From Russia, with love.
December 10, 2016 3:50 AM   Subscribe

The CIA has concluded that Russia intervened to help Trump win the US election. It's part of a long game.

"United Russia [Putin's political party] won the elections in America".

Russia benefits from having Trump as the U.S. president: Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign leader, earned millions working for Putin-backed politicians in Ukraine. The Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to remove support for Ukrainians fighting against Russian-backed forces, then lied about it. A likely Trump pick for Secretary of State is the CEO of Exxon-Mobil. That CEO "has various joint ventures with the oil giant Rosneft around Russia, and has contributed to social programs in education and health. In 2012, the Russian government awarded Mr. Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship decoration."

There's a long history of this type of Russian operation against the United States (and vice versa): "An active measure is a time-honored KGB tactic for waging informational and psychological warfare designed, as retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin once defined it, 'to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people.'"

Other Russian involvement in other countries' politics:

A Russian-owned bank loaned millions of dollars to Marine Le Pen's campaign, as well as helping to fund Greece's Golden Dawn, Italy's Northern League, Hungary's Jobbik and the Freedom Party of Austria. Russia benefits from European disunity.

Russia has invaded and continues to occupy part of Ukraine. In 2014 Russia threatened several other nations to warn them against participating in a UN resolution against this invasion.

Russia influenced the British vote to leave the E.U. in a roundabout way: Earlier this year NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said that Russia and Syria were brutalizing Syrian civilians to maximize the number of refugees. In effect, they were "deliberately weaponising migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve," hoping to diminish anti-Russia sanctions in the EU. The British decision to leave the EU was influenced by anger at migrants. The mayor of Moscow said, "Without Great Britain in the E.U., no one will so zealously defend the sanctions against us."

The U.S., of course, also has a long history of meddling in other nations' politics. But it's cute when we do it.
posted by Sleeper (849 comments total) 115 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm old enough to remember when the Republicans would accuse the Democrats of being dupes of Moscow.
posted by Gelatin at 3:57 AM on December 10, 2016 [129 favorites]


I cannot imagine the level of histrionics from Republicans had there been evidence that Russia was working on behalf of Democrats.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:06 AM on December 10, 2016 [110 favorites]


[As a quick note, we're still keeping election stuff corralled to one thread at a time, so let's keep this pretty tightly on the post topic (rather than becoming general politics, general Trump, general "Republicans suck," etc.). General post-election news and discussion goes here. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:10 AM on December 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


I cannot imagine the level of histrionics from Republicans had there been evidence that Russia was working on behalf of Democrats.

I could go for some histrionics right now. If not now, when?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:34 AM on December 10, 2016 [39 favorites]


In SEPTEMBER, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts

Fuck you McConnell you vile piece of shit. SEPTEMBER.
posted by H. Roark at 4:35 AM on December 10, 2016 [89 favorites]


Can we treat this as a very serious matter, rather than saying "we saw it coming", "the US does this to other countries anyways", etc? Because this is a really serious matter.
posted by suedehead at 4:35 AM on December 10, 2016 [134 favorites]


This does seem like a very serious matter, but our leaders don't seem to be doing anything about it - or haven't so far.

So what now? What happens next?
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:40 AM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Remember, remember
the eighth of November,
The Republican treason and plot!
I know of no reason why Republican treason
Should ever be forgot.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:40 AM on December 10, 2016 [282 favorites]


The fact that Obama has to balance dealing with another country interfering with his country's ostensibly open democratic process for their own gain with the perception that he might be trying to give a boost to his own party's candidate is an example of something I'm finding massively frustrating about politics at the moment, and not just in the US.

It feels like historically centrist or left-of-centre parties are still trying to play absolutely squeaky clean and by the book against an extreme right who just don't give a shit about any of that, and who are actively doing whatever they can to fuck with the system. I keep wanting to scream, "THEY'VE OBVIOUSLY GOT NO QUALMS, WHY ARE WE DICKING ABOUT WITH HAVING ANY?"

That's not to say that two sides of bad faith actors is necessarily a good thing, but it feels stupid and normalising and pointless and too slow to keep playing along with the system as it's meant to work when half the people involved are just obviously not doing that.
posted by terretu at 4:40 AM on December 10, 2016 [159 favorites]


Russia didn't vote for the guy, we did (yes, popular vote, yada yada yada. we don't have a popular vote system). Russia did what was in its best interests, just as it's noted the U.S. does all the time. If you want to do something about it it's a million times easier to change minds at home than it is in Russia.
posted by edeezy at 4:43 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


So Russia hacked both RNC & DNC, but only releases DNC. (R) gets elected - how much blackmail material does Russia have from the RNC hack? How is any of this even valid? What has happened to my country?
posted by H. Roark at 4:44 AM on December 10, 2016 [135 favorites]


I still cannot believe that we just let this happen. Not just the government, but voters too. Just shrug and move on, with Trump still in office, still repeating Russian prooaganda. Where is the frickin' outrage?

This makes Watergate look SO TAME by comparison. In that case it was at least Americans rummaging through DNC files to look for embarrassing material. In this case it was Russian intelligence agencies! And Watergate got Nixon impeached and rocked our whole political culture. Yet this time it's Russian agents and it actually succeeds, and we shrug and move on?

Every time I brought this up with my Trump supporting cousin, he cited a story about the Clinton Foundation and hypothetical possible conflicts of interest, and I'm like "What are you even talking about? Russian intelligence is sabotaging the Democratic party to help your candidate!" "Well, we don't know it's Russia." Yes we do!

Even on MeFi, there was a lot of denial and disbelief for a long time, a lot of cynical "Russians? Yawn. Didn't we already DO the cold war? And a lot of "Who cares how it came out? They were totally crappy to Sanders," and a lot of "Information wants to be free. Wikileaks can do no wrong!" stuff. Oh, and some "The US deserves it anyway after all the stuff we've done to screw with other people's elections."

I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone, the only one freaking out about this, and everyone else on both sides is just acting like it's normal. Our president might owe his election to a foreign power, with whom he's been financially and personally enmeshed for years, and there is every indication he is willing to out their national interests ahead of ours based on his actions and public statements... but whatever. That's how it goes, I guess. What can you do?

My only hope is that maybe Trump is as unpopular with Republican leaders as he seemed back in the primaries, and they will be willing to impeach him over this in favor of Pence, once he is sworn in. I can't stand Pence, but at least he is not repeating Putin's talking points.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:45 AM on December 10, 2016 [267 favorites]


Might these evelations (and Obama's call for investigation) timed to provide cover for the Electoral College voting Clinton into office?
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:45 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


No.
posted by Naberius at 4:47 AM on December 10, 2016 [46 favorites]


This makes Watergate look SO TAME by comparison. In that case it was at least Americans rummaging through DNC files to look for embarrassing material. In this case it was Russian intelligence agencies! And Watergate got Nixon impeached and rocked our whole political culture. Yet this time it's Russian agents and it actually succeeds, and we shrug and move on?

congress should impeach Putin
posted by edeezy at 4:48 AM on December 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


Maybe it's because I'm in Seoul right now watching a president get impeached that I have such optimism, but: if people make a lot of noise, and the media makes a lot of noise about it, then politicians will start adopting a "the people are worried about Trump and Russia" narrative. It's on people to have a sense of outrage.

We have a racist sexist slob of a president, who will attack individual citizens on the public internet and spew lies as if they're truths, who has actively fomented a white nationalist neo-nazi crowd who has started to commit hate crimes --- and now we've learned that he received active support from Russia?? WTF
posted by suedehead at 4:51 AM on December 10, 2016 [72 favorites]


Congress should impeach Putin

The he people rummaging through the files weren't trying to get Putin re-elected. They were trying to get Trump elected.

And I'm not as convinced as I used to be that he knows nothing about it. A Russian official claimed they coordinated with the Trump campaign throughout the campaign. And there was that secret server. At minimum we need a thorough investigation. Someone should at least look at his frickin' tax returns, y'know?
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:54 AM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Reminder of a New Yorker front cover from late October.
posted by Wordshore at 4:54 AM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


There is still no such evidence for any of these claims. What we have instead are assertions, disseminated by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let alone proof. As a result, none of the purported evidence – still – can be publicly seen, reviewed and discussed - The Intercept.
posted by adamvasco at 4:55 AM on December 10, 2016 [46 favorites]


I'm not going to say any more because I realise I'm an unwelcome voice here, but surely "an unnamed official says that the CIA has 'high confidence' that some hacking was done by Russia" has to be among the least reliable or verifiable information sources imaginable.
posted by Coda Tronca at 4:56 AM on December 10, 2016 [72 favorites]


One bright spot I see is that I doubt the blackmail angle holds much water, as Republicans have demonstrated they have no standards whatsoever as long as someone has an (R) next to their name. (Not to mention that the New York Times would feel compelled to mention that Jane Fonda once went to Moscow or something.)

Who'd have thought that IOKIYAR would go so far as to protect the Republican Party from blackmail?
posted by Gelatin at 4:58 AM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


So, if you work as the CIA director, and you have a highly placed asset inside the Russian government, do you share that information with President Trump or his national security staff?

Does anyone think that Trump would put the interests of this country above his own personal business interests?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:59 AM on December 10, 2016 [49 favorites]


Eponysterical
posted by acb at 5:09 AM on December 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


And the chorus of "but we can't be absolutely 100% certain there was Russian meddling!" increasingly sounds like the refusal of climate change deniers to admit any evidence they dislike.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:11 AM on December 10, 2016 [91 favorites]


Edited my post to link "coordinated" to the article about the Russian official making that claim. Here is the link to the "secret server" article.

Are you "There is no evidence" people kidding me? Here is the CrowdStrike report again.

What kind of evidence would you like to see? What kind of evidence do you think there usually is of hacking, beyond the kind of thing presented there? (And, y'know, the unprecedented public testimony of the entire US intelligence community?)

Then there is the fact that Trump's campaign manager at the time (who is now welcome in the White House) got a $12 million dollar payoff from a Putin-aligned party in the Ukraine. And the other documented links between the campaign and Russia, including our future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appearing on the propaganda network RT (Russia Today) and visiting Putin. And the Russian "fake news" stories that Donald Trump shared over Twitter (something about an embassy in Turkey I remember, and that time he thought Kurt Eichenwald was Sidney Blumenthal probably because Eichenwald was misquoted as Blumenthal in some Russian propaganda.)

Do I need to dig up links to all this stuff? Were you paying no attention at all?
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:12 AM on December 10, 2016 [160 favorites]


surely "an unnamed official says that the CIA has 'high confidence' that some hacking was done by Russia" has to be among the least reliable or verifiable information sources imaginable.

The thing to do here would be to have someone pack up his car with guns, drive a few states over, and kick in some doors and figure out what's really going on. The problem is, where the hell do we tell him to go for something like this? Pizza places are easy. They're everywhere. When one doesn't pan out, you can just move on to the next one. There's like millions of the fuckers. The right is so much better than we are at this stuff.

(But seriously, yeah, one of the frustrating things about all this is that the public is never going to get the full story. If the Republicans end up actually impeaching Trump over something like corrupt business practices that they normally wouldn't blink about, then we can guess that yeah, maybe they were convinced that Putin has video of Trump doing unspeakable things in a Moscow hotel. But no one will ever officially verify that.)
posted by Naberius at 5:15 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is my surprised face

:|
posted by briank at 5:16 AM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Russia had to do very little to undermine the "democratic system". That's a rock on the shore, the constant waves taking a few inches every year from the bottom every year, and it came to a point where all it needed was a small tip to send it crashing into the ocean. In any other place with that kind of gerrymandering, voter suppression and allegations of fraud and now of foreign intervention, the international community would have been vocally pressuring for "fair elections" under threat of international observers and soldiers in blue helmets at polling places.

Instead, because it's "the bastion of freedom", it was easier to pretend nothing was happening. The US likes so much to act like the police of democracy, they even forgot to safeguard its own.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:16 AM on December 10, 2016 [64 favorites]


... surely "an unnamed official says that the CIA has 'high confidence' that some hacking was done by Russia" has to be among the least reliable or verifiable information sources imaginable.

As we saw w/their hack of the Senate committee investigating torture by the CIA, it has an agenda of its own and isn't necessarily operating in the best interest of democracy or the public or the rule of law. There's pretty round disgust w/Trump in intelligence circles it appears (and fear, since he's openly said he will ignore their input), so this may be more about the CIA's agenda than objective reality. That said, I wouldn't necessarily be upset about that if it proved DT's undoing. This is all some serious, filthy ghoul wrestling.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:20 AM on December 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


I have no doubt that, shady though they may be, the employees of the CIA are mostly patriotic Americans. No one goes into that horrible, underpaid line of work otherwise.

I have no reason to believe that Trump has ever had any interest in mind but his own.

I'm Team CIA on this one.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:25 AM on December 10, 2016 [50 favorites]


... the employees of the CIA are mostly patriotic Americans.

In the context of world affairs, there are few people more dangerous than a patriotic American.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:31 AM on December 10, 2016 [72 favorites]


It took two years from the Watergate break-in for pressure to mount sufficiently for Nixon to resign. Allegations and assertions at this stage aren't going to do anything, especially when a very large chunk of the electorate actually wanted Trump in control. Despite - or because of - everything he's already done, they're very happy with him.

Nobody with sufficient authority (legal or moral) is going to investigate this further, until Trump upsets his base enough to lose support. When the GOP smelled blood in the water, they abandoned Trump quickly. When he actually won, they returned. Until he appears vulnerable again - and he'd have to be even more vulnerable this time - they won't do a damned thing.

Democrats have two years to build up support to take back the Senate. That's their only chance to make a difference right now. The rest of this is just stoking partisan resentment.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:38 AM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


In the context of world affairs, there are few people more dangerous than a patriotic American.

...but Putin assets are among the few. Just ask the Ukrainians.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:38 AM on December 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


A source close to Manafort says he’s in regular contact with the vice president-elect, as well as with Trump’s attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama and a Trump supporter and confidant. (Manafort and Sessions have known each other since the ’70s.) And Manafort is also close with Tom Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital, who has a spot at the top of Trump’s inaugural committee.
That's the article I was thinking of when I said Manafort is now welcome in the White House.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:40 AM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


The original story (and that preferred by the Republican non-establishment and electorate which benefit from the current result) is quite a simplistic narrative.
An outside candidate emerged. Initially, nobody thought that candidate had a serious run for power and the odds reflected that. As the race wound on, that candidate found a message that spoke to the fearful and left-behind in the electorate. The message of "Make American Great Again."

He gained ground and was aided by the press in establishing himself as the de facto Republican candidate. Despite lacklustre performances in three debates, on election night, the citizens of the United States voted him in by an overwhelming margin of electoral college votes.

Subsequent analysis says that the conservative versus liberal framework lies in the past, and we have a new framework of institution / establishment versus outsiders.
A deeper read (and that preferred by the Republican establishment and electorate which may not benefit from the current result) becomes more nuanced.
An outside candidate emerged. Initially, nobody thought that candidate had a serious run for power and the odds reflected that. As the race wound on, that candidate found a message that spoke to the fearful and left-behind in the electorate. The message of "Make America Great Again."

He gained ground and was aided by the press in establishing himself as the de facto Republican candidate, despite reservations from the party itself. The party began to split into traditional conservatives, which largely rejected the Republican nominee and his campaign, and opportunists which embraced him. The Democratic campaign was continually damaged by leaks from an unknown hacker source, routed through WikiLeaks. Finally, as early voting opened, the Director of the FBI announced that the Democratic candidate was under renewed investigation for charges of which they had previous been cleared.

Despite lacklustre performances in three debates, on election night, the citizens of the United States voted for the Republican Candidate on a razor thin margin of 80,000 votes in the Electoral College, and he lost the popular election by a substantial margin – over 2.5 million votes.

Subsequent analysis says that regardless of the shortcomings of the Electoral College system, that is the system that we have in place for electing the President, and the results must be respected. While there were irregularities regarding the Democratic National Convention email leaks and the FBI announcement, the win was solidly a Republican win, and that must be respected.


N.B. That narrative has deviated as the Cabinet has been announced, with each new position a further affront to the establishment and old guard of the GOP. Today, we are in the position of not only a split Republican party, but also a split of Republicans government actors. Senate Republicans are calling for a deeper investigation as to whether Russian intelligence unfairly influenced the election, while those Senators, House members, and Governors which stand to benefit from the new Republican leadership fall inline in support of the current election results.
An even more nuanced read preferred by the Democrats and international citizens barely lends itself to succinct summary, but we can try... perhaps best in timeline format...

An outside Republican candidate emerged.

Initially nobody thought that candidate had a serious run for power and the odds reflected that.

As the race wound on, that candidate found a message that spoke to the fearful and left-behind in the electorate.

The message of "Make America Great Again."

He gained ground and was aided by the press in establishing himself as the de facto Republican candidate.

Simultaneously, there were a number of irregularities that emerged – before, during, and after the election.

His opponent was cleared by the FBI for aberrations related to her use of email.

He refused to release his tax returns and disclose the source of his earnings and income.

Tens of thousands of emails were leaked via WikiLeaks in waves ahead of the run up to the election.

He went further, calling on Russia to illicitly obtain his opponent's documents on national television.

Immediately prior to the election, the FBI re-opened the investigation into his opponent.

Early voting commenced.

After early voting closed, the FBI announced no new charges had been issued.

The release of hacked emails from the DNC continued right up to the election.

On the election day itself, there were announcements of numerous voting irregularities in key swing states, from inadequate resources, to voters turned away, to errors with voting machines.

Following the election, the irregularities continued as the President-elect failing to follow any form of protocol, essentially writing his own rules for the office, his conduct, and general decorum.

Additionally, there are obvious signs of corruption, from cabinet positions, to business dealings, to stonewalling with requests for additional information regarding business dealings, to direct falsification of fact in public announcements.

Intelligence agency investigations which started prior to the election have continued past it.

New evidence suggests that both the DNC and the RNC were hacked, with only the DNC material released ahead of the election.

A group of Electoral College electors has reinterpreted their role, away from simply casting ballots that reflect the constituency of their state, and toward a different reading. That of a firebreak between the popular vote, and the country electing a "demagogue", especially if that person has either been aided or incentivised by a foreign power.

Incumbent Republican leadership suggests greater detail on the investigation into the hacking claims, while Democratic leadership not only is looking at the hacking, but also the role of the FBI.

Ascendent Republican leadership rebukes any claim of impropriety in the election, casting the intelligence services in the light of previous failures... (which are known to be failures of the Presidential Cabinet, rather than the intelligence services)
And here we are, in the final chapter of the game. It is easier to prevent a demagogue from coming to power – obtaining legitimacy – than it is to remove a demagogue from power after they obtain legitimacy. That was the original point of the electoral college firebreak. That in the extreme circumstance where the populist vote had been unduly swayed by a demagogue – especially driven by interference from a foreign authority – the Electoral College can choose to not elect the winner of the contest, and rather has a limited number of other options.

There are four questions that now sit with the American people:

1) Did Russia successfully influence the American election, through an aggressive disinformation campaign routed through WikiLeaks?

If true that both the DNC and RNC were hacked, presumably, influence exists not only at the time of the election itself, but also now post-election in the form of blackmail.

Yet Russia needed a quasi-legitimate mouthpiece for the hacked content, which it found in WikiLeaks. It remains to be seen whether Assange was involved in this corruption by his ego (the story) or if he was more directly seduced by Russian apparatus.

2) If that were the only irregularity present, that would be one thing. The reality is that there are two forces at play here that must give every American citizen pause.

The first fact is that there were forces from both outside the government and inside the government at play here – both Russia and the FBI – that served to delegitimise the Democratic party.

The second fact is that the Republican candidate did not win by a landslide majority. In fact, the Republican candidate lost the popular election by a historical volume. Further, the Republican candidate has a tenuous electoral college lead of 80,000 total votes.

3) The penultimate question is if that electoral corruption from outside, potentially aided by either connected or unconnected corruption from inside (FBI), resulted in the shift of 80,000 popular votes, either directly by shifting those citizens themselves, or by disincentivising at least 80,000 votes.

Which can be distilled to the question:

In the relevant swing states, did definite foreign informational interference most likely led by Russian intelligence, result in a shift of 80,000 popular votes?

I dont know much about Russian intelligence, but I do know that it may well be possible for one (or more) of the most powerful and hostile security services to shift popular opinion of 80,000 people.

4) And then the ultimate question:

What are Americans going to do about it?

Where the ascendent Republican cabal is proving very effective is in counterintelligence – almost to a warfare level. By systematically discrediting high-quality news sources and effectively releasing fake news, they're creating a smokescreen of confusion, while stoking extreme allegiance from a base empowered by the November election results.

If I were perpetrating this action (and I am not, I can assure you), I would want to keep the smokescreen up long enough to be inaugurated. For once I was legitimised, it becomes infinitely more difficult to depose me, regardless of what is discovered after the fact.

Today, the Republican candidate has secret service protection and access to a different layer of information. He does not have the capability to use the apparatus of the state – under his direct authority – to defend himself for deeper inquiry. Once he is inaugurated, those who would seek to investigate him must fight not only against him, but also the apparatus of the state.

Therefore, there are six weeks to do one of several things which have never been done before:

1) The Electoral College elects someone other than the candidate that won the most state votes.

2) A US election result is suspended because of interference from an outside foreign power.

3) The US elects a President based on obvious and public interference from a hostile foreign power.

After the inauguration, there are three very familiar things that may well come to pass

4) A major economic and military power is ruled by a charismatic leader who came to power by terrorising the population.

5) That charismatic leader is deposed with tremendous economic and social cost to the country

6) Civil war

In the end, it is up to every American individually to review the cannon of evidence available and determine their standing on one simple conjecture:

Was the intervention of Russia in the United States election enough to produce a difference of 80,000 votes in key geographies

If one believes that to not be fact, or not be a possibility, then one has a duty to both abide by and endorse these election results, for the election can then be cast as fair.

If one believes that not be fact, and further a probability, then one has duty to reject these election results as tampered and act in accordance.

On a closing note, the ascending Republican group is looking to force "the deal" through, which should arise great suspicious within the body of the citizenry. Any time a deal is forced by one party, one must be suspect of what additional information will come to light as part of a greater degree of due diligence.

Far from the time horizon to correct these matters being the next election in 2020, the very stark reality is that a potentially illegitimate administration has one singular focus – ensuring that the inauguration of the President-Elect goes forward on 20 January, and his candidacy is legitimised.

One that has taken place, the challenge becomes to to prevent his ascendancy, but to depose his authority.

And to truly prevent his ascendancy requires a great depth of critical thinking and taking a firm position as to whether or not this election was tampered with by the intelligence services of a foreign power.

To be fair, much of that work ironically rests on the credibility of the outgoing administration, and their ability to create action around recent intelligence work, within in the timespan of six weeks.

If the CIA review is correct, and Russia via WikiLeaks did tamper with the US election, the United States faces one of its greatest historical crises.

How to get an inflamed and divided electorate and government aligned not around the result of a highly contentious election, but rather around the fundamental fact that the results of that election are invalid.
posted by nickrussell at 5:41 AM on December 10, 2016 [182 favorites]


yeah, maybe they were convinced that Putin has video of Trump doing unspeakable things in a Moscow hotel

There is the much simpler likelihood that he owes them money - like a billion money. Remember, no American banks want to deal with him. Deutsche Bank does, but it is failing and Trump is scared his phony sandcastle will get flooded and he will be exposed as the bullshit artist he is. So sometime during early 2015, Putin sends Manafort to Trump with a proposal.

The Trumps don't think they will pull it off, but do imagine they can capitalize on the deal somehow, and anyway, it buys them time. The Russians are confident this will happen, specially after their success with Brexit (remember they have bought Farage, too).

Russia had to do very little to undermine the "democratic system". That's a rock on the shore, the constant waves taking a few inches every year from the bottom every year, and it came to a point where all it needed was a small tip to send it crashing into the ocean. In any other place with that kind of gerrymandering, voter suppression and allegations of fraud and now of foreign intervention, the international community would have been vocally pressuring for "fair elections" under threat of international observers and soldiers in blue helmets at polling places.

Exactly! But, knowing how deeply they are involved with the far right in Europe, their engagement in the US can have being going on for ages. I keep on thinking of those pictures from the RT anniversary party in 2015, where Jill Stein is sitting at a table with Flynn and Putin is there too.
posted by mumimor at 5:42 AM on December 10, 2016 [27 favorites]


Russia didn't vote for the guy, we did (yes, popular vote, yada yada yada. we don't have a popular vote system).

Actually, the recount efforts (and the Republican party's desperate interference in them) have made it pretty clear that we didn't vote for the guy under any system.
posted by IAmUnaware at 5:47 AM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]




Russia didn't vote for the guy, we did (yes, popular vote, yada yada yada. we don't have a popular vote system). Russia did what was in its best interests, just as it's noted the U.S. does all the time. If you want to do something about it it's a million times easier to change minds at home than it is in Russia.

Would we ever, ever say this about a country where the US had meddled in an election? That they should just...vote harder, because after all, people did indeed vote for the US-backed candidate? The Contras were cool, okay, because after all they had popular support? Left-leaning governments hemisphere-wide went down with US-intervention, but that's okay because after all the right had its supporters at home too?

We'd never say that, and I suggest that we apply that same logic to the US - a foreign power who wishes us ill (and not in the name of international socialism, either) worked to elect a wicked tyrant, and I suggest we at least stay real about that.
posted by Frowner at 6:05 AM on December 10, 2016 [108 favorites]


[One deleted. If you don't want to talk about this topic, please go ahead and skip this thread. And just generally please don't do that thing where you completely restate someone's points to say something completely different and then argue the made up premise. That's not okay.]
posted by taz at 6:20 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I commented on this a few months ago, and want to bring it up again:

1.) Manafort lobbied for the Kashmiri American Council, a front group for the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service.

2.) The ISI transferred funds to the KAC via Zaheer Ahmad.

3.) Ahmad was suspected of having accompanied a Pakistani nuclear scientist to meet with Osama bin Laden in August 2001. (Link points to a ProPublica article. Isikoff restates this allegation more clearly in the first link, and sources it to this story.)

The president-elect's former campaign manager lobbied for an ISI front group that received its funds from a guy who may have met with bin Laden about nuclear weapons a month before 9/11.

I mention this mainly to say that skeptical readers should recalibrate their WTF scales, as "Russia interfered in our election" seems totally plausible in this context.
posted by compartment at 6:21 AM on December 10, 2016 [41 favorites]




Would we ever, ever say this about a country where the US had meddled in an election? That they should just...vote harder, because after all, people did indeed vote for the US-backed candidate? The Contras were cool, okay, because after all they had popular support? Left-leaning governments hemisphere-wide went down with US-intervention, but that's okay because after all the right had its supporters at home too?

I would argue the power differential between Russia and the U.S. makes it a somewhat different situation than what the U.S. has done in Central and South America. I'd also argue that hacking some emails and spreading propaganda, the kind of thing the U.S. does constantly, is not the same as funding and training militias. If there's some evidence that Russia hacked voting machines it would be different, but there isn't. Trump sucks, but he won the election. Russia is not going to stop propagandizing. If we want the future to be different it's much easier to mobilize and flip voters here.
posted by edeezy at 6:26 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I became aware this morning of those charges and so went to various right of center sites on the net. Sure enough. The counter claim is that the Dems are merely using excuses to explain their loss and there is no real truth to such claims made by the CIA. The Great Divide in our nation grows a bit more.
posted by Postroad at 6:34 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


I keep on thinking of those pictures from the RT anniversary party in 2015, where Jill Stein is sitting at a table with Flynn and Putin is there too.

I keep thinking of those, too.

In a real way, the left got played here in the US -- and it got played in Brexit and in probably a dozen other places. And the most charitable read is that Stein got played, too. I'm not feeling very charitable at the moment.

On another note: when did Russia get involved in the election? In the general, or starting in the primaries?

Trump sucks, but he won the election. Russia is not going to stop propagandizing.

... so we should just fight an uphill battle and ignore a hack that's worse than Watergate that was performed by foreign power, because, hey, if we had the right type of security, it wouldn't happen again?
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:35 AM on December 10, 2016 [33 favorites]


I think the important thing for R's to consider is that both the DNC and the RNC were hacked. The fruits of the DNC hack were useful in the run up to the election.

The fruits of hacking the RNC will be useful for at least 4 years as a means to bribe/control the party that has been installed in Russia's new client state.

Does anyone seriously think DJT's phone hasn't been pwned by the FSB since about 2012?
posted by localhuman at 6:38 AM on December 10, 2016 [64 favorites]


It feels like historically centrist or left-of-centre parties are still trying to play absolutely squeaky clean and by the book
posted by terretu at 4:40 AM on December 10 [24 favorites +] [!]


You have no worries on that account

posted by lalochezia at 6:46 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


And the chorus of "but we can't be absolutely 100% certain there was Russian meddling!" increasingly sounds like the refusal of climate change deniers to admit any evidence they dislike.
I thought this was the type of bullshit we tried to avoid here.
The article from Greenwald is actually headlined Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence and the Washington Post adds that “intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin ‘directing’ the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.”
For sure there was Russian meddling just as America has so often meddled in others elections. What is more worrying is the influence of the newly in favour again Paul Manafor and the leverage that the Russian banks have over Trump´s dubious businesses.
The cabinet selections seem to indicate more that the Oligarchs are on the rise rather than Putin becoming a senator.
posted by adamvasco at 6:47 AM on December 10, 2016 [15 favorites]



If it's going to happen it will take some time for Trump supporters and many Rs to freak out about this. If they do right now they are admitting to themselves that they are stupid enough to be duped. People in general don't like admitting to themselves that they are stupid and gullible let alone to the world. That it's Russia that did it makes it makes the admition even more painful. People would much rather seem not to care, seem not to think it's a big deal or even move to thinking things that we've already heard like 'Russia did us a service' then admit that they were the type of dumb that would fall for it. Or they will minimize what Putin did in the sense that it wouldn't have mattered anyway, we still would have elected Trump because we know what's up.

Pride cometh before the fall.
posted by Jalliah at 6:56 AM on December 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


Greenwald is a little too close with Assange for me to see him as an unbiased source of commentary on all this. And to say "there is no evidence" is to ignore a whole lot of evidence.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2016 [67 favorites]


(I mean the Intercept published a ton of stories based on the hacked emails released by Wikileaks.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:13 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


So is Trump avoiding the daily intelligence briefings so that he can truthfully say he knows nothing about this?
posted by TedW at 7:15 AM on December 10, 2016 [25 favorites]


It all fits: we know Putin has been promoting right wing nationalism around the world to advance his aims, all the material and circumstantial evidence supports an influence, and there's precedent in international affairs for such outside attempts to influence elections, and in fact, we used similar tactics ourselves to bring down the USSR, so it's not a possibility anyone should be taking lightly or handwaving away IMO.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:20 AM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


On another note: when did Russia get involved in the election? In the general, or starting in the primaries?

I think they have been working on a low intensity level for several years, and at this point they are clearly emboldened and not really trying to hide it, because nobody is doing anything to counter them. At some point their intelligence realized that the Republicans and their electorate are dumb as manure, and blinded by racism. From that point, it maybe took them a couple of years to figure out how to gain from that ignorance and hate. They may have been working with select down-ticket Rs for 4-6 years.
I'm guessing they specifically took an interest in making Trump into the Manchurian Candidate in the beginning of 2015. I don't think they were at all certain it would work back then, more that it would be worth trying. Even if the election failed, Trump TV would be a great investment from a Russian POV. And Trump was a safe gamble, because he is so ridiculous it would be under the radar of American intelligence. No-one in the US government would ever feel threatened by an orange clown. But everyone outside the US has noted that you guys elected first Reagan, and then Dubya. The possibility of the US electing an orange clown is something that can be enhanced with only a tiny bit of rigging. So little it could easily disappear in the general mess of voter suppression that was going on already.
Trump had been trying to get into the Russian real estate market for a while, with no success. But Russian investors were successfully using him to get into the US market. I'm guessing someone found out he is corrupt, and also bankrupt, and therefore an obvious target for blackmail. I also think someone on the Russian side figured out how stupid and vain Trump is, and how that makes him controllable.
Some of Trumps more spectacular remarks: that he is smarter than the generals, and that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue, they sound a lot like they could have been fed to him by his liaison. Who's that? I don't know, maybe Manafort? Or Flynn? Or even Ivanka - remember she holidays with Putins girlfriend.
posted by mumimor at 7:31 AM on December 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


I've been reading Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia (recommended), and honestly it's chilling in light of the news these past few months.

The staunch refusal of many to even entertain the notion that this is possible, and the discrediting of legitimate news outlets, makes me wonder whether we have any options besides a government of Russian-supported oligarchs on the one hand, or civil war on the other.
posted by Superplin at 7:33 AM on December 10, 2016 [23 favorites]


Time to call Moose und Sqvirrel.
posted by jonmc at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2016 [29 favorites]


There is not one outlet available to us little people that I trust to report factual information on this topic.
posted by bukvich at 7:42 AM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Vlad, be careful what you wish for. With Hillary you had a completely conventional and predictable President. But with Donald...
posted by jim in austin at 7:49 AM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well I finally have something to call conservative talk shows and ask them about. How can you want America to be great if you put a Putin puppet in the White House? It creates a big contradiction. And it's one thing it's possible for Ds and Rs to agree about. Hyperpatriotism plus meek submission to another superpower don't mesh well.
posted by emjaybee at 7:51 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


What interests me is that the NYTimes front page subtly but clearly avoids saying whether the CIA believes Russian interference made a difference in the actual result. Because that's the critical question, in that this new information is actionable iff it materially affected validity of the election. And that's the question they're gonna debate rather futilely in congress, or whatever, making a public performance/scene out of this.

Not sure if that makes any sense, I'm on holiday mode.
posted by polymodus at 7:53 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why did I study Yiddish when I should have been studying Russian?
posted by maxsparber at 7:57 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


What interests me is that the NYTimes front page subtly but clearly avoids saying whether the CIA believes Russian interference made a difference in the actual result. Because that's the critical question i.e. this new information is actionable iff it materially affected validity of the election.

Made a difference how? By getting 80,000 people to vote Trump who otherwise would not have?

Or by falsifying the vote totals by 80,000?

Because if it's the former, well, they still voted Trump.
posted by ocschwar at 7:57 AM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Harry Reid called into the Joy Reid show this morning. She is focusing on the Russian angle.

@KyleGriffin Harry Reid tells @MSNBC FBI Director James Comey should be investigated in the wake of the CIA revelations. [twitter link contains video]

So is H. Reid making a direction connection to Comey and Putin? Who investigates the FBI director?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:01 AM on December 10, 2016 [21 favorites]


Who investigates the FBI director?

At this point, you just outsource to GRU, I think.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:06 AM on December 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


At this point, it appears that the Russian interference with the election was releasing accurate information. I trust the CIA on this, and I firmly believe Putin is happier than a pig in shit. However, it looks like it didn't take much to swing our election, and that the American people did vote the way that was reported. So it's not the grounds-for-war thing that, say, them hacking our voting machines would be, which makes responding to it more complex.
posted by corb at 8:07 AM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


Made a difference how? By getting 80,000 people to vote Trump who otherwise would not have?

Or by falsifying the vote totals by 80,000?

Because if it's the former, well, they still voted Trump.


Sorry, I was talking about the NYTimes and its behavior/choices on the front page. I don't understand what you mean in this response, in relation to what I found was interesting. The NYTimes is quite clear and specific in framing the situation from a journalistic point of view.
posted by polymodus at 8:08 AM on December 10, 2016


On another note: when did Russia get involved in the election? In the general, or starting in the primaries?


Ever heard this old joke?

Q: How do you spot the federal agent at the KKK gathering?

A: He's the one who paid his dues on time.

We just had this thing called the "alt-right" emerge out of the shadows, comprised of people who can barely leave their couches, suddenly finding enough wherewithal to gather at the less-skanky hotel conference rooms and almost look respectable. [Edit: changed swanky to skanky. Autocorrect really screwed with me here]

Someone paid for that to happen.

And that started at least as early as 2009.
posted by ocschwar at 8:10 AM on December 10, 2016 [50 favorites]


Wikileaks tweeted a link yesterday: "CNN: Obama orders report into WikiLeaks timed for release just prior to Trump presidency"

But the linked article does not mention Wikileaks, it mentions "Russian election-related hacking".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:10 AM on December 10, 2016 [27 favorites]


I said before, this is a massive win for Russia even if they had nothing to do with it look for a steady drip of news or "news" that never resolves this question but maintains a fundamental distrust of Americans in the results of the election.

It's apparently already started.

The thin end of the wedge is driven in. Now anyone can play the game of stirring up the perceived illegitimacy of the US government. Maybe China will get in on the fun with some fake leaked emails.

Anyway, sowing doubt about the election is Spycraft 101 and term has started. I'm sure had Clinton won we'd be seeing some sort of deligitimizing narrative. I mean, that had already started.
posted by Rumple at 8:10 AM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Russia and its influence on the presidential election (Politifact)

Based on the evidence, it seems highly unlikely that actions by the Russian government contributed in any decisive way to Trump’s win over Clinton.

There might have been some influence on the issues that made headlines during the campaign, such as Trump’s Putin-friendly advisers pushing him to make Putin-friendly statements, or the hacking of DNC emails.

Still, Gorenburg said, policymakers should still be concerned about the possibility that a foreign government might have attempted to meddle in a domestic election.

