There’s a lot of chatter out there about what what we know and don’t know about what the Russians did and didn’t do. Here’s some clear cut sense that cuts through the dross.
Today’s brief report–five pages, plus an executive summary and two annexes–doesn’t address technical issues at all, but rather focuses on public statements by Russian officials and surrogates, and the news agency RT (formerly Russia Today). It draws on these sources to conclude that Putin’s government wanted Donald Trump to win the election. This is possible, and here, some publicly-available evidence is provided. At the same time, we know for sure that Putin’s government wanted Barack Obama to win the 2008 election. Somehow, however, this was never deemed to be news.
TODAY’S INTELLIGENCE REPORT PROVES NOTHING [UPDATED]
Today the U.S. intelligence community–i.e., the CIA, the FBI and the NSA–released a report titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” This is the declassified version of a longer report that was delivered to President Obama, President-Elect Trump, and indirectly to the Washington Post and other news organs friendly to the Democratic Party. The report constitutes, allegedly, the long-awaited proof that Russia (specifically, Vladimir Putin) meddled in the 2016 presidential election by, most notably, hacking into email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and distributing emails from those accounts to Wikileaks and others.
Does the report prove that claim? No, it merely states it. There is zero evidence in the report tying the Russian government (or anyone else) to the crude spearfishing effort or to the generic, out-of-date malware that invaded the DNC’s and Podesta’s email systems. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
Weirdly, today’s report never mentions the one the same agencies (apparently) released eight days ago. That report did purport to contain evidence of Russia’s involvement in the email intrusions, but, as we and many others pointed out, that supposed evidence was essentially meaningless. Anyone could have carried out the simple attack described in last week’s report, and neither the malware used nor the IP addresses implicated–contrary to the conclusory claims of the report–tied the intrusion to Russia’s government.
That first report stands as the only publicly available evidence that Russia had anything to do with hacking the DNC account, or John Podesta’s (which was not addressed at all in that first report). Today’s report adds nothing. It is purely ipse dixit–take our word for it. If the agencies have any responses to the many critiques of their first report, they are keeping those responses to themselves.
More here H/T: Christine Brim