Chris Hedges: The real purpose of the U.S. National Intelligence Report on alleged hacking by Russia

Global Research, January 12, 2017
Truthdig 8 January 2017

Some thoughts on “Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election,” the newly released declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

1. The primary purpose of the declassified report, which offers no evidence to support its assertions that Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election campaign, is to discredit Donald Trump. I am not saying there was no Russian hack of John Podesta’s emails. I am saying we have yet to see any tangible proof to back up the accusation. This charge—Sen. John McCain has likened the alleged effort by Russia to an act of war—is the first salvo in what will be a relentless campaign by the Republican and Democratic establishment, along with its corporatist allies and the mass media, to destroy the credibility of the president-elect and prepare the way for impeachment.

A detail of a page in the declassified report. (Jon Elswick / AP)

The allegations in the report, amplified in breathtaking pronouncements by a compliant corporate media that operates in a non-fact-based universe every bit as pernicious as that inhabited by Trump, are designed to make Trump look like Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot. An orchestrated and sustained campaign of innuendo and character assassination will be directed against Trump. When impeachment is finally proposed, Trump will have little public support and few allies and will have become a figure of open ridicule in the corporate media.

2. The second task of the report is to bolster the McCarthyist smear campaign against independent media, including Truthdig, as witting or unwitting agents of the Russian government. The demise of the English programming of Al-Jazeera and TeleSur, along with the collapse of the nation’s public broadcasting, designed to give a voice to those not beholden to corporate or party interests, leaves RT America and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! as the only two electronic outlets with a national reach that are willing to give a platform to critics of corporate power and imperialism such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Ralph Nader, Medea Benjamin, Cornel West, Kshama Sawant, myself and others.

Seven pages of the report were dedicated to RT America, on which I have a show called “On Contact.” The report vastly inflated the cable network’s reach and influence. It also included a few glaring errors, including the statement that “RT introduced two new shows—‘Breaking the Set’ on 4 September and ‘Truthseeker’ on 2 November—both overwhelmingly focused on criticism of the US and Western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent.” “Breaking the Set,” with Abby Martin, was taken off the air two years ago. It could hardly be tarred with costing Hillary Clinton the election.

The barely contained rage of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber threats was visible when he spat out that RT was “promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights, et cetera.” His anger was a glimpse into how the establishment seethes with hatred for dissidents. Clapper has lied in the past. He perjured himself in March 2013 when, three months before the revelations of wholesale state surveillance leaked by Snowden, he assured Congress that the National Security Agency was not collecting “any type of data” on the American public. After the corporate state shuts down RT, it will go after Democracy Now! and the handful of progressive sites, including this one, that give these dissidents space. The goal is censorship.

3. The third task of the report is to justify the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beyond Germany, a violation of the promise Ronald Reagan made to the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Expanding NATO in Eastern Europe opened up an arms market for the war industry. It made those businesses billions of dollars. New NATO members must buy Western arms that can be integrated into the NATO arsenal. These sales, which are bleeding the strained budgets of countries such as Poland, are predicated on potential hostilities with Russia. If Russia is not a threat, the arms sales plummet. War is a racket.

4. The final task of the report is to give the Democratic Party plausible cover for the catastrophic election defeat it suffered. Clinton initially blamed FBI Director James Comey for her loss before switching to the more easily demonized Putin. The charge of Russian interference essentially boils down to the absurd premise that perhaps hundreds of thousands of Clinton supporters suddenly decided to switch their votes to Trump when they read the leaked emails of Podesta. Either that or they tuned in to RT America and decided to vote for the Green Party.

The Democratic Party leadership cannot face, and certainly cannot publicly admit, that its callous betrayal of the working and middle class triggered a nationwide revolt that resulted in the election of Trump. It has been pounded since President Barack Obama took office, losing 68 seats in the House, 12 seats in the Senate and 10 governorships. It lost more than 1,000 elected positions between 2008 and 2012 nationwide. Since 2010, Republicans have replaced 900 Democratic state legislators. If this was a real party, the entire leadership would be sacked. But it is not a real party. It is the shell of a party propped up by corporate money and hyperventilating media.

The Democratic Party must maintain the fiction of liberalism just as the Republican Party must maintain the fiction of conservatism. These two parties, however, belong to one party—the corporate party. They will work in concert, as seen by the alliance between Republican leaders such as McCain and Democratic leaders such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, to get rid of Trump, silence all dissent, enrich the war industry and promote the farce they call democracy.