"Regardless of the extent of the impact we should be concerned about the attempt," he said. "It is something to investigate regardless of whether we think it affected the result."

posted by chavenet at 8:11 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


surely "an unnamed official says that the CIA has 'high confidence' that some hacking was done by Russia" has to be among the least reliable or verifiable information sources imaginable.

I may not be in the majority on this, but I tend to put unnamed sources close to the fake news part of my brain (but not quite in), just in case. I've seen too many cases where big organizations (and ones that the public deeply respects) have been able to create news out of whole cloth by relying too much on so-called anonymity, or creating an anonymous source. It's been a pet-peeve of mine that so much news relies on it these days, when it's supposed to be a much rarer thing for the media to do. I know it's the only way to break some big news stories that come from government sources, for obvious reasons. But that's why it's so easy to lean on for a bit of spin, and hence the trade-off on more difficult public buy-in. Could the Russians have done this or wanted to? Of course. But until we have something more substantive and not unnamed as "a government official" is probably one big reason that more people aren't up in arms. It's not because people have been apathetic (although that's certainly become more true) as much as it's getting cataloged as "another accusation" that is floating around out there somewhere, being picked up by a newspaper who is using an anonymous source and vague references to a government agent. Not only does it not quite register as a "justified, true belief" for a lot of people, but we haven't been in a place where we trust our government officials anyway, so the anonymity doesn't carry authority simply by referencing the government.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:12 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


People who voted for Brexit have a phrase they like to use for people like me who won't be silenced on what an immensely stupid thing they did. "You lost, get over it"

That's basically the Trump response here.
posted by edd at 8:13 AM on December 10, 2016 [25 favorites]




I wonder if part of the executive calculus here (meaning Obama et al.) in not being as transparent about Russian involvement is because if people lose faith in the electoral system, you've got chaos.

Now I guess you have chaos. Having the CIA on the record on this is going to undermine whatever staying power the "now let's give him a chance" brigade has.

It makes sense that the U.S. would sort of implode as opposed to being conquered by NK or what have you.
posted by angrycat at 8:19 AM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


OK just to spell it out on my part, the NYTimes front page at this moment repeats itself four times:

TOP NEWS
Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump, U.S. Says
By DAVID E. SANGER and SCOTT SHANE
U.S. intelligence agencies found that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems but did not release the information, officials said.
Partly because of that finding, they are said to have “high confidence” Russia was acting covertly to help Donald J. Trump in the election.

Do you see how the NYTimes is toeing a line between intentionality and consequentiality? The above phrases are statements about intention and efforts to undermine, as opposed to proof or strong claims that the outcome would have actually been different. Note that it would be a stronger statement—on the part of the CIA, which gets into issues of burden of proof, etc.—if the real news was "CIA finds that Russians' efforts actually made a difference in the final election outcome". In science or engineering the concern is understood as whether a factor was in the the "noise range", or not, i.e. whether it actually mattered—which validity in the formal sense. So the question is why is the NYTimes making this communicative choice? What's going on? These are analytic questions separate from your or my personal beliefs about Russian interference.

That's what I was referring to previously. As much as I try to be skeptical of the NYTimes, it is still my go-to source for sane American news reporting, relatively speaking.
posted by polymodus at 8:21 AM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


And we've started replying on the CIA's truthfulness since when exactly?
posted by bentpyramid at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


And we've started replying on the CIA's truthfulness since when exactly?


Since Paul Manafort was seen at Trump Tower.

When the CIA's claims mesh with what's happening in broad fucking daylight, you can stop snarking at the CIA.
posted by ocschwar at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2016 [113 favorites]


The cover of the National Enquirer currently on shelves says the CIA is "infested" with secret muslim double agents, so expect that to be the tack large swaths of Trump voters take on this. We're all in big trouble.
posted by EmGeeJay at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2016 [40 favorites]


...suddenly finding enough wherewithal to gather at the less-skanky hotel conference rooms and almost look respectable. [Edit: changed swanky to skanky. Autocorrect really screwed with me here]

On the other hand, there is a certain overlap between less-skanky and less-swanky.
posted by TedW at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the CIA's time has come; after all, they did finally get Castro.
posted by TedW at 8:32 AM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Again, I don't get people who are in denial about this. We know Russia has done this to a bunch of times with varying degrees of success as has America. Of course, Russia would try the same thing with the us! Why wouldn't they since we're apparently easy pickings?
posted by asteria at 8:33 AM on December 10, 2016 [20 favorites]


And we've started replying on the CIA's truthfulness since when exactly?

When it is probably the only source not yet influenced by the Russian spy agency.
posted by Brian B. at 8:34 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


W. Patrick Lang's take:

1- The analytic opinions of any intelligence agency are just that - opinions.
The notion that a president or anyone else should uncritically accept those opinions as truth is ludicrous. The intel guys would love that because they would effectively be the government in such a circumstance. 2- None of the Democrats hacked have denied the truth of the material revealed by WikiLeaks. 3 - The newspapers are saying that the RNC was also hacked and that the Rooshans slyly did not give the fruits of that hack to WikiLeaks. Sean Spicer, the communications head of the RNC forcefully told Smerconish in the last hour that "intelligence agencies" working with the RNC tell them that the RNC WAS NOT hacked at all. 4 -It is being argued by the media types that the people now at CIA are different from the people who enabled Operation Enduring Clusterf--k (the invasion and occupation of Iraq) by their bending of an NIE on Ira'qs supposed (but non-existent) WMD. Unfortunately for that notion, Phil Mudd - retired CIA and CNN fixture now told Smerconish today that his contemporaries still run CIA and that they were the Iraq WMD crew. Basically this kerfluffle over Russian evilness is IMO just part of the campaign to de-legitimize Trump even before he is inaugurated.
posted by Auden at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]



Vlad, be careful what you wish for. With Hillary you had a completely conventional and predictable President. But with Donald...


I'm with Ken Jennings. Russia definitely has a sex tape of Donald and we'll all end up watching it before this is done.
posted by asteria at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


I see this is already under discussion, but I have to leave the computer in a moment and can't read everything everyone has written, so I'm copying my comment from our Chicago IRL thread. I apologize if this repeats anything anyone has already covered:

This CIA investigation into Russian involvement in the voting irregularities is getting hairy fast. Lindsay Graham from the not-completely-bonkers Republican splinter group has offered to head it, which gives it actual clout among non-bonkers electors in the Electoral College. This is a situation the Founding Fathers actually intended the Electoral College to help avoid, so this is completely Constitutional and objectionable only by assholes. Of which there are a few.

I would look into three things:
- how to lobby the tRump electors who are already on the fence about voting for Clinton
- how to crowdfund repayment of any monetary fines these electors may face ( "Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have laws to penalize faithless electors, although these have never been enforced." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector#Legal_position )
- how to mitigate rebellion (vocal and physical) if Clinton were to win in this manner

The Electoral College votes in nine days (19 December, "the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December" ) so there's time to make this work, but not much.

Good luck!
posted by Evilspork at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


probably the only source not yet influenced by the Russian spy agency.

CIA has racial immunity to all Russia-based attacks unless Double Agent has been played; if Double Agent is anywhere on the board or in any players' hands, roll to determine Level Of Compromise. Subtract Level Of Compromise from total Trustworthiness Points on board in front of player controlling CIA. Return Double Agent card to bottom of deck unless player controlling Draconians wishes to use his/her racial bonus to recruit Double Agent at end of round (standard cost applies).
posted by Greg Nog at 8:42 AM on December 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


I'm with Ken Jennings. Russia definitely has a sex tape of Donald and we'll all end up watching it before this is done.

Oh lord, I'd forgotten about the sex tape thing. That's what 2016 has in store for us between now and December 31st, isn't it? Like, America will be gathered around the TV watching It's a Wonderful Life, and Russian hackers will cut into the broadcast to show the sex tape instead.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:44 AM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


I watched the Black Mirror episode The Waldo Moment last night.

And it was more hopeful than real life in 2016.

Holy fucking shit...
posted by ocschwar at 8:50 AM on December 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


I wonder if part of the executive calculus here (meaning Obama et al.) in not being as transparent about Russian involvement is because if people lose faith in the electoral system, you've got chaos.

I think the answer here is more obvious. Obama is a believer in the system of American democracy. Even when he sees it cracking, even when he sees the other side dismantle it, even when he sees evidence that it's being undermined, he will do things by the books, because he won't allow the US government to be dismantled on his watch. Things may fall apart when the Republicans take control, but he will not be the one to do it. Even though the system has failed before (many, many times before), even if American democracy has been undermined right now, even if there's no guarantee that the system can be repaired, Obama is going to die with Odin, because that is what he believes is right to do.

(The parable I linked to -- "Faith, Half Faith, and No Faith at All" by Robert Louis Stevenson -- is worth reading in this context, I think.)

None of the Democrats hacked have denied the truth of the material revealed by WikiLeaks.

Illicitly obtained yet true information is known, in other contexts, as blackmail.

If someone had released a sex tape made by Clinton, would the left finally be up in arms then? If there had been evidence of a truly personal scandal, would that have been enough for anger?

When the government pries into people's emails, that's something to be angry about, but when a foreign government releases emails from an organization, hey, that's totally acceptable, because look at what the emails say!
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2016 [55 favorites]


And to truly prevent his ascendancy requires a great depth of critical thinking and taking a firm position as to whether or not this election was tampered with by the intelligence services of a foreign power.

dude! i got a new xbox!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:01 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


TЯUMP FOЯ PЯESIDENT.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2016 [21 favorites]


I guess at least this may be enough to scuttle even the idea of a Tillerson nomination for Secretary of State, but we are so far into the Bizarro World at this point, who knows?
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sean Spicer, the communications head of the RNC forcefully told Smerconish in the last hour that "intelligence agencies" working with the RNC tell them that the RNC WAS NOT hacked at all

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Bet on it, tho: Trumpski is up to his zhopa in kompromat. It's only a matter of when his masters choose to use it.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:12 AM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


It used to be said that US intelligence agencies were pursuing two major goals in matters of computer security. That it was 1) their duty to offer advice and expertise to help secure American systems and those of American interests, but that it was also 2) to their advantage to hold on to secret zero-days, to encourage the internet structure to develop in ways well-suited to surveillance for their own hacking/surveillance purposes. Since American software and American internet services are so important around the world, these goals end up in conflict. Critics have long held that the importance of 1) was underestimated and the utility of 2) was very dubious, but that 2) seemed to be what the intelligence people are all about these days.

I wonder if the circumstances around this story and this election will change the way that 1) vs. 2) balance is viewed within the intelligence services.

If the incoming administration is financially beholden to Russia to the tune of a few billion or so, it would be really cheap insurance for someone in control of a US black budget to just pay the debts outright, considering the potential damage that could otherwise result. How unfair that would be, for the result of a lifetime of breathtaking arrogance and borderline confidence-hustling to be a billion dollar payday? Still, this seems like such an obvious move, it's hard to believe that such a debt would be useful leverage.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:20 AM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


If the incoming administration is financially beholden to Russia to the tune of a few billion or so, it would be really cheap insurance for someone in control of a US black budget to just pay the debts outright,

Ollie North says hi.
posted by jaduncan at 9:25 AM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


I might buy into the Trump sex crime tape theory, except that he has no shame and doesn't give a shit about appearances and probably thinks he could decapitate the entire Dallas Cowboys offense and defense on live TV with impunity and lose zero supporters once the dust settles. And I'm not sure he's wrong.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:25 AM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


Personally, I have a hard time justifying all the hyperventilating over this. Even if we disregard that foreign powers (including our own) have subtle and not-so-subtle ways of attempting to influence elections, I don't see that the effect of what the Russians (allegedly, but likely) did was any more effective than a daily diet of Fox and Breitbart.

Now if there were evidence of Russians hacking voting machines, that would be a completely different matter. But I would be far more upset over potentially illegal actions inside the US (cough, James Comey, cough) than preferences and propaganda from Russia. It's far more likely that they see his isolationist inclinations as useful than he is some puppet to be controlled from afar with Putin pulling the strings.

Also, the dark humor of Greg Nog's link seems pretty apropos to me.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:26 AM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


A few things. First, the "karma" responses are oh so clever, but essentially meaningless. Yes, the CIA has interfered in other countries affairs many times, but, no, that doesn't somehow justify such a thing happening here for the citizens of the US any more than CIA interference could be justified by previous actions of any state they involved themselves in. The history of the CIA is a separate issue from any meddling in this election.

The history of the CIA though is not separate from judging their statements on any Russian involvement with this election to the extent such statements go beyond proof or reasonable inference to trust. Any claims on involvement then would require evidence beyond CIA and like actors' words alone.

The main questions to ask, if one accepts there has been meddling, is why the Russians would act on behalf of Trump and why it was that Trump was so eager to stick up for Putin and the Russians each and every time the subject arose regarding virtually all of their actions or interests, from the hacks to NATO to Syria to Ukraine. If the hacks preceded those responses as it seems, then how was Russia so successfully able to predict the answers of a "wild card" like Trump especially given he was running as a Republican, the party, historically more opposed to Russia than the Democrats.

The questions around did they turn enough voters to change the election are almost certainly ones which no one will ever be able to fully answer, and, really, aren't as important as they might seem if the answers to the above questions are as troubling as they appear. Without more complete or really any info on Trump's finances and holdings we are not able to trace any financial conflicts that may have led to assumptions of certainty on Russia's part, and any further inferences on other areas Trump personally may be indebted to Russia are also opaque at the moment. Those areas need to be further addressed as does his advisor's connections to Russian interests. But first the questions over why Trump and what is his interest need to be continually raised if there is reasonable evidence of Russian involvement. Simply acting to benefit Trump even if the election wasn't swung directly on those actions should be enough to cause more than serious concern over his election.

Beyond that, we need more evidence of Russian involvement with hacking or whatever else to have the case be made more convincingly, should it be true as it appears, and we need to stop using hypotheticals to dismiss the issue and neither scoffing over historical involvements elsewhere nor shrugs of who knows acceptance aren't making things any better for anyone. That kind of cynicism can be virtually as ignorant as blindness in this type of circumstance as it benefits no one but the speaker's own sense of being above it all and too hip and aware to care. Real people here in the US and abroad will be harmed by Trump's presidency, and its stated complicity with Russian aims. That isn't a laughing matter. It doesn't excuse US involvement in other nations affairs. It doesn't have to, belief in the harm of past CIA actions does not justify harm on others in this action if one counts oneself on the side of the average citizen. Speaking out against the CIA's involvements when they are bad is never a wrong course, not speaking out against harmful actions is a bad course. These two concepts can exist simultaneously.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:28 AM on December 10, 2016 [26 favorites]


Im more worried about the funding of the european neo-fascism than i am of american intervention, esp le pen.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


In a recent Sam Harris podcast, James Kirchick said that Wikileaks has been hijacked by Russia as a disinfo outlet. Russia feeds selected ( or false) documents to Assange and Wikileaks, they release them. Hence no Trump or RNC hacks .
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:39 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


The article from Greenwald

Does anyone really believe Greenwald is not working for Putin too at this point?
posted by spitbull at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


It's not about the votes, or the CIA, it's about an increasing amount of evidence that Russia would have our executive branch by the short and curlies. That is an unacceptable situation no matter how it came about.
posted by emjaybee at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2016 [55 favorites]


The article from Greenwald

Does anyone really believe Greenwald is not working for Putin too at this point?



Hi, please supply your basis for claiming that an opposition journalist is working for Russia.
posted by grobstein at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2016 [35 favorites]


There is still no such evidence for any of these claims. What we have instead are assertions, disseminated by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let alone proof. As a result, none of the purported evidence – still – can be publicly seen, reviewed and discussed - The Intercept

*eyeroll*

Oh yes, The Intercept, that bastion of unbiased journalistic integrity whose primary mission is to disseminate information that just so happens to have been acquired from a spy currently harboured by Russia, and just so happens to have been on the "Russia's hands are clean" side of this since the very beginning.

There is no reason you should swallow their line on this any sooner than you'd swallow RT's.

I mean, of course the CIA isn't a reliable source (duh), but saying so doesn't mean the other team's spies are.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:58 AM on December 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


Does anyone really believe Greenwald is not working for Putin too at this point?

Or, the enemy of his enemy is his friend. I think this goes much deeper too. There are reports of significant numbers of paid shills that inhabit American websites, perhaps engineering from both angles (for example, making liberals look like religious fundamentalists about political correctness). And proving the outcome was influenced is rather pointless since the then-unknown information of being influenced by an adversary towards one party would have also influenced both the decision and choice to vote for many.
posted by Brian B. at 9:59 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


The paranoid part of my brain keeps going back to Anna "attractive Russian spy who worked in real estate in NYC" Chapman.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:01 AM on December 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


Hi, please supply your basis for claiming that an opposition journalist is working for Russia.

His articles?
posted by asteria at 10:02 AM on December 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


please supply your basis for claiming that an opposition journalist is working for Russia.

I said "believe." And my basis is the evidence that many other figures on the left, including some of Greenwald's associates (including Snowden) directly enjoy Putin's generous financial support. Watched RT lately?
posted by spitbull at 10:03 AM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


you don't have to 'work' for russia to be a useful tool to their ends.
posted by localhuman at 10:06 AM on December 10, 2016 [36 favorites]


Can you imagine the dirt they'd have on Republicans? The RNC is full of ex-ivy-league college Republicans. They HATE Trump and they REALLY HATE Trump's voters and they were probably raising hell about it on email particularly before Trump won any primaries. If they have RNC emails, Russian intelligence services could potentially get a huge number of Republicans to lose their primaries ("Sen. Graham Chief of Staff Called Trump 'Orange Neo-Fascist' in Newly Released Hacked RNC Email" /fake).

Even if it's just GOP behind-the-scenes functionaries in the hacked emails, it could potentially crater GOP turnout which would scare Republicans into accepting whatever Paul Manafort's position will be on Russia. There's almost certainly an email in the RNC mailbox about how Trump supporters prove the Democrats right about Republicans: that they're idiotic white nationalists all the way down. If a Republican could stop that information from leaking out just by voting to end Russian sanctions or accepting Russia's Crimean claims, I think most Republicans would cave, reasoning that it's better they keep their seat than potentially lose to an ascendant "antiestablishment" Trumpist.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 10:13 AM on December 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


Deplorables all.
posted by spitbull at 10:15 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


In the context of world affairs, there are few people more dangerous than a patriotic American.

AYFKM.

Please check to see whether your head is screwed on straight, and forward.

To Americans, this is an internal affair in which the evidence is overwhelming that a foreign power has been meddling.
posted by perspicio at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Hillary dropped this exact same info about Russia in front of 66 million viewers in October. But I guess no one listened because... emails"

Reminder: "We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber-attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election."
posted by fraula at 10:17 AM on December 10, 2016 [112 favorites]


There's a long history of this type of Russian operation against the United States (and vice versa)

Yes, this is what's most interesting to me here. I was always skeptical about Russian "interference" not because I think it's unlikely, but actually because I expect it's completely normal. I find it very hard to believe that Russia has not meddled or attempted-to-meddle in dozens (hundreds?) of elections around the world in the last few decades, and I am just as damn-near certain that the US has done so as well. Of course we don't know how effective or ineffective anyone was with any of that, because, you know, secret spy stuff.

However, and this is the thing that's been eating away at me for months on this, the difference here is that we are being told about it this time, and not just a decade later. This is new. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the CIA and US intelligence apparatus in general has switched from covert-doublespeak-counterspy into public naming and shaming as policy.

I am not even sure I can figure out whether it's better or worse, in the big picture, for our intelligence agencies to be announcing things like this, and I wonder if this is a new-normal that will lead to some very interesting international announcements in the years to come.
posted by rokusan at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


However, and this is the thing that's been eating away at me for months on this, the difference here is that we are being told about it this time, and not just a decade later. This is new. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the CIA and US intelligence apparatus in general has switched from covert-doublespeak-counterspy into public naming and shaming as policy.


And that's exactly where Trumps comes into the picture. He's the reason why we are in an abnormal state right now, so examining that and him should be of paramount importance I'd think, even if that means tearing apart the FBI and CIA to do so.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Even if they tipped it, he still ALMOST won based on his own total lack of merits. It's like if the Greeks went to all the trouble of building that big horse, and then the Trojans just forgot and left the front gate open. It's hardly worth conquering a country that can't be bothered to put up any more resistance than that.

And he's gonna make America great again--like it was when, in the forties? When everybody stepped up and put it on the line to fight authoritarianism? No he's not. Quite the opposite, he's gonna make it clear just how far we've fallen.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:31 AM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


Another point: The gutting of Facebook's news curatorship team (and handing it over to a seemingly easily gamed algorithm) was done under high pressure from the the right wing and the GOP. Once that little "roadblock" was out the way it took about 3 minutes before shitty fake news sites started hitting people feeds.
posted by PenDevil at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2016 [79 favorites]


Who is Carter Page?
posted by adamvasco at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


My entire life, I've been telling anyone who would listen that the Republican leadership is allied with avowed enemies of the American people, with avowed enemies of American ideals.

I HATE being proven right.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


Tillerson is being reported as Trump's SoS pick. Tillerson is CEO of Exxon. In a campaign rally, Trump said we should bomb ISIS and invite Exxon in to take the oil.

So. How soon until we have American troops in Syria to "help" Assad? At this pace, I'm thinking by June.
posted by asteria at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


I wonder if part of the executive calculus here (meaning Obama et al.) in not being as transparent about Russian involvement is because if people lose faith in the electoral system, you've got chaos.

Now I guess you have chaos. Having the CIA on the record on this is going to undermine whatever staying power the "now let's give him a chance" brigade has.
Obama would have had intelligence on this early on -- specifically around the time of the DNC releases (if not before), which is when an investigation would have started. Keeping in mind the Snowden releases were state-of-the-art 10 years ago, and since then we've seen exponential growth in mobile devices, machine learning, and tracking encrypted data, we must assume present capabilities -- on both the attacking and the target sides -- are an order of magnitude greater.

The best strategic case would be to deep dive into background and create as comprehensive an investigation as possible. Meanwhile, campaign for the democrats while developing as full a picture as possible of the hacking. Your first line of defense against a tyranny is the win of a legitimate candidate.

Once we passed that, it then makes sense to keep your enemy close, so to speak. The dog and pony show of introducing the winner and treating the election as legitimate in public, while using the final months of the presidency to evaluate that foreign intervention may have occurred, the extent of that.

Further, given the mounting evidence of potential corruption, one would probably not limit themselves to the DNC and RNC leaks, but rather also expand the scope to tax returns and other communications by first, second, third, etc order involved people. I would assume the strategy to be if you were to angle for an invalidation of the election win, you have one shot at that. You would cast a wide net initially and then go deeper, looking for the exact threads that you need to incontrovertibly connect the dots, ahead of a final statement and evidence release.

In a sense, it would be fascinating to know how Obama's activities at the end of his administration as compared to his predecessors. One would presume that conducting a full-scale CIA investigation into election fraud on the level of a James Bond plot within the final twelve weeks of an eight-year administration would leave distinguishable fingerprints. In the mind's eye, one wonders if that would look like different activities in Virginia, DC, or stations abroad.

Beyond that sense, and away from a fictionalised plot, one would expect that if the administration is to bring charges of impropriety about the election, it would have to be done 1) quietly, 2) have a tremendous amount of incontrovertible evidence, and 3) a context of support amongst other locations of power, both directly regarding the election decision, as well as in the government more broadly.

Having already touched on the strategy and the potential gathering of evidence, the final step would be broad-based support. It would be tremendously difficult for either Obama or the Democratic candidate or party to alone bring allegations of a tampered election. Given the scorched earth tactics by both parties in the election, there remains a deep suspicious of the electorate on each side.

To full foment a course of action that would be unprecedented in the best case, and fundamentally fracturing in the worst, 1) if there is ample evidence to suggest that the election result has been tampered with to the point of being invalid, then 2) you would need an army to go to battle with that.

You would need a number of things in place to bring that news to the forefront of the public sphere. The next big gate – I imagine – would be the Electoral College. The greater degree to which the Electoral College waivers from allocating the full complement of votes to the chosen candidate, the stronger the case for election tampering. As some of the electors are now citing Hamiltonian scripture, so to speak, there is deep concern amongst the electors as to their role and function. Are they simply to vote in line with the popular representation of their state, or are they to vote their consciousness and fulfil the true purpose of the electoral college, which is itself to invalid any popular vote which may lead to the destruction of the republic. The elector who has written in the New York Times sees the current president-elect as being an unambiguous threat to the republic itself, and further has said that there are others who agree with him.

That decision obviously does not happen in a vacuum. The greater the evidence that the candidate won based on impropriety and/or lacks the functional intelligence and/or moral fibre to lead the country, the greater it is the duty of the Electoral College not necessarily to abandon the popular vote, but certainly to question it.

In an extreme case, the Republican president-elect's downfall may well be the arrogance and complete disregard for rationality, combined with ongoing moves attacking individual people, from union leaders to department of energy staff that attended climate change conferences. Perhaps in a poetic sense, the elect's decimation would be at his own hand, falling into the intoxication of power immediately and showing off the worst of entitled behaviour, while the Electoral College patiently watched and assessed his character even given a small dose of Presidential juice. I would like to think that was the intention of the college, and the structure, that a demagogue would be incapable of managing their psychopathic tendencies, and therefore the Electoral College is designed to observe the candidate's reaction to winning the initial vote, before considering if they should install that person into the office. That would be elegant, beautiful, and effective. Although I am aware that may be the trees I choose to see in the forest.

Regardless, the greater the deviation of the Electoral College, the greater case can be made if other evidence from the CIA is also presented. I again keep in mind that Obama is not only a constitutional lawyer, but one of the most learned living constitutional lawyers. His ability to action policy has been shown to be mastery of both the law itself and also the coalition-building that goes along with the law.

If the Electoral College sees a problem with the president-elect (as will be seen by the deviation in their votes) and if the CIA evidence is robust enough, the final piece of the puzzle will be Republican alignment. If one were to want to invalidate the election results – dealing the greatest blow to American civil stability since the times of JFK – you would want to do that with the full support of the party currently in control of the government. Already, current Republican leaders are aligning not with Obama, but the CIA inquiry into the tampering. As has been stated elsewhere here, if the RNC was also hacked and not released, there is significant concern about blackmail over the next four to eight years.

I would expect that if we were to see any action related to the CIA work, it would come as a joint activity between the sitting administration, the CIA, the Electoral College, and the Senate, with potential support from the House and a number of governors. Given the media's incapability to maintain any kind of dignity through the process, I would expect them to be briefed at the same time as the government at large. The timing of any such action would likely be after the electoral college results, and after the Christmas Holiday.

There are a number of emissions I would expect to see if that were going to be the case. There are a number of things that would be different to an observer. Perhaps. Obama, rather than winding down, would be operating full steam. The CIA would be throwing a tonne of resources into an investigation without any discussion of terror or generalised alert. DC would be more active during Christmas. Basically, the current version of the government, far from shutting down, would go into a kind of overdrive. All that would likely be visible from not only the streets near the organs themselves, but also space and through city data itself.

I would presume that any announcement that the president-elect will not be taking the seat would be made to the public in the first week of January, or at the end of the first week of January, when an appropriate crisis response plan was in place. On the other hand, without adequate evidence of illicit interference, or broad-based support outside of the current administration, CIA, or Democratic party, a potentially illicit election would be allowed to stand.

Unfortunately, for the President-elect, what seemed like a great road to power in that case would quickly become a despotic nightmare as faith in the government corrodes. The whole reason that it would be great to be a corrupt President is that there hasn't been a President whose corruption has truly corroded the office and the machinery. The minute to have a President who is overtly corrupt, the machinery will cease being as powerful as that which seduced with its siren song. And we would all be the worse for that, I imagine.

If these accusations are true, it would be brilliant to see the Republic defend itself. Essentially sending macrophages to consume the threat most expediently. However, that all depends on the fact the CIA accusations are true, and that there is broad-based support over the other organs to which the Republican electorate would listen to.
It makes sense that the U.S. would sort of implode as opposed to being conquered by NK or what have you.
We had a discussion about this yesterday at at a Christmas lunch. About both Rome and the British Empire, and how each imploded – and what was unique and what was similar. One of the fellows mentioned that in each case, the bureaucracy continued to execute orderly and effectively until the final moments. That it was the machinery of the bureaucracy itself that helped facilitate the downfall. One has to remember that the bureaucracy of government is an amplifier of its leadership, staff, and constituents. If there is alignment, it amplifies that alignment. If there is discord, it amplifies that discord. If there is corruption, it amplifies that corruption. If there is transparency, it amplifies that transparency.

In some senses, the rules of government are both its enabler and downfall. Break the rules, and corrosion sets in. Simultaneously, to great adherence to the rules and the system fails to adapt to new threats. The trick is when to move into the grey area every so slightly in defence of the republic itself. You would need one of the greatest constitutional lawyers alive to navigate that terrain, given the complexity of the present moment.
posted by nickrussell at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2016 [69 favorites]


Hi, please supply your basis for claiming that an opposition journalist is working for Russia.

Well, I wouldn't say he works for them so much as he's a very useful idiot. But if you want a basis, just look at his career as a pundit. Greenwald has been arguing from the get go that the US is a destabilizing force in international affairs. And as part of that, he needs a country to counterbalance US influence, and there are only two nations capable - Russia and China.

So he chooses to support Russia as a counterbalance, ignoring that part of why Russia is counter to the US is because it's run by an autocrat who is seeking to expand his sphere of influence, by force if necessary. Or that said autocrat's preferred tool for expanding influence is information control and manipulation. In short, Greenwald is especially vulnerable to being fed bad information by Russia, because he's ideologically aligned, and thus not as skeptical as he needs to be to counter misinformation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:09 AM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


There are reports of significant numbers of paid shills that inhabit American websites, perhaps engineering from both angles (for example, making liberals look like religious fundamentalists about political correctness).

It's unbelievably infuriating watching this play out on Reddit, where you blatantly see the effects of it with the same exact comments, pushed by early upvote manipulation to set the tone before legit users can downvote it, every single time there's a chance to sow false equivalence and distrust that benefits right wing views, and all the while it's acknowledged but met with a big shrug by users and admins alike. For all that Reddit and Twitter need to get their shit together on harassment, they need to focus just as heavily on astroturfing - and I'm sure the latter is a big contributor to the former - and they just don't seem to care.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:15 AM on December 10, 2016 [30 favorites]


I'm old enough to remember when the Republicans would accuse the Democrats of being dupes of Moscow.
posted by Gelatin at 3:57 AM on Dec

I am also that old. I frankly want to go Full McCarthy on them.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Trump said we should bomb ISIS and invite Exxon in to take the oil.

"Kick their ass, take their gas" has a history at least as old as the Iraq war.

I'm sure it'll work out better this time.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:28 AM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


So there's this dude in my large online hobby community. Really really toxic dude, the kind who calls women in the community cancer for explaining their experiences. I check in on his Twitter from time to time and it's often a terrifying glance into Trumpland delusion. He said he hugged so many people on election night, and that meant that love won.

Anyway - his view on this Russia news is that sure they hacked us and interfered with the election and that's fantastic because they knew the horrors Hillary was guilty of.

Honestly this is a smart young guy. When people say that the population will age out of this, I can't help but think of all the young dudes that are getting bombarded with these horrifying attitudes in the chans and reddit and facebook meme pages and everywhere. I've seen it and if you look for 5 minutes you'll see it too. This isn't a problem time will solve.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2016 [60 favorites]


A couple of tours in Trump's wars against Iran and Syrian rebels should help straighten them out.
posted by asteria at 11:42 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Russian hacked Democrats to get material to help throw the election to Trump. Pehaps Dems ought not put stuff on their servers that would come back to haunt them. This does not excuse the Russian attempt to sway an election but it does suggest a future way of conducting business.
posted by Postroad at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Trump said we should bomb ISIS and invite Exxon in to take the oil.

"Kick their ass, take their gas" has a history at least as old as the Iraq war.

I'm sure it'll work out better this time.


Trump's top pick for Secretary of State is ExxonMobil's CEO, who stands to make hundreds of billions for Exxon -- the deal is already in place -- the second sanctions against Russia are dropped, and who has been making eyes at Iraqi Kurdistan for a long while now.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I might buy into the Trump sex crime tape theory, except that he has no shame and doesn't give a shit about appearances and probably thinks he could decapitate the entire Dallas Cowboys offense and defense on live TV with impunity and lose zero supporters once the dust settles. And I'm not sure he's wrong.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:25 PM on December 10

What about if he is on the receiving end? Not necessarily a homosexual encounter but what about a BDSM scenario or act of pegging-- something to challenge his authoritarian facade. Could he really lead the deplorables once video aired of him bent over someone's lap being paddled?

I can promise you this much, if a sex tape does emerge I will be keeping my eyes wide shut. Anyway it is much more likely that he owes Russian Oligarchs Big League.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:50 AM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


If the Russians release a tape of him being sexually dominated we're going to see the "lots of people like to watch their buddies screw!" scene from Repo Man play out millions of times across Red State America.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2016 [21 favorites]


"lots of people like to watch their buddies screw!" scene from Repo Man play out millions of times across Red State America.

Yeah but do lots of people like watching their President lick someone's shoe?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


From the WSJ:
Friends and associates said few U.S. citizens are closer to Mr. Putin than Mr. Tillerson, who has known Mr. Putin since he represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.

“He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,” said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration and president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank where Mr. Tillerson is a board member.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


My totally tasteful and not at all gross suggestion of what was on the sex tape got deleted, but let's just say it would have to be something really bad for Trump to care enough for blackmail to work
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


JFC. They really DO have something on him.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:02 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Pehaps Dems ought not put stuff on their servers that would come back to haunt them.

Remind me what evidence of actual wrong-doing was in the hacked DNC e-mails. Since you apparently saw some that nobody else did, I'd like to hear about it.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


It is almost perverse. The day after there is a major story about involvement by the Russians in this past election, the PEOTUS announces Russia's BFF for SOS.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:06 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


Does anyone really believe Greenwald is not working for Putin too at this point?

Or, the enemy of his enemy is his friend.


If only there were some handy term to describe such a one.
posted by non canadian guy at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is no evidence the emails released by wikileaks came from Russia though.

In particular, those emails came from Podesta's gmail account, not the DNC servers folks believe the Russian's hacked. An old person like Podesta could certainly be using the same password on multiple accounts. And maybe the DNC never hashed passwords properly. Yet, they no such case is being made here.

Instead, they found a spear phishing email that Podesta maybe opened. And their case for attribution boils down to Russian having done spear phishing in the past. Duh! So does everybody else too! Any script kiddy conservative activist could've done this.

I actually suspect the Podesta emails originate with the FBI, NSA, or CIA, maybe higher up, maybe not. It's actually normal that FBI agents would use their work assets to bias U.S. elections in favor of conservatives, especially when the election is so divisive. As witnessed by Comey himself. The FBI explanation does not necessarily require that Podesta make any security mistakes, as the FBI, etc. can spy on Google accounts easily enough, although obviously the spear phishing email could originate with them too.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:14 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wikileaks released plenty of emails not from the Podesta phishing hack.

And Assange has never denied that they came from a Russian hack.
posted by spitbull at 12:17 PM on December 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


I don't see that the effect of what the Russians (allegedly, but likely) did was any more effective than a daily diet of Fox and Breitbart.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that any potential Russian intelligence operation is going to know about Fox and Breitbart, and know it's pretty easy to seed the conservative news media with bullshit, and know tRump gets large chunks of his bullshit directly from Breitbart in particular.
posted by Evilspork at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


But there IS evidence that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC emails. It can be argued that the evidence is not good enough but saying "There is no evidence" sounds like the accusations have been made up out of whole cloth, like Pizzagate or something.
posted by maggiemaggie at 12:26 PM on December 10, 2016 [33 favorites]


Ha, apparently John "I'm not talking about Trump" McCain now wants to talk about Trump. Quoth CNN's Ryan Nobles: "Just spoke to Sen. John McCain- a harsh Putin critic- he told me he has 'concerns' about Tillerson as possible SOS and his ties to Russia."
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I actually suspect the Podesta emails originate with the FBI, NSA, or CIA, maybe higher up, maybe not. It's actually normal that FBI agents would use their work assets to bias U.S. elections in favor of conservatives, especially when the election is so divisive. As witnessed by Comey himself. The FBI explanation does not necessarily require that Podesta make any security mistakes, as the FBI, etc. can spy on Google accounts easily enough, although obviously the spear phishing email could originate with them too.

So, essentially you stand by the idea that one's already held beliefs should be held regardless of any conflicting information or opposing points of view, even when those viewpoints are coming from people not normally predisposed to agreement (like McCain, Graham, and some other Republicans)?
Sounds a lot like Trump supporter logic really.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm not going to say any more because I realise I'm an unwelcome voice here, but surely "an unnamed official says that the CIA has 'high confidence' that some hacking was done by Russia" has to be among the least reliable or verifiable information sources imaginable.

Just to come back to this, you're not entirely wrong, but.... First, we have the Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security from October 7th. It's an extraordinary statement:
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.
[It goes on to discuss probing of state election systems for vulnerabilities from servers tied to Russia, but without confidence to attribute it to the Russian Government at that time.]
As you can see, the attribution was less than firm at that time, and they're careful to say so,, but strong enough for them to release such an unprecedented statement a month before the election. And the mention of DCLeaks.com in these is important: there were a bunch of other Democratic-leaning emails hacked and released, not to mention Colin Powell's, that didn't get so much attention, beyond those that came through WikiLeaks.

