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.

U.S. admits big loss in Syria: leaked Kerry recordings expose fear of Russian victory

October 3, 2016 – Fort Russ –
Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussia – translated by J. Arnoldski –
Introduction by J. Arnoldski: On September 30th, 2016, the New York Times published an article entitled “Audio Reveals What John Kerry Told Syrians Behind Closed Doors” which presented a series of leaked recordings of discussions between John Kerry and Syrian opposition representatives on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. In these leaked audio samples, Kerry is heard expressing frustration with being outmaneuvered by Russian diplomacy and nervously attempting to explain the crisis of the US’s game plan for Syria in light of recent developments. In the following commentary, Russian political analyst Ruslan Ostashko explores just why this leak has appeared now and how it bears on the domestic and geopolitical situation of the US…
 
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Anyone who follows geopolitics is periodically plagued by bouts of insatiable curiosity. One really wants to know just what is being said behind closed doors during negotiations deciding the fate of the world.
Retelling news from different sources is, of course, interesting, but not the point. And waiting for memoirs, which are filled with lies anyway, is long and boring. Sometimes we have the delight of published WikiLeaks that give us the opportunity to spy on American diplomatic mail and the results of the private conversations of American diplomats and their pocket politicians, but this is also not quite what is needed.
Very, very rare are those leaks that allow one to really see through the diplomatic smokescreen. The New York Times’ leak of conversations between Kerry and representatives of the so-called Syrian opposition is one of these rare finds.
Our media have picked up only a few elements in this leak which, undoubtedly, are pleasant for us, but these are not even the most important. 
Yes, during his talk with his Syrian puppets, Kerry complained of “cunning” Russian diplomats, which very much pleased the Russian foreign ministry.
Yes, Kerry acknowledged the possibility of Assad participating in presidential elections in Syria despite the State Department’s official position that Assad must leave and never return to Syrian politics.
This is all very good, very nice, and really is an extra reason to point a finger at the absurdity of the official American position and make fun of American propaganda. But the most important part of this leak is something else.
Let’s ask ourselves two questions: Who did this leak? Why did a top American newspaper, and not RT, first publish this incriminating recording? 
Here begins to spin the quite interesting story which I have mentioned many times. We are witnessing a very intense conflict between the CIA and Pentagon or, if you wish, between the moderate and radical parts of the American elite. This conflict sometimes manifests itself in an intricate way. In this specific situation, it turns out that the leak’s orchestrators aimed at Kerry, but ended up hitting the whole USA.
The most likely scenario behind the appearance of the recorded conversations is such: representatives of the Syrian opposition are very frustrated that the US never started bombing Damascus, so they decided to record talks with Kerry during which he explained that everything is bad, that the Russians have tricked him, and thus offered dozens of reasons why the “US Secretary of State has ditched the Syrian opposition and caved in to the Russians.”
The New York Times as a newspaper is the official mouthpiece of the Clintonoids and all the American hawks. That it happily published this leak hints that such a position of the American diplomatic leadership is a disgrace for the US and that things were never and never could have been so bad under Clinton. As a result of this special operation, Kerry’s reputation has been dealt a serious blow and the American hawks have scored extra points in the fight for influencing the minds of American citizens and the undecided part of the American elite. 
All of this would be good, but the entire world is watching this showdown and drawing different conclusions. Here are the conclusions that beg themselves: 
1. Now the US really wants to, but effectively cannot influence the situation in Syria. No one believes in Obama’s peaceful intentions, and this means that there can only be one explanation: the Americans are afraid to engage in a real military conflict with Russia. For the Americans, this is a minus, just as it is a plus for our reputation.
2. The American elite have reached such a point in their internal confrontation that they no longer hesitate to sacrifice the interests of the country in order to spite their competitors in internal political struggles. 
This is a very important milestone. From the point of view of old civilizations, such as the Chinese, this is a clear sign that the American Empire is nearing its end and should be treated accordingly.
Now the Americans are trying to arrange another media and diplomatic show around the offensive of Syrian troops and the bombing of Aleppo. They are trying to put maximum media and diplomatic pressure on Russia. But since Kerry’s leaked confessions, no one will take this seriously.
The Americans have run out of tools for directly influencing the situation in Syria, and their opinion should be ignored. By spreading media and diplomatic noise, they are trying to hide the fact that they have already reconciled with the fact that Assad is going to continue to lead Syria and that the Russian army is going to continue to use Syrian bases. All that is left is to squeeze them to recognize this not only on the sidelines of the UN, but officially.
I think that our air force can handle this task.