ Birdalone:
    Great article. Thank you. I didn’t know that Gush Etzion was purchased by Jews on unused land during the pre-state period set aside by the League of Nations for Jewish settlement, ethnically cleansed by Jordan and then rebuilt. This is a very important point. The key word is “purchased.” The whole left wing argument hinges on the canard of stolen land. One left wing musician I know kept saying one can’t be a good Republican and a Zionist because Republicans believe in the sanctity of private property. There needs to be a lot more scholarship and hasbara on this point. It’s absolutely crucial to unraveling their narrative. Also the point by point debunking of Noam Chomsky. Particularly the massive book he wrote with Edward Herman, “The Fateful Triangle” in which he ties together and accuses Israel, Apartheid South Africa and the U.S. with an avalanche of heavily footnoted, scholarly sounding facts. These people will refer you to Noam Chomsky the way any religious (or Marxist) fundamentalist will refer you to their favorite text, as though the truth of it is such an obvious no-brainer that all you have to do is read it and you will be struck by satori. One of the books that took the wind out of Farakhan’s sails in the 90s was a book called “Ministry of Lies” that took his fake scholarship out point by point. It was fraudulent scholarship that led to the Black on Jewish pogroms in the ’90s. And it was real scholarship that defused it. Have their been any class action suits against Jordan on behalf of the murdered Jews and stolen Jewish property? What about when England gave over 75 percent of the League of Nations Jewish Mandate to the Arabs? Were any Jews robbed and expropriated? Were any of them American citizens? The only way they could get support in the West was by switching David and Goliath in the popular imagination. Oops, sorry, “Daoud.” Ha Ha. Not.

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