So yesterday's reports didn't come out of nowhere. They're anonymous sources discussing a new briefing that builds on a shockingly bold public consensus statement from the intelligence community two months ago.

And just to back up a bit, there is one bit of evidence we all can see with our own eyes: somebody clearly hacked multiple email accounts belonging to those with ties to Hillary Clinton and released massive piles of emails. Remember Watergate? Because the story there was the break-in and the cover-up, not "hey I wonder what stuff they stole; let's put it on the front page." It is clear that whoever obtained and released the emails of one side did so for the purpose of influencing the election. Those facts are visible to the naked eye without reference to anonymous sources or classified materials. Even if you're inclined throw everything else out and ignore Russia entirely, those facts alone are extremely alarming.
posted by zachlipton at 12:30 PM on December 10, 2016 [73 favorites]


I am not sure of anything anymore except for one thing: Russia is going to is going to invade the Baltics.

I reiterate this prediction on my FB page from time to time, my lowly, 200-friend FB page. I did it again a few days ago and when I woke up the next morning, there was a response from Dmitry Orlov, who I don't really pay much attention to. It said:

"Yes, the Russians certainly would benefit greatly from invading three tiny worthless republics that have lost a third of their population since independence, virtually all of their industry (which was Russian) and are chock-full of Russian retirees. Staggering Termagant, posting about things you know nothing about must be painful sometimes."


Why is he punching down so hard? Isn't he some kind of media personality? Or Russian plant?

Thus began a disturbing raft of comments from his friends.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:32 PM on December 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


While I'm not averse to all sorts of wide-ranging theories, conspiratorial or otherwise, it's important to remember, I think, that many of the hacks in question happened before Trump was the nominee, including the time before he even announced he was running.

So I think it's key to realize that a Russian long-game wasn't and isn't about Trump, necessarily, as much as that their meddling in general, probably not unlike what they have done for decades, just produced way more fruit than usual this time around. Trump may have been just the surprise cherry on top to reward their, um, hard work.
posted by rokusan at 12:35 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Termagant, the number of Internet watch lists has probably risen dramatically in recent months. Sounds like you landed on a new one.

While it's not quite People's Sexiest Woman Alive, maybe it's a stepping stone.
posted by rokusan at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Assange denies Russia behind Podesta email hacking, spitbull.

If you recall, wikileaks was publishing DNC leaks from way back when Clinton won the nominations. Those leaks were attributed to GRU by several security firms, who may or may not be believable. Those reports claim both the FSB and GRU had independently hacked the DNC, both lost access because GRU fucked up, and the leaks happened shortly after that.

I kinda suspect GRU leaked the DNC stuff as a botched ass covering move, meant to make the FSB believe random hackers cost them access. After that, someone else thinks "Wow, that's a good idea! Let's use wikileaks!" and leaks the Podesta emails. At present, official sources still claim the Podesta obtained through means unconnected to the DNC leaks.

We ultimately do not know exactly what influence Russia might've had over the election. We do know for certain that FBI director Comey "hacked" the election with his two letters to Congress.

I think therefore the FBI should remain the default suspect for the Podesta email leak until we've any real evidence. It'd be different if say DNC admits to not hashing passwords on servers and Podesta admits to using the same password for gmail and some DNC server, but they're currently still blaming spear phishing emails for the Podesta leak.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just want to remind people that the hacked emails and such don't have to be "untrue" or manipulated to be unfair. Everyone says things that out of context look worse than they are and unfortunately many people email them. And of course people also just plain make mistakes or do things that later they regret. But one side's out of context statements and their mistakes being released is unfair simply from its assymetry. Does anyone doubt that the RNC was saying and doing things as bad as the DNC? The difference is their emails weren't released to the media so it could negatively dominate the news cycle.

Of course that won't matter to many. "But they are their actual emails!" has apparently been a fine excuse for why the hacks shouldn't matter for a while. A confirmation that a foreign power was behind them doesn't seem likely to matter to many who already decided it was acceptable for one side to be subject to much more radical unconsented transparency than the other. Even many liberals seem to think it isn't fundamentally a corruption of the process -- "they are real emails and what is the DNC trying to hide?" -- and many lefties seem to expect angelic perfection in their leaders.

So as frustrating as I find this all to be, I don't expect it to go anywhere. Any demand for an investigation probably will largely end up falling along partisan lines. Worse, any unreleased RNC material probably makes for great blackmail. :(
posted by R343L at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2016 [28 favorites]


The people who are commenting on my Facebook page in defense of Orlov DO NOT CARE that Russia is interfering in our elections. They WANT Russia to interfere because they believe that Russia will break the stranglehold the US and Britain (and behind them, Israel, always Israel) have on the New World Order (the global government set up by the elites). They WELCOME Russia's involvement. Far from being racist, they say, they are voting for Trump to throw a wrench in the machine. Russia is the wrench.

I do not agree with any of this, but this is their very clearly articulated argument. They know Russia is interfering, and they are glad.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


staggering termagant - is that Dmitry Orlov, the hockey player? Or some other Dmitry Orlov?
posted by madelf at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2016


If Putin attempted to throw the election to Trump, there are two reasons he might have wanted to do that:

1. He thinks he could get along well with Trump and settle a variety of international issues to their mutual benefit (including personal financial benefit, of course).

2. He thinks Trump is a bumbling idiot, and naturally he thinks it would be to Russia's (and his own) advantage to be dealing with a bumbling idiot as US president than a known, serious adversary like Hillary Clinton.

The general perception seems to be #1, but my bet would be on #2. Putin will be laughing all the way to the bank.
posted by beagle at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


Assange denies Russia behind Podesta email hacking, spitbull.

[T]he FBI should remain the default suspect for the Podesta email leak until we've any real evidence.

I agree in a certain sense, but in matters of intelligence and counterintelligence, Occam's razor tends not to be a very helpful tool.

Look, there's a lot we don't know. For example, who within the US intelligence community is or may be bent, and by what means. But it's possible that Assange could reasonably deny that Russia was behind the Podesta email hacking based on all information available to him, and he could still be wrong. Because a bent American may be a Russian asset.
posted by perspicio at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ha, no. Dmitry Orlov is a popular guy with people who voted for Trump.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


This shit should be running on a loop on every major media outlet. Instead, we'll get: "Democrats claim evidence of Russian hacking. Republicans disagree. Who's to say who is right? Next up: A bombshell in Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server!"

I just wish some of the coming doom could be directed at NPR, NYT, CNN, et al. I hold them most culpable for what is coming.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [20 favorites]


Yes, NPR. I stopped listening to them right before the election and haven't really returned.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


staggering termagant - That's comforting. Things would start seeming even more weird if suddenly random Russian hockey players start harassing people on Facebook.
posted by madelf at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is fine. Everything is fine.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


I remember Watergate. Were it to happen today, the press would run it as: Democrats claim Nixon ordered DNC break in. Nixon denies responsibility. Opinions differ. ". And that'd be the last we'd hear of it. Except for the still small voice of Farenthold: "Hey, guys, there's a story here..."

Fuck the Village media.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:01 PM on December 10, 2016 [42 favorites]


I listened to NPR daily for what, 25 years? And I mean NPR, not public radio. I stopped the day after the election and haven't listened since. I've had it with Mara Liasson and Steve Inskeep and co. (I still listen to local public radio. Because KCRW.)

I'm angrier now than I was with the fucking Village media decided they didn't like Gore and wanted to have a beer with Bush and wouldn't talk about anything but Gore's being wooden. I'm angrier now than I was in the lead up to Iraq.

I'm pretty fucking angry. And it's not abating. This is the biggest failure of the 4th estate in American history.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2016 [90 favorites]


So, if you work as the CIA director, and you have a highly placed asset inside the Russian government, do you share that information with President Trump or his national security staff?

You have to. Reason number [uh, I lost count] why too, too many American people have made a horribly stupid mistake, letting "Fuck yeah, that'll show 'em" emotion ruin their own country. And why "I told you so" isn't going to remotely make up for it in 4 years - it'll be burnt to the ground by then.
posted by ctmf at 1:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


'm angrier now than I was with the fucking Village media decided they didn't like Gore and wanted to have a beer with Bush and wouldn't talk about anything but Gore's being wooden.

You forgot "earth tones"
posted by thelonius at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, face it, we work for Vladimir Putin now, through his manipulation of Trump. Think Putin will create jobs and help the little guy?
posted by ctmf at 1:10 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]




CNN: Ex-CIA operative Robert Baer: We may need a new vote

unsure that anything will come of this, but that this discussion is happening on cable news is another sign of how deeply fucked up this whole situation is
posted by murphy slaw at 1:16 PM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


There will never be a new vote. Until 2020 I mean. That's your new vote.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


yeah, didn't mean to imply that a new election might happen. mostly remarking on how crazypants it is that someone is offering it as a possibility on CNN.

"anything coming of this" would be anything more than a brief scuffle on the sunday shows, not a mulligan.
posted by murphy slaw at 1:20 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Whatever the role of Wikileaks, they turned into a tabloid by pushing fake news like the spirit cooking nonsense.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


This makes Watergate look SO TAME by comparison. In that case it was at least Americans rummaging through DNC files to look for embarrassing material. In this case it was Russian intelligence agencies! And Watergate got Nixon impeached and rocked our whole political culture. Yet this time it's Russian agents and it actually succeeds, and we shrug and move on?

Watergate actually did succeed in that it helped Nixon get re-elected in 1972. Watergate wasn't just a "third-rate burglary" done in isolation, but part of a large series of dirty tricks operations that Nixon used to pick the weakest possible opponent in the 1972 presidential election race. In addition, there's some credible arguments that the 1972 operations were driven by Nixon's paranoia that his efforts to scuttle LBJ & Humphrey's peace deal with the Vietnamese in 1968 would be found out.
posted by jonp72 at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]




Joe Walsh is peak ""I never thought leopards would eat MY face!" sobs lady who voted for the Leopards Eating Peoples' Faces Party."
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on December 10, 2016 [54 favorites]


"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the transition said in a terse, unsigned statement.

I mean, least tactful administration in history is putting it mildly.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:36 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Watergate actually did succeed in that it helped Nixon get re-elected in 1972. Watergate wasn't just a "third-rate burglary" done in isolation, but part of a large series of dirty tricks operations that Nixon used to pick the weakest possible opponent in the 1972 presidential election race. In addition, there's some credible arguments that the 1972 operations were driven by Nixon's paranoia that his efforts to scuttle LBJ & Humphrey's peace deal with the Vietnamese in 1968 would be found out.

One of the stranger aspects of the Trump campaign is that I have realized there is such a thing as nostalgia for Nixon. There are so many elements of Trumpism that are derived from Nixon, it's weird. But I put it in the box labelled "Trump stuck in 1970" where it makes some sense..
posted by mumimor at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, least tactful administration in history is putting it mildly.

the blatant corruption, racism, sexism, and ties to neo-nazis were pretty bad, but it's really the lack of decorum that galls
posted by murphy slaw at 1:41 PM on December 10, 2016 [20 favorites]


>Pehaps Dems ought not put stuff on their servers that would come back to haunt them.

Remind me what evidence of actual wrong-doing was in the hacked DNC e-mails. Since you apparently saw some that nobody else did, I'd like to hear about it.


There was no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing in the emails, but that's irrelevant. The leaks, and the wild and various mischaracterizations of their contents hurt the Democrats badly. Whoever wins DNC chair, I hope they seriously focus on data security for the party.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:44 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


the blatant corruption, racism, sexism, and ties to neo-nazis were pretty bad, but it's really the lack of decorum that galls

So many people went through this ridiculous process of:

Surely he'll be different if he's a candidate
Surely now he'll be different now that he's a candidate
Surely he'll be different if he's the nominee
Surely now that he's the nominee he'll be different
Surely he'll be different if he's the President
Surely now that he's the President-elect he'll be different

And nope, no change. We shouldn't be surprised--he told us as much: "you knew I was a snake when you took me in."

And yet I'm still shocked somehow when the President-elect puts out such a ridiculous (and inaccurate) statement.
posted by zachlipton at 1:51 PM on December 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


Assange denies

from the same article, about a well known liar:

The WikiLeaks founder offered no evidence to support his denials in the face of U.S. government statements that American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking campaigns of Democratic entities in the U.S. Those breaches have raised alarms of potential intrusions on election day.

So ok, Assange denies being a rapist too. I stand corrected on the denial.

Anyone believe him?

I wonder when useful idiots who have become useless can expect a polonium milkshake.
posted by spitbull at 1:53 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


The leaks, and the wild and various mischaracterizations of their contents hurt the Democrats badly.

I don't think there was anything nefarious in the emails, or at least anything any more nefarious than any emails from any other campaign would be. Who are our opponents? How can we compete against them? What position should we take on this issue? Any campaign's internal communications are going to have some embarrassing back-and-forth on this stuff.
"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Josh Marshall -- "Let's not pretend we didn't know this."


He was early on calling attention to Russian nefariousness, and he was right.
posted by spitbull at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yup I would bet good money on this all going absolutely nowhere. It will go down in history as more kooky liberal whines, shelved right alongside botched Florida votes in 2000 and Bush administration WMD lies - another arguing point that the left will be bringing up for decades, while the right just rolls their eyes and sticks to some shitty talking point like "oh come on none of that was technically ever really proven" and move on.

If there was somehow a PredictIt market for "do you think the Russian interference story will get buried further and further until sadly no one gives a shit about it anymore except the far left" I would absolutely put money in it. And I'd be really fucking happy to lose it. But I don't think that I would.
posted by windbox at 1:59 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Whoever wins DNC chair, I hope they seriously focus on data security for the party.

Data security against a state actor is difficult or impossible, particularly when the target is diffuse, its members are relatively inexperienced, and there's a high degree of turnover. People were right in saying that Clinton's email habits were a risk, and it's not all that much of a defense to say that the State Department's own practices were no better.

Basically, there's no real hope of the DNC having reasonable confidence in their email security unless they introduce a restricted platform and force everyone to use it. That would mean, e.g., no way to read email on your home computer or handheld, no ability to automatically forward email, no user-level ability to add devices or accounts. That's definitely do-able, but it's expensive and inconvenient. Date security is really the sort of thing that the US government should be doing, rather than its present practice of doing everything they can to prevent it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]




[One deleted. Jeffburdges, we've asked you multiple times to stop it with the pied piper thing; take the night off]
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Obama’s Gift to Donald Trump: A Policy of Cracking Down on Journalists and Their Sources
via "If only we had been warned the cull of whistleblowers could result in voters lacking access to vital information."


This is the equivalent of the alt-left slapping the Democrats, "Why are you hitting yourself?"
posted by jonp72 at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Obama’s Gift to Donald Trump: A Policy of Cracking Down on Journalists and Their Sources
via "If only we had been warned the cull of whistleblowers could result in voters lacking access to vital information."

This is the equivalent of the alt-left slapping the Democrats, "Why are you hitting yourself?"


Before I know whether I agree, you're going to have to tell me whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
posted by grobstein at 2:26 PM on December 10, 2016


There is no alt-left. The term is a back-formation designed to give a false sense of balance and to imply that the left is as bad as actual genocidal fascists. If you mean socialists, communists, and anarchists, we're just the left, and always have been.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:36 PM on December 10, 2016 [103 favorites]


Really been surprised to see liberals running with the "useful idiot" line of attack that conservatives perfected for decades. Then again, I never thought I'd live to see the day where John "refuses-to-veto-the-Heartbeat-Bill" Kasich is held up as a reasonable alternative in a possible civil war-triggering electoral college revolt but here we are. It's been a weird week.
posted by joechip at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've been hearing jokes for a while about how this proves there's no such thing as time travel because nobody's come back to stop it, but maybe LIN MANUEL MIRANDA is the time traveler who came back to popularize the idea of Hamilton electors JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME?
posted by rmd1023 at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2016 [25 favorites]


"If only we had been warned the cull of whistleblowers could result in voters lacking access to vital information."

Yeesh. That quote is Edward Snowden complaining that the Espionage Act has been used against "whistleblowers" like him. Whether state secrets are good or evil doesn't make the Espionage Act any more or less applicable when you blab them to the whole world.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


to imply that the left is as bad as actual genocidal fascists. If you mean socialists, communists, and anarchists, we're just the left, and always have been.

Communists have committed their share of genocide, to be fair.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


The timing of any such action would likely be after the electoral college results...

I'm confused. Isn't the elction locked-in and settled once the EC votes? Is there another step required after that? If not, it probably won't matter what is revealed after the EC ratifies Trump. He'll run a shadow Presidency from atop his hotel, if need be, and get half the nation to go along with him.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:52 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Communists have committed their share of genocide, to be fair.
posted by leotrotsky


vicious self-own, comrade
posted by murphy slaw at 2:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [38 favorites]


The election is finished with the electoral college, but Trump isn't the president until he gets sworn in, so the report is likely wanted as evidence gathered before it would be ignored or worse by the Trump administration and maybe just to provide one final time out before we start the sudden death overtime presidency so people can really think about whether this is something they want to do. It gives one more weapon to use in case things really do get as bad as they look like they could and can be held up in questioning of any cabinet picks and the like.

We've never been here before and this report is meant to freak people out and to make everyone aware of what a dangerous place we've reached.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:01 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]






It can be both.
posted by Justinian at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've seen viral posts on Imgur that absolutely came out of Russia. Some are more subtle than others. The normalization and acceptance of Russian propaganda scares me more than hacked emails. Bernie Bros LOVE Hillary hate memes.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


Okay, so, some weird and sort of conflicting feelings I have about this whole thing:

1. I believe CrowdStrike and other experts who claim that Guccifer 2.0 was probably Russian. I wouldn't put it past Putin to try to influence the election.

2. I don't trust the CIA as far as I can throw them. They are not our allies. And they've done much, much worse than "influencing elections" in foreign nations.

3. I despise Trump, but as much as it pains me to say it, he's right when he points at the so-called "intelligence community" and calls them incompetent and often evil.

This is a weird place to be in, honestly. I'm actually hoping Trump blows it all up and then immediately leaves the stage.
posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I "dasvidanya, tovarish"'d my local Trump supporter today as I passed him in the lobby. He knew exactly what I was suggesting and looked down at his shoes. Union guy too, so I thought about saying "Solidarity Forever, huh?" based on the Carrier fiasco. But this was more fun.
posted by spitbull at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2016 [49 favorites]


Some comments in this thread highlight something I'm concerned about, which is that the threat of Russian intervention -- real or not -- becomes a weapon to delegitimize voices on the left. Sentiments like "if you want proof that he's working for Russia, just read his articles" are a little too Red Scare for me. For sites like PropOrNot.com, it is enough to be critical of US foreign policy to be effectively echoing Russian propaganda. This sort of thing backs the left into a corner, where too much criticism becomes, at best, the mark of a naive fool who got manipulated by cunning foreign powers.

I don't want anyone to think I'm downplaying the significance of Russian involvement, or the possibility that it is true. But if it is, I worry that one of many effects is going to be that people to the left of center start a witch hunt among themselves.
posted by teponaztli at 3:11 PM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm willing to call anyone working for the Russians an enemy of the actual American left at this point.
posted by spitbull at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2016 [31 favorites]


Communists have committed their share of genocide, to be fair.

Well, I mean, fine, but that's not really high on my list of concerns about the contemporary left. Granted that if it were tankies who were about to seize control of all of the levers of power in the world's military superpower, that would also be very concerning, but it ain't exactly the problem we face right now.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to call anyone working for the Russians an enemy of the actual American left at this point.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm worried we're going to start deciding people who sound a little too Russian for us are not only wrong, but the enemy of "the actual American left," and treat them accordingly. It sows suspicion and risks turning disagreement into proof of outright enmity, and it'll fracture the left even more than it already is.
posted by teponaztli at 3:18 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


And by "too Russian" I mean too critical, or the wrong kind of criticism. So-and-so and Russia both agree on this point about US foreign policy, hmm...
posted by teponaztli at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


There is no alt-left. The term is a back-formation designed to give a false sense of balance and to imply that the left is as bad as actual genocidal fascists. If you mean socialists, communists, and anarchists, we're just the left, and always have been.

It's not like I'm talking about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade or the IWW here. I'm using "alt-left" to refer to people who shared the same anti-Clinton, pro-Russian position as the alt-right, but with leftish rhetoric instead of rightish rhetoric. There were a lot of voices like Greenwald and Jill Stein who seriously argued that Clinton was as bad as if not worse than Trump, and now that Trump has been elected...let's just say I find the evidence for that a little thin.
posted by jonp72 at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


Bernie Bros LOVE Hillary hate memes.

Yeah, in my social media feeds these were/are distinguishable from the alt-right articles only by virtue of the source URL. That's my personal definition for alt-left.
posted by romakimmy at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]




I have, no shit, seen people today arguing that yeah, Russia interfered but if you want to see what real rigging looks like you have to look at the Democratic primary being rigged for Clinton and against Sanders. That's alt-left!
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on December 10, 2016 [43 favorites]


> In SEPTEMBER, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts

How Mitch McConnell Prevented Stronger Action Against Russian Election Meddling

Mitch McConnell Won’t Comment On Reported CIA Belief That Russia Tried To Help Trump Win

Jonathan Chait: Trump, McConnell, Putin, and the Triumph of the Will to Power
posted by homunculus at 3:29 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Wow, the whole "Glenn Greenwald is in the employ of Russia" / "you don't have to actually be working for Russia to work for Russia" direction this thread ended up veering towards is so literally McCarthyist that it would be hilarious if it wasn't so fucked up. I'm really scared about the future of our country right now; it's like at every turn you can either get double-fucked by neo-nazis or single-fucked by baby-fascist centrist liberals.
posted by zokni at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2016 [24 favorites]




Juan Cole: No, America, it wasn’t Russia: You did it to Yourself

What if we did 95% of it to ourselves and 5% was Russia? The election came down to maybe 100,000 votes that had to be strategically spread across three states. With that kind of margin, a couple of really determined swarms of bees could probably influence the election. We shouldn't use Russia to distract us from the giant divide in the country––many millions would have voted for Trump and all he stood for (or should I say: against) regardless––, but it's really not an either/or proposition.
posted by zachlipton at 3:38 PM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


There's been a lot of discussion along the lines of "even if Russia interfered we can't prove that it swung the election" but I think that's not the way to look at it. More important, in my mind, is if there was Russian collusion with the Trump camp, regardless of the ultimate effectiveness. If there's evidence of that, it should be disqualifying.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:40 PM on December 10, 2016 [38 favorites]


If this is a vote on whether "alt-left" is a useful term, I would like to throw in an "absolutely not," and express general dismay that other leftists/liberals/progressives are so quick to gleefully jump into a linguistic framework constructed by neo-nazis to rebrand themselves.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:41 PM on December 10, 2016 [80 favorites]


I don't want anyone to think I'm downplaying the significance of Russian involvement, or the possibility that it is true. But if it is, I worry that one of many effects is going to be that people to the left of center start a witch hunt among themselves.

This, exactly. I think it's important to keep outcomes in mind rather than seeing spies under every bush. Saying "Clinton is worse than Trump" is obviously a stupid, harmful thing to propagate, whether you're a Russian propagandist trying to stir shit up or Jill Stein, for instance. If Russian hackers revealed that the US were doing something truly despicable, like, oh, running a torture prison or strafing innocent Iraqis or something, that would be legit and we'd have to take our lumps.

he problem with Russians interfering is that they did shady garbage intended to throw the election, not that they're revealing great truths. They "revealed" some nothingburgers precisely because they knew that the corrupt state of American politics would make those nothingburgers important, and because they knew that the American media would treat Hillary's bog-standard rich politician behavior much more harshly than Trump's cheating and lying. They weren't interested in truth, they were interested in playing our already badly messed up political/media system. That's the problem.

The difference between Greenwald, etc, and Russians is that Greenwald is interested in the truth about American power, not in revealing whatever "truth" can be used to gain a desired end. Sometimes he and Russian propagandists will talk about the same things if it's strategic for Russia, but that doesn't mean he should shut up.

Consider that the USSR made great political hay about the racism of the US - that was their whole deal in the 50s and 60s, that the US was this racist imperialist country which treated its citizens of color with monstrous unfairness. Was that untrue? Hell no. Plenty of left wing papers said the same thing and got called commies for their pains. Should they have shut up because they were saying the same things about the US as the USSR was? Hell no!
posted by Frowner at 3:44 PM on December 10, 2016 [55 favorites]


"We did it to ourselves" in the sense that we have a badly broken political system that was not able to withstand the multiple pressures on it this election. A better system would either have discouraged or been able to stand up to Russian propaganda. But the thing is, what if we'd missed out on just one of the fucked up things that happened? No Comey, or no overturn of the voting rights act, or no Russians? Clinton would have won. It was the perfect storm of things going wrong that threw the election.

We should have had a system that was stronger, but it's totally legit to say "we should not have to weather this garbage, and it does real damage".
posted by Frowner at 3:47 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Nothingborscht.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]




I wonder when useful idiots who have become useless can expect a polonium milkshake.

Given Assange's well-known tendency to bite the hand that feeds him, I imagine it'll be sometime before he starts thinking of how he's going to ratfuck Vladimir. They'll probably keep him busy on one or two very important tasks, with the agent talking him through some complex question of political intrigue also quietly levelling a silenced revolver to the back of his head.
posted by acb at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


thanks for that excellent comment, nickrussel, but

it is up to every American individually to review the cannon of evidence

canons before cannons, bro
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


The other thing is that we must not do what we did in the Cold War and assume that ordinary Russians share the values of the security service. We don't share the values of the CIA, Trump, etc, and indeed most Americans don't. It's Russian state propaganda in the service of Russian state interests. "Russians" shouldn't become shorthand for the Russian government (even though I did that in my earlier comment).
posted by Frowner at 3:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [38 favorites]


I am not only old enough to remember when accusations of Russian sympathies were the Kiss of Death, my family actually spent part of the 1950's in Mexico because of this stuff. I am not ashamed of having significant Russian ancestry,but I don't like their government.
Russia literally has NEVER had a decent government. It's been nothing but tyranny as far as you can look back. Any Russian influence on our government, of whatever ideological stripe is pernicious.
My paternal great - granfather left before Communism. The government was bad then, the Soviet Union fell and hasn't been replaced by anything good for anyplace the Soviet Union was.
Seriously having their strong influence in a political campaign or an administration of our American government ought to at least give all of us pause. It scares the crap out of me!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:55 PM on December 10, 2016 [50 favorites]


just a thought: what if Russia didn't hack the elections in those blue states turning red, but in the red states turning blue? It would be far easier to hide, and no one would investigate.

To be honest, I believe the Russian intervention was mainly a psy-op thing: they are manipulating Trump, and the American public on many levels. But if they wanted to interfere with actual voting, it would be much smarter to do it where it was least expected. (Apart from Florida, I totally believe they did Florida because that was a low-hanging fruit)
posted by mumimor at 3:55 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was born in the mid 70s, and grew up during the Reagan/Gorbachev area. I also have a Russian-sounding last name, so I got called "commie" and "Ruskie" a lot. So I understand firsthand how this sort of guilt-by-association thing can roll downhill. At the same time, "useful idiot" is not an inaccurate way of describing DJT's actions. He doesn't have to be on the Putin payroll or taking advice from those who are to be advancing Putin's interests, so he's useful. The idiot part I think is pretty self-explanatory. "Some liberals are unfairly demonizing people who deviate too far from orthodoy" and "Trump is a useful idiot for Putin" can both be true. We don't need to endorse the former to accept the truth of the latter.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Wasn't Trump "joking" that Russia should look for Hillary Clinton's missing emails way back in July, around the time of the DNC? I distinctly remember thinking, "wtf he's asking a foreign power to hack his opponent???"

Now this breaks. I would not be surprised if he knew all along.
posted by basalganglia at 4:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I want to ask a lot of people "what the hell did you think that intelligence agencies *do* anyway?"

That said, it's pretty interesting to see how well the obvious second order strategy is working. Both the left and right in the US now have convincing frameworks to use to accuse their enemies of being allied with the Russians. And that's a thought stopper, so so much for "healing the divide".

This idiotic blacklist thing, where an untrustworthy and obviously political blacklist results in pushback and then more names added to the blacklist and then more objections, etc. seems like the dumbest possible response to me.

It is working so very well, even any actual truth that comes out plays in favor of the whole thing continuing with even more momentum. Feels a little Surkovian to me.
posted by Infracanophile at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is getting frightening in ways that are beyond just the prospect of a Trump presidency. It calls into question what other blackmail/leverage Russia will have over the singular governing party moving forward, where our election system's vulnerabilities lie, where those systems were compromised and to what extent, who knew what and when in the intelligence communities, etc, etc.

I think we owe it to ourselves to get to the bottom of these questions to restore faith in the American system, but the Federal government and most of the public seems only interested in as much as it would or wouldn't change the election results or vote count. That is missing the point, especially if the Trump campaign or party officials were complicit in the hacking efforts. This is the main reason I was fully behind Stein's recount efforts, not because I thought the count would be different, but because I hoped it would provide a more definitive answer regarding the extent of interference and/or hints for security/intelligence to further investigate. But the investigations should really be a lot deeper than a few recounts at this points, and it is so frustrating how few people seem interested in doing that in any serious capacity.
posted by p3t3 at 4:13 PM on December 10, 2016 [23 favorites]






Wow, the whole "Glenn Greenwald is in the employ of Russia" / "you don't have to actually be working for Russia to work for Russia" direction this thread ended up veering towards is so literally McCarthyist that it would be hilarious

Look, Snowden is in Russia now. And Greenwald was a prolific re-publisher of Wikileaks releases. And...

"Still, as somebody who does know Julian, and that includes you and me as well to varying degrees, are you persuaded by this idea that Julian’s goal here is this conventionally partisan objective, that he has simply sided with the Republican candidate over the Democratic candidate and is doing what he can to help Trump? Or do you think it’s more about Julian harboring a substantive philosophical animosity toward U.S. empire and U.S. hegemony as a force for evil in the world, and looking for any opportunity to undermine and burn it?"

I think Greenwald is somewhat sympathetic to that "substantive philosophical animosity" and doesn't mind being sort of exploited by Julian Assange in the service of that. But he cannot admit (to himself or others) the possibility that he was exploited by Vladimir Putin in the service of much less ideological ends.

It's not McCarthyist to point out that Greenwald was a participant in this story, not an impartial observer. He knows Snowden and Assange. He's publically opposed Clinton and published a bunch of the leaked emails. He has a stake in how this turns out. If everyone agrees this was the Russians, then Greenwald has to admit he got used by the Russians. That's a hard thing to admit.

Russia seems to be pretty good at finding where there are divisions within rival nations and sticking a wedge into those divisions. So they exploit the nationalism, isolationism, and racism of the right (no sympathy for Syrian refugees! NATO is obsolete!) and simultaneously exploits the suspicions of the "establishment" on the left (America is just as bad as Russia! We deserve what we get for all our own meddling!)

Greenwald got played. He let his dislike of Clinton be exploited in the service of Trump. And indirectly, since Trump is Putin's tool, of Putin. He doesn't want to admit it, unsurprisingly. But it's very disingenuous of him to pretend he had no role in all this and can coment on it from a disinterested perspective. He knows many of the key players. He helped take down Clinton. And his reputation and credibility are at stake here. Of course he's denying that the Russians were involved. But they were.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:26 PM on December 10, 2016 [66 favorites]


One thing that is worse than the Cold War: at least there was an upside to the USSR. There was actual socialism that provided housing and education and employment, even if it also crushed dissent and the arts and GLBTQ people, etc. And when the USSR criticized the US for being imperialist and racist, they had a point - it wasn't just corrupt fakery to manipulate the gullible. Now there's nothing except two corrupt countries power-politicking, with the worse faction in the saddle. It really is a farce this time around. Lenin would weep, and so would Eisenhower or Keynes or anyone from the Soviet years at all - nobody's got democracy and nobody's got communism, and we've lost such gains as there were from those systems.
posted by Frowner at 4:26 PM on December 10, 2016 [38 favorites]


If it is true that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee as well as the DNC, then their power over POTUS potentially knows few bounds.

Not just POTUS: every other Republican who emailed the RNC saying "What the hell? Why can't you stop this guy?!" back in the primaries. Russia can turn Trump's Eye of Sauron on them at will by leaking emails.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:29 PM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Greenwald did an amazing job during the Bush years, but I stopped following him after he moved to the Guardian. IMO, he became rabidly sensationalist and lost his sense of judgement.
posted by mumimor at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


OnceUponATime: "It's not McCarthyist to point out that Greenwald was a participant in this story, not an impartial observer. He knows Snowden and Assange."

Yes, Glenn Greenwald "knows" Julian Assange, as in "without having met him, Glenn Greenwald has written about Julian Assange, and has been viciously attacked by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as a traitor to international justice for his decision to redact many of Snowden's revelations, and has in turn strongly criticised Assange for not giving a crap about the absurd violations of privacy and ethics he has facilitated."

Sincerely, fellow liberals, these are important distinctions, and we need to try to avoid buying into the establishment lie that all leaks are inherently terrible. Glenn Greenwald has done nothing wrong here. He's only reported on the news fairly as it comes to him, and had the courage to do that even when that news puts his own life and career at risk.

And I say that as a guy who was super excited to see Hillary Clinton become president, and who pushed his Bernie Bro friends hard to get on board.
posted by koeselitz at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


(And you know what? I have to say - again, as a supporter of Clinton - that I hope and believe that she herself would be deeply ashamed at the suggestion that anyone who happened any point in time to report carefully and fairly something that happened to be unfavorable to her is a traitor and a stooge and must be made to apologise.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:41 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, Glenn Greenwald "knows" Julian Assange, as in "without having met him..."

I think he really knows Assange because he said he knows Assange. That was a direct quote, with a link to the source, which is Greenwald's own Intercept?

I think the thing about Greenwald is he was sure Clinton would win and he'd be mister "speaks truth to power." (Look how he and Klein assume Podesta is going to be Chief of Staff in that discussion and use that to justify publishing his private emails... rings sort of hollow now that he has no role in government) Instead he helped elect this current terrible Power. I don't think he quite knows how to handle that. He ended up on the winning side, sort of, in spite of himself. Now what?

I think he just really didn't believe Trump would win. And now he's in denial about the fact that it happened, and how it happened, and hus role in it.

(Also The Intercept lot of credibility for me after I read this. And also.. with their coverage of the Adnan Syed case from "Serial." WTF? But that's getting off topic. But still... WTF?)
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:47 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that I'm worried we're going to start deciding people who sound a little too Russian for us are not only wrong, but the enemy of "the actual American left"

Russia has been an authoritarian oligarchy for 30 years now. There isn't a communist left alive, just nostalgia for a strong state that happened to pretend to be communist. "Red baiting" is an anachronism from a long gone era.

Russian associations are evidence of authoritarianism now, indeed as it once was for some on the western left. I'm happy to "red bait" authoritarians. Relationships with official Russian entities or Russian oligarchs *should* be cause for suspicion of anti-American and undemocratic intentions.

They just hacked our damn election and helped elect Trump. Nostalgia for the 1950s seems well out of place.
posted by spitbull at 4:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [31 favorites]


Russia has been an authoritarian oligarchy for 30 years now

I think you missed a zero or two there.
posted by acb at 4:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


True enough I meant to specify it has been a *post-Marxist* authoritarian oligarchy for 30 years. Marxism was always a fig leaf for authoritarianism there.
posted by spitbull at 4:59 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


OnceUponATime: “I think he really knows Assange because he said he knows Assange. That was a direct quote, with a link to the source, which is Greenwald's own Intercept?”

Yeah, the problem with this evaluation of what "knows" means is that that sentence seems to be the only thing you read from the article you linked to.

“I think the thing about Greenwald is he was sure Clinton would win and he'd be mister "speaks truth to power." (Look how he and Klein assume Podesta is going to be Chief of Staff in that discussion and use that to justify publishing his private emails... rings sort of hollow now that he has no role in government) Instead he helped elect this current terrible Power. I don't think he quite knows how to handle that. He ended up on the winning side, sort of, in spite of himself. Now what?”

Do you genuinely believe that it is the duty of reporters to ignore any story that came out because of an unethical action, or that may be disadvantageous to whatever candidate is more the agent of good than the alternative? If so, then you don't believe in journalism at all, at least not as it's generally understood: as an independent evaluation and reportage of truth. If Glenn Greenwald actually decides what to report on based on who he thinks will win, then he's a shitty reporter. Any reporter who does that is a shitty reporter. Reporters are not supposed to do that.
posted by koeselitz at 5:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Do you genuinely believe that it is the duty of reporters to ignore any story that came out because of an unethical action, or that may be disadvantageous to whatever candidate is more the agent of good than the alternative?

I think that is part of what makes the use of selective leaks so disturbing. I don't think it's clear how an ethical reporter should respond.
posted by anifinder at 5:10 PM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


Greenwald's philosophy - which at least is an honest one - is that one should recognise that leaks are unethical and invasive, while also reporting on them if they come up, because it's a reporter's job to report on anything important that comes under the public eye. I agree with him on that. I can see that it's difficult in some cases, but I think it's the right call.
posted by koeselitz at 5:12 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


True enough I meant to specify it has been a *post-Marxist* authoritarian oligarchy for 30 years. Marxism was always a fig leaf for authoritarianism there.

This autocracy came largely from Russia's pre-revolutionary Caesaropapist traditions; the Enlightenment barely made a dent there. The culture of power remained largely the same, despite the names and symbols changing; there's a continuity from the Czar to the First Secretary of the Communist Party to the President today.

