Trump in Helsinki: The Score

Trump in Helsinki: The Score, by Srdja Trifovic.

The hysterical media/establishment/Deep State reaction to President Trump’s comments in Helsinki is based on a lie.

U.S. intelligence chiefs, current and former, fire back at Trump — a sample offering from the NPR — quotes Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats as saying the U.S. intelligence community has been “clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

Nope. They did not.

Let us clarify this key issue with the help of Jack Matlock, a career U.S. diplomat who “served on the front lines of American diplomacy during the Cold War” and was U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union when the edifice collapsed.

Did the U.S. “intelligence community,” asks he, really “judge that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election? Most commentators seem to think so. Every news report I have read . . . refers to ‘Russian interference’ as a fact.”

In fact, Matlock points out — on the basis of freely available, unclassified evidence — that the “intelligence community” has done no such thing, ever. It has not been tasked to make a judgment, and its key members did not even participate in preparing the report which is routinely cited by Trump’s critics as proof of “Russian interference.”

The January 6, 2017 report was by three intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, and NSA — not the whole intelligence community. It did not include all relevant agencies. In particular, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) of the State Department were omitted.

The omission of INR, Matlock continues, is more glaring since a report on foreign political activity could not have been that of the U.S. intelligence community without its participation. When it comes to assessments of foreign intentions and foreign political activity, he says, the State Department’s intelligence service is by far the most knowledgeable and competent: …

“If some agency heads come to a conclusion and choose (or are directed) to announce it publicly, doesn’t the public deserve to know that one of the key agencies has a different opinion? The second question should have been directed at the CIA, NSA, and FBI: did all their analysts agree with these conclusions or were they divided in their conclusions? What was the reason behind hand-picking analysts and departing from the customary practice of enlisting analysts already in place and already responsible for following the issues involved?

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence Research did, in fact, have a different opinion, according to Matlock, but was not allowed to express it. ….

So it was a political exercise designed to produce a predetermined outcome, not an exercise in truth finding by the intelligence community.

But there is more weaseling:

“On the first page of text, the following statement leapt to my attention: “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”  “…

Matlock righty asks how we can judge whether activity “interfered” with an election without assessing its impact: if the activity had no impact on the outcome, it could not be properly termed “interference.” …

“As for particulars, the report is full of assertion, innuendo, and description of “capabilities” but largely devoid of any evidence to substantiate its assertions.”

The fine print does not support the conclusion trumpeted in the press. This is typical of how ruling class persuasion works nowadays — it’s just appearances and flim-flam. Borrow the credibility of a convenient organization to apparently say one thing, if the fine print is ignored. Then use the media to twist that what they wanted to say in the first place, simplified and stripped of the fine print that would contradict the impression they are trying to give. We frequently see this in climate change.

Most people, hearing that it is a “fact” that “Russia” interfered in our election, must think that Russian government agents hacked into vote counting machines and switched votes to favor a particular candidate. This, indeed, would be scary, and would justify the most painful sanctions. But this is the one thing that the “intelligence” report of January 6, 2017, states did not happen. Here is what it said: “DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.” …

“Prominent American journalists and politicians seized upon this shabby, politically motivated, report as proof of “Russian interference” in the U.S. election without even the pretense of due diligence. They have objectively acted as co-conspirators in an effort to block any improvement in relations with Russia.”

So really the claim of “Russian interference” is a farago of misleading statements with perhaps (no evidence provided) a slender but relatively innocuous grain of truth in there somewhere. Sigh.

hat-tip Stephen Neil