Welcome to our annus horribilis.

Fox News host challenges Democratic lawmaker over claims of Russian hacking (VIDEO)

In this exchange, notice how adamant and entrenched Congressman Adam Schiff is in his position. Schiff makes an accusation about Russia, builds a whole story on that foundation, and then goes on a verbal attack.

Fox host Tucker Carlson uses the phrase “weasel words”. This was a very sophisticated verbal barrage by Schiff that shifted the focus to Carlson, that he was the one with the problem for not “believing”. Schiff did not act humiliated or flustered. The exchange reveals how deeply committed Schiff and an unknown number of American officials are to pushing this particular story line and belief and to unbendingly defend it.

Officials such as Adam Schiff are directing American foreign policy based on their near-pathological prejudices and beliefs. How far will they go? The current results are visible in destroyed countries and lives, and these conflicts aren’t over yet.

From Sputnik News

December 9, 2016

On Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff was absolutely humiliated over his Russian hysteria and repeated claims that the Kremlin had hacked the election.

Democratic members of Congress have demanded in a letter that President Obama brief them on “Russian interference” in the election before leaving office, and Schiff was one of those who signed. To promote their cause, the California representative appeared on Fox News, and one of the most epic showdowns in the recent history of the network ensued. Carlson left the Democratic representative looking completely ridiculous, after the latter accused the host of being an “apologist for the Kremlin,” and telling him that he will need to “move his show to RT.”

“The information was true, and voters got to see that, and it helped them assess how they wanted to vote. Why is that bad? Are you really arguing against more information for voters?” Carlson asked.

“Are you really arguing in favor of a foreign adversarial party hacking into the American —” a stunned-looking Schiff began.

Tucker then asserted that he was not arguing in favor of it, but that the information was placed into the public view — and thus voters had the right to see and assess it.

Schiff then asserted that President-elect Donald Trump was the only beneficiary of “Russian meddling,” which was quickly shot down as “speculation” by Carlson. Schiff continued to assert that the intelligence community claimed that the Kremlin was behind the hacks.

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“Here’s the thing,” Carlson began, “I’ve lived here a long time, I remember vividly the ‘massive stockpiles of WMD’s in Iraq,’ which the intelligence community assured us were there, and they weren’t, so pardon my skepticism, I think it’s a patriotic position.”

Schiff appeared to grow increasingly flustered and continued to push McCarthyist anti-Russian sentiment, which Carlson hilariously mocked.

“I’m confused by what you are alleging,” Carlson interjected. “You’re saying that you believe the Russian government hacked into John Podesta’s emails and that the voters knew too much? Then you’re saying what, that they hacked voting machines? What are you saying?”

Schiff then said that if the Russians had hacked into Carlson’s emails, that he would not seek to justify their release.

“Are you arguing that voters should not have seen that information?” Carlson repeated several times.

Eventually, Schiff admitted that in some cases the press should publish information that is illegally obtained, if it is of great public interest, but continued to claim that Russia was behind the hack and that the press are responsible for reporting where the information came from.

US Lawmakers Move to Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web

Carlson asserted that Schiff does not know if Russia was behind the hacks. He then challenged the congressman to turn to the camera and specifically say that, “I know the government of Vladimir Putin hacked John Podesta’s emails.” The representative would not comply.

“You’re carrying water for the Kremlin,” the clearly desperate representative said, now trying to deflect the conversation. “You’re going to have to move your show to RT — Russian Television.”

The assertion drew big laughs from the host, who called his statement “so dumb.”

“You know what — that is just so beneath your office, because it is so dumb, you’re being duplicitous,” Carlson laughed. “I’m asking you, did they hack Podesta’s emails and you can’t say it.”

Carlson asked him, again, to look into the camera and say the Russian government hacked Podesta’s emails.

“You can’t, and you know you can’t, and you’re hiding behind weasel-words,” Carlson said. “Say they hacked John Podesta’s emails.”

The flustered Schiff then accused Carlson of ignoring that Russia is behind the hack because it benefitted the Republican candidate. He also accused the Fox host of being an “apologist” for the Kremlin.

“I just think if you’re going to make a serious allegation about an actual country, which an actual government, you ought to know what you are talking about — and you don’t!” Carlson laughed.

The heated, and highly entertaining, exchange ended with the host mocking the congressman by saying, “I need to take a call from Vladimir Putin…so I need to put you on hold for one second.”

https://sputniknews.com/us/201612091048340762-tucker-carlson-russian-hacking-claims/