The bitter irony is that Leninism eviscerated Marxism (a supposedly rational, post-enlightenment system that was to follow on from capitalism) and turned it into a skinsuit over a Byzantine autocracy.
posted by acb at 5:13 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the problem with this evaluation of what "knows" means is that that sentence seems to be the only thing you read from the article you linked to.

I promise I read the whole thing. I was very much on Klein's side.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:19 PM on December 10, 2016


If so, then you don't believe in journalism at all, at least not as it's generally understood: as an independent evaluation and reportage of truth.

Perhaps it's time to elucidate a theory of "journalistic realism" parallel to legal realism
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:23 PM on December 10, 2016


So, what are the potential outcomes here? If they can make these claims stick, that Trump is, essentially, a Russian agent, and can prevent him from being... if not elected President by the Electoral College, than at least prevent him from taking the oath of office? Or do they let him take the oath, and immediately file a motion to impeach, so we end up with Pence in charge? (Which seems like a lateral move, at best, and how do we know Pence isn't caught up in all of this as well?!)

The best I can see this working out without a new Civil War, is Congress opting to install Evan McMullin in some fashion, 'cause I can tell you there is no way anyone with a D next to their name is taking that oath of office in 2017 without bloodshed.

Fuck. Is this what it's like to live in a third-world country, at least politically speaking?
posted by SansPoint at 5:28 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Compromising Kompromat
How Russian Hackers Can Blackmail Donald Trump—and the GOP.
posted by adamvasco at 5:28 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Russian associations are evidence of authoritarianism now, indeed as it once was for some on the western left. I'm happy to "red bait" authoritarians. Relationships with official Russian entities or Russian oligarchs *should* be cause for suspicion of anti-American and undemocratic intentions.

I immediately clarified my comment by saying that by "sounding too Russian" I meant being too critical of the US. My fear here, which is not exactly assuaged by your comment, is that the burden of proof for having Russian associations is getting so low that it's enough to simply sound anti-American. And when you complain about it, the response is to point out how awful Russia is, and why we should be rooting out the traitors among us. It's not nostalgia to call it Red Baiting, it's genuine fear that we'll wind up with another witch hunt.
posted by teponaztli at 5:31 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


The best I can see this working out without a new Civil War, is Congress opting to install Evan McMullin in some fashion, 'cause I can tell you there is no way anyone with a D next to their name is taking that oath of office in 2017 without bloodshed.

A proper civil war, with a significant chunk of the US armed forces going rogue and seizing entire portions of the country, or a few thousand “Second Amendment Patriots” with Wal-Mart-bought AK-47s deciding that the time has come for the tree of liberty to be watered? Because if it's the latter, the US's defence machinery could squash them like a gnat with next to no effort (as those who advocate the “right to bear arms” as a guarantee of liberty precisely misunderstand).
posted by acb at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


My serious opinion? Of course Russia acted to influence the elections (and probably succeeded to a small extent). The U.S. has interfered with or nudged elections before. Russia has done the same in the past.
The only difference is that this time they backed not only a candidate that would give them a better deal, but a truly loathsome human being who only won by a margin that made it so a little bit of anything could have changed the election.
I'm not saying precedence makes it right, just that it would be more likely that Russia tried to steer the election than the conclusion that they didn't.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:35 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


So, what are the potential outcomes here?

The only way to prevent it, as I see it, is a full-court press in the media by the Democrats to ask the EC to pick a caretaker president (presumably Romney). I think Clinton would have to explicitly ask for this, hope all 232 of her electors go along with it, and then 38 Trump electors do too.

If they kick it to the House the House will pick Trump anyway. If Trump is inaugurated it's game over; Republicans won't lift a finger to stop him, nor will the deep state.
posted by gerryblog at 5:36 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


acb: Either/or, really. I'm not entirely convinced that the US's defense machinery would be all that willing to stop a bunch of those "Second Amendment Patriots" if only because a significant chunk of the US Military is based out of the Red States
posted by SansPoint at 5:36 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: What about Evan McMullin? I'd probably be able to live with a President Egg McMuffin for four years.
posted by SansPoint at 5:39 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I see we are in the bargaining phase. Trump is going to be sworn in as President in a month guys.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on December 10, 2016 [43 favorites]


the US's defence machinery could squash them like a gnat with next to no effort

They "could", in the same way the US "could" have had a fast and easy success in Iraq by simply leveling all civilian population centers and setting up oil wells in the ruins. Any American Civil War coming up would be a long, awful, demoralizing horrorshow, because rebels would organize into small terror cells and the US defense machinery would be hamstrung by the fact that any civilian deaths would radicalize that civilian's neighbors. Unlike the First US Civil War, we wouldn't be able to talk about "The Battle Of [Place]"; it would just be an endless slog of periodic guerrilla attacks while civil liberties for noncombatants become quaint theoretical relics of a luxurious past. It would be shittier and grosser and longer and less exciting than any war the US has ever fought.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:44 PM on December 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


Democracy in the United States is a flickering hologram saying over and over again "Help me, Electoral College. You're my only hope."
posted by 4ster at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


What about Evan McMullin? I'd probably be able to live with a President Egg McMuffin for four years.

Sure, but I think something as unprecedented and bananas as Clinton says "These are strange and historic times that call upon the Electors to perform an unprecedented duty yadda yadda yadda" is a much tougher sell if it doesn't point to someone with a certain obvious credibility like Romney (the GOP candidate in 12) or Ryan (the #1 GOP elected official in the country after Trump/Pence). I could see at a stretch Cruz (because he came in second on the GOP side, and because Texas might go for it). But Romney seems the easiest sell.

I see we are in the bargaining phase. Trump is going to be sworn in as President in a month guys.

The question was "what could stop it," right? Pretty much nothing, but the Electoral College is that last legal authority that could theoretically intervene and prevent this thing that literally every person with a brain can see will be a disaster.
posted by gerryblog at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's less what could stop it, and more what happens now? Are we all just going to bend over and take Russia interfering with our election and installing a puppet? ("No puppet! No puppet! ... You da puppet.")

Sadly, I think the answer is yes.
posted by SansPoint at 5:48 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


is that last legal authority that could theoretically intervene and prevent this thing that literally every person with a brain can see will be a disaster.

That's true. Sadly, I think around 304-305 Republican electors probably fall into that category.

Frankly I'm not sure there won't be more Democratic elector defections away from Clinton than Republican electors away from Trump. That illustrates the differences in the parties.
posted by Justinian at 5:49 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's less what could stop it, and more what happens now? Are we all just going to bend over and take Russia interfering with our election and installing a puppet? ("No puppet! No puppet! ... You da puppet.")

American elections have operated on a "you stole it fair and square" basis for as long as I've been alive. Unless Obama is prepared to coup himself and arrest Trump for espionage prior to the inauguration, there's pretty much nothing that can stop him but the Electoral College, and there's been no movement in that direction but from internet cranks like me.
posted by gerryblog at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Not to be all negative, but this is all wishful thinking. Yes, the EC is the last hope, but realistically, we know not enough EC members will go against their "sworn duty". Trump is getting elected. The realistic question is, what are the foreseeable trajectories from that point forward?
posted by StrawberryPie at 5:52 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's true. Sadly, I think around 304-305 Republican electors probably fall into that category.

I have to feel like in a perfect transparency situation -- they're all in the same room, they can see all 232 Hillary votes really did commit to Romney -- there's 38 votes for Romney in the Trump camp. Maybe that's naive, but there have to be some number of these people who have enough conscience left.

We're nowhere near that level of transparency, of course.
posted by gerryblog at 5:53 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The realistic question is, what are the foreseeable trajectories from that point forward.

upside risk: Trump is an eviler Reagan. Dems are in the wilderness until the late 2020s or later (next likely chance to reverse the pro-GOP gerrymander is 2030).
downside risk: Trump junta.

This is bad.
posted by gerryblog at 5:55 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


And there's nothing that could happen before then that would change things? Trump is within a hair's breadth of incriminating himself under the US's notoriously difficult-to-trigger treason law, and he's still about to coast into the Presidency and hand the keys over to Russia?
posted by acb at 5:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


If the Deep State opposes him, we'll have 2 years of economic chaos and retreat of American hegemony worldwide, and a slow recovery afterwards.

If the Deep State falls in line with him, the Constitution dies.
posted by ocschwar at 5:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Nope. The EC is the last legal stage. Theoretically, if he gets caught as a spy after that Congress could refuse to certify, but that's fantasyland too. If they can't get the EC to pick someone else, and Obama doesn't arrest Trump, that's the ballgame barring something seriously chaotic like a countercoup or [redacted].
posted by gerryblog at 5:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have to feel like in a perfect transparency situation -- they're all in the same room, they can see all 232 Hillary votes really did commit to Romney

They couldn't even get 232 of those electors to commit to Clinton and she won the states they're in. Like I said, I think there may be more D defections away from Clinton than R defections away from Trump. That's why Republicans win despite being fewer in number. (That and showing up on off years).
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's why Republicans win despite being fewer in number. (That and showing up on off years).

And having a genuinely insane system that is completely rigged in their favor!
posted by gerryblog at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Perhaps they should rename the Republican Party to the United America Party?
posted by acb at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2016


Right, the Republicans are willing to use all the tools at their disposal to win. Gerrymandering, changing the voter laws, you name it. Democrats haven't been.
posted by Justinian at 6:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I see we are in the bargaining phase. Trump is going to be sworn in as President in a month guys.

For what it's worth, this may be true, but I think what we're seeing play out here isn't just a random twitch in the news cycle but a full-court press from the Obama administration working behind the scenes together with a bipartisan coalition of semi-responsible power players to prevent it from happening.

This is their out. Do you think there weren't at least a handful of old-school, hawkish Republicans shitting their pants as Trump chatted happily on the phone with Taiwan and destabilized the entire region? Those politicians don't give a fuck about Medicare or women's rights or voting rights, but they're not quite so gone that they don't give a fuck about averting WWIII. I bet as soon as that phone call happened, there were a bunch of secret, urgent, back room meetings, and now this honestly not entirely meaningful story - that actually broke way before the election - is getting resurrected as TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY, and it provides just enough ground cover for McCain and the rest to try and do what they can to stop him.

Will there be enough Republicans to make this happen? I have no idea. Will the alt-right rise up in armed rebellion? No clue. But this is huge not because of the merits of the story itself, but because it's the final attempt of the people who are actually in power to save the Republic. So if you are also on the side of that endeavor, I'd say: postpone the acceptance stage for the next month, and spend that time screaming to every Trump supporter and Bernie bro and on-the-fence non-voter you know: TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY, because it's our last damn chance to save this sinking ship, even if it's a long shot, so all hands on deck, let's go.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [52 favorites]


For what it's worth, this may be true, but I think what we're seeing play out here isn't just a random twitch in the news cycle but a full-court press from the Obama administration working behind the scenes together with a bipartisan coalition of semi-responsible power players to prevent it from happening.

I don't think so. What we're seeing isn't even a small fraction of the kind of pressure that would be needed for such an occasion. This is just reporters doing their jobs when its too late to matter.
posted by Justinian at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


That seems to be reporters' favorite time to do their jobs nowadays
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:06 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


la la la I can't hear you TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY take your reasonable cynicism elsewhere, I will talk to you again in a month TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY goodbye.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


Also, "Russians stole the election by telling the truth about us" is such a fundamentally weak position that even if coordination with Trump could be proved it STILL gets framed as just deserts. There would have to be another big shoe to drop, like the sex tape thing, or some other evidence of cooptation that was so undeniable that even the GOP couldn't ignore it.

And even there we still wind up with Pence, who is ideologically more scary and certainly more focused. Trump's worse only in the sense that he's completely unstable -- which could be "better" for his enemies, or could lead to WW3, we'll find out.
posted by gerryblog at 6:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


gerryblog: And even there we still wind up with Pence, who is ideologically more scary and certainly more focused. Trump's worse only in the sense that he's completely unstable -- which could be "better" for his enemies, or could lead to WW3, we'll find out.

A theory that helps keep me relatively sane is that the Establishment Republicans know Trump is in deep with Russia and will use that to impeach him and install Pence on January 21st, effectively giving them a predictable, safe President who will dismantle everything in an orderly fashion.
posted by SansPoint at 6:11 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


can the democrats just walk out of congress and deprive it of a quorum and not return until this issue is fully investigated? because anything short of that is inadequate.
posted by wibari at 6:20 PM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


On July 27, 2016, Trump "encouraged Russia at a news conference ... to find Hillary Clinton’s missing [email] correspondence."
"Mr. Trump later tried to modify his remarks about hacking Mrs. Clinton’s emails...." - NYT.

*Rumble, rumble*
Could it be we have a loose cannon aboard? Enquiring minds want to know! Go up topside and have a look, mate !
posted by Twang at 6:22 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I keep on thinking of those pictures from the RT anniversary party in 2015, where Jill Stein is sitting at a table with Flynn and Putin is there too."

I remember those too. So what about Stein's recount efforts: change of heart or some weird gambit that somehow advances the Trump-Russian endgame? I can't figure out what explanation might make her actions make sense.
posted by klarck at 6:23 PM on December 10, 2016


I can't figure out what explanation might make her actions make sense.

Russia trying to stir shit up from any and all directions?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:25 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


klarck: I have a very simple explanation: Jill Stein doesn't, or at least didn't at the time, know that RT is a Russian Propaganda machine.
posted by SansPoint at 6:25 PM on December 10, 2016 [18 favorites]


Quorum in both houses is a bare majority, so the Dems can't do anything there.

So what about Stein's recount efforts: change of heart or some weird gambit that somehow advances the Trump-Russian endgame? I can't figure out what explanation might make her actions make sense.

Scam that raised her profile and got her a lot of money that was never intended to accomplish anything, and didn't.
posted by gerryblog at 6:26 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I sort of assume Putin was trying to exploit Jill Stein too (third parties offer a great wedge-driving place, no?), and it just didn't take very well.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:30 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Stein being at the RT thing is totally in line with Stein just cultivating a general anti-establishment image. That, plus RT is probably more interested in interviewing her than US media since RT amplifies voices critical of mainstream US policy and US media pretty much finds her to be a nonentity 99% of the time.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:34 PM on December 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


In other election news, Republican John Kennedy has won the Louisiana Senate run-off. Republicans will have a 52-48 Senate majority.
posted by joedan at 6:40 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


can the democrats just walk out of congress and deprive it of a quorum and not return until this issue is fully investigated? because anything short of that is inadequate.

Can, dunno. Will? Hell no. Too much eager collaboration.
posted by kafziel at 6:42 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


"if you want proof that he's working for Russia, just read his articles" are a little too Red Scare for me.

Listen it's been obvious for a while that Greenwald at the very least sees Putin's Russia as the enemy of his enemy. Which, that's fine, he's a free citizen and can advocate for whoever he wants and slant his writing however he please. But saying we can't point out this very obvious agenda of his because it's ~McCarthyist~ is bullshit. Thought-police bullshit.

I'm sorry it's uncomfortable for some on the left to realize that not everyone on the left is pure as driven snow. I'm even sorrier that such a weak ally to the left like Greenwald is held up as a beacon.

Wasn't Trump "joking" that Russia should look for Hillary Clinton's missing emails way back in July, around the time of the DNC? I distinctly remember thinking, "wtf he's asking a foreign power to hack his opponent???"

And then he stopped doing press conferences right after that. Seriously.
posted by asteria at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


So Russia hacked both RNC & DNC, but only releases DNC. (R) gets elected - how much blackmail material does Russia have from the RNC hack? How is any of this even valid? What has happened to my country?


It is no longer your country.
posted by notreally at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Kurt Eichenwald can be a special snowflake sometimes, and he spends way too much time arguing with random eggs on Twitter for no particular purpose, but his thread on what a rational President-elect would do in response to this information is pretty good. Hint: he or she would take it seriously.
posted by zachlipton at 7:02 PM on December 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Post has a good new article spinning this as a CIA-FBI fued:
FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks
“The FBI briefers think in terms of criminal standards — can we prove this in court,” one of the officials said. “The CIA briefers weigh the preponderance of intelligence and then make judgment calls to help policymakers make informed decisions. High confidence for them means ‘we’re pretty damn sure.’ It doesn’t mean they can prove it in court.”

The FBI is not sold on the idea that Russia had a particular aim in its meddling. “There’s no question that [the Russians’] efforts went one way, but it’s not clear that they have a specific goal or mix of goals,” said one U.S. official.
...
At one point during the discussion in the secure room, a Republican lawmaker turned to his Democratic colleagues and said the back-and-forth suggested that “Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus,” according to an aide who was present, adding: “We’re looking at the same evidence and drawing very different conclusions.”
The distinction here seems to be more around whether Russia was specifically acting with the goal of helping Trump win or merely to stir up trouble and undermine confidence.

It's also pretty clear from this story that Congress is leaking like mad on this, which is all the more reason why we need a consensus statement from the IC rather than drips and drabs from members of Congress who are using this as an opportunity to attack their colleagues.

It's also interesting to look at this considering last week's excellent WSJ story The Last Diplomat, about a trainwreck of a FBI counterintelligence investigation of a longstanding State Department official. That article, unusual in its level of detail and the number of different sources willing to air out the saga in public, read like a giant public middle finger from the CIA and State to the FBI, especially FBI counterintelligence. The Deep State is at war, and we're all getting dragged along for the ride.
posted by zachlipton at 7:17 PM on December 10, 2016 [29 favorites]


The Deep State is at war, and we're all getting dragged along for the ride.

This is basically what I was going to say and I find it as scary as any other interpretation here.
posted by atoxyl at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


As someone on my Twitter feed said, how much of this could have been solved if the FBI and CIA had football games like the Army and Navy?
posted by asteria at 7:29 PM on December 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


The Deep State is at war, and we're all getting dragged along for the ride.
...and the man who was supposed to be in charge for the last 8 years is just starting to notice.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:31 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Obama's tragic flaw is that he believes in the inherent honor of American institutions and the American people.

He is, while deeply flawed and someone who has done horrible things as every American president has, a decent man. As such I don't think he quite gets the depravity of people like Comey and Trump who will sell out their own country for such small gains. And this flaw of his is going to undo everything he's accomplished in 8 years and take down his legacy.
posted by asteria at 7:35 PM on December 10, 2016 [34 favorites]


Also the difference between "hacked voting machines" and "intervened in persuading voters" is tremendous. The former case would represent a literal stolen election. The latter case would represent one of... a whole bunch of reasons Clinton lost.
posted by atoxyl at 7:37 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's an intermediate option between those two cases, though. They didn't, like, run TV ads with "the contents of this advertisement were sponsored by the Russians for Trump PAC" or "I'm Vladimir Putin and I approve this message!" tacked on. They committed acts of espionage and illegal activities (separate from the espionage) to influence the election.

It's not hacked voting machines but neither is it mailing a pamphlet with your opinion printed on it.
posted by Justinian at 7:52 PM on December 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


Do you genuinely believe that it is the duty of reporters to ignore any story that came out because of an unethical action, or that may be disadvantageous to whatever candidate is more the agent of good than the alternative? If so, then you don't believe in journalism at all, at least not as it's generally understood

That line of argument could just as easily be used to defend Michael Isikoff and Matt Drudge's reporting in the Lewinsky scandal as it could be to defend Glenn Greenwald. Glenn Greenwald published hacked Democratic emails, but those emails were redacted to remove any references to opposition research about Trump & we know that Republican emails got hacked too, but that nothing from those emails has seen the light of day. Is it journalism to publish things are known to incomplete, misleading, and redacted by somebody with who knows what hidden agenda? Is it journalism to be a dupe?
posted by jonp72 at 7:52 PM on December 10, 2016 [31 favorites]


...we know that Republican emails got hacked too, but that nothing from those emails has seen the light of day. Is it journalism to publish things are known to incomplete, misleading, and redacted by somebody with who knows what hidden agenda?

Should go without saying, but doesn't: Good journalism would be to make that the story.
posted by perspicio at 7:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [30 favorites]


The latter case would represent one of... a whole bunch of reasons Clinton lost.

Like - it's something but propaganda ain't exactly a brand new concept, and we had plenty of our own citizens making up bullshit about HRC too. None of that makes the guy who lost the popular vote and narrowly won in a handful of states an electoral juggernaut, so it doesn't get Democrats off the hook of figuring out what went wrong.

I don't find the idea that voting itself could be hacked implausible at all. I have no idea whether doing so an a scale sufficient to swing this election. My belief in this possibility is on a seesaw with my near-total lack of inclination to suddenly start believing things the CIA says so I mean... I don't know what's going on and right now I'm not really feeling like we ever will know.
posted by atoxyl at 7:57 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


We also wouldn't have been as vulnerable to foreign attempts to influence the election if Republicans hadn't spent years trying to tear down every civic institution we have and treating every nothingburger as an impeachment-worthy scandal. It's a whole lot easier to spread FUD when you have a large group of people who believe virtually all government is inherently bad and will use anything they see as evidence for that proposition.
posted by zachlipton at 7:57 PM on December 10, 2016 [35 favorites]


I don't find the idea that voting itself could be hacked implausible at all. I have no idea whether doing so an a scale sufficient to swing this election

Should say "is plausible."
posted by atoxyl at 8:03 PM on December 10, 2016


It just might be missing the point a little right now to be focusing on whether or not any intervening in US elections by a foreign power actually tipped the election to their preferred candidate or just helped pave the way for him when the end result is that their chosen candidate won, and that candidate has gone out of their way to stand up for the interests of that foreign power ever since the election started. Our bigger concern now is the guy, not the details of how many votes were influenced. No direct allegations of altering actual votes from one candidate to another is good news, but that hardly removes the threat of influence and the danger of the successful installment of their choice.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Listen it's been obvious for a while that Greenwald at the very least sees Putin's Russia as the enemy of his enemy... saying we can't point out this very obvious agenda of his because it's ~McCarthyist~ is bullshit. Thought-police bullshit.

What is this very obvious agenda? Are you suggesting that Greenwald's agenda is to advance Russia's interests? Because even if you think he was anti-Clinton, even if you think he was an idiot and should have known better than to let himself be used by larger forces, the McCarthy comparison isn't about anything like that. It's about the suggestion, treated as fact, that certain journalists and writers are obviously working to advance the Russian agenda, and to therefore regard them as enemies and traitors. No evidence is needed, because their writing speaks for itself.
posted by teponaztli at 8:08 PM on December 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


The problem with the McCarthy parallel is that the ones with the power to actually enact any blacklists aren't the ones concerned about Russian interference, they're benefiting from it. So, if anything the pro-Russian side this time should have better chances at jobs in government. Yay!

No, at worst, this is more like the splits on the left in Germany that allowed the Nazis to come into power since the left were too busy turning on each other to stop them. (And I say that while hating to keep going back to that era since its become a too easy convention that starts to seem empty after excess reference.)
posted by gusottertrout at 8:14 PM on December 10, 2016 [20 favorites]


The difference between Soviet Russia during the Cold War & Putin's Russia today is that Cold War ideological warfare by the Soviets at least had the positive effect of trolling the United States into strengthening its democratic institutions and expanding civil rights for black people. By contrast, Putin's Russia is more content to fund right-wing ethnonationalist parties all over the world and promote Islamophobia. The idea that Russophilia in today's post-Cold War context has anything to do with "speaking truth to power" is absurd.
posted by jonp72 at 8:34 PM on December 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


teponaztli, I think I've made it clear what I think of the McCarthy comparison which is ridiculous as I am not a government agent but some rando on a message board who has all power most randos do - none.

I've also made it clear that I think the Greenwald sees the current US administration and maybe the US as whole as the enemy and Putin as their enemy and has let that directed his focus.

So I'm not sure why you're asking me to explain things I've made pretty clear. You disagree. Fine.
posted by asteria at 8:35 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


By the way, need I remind everybody that the FBI and CIA have come to opposing conclusions about whether Russia tried to get Donald Trump elected? They can't both be wrong. It's logically impossible to have a position on this without somehow matching the position of the FBI or the CIA.
posted by jonp72 at 8:37 PM on December 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


By the way, need I remind everybody that the FBI and CIA have come to opposing conclusions about whether Russia tried to get Donald Trump elected? They can't both be wrong.

Well, the CIA is a bunch of philosophy and history majors who never lied about not being a communist, according to the polygraph machines, and they had to know where Somalia was to get hired. The FBI inductees, on the other hand, were torn between theological seminary and law enforcement, but had never tried any drugs, according to everyone they ever knew. It narrows it down for me.
posted by Brian B. at 8:47 PM on December 10, 2016 [33 favorites]


From the Post story, it sounds like the FBI and CIA both agree on Russian involvement, but differ over the motives. The reports we've seen is that the CIA quite clearly stated that Russia intended to get Trump elected, while the FBI is more vague on whether this was a "you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" kind of situation.

From an external perspective, it's pretty easy to conclude that efforts were designed to help Trump and attack Clinton, but I suppose there's an argument that the intent could have been to have a weakened Clinton take office, plagued by accusations of voter fraud and scandal, and generally to undermine faith in American democracy.

I'm also not really sure why that debate matters that much right now. Whether the Russian government wanted Trump to win or merely wanted to spread FUD and mess with us is an interesting question, but it's one of maybe 30 interesting questions we can ask right now, and framing the debate as a battle over motives is a way of obscuring the more central fact that the Russian government interfered with the election.
posted by zachlipton at 8:58 PM on December 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


It may have worked out better than they dreamed, but at the same time they certainly prefer the bigger pushover.
posted by rhizome at 9:15 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]




Related story from the Telegraph the other day: Head of MI6: Britain faces 'fundamental threat to sovereignty from Russian meddling'
posted by zachlipton at 9:59 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Russian Espionage in the United States, Doctrine:

introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.

Sound like someone we know?
posted by Joe Chip at 10:00 PM on December 10, 2016 [12 favorites]


Those colour revolutions certainly had some blowback, eh?
posted by jaduncan at 10:24 PM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The idea that Russophilia in today's post-Cold War context has anything to do with "speaking truth to power" is absurd.

It's not about speaking truth to power, it's about people seeing Russophilia in places where it isn't. People I know have been accused of being Russian propaganda over the past few weeks. Either they're living an elaborate lie and hiding their secret Russian ties from me, or there's something more to this than just "PropOrNot."

I'm not literally worried about a 1:1 parallel between McCarthyism and today. When I say I worry about a witch hunt I don't mean we're literally going to see the Hollywood 10 again, I'm talking about the left tearing itself apart by labeling some leftist voices as actual enemies of the US who probably hate everything we stand for. It makes us weaker, and it means there's now an effective way to shut people up.
posted by teponaztli at 10:28 PM on December 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


[teponaztli, I feel like you've adequately made your point. Not everyone is going to agree with it. Please let the McCarthyism thing go for now.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Somehow it makes me feel a little better about the election if Hillary was beat by Russia rather than by Trump.
posted by rhizome at 10:54 PM on December 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Somehow it makes me feel a little better about the election if Hillary was beat by Russia rather than by Trump.

I sure you're not super serious here so I'm sorry to use this comment as my soapbox but this relates to what I was getting at earlier - I really do think some leftish people right now want to think that the election was decided by forces outside anyone's control, because it does feel better in a way than saying "there was a path to victory but we failed to find it." Unless the election was actually hacked I think this is bullshit - not that I claim to know exactly what could have won but this thing was narrow there's probably even more than one answer.
posted by atoxyl at 11:11 PM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I really do think some leftish people right now want to think that the election was decided by forces outside anyone's control, because it does feel better in a way than saying "there was a path to victory but we failed to find it." Unless the election was actually hacked I think this is bullshit

Excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 8 January 1789:
I did not at first believe that 11. states out of 13. would have consented to a plan consolidating them so much into one. A change in their dispositions, which had taken place since I left them, had rendered this consolidation necessary, that is to say, had called for a federal government which could walk upon it’s own legs, without leaning for support on the state legislatures. A sense of this necessity, and a submission to it, is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
(emphasis mine)

Granted, the fact that Jefferson said it does not make it true - indeed, the "rational agent" model that his phrasing evokes (though it came after) is really pretty bedraggled. It's been quite conclusively shown that being well-informed is an insufficient condition for reliably producing sound decisions.

Nevertheless, while insufficient, it takes no great intellectual leap to recognize that the condition of being well-informed is necessary for reliably sound decision-making.

So, now, let's also recognize that the contrapositive must be true: that the condition of being malinformed is a form of hacking that prevents reliably sound decision-making.

If we accept the above, and we accept that Russia actively, knowingly, and willfully participated in malinforming the electorate, then we must conclude that the election was hacked.
posted by perspicio at 12:01 AM on December 11, 2016 [13 favorites]


Craig Murray The CIA’s Absence of Conviction ..
We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.
posted by adamvasco at 12:02 AM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't find the idea that voting itself could be hacked implausible at all. I have no idea whether doing so an a scale sufficient to swing this election.

It's looking like the election was decided by some 100,000 votes in swing states. Clinton won more than 2.8m votes total. Those are odd numbers.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:16 AM on December 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

But yeah, this story is going nowhere. Good luck trying to prove anything, even if it's true.

You're better off pushing the "candidate who won by 3M votes deserves the presidency anyways, stupid electors" but then you'd have to have a candidate who wants that.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 AM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those are odd numbers.

Why?
posted by edeezy at 12:21 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


but then you'd have to have a candidate who wants that.

I actually disagree with both the explicit and implicit parts of this statement. I neither believe that she doesn't want that, nor that the electoral college would grant it only if she actively agitated for it.

She knows things that I do not - about the system, about politics, and about her own motivations. I trust that she's doing what she should do.

Doesn't mean the outcome will be what I want, though.
posted by perspicio at 12:24 AM on December 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


(oops, /derail)
posted by perspicio at 12:25 AM on December 11, 2016


I'm just relieved I'm not the only one in this thread confused why everyone was discussing the opinions of a Washington Capitals' defenceman.

Also 5$ on Surkov having spent time in Macedonia recently.
posted by mannequito at 12:35 AM on December 11, 2016


It's gotta be pretty awkward on the space station right now.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:35 AM on December 11, 2016 [47 favorites]


Craig Murray The CIA’s Absence of Conviction ..

That article claims: "As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two."

How does that square with the available facts? Podesta's email was released from his gmail account. Unless he had some kind of disloyal personal assistant who had access to all his email, the only insider for that account is Podesta himself. And the forensic evidence on the DNC hack is rather inconsistent with any insider. It's simply not credible that whistleblowing insiders separately released hundreds of thousands of emails from the DNC, Podesta, and assorted others like Colin Powell. Even if you ignore the "who" entirely, it's abundantly clear that some set of outside persons gained unauthorized access to networks and email accounts over an extended period of time and released troves of information. That, by definition, is a hack, not an insider leak.

Nor does the release of the emails resemble whistleblowing in any reasonable meaning of the term. If actual DNC staffers had concerns they wanted to bring to the attention of the public, surely they could have taken just the specific documents related to the alleged wrongdoing to any number of media outlets that were all too eager to report on the emails. Burying the public in irrelevant emails about polenta recipes does nothing to expose malfeasance, but is quite effective in leaving the target of such a hack utterly exposed and publicly humiliated. Murray is trying to argue that a bunch of principled Democrats eager to reform a broken system sought to blow the whistle, and the best approach they could come up with was "let's steal basically everything and give it all to WikiLeaks?"

This argument simply makes no sense, and given that, it's hard to take anything else Murray says seriously.
posted by zachlipton at 1:23 AM on December 11, 2016 [23 favorites]


From the Post story, it sounds like the FBI and CIA both agree on Russian involvement, but differ over the motives. The reports we've seen is that the CIA quite clearly stated that Russia intended to get Trump elected, while the FBI is more vague on whether this was a "you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" kind of situation.

- also, it's a given fact that Comey deliberately influenced the election. So it's both a question of method and of ideology. The thing is, some of the things that should be investigated are FBI responsibilities AFAIK, such as Trump's economic ties with Russia. And it must be difficult for the Obama administration to trust that FBI are doing what they should be doing right now.
posted by mumimor at 1:35 AM on December 11, 2016 [12 favorites]


It's also impossible for Murray and Assange to know if the person who apparently leaked the emails (assuming they do indeed have some special knowledge) is a) who they say they are, and b) if they are who they say they are, if they have been compromised by Russian intelligence.
posted by jaduncan at 1:48 AM on December 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


It's also interesting to look at this considering last week's excellent WSJ story The Last Diplomat, about a trainwreck of a FBI counterintelligence investigation of a longstanding State Department official. That article, unusual in its level of detail and the number of different sources willing to air out the saga in public, read like a giant public middle finger from the CIA and State to the FBI, especially FBI counterintelligence. The Deep State is at war, and we're all getting dragged along for the ride.
posted by zachlipton at 7:17 PM


that is a damning exposure of the FBI. Even if I suspect the diplomat, Raphel, is behind US policies I find wrong, the FBI treatment of her is horrendous and damaging to the whole diplomatic system (as it says in the article). And there is of course the implication that Comey's phony investigations of Clinton are similar in intent and form.

And maybe this is also indicative of a deeper cultural movement, where knowledge, insight and nuance are seen in wide circles as suspect. I'm not thinking in the Trumpist schoolyard sense of "let's bully the smart achievers and make them whine", but more of the New Public Management sense of wanting to control everything at every level of government. Fascism was not just nationalism run amok. It was also an unholy marriage of bureaucracy and bullying.
posted by mumimor at 3:01 AM on December 11, 2016 [16 favorites]


Craig Murray The CIA’s Absence of Conviction ..
We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

What is this guy even talking about? Does he think the CIA gets to impose sanctions (aka "banking restrictions") on its own authority? Does he think the CIA can just demand extradition of anyone they want in any country they want? (And get it?)

The president and the State Dept make these decisions. And sure, lame duck Obama could try to put some quick and dirty sanctions package together before he leaves office, but what's the point if the next president and Sec State, who are great friends of Russia, are going to immediately lift them? And if (more than) half the country remains convinced that Russia had nothing to do with those hacks, then what would be the political fall out of a move like that?

Same with extradition. That's a thing that's negotiated by diplomats and may or may not be granted by the host country... And rarely is when the accused criminal is actually a citizen of the host country. The US has been demanding extradition of Edward Snowden for years now, and he's actually a US citizen, but it hasn't happened! How is the outgoing president and State Department suposed to demand extradition of a Russian citizen for crimes committed on behalf of the Russian government which the Russian government denies? What kind of pantomime of diplomacy would that be? Knowing that in six weeks we'll have an administration which will agree with the Russians. Again, the CIA doesn't make these decisions!

And by the way, when they say they know who it is, why would you interpret that as meaning that they know the individual's name, rather than "We recognize these methods. We've dealt with this person before. We know it's the same person who hacked into this other system." To me that's obviously all they can really know at this point. How do you turn that into an extradition request?

Some of this "if you know it was Russia, why aren't you moving against them" would make sense if Hillary Clinton were elected, because then the Obama administration could count on some continuity of action. But she isn't. She isn't! You guys won Craig Murray! You stopped the "establishment" candidate from taking office, and now the "establishment" including Obama and the CIA are pretty much powerless. You did it! Yay you! You beat the establishment! That's why there is no talk about extradition or arrests or sanctions or anything. Because the establishment lost, and now there's no one to do those things, even if everyone currently in the American government is 100% sincerely convinced it was Russia! So no "If they really thought it was Russia there would be reprisals" is not a good argument, because "they" are not in a position to execute reprisals.

Also what zachlipton said about "How can this possibly have been 'whistle blowers' rather than hackers," and what jaduncan said about "how would you even know if the people you were talking to got their info from Russian hackers?"

Also... what is that crap at the end of that article about "thankfully the four year agony of Aleppo comes swiftly to a close today..." I haven't heard of the agony in Aleppo showing any signs of stopping?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:34 AM on December 11, 2016 [24 favorites]


Craig Murray is a kook. I'm not at all surprised to hear that he's friends with Assange.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:38 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


A final comment. Another great discussion on the topic. I learn more about the ground truth from these discussions than nearly any other outlet of commentary, and that is in part due to the balance of conjecture, emotion, and fact here. Thank you all, seriously.

The point I want to make is that as I read through this thread, I see the problem that we have as Americans and as citizens.

How we feel powerless to alter the outcome of what many of us feel to be darkening times. Beyond the "give him a chance" agenda, the reality is that many of us feel – either consciously or unconsciously – that this election represents a watershed change, and not the #MAGA change that the winning electorate would believe. I cannot always articulate it myself, and it seems that some here also cannot, however I know there is something dark and grim after the potential inauguration. Regressive policies spring to mind, as do environmental threats and human rights abuses.

However, the tone that I see here from many of us (myself included) is often one of passivity and attachment to a narrative of future-past. We ignore the potential roles of powerful actors to invoke change. The Electoral College. The current administration. The people, ourselves. We feel that we know what will happen already. That the Electoral College will fail to depose him. That the current administration may make a pass at it, but will lack the teeth to get it done. Most importantly, we ourselves feel powerless in the face of the other electorate and the deep state (whatever that is).

Yet, that is also how the president-elect won. I saw quite a funny comment on Twitter, which was a very left leaning woman, very angry with the election, spoke about how it had driven her to new nail polish colours. Like it or not, the current election has broken the silo. The first step necessary for innovation. Politics does not remain the domain of dynastic families. It is possible to break in and break through. Now, the man who's done that has very low appeal practically. Yet also he is the one that has done it.

And the way he did it was by capturing people's imagine. Telling them that they could change the system, if they believed they could. They could elect him – a total outsider – and break the chains of leaders that weren't serving them. Regardless of the content of that message, or what he will do next, that message landed. What his supporters are holding on to now is the power they have exercised together. They broke the political silo and turned the tables. Far from being the governed masses, they now have put the government in disarray. In many cases, probably the disarray that they feel in their own lives. (It's not dissimilar from Brexit in that way. The electorate felt immigration was something happening to them, much as the losing electorate now feels that Brexit is something happening to them.)

Thus while the president-elect is a very poor choice for leader, and has already harmed and will continue to harm the interests of the United States both now and in the future, we must look at how he won. That did involve a coalition of actors, from an outside power to inside players, as well as a grizzled electorate.

What he did was align all those minds around the belief that the silo could be broken. That the Washington establishment – as powerful as it seems – could be up-ended and intruded upon. The despotic ruler of a failing energy state. The man locked up in the Embassy. The right-wing conspiracy media guys. And the reality TV star. They convinced the American people, not only that the silo could be broken, but also to break the silo. And to this point, that message has been received.

However, and similarly, those of us who see the darkness coming are not passive actors. The silo has been broken, and it has not yet been replaced with a new vision or leader. There is a gap and a lag. I begin to wonder if this is part of the propaganda machine. Acquiesce to perceived future realities – hence the future past.

We have an organ of government that is designed to reject a leader like this. Yet we say it will never happen. We have an incumbent leader fighting like hell to change the outcome. Yet we say that he will fail.

The same inevitability that the president-elect used with his audience to win, he is now using on his detractors to prevent any aberration in the run-up to the inauguration. Fortunately, and simultaneously, he already gave us the answer of how to stop his ascent. If the silo can be broken – and broken wide open – then that means the process of his inauguration can also be broken.

If he won by breaking protocol and norms, then he can also be stopped by others breaking protocol and norms. We do not have to sit idly by and watch the darkness come to pass. Rather, we have mechanisms, organs, and leaders who are fighting this ascension.

To be successful, they must mobilise the same force that the president-elect did. We must believe that the electoral college can change. They have not performed this role in history, but that does not mean they cannot perform it. In fact, we must believe as a country that they will perform it.

While the inauguration is an event scheduled in the calendar, it is not a foregone conclusion. It has been scheduled and it can be canceled. It would be unorthodox, and it would be disruptive, but that does not mean it cannot be done.

So as the president-elect and his minions (or maybe he is the minion) won this election by telling people that something that felt impossible was not only possible, but also probable and likely, so must any opposition begin in the same place. We must believe that he can be stopped. That the future is unwritten, and there is a lot of daylight in between now an 20 January.

That is not bargaining with fate, rather it is accepting that the future is unwritten. He is not president yet, and there is a growing body of evidence that says he should not be president. We do not need to argue about Russian hacking, rather we must say as individual citizens that we reject this president and the process attached AS HE SAID HE REJECTED THE PRIOR PRESIDENT AND THE PROCESS ATTACHED.

Far from this being a case of racing to the bottom, it is ascending to the vision of breaking silos.

The Russians hacked the US and tilted an election. That seems true now, more true than ever. True enough to question the result of a president-elect who refuses to release any documentation that refutes his alignment with that foreign power.

The president-elect has come to power based on lies and outright unfair play. Therefore, we can break another silo, which is that his election victory will lead to the presidency. He broke the system, so can we.

There is nothing to say that he has to be installed in office on 20 January. That has not happened, and until it does, he is not President.

Now more than ever, I see that part of the propaganda layer is convincing people that a potential future is irrefutable – when the reality is anything but. That is one of the fundamental tools of mass manipulation and control. That the future has already been written, and one potential option is in fact the default choice.

So do nothing, because it's already been written. The counter is that by doing nothing, we then allow that future to be written. The reality is anything but. That man remains an idea at this point. He gathers power, mass, and support, but just as he broke one silo, his silo-elect can also be broken. I would very much suggest we all focus on that idea, rather than succumb to his inauguration as an inevitability. We can stop it if we want to stop it. Therefore, if he ascends to power in January, it is because we are all complicit if we know this election was tampered with, and we remain doing nothing. If we believe in the sanctity of the State, when the president-elect himself does not.

That is a realisation I came to more deeply in the last 24 hours more than ever before, and I'd liek to thank you all for that.
posted by nickrussell at 4:52 AM on December 11, 2016 [57 favorites]


The next time you find yourselves despondent over the 2016 presidential candidates, remember that it’s just a puppet show intended to distract you from the silent coup being carried out by America’s shadow government.
posted by adamvasco at 5:34 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]




Now more than ever, I see that part of the propaganda layer is convincing people that a potential future is irrefutable – when the reality is anything but. That is one of the fundamental tools of mass manipulation and control. That the future has already been written, and one potential option is in fact the default choice.
Excellent post. Far be it from me to derail this into a discussion of Brexit, but we're seeing the self-same tactics being used here. I'm not altogether unconvinced that Putin didn't have a hand in the result here, too - perhaps not in quite as explicit a way, but certainly in terms of funding 'grassroots' Leave campaign groups and using his RT TV channel to agitate against the 'elites' and 'establishment'. RT has far more of a broadcast presence in the UK than the US - it's nationally available on all TV platforms, including standard over-the-air TV where it sits right next to the main BBC News channel.

Anyway, what we're seeing in this country now is a narrow, vague, advisory, non-binding plebiscite on a single question - leaving the EU - being recast in the media as a binding vote to cast ourselves out of the trading bloc and isolate ourselves in the world. What should have kickstarted a national debate on the future of the country's trading and political relationships with the rest of the world has been turned into an unpleasant national fight. Those questioning our future in glorious isolation - even our highest members of the judiciary - are rounded upon and shouted down because of the 'will of the people'.

Politicians on all sides are getting on board with this - all we're hearing now is that Brexit is 'inevitable' and we should be 'making a success of it'. People use the phrase 'post-Brexit' to describe our currently relatively resilient economy, forgetting that 'post' means 'after' and 'Brexit' means 'the UK leaves the EU'. That hasn't happened, we are still a member, but it doesn't stop the purveyors of the new truth from sowing the assumption that we quit on 24 June and we're reaping the rewards for our awesome decision.

Persuading people that something is inevitable, whether it's a transition of power or the result of a referendum or an economic decline, is a very powerful way to silence criticism and send potential activists home to passively prepare for a dire future ahead instead of actively fighting the onset of that future.
posted by winterhill at 6:18 AM on December 11, 2016 [31 favorites]


Trump's producer, Mark Burnett, wants Vladimir Putin to star in his new reality TV show. Guess he just can't wait to introduce his new satrapy to Glorious Leader. I look forward to seeing Trumpski follow him like a bitch in heat.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's bylined 6/24/2015.
posted by notyou at 7:28 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not literally worried about a 1:1 parallel between McCarthyism and today.

Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee
"We originally created the House Un-American Activities Committee to go after Nazis," he said during an appearance on "Fox and Friends" this week. "We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis and we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We're going to presently have to go take the similar steps here."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:39 AM on December 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee

judging by this thread i'm guessing the Dems will lead it
posted by beerperson at 8:08 AM on December 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


Click through. It's from December and he wants to investigate people's ties with ISIS. Because yeah, that's a thing. American officials sympathetic to ISIS.

I am pretty bored of the "Didn't we already do the cold war?" comments. This isn't the cold war. Russia isn't socialist. It's a corporate oligarchy. This isn't 1956. It's 2016. We're talking about state sponsored computer hacking and the head of a multinational oil company becoming secretary of state while the head of a multinational real estate empire becomes president. Forget James Bond. We're living in a Neal Stephenson novel, you guys. This is some Snow Crash shit. Get with the times.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2016 [75 favorites]


judging by this thread i'm guessing the Dems will lead it

Would it give me the power to investigate the un-American activities of Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich? Damn straight I'd lead it.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


(By "from December" I meant "from June.")
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:27 AM on December 11, 2016


It's looking like the election was decided by some 100,000 votes in swing states. Clinton won more than 2.8m votes total. Those are odd numbers.

This doesn't seem sinister. States that swung to Trump were states where there aren't enough people of color to counterbalance shitty anglos being shitty.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:30 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


(but there probably will be in four years, even there, because of the gift of human mortality)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:31 AM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


>Trump's producer, Mark Burnett, wants Vladimir Putin to star in his new reality TV show. Guess he just can't wait to introduce his new satrapy to Glorious Leader. I look forward to seeing Trumpski follow him like a bitch in heat.

That's bylined 6/24/2015.


Honestly, that almost makes it *worse*.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


Just came across this nicely organized timeline on Reddit:

https://np.reddit.com/r/PoliticalDiscussion/comments/5hhn4t/cia_assessment_says_russia_was_trying_to_help/db0zali/

Also saw this tweet from Nate Silver today:

I'll put it like this: Clinton would almost certainly be President-elect if the election had been held on Oct. 27 (day before Comey letter)

What I find curious is that unshakeable sense that if the election were this coming Tuesday, Clinton would also win.
posted by bunbury at 11:16 AM on December 11, 2016 [29 favorites]


Intelligence Figures Fear Trump Reprisals Over Assessment of Russia Election Role (from the Guardian, which is apparently much freer to report on such topics than US media):
Former intelligence officers told the Guardian they considered retaliation by Trump to be all but a certainty after he is sworn into office next month. Trump still has several appointments to make at the highest levels of the intelligence apparatus, picks which are likely to be bellwethers for the new president’s attitudes toward the agencies.

“There is not just smoke here. There is a blazing 10-alarm fire, the sirens are wailing, the Russians provided the lighter fluid, and Trump is standing half-burnt and holding a match,” said Glenn Carle, a retired CIA officer and interrogator.

“The facts hurt, Trump won’t like the truth, and he will without question seek to destroy those individuals or organizations that say or do anything that he thinks harm his precious grandiosity.”
This is a president-elect who believes that he doesn't need more than a weekly briefing from the intelligence community because he is, in his own words (and virtually nobody else's), "a smart person".

Smart like Fredo, maybe.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:18 AM on December 11, 2016 [22 favorites]


Also, Steve Coll, who literally wrote the book on American empire and ExxonMobil, has a New Yorker piece on Rex Tillerson:
The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
posted by zachlipton at 11:40 AM on December 11, 2016 [20 favorites]


What I find curious is that unshakeable sense that if the election were this coming Tuesday, Clinton would also win.

There's a decent chance of that. Trump's win was enough of a surprise that there were probably a fair number of people who thought they were just casting a protest vote against Clinton -- people who were willing to cast a losing vote for Trump, but who would have been unwilling to cast a deciding vote for Trump. I would be sort of surprised if there were enough of them to flip WI/MI/PA, but maybe some post-election surveys will directly or indirectly get at this.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:56 AM on December 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


Trump sounds like he wants to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds. If so I feel bad for his Secret Service detail.
posted by TedW at 11:57 AM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Of course he does. It seems more and more likely he really is in the pockets of Russia - Tillerson WTF?! He needs to close down the CIA today rather than tomorrow. And the NSA, and the IRS, and…

This looks like a joke, but it isn't. This is beyond scary.
posted by mumimor at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2016 [20 favorites]


The question is, are we scared enough, but not too scared, to act?

If you feel the system has quit you, have you considered quitting the system?

For example:

How many people can afford to walk out of their secure jobs on the 18th, leaving a note that they will not be back if the electoral college elects Trump, and show up at their state capitol to demonstrate in support of a sane decision on the 19th?

-vs-

Can a conscientious citizen afford not to?

As individual citizens, our main power is the power of "No." And exercising that power carries costs. The costs differs according to the individual, and the manner of the "No." But be assured, there are costs.

Collectively, the calculus changes a bit, but our main power is still the power of "No," and there are still costs.

Are we willing to bear the costs as individuals?
Will we band together and bear the costs together?
Or will we hide and hope others bear them for us?
posted by perspicio at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


(oops /derail)
posted by perspicio at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2016


What I find curious is that unshakeable sense that if the election were this coming Tuesday, Clinton would also win.

We all thought it was a pretty sure thing on November 8th, too.
posted by beerperson at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


zachlipton: How does that square with the available facts? Podesta's email was released from his gmail account. Unless he had some kind of disloyal personal assistant who had access to all his email, the only insider for that account is Podesta himself.

That's not true at all. The only access an insider needs is to the cable of Podesta's keyboard, to install a keylogger. From there it would be a simple matter to fish out the gmail password and you're done, assuming Podesta wasn't using 2FA.
posted by Coventry at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would be sort of surprised if there were enough of them to flip WI/MI/PA

This is becoming election thread material, but I'd be surprised if there weren't. A vote margin of 10,000 people means only 5,001 people need to flip their vote for the other candidate to win -- and many of the people I knew who voted third party regret it (though not all would admit it).

The Comey letter did a ton of damage, but what's stunning is that Reid's reply alluding to Trump's Russian ties was, if anything, understated.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


Just came across this nicely organized timeline on Reddit:

https://np.reddit.com/r/PoliticalDiscussion/comments/5hhn4t/cia_assessment_says_russia_was_trying_to_help/db0zali/


Christ, the comments in that thread. The hit and run brigading to muddy the waters and cast doubt on any sources that report on this, and all of it filtered through this Bernie Bro facade to appeal to a Reddit demo. It just feels like astroturfing, it's just so consistent in method and message all over Reddit and it always hits threads hard and fast to dominate the conversation before more reasonable people come by and downvote it. And it lets any reader know that they'll have to deal with this onslaught of bullshit if they make posts the brigades don't like.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:52 PM on December 11, 2016 [23 favorites]


yay, pointless speculation about 'insider leaks' to justify some odd desire to believe that russia didn't do what pretty much every single intelligence agency in the world outside of the FSB said it did. lets keep doing this!
posted by localhuman at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


Man, remember when Romney called Putin's Russia one of our biggest threats and everyone laughed at him?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2016 [20 favorites]


Are there non-US agencies claiming that Russia was behind the DNC leaks? If so, what's the basis for their claim?
posted by Coventry at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's not true at all. The only access an insider needs is to the cable of Podesta's keyboard, to install a keylogger. From there it would be a simple matter to fish out the gmail password and you're done, assuming Podesta wasn't using 2FA.

Ok, but if you're at the point where you're using a keylogger to get someone else's personal gmail password and disclose all his emails, you're not really an insider: you're a hacker who has gone inside to ontain physical access to someone's keyboard cable. According to this theory, were the hacks of the DNC, Podesta's email, and the assorted other email accounts like Colin Powell's all the same insider or a whole coalition of insiders?

And we have forensic evidence that the access was obtained through spear phishing.

Murray is trying to claim that the emails were leaked by insiders, and he certainly implies he means that in the whistleblowing sense. I just don't see how that matches up with any of the publicly available information about what went on here. Whoever released these emails is clearly not an Edward Snowden.
posted by zachlipton at 1:11 PM on December 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


Are there non-US agencies claiming that Russia was behind the DNC leaks?

I don't know if they are corroborating that Russia hacked the DNC but the German BfV is warning about similar Russian interference in it's own elections.
posted by PenDevil at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2016 [16 favorites]


Man, remember when Romney called Putin's Russia one of our biggest threats and everyone laughed at him?

Luckily he proved that while he is more intelligent than the average Republican that still doesn't count for much as proven by his snuggling up to Trump last week.

If he had just waited ONE week...
posted by asteria at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Man, remember when Romney called Putin's Russia one of our biggest threats and everyone laughed at him?

Yeah, that really tickled my Smolensk.

But for all their machinations, it required collusion on this end to really be threatening. And that's what really chaps my McConnell.
posted by perspicio at 1:38 PM on December 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


I just can't imagine why anyone in the intelligence community would come out with this if it was all fake. These people are not stupid. They're not operating under the idea that these anonymous leaks are going to change who's getting inaugurated next month. All this can do is hurt them and result in inevitable reprisals. But they're doing it anyway. The fact that we don't know the people involved in this investigation doesn't mean the Trump Administration won't have access to all that classified info and start the decimation on January 21st. People are ending their careers for this. That should say something.
posted by schroedinger at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2016 [78 favorites]


People are ending their careers for this. That should say something.
Quoted for truth
posted by mumimor at 1:52 PM on December 11, 2016 [20 favorites]


If this investigation drags on to the point that Trump can start stonewalling it, I fully expect the CIA to start leaking like a sieve.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


If I can be forgiven for quoting myself from a few years ago, “When Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss make common cause to defend the NSA, my conclusion is that elected officials are no longer meaningfully in charge of the security apparatus of the United States.”

So we've got that going for us. Which is nice. Gunga galunga.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


I see we are in the bargaining phase. Trump is going to be sworn in as President in a month guys. -- Justinian

This reminds me, and this is as good a place as any:

For the past month, every time I remember my pre-election self assuring others that there's nothing to worry about, Clinton cannot possibly lose to this fake candidate, relax, please don't make yourself sick with worry and stress....

...my inner voice says "Sorry, Justinian."

Every time.
posted by rokusan at 3:00 PM on December 11, 2016 [26 favorites]


All of our JCPLs failed us.
posted by zachlipton at 3:06 PM on December 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


I just can't imagine why anyone in the intelligence community would come out with this if it was all fake.

And yet, the IC did exactly that when it came to Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.
posted by Coventry at 3:09 PM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


...and also the "Missile Gap," and a bunch of other transparent chicanery over the decades.
posted by Coventry at 3:10 PM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


And yet, the IC did exactly that when it came to Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.

To be scrupulously fair, George Tenet did exactly that when he ignored his own organization's conclusion that there were none.
posted by rhizome at 3:11 PM on December 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


And yet, the IC did exactly that when it came to Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Nope:

Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked "specific information" on "many key aspects" of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

But that's not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.

posted by un petit cadeau at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2016 [19 favorites]


The CIA's conclusion was that Baghdad had chemical and biological weapons:
Iraq's Continuing Programs For Weapons Of Mass Destruction

We judge Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade. (See INR alternative view at the end of these Key Judgments.)

We judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq's WM efforts, owing to Baghdad's vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf war starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information. We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs.
posted by Coventry at 3:17 PM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


We discussed this over in the other thread. I gave relevant citations and quotes from Weiner's history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes.
posted by Coventry at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's based on versions of the NIE that were heavily redacted and weren't declassified until recently. Here are the money quotes from the declassified version:

An example of that: According to the newly declassified NIE, the intelligence community concluded that Iraq "probably has renovated a [vaccine] production plant" to manufacture biological weapons "but we are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed." The NIE also said Hussein did not have "sufficient material" to manufacture any nuclear weapons and "the information we have on Iraqi nuclear personnel does not appear consistent with a coherent effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program."

And there's this - we don't know to what extent higher-ups in the Bush administration pushed the CIA to produce more definitive conclusions in the NIE, but here's evidence of that:

A report issued by the government funded think-tank RAND Corporation last December titled "Blinders, Blunders and Wars" said the NIE "contained several qualifiers that were dropped…. As the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively."
posted by un petit cadeau at 3:26 PM on December 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I totally agree that Cheney pushed the CIA to make that report. That has no bearing on how I assess their credibility, but YMMV.
posted by Coventry at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


so the sad thing is, no matter how much the CIA has fucked up in the past

(and they have fucked up on a nearly world-ending scale, repeatedly)

i still trust them to put the nation above their own goals and vendettas more than i trust donald fucking trump to do the same
posted by murphy slaw at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2016 [39 favorites]


i still trust them to put the nation above their own goals and vendettas more than i trust donald fucking trump to do the same

There is quite literally no incentive for a single CIA operative, let alone a collection of them, to make these kinds of allegations unless they believe what they are saying is true.

On a personal level, every single one of them is likely to be fired -- if they're lucky. If they're not, they're likely to face criminal charges. (Even in a normal administration, lying to the press about how a foreign government interfered with the national US election is probably going to be viewed negatively. Here? Your guess is probably as good as mine.)

From a political viewpoint, it's hard to see a real motive, either. Maybe you could argue that they're trying to sway the electoral college? These allegations basically call the legitimacy of our government (as of January 2017) into question. You don't get into the positions these people are at unless there's no way you'd consider doing that on a whim.

I believe them. Not just because of the evidence that exists elsewhere, but because there's no reason for these people not to be telling the truth.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:51 PM on December 11, 2016 [35 favorites]


We discussed this

Hmm, this is what I'd call the strict-father type of argument. You put forward your point of view. A lot of us didn't care to counter it because it is unfounded, and now you imagine the debate is over.

The Iraq debacle was more than a decade ago. What is happening now is infinitely more terrible. What happened then had profound consequences within global, not only American intelligence, in that many officials and even much lower level workers became conscious of how their complicity with manipulative policies could have fatal consequences. That doesn't mean all are innocent now. But it also doesn't mean you can just extrapolate from what happened then and judge current intelligence officials on that basis.
It is no doubt true after 2001 that there was an immense pressure from the US and British and some other countries' governments for intelligence to skew the analysis. And no doubt some, even many officials complied. But there were hundreds of leeks and lots of high level resistance - all demonstrating that the intelligence community as a whole was not corrupt and not accepting the government manipulation. There was international agreement that the US and the UK governments were manipulating data, not their intelligence services. I have a whole shelf of books about this, but not here in this building, so I can't give you quotes, maybe someone else can?
Remember the Plame scandal, for christ's sake. It was out in the open that Cheney and Rumsfeld did everything they could to bully and discredit the intelligence community in order to forward their own agenda.
What is happening now is not the government trying to skew the data in order to convince us that the PE has Russian backing. It is that the PE openly and unabashedly and without any doubt has Russian backing now, and that intelligence agencies not surprisingly indicate that Russia has in some ways aided the PE during the election season. There is actually no argument that this has happened, only on the degree of intent and involvement.
Discussions about wether the Podesta hack was a hack or an inside job are a derail.
Discussions about the trustworthiness of the CIA are a derail.
Comparing the Obama administration with the Cheney administration is a derail.

Lets get back to how this is infinitely more terrible: Bush/Cheney and the rest of them wrecked the Middle East. They caused the deaths of millions and endless suffering for millions more. They started a process that has become a global refugee crisis. It is a catastrophe that has not even nearly ended yet. But an American Russian alliance against progressive climate control, against the EU and NATO, against Transpacific Trade Agreements and against free trade within the Americas will be many, many times worse. Tens of millions of climate refugees will add to the pressure across the globe. Water access is already a pressing danger, even within the USA, and even more so in many other regions. New potential conflict zones include several atomar powers, and while I don't imagine France will be bombing the UK, what happens when Russia enters Poland? Or North Korea enters South Korea? What if Russia decides it needs Mongolia, or Hokkaido?
Don't say this is overreacting: Russia has already invaded Ukraine, and attempted a similar plot against Lithuania.
posted by mumimor at 4:09 PM on December 11, 2016 [23 favorites]


Oh s..t I forgot Iran. You should go visit Iran: the Middle East country where the population is most friendly towards the US, and where people are highly educated, multi-lingual and generally open-minded. They are also fiercely patriotic and just a very large number of people who will not take kindly to an American invasion, with or without nuclear weapons.

Same as China. A nation the US owes billions of dollars to
posted by mumimor at 4:14 PM on December 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I haven't been this pessimistic about the country since the weeks after 9/11/01. I don't think the Democrats and sane Republicans are even remotely prepared for what comes next.
posted by humanfont at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2016 [26 favorites]


I haven't been this pessimistic about the country since the weeks after 9/11/01. I don't think the Democrats and sane Republicans are even remotely prepared for what comes next.

I've never been this pessimistic. 9/11 was emotionally devastating and frightening, but for a short while it really felt like we came together as a country. I never worried that we wouldn't have a country.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:13 PM on December 11, 2016 [36 favorites]


now you imagine the debate is over.

Not my intention. Just pointing to where I'd cited relevant material. Sorry it came across that way.
posted by Coventry at 5:14 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Since the Iraq war killed perhaps a million people, I can only surmise that you think the DNC emails will kill infinity million

I do worry that the consequence of the hack of the DNC mails, the election of Donald Trump, will cause many, many more deaths than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for many more years. As I indicated in my comment. Infinite may be a strong word. But if the ice caps melt, the numbers and the chaos may be large enough that those counting may give up..
posted by mumimor at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


[Several deleted, don't be assholes to each other.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:22 PM on December 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


Lets get back to how this is infinitely more terrible

War between nuclear nation states is pretty terrible, too. And that's where this is headed, if it can be proved that Putin is behind the leaks. So it's irresponsible to take the word of unreliable sources on it as gospel.
posted by Coventry at 5:28 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is all very confusing and mysterious, but it does give me some hope that apparently (despite the mulitple competing interests in this story) SOMEONE has a last minute desire to take Trump down. Greenwald has his place, but I do wonder what he is trying to do.
posted by benadryl at 5:33 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


From Oct 2014 The Alliance Of US Christian Extremists And Vladimir Putin
It is terrifying that the Dominionists are taking control.
Mike Pence
Jeff Sessions (Scroll down).
Elaine Chao is married to Mitch McConell
Betsy DeVoss
Only 5 years ago metafilter had an argument as to whether Dominionism was even an issue.
posted by adamvasco at 5:44 PM on December 11, 2016 [15 favorites]


There is no taking Trump down. That's a fantasy. He is going to be President and it is going to be awful. This is like the start of a terrible storm. There is nothing we can do at this point but hope the roof doesn't come off, the levy holds, and the power gets restored quickly.
posted by humanfont at 5:44 PM on December 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


There is nothing we can do at this point but hope the roof doesn't come off, the levy holds, and the power gets restored quickly.

I find this so heartbreaking but the Electoral College *does* had a mechanism by which even at this late date we could avert the worst disaster: Democrats can stop Trump via the electoral college. But not how you think. We might as well try, things could hardly be worse.
posted by gerryblog at 5:56 PM on December 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


nothing we can do at this point but hope

I agree that it's wise to prep for the storm, but I don't think this is the moment to fall back to hope.

There isn't any reason why the electoral college can't choose someone else. There are reasons why it likely won't happen (and there are problems with it even if it did happen). But it is possible, legal, and as legitimate as the fact that the winner of the popular vote is denied the victory in the election. And a national conversation about intelligence indicating significant foreign influence on the winning candidate is one damn good start for an unlikely scenario in this unlikeliest of political seasons. If a Trump Presidency is going to be that bad, then robust examination of even unlikely legitimate options should only be constrained by limits on resources.

I think it's also worth thinking about what to do if the roof comes off. I don't see enough people on the left saying this, but make sure that the wingnuts aren't the only people with firearms who know how to use them. I'm not saying it's time, but if the time comes, the world will be a worse place if it's only the George Zimmerman's of the world who have that capability.
posted by wildblueyonder at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2016 [13 favorites]


Don't know the source being quoted, but just came across this on Twitter: John Bolton suggests DNC hack was potentially a false flag operation by the Obama administration.

(Not approving or believing, just reporting here.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 6:11 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


StrawberryPie check your link.

SopanDeb has a partial transcript from the FOX news show where John Bolton claims it was the Obama administration that hacked both the DNC and the RNC.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:17 PM on December 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Arrgh, don't know what happend. Here's another link to the tweet. (I think it's the same source that Secret Life of Gravy referenced. Thanks for the heads-up!)
posted by StrawberryPie at 6:24 PM on December 11, 2016


That "Democrats can stop Trump via the electoral college" link seems actually almost plausible. Clinton could do it. She could release her electors, asking them to vote for Romney. If she does it publicly enough, that would vastly increase the odds of 37 Republican electors doing the same. (I do think he'd be the most legitimate candidate, having been previously niminated and gitten more votes for president than Trump did.)

But where does Romney stand at this point with regard to Russia? The fact that Trump even pretended to flirt with him for Sec State makes me wonder if he is really outside of all this.

But by god she could do it, and I think she absolutely should.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:24 PM on December 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Washington Examiner has the Bolton story Bolton suggests DNC hack was Obama administration 'false flag'
"It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation," Bolton, who was being considered for a senior position in the State Department, told Fox News.

"Are are you actually accusing someone here in the administration or in the intelligence community of trying to throw something?" Eric Shawn pressed Bolton.

"We just don't know. But I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree."
So that's the story they are going with. That the CIA has been politicized and therefore can't be trusted.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:26 PM on December 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh my god that "False flag" thing! The fact that there's evidence that it was Russians PROVES it wasn't Russians!" War is peace, slavery is freedom, evidence means it can't be true!
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:27 PM on December 11, 2016 [36 favorites]


But where does Romney stand at this point with regard to Russia? The fact that Trump even pretended to flirt with him for Sec State makes me wonder if he is really outside of all this.

Trump may have just wanted an opportunity to humiliate Romney.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:29 PM on December 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


At least Republicans will stop saying "If you don't like it then why don't you move to Russia"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:27 PM on December 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


That John Bolton thing.

Man.

It's just so venal, but of course, hollering Obama! just might be enough to soothe the cognitive dissonance of Trumplanders contemplating Russian hackery of the election plus the PEs apparent crush on Putin.

Each day darker than the last.
posted by notyou at 7:30 PM on December 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


So Bolton thinks the Democrats ran a false flag operation which involved slandering Democrats with "Russian" intel, got the anti-Democrat slander in the paper but forgot to publicize the Russian intel part until after the election? It's like building a doomsday device and keeping it secret.
posted by mark k at 12:57 AM on December 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


John Bolton is increasingly a caricature of himself. I'd think that would make a difference were it not for the election result.
posted by jaduncan at 1:02 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe the Answer Is That He Can't Divest
Since we don't have Trump's tax returns, there's just a huge amount we don't know about his businesses. What we do know is that Trump appears to wildly exaggerate the scale of his wealth and exhibit a stinginess that is very hard to square with a man of the kinds of means he claims. A heavily leveraged business, one that is indebted and dependent on cash flow to keep everything moving forward, can be kind of like a shark. It has to keep moving forward or it dies.
This has been posted before - and I increasingly believe that is exactly the case. Now I'd like to ask: that comprehensive review Obama has ordered, would that /could that include examining Trump's tax returns and those ongoing audits? Because that might be a game changer. Obviously, Trump's electorate don't care that he is a liar or a sexual abuser or a bullshit artist, or a sucker for Putin. They even seem to like those attributes. But I suspect it would make a huge difference if they found out he is not a billionaire at all, and that he is being blackmailed by Putin. It would obviously matter to the Republican party, he would immediately lose all authority. You don't get to stand on the bully pulpit with strings tied to your tiny hands.

In October, Pence disagreed with Trump over Russian involvement in the election. Since then he doesn't seem to have said anything about it. Or about anything else - he mainly seems to be dodging questions during interviews. He lies, but only about cosmetics such as the transition being the best and greatest and the American People rah rah and prayer stuff.
And he is receiving the daily intelligence briefings.
posted by mumimor at 2:01 AM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is a succinct, smart, deft and scary recap of the situation as it stands. Eric Garland is a strategist I hadn't heard of before, so am not necessarily vouching for him, but the read is worth the price of admission.
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:33 AM on December 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't find that Garland "recap" very helpful. The beginning unnecessarily assumes bad faith and Russian manipulation in the whole Snowden thing (which seems unlikely to me. Plenty of people are sincerely opposed to indiscriminate spying by Americans, and to American hegemony in general, without having to assume Russia had anything to do with that until after the fact. Though Russia is happy to exploit that opposition when they can, and welcomed Snowden.)

I read (most of) former NSA director Michael Hayden's book "Playing to the edge". It's pretty clear the NSA knew when they started these programs that they were borderline in terms of legality. They thought they had enough legal cover in the form of the president's approval. And like law enforcement types everywhere, they thought more was morally justified in the service of catching bad guys than average people do. They've seen lots of trails go cold and suspects disappear because privacy restrictions hamper their ability to follow the electronic traffic. It's frustrating, I'm sure. I believe they sincerely thought they were doing the right thing. They had been embarrassed by the failures during the Iraq war. They wanted and needed high quality intelligence information...

And Edward Snowden was sincerely apalled at how far they went and how little oversight there was from our elected representatives. He honestly thought we deserved to know. All of that can be true without Russia having anything to do with Snowden, Greenwald, or any of them at the time. But. Once it happened, why would Russia not take advantage of the situation? Take Snowden in so he can keep tweeting. Hack various servers and release the info... knowing journalists like Greenwald would jump on anything that looked like arrogance or overreach in the US government and spread the story. This thing happened that made the US Government look really bad. All Russia had to do was keep that story in the news (by taking in Snowden and then letting him have a platform), and help re-enforce that narrative (by hacking more government severs and leaking more embarrassing info). Why wouldn't they?

Then the end of that Storify becomes unecessarily apple pie and waving flags. For better or worse America is in many ways an empire. And empires fall. There's no reason to assume it can't happen to us. (I happen to believe we're a better than average empire, morally. No worse than the British, really. A bit better than the Romans. And while you don't become an empire without doing terrible things, once established, empires can be good for world peace. Pax Britannia, Pax Romana, Pax Americana. I don't happen to believe the world -- or Americans -- will be better off with a weakened and chastened America. I think Putin's Russia would make a much worse hegemonic empire.. In the end I'm not convinced there are ANY moral countries in the world or in history. But if American hegemony ends, Russia or China or someone else will take the opportunity to establish their own hegemony. I think that situation is likely to be worse for everyone.)

That was a long parenthetical, but the point I wanted to make about that Garland thing is that just because the US has been in a historical winning streak the last hundred years or so, doesn't mean we're invulnerable. We can be brought down. And if we are, it will be partly because our deep internal divisions made us vulnerable. I hope we do unite again and come together to oppose Trump and Russian manipulation thst undermines out democracy. But it is by no means guaranteed. We can lose. Empires can fall.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:37 AM on December 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


I don't think the beginning of Garland's tale necessarily assumes bad faith. Russian attempts at manipulation would seem like a thing we have to expect at all times. I still think of Snowden as a hero but as with many heroes his sacrifice played into the hands of an adversary. As for the end, yeah, I think it was a bit over the top and rah-rah, but under the circumstances I think people are looking for a way to inspire the Trump resistance. For my part I am feeling such despair that I am simultaneously yearning to spend my few remaining decades (I hope) under the covers in a fetal position, and finding myself unable to sit still and think about this situation with any calm whatsoever.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:50 AM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


but where's the game theory
posted by murphy slaw at 6:37 AM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


In our hearts.
posted by asteria at 6:56 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


murphy slaw: "but where's the game theory"

It's really about ethics in game theory
posted by chavenet at 7:09 AM on December 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


This month-old Reddit post provides a more detailed discussion of all the public evidence pointing towards Russian interference, with an emphasis on the technical aspects. I have been getting pushback that the CIA is just pulling everything out of their butts, as if we haven't already seen cybersecurity companies come out with their own statements and evidence, so this is a nice counterpoint to that.
posted by schroedinger at 7:11 AM on December 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Bolton is a "crisis actor" - there is no reason to listen to a thing he says.
posted by thelonius at 7:18 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


"crisis actor" is foreign policy speak for "mendacious, bellicose asshole", i guess?
posted by murphy slaw at 7:21 AM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


murphy slaw, the comparison is to his knee-jerk "false flag " accusations. My point is that Bolton's defense is risible and is of the same quality one finds among school-shooting "truthers".
posted by thelonius at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Putin's Poodle
"Who's a clever boy?"
posted by Kabanos at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


"False flag" theories are also usually a farrago of anti-falsificationist nonsense that would have Karl Popper turning in his grave. All of these theories are generally of the form, "You have strong circumstantial or documentary evidence that X did Y. Well, actually, that's all proof that anti-X did Y, because anti-X planted the undetectable yet easily forged evidence that X did Y. Evidence is always proof of opposite! Don't you get it, man? It's like dialectics meets the Matrix, man!"
posted by jonp72 at 9:17 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


the fact that there are 10000 instances of actual bad acts to every actual "false flag operation" is just proof that false flag operations are even more devious and convincing than you think!
posted by murphy slaw at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The (apparently real) image of the billboard at the top of this article in the Atlantic is just frightening: Five Questions About Russia's Election Hacking. (It shows Trump and Putin's faces together with the words "Let's make the world great again - together!")

Coupled with the other Atlantic article about Why Trump’s Republican Party Is Embracing Russia, I have now lost what little hope I had that we could yet pull out of Russia's control.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:33 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The billboard is (was?) in Montenegro, a European country in the final stage of joining NATO. Last month a group of Russians who had been working with Serbians and Montenegrins were deported from Serbia after apparently planning to assassinate the prime ministers of both Serbia and Montenegro.

Montenegro, the only European nation on the Mediterranean that is not a member of NATO, evidently has also rebuffed Russian requests to establish naval bases in recent years.
posted by XMLicious at 10:03 AM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


It (the Eric Garland thing) doesn't really start. I mean, it's hundreds of tweets, so you're bound to find something kind of insightful in there, but it's really more of a "I guess you have to admire the effort" sort of thing than a cohesive anything. I mean yeah, he wrote a lot of tweets, and it gets kind of emotional at the end, but it's not particularly good, it's entirely too hard to read in that format, and he should really get his own damn blog.

If you like hot takes taking down people who tweet too much, you might enjoy Parker Higgins' much shorter tweetstorm, That Eric Garland thread is Not Good, folks. Or Eve Peyser's much more succinct: "Area Man Masturbates Using the Internet."
posted by zachlipton at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


The good stuff never really starts, but if you want an easier-to-read format it's all here in this Google Doc. I got through all six pages of this Sorkin-by-way-of-Zwinky mess, and have a hard time pinpointing anything interesting.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


zachlipton just posted an interesting set of links in the other thread about Carter Page. (Thanks, zachlipton). Apparently he's publicly jumping on the "false flag" train, instead of, y'know, keeping his mouth shut and his head down like you would expect someone who was kicked off the campaign for meeting with Russian intelligence to do at this moment. Also, he just got back from Moscow. Seriously, why is this guy attracting attention to himself at all? Like really, don't remind people that you exist at this point. Anything you say can only make Trump look bad, dude.

Julia Ioffe published a thing a while ago saying that Carter Page is apparently nobody, just a poseur, but I seem to recall that whoever first linked that in a MeFi election thread did so while implying that possibly the reason he's apparently a nobody is because spies are supposed to be nobody. And Ioffe herself hints at that a little with lines like "This seems to be vintage Carter Page, a man whose story never quite adds up, as much as he tries to make the numbers work"... and "is Trump a Kremlin stooge or a just a useful idiot, and is there even a difference? There doesn’t seem to be one in the world of Trump, which in some ways resembles Putin’s: the waters of truth are muddy and deeply suggestive. And that is all that matters."
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Zach, Greg, thanks for the synopsis.
posted by Coventry at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2016


Seriously, why is this guy attracting attention to himself at all? Like really, don't remind people that you exist at this point. Anything you say can only make Trump look bad, dude.

Because at this point, Moscow is mocking D.C. and taunting them to act. Because whatever they do, it will look really, really bad. As in American democracy has fallen apart bad. The left and the right will agree that the institutions are corrupt and unrepresentative. The "moderates" have nothing to offer, because "the Constitution" has become a battleground. And then yeah, Weimar.
posted by mumimor at 10:14 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dude starts with 'people keep saying Obama and Clinton aren't doing anything, that isn't true, let's talk game theory' and then spends 84,000 words giving a bad conspiracy-theory version of history then comes back to 'Why aren't Obama and Clinton doing anything? Well, what CAN they do?' and somehow people are like 'what brilliant analysis'
posted by beerperson at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


I'm the biggest fan of Obama, and I totally blame the Republicans for everything that I hoped for which didn't happen. But if he really has those 11-D chess-skills, now is the time to roll them out...
posted by mumimor at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I hold the Tweetstorm format at least partly responsible. It forces writers to zoom into every sentence individually and lose the thread of what they're trying to communicate, and readers to similarly look at the details without understanding the overall message.

Get a blog, people.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Eric Garland's tweetstorm is the kind of nonsensical ramble you'd expect from a guy who writes books titled "Dispatches from Upper Mexico: Strategic Assessments of American Life with Positively No Solutions Given," declares his followers to be the "alt-center," and challenges Glenn Greenwald to a "debate" in an Irish bar of Greenwald's choice. In a better time, his weird drunken rant wouldn't have received notice, never mind praise.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:22 AM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


But he's a white guy
posted by beerperson at 10:24 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


A Year in the Life of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
July 27, 2016: In a move without precedent in American history, Trump held a press conference in which he publicly urged Putin’s espionage services to help sabotage the Clinton campaign and put help Trump in the White House.
posted by AFABulous at 10:27 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]




Having now read That Atlantic article about why some Republicans have supported Trump's friendliness toward Putin I think I'm putting some pieces together.

For me, threaded through all horrifying crap about Trump... pussy-grabbing and fake universities and all the rest... And threaded into his terrifying anti-human rights statements about how "torture works" and so on... there have been two really scary aspects of Trump's campaign since the beginning...

1) He is way too cozy with Russia. To the point where their intervention on his behalf in the election makes a lot of sense. To the point where you have to wonder if they hold a lot of his debt or have blackmail material on him. Just way, way too cozy with Russia. And 2) he has supported the anti-democratic alt-right (in the form of re-tweets of alt-right accounts on Twitter, in appointing Steve Bannon to a role in the White House, in refusing to disavow the support of David Duke and Richard Spenser, in letting Peter Thiel speak at the convention, and just in general in repeating their talking points.) These two patterns are both very clear.

What was less clear is the connection between the two. What does Russia have to do with the alt-right? Well, of course, we know that Russia has for some time funded racist, nationalist parties all over Europe... Presumably because nationalists tend not to want to participate in international organizations like NATO, which benefits Russia.

But I did not really realize until I read that Atlantic article why the connection went the other way as well... I did not realize that the alt-right sees Russia as white and Christian, and they think Russians are therefore the good guys regardless of how undemocratic Putin's government is. From the link below: 'Among the alt-right, Putin is a very popular man. He’s popular because he resists the liberal, cosmopolitan values that Muslims supposedly exploit to undermine the West. Richard Spencer, who was until recently married to a pro-Putin Russian writer, has called Russia the “sole white power in the world.” Matthew Heimbach, another prominent figure in the alt-right, recently told Business Insider that “Russia is the leader of the free world.'

It's just starting to sink in for me that Russia and the (international) alt-right are not two separate threats. That they are allied and supporting each other. That's kind of terrifying.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2016 [47 favorites]


Yeah Trump's comments about China yesterday kind of got buried in the noise and the weekend, but I'm confident China noticed them. The sort of plausible deniability he had about "well I just took a phone call" is gone now too; he's directly going after a matter very important to their interests for no particularly good reason.
posted by zachlipton at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Garland is obviously drunk by the time he gets to the patriotic speech at the end. You know how Hemingway said he could tell exactly where on the page Faulkner took his first drink of the day? I'm that way with internet posts, thanks to years of drunken internet usage.
posted by thelonius at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


in an Irish bar of Greenwald's choice

The bar MUST be Irish; like The Flash drawing upon the Speed Force in the DC mythos, my full pugilistitude is only awakened by the aura of a critical mass of Hibernians
posted by Greg Nog at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Every time Russia's involvement in the election comes up, Trump adamantly and passionately denies it. It's a more impassioned response than he gives to most things.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


But I did not really realize until I read that Atlantic article why the connection went the other way as well... I did not realize that the alt-right sees Russia as white and Christian, and they think Russians are therefore the good guys regardless of how undemocratic Putin's government is. From the link below: 'Among the alt-right, Putin is a very popular man. He’s popular because he resists the liberal, cosmopolitan values that Muslims supposedly exploit to undermine the West. Richard Spencer, who was until recently married to a pro-Putin Russian writer, has called Russia the “sole white power in the world.” Matthew Heimbach, another prominent figure in the alt-right, recently told Business Insider that “Russia is the leader of the free world.'

Yeah, it's that article that really pushed me to start wondering if I should try to leave the country just literally for my personal safety as a visibly queer person. I keep thinking about the situation for GLBTQ people in Russia and it's really making me anxious. Sure, leaving is the coward's way, but I would also prefer not to become unemployable because the state encourages firing people like me and/or get beaten on the street.
posted by Frowner at 11:01 AM on December 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


The bar MUST be Irish; like The Flash drawing upon the Speed Force in the DC mythos, my full pugilistitude is only awakened by the aura of a critical mass of Hibernians

Is this about Canada's reality show Project X
posted by beerperson at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is it possible someone in Trump's ear thinks they can pull off a "Let's you and him fight" scenario and start a Russia-vs-China war?

I wouldn't be likely to rate the likelihood of this theory very highly, since it seems like a terrible, naive and unworkable idea, but now I'm wondering if it actually might be something Trump/Bannon/etc could have come up with, since it seems like a terrible, naive and unworkable idea.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2016


No, I think they honestly just see Putin as a fellow traveler. Why wouldn't they? He stands for all the same things they do.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wow, did you guys see this yet? Ten electoral college electors (so far) asking to receive an intelligence briefing covering the Russian hacking. And the Clinton campaign says they should get it.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


I'm sort of feeling like this two thread thing isn't working that well :/
posted by zachlipton at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


Right? I've had to keep two tabs open since this thread started.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:32 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


(Goes to check other thread.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


U.S. Evangelicals have been allying With the Putin Inner Circle for a little while now, and of special interest is Vladimir Yakunin, sometimes described as Russia’s second most powerful leader.
The American ties extend to Yakunin’s wife Natalia Yakunina, who along with her railway mogul husband is a top leader in Russia’s government-backed anti-gay rights, “pro-family” initiative.
Vladimir Yakunin runs the nationalist, Russian Orthodox Church aligned Center of The National Glory of Russia.
Then there is Putin´s God squad.
Back in July Slate ran a cover story: If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he’d look a lot like Donald Trump.
posted by adamvasco at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Argh, they're not talking about this enough for me in the other thread. What happens if the electors get the briefing? Would it possibly be enough to convince 37 out of 306 Republican electors to vote for Romney, if Clinton asked her electors to switch their votes to Romney? Would Clinton go for that? Would Romney? It seems to me they should if they are both loyal Americans, because it seems like the last hope... Or is there another possibility? Will the Republicans be willing to impeach Trump in favor of Pence? Is that better? Pence hasn't sounded nearly so Putin-friendly and kind of seems to have been forced on Trump by the party, but anyone who is so closely associated with Trump is suspect now, surely..

This is all so unprecedented, but so is having a president elect who owes his soul to Russia. What is going to happen?

This is how I felt during the election. I couldn't stop reading the speculations and counter speculations because I needed to know what was going to happen. Speculate everyone, please!
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Find Hillary Clinton’s Missing Emails, July 27, 2016
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference here in an apparent reference to Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Mr. Trump’s call was another bizarre moment in the mystery of whether Vladimir V. Putin’s government has been seeking to influence the United States’ presidential race.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2016


Depends what's in the briefing, and how solidly pro-Trump the electors are. Supposedly Harry Reid emerged from his most recent briefing "shaken".

As a staunch Democrat and a Hillary supporter from the start, I would fully support her releasing her electors to vote for Romney or McCain if they thought they could get to 270.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I honestly think the Trump team envisions merging Russia and the U.S. into one giant global (plutocrat-friendly(er)) empire.
posted by ctmf at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]




I'm really hoping the CIA has something new and concrete. Their conclusion that the hacks were used to help Trump seems so old and so obvious. I don't see how that alone could have sparked all of the recent action.
posted by diogenes at 12:17 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


[People posting the same comment to both threads is making things really confusing.]
posted by neroli at 12:20 PM on December 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Their conclusion that the hacks were used to help Trump seems so old and so obvious. I don't see how that alone could have sparked all of the recent action.

I can guarantee you that the real details have not been declassified.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 12:24 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I just spent the day with my Russian friend in ATL. I asked her if she would call someone in Moscow I need to speak to because my Russian phone skills are terrible. She yelled "No! No! I will not call Moscow!" at me like I was crazy, like I'd asked her to take off her shirt and sing "Clementine" in the Children's Museum.

"OK," I said, "Why not?"

She looked terrified and said "Don't you know about the new law in Russia?" She explained that there's some new law where all Russian expats are supposed to register with an agency back in Russia so that "Russia will know where we are."

"So they can tax you?" I asked.

"Or something more sinister," she replied. She said "Things are really getting bad for the people over there," and also said "I want to go home (to St. Petersburg), but I probably never will." She said she was scared about the direction things were taking in Russia. I said that I was scared about the direction things were taking here.

"You should be," she said.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:25 PM on December 12, 2016 [55 favorites]


I can guarantee you that the real details have not been declassified.

Actually, I think if there were any more convincing details those would have been leaked too. Whoever leaked it wants people to think Putin is behind the hack. Why would they keep persuasive evidence of that back if they're going to leak at all?
posted by Coventry at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's how the Iraq war intelligence worked. Only the confusing details were obscured in the name of national security. The dangerous-sounding headlines were leaked with abandon.
posted by Coventry at 12:30 PM on December 12, 2016


Presumably because some of the best intelligence on this, if it actually exists, would come from intercepted communications of Russian government officials, and revealing those is the kind of thing that gets you sent to prison for the rest of your life.
posted by zachlipton at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Why would they keep persuasive evidence of that back if they're going to leak at all?

Manning, Snowden...
posted by j_curiouser at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Whoever leaked it wants people to think Putin is behind the hack.

The question has moved on from who did the hacking. The question is now how directly Russia can be tied to helping Trump win.
posted by diogenes at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Why would they keep persuasive evidence of that back if they're going to leak at all?


The new details supposedly in this recent CIA briefing are 1) RNC was hacked too, but none of that material was released. We did not previously know this. This is further evidence that the Russians were trying to help the Republicans... and offers the worrying possibility that they could blackmail Trump and other Republicans. This was not previously publicly known, probably in part because the RNC (unlike the DNC) doesn't want to talk about it. 2) They are pretty sure now that the purpose was indeed to help Trump, and not just to cause chaos. Since this is a conclusion about motive, it does seem likely that they are drawing it based on some intercepted communications, and they don't want to talk about whose communications they are able to intercept or how.

But as a reminder, there is plenty of publicly available evidence that it was Russians who did the hacking. And motive is indicated pretty well even by public statements of Russian officials.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:42 PM on December 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm really hoping the CIA has something new and concrete. Their conclusion that the hacks were used to help Trump seems so old and so obvious. I don't see how that alone could have sparked all of the recent action.

What?? Even if there was no new knowledge, the notion that a foreign power had influenced the election in the US would be radical. The scandal right now is that the GOP hasn't reacted before. That said, there is probably something more damning in the more recent reports, in the sense that not reacting may seriously and permanently damage the GOP: They must have felt they could get away with denying everything till now, and then they can't. Maybe everything they know is already on this thread, but till now it hasn't been sufficiently public knowledge in the US for them to be scared of their future careers. IDK, maybe Morning Joe is doing a feature on this tomorrow morning or something.

During Bush/Cheney, all the damning stuff was readily available on the web, either on smaller leftist sites or on international news sites (hence the trust in Greenwald even today and the rise of British news sites, which are much more critical of government than that pesky MSM).
posted by mumimor at 12:51 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


"What?? Even if there was no new knowledge, the notion that a foreign power had influenced the election in the US would be radical."

Absolutely, but that conclusion was clear in early November. Something has changed between now and then.
posted by diogenes at 12:55 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hillary in October:

"We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election."
posted by diogenes at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


There's an enormous difference between leaking "the Russians were behind the hacking and they did it because they wanted Trump to win," which is the kind of stuff that was basically already publicly disclosed already in the ODNI/DHS statement with some extra analysis on top and leaking sources and methods, which many of our leakers may not even have access to. We have no idea what kind of communications they've intercepted on this, if any, and likely never will.
posted by zachlipton at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Honestly I think the main thing that changed is that after that CIA briefing (which included the news that the RNC was also hacked) a few Republicans started to actually acknowledge that Russians meddling in our elections is a bad thing.

Once there are at least a few prominent Republicans agreeing that this happened and is concerning, the media feels like it's allowed to report to story as "this happened" rather than 'One side says this happened, and the other side says it didn't." For most news outlets, something is only reportable a "fact" if people from both political parties agree that it is true. Otherwise it's just an allegation.

So the tone of the media coverage has changed. And that's put pressure on the Republicans who haven't acknowledged the problem yet.

Thank you Lindsey Graham and John McCain for giving the media permission to report on this, finally. Thank you for joining us in the real world. It's a scary place, and your help is desperately needed.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:02 PM on December 12, 2016 [32 favorites]


Is this a different from the hacked RNC emails which were leaked in August? What RNC data was kept back?
posted by Coventry at 1:06 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Absolutely, but that conclusion was clear in early November. Something has changed between now and then.

They found McConnell's account on turtlefetish.ru?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Whoever leaked it wants people to think Putin is behind the hack. Why would they keep persuasive evidence of that back if they're going to leak at all?

Because releasing it would get the Russian mole killed, or the communications channel they were monitoring closed down?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


Is this a different from the hacked RNC emails which were leaked in August?

Looking it up... I guess the status of those hacked RNC e-mails released in August (I refuse to say "leaked") was unclear: "The RNC has repeatedly denied that their information was hacked during the presidential election; that is until GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in September that intel briefings revealed Russian hackers targeted the RNC. McCaul recanted his own admission days later."
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


... somewhere public I read an article blaming the 'hacking' of the DNC server on the NSA.

But I don't actually care who 'hacked' what. I think Trump is dangerous to the continued existence of the US. I think he has no real interest in actually serving as a president and wants only to exploit the position for personal financial gain. So fuck that guy and if it takes a bunch of shenanigans to keep him from office, so be it. I would feel differently about this even if it were someone as repugnant as Cruz - Trump is truly, hilariously, extravagantly, grotesquely unqualified to be President and whatever it takes to keep him out, I'm for it.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:21 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Russia probably has a pretty fair idea of how we could know that they hacked US systems. Keeping that information secret for security reasons is self-defeating. Not that there's much left to defeat, I guess.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of moving parts to this story, and if you're like me, maybe some of the details are getting a bit fuzzy with all of the claims and counter-claims. This emptywheel post does a good job outlining the various claims and collecting the evidence we have so far to support them. She says she's going to update the post as new info comes in, so it's a good thing to check back on in the coming days.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:33 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Trump's comments about China yesterday kind of got buried in the noise and the weekend, but I'm confident China noticed them. The sort of plausible deniability he had about "well I just took a phone call" is gone now too; he's directly going after a matter very important to their interests for no particularly good reason.

No good reason for us, anyway. I could guess that it's very much in Russian interests to have China and the US focused on tensions with each other.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


How US intelligence can know Russia hacked the system is already out there and there are tons of links here on the blue explaining it in depth and very convincingly, starting with that independent consultant guy from before actual US intelligence came aboard. If anyone is "confused" by this, they are not paying attention.
I don't think there is that much new information, but there are two new(wish) conditions: that R-senators are joining in the damning choir, and that the intelligence folks are ramping up the already known fact that the RNC was also hacked and that prominent R officials may be susceptible to blackmail. Maybe lower rank R's were not really aware of this, and are getting itchy.
posted by mumimor at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Honestly I think the main thing that changed is that after that CIA briefing (which included the news that the RNC was also hacked) a few Republicans started to actually acknowledge that Russians meddling in our elections is a bad thing.

I think the thing that changed is that some GOP politicians are looking for some kind of leverage with which they can negotiate and this is the best they can come up with, so far. (It's a pretty good stick as far as attacking Trump's vaunted independence, his patriotism, his judgment and integrity, etc.) The Founders counted on all the players to act in their own interests and out of that competition, within the institutions they designed, the interests of the nation would be served. The wildcard was the development of the political parties which kinda redirect some of that self interest toward party interest. Senators have a bit more independence than Congresspersons do, so that probably explains why most of this stuff is coming from Senators (Hi Representative Joe Walsh!) The big question yet answered is which motivation, individual or party, trumps. I think it'll be individual with plenty of fireworks.

On preview: what mumimor said.
posted by notyou at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


The big question yet answered is which motivation, individual or party, trumps. I think it'll be individual with plenty of fireworks.

If Trump keeps fucking with the stock market (and risking trade wars), the Business Republicans are going to be lighting fires under their Reps. Hopefully...
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why would they keep persuasive evidence of that back if they're going to leak at all?

Uh, prison? There's a difference between leaking general conclusions and opinions and leaking the highly-classified data itself.
posted by ctmf at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the other factor is that the last time the Russian hacking story really came up in an official way was the ODNI/DHS statement, and that came right on top of the Access Hollywood tape as chris24 pointed out. Nobody really knew what to make of the government statement then, but conveniently enough, everybody had something to say about that tape. So it was super easy to move on. The next time was the "no, you're the puppet" moment, and that was a partisan fight, so it was covered as a both-sides "she says he's a Russian puppet, he says he's not, oh well our work here is done" thing.

The new WaPo story that broke this all open again didn't really have a ton that was new (though the assertion that the goal was to help Trump win is certainly notable), but it brought the whole thing up in a fresh way that wasn't linked to an ongoing election, served up with a side of "why isn't Congress taking this seriously" that made it much harder to ignore.
posted by zachlipton at 1:58 PM on December 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


starting with that independent consultant guy from before actual US intelligence came aboard

That's like calling Booze-Allen Hamilton an independent contractor. Crowdstrike does a lot of work for the US IC, and was responsible for the attribution of the Sony Pictures hack to North Korea, which is definitely not a slam dunk.
posted by Coventry at 2:22 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trump may have just wanted an opportunity to humiliate Romney.

In case anyone was wondering, Trump advisor Roger Stone told Alex Jones the purpose of the Romney interview was, in fact, humiliation.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


That's like calling Booze-Allen Hamilton an independent contractor. Crowdstrike does a lot of work for the US IC, and was responsible for the attribution of the Sony Pictures hack to North Korea, which is definitely not a slam dunk.

I wasn't thinking about crowdstrike - but of an earlier piece. I'm sorry, it's several hundred, maybe over a thousand comments back on another thread. It was a guy who was doing independent analysis for a private company and then found it necessary to alert US intelligence. Anyone else remember?
posted by mumimor at 2:31 PM on December 12, 2016


In case anyone was wondering, Trump advisor Roger Stone told Alex Jones the purpose of the Romney interview was, in fact, humiliation.

I haven't been paying much attention to Romney, I must admit, but his language in that article is so similar to Pence's - like a political Stepford wife. Really weird. Maybe that is where the hacked RNC data is going: to blackmail top R's into submission.
posted by mumimor at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Perhaps recognizing the existential crisis facing the Republic, Congress will craft some kind of compromise with a caretaker Republican President who agrees to serve a single term while congress and this caretaker tries to un-fuck things for the next election. Either by persuading the electoral college to vote for this compromise figure or refusing to certify the electoral college vote.
posted by humanfont at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2016


For whatever it's worth, CNN has a "former senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the hack investigation" who says: "Russian hackers breached GOP individuals and organizations prior to the election, including GOP house members, thought leaders and non-profits tied to the Republican party."
posted by zachlipton at 3:20 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sen. Harry Reid on the hacks, via TPM:

In an exit interview with the Huffington Post, Senate Minority Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he believes that the Trump campaign was "in on" efforts to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign by using WikiLeaks.

“Someone in the Trump campaign organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. Now, whether they told [Trump] or not, I don’t know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that,” Reid told the Huffington Post in an interview. “So there is collusion there, clearly.”


posted by un petit cadeau at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]



“Someone in the Trump campaign organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. Now, whether they told [Trump] or not, I don’t know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that,” Reid told the Huffington Post in an interview. “So there is collusion there, clearly.”
Holy. Shit.
posted by StrawberryPie at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


I wasn't thinking about crowdstrike - but of an earlier piece.

If you find it, can you memail me, please? Wouldn't want to miss that.
posted by Coventry at 3:53 PM on December 12, 2016


This is how I felt during the election. I couldn't stop reading the speculations and counter speculations because I needed to know what was going to happen. Speculate everyone, please!

Here's what I came up with while I was walking the dog today.

There is no smoking gun in this new wave of revelations. Nothing that's being said now about these hacks would have been out of place two months ago. What was extraordinary then was how few waves those revelations made; you can hear the genuine confusion in Hillary's voice during the debates when she asks, essentially, "Why doesn't anyone care about this?"

The answer to that is, I think: the Democratic establishment fucked up. They knew the Russian actions were serious, but they feared the levels of confusion and uncertainty that would ensue if the public had a full sense of what was going on in the delicate period in the run-up to the election. They were also overconfident - because they thought Hillary had the election in the bag, they thought they could downplay the accusations, let her win, and then deal with the Russian situation in a measured, cautious way. As many people have pointed out, it's to Russia's benefit for Americans to lose faith in the system, and so it was therefore somewhat to the U.S.'s benefit to downplay it, and act like it wasn't actually huge news.

But then, two things happened: Hillary lost, and Trump acted even more unpredictable than anyone on either the Republican or the Democrat side had predicted. I think, for Senate and House Republicans, the best case scenario with Trump was that he'd be just wacky enough to keep the base entertained & the Democrats riled up over Supreme Court stuff, so that nobody noticed when they got rid of Medicare and Social Security and gutted regulations so that their corporate backers could make money hand over fist.

The problem is that, especially in the realm of foreign policy, Trump is going way, way outside of "wacky distraction" territory. Not only does he seem genuinely unstable, but his psychotic band of underlings aren't going to do the work of corralling the PEOTUS while Paul Ryan executes his plans; they have a (Russian-allied, ethnonationalist) plan of their own. Corporate Republicans and career Republican politicians do not want a trade war with China, or total war against the forces of cosmopolitanism and globalization by the "Judeo-Christian West." They want the status quo, just tilted even more in their favor. They want someone to distract the masses with social issues while they pursue profits. Which means, in essence, they want Pence.

My guess is that sometime after the Taiwan phone call, the Democratic establishment got together with the more sane side of the Republican leadership and said, look, just for today, we want the same thing. We both agree we've got to do something about Trump. We've got some a few more juicy details about this Russian interference thing; let's essentially take two on releasing that story to the public, but this time, we'll aim it directly at Trump. So they do. They release basically the same info again, with a slightly different spin, and this time, everyone goes insane.

Here's my prediction: Trump will be sworn into office, but he'll be hamstrung by the "TRUMP IS RUSSIAN SPY" hearings from day one. The hearings won't reveal a smoking gun (because, again, there isn't one) but they will limit Trump's ability (or rather, his team/Bannon's ability) to accomplish anything other than blustering and Tweeting. This will turn him into exactly what the Republican establishment wanted all along: a spectacle and a distraction, rather than an independent force that could accomplish non-establishment aims. Before long - within the year, I bet - the hearings will evolve into the impeachment process. Even before that, when foreign powers get riled up by Trump's insane tweets, there will be communications from the backchannels saying, essentially -- disregard, he's on his way out the door -- and in this way, stability - along with the establishment - is basically preserved. Phew, no World War III.

The difficult thing about all this, I think, is that Democrats have to make sure the investigation and the impeachment happen--because they do need to happen; politically, nothing with higher stakes will occur in our lifetime--without allowing a Pence Presidency to seem like a win for our side.

Barring apocalypse, the worst-case scenario going forward is that all the Democrats fight like hell to keep the worst from happening, and then when, finally, Trump is out and Pence gets sworn in, we all collapse in exhaustion, feel vaguely grateful to McCain and Lindsey Graham for being "reasonable," and grateful to Pence for not using the Constitution as toilet paper every goddamned day. Then we nap through the midterm elections because we're so tuckered out, and anyway, we "won."

When the Republicans do eventually decide to remove Trump - which, I want to repeat, I think they'll do not because they're responsible and care about good government, but because it's 100% in their interest to do so - the Democrats need to make sure that they're not doing all the heavy lifting. Make the sane Republicans be the ones to battle it out with the tea partiers in Congress; make the Republicans be the ones who try to convince and placate their base; make the Republicans spend all their political capital wrangling with Trump, so that when the midterm elections roll around, their supporters are the ones who are exhausted, and the Democrats are the anti-establishment choice, the place where people can channel all their anger at 'the politicians' and justified economic rage. It's a delicate balance, though, because it requires putting a little bit of faith in the Republicans, not to be good or decent people, but to at least be competent, and the stakes are very, very high.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 3:59 PM on December 12, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'm holding out hope that Reid knows something and that their is a smoking gun in the form of evidence of collusion. I'm not saying it's likely, but it's possible.
posted by diogenes at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you find it, can you memail me, please? Wouldn't want to miss that.

This is not the article I read, but it seems to be the story
I found this from googling, and this is much more radical than what I originally read. "Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance." If this were true, we would talking about treason of the highest degree. But OK, this is Mother Jones. I'm not saying it is impossible, but it is a very strong accusation.
In the article I read, the "former spy" was doing oppo research for a Republican, it may have been some never-trump R publication? corb, are you here?
posted by mumimor at 4:07 PM on December 12, 2016


Harry Reid is not a reliable source. He has a history of making shit up for political points.
posted by humanfont at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I remember that article. I got pretty worked up about it, but in the end it was just one anonymous source and it was never confirmed anywhere else. But who knows, maybe this is the kind of information that the CIA is working with now.
posted by diogenes at 4:11 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hillary in October:

"We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election."


Meeting sexism 101: any idea or fact is not acknowledgeable until a man brings it up.
posted by Dashy at 4:12 PM on December 12, 2016 [36 favorites]


He has a history of making shit up for political points.

But he also has a history of using his statements to pressure others to release information.
posted by diogenes at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


The problem with treason is that, when it prospers, none dare call it that.
posted by acb at 4:14 PM on December 12, 2016 [21 favorites]


Corporate Republicans and career Republican politicians do not want a trade war with China, or total war against the forces of cosmopolitanism and globalization by the "Judeo-Christian West." They want the status quo, just tilted even more in their favor.

This. For those of your represented in Congress by Republicans, who aren't sure if their letters and phone calls will do any good, this is the rhetorical tack to take. Concern about Russian involvement, trade wars with China, and stock market fuckery.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:22 PM on December 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


Now I discover that there is a 'Russian Connection' to the California Secession Movement (#calexit), although the main organization is mostly avoiding this guy's organization. Is there nothing Vlad the Inhaler can't ruin?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:25 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


"...the Democratic establishment got together with the more sane side of the Republican leadership and said, look, just for today, we want the same thing."

The revelations that the RNC and House members' emails were hacked - and not yet leaked - makes it clear that the sane side of Republican leadership is compromised. They'll be of no help. For them, it's not a question of party before country, it's career before disgrace.
posted by klarck at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


klark, I think you are wildly overestimating the effects of questionable emails. I honestly think there is very little that could be contained in an Email that would cause more than a little heartburn to anyone in power in Washington DC. Their electorate just don't care. As long as you have a recognizable name with an (R) after it, you will get the republican vote. Look at all the shit Rubio did-- he didn't even bother to show up in the Senate most of the time he was running. He said he didn't want to be a Senator. He was easily re-elected when he changed his mind. Why anyone would want him as their Senator, I don't know.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:53 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


The interesting part is that two Republicans who were prominent early voices in calling for an investigation--Graham and McCain--had campaign emails hacked and released earlier this year, and as I understand it, the methods of these hacks link back through the same Bitly account to some of the attacks on the Democrats.
posted by zachlipton at 5:59 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think you are wildly overestimating the effects of questionable emails. I honestly think there is very little that could be contained in an Email that would cause more than a little heartburn to anyone in power in Washington DC. Their electorate just don't care.

I agree on the behind-the-scenes-politicking stuff, but how many of them also use their personal email to communicate with the folks they're having affairs with, or to exchange compromising photos?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:00 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


One morning in December 1824, the Duke of Wellington received an unpleasant letter. "My Lord Duke," it began, "in Harriette Wilson's Memoirs, which I am about to publish, are various anecdotes of Your Grace which it would be most desirable to withhold, at least such is my opinion. I have stopped the Press for the moment, but as the publication will take place next week, little delay can necessarily take place."

The letter, signed by one Joseph Stockdale, a pornographer and scandal-monger, was a naked attempt at blackmail. The Duke was a field marshal, cabinet minister, national hero, husband and father, while Harriette Wilson was a famous London courtesan past her prime, then living in exile in Paris. Wellington was being asked to pay money to be left out of her memoirs.

His response is famous: "Publish and be damned."
The memoirs were published. "The Iron Duke" became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1828 and again in 1834.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I honestly think there is very little that could be contained in an Email that would cause more than a little heartburn to anyone in power in Washington DC

I met a family on election day who weren't going to vote for Clinton specifically because of the dirty tricks against Bernie revealed by the DNC emails. I persuaded them to go to the polls to vote for Maggie Hassan, but I doubt they voted for Clinton. This was in the poorest neighborhood of Manchester, NH. They weren't highly educated, definitely not political wonks. I think you might be underestimating the impact. A lot of people loved Bernie, hated to see him get shafted, and were at best lukewarm in their support for Clinton.
posted by Coventry at 6:12 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to picture Paul Ryan having an affair and sexting his paramour. No luck. He seems as cold blooded as a fish. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand....

Short of dick pics I don't think it could do them any harm and if McConnell had a good hard boner at his age, I'm sure he wouldn't mind the whole world seeing it.


I met a family on election day who weren't going to vote for Clinton specifically because of the dirty tricks against Bernie revealed by the DNC emails

I hate to have to point this out but there really is a difference between Republican voters and Democrats, we just had an election that proved this. Really if they could get over their Presidential choice talking about grabbing women's pussies then I think they could pretty much get over anything.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:18 PM on December 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Eric Garland's tweetstorm is the kind of nonsensical ramble you'd expect from a guy who writes books titled "Dispatches from Upper Mexico: Strategic Assessments of American Life with Positively No Solutions Given," declares his followers to be the "alt-center," and challenges Glenn Greenwald to a "debate" in an Irish bar of Greenwald's choice. In a better time, his weird drunken rant wouldn't have received notice, never mind praise.

Eric Garland appears to be in an advanced progression of Eichenwald Syndrome, more advanced even than its namesake.
posted by atoxyl at 6:21 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, I missed that we're talking about Republicans. You could be right there.
posted by Coventry at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2016


I too met registered Democrats on election day who weren't going to vote for Clinton because of the emails. They weren't going to vote for Trump, they were probably going to leave that part blank.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


But yeah, Republicans probably wouldn't care.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:26 PM on December 12, 2016


Meeting sexism 101: any idea or fact is not acknowledgeable until a man brings it up.

Clinton literally said it to Trump's face and Trump denies any whiff it ever existed. Telling.
posted by Evilspork at 6:49 PM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Clinton said it to Trump's face and Trump denies any whiff it ever existed. Telling.

Well if you wanted him to get information from a woman, you should have had Ivanka say it. Duh!

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


But you know, I was canvassing in Ashburn, VA in 2006 and met a lot of Republicans who were staying away from the polls because they were disgusted by the Bush administration, and some congress-level issues I don't recall now. They were upper-middle class, the kind you might expect to be #nevertrump. But Republicans definitely do have a limit which I expect Trump to exceed quickly.
posted by Coventry at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The answer to that is, I think: the Democratic establishment fucked up. They knew the Russian actions were serious, but they feared the levels of confusion and uncertainty that would ensue if the public had a full sense of what was going on in the delicate period in the run-up to the election.

The answer is in the article. Obama was concerned that revealing the information that close to Election Day would draw accusations of partisanship. He gathered some of the top Congresspeople from both parties to try to get bipartisan support for airing the allegations and pushing back against this, but Mitch McConnell told him he didn't care if if Obama said anything he'd tell everyone the accusations were baseless and the Dems were playing dirty. Then weeks later McConnell's wife got a spot in the Trump administration but don't look at me I'll just be over here

Clinton was pretty screwed. The media was more interested in her emails, and Obama felt he couldn't back her. So if she kept pushing the Russia thing everyone would call her a crank.

I blame this on the Republicans, and on the people who so hated the idea of a female president that they'd rather wrap themselves in email conspiracy theories than keep Trump out of office.
posted by schroedinger at 7:14 PM on December 12, 2016 [33 favorites]


This was in the poorest neighborhood of Manchester, NH.

Where in Manch was this? East side? West side?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:40 PM on December 12, 2016


Poorest in terms of mean income on city-data.com. I'll post the exact streets when I get back to a real computer.
posted by Coventry at 8:01 PM on December 12, 2016


[One deleted. Please don't open the Hillary vs Bernie thing in here, this thread is about the Russian stuff. Take general election/post-election stuff over to the main thread, or consider just skipping the hundred millionth turn around this particular maypole.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:10 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Greg Nog, I covered most of the streets between Lake Ave to Valley St (North to South) and Union St to Wilson St (East to West).
posted by Coventry at 8:37 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Beech to Wilson, actually.
posted by Coventry at 8:49 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree on the behind-the-scenes-politicking stuff, but how many of them also use their personal email to communicate with the folks they're having affairs with, or to exchange compromising photos?

affairs? compromising photos? small potatoes. What if they ordered pizza!!??!!?
posted by j_curiouser at 8:53 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Since he was mentioned earlier, and this is the thread where the sky is falling, check out Dmitry Orlov's Collapse Preparedness, where lessons from the Soviet collapse are helpfully reframed to help you survive the inevitable American collapse.
posted by BinGregory at 9:58 PM on December 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


I have to say, the potential RNC hacks make me dislike the idea of the Electoral College picking some other Republican, or an expectation that Clinton release her delegates even more. Since we have no idea what information Russia may or may not have, and whether blackmail is a possibility, I would consider any possible Republican option potentially compromised. Especially when one takes history into account with the Bush administration using RNC servers for their email - who knows how many other Republicans do the same?
posted by madelf at 10:07 PM on December 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is such a disaster. For years to come, the Russians get to hint that they have dirt on selected cabinet officials and members of congress whenever they want. And we have to consider that it might be true. It's almost certainly true about a few who don't know how to infosec even a little (ahem, Weiner). Talk about fomenting distrust of the government. Now that might be the end of the Republican party we've all been 'surely this'-ing about all this time.
posted by ctmf at 10:24 PM on December 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Anti-incumbency is the only solution.
posted by rhizome at 10:45 PM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have a good summary or flow chart of the potential trajectories from this point? Trump's campaign has been accused of collusion with Russia, by a senior US Senator. This can't be simply swept under the rug by Trump, can it? So now what can happen from here?

I have a wrenching feeling that all alternatives are bad. If Trump pulls through and becomes president, well, that's the horrible future we all fear. Yet blocking Trump will surely lead to millions of pro-Trump voters feeling that "the government" or Obama or Hillary stole the election. An electoral move will only push the decision to the house.

Someone is probably keeping better track of the various scenarios?
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:51 PM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


This can't be simply swept under the rug by Trump, can it?

Everything else has been, so.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:08 AM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah StrawberryPie I've been working on a flowchart of all possibilities. Here's the rough draft:

shit
|
|
v
shit-- > shit - - - - - - > shit
|
|
v
shit --> shit
|
|
v
shit
posted by fomhar at 12:12 AM on December 13, 2016 [27 favorites]


Well, shit.
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:25 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


No "whoa, freaky!"?
posted by rhizome at 1:48 AM on December 13, 2016


Beech to Wilson

HELL YES

that's where I spent like 90% of my time hanging with friends in high school
posted by Greg Nog at 4:44 AM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm almost looking forward to the near future where all candidates have a 25-year-old Facebook timeline to scour through - at least it will level the playing field some.
posted by klarck at 4:45 AM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well well well; Another fun day as we wait for Exxon CEO Rex "If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave." Tillerson to be confirmed.
As Mark Salter tweeted a couple of days back "Tillerson would sell out NATO for Sakhalin oil and his pal, Vlad."
Meanwhile the Chineses are getting spitty.
posted by adamvasco at 5:27 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile the Chineses are getting spitty.

I really didn't think I'd live long enough to see Communist Chinese media passive-aggressively quoting Scripture at the Republican president-elect.
posted by EarBucket at 5:49 AM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


their powers of observation are not very good if they think he gives two shits about biblical wisdom
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2016


Trump's campaign has been accused of collusion with Russia, by a senior US Senator. This can't be simply swept under the rug by Trump, can it?

You wouldn't think so, but it ended up under the rug when Reid made a similar accusation on October 30th.

This was in his public letter to Comey:

"In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government - a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity."
posted by diogenes at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


Okay since other people aren't speculating enough for me and since someone asked for a flow chart, here are the possible outcomes I see:

1. Trump is sworn in. "Investigations" happen, Donald Trump is cleared of any involvement with Russians, enjoys four or possibly eight years of implementing his insane agenda. He gets into a fight with China and Iran at the same time, starts World War III (US and Russia against China and Iran, with Europe and the Middle East split), and we all die in a nuclear holocaust. I dunno, is there maybe a 1% chance this happens? It certainly feels like a more realistic possibility than it ever has before in my lifetime.

2. Trump is sworn in. "Investigations" happen, Donald Trump is cleared of any involvement with Russians, enjoys four or possibly eight years of implementing his insane agenda, but establishment Republicans are able to rein him in enough that we don't all die in a nuclear holocaust. I actually see this as fairly unlikely, because I DO think he's involved with the Russian government, and because I think most of the Republican establishment is actually NOT okay with that, or even on board with all of his insane agenda. I think this would still be the end of the American "empire," and would change the balance of power between corporations and government to the point where the CEO of Exxon Mobile might end up being a more powerful person than whoever is president after Trump, but hey, it's not literally the end of the world. I would give this maybe 30% odds right now? Let's say 29% to make it come out to 30 when the "nuclear holocaust" option is included.

3. Trump is sworn in. Investigations happen, and Donald Trump is impeached on charges of involvement with the Russian government. Mike Pence becomes president, and we get four to eight years of implementing HIS insane (but much more palatable to the Republican establishment) agenda. I am thinking this is the most likely outcome at this point. I'll give it 55% odds, because I think it's just barely more likely than not.

4. Something comes out in the next six days (or doesn't come out but is shared with electors in a private briefing) that damages Trump beyond repair. Clinton "releases" her electors to vote for Romney (or Pence?), and at least 37 Republicans vote for him too. Romney becomes president. We get four to eight years of rational but uncompassionate business-friendly government. I wish I could give this higher odds, but right now I'm having a hard time giving it more than 5%

5. All the Republican electors vote for Pence as president instead of Trump. I think the way this would probably go down is... The electors would have to be persuaded (possibly by a private briefing, possibly by pressure from Republican elected leaders) to delay their meeting until closer to inauguration day, to give the investigations time to reach some conclusions. Republicans start to get on board with the idea that Trump's ties to Russia are unacceptable in the interim. Everyone agrees that the Constitution demands that we treat a president who turns to be unfit for office after the election the way we would treat a president who died after the election. Hence Pence. Let's give this another 5% chance. Electors don't have to pay any fines in this scenario, and are not breaking any laws.

Okay, now we're up to 95%? Here are a bunch of really unlikely things that could happen to fill out the rest...

6. Electoral college meets, elects Clinton (37 Republicans switching over.) I'll call this 2%. More likely than the "nuclear holocaust" outcome, but only just. Elected Republicans are not getting on board for this, and no outcome without them on board will have any legitimacy. Really the only way I could possibly see this happening is if it were proved that Russia actually hacked voting or vote counting machines, which doesn't seem to have happened. And even then, this might result in literal civil war, because a lot of people would refuse to believe it had happened.

7. Donald Trump takes office and turns out to be a great president! 1%. Equally as likely as the nuclear holocaust.

8. Electoral college meets and elects Johnson or McMullin or Stein or someone. <1%

9 . A meteor strikes the earth or Vladimir Putin invades Washinton DC or something, who knows? Let me leave room for 1% odds that something totally unforeseeable happens at this point, because it is still 2016.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2016 [25 favorites]


If Pence (or Romney) ended up as POTUS, would he be stuck with all of these burn-it-all-down cabinet appointees, or would he reconfigure the cabinet?
posted by Dashy at 8:02 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


He would be the President and could nominate whoever the fuck he wanted to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:16 AM on December 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


The electors would have to be persuaded (possibly by a private briefing, possibly by pressure from Republican elected leaders) to delay their meeting until closer to inauguration day

According to Title 3, Chapter 1, §7 of the United States Code the electors vote on "the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:16 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


But what kind of force of law does that have? Are there penalties prescribed if they don't? One can imagine other circumstances that would make that impossible. What is to be done when something unexpected happens, like a natural disaster, or the president elect being under investigation for collusion with Russian intelligence? There must be some provision for circumstances that make that date unworkable...
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2016


Wow, I wish I saw only 1% chance of a nuclear holocaust as a result of Donald's presidency.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


That's some quality speculation!

I'm holding out hope for "Something comes out in the next six days (or doesn't come out but is shared with electors in a private briefing) that damages Trump beyond repair." I think what would come after that is impossible to predict, but I don't think it would be as simple as Pence or Romney winning the EC vote on the 18th. It would be a lot uglier and more drawn out.
posted by diogenes at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


1. Trump is sworn in. "Investigations" happen, Donald Trump is cleared of any involvement with Russians, enjoys four or possibly eight years of implementing his insane agenda. He gets into a fight with China and Iran at the same time, starts World War III (US and Russia against China and Iran, with Europe and the Middle East split), and we all die in a nuclear holocaust. I dunno, is there maybe a 1% chance this happens? It certainly feels like a more realistic possibility than it ever has before in my lifetime.

2. Trump is sworn in. "Investigations" happen, Donald Trump is cleared of any involvement with Russians, enjoys four or possibly eight years of implementing his insane agenda, but establishment Republicans are able to rein him in enough that we don't all die in a nuclear holocaust. I actually see this as fairly unlikely, because I DO think he's involved with the Russian government, and because I think most of the Republican establishment is actually NOT okay with that, or even on board with all of his insane agenda. I think this would still be the end of the American "empire," and would change the balance of power between corporations and government to the point where the CEO of Exxon Mobile might end up being a more powerful person than whoever is president after Trump, but hey, it's not literally the end of the world. I would give this maybe 30% odds right now? Let's say 29% to make it come out to 30 when the "nuclear holocaust" option is included.


I'm a pessimist and will give scenarios #1 and #2 much higher odds. Except for the details. In both scenarios, Trump is a Putin Quisling, and while Putin may enjoy a relatively low-key proxy type war in East Asia, he definitely does not want an Iran war. Nope, not at all, ever. If Trump persists, Putin will send Iran those missiles, so they can bomb Tel Aviv ASAP. It is not like Putin actually cares about Trump's feelings. Also, Putin would deny everything and Trump would support it. No one else wants war with Iran, apart from maybe the UK, who need a distraction from Brexit. But their economy will be crashing too if its a year or so from now. If the far right rises all over Northern and Eastern Europe, there'll be no one there to worry about Israel, either.
Putin also knows well that Russia is not able to enter war against China, not even alongside the US. It will be Russian young men feeding the cannons, and they don't have enough young men to both feed cannons and keep something similar to a country running back home. So maybe Trump will go to war against China, and Putin will watch while the US self-destructs in against the world's most populous nation, or there will be a proxy war in Korea, similar to Vietnam and with similar results. Maybe North Korea can manage to get a missile to Hawaii or Alaska, but otherwise South Korea is the place that will get the bomb, and then China will unite the country and turn it all into totalitarian capitalism.

I can't see the big global blow-out happening, because I can't see who would participate with the US and Russia as allies.

Russia will invade a number of NATO countries, but it is not like Trump would react - he has said that clearly already. And with no US support, I don't think the other big NATO countries would act either, least of all with nuclear missiles. The UK bombs St. Petersburg to save Poland? Forget it. Poland is filled with all those Poles who steal good British jobs. And that way, the Russians won't feel a need to bomb London, where they own a good deal of property including a nice fat flock of politicians.

Oops. Do I sound angry all of a sudden? Must have forgotten to take my drugs today..
posted by mumimor at 8:37 AM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Friends and associates said few U.S. citizens are closer to Mr. Putin than Mr. Tillerson, who has known Mr. Putin since he represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.

This stuff interests me because whenever I see the Yeltsin era brought up, I cannot not remember how the Bill Clinton-led USA most definitely "meddled" in his election back in the 90's, to the point of having secret US advisors running his campaign. Maybe I'm old, but this was a big deal once, at least internationally.

Example (LA Times) article, to jog memories as needed. There are hundreds of others but this seems a good overview at a glance.

Now, I'm not suggesting some kind of "they all do this / it's fine" defense, because even though I think it's common for superpowers to influence elections all over the planet, it's still very bad. I'm also not playing false equivalency, or suggesting that Russia helping Trump is acceptable or should not be investigated.

Mainly, what I am saying, or asking, is about the personal angle. Do you suppose Putin might transfer his annoyance from husband to wife, and most of all, I wonder how long can he hold a grudge?
posted by rokusan at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Mainly, what I am saying, or asking, is about the personal angle. Do you suppose Putin might transfer his annoyance from husband to wife, and most of all, I wonder how long can he hold a grudge?

Maybe, but my experience with talking with normal people and officials in countries where the US has manipulated with politics or overthrown governments is that they hold a grudge period. Nothing personal at all. Even people who are pro-western I've met in Iran or Cuba, or Egypt have all said: we love America and Americans, but America is the source of our problems. And this is said about everything, including things where it makes no sense at all, like their own corruption.
In Iran there is this strange conspiracy theory where Queen Elizabeth controls a huge cabal with some Jews in it, but in general I've rarely heard personal blame assigned, I guess because US policies have been fairly consistent over time, with only incremental changes. Any US administration would have done something similar to the Clinton administration. That may change with Trump in charge, obviously.
posted by mumimor at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


None of these nominations are even real yet, Dashy.

Only the President can make the actual nominations. Everything the Pres Elect does is just "plans to" or "has announced he will" and so on. He has no power or authority yet.
posted by rokusan at 9:03 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Even people who are pro-western I've met in Iran or Cuba, or Egypt have all said: we love America and Americans, but America is the source of our problems.

You're right, that matches my experiences pretty much exactly.

Some variation of "If America would stay home and stop meddling in my country, I'd love them."
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


This stuff interests me because whenever I see the Yeltsin era brought up, I cannot not remember how the Bill Clinton-led USA most definitely "meddled" in his election back in the 90's, to the point of having secret US advisors running his campaign. Maybe I'm old, but this was a big deal once, at least internationally.

you don't say
posted by atoxyl at 9:32 AM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm hardly trying to draw an exact equivalence either but when people were saying "if this happened anywhere they'd do the election over" I was like uh...

Anyway I also think there's a strong chance - certainly as strong as there's ever been at the beginning of a presidency - that we end up with Pence in the next four years. Of course that was kind of his purpose on the ticket.
posted by atoxyl at 9:36 AM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks for leading me down the old-person Time cover rabbit hold, atoxyl. If that website worked better, and especially if the foreign cover search worked right, I could spend all day there.

Quick take.
posted by rokusan at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pick of Exxon CEO for Secretary of State clarifies why Putin wanted Trump elected: a $500 billion oil deal killed by sanctions.
posted by adamvasco at 9:49 AM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Russia will invade a number of NATO countries, but it is not like Trump would react...

To be clear, the first time this happens it's the dissolution of NATO, or at least America's ejection from a reformed, USA-free version, because the instant co-defense of other members when attacked is the core function of the alliance. That's Article 5, and it means that an attack on, say, Estonia or Croatia is an attack on the United States.
posted by rokusan at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Do you suppose Putin might transfer his annoyance from husband to wife, and most of all, I wonder how long can he hold a grudge?

Grudge? More like ingratitude. Where (or what) would Putin be if Yeltsin hadn't been elected? Which isn't to say it was a good thing to do, obviously. Just like every other time the US gets its nose into other nations' business, they created this monster.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:14 AM on December 13, 2016


If Democrats are desperately hoping that the CIA, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the Republican establishment will somehow team up to deliver us essentially a third term of George W. Bush, man, that's just some incredibly thin gruel. I think it's extremely unlikely given how pathetically the entire Republican party has acted in the face of the Trump phenomenon, and I also think that a Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or Mike Pence presidency would still be near-apocalyptically bad, just with better hair. Take a look at what's going on in Ohio right now to see what moderate Republicans are getting up to in 2016.

We've already learned that the Democratic Party is totally incapable of saving us from Trump (even if it was rendered so by forces outside of its control). I don't see much point in hoping that a group of people who have shown themselves to be craven liars and stooges for anything that resembles the tiniest glimpse of power will be any better at it. #NeverTrump has been a comprehensive failure on every level and will not step in to rescue us at the last second. I don't know how, but we will have to save ourselves if we're going to be saved at all.
posted by Copronymus at 10:15 AM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Putin didn't win this election for Trump. Hillary Clinton did
It’s probably a near-universal feature of human psychology that it’s easier to blame others for our problems than look inward for their origins. Democrats would rather point to shady foreign operators than think about why Clinton will not be the one taking the oath on 20 January.

The establishment Republicans who’ve joined the bandwagon demanding inquiries into Russian interference apparently prefer that, too. It’s better than figuring out how their party nominated a volatile loose cannon who will become president in a little more than a month.

And Americans across the political spectrum are happy to use Putin to distract them from reflecting on how baseless our self-image as the world’s greatest democracy is. But as with many psychological defenses, these sorts of evasions are very damaging to long-term health.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:17 AM on December 13, 2016


how pathetically the entire Republican party has acted in the face of the Trump phenomenon

Don't forget how cowardly they were when everyone still thought he would lose. Afraid of what? Being targeted for being primaried if they crossed Trump's base?
posted by thelonius at 10:18 AM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Putin didn't win this election for Trump. Hillary Clinton did

This is such a disingenuous argument and a click-baity headline to boot.

No of course Putin did't win the election for Trump. It was a perfect storm of multiple factors, and some of Hillary's failures are among them. As are the massive failures of the Democratic Party as a whole to prevent Republican machinations and the failure of the Republican Party to prevent their party's downward spiral into hate and racism.
Putin shrewdly took advantage of all of this.
That doesn't change the fact that this is a global scale political scandal which will have terrible consequences.
posted by mumimor at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2016 [37 favorites]


Russia will invade a number of NATO countries, but it is not like Trump would react...

To be clear, the first time this happens it's the dissolution of NATO, or at least America's ejection from a reformed, USA-free version, because the instant co-defense of other members when attacked is the core function of the alliance. That's Article 5, and it means that an attack on, say, Estonia or Croatia is an attack on the United States.


Exactly. Right now, I'm still somewhat paralyzed - but I'm definitely going to get out all those old eco-self-sustenance books over the holidays. Should probably look for some land that is a bit higher up though, I can only take something like a 7 meter sea rise.
posted by mumimor at 10:38 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


We've already learned that the Democratic Party is totally incapable of saving us from Trump (even if it was rendered so by forces outside of its control). I don't see much point in hoping that a group of people who have shown themselves to be craven liars and stooges for anything that resembles the tiniest glimpse of power will be any better at it. #NeverTrump has been a comprehensive failure on every level and will not step in to rescue us at the last second. I don't know how, but we will have to save ourselves if we're going to be saved at all.

I definitely endorse the idea of saving ourselves as far as the idea that we're going to have to do more and maybe do things we've never done before. But if it means trying to step outside the forces of politics, I think it isn't going to work. The problems created by collective action require collective action to deal with. Maybe there's some other kind of collective action we're going to need beyond participating in the political process as it has existed, and by all means, I'm interested in suggestions, but completely abandoning the parties because they haven't met one specific goal (even one as important as not electing Trump) isn't good judgment. There's nothing that will obviously save, there's only some avenues that might, cursing potential help because it marginally didn't fulfill its potential doesn't help.

The Democrats weren't soundly defeated, they were narrowly defeated on a field that's weirdly rigged. And the #NeverTrumpers... well, I'm also not confident that there would have been great (much less salvific) policy decisions forthcoming from them. But give them credit for making a principled and unequivocal stand when it was most likely to make a difference in the election. It turns out that in a democracy, you're sometimes at the mercy of the fact that a critical mass of people won't listen. I also give Romney the benefit of the doubt now about whether his submission to Trump was the mendacity of a power seeker or a calculated gamble on acquiring enough influence to make a public service contribution because he made the principled stance earlier.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:06 AM on December 13, 2016 [15 favorites]


Putin didn't win this election for Trump. Hillary Clinton did

Weird, I thought we could maybe blame the people who actually VOTE FOR this bullshit. It's their fault first and foremost.

Blame doesn't matter though. Causes matter, sure. But assigning fault is masturbatory at best. It happened, what matters now is what we DO about it and looking backwards is only useful insofar as it informs the present.
posted by VTX at 11:08 AM on December 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


It happened, what matters now is what we DO about it and looking backwards is only useful insofar as it informs the present.

Right, but I can think of very few things more useful for the Democrats than figuring how they lost to the guy they treated as a joke candidate.
posted by atoxyl at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


Agreed, and that needs to start with "Why did people vote for him?" not, "Hillary should have done more gooder" and blame shouldn't even enter into it. Focusing on blame just wastes time.

Even figuring out how you lost is only helpful if that same scenario is encountered but it's a unique thing. If anyone like Trump runs again, it will have been in a world where we already know that he can win so it's a different situation out of the gate.
posted by VTX at 11:28 AM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


[One deleted. Folks, please try to keep the general election stuff over in the current post-election thread, and keep Russia stuff in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:34 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


The NYT just went live with a major investigative piece: The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

I'll do this over here since it's more Russia related.

Good god, the FBI spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince a contract worker at the DNC's offsite helpdesk that they really were the FBI instead of just walking into the DNC with a badge and saying "we need to talk." And for their part, the DNC helpdesk wasted a considerable amount of time not taking the FBI's warnings seriously.
posted by zachlipton at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


The NYT just went live with a major investigative piece: The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

Man was that scary!! I just now changed my passwords - I normally ignore the phishing mails, but recently, my cognitive skills have been under the water, and suddenly I got really nervous I'd answered to one of them some time ago when my condition was worst.
posted by mumimor at 12:38 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


If anyone like Trump runs again, it will have been in a world where we already know that he can win so it's a different situation out of the gate. -- VTX

That's quite a brilliant point that I hadn't ever heard put into words before, probably because we're all still in rampant finger-pointing mode. I wish I could super-ultra-favorite that.
posted by rokusan at 12:39 PM on December 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Agreed, and that needs to start with "Why did people vote for him?" not, "Hillary should have done more gooder" and blame shouldn't even enter into it. Focusing on blame just wastes time.

I think "why did people vote for him" is an important question - particularly why did people who were previously D voters vote for him - but so is "why didn't people vote for her?" (Yes I'm well aware that more people voted for her than for Trump by a wide margin, but surely anybody in politics knows that's not actually the game being played.) I don't particularly think this is a question for Hillary Clinton to answer, by the way, but Democratic strategists sure as hell ought to think about it. I'm pretty sure there's a stable base of support in this country for any vile authoritarian thing the Republican party can come up with. There are also a lot of people who can vote, but don't. I'm not interested in trying to play to the former group, but the latter?
posted by atoxyl at 12:40 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like that the NYT piece turns the focus back on the media for covering the leaks so much and so poorly:
Though Mr. Assange did not say so, WikiLeaks’ best defense may be the conduct of the mainstream American media. Every major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.

Mr. Putin, a student of martial arts, had turned two institutions at the core of American democracy — political campaigns and independent media — to his own ends. The media’s appetite for the hacked material, and its focus on the gossipy content instead of the Russian source, disturbed some of those whose personal emails were being reposted across the web.

“What was really surprising to me?” Ms. Tanden said. “I could not believe that reporters were covering it.”
Everybody failed laughably at covering this story.
posted by zachlipton at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2016 [24 favorites]


It's so infuriating that the FBI just kept sending messages to a lone staffer at the DNC and then shrugged like "welp, what else can we do."
posted by diogenes at 1:00 PM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


Those of you still struggling to accept that it was Russia, read the article and let me know if you're still struggling. I'm curious.
posted by diogenes at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


That Perfect Weapon NYT article is some real "First draft of history" stuff. Textbooks will be citing that when they try to describe what happened in 2016.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


And I think it's interesting, in light of President Obama's seeming exasperation on the Daily Show last night to look at why this somehow wasn't a big deal until now. The sense I'm getting is that everyone thought Clinton would win and they could deal with this after the election to avoid looking partisan. Brazile even tried to get Priebus to sign on to a joint statement condemning the hacking, but he wouldn't bite.

Some of it was the horrifically bad timing of the ODNI-DHS statement coming out right before the Access Hollywood tape, and at some point Clinton went to the full on attack with the "puppet" line trying to get somebody, anybody to care, but this was a story everyone wanted to pretend wasn't happening. The DNC kept quiet about the hacking for months. We didn't have the President making his own statement, perhaps not wanting to appear partisan. Surrogates allowed the debate to be framed around the content of the emails and not why we were reading them.

And the really frustrating thing is that, when people did bring it up, it was frequently dismissed because of lack of evidence, even after the October 7th statement. Yet when it came to Comey's letter, everyone was perfectly willing to go all red alert over absolutely no evidence over what turned out to be absolutely nothing.
posted by zachlipton at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2016 [31 favorites]


That's my reading too. Everyone thought Clinton would win so they held back on a lot of this stuff until after the election when (they wrongly assumed) they would have a lot more leverage and time to deal with it. But they lost.

Also, I know this tweet was referenced earlier in the thread but is there any way to read that Kentucky woman's existential crisis in the face of her Trump vote and dependence on Obamacare that doesn't boil down to "I never thought leopards would eat MY face!" sobs lady who voted for the Leopards Eating Peoples' Faces Party."
posted by Justinian at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


The NYT story is incredible.

Hundreds of similar phishing emails were being sent to American political targets, including an identical email sent on March 19 to Mr. Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign. Given how many emails Mr. Podesta received through this personal email account, several aides also had access to it, and one of them noticed the warning email, sending it to a computer technician to make sure it was legitimate before anyone clicked on the “change password” button.

“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”

With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.


For want of an "il", the kingdom was lost.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:04 PM on December 13, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'm not sure I totally believe that, it's certainly a plausible face-saving explanation to come up with that later.
posted by zachlipton at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is driving me nuts:

FBI has evidence of a Russian intrusion into DNC servers: FBI agent leaves messages for DNC help desk contractor.

FBI thinks there might be Clinton emails on Weiner's laptop: FBI Director holds immediate press conference to alert the nation.
posted by diogenes at 2:34 PM on December 13, 2016 [41 favorites]


Actually it was even worse:

FBI thinks there might be Clinton emails on Weiner's laptop: FBI Director sends letter to vindictive anti-Clinton Republican Congressman knowing it would be in the press's hands within seconds, then refuses to explain himself in any way or provide any more information, twiddling his thumbs while warring factions of his agency leak different accounts of the situation the press.
posted by zachlipton at 2:44 PM on December 13, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm not sure I totally believe that, it's certainly a plausible face-saving explanation to come up with that later.

It's not plausible at all. Let's go back and read it again:

[...] sending it to a computer technician to make sure it was legitimate before anyone clicked on the “change password” button.

“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”


Merely adding a negative prefix doesn't do a damn thing about his terrible advice, which undeniably agreed with the email he supposedly meant to describe as illegitimate, and did nothing to suggest that clicking on the "Yes, steal my password please, and say hello to Vladimir" button was a bad move.

I sure wouldn't want to be Delavan's neck right about now.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:07 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is all making me think back to the sudden and persistent rash of phishing attempts all across the university email system I use, in early August. Most likely, yeah, that's just from the idiotic way bare emails addresses were on every contact page of departmental websites, there for the scraping, but it was this huge burst of phishing that hadn't happened before or since in my time there. And a lot of people fell for it. I wonder if the FBI or someone is collecting reports of large phishing operations during the past year to sort through for evidence. If there are a lot of orgs out there who saw similar sustained bursts of phishing, and if they are related, maybe connections could be made with more data.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's pretty clear that there were targeted phishing attempts against a wide range of targets, including think tanks and university researchers, that linked back to the same group that targeted Podesta through the Bitly account. That's not to say that the ones at your university were related, plenty of people, er, fishing the same ponds, but the reports I've seen say they were going after thousands of addresses.
posted by zachlipton at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2016


Merely adding a negative prefix doesn't do a damn thing about his terrible advice, which undeniably agreed with the email he supposedly meant to describe as illegitimate, and did nothing to suggest that clicking on the "Yes, steal my password please, and say hello to Vladimir" button was a bad move.

Yeah that's my big problem with it. Even if autocorrect turned "illegitimate" into "legimate" on you, the responsible thing to do would be to follow up with "SO DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK. You should, to be safe, go to the official real Google password page and change your password and setup 2FA though, and I'm coming to your desk to tell you how to do that." Even without the typo, it's horrible advice just be all "that's illegitimate, change your password" without making it clear that the "change your password" link just down the thread is going to get you completely hosed.
posted by zachlipton at 4:16 PM on December 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah that's my big problem with it. Even if autocorrect turned "illegitimate" into "legimate" on you, the responsible thing to do would be to follow up with "SO DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK. You should, to be safe, go to the official real Google password page and change your password and setup 2FA though, and I'm coming to your desk to tell you how to do that." Even without the typo, it's horrible advice just be all "that's illegitimate, change your password" without making it clear that the "change your password" link just down the thread is going to get you completely hosed.

Most of that actually was in his email, to a degree. The NYTimes article links to, but does not quote, the Wikileaks page which contains his email in full:
This is a legitimate email. John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authentication is turned on his account. He can go to this link: https://myaccount.google.com/security to do both. It is absolutely imperative that this is done ASAP. If you or he has any questions, please reach out to me [by phone]
That email did not go directly to Podesta. The person it was sent to then forwards it to Podesta (without cc'ing the sender, so he can't see it or correct it), and unfortunately summarizes that advice as "The gmail one is REAL" and does not repeat the note that the link in the email should be ignored and that Podesta should go to gmail directly.

I'd still fault that for lack of clarity -- if you're telling someone to not follow a link in an email, maybe you should explicitly tell them to not follow the link and why rather than suggesting an alternative without explanation? -- but we should at least be clear in discussing it that his email consisted of more than a single sentence.
posted by cjelli at 5:40 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those of you still struggling to accept that it was Russia, read the article and let me know if you're still struggling.

The fact that the bit.ly URLs resolved to an address used for earlier Russian attacks is strong evidence that the phishing was done by Russian hackers, but I'm not convinced that it was state-sanctioned. Nothing in the article seems to address that. It was a great read, though.
posted by Coventry at 5:53 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's a fair point, cjelli, and while I'd seen Delavan's email before, WikiLeaks was returning an error when I tried to refresh my memory. Suffice it to say that this was not anybody's finest moment. An even less fine moment would be the fact that the FBI and the offsite contract IT helpdesk spent months playing phonetag and questioning whether the caller even was an FBI agent and nobody bothered to escalate the issue despite it's blindingly obvious level of importance.
posted by zachlipton at 5:53 PM on December 13, 2016


The thing about "Russian IP addresses" is that it ignores VPNs, Tor, etc.
posted by rhizome at 5:56 PM on December 13, 2016


Yes, rhizome, but according to an article we were discussing yesterday the address matched one which had been used in earlier Russia-attributed attacks. To the extent that that's true it could be pretty convincing that someone was using the same resources, although if the address was owned by Amazon or something I suppose there could be a clever way for someone else to acquire it after the Russians released it.
posted by Coventry at 6:02 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


An even less fine moment would be the fact that the FBI and the offsite contract IT helpdesk spent months playing phonetag and questioning whether the caller even was an FBI agent and nobody bothered to escalate the issue despite it's blindingly obvious level of importance.

For sure. If HFA was the point where one email's autocorrect was the difference between 'a problem' and 'not a problem,' then there was already a problem -- a problem in that the FBI did not more aggressively follow up, a problem in that security wasn't taken more seriously internally, a problem in that no one escalated things on either side (if you think someone is making a concerted attempt to impersonate an FBI agent maybe that is something worth looking into itself?), and and and. There are a lot of issues here that speak to real systemic changes that are needed to prevent one single autocorrect from mattering in the first place.
posted by cjelli at 6:05 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The fact that the bit.ly URLs resolved to an address used for earlier Russian attacks is strong evidence that the phishing was done by Russian hackers, but I'm not convinced that it was state-sanctioned. Nothing in the article seems to address that. It was a great read, though.

I mean, a long series of linked international attacks with fingerprints pointing to Russia, focusing on targets like the US Government and NATO officials and journalists investigating MH17, with no visible financial motive for the attackers would seem like a fair degree of circumstantial evidence that there's smoke here. That alone isn't enough evidence for war or anything, nor is an actual shooting war a particular option in this case, but it makes the "400 pound hacker" theory seem less than credible. Beyond that, really linking it to the Russian government is going to involve human and communications intelligence that may or may not exist, and it's frighteningly unlikely anybody will tell us much about it if it does.

On preview, there is substantially more to this than Russian IP addresses. Everybody involved in this investigation knows what a proxy server is.
posted by zachlipton at 6:06 PM on December 13, 2016 [15 favorites]


The 400lb hacker theory isn't plausible, no. Russian hackers moonlighting for Trump is very plausible, though.
posted by Coventry at 6:09 PM on December 13, 2016




The fact that the bit.ly URLs resolved to an address used for earlier Russian attacks is strong evidence that the phishing was done by Russian hackers, but I'm not convinced that it was state-sanctioned. Nothing in the article seems to address that.

This line addresses that:

"Two senior officials say the forensic evidence was accompanied by “human and technical” sources in Russia, which appears to mean that the United States’ implants or taps in Russian computer and phone networks helped confirm the country’s role."
posted by diogenes at 6:34 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


The NYT has a second story focusing on Democratic House Candidates Were Also Targets of Russian Hacking
posted by zachlipton at 6:35 PM on December 13, 2016


[We're not relitigating emails here. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 6:38 PM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


And then there's this:

"Cozy Bear — the group also known as the Dukes or A.P.T. 29, for “advanced persistent threat” — may or may not be associated with the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., but it is widely believed to be a Russian government operation."

and this:

"Fancy Bear, sometimes called A.P.T. 28 and believed to be directed by the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency, is an older outfit, tracked by Western investigators for nearly a decade."
posted by diogenes at 6:45 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's easier for me to believe that the Russian state was behind this than it is for me to believe that pro-Trump (or anti-Clinton) hackers spoofed Russian IP addresses to cover their tracks. That said, I feel like it's hard to rule anything out this year. I'm trying to maintain a healthy skepticism because I don't like having to choose between what the CIA wants me to think, on the one hand, and what Donald Trump and the FBI want me to think on the other. I mean, I'm having trust issues here.
posted by teponaztli at 7:06 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


"human and technical” sources in Russia, which appears to mean that the United States’ implants or taps in Russian computer and phone networks helped confirm the country’s role

Yeah, I don't buy that. A vague claim, from an untrustworthy source, speculatively interpreted by a reporter, telling me something I would desperately like to believe.
posted by Coventry at 7:13 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It looks to me as if there's good intelligence here that something happened, but we can't know the details (other than "emails were taken") because the means by which we learned it are too secret to compromise. Which is ironic, and shows the intrinsic failure of the security state: we can't stop things from happening, but if we know they happened we could confirm it, except we can't confirm that because it's a secret.

This whole intelligence edifice, seventeen organisations, facing what is potentially their biggest challenge ever, and the whole lot of them are useless by design.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:15 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


This whole intelligence edifice, seventeen organisations, facing what is potentially their biggest challenge ever, and the whole lot of them are useless by design.

The whole setup sort of relies on the assumption that the metaphorical pilot isn't the one who wants to take down the metaphorical plane.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:18 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, their job is to convince Obama, not us. Seems like a good bet that he'll approach the issue responsibly.
posted by Coventry at 7:55 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Which is ironic, and shows the intrinsic failure of the security state: we can't stop things from happening, but if we know they happened we could confirm it, except we can't confirm that because it's a secret.

Dude.

If our intelligence office doesn't have eyes and ears in the Russian government, we need to up our game. Spelling out exactly how we know what we know -- or, at least, all of the non-forensic sources of information we have -- is likely to get people killed.

Chances are (and this is the terrifying part), we have prevented some hacking attempts. The problem is, all it takes is for one to get through.

This isn't kabuki theater. This is an ongoing fight with a foreign country which has successfully sabotaged our elections. Unless you get an extremely high level of security clearance, you will almost certainly never know all of the details. (If we do find out the explicit details, especially, say, a few days before inauguration, be terrified, because that means the Obama administration thinks it needs to get information out in public.)
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:56 PM on December 13, 2016 [15 favorites]


If the Russian Federation was really behind it, any retribution needs to be completed in the next five weeks or so, unless Obama declares emergency powers. In which case maybe we get to do 2016 electoral politics all over again... I guess it beats nuclear annihilation.
posted by Coventry at 9:16 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


If our intelligence office doesn't have eyes and ears in the Russian government, we need to up our game. Spelling out exactly how we know what we know -- or, at least, all of the non-forensic sources of information we have -- is likely to get people killed.

If the Russian Government has really been interfering in US elections then there needs to be consequences.

At present, the US government is humming and hawing about how it sure looks like there's been some interference and how this complicated argument implies that it's the same team that was responsible for other stuff, which was associated with Russian hackers because when you something something something Vladimir and Estragon.

This quite clearly doesn't cut it, and I think the US government needs to say quite clearly (something that the Russian government undoubtedly knows): US intelligence was watching Russia and traced Russia and here's the things that Russia did to affect the election. If it actually includes interference with voting and/or registration, say that. If it's just releasing private emails, say that too. For goodness' sakes, get the information out there. Russia already knows what we know and how we know it. It's only us proles that need to be convinced.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:31 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Agreed. Given the claims at hand, at most, the Russian hacking, if there indeed was such a thing, simply steered the electorate, indirectly, with plenty of help from the American media and the FBI. If Russia actually interfered with the actual election, the CIA should show some cards.

That said, if the CIA merely wants the public to buy what they're selling, they've done their job. If this election cycle has taught us anything, it's that the only thing needed for an effective propaganda campaign is a juicy headline.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Current title on /r/the_donald: "Сделаем Америку Снова Великой." ("Make America Great Again.")
posted by Coventry at 10:34 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Have the people who are still doubtful of the Russia connection read the CrowdStrike analysis from six months ago? The warnings before that? The CIA didn't just make this all up out of whole cloth--we've seen it for a while. The sole difference is that instead of "Yes, the Russians were involved" they're saying "The Russians were involved with the goal of helping Trump." And that last bit has been obvious for months to anyone who's been paying attention.
posted by schroedinger at 12:02 AM on December 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


Of course the CIA didn't make it up out of whole cloth. But this has also been a terrible year for things appearing obvious, and I'm getting the horrible feeling of being manipulated. My own personal skepticism about the CIA doesn't mean I think they must be lying, and I doubt that they are. It's just that this information is being used for a political agenda that I have no way of completely understanding. I'm not ready to get behind an organization known for subtly manipulating people without them realizing it. They know exactly what they're doing, but the best any of us can do is speculate.
posted by teponaztli at 12:46 AM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hope they know what they are doing, and I hope it saves us from the collision course presidency we are currently headed towards. In reading The NY Times article the writer explicitly drew the parallels to watergate and how this is so much worse. Yet no one has really done anything about it, that we know of. It's infuriating. Obama was worried about perception, while Comey blatantly threw the election to Trump, the DNC was focused on infighting, and HFA was arrogant about her chances. It's like a comedy of errors and we are now facing a truly horrific incoming administration.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:59 AM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


So I have a question: in the post-internet/social media world, how would a country implement a misinformation/disinformation policy?

I realize propaganda is nothing new, but the ability to thoroughly scrub sources and to turn ordinary people (even friends and family) into megaphones represents a new type of threat. I can't really conceive of a solution that wouldn't compromise freedom of speech, or create diplomatic issues between accusing countries.

Perhaps I could imagine some kind of future where there's enforced geo-tagging on certain types of information, and information that couldn't be geo-located back to its original source would display a warning? But, I'm not sure how much that would really solve. Plenty of conspiracy theorists here in the West have no problem getting their information from something labeled "Russia Today."
posted by prosopagnosia at 4:52 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


conspiracy theorists here in the West have no problem getting their information from something labeled "Russia Today."

Speaking of that, I've started to notice Russia Today showing up in the top 5 of my Google News feed. What's up with that? Does Google really just lump it in with regular news organizations?
posted by diogenes at 5:54 AM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


teponaztli, I don't unquestioningly trust them. But two reasons I am inclined to believe this is not just politicization: first, if Obama really wanted to use this for political purposes, he would've brought this up before the election, Mitch McConnell's whining about partisanship be damned. Second, as I said before, the people in the intelligence community who are bringing this to the forefront are facing a lot of risk with very little reward. Pretty much everyone who worked on this is a normal government employee, not someone appointed who's got nothing to lose because they're leaving anyway. They know once he has the access, Trump is going to find out who worked on this project and sack them. They also know how government works, and even if revelations sink him eventually, he's still going to be POTUS on January 21st and still going to have the time to take revenge. And we're not just talking people working in gray buildings in DC. We're also talking about any sources or contacts in the field. Anyone living in, say, Russia or Eastern Europe who'd previously been keeping out of Putin's eyesight (though I suppose they were in danger anyway).

Everyone assumed Clinton was going to win, so when McConnell pitched a shitfit everyone held their tongue and figured this would all be over in weeks and then Clinton would take care of it. But now that Trump is going to be POTUS, it means if this information did not get out ASAP it would never get out at all. Frankly, given the preponderance of evidence I have not seen a counter-explanation that is not ridiculously convoluted or relies on ignoring everything that's been piling up for well over a year now. I do dearly hope that we do see either a leak or declassification of more of the documents around this though--but I imagine it will depend on how aggressive Congress gets about actually pursuing this.
posted by schroedinger at 6:19 AM on December 14, 2016 [25 favorites]


On upping our game vs Russia, the time for that has seemingly past. Trump is looking like a political/bureaucratic Sophon, stifling national progress (of any kind for any purpose) for the benefits of others.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:37 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


That said, if the CIA merely wants the public to buy what they're selling, they've done their job.

And the CIA would want this because...?
posted by asteria at 7:16 AM on December 14, 2016


And the CIA would want this because...?

To alert the vindictive asshole currently playing at President Elect that they want to be dismantled and the ground upon which they stood salted. Obviously. If this isn't true, there is absolutely zero reason for the CIA to stick out their neck right now and build themselves a chopping block.

I hope they know what they're doing, even if it is "just" alerting the public that the country has been massively compromised and their newly elected leader doesn't want to do anything about it because he, at the very least, benefited greatly from it.
posted by lydhre at 7:26 AM on December 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


Sophons are smart and restrained. More like a Vogon.
posted by Coventry at 7:26 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It isn't just the CIA saying that it was Russia! It's all 17 US intelligence agencies, the European intelligence agencies, and all of the outside forensic firms that have looked at this.

Nearly everybody with expertise in the Western world who has looked at this thinks that it was Russia. (With my apologies to the former ambassador to Uzbekistan who says it was a leak.)

If you want to say that you don't believe everybody in the Western world, that's your prerogative, but it's a strange stance to take.
posted by diogenes at 7:34 AM on December 14, 2016 [27 favorites]


To put it another way, either it was Russia, or it's a multi-nation, multi-decade false flag operation. One of those seems more likely than the other.
posted by diogenes at 7:48 AM on December 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


Further supporting the idea that it's Russia: last last week, both the UK and German intelligence agencies reported Russian hacking and interference in their countries and (for Germany) upcoming election.

I suppose one could claim that these other countries are coordinating or cooperating with the US specifically to release claims that will help the US right now, but that seems like a stretch. A simpler explanation is that Russia really is doing the same to them.
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


One of the weird things about the pushback on Russian influence in the election is how many of the same people would have little trouble believing the CIA was involved in trying to influence elections elsewhere. What the US would do to other nations, other nations would do to the US, and Russia is every bit as capable as the US in the abilities of their intelligence agencies, maybe even better given that they don't even have to feint towards government transparency.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:05 AM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think I've said before that this is some weird lefty version of American Exceptionalism but with America only being capable of doing the really bad stuff.
posted by asteria at 9:17 AM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


Why this is going to be an uphill, possibly pointless, battle:

GOP voters warm to Russia, Putin, WikiLeaks, poll finds

In the summer of 2013, WikiLeaks was viewed more negatively than positively by Republicans by a 47-point margin; Democrats, by a 3-point margin, also viewed it negatively. Now, Republicans view WikiLeaks favorably by a 27-point margin, a 74-point swing.

posted by bluecore at 9:29 AM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think I've said before that this is some weird lefty version of American Exceptionalism but with America only being capable of doing the really bad stuff.

I think there are people who got a lot of satisfaction out of Clinton's loss, and do not like the idea the narrative might change from "WikiLeaks and free speech defeats the Evil Empire" to "Putin played you like a fiddle, and Clinton is the victim here."
posted by schroedinger at 9:44 AM on December 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


There is absolutely a subset of the left who is almost gleeful because of Clinton's loss. We called them accelerationists before the election, now I just call them fuckfaces.
posted by lydhre at 9:46 AM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


One of the weird things about the pushback on Russian influence in the election is how many of the same people would have little trouble believing the CIA was involved in trying to influence elections elsewhere.

I'm Australian, and 95% confident that the US interfered in Australia's 1972 election to discredit the incumbent left-wing candidate. I throw that around in conversation like it's a sure thing. I'm about 75% confident that Russia interfered in the US election. The difference here is that the US has the capacity, and likely a perceived duty to itself, to wage war in response if that's what really happened. That's not something to discuss lightly, even if you're just a general member of the public, and especially when the only sources are people who've led the country to war on false pretences in the past.
posted by Coventry at 9:47 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


GOP voters warm to Russia, Putin, WikiLeaks, poll finds. Well, that's just great. We are well and truly fucked.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:47 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Coventry, seriously, what perceived duty to wage war against Russia? That is an unreasonable statement and it really shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what response Americans and the (sane) American government would want to see if the Russian government compromising the election were to be investigated thoroughly and proven.
posted by lydhre at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


what perceived duty to wage war against Russia?

If you believe Trump is a Putin mole and will take office on January 20, the US has five weeks to complete any retaliation. Sanctions and international disapproval aren't going to be effective on that timescale.
posted by Coventry at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2016


"GOP voters warm to Russia, Putin, WikiLeaks, poll finds."

How? This can't be all attributed to Trump's coat tails. What are the other influences? There has to be something else/additional going on.
posted by klarck at 9:56 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The retaliation wouldn't be against Russia. Retaliating against Russia is not what would stop Donald Trump from taking office, if Donald Trump were a Russian mole. You can condemn and sanction Russia later.

The investigation would be to uncover the extent of any Russian compromise, both in elected officials and appointed officials. If the RNC was hacked, if the Trump campaign knowingly collaborated with Russian intelligence/agents of Russian intelligence, if there is collusion now with Trump's cabinet picks: all of these are INTERNAL investigations, not one bomb needed or, god fucking forbid, intended.
posted by lydhre at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


We called them accelerationists before the election,

And where's the revolution I was promised when Clinton lost? Oh, right.

GOP voters warm to Russia, Putin, WikiLeaks, poll finds.

We'll see how long that lasts if Putin decides to test his theory about Russia's borders and goes after, say, Finland.


If you believe Trump is a Putin mole and will take office on January 20, the US has five weeks to complete any retaliation. Sanctions and international disapproval aren't going to be effective on that timescale.

What retaliation? We welcomed the fox into the henhouse.
posted by asteria at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


There is absolutely a subset of the left who is almost gleeful because of Clinton's loss. We called them accelerationists before the election, now I just call them fuckfaces.

The only two groups that got exactly what they wanted this election were the diehard deplorabes and those acc--fuckfaces. So, it's do or die time for that latter group as this will prove to be the ultimate test of their belief that we needed to tear everything down before their wisdom would prevail and we'd see a socialist revival. If it doesn't happen now then their entire belief system should be proven a sham, but I'm sure, like most doomsday cults, they'll try to find a way to reset the clock if the end times don't go as they plan.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


No sane leftist is happy, let alone "gleeful," that Clinton lost this election. Come on. This isn't about accelerationism (which barely exists) and you are completely misreading where the push-back against the Kremlin claims is coming from if you think that is what this is about. It stems (as I see it) more from a sense of exasperation at seeing yet another "but for," "this was a fluke result," "nothing to do with us" deus ex machina getting dragged out to exonerate Clinton for screwing up on an epic level, despite having had every advantage imaginable in the lead up to this election.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Retaliating against Russia is not what would stop Donald Trump from taking office, if Donald Trump were a Russian mole. You can condemn and sanction Russia later.

And what happens if there's proof the Russian Federation sanctioned the leaks, but no proof to legitimize blocking Trump's inauguration? As the meddilng behavior of the US itself shows, a nation can't just let something like that go, or the meddler will just keep on doing it.
posted by Coventry at 10:25 AM on December 14, 2016


The difference here is that the US has the capacity, and likely a perceived duty to itself, to wage war in response if that's what really happened.

That came out of left field.
posted by diogenes at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


the US interfered in Australia's 1972 election

Oops, 1975
posted by Coventry at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


And what happens if there's proof the Russian Federation sanctioned the leaks, but no proof to legitimize blocking Trump's inauguration? As the meddilng behavior of the US itself shows, a nation can't just let something like that go, or the meddler will just keep on doing it.

Then you sanction. And if Trump's cabinet doesn't sanction, you lobby for sanctions. You yell and scream and march to lobby for sanctions.

I mean, you seem to think that if we go down the rabbit hole it will inevitably have to end with WWIII or with President Trump shrugging it off. There's a fucking rabbit hole. We need to figure out what happened, Trump or no Trump.
posted by lydhre at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm all for figuring out what happened.
posted by Coventry at 10:31 AM on December 14, 2016


we need to ban muslims put the election on hold until we can figure out what's going on.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


One of the weird things about the pushback on Russian influence in the election is how many of the same people would have little trouble believing the CIA was involved in trying to influence elections elsewhere.

I can only speak as a foreigner, but from over here, part of that is a communication problem. "Russians hacked the elections" carries a lot of different meanings, each with a different level of believability and response, and I think this is where some skepticism is originating. I can believe Russia had a hand on this, but not they had both hands wrist-deep in the cookie jar unless the US democracy is so rotten no election has any legitimacy.

My take is that at this point, it seems almosr certain the hackers were Russian. The bigger question is if they were state-sponsored russian hackers (which is likely), or just russian hackers looking to hit some dirt to sell, and if so: was the buyer the SVR who was interested on a Trump victory, or some other non-state actor?
Other problem is defining how direct that influence was. I don't think hackers directly changed poll results (as in: hack into servers, change tallies). As I've said above, they don't even need that, with all kinds of suppression and vote-shaping going on for the past decades. But the release of the DNC emails and later the Podesta mails with FBIs dirty bomb surely had an undeniable indirect impact of the elections.

So, there's a lot of variables here, and I buy some of it - ie: state-linked (at least) russian hackers tilted heavily the public opinion before the election with the help of useful idiots on US institutions. This doesn't mean others also seem to try washing their hands (including strategists and media who couldn't stop talking about Trump when he was just a clown in the car, and later focused on shitty emails and "what Trump said today" than actual fucking policy) on "blame the Russians". It's just so convenient to at least cloud the waters suggesting there's a small office in the Kremlin with people dressed Matrix-style with hammer and sickle furry hats where they were looking at tallies in the middle of the rust belt going "100 LESS FOR HILARI, 500 MORE FOR GLORIOUS TROMP" than to admit they failed democracy and rethink their role in the political process, as well as find out where's the truth in all this.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It stems (as I see it) more from a sense of exasperation at seeing yet another "but for," "this was a fluke result," "nothing to do with us" deus ex machina getting dragged out to exonerate Clinton for screwing up on an epic level, despite having had every advantage imaginable in the lead up to this election.

This is kind of my point, though. The resistance to Russia's interference is part of this overall idea that because she was the favored Democratic candidate it meant Clinton was handed the whole election on a platter. It ignores that her favored status came after decades and decades of dedicated, high-profile public service. It ignores that she's been the target of misogynistic, conspiracy theories attacks since she first entered the public eye, and these all spun up again as soon as she announced. It ignores the fact that the media, the right, and the left were all too happy to buy into these attacks. It ignores that from the primary, her coverage was overwhelmingly negative, and after it was over she received less coverage with a more negative tone than Trump.

You can only claim she had every advantage if you miss the giant elephant in the room labeled "sexism". And now we find that the hate machine was further fueled by Russia. So. No. She had a fight from the beginning.
posted by schroedinger at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2016 [25 favorites]


As the meddilng behavior of the US itself shows, a nation can't just let something like that go, or the meddler will just keep on doing it.

We're talking about Trump here, so, yeah, yeah he can.
posted by schroedinger at 10:48 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's just so convenient to at least cloud the waters... than to admit they failed democracy and rethink their role in the political process, as well as find out where's the truth in all this.

Who is the "they" here?
posted by diogenes at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


including strategists and media who couldn't stop talking about Trump when he was just a clown in the car, and later focused on shitty emails and "what Trump said today" than actual fucking policy
posted by lmfsilva at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can believe Russia had a hand on this, but not they had both hands wrist-deep in the cookie jar unless the US democracy is so rotten no election has any legitimacy.

I mean, on several recent occasions, the candidate who got the most votes has lost because of a system that was established to preserve the institution of slavery while politicians work to systemically disenfranchise the descendants of said slaves. A widespread lack of legitimacy is not an entirely indefensible thesis here.
posted by zachlipton at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


I agree that much of US media sucks, but how would "the media" go about admitting that they failed democracy. What would that even look like?
posted by diogenes at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


WSJ opinion piece from yesterday: "But now that Mrs. Clinton has lost, her campaign is claiming the election really was rigged, albeit for Mr. Trump by Russian meddling, and it wants the Electoral College to stage what amounts to a coup".
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2016


Yeah WSJ can blow me.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


how would "the media" go about admitting that they failed democracy. What would that even look like?

Noticeably more good journalism, as in shoe-leather reportage, and less horserace celebrityism. I mean, you're basically asking what it would be like if the candy store started selling only vegetables. People would buy more vegetables there, unless they couldn't get over the store's lack of candy.
posted by rhizome at 11:29 AM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


but how would "the media" go about admitting that they failed democracy.

(don't want to go offtopic, so I'll keep it short).
Hate speech should not be allowed in modern mainstream political discourse. The media was happy to amplify everything he said, and they favoured him over everyone else because he meant better metrics. They preferred mud-racking over policy because tickers with scandals meant better metrics than something "boring" like, oh, dunno, the sustainability and value of labour in the era of outsourcing, gig economy and automation. Democracy needs a level of discourse on policy. But the whole media has long favoured shouting matches where nobody changes their opinion, but goes to bed feeling a lot better because they surely showed them.

This is what the media failing democracy looks like.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


This can't be all attributed to Trump's coat tails. What are the other influences? There has to be something else/additional going on.

It's pretty simple. They all hate liberal cosmopolitanism, broadly defined.

"Russians hacked the elections"

This can be taken to imply that Russians actually altered the electoral vote--something I've seen no credible evidence for so far--so I think it's clearer to say--as has been said--that there is evidence that suggests that Russia was behind efforts to discredit Clinton and assist Trump and lots of circumstantial evidence that suggests that Trump or the Trump campaign, possibly others, were complicit in those efforts.

It stems (as I see it) more from a sense of exasperation at seeing yet another "but for," "this was a fluke result," "nothing to do with us" deus ex machina getting dragged out to exonerate Clinton

That's a coversation to had, certainly. But whatever Clinton's failures, they have nothing to do with the possibility that Russia may have sought to put a candidate of their choice in the White House. To "push back" on such a shocking possibility simply out of concern that Hillary Clinton won't get a large enough share of the blame for her loss is just another instance of the rule that says however bad things are, Hillary Clinton is worse.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:39 AM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


Greenwald today
Heres the public evidence Russia hacked the DNC - Its not enough.
There’s a lot of evidence from the attack on the table, mostly detailing how the hack was perpetrated, and possibly the language of the perpetrators. It certainly remains plausible that Russians hacked the DNC, and remains possible that Russia itself ordered it. But the refrain of Russian attribution has been repeated so regularly and so emphatically that it’s become easy to forget that no one has ever truly proven the claim. There is strong evidence indicating that Democratic email accounts were breached via phishing messages, and that specific malware was spread across DNC computers. There’s even evidence that the attackers are the same group that’s been spotted attacking other targets in the past. But again: No one has actually proven that group is the Russian government (or works for it). This remains the enormous inductive leap that’s not been reckoned with, and Americans deserve better.
And apart from the normal children some of the commentry is worth a read.
posted by adamvasco at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2016


Greenwald today
Heres the public evidence Russia hacked the DNC - Its not enough.


The linked piece is not by Greenwald. Did you mean to link a different article?
posted by cjelli at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sam Biddle and not Greenwald, but close enough.

That's an excellent summary of much of what we have publicly. Some of the public evidence is circumstantial and vague.

We also have, as Biddle notes, the ODNI/DHS statement. That statement surely would not have gone out without the endorsement of President Obama, and the President has personally stood behind those conclusions in at least one interview. I agree that we need to know more, and that the response to this news should be proportional to what we know. The IC surely knows more that they feel they cannot reveal to protect sources and methods, but knowing the extent to which their conclusions are based on further circumstantial evidence is important, and that's something about which we have very little knowledge.

But I also have some degree of trust in the President here. I believe he generally knows to look for dissenting views, and given his approach to this election, I do not believe the decision to have the government issue an unprecedented public statement during the election in October (and it was surely his decision) was taken lightly. That trust is very much not unlimited, and I think the government ought to say more here about how strong the evidence really is, but I don't believe the outgoing President would spend his final months in office setting up a conflict with a nuclear-armed power unless he was confident in the attribution.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2016 [9 favorites]




"GOP voters warm to Russia, Putin, WikiLeaks, poll finds."
How? This can't be all attributed to Trump's coat tails.


I think it synergizes with Trump's candidacy perfectly. GOP Trump voters don't make a lot of sense if you assume that they want a well-governed nation made of effective policy and liberty and justice for all.

But many such voters don't want that. They want fights and battles and revolutions. They want to come off the winner against their imagined enemies: liberals, other races, other countries. Hence Trump's combative no-shame screw-your-eggheaded-facts narcissism looks like strength to rally to. It doesn't matter if he's right, it matters that he'll fight. It doesn't even matter that his interests aren't aligned with theirs in any meaningful sense, his manner is right and pisses off the right people.

Similar with Russia and Putin. If they were helping them win the election -- if they're even pissing off the right people -- they're allies. There isn't a principled conception of sovereignty or security to defend here, and won't be unless it's a personal incursion.

(Don't think this doesn't happen anywhere else, FWIW. I happen to think it's less common in liberal circles, but you don't get FB groups titled "Sweet Tears of Teabilly Butthurt" if you're immune to the pleasure of just pissing off the right people.).

WSJ opinion piece from yesterday: "But now that Mrs. Clinton has lost, her campaign is claiming the election really was rigged, albeit for Mr. Trump by Russian meddling, and it wants the Electoral College to stage what amounts to a coup".

A "coup" for which there happens to be a lawful contingency built straight into the venerated Constitution of the United States of America. One almost wonders if "coup" is the term for a responsible journalist to use.
posted by wildblueyonder at 2:16 PM on December 14, 2016 [17 favorites]




No one has actually proven that group is the Russian government (or works for it).

I feel like this is disingenuous in the same way that global warming denialism is disingenuous.

If the world is warming but we don't know why, the proper response is not business as usual but panic. Similarly, if there really were a conspiracy to frame Russia for hacking the DNC, the proper response would be horror -- from *Russia*. If the US were implicated in trying to hack the UK's elections, we would be doing our best to serve the real criminals up on a platter. Because the alternative is irreparable damage to our relationship with a major world power and one of our allies.

And the same can be said for the reaction from the Left. These weren't citizen hackers taking down a corrupt organization. This is an organized conspiracy to discredit one of the two major political parties -- putatively, the party with the closer policy ties. If this isn't Russia, it's a group that's just as well-funded, and you ought to be horrified.

Business as normal is not an appropriate response, provided you acknowledge the severity of the situation.

For the skeptics: Given that the US government is not going to put its insiders (or wiretaps) at risk, what information would convince you that Russia was responsible? Please be specific. Because saying "I'm not convinced" is only meaningful if there's evidence that could easily be provided that would convince you.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2016 [32 favorites]


But now that Mrs. Clinton has lost

This might just be me, but I'm starting to give the stink-eye to any journalistic outlet that refers to Hillary Clinton as "Mrs. Clinton" to create differentiation.
posted by corb at 2:31 PM on December 14, 2016 [20 favorites]


You're beating up on a straw berry, steady-state.
posted by Coventry at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2016


I feel like Obama needs to speak on the Russia subject soon. Harry Reid said that he knows there was collusion between Trump and Russia. I know he's often full of BS, but still, a sitting US Senator told us that he knows that the president-elect worked with a hostile foreign power to get elected. Obama can't just let that sit there if there isn't evidence.
posted by diogenes at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]




Wow!

The latest intelligence said to show Putin's involvement goes much further than the information the U.S. was relying on in October, when all 17 intelligence agencies signed onto a statement attributing the Democratic National Committee hack to Russia.

Now the U.S has solid information tying Putin to the operation, the intelligence officials say. Their use of the term "high confidence" implies that the intelligence is nearly incontrovertible.
posted by diogenes at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


Putin's net favorables among the American population over time. Any way to read this except that half of Republicans are scum?
posted by Justinian at 4:04 PM on December 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


If we've got assets that can connect this directly to Putin, it seems like if there are any ties going in the other direction, those will come out too.
posted by diogenes at 4:05 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


If we've got assets that can connect this directly to Putin, it seems like if there are any ties going in the other direction, those will come out too.
Yup. But the decision to make this public is really tough. Some people here have been talking civil war, I don't think so, but I am not American. Regardless, a Democratic president coming out to say a Republican PE is engaged with a hostile foreign power is not a piece of cake. I can understand any hesitation on the side of the president.
posted by mumimor at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


a Democratic president coming out to say a Republican PE is engaged with a hostile foreign power is not a piece of cake

And yet, if the parties were reversed? The Dem PE would be crucified, maybe literally.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


I know :-(
posted by mumimor at 4:22 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


For the skeptics: Given that the US government is not going to put its insiders (or wiretaps) at risk, what information would convince you that Russia was responsible? Please be specific. Because saying "I'm not convinced" is only meaningful if there's evidence that could easily be provided that would convince you.

I can only say so many times that I'm far more likely to believe the CIA (and yes, 16 other agencies) than to believe Trump and the Comey FBI. It is just that this has been a crazy year, and this is really unprecedented. I'm sure if I had half a brain it would have been obvious to me ages ago, but I really don't think I'm hurting anyone by being cautious to trust anyone completely right now. This isn't on the level of 9/11 truther, and I will say again it sure does seem like Russia was behind this. I just want to know what the CIA, specifically, wants to get out of going against their own PE, because I have no idea why they're doing what they're doing. Are they so worried about the prospect of a Trump presidency that they'll try to stop it? Whatever they're after, it may be motivated by a genuine conviction that making this public is the best way to protect my best interests as a citizen, but then, so are drone strikes.

For all intents and purposes I agree with everyone, and I even think it's most likely that it's all because Trump is such a potential danger to world peace. I feel like I've been pigeonholed into this skeptic position because I'm saying I'm not 100% on board with trusting anyone. It sounds like pretty much everyone is on the same page. This does not need to be such a big argument.
posted by teponaztli at 4:23 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Note the second half of the second paragraph of that NBC report.
The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said
Does that mean that the hacks were by allies and passed to the Russians to play with?
posted by adamvasco at 4:24 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yup. But the decision to make this public is really tough. Some people here have been talking civil war, I don't think so, but I am not American. Regardless, a Democratic president coming out to say a Republican PE is engaged with a hostile foreign power is not a piece of cake. I can understand any hesitation on the side of the president.

Honestly, the best thing might be for someone to leak it with a big ol' "fuck you for dragging your feet Obama" screed.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:29 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does that mean that the hacks were by allies and passed to the Russians to play with?

I think it's referring to the intelligence that implicates Putin.
posted by teponaztli at 4:30 PM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Daily Mail warning.
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and associate of Julian Assange, told the Dailymail.com he flew to Washington, D.C. for emails
He claims he had a clandestine hand-off in a wooded area near American University with one of the email sources
The leakers' motivation was 'disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the 'tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders'
Murray says: 'The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks'
'Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that,' Murray insists.

Craig on his blog December 14, 2016 at 22:16
Yes – I did not tell the Mail I was the guy who carried the emails back though. I think they were already with WikiLeaks before I went to Washington. Interestingly I also did not say it was an intermediary – I said I did not know if I knew the person’s real identity or they were operating under an alias, or if they were themselves the principal.
posted by adamvasco at 4:45 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should leave it at "daily mail warning"
posted by mumimor at 4:48 PM on December 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


It's frighteningly popular
posted by adamvasco at 4:51 PM on December 14, 2016


The leakers' motivation was 'disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the 'tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders'

Tulsi Gabbard?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just want to know what the CIA, specifically, wants to get out of going against their own PE, because I have no idea why they're doing what they're doing.

Maybe they're worried that after the next president and his cabinet are sworn in all their intelligence will be handed straight to Russia and all their operatives will be exposed, arrested, killed.
posted by dng at 5:02 PM on December 14, 2016 [37 favorites]


Craig Murray continues to make contradictory statements and engage in wink-wink-nudge-nudge games instead of clearly saying what he means. He has, at various times, claimed to know the source, claimed there are two sources and the leaks are separate (or maybe not), and claimed the source is an American. He has stated that as for the DNC leak, all he knows is that Assange says it has nothing to do with the Russians and he has no "direct personal access to the source." He has claimed the source is a whistleblower and an insider. He has claimed that "the person who was responsible for getting the information out had legal access to that information" and on several occasions played word games with the purpose of indicating that the (a?) source works for an intelligence agency.

In his interview (around 11 minutes), he even says "it's perfectly possible that WikiLeaks themselves doesn't know precisely what is going on" and then launches into Seth Rich murder conspiracy theories.

If he actually knows a source, he should shut the hell up because he's dribbling out bits of information that could compromise that person. If he does not, he should shut the hell up because he keeps claiming that he does, except now he's saying he doesn't know if the person he's been talking about all week is really an intermediary or not. How can he so confidently say Russians had no involvement if his assertions are based on a single meeting with someone that he doesn't know their real identity or even "if they were themselves the principal?"
posted by zachlipton at 5:11 PM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and associate of Julian Assange, told the Dailymail.com [...]

Adamvasco, I was going to write a longer response but it's been done here many times, so here's the abbreviated one: Craig Murray is full of shit and his lies aren't even consistent any more.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 PM on December 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


I blame a lot of this on Bush and Blair.
While I disagree, I completely understand why people have no trust in either the intelligence community or diplomacy. The blatant forgery and criminality during the 00's left everyone with no possible way back, because the very nature of both those activities is that there are no clear rules or methods. And that failure is a part of success.

It's not like Obama could ride in on that white horse and say from on, everyone does this and everything will be transparent and legal. It really doesn't work that way. One can't even say all diplomats and spies must be patriots, because sometimes other motives give brilliant results. Craig Murray is clearly both very bright and completely off, a proud tradition within British civil service. Whereas quite a lot of patriots are unable to comprehend other people's motivations and thus their actions and plans, and the whole point of both diplomacy and intelligence is to understand what other people are doing and why.

There is a huge difference between politicians cherry-picking amongst legit intelligence and failing, and then what Bush/Blair did: bully intelligence into delivering pre-prepared results. The first acknowledges that intelligence is not hard science, and you need experience and wisdom to gain from it. The second demonstrates that intelligence has no merit of its own, and is just a tool for manipulating, war-mongering autocrats.

So again, I get the suspicion. But use Occams razor here. Who are the war-mongering autocrats among the current actors? What would all the branches of US intelligence and several allies gain from this? It is obvious that everyone in government are really hesitant and uncertain about where to go. Because this is so disruptive. If they wanted to incite a pro-Clinton coup or an Obama third term, do you think they'd be fiddling in the corner? If so, they are not the masterminds some people imagine. A coup needs to be hard and fast. Obama and Clinton and everyone who supports them and works for them want to reinstate democracy, but they had no idea democracy was so vulnerable. Which was naive. But not conspiratory.
posted by mumimor at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


Though it breaks my heart, I don't think there's any possibility of Clinton taking office. I think the best we can hope for is Trump stepping down (or being impeached out) and living under President Pence. And as a queer woman, the fact that Pence would be the better option is real fucking dark.
posted by schroedinger at 5:45 PM on December 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


Though it breaks my heart, I don't think there's any possibility of Clinton taking office. I think the best we can hope for is Trump stepping down (or being impeached out) and living under President Pence. And as a queer woman, the fact that Pence would be the better option is real fucking dark.

Yeah, it's not great. It's "the guy who'll do terrible stuff domestically that we can come back and fix later" rather than "the guy who might start a trade war with China, let Putin do whatever he wants, and, then get us nuked over a Twitter remark or SNL sketch".
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:51 PM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I mean, there's no fixing the Supreme Court. But humanity will survive shitty Supreme Court judges. Nuclear war . . . prob not.
posted by schroedinger at 5:55 PM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


If Trump is directly implicated I can't see how it would be Pence, since he was part of the compromised campaign.

Which means it would be Ryan because congress shenanigans. So... fuck. But better than Trump and his politburo. So... fuck?
posted by lydhre at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, there's no fixing the Supreme Court.

Well, there is; it just takes 40 or so unpleasant years of waiting it out.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:07 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Which means it would be Ryan because congress shenanigans.

Like an ironic Twilight Zone punishment, Ryan himself is able to sign a Ryan budget and gutting of Social Security and Medicare into law, only to find that nobody else in Congress ever wanted it half as much as him and the bills never cross his desk.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:17 PM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


Ryan himself is able to sign a Ryan budget and gutting of Social Security and Medicare into law, only to find that nobody else in Congress ever wanted it half as much as him and the bills never cross his desk.

So lovely to imagine him sitting on the steps of the Capitol, breaking down in tears. "That's not fair. That's not fair at all! There was time now!"

NBC News sources: Intel shows Putin personally directed how hacked material was leaked

For the first time since I watched The Day After for the first time, I find myself torn by a question: Do I head to some desolate location that I know will be fairly "safe," believing that somehow, some way, I can make it through what comes next; or do I head straight for the nearest place that I know is sure to get nuked to hell so that it ends mercifully swiftly for me?
posted by lord_wolf at 6:28 PM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


dunno about you but i'm opting for 'vaporization in the fireball'.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Does that mean that the hacks were by allies and passed to the Russians to play with?

10 out of 10 for effort, man. You're apparently willing to entertain any theory whatsoever that doesn't directly implicate the Russian government.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:39 PM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


People seem to be treating this unsourced leak as news. It's probably smart to wait for some kind of official commitment.
posted by Coventry at 6:41 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


If the ramblings of the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan are treated as news, I sort of feel like information provided on background to major media organizations who put their reputation behind their sources should be treated as news. The news may end up being "the sources are full of shit", but it's still news, and certainly more noteworthy than the latest version of "Craig Murray says NUH-UH!"
posted by tonycpsu at 6:45 PM on December 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


When I'm feeling optimistic I like to ponder the fact that Melania and Barron aren't moving to the White House, that Trump is insisting on maintaining a residence at Trump Tower, and think... Maybe he isn't planning on staying. Maybe he knows he's getting impeached. Or quitting, like Sarah Palin! Maybe the Republican establishment kind of knows it too, and that's why they made him take on Mike Pence as a running mate, the guy they actually wanted. Maybe the reason they all got behind Trump eventually even though they seemed to hate him initially is because they thought "Well, if he wins, then we're definitely in control of congress, and we can get rid of him whenever we want. So get him elected and make sure he has a VP we like."

Maybe con artists know you can only run the con for so long before it starts to collapse and you have to get out of Dodge.

When I'm feeling optimistic...
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:55 PM on December 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


tonycspu: I just mean that existential freak outs about anonymous leaks from a historically unreliable source are probably premature. Sure, it's news worth talking about, but it's a fact about an anonymous leak from someone who thinks they've shown Putin directed the DNC leaks. Such leaks prove to be inaccurate all the time, so it's not necessarily a widely-held view within the government investigation that Putin has been implicated with "high confidence." Definitely not worth moving to Montana to avoid nuclear annihilation over.
posted by Coventry at 7:00 PM on December 14, 2016


Montana has a bunch of ICBM silos, so not the best place for escaping the rain of fire.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've thought mostly consistently that Trump doesn't want to be President. I think he's totally irritated at having won. I wish I was as sure of it as I used to be, but the obstinacy about Trump Tower does gives me a tiny glimmer of something akin to hope. Sometimes. These are dark, cold days.
posted by agregoli at 7:22 PM on December 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


President Pence makes me feel sick to my stomach, but President Pence, with no mandate, less than four years to operate, working within a Republican party that has been tarnished good and ugly by the most revealing impeachment hearings the country has ever seen, and facing a massively resurgent and furious left that retakes a shocking chunk of the legislative branch in 2018, and a wildly popular fresh-faced Presidential candidate coming at him like a tsunami in 2020... I feel like that, maybe, we could survive?

I don't know, call me crazy, but they tabled the Voter ID laws in Michigan yesterday and I'm sort of feeling like maybe, if we all keep from succumbing to despair, there's still a crack where the light could get in.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2016 [26 favorites]


Johnny Wallflower: Montana has a bunch of ICBM silos, so not the best place for escaping the rain of fire.

I don't see us getting nuked in that way. If I'm guessing ways things could escalate out of control, it could be with Iran. He's got a bunch of tough-talkin' former Generals in his cabinet who are most likely itching to bomb them, plus the hardliners in Israel, plus he's talked himself into a corner with the Iran deal being bad and hating Muslims, so he'll try to push Iran on the deal. How will they respond? Will it escalate?

I could see us bombing nuclear facilities in Iran. Will it stop there? Will Iran take out ships in the Strait of Hormuz? If they take out an aircraft carrier with a ship missile or a fast attack boat laden with explosives, I could see him releasing a tactical nuke on a city or base in Iran, and then all of us with have that stain on our souls for the rest of our lives.

But if I'm Putin, knowing that I've now got a reactionary hot head at his adversary's helm, I'd probably jumpstart our final demise (or solidify his puppet's power depending on how you look at it) by delivering chaos to our doorstep. A bomb in NYC? Not traceable back to them, obviously. Then Trump could start a war with whomever is blamed and we'd send our young men and women off to die and drain our coffers in another pointless war. Or he could claim it was an assassination attempt that meant to take him out and enact martial law. RT.com, Breitbart, and the fake news system will claim there's evidence of traitors in the government, that it was a coup attempt. Enemies will be rounded up, jailed, elections suspended "just until we figure out what's going on" and so on... And that's how the American experiment ends.

Is it likely? I don't know. Shit like this happens elsewhere. We're not special in any way.
posted by bluecore at 7:57 PM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


(My previous reply was slightly off topic from the Russian hacking, but I was just highlighting how the Russians helping Trump get elected doesn't automatically mean a lack of conflict if it serves their purposes.)
posted by bluecore at 8:03 PM on December 14, 2016


If we can say with such confidence that the Russians are punking us, then what happened to the unleaked RNC hack that they also supposedly did?
posted by rhizome at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


plus he's talked himself into a corner with the Iran deal being bad

I don't disagree about the risk of war with Iran, but I'm not sure "having been talked into a corner" is anything Trump cares about. He was talking to the tech CEOs today about lowering trade barriers for them.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:22 PM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


If we can say with such confidence that the Russians are punking us, then what happened to the unleaked RNC hack that they also supposedly did?

They didn't release it. Why would they, when they could hold it over the Republican government?
posted by schroedinger at 10:22 PM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


The recent leak sounds a lot like Eichenwald's earlier claims based on information from "officials from two European countries." Maybe they tracked his sources down.
posted by Coventry at 10:59 PM on December 14, 2016


Eichenwald's earlier claims ... Maybe they tracked his sources down.

Truly nowhere is safe, for the NSA has penetrated even the human imagination.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:06 AM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why do you believe he made the whole thing up?
posted by Coventry at 4:04 AM on December 15, 2016


[Craig Murray] claims he had a clandestine hand-off in a wooded area near American University with one of the email sources

FWIW, the location identified in that article is behind the parking lot of the former Department of Homeland Security HQ, which before that was a facility housing one of the major military codebreaking offices that led to the creation of the NSA. Someone in this chain of events (if it's accurately described, obviously) is being too clever by half.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:42 AM on December 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


Now that I've had a bit more time to think about it, calling Murray's story "too clever by half" may be understating things a bit. For starters, there's Murray himself. Meeting up to exchange politically sensitive data is fine for some rando, but it stretches credulity that a former member of a foreign diplomatic corps and known associate of Julian Assange could pull it off so easily, least of all right next to a structure that is wired with surveillance (and probably ECM, too) out the wazoo. His insistence on chasing the Seth Rich assassination theory is convenient, too, because it gives him both a potential source and adds to the conspiratorial bent of the whole story.

And then there's the location. The park he and/or his source chose seems perfect...if you're not from DC. If you're from out of town and are looking at a map for what appears to be the largest park in the area of the city that you're likely to visit, it's great. After all, outside of downtown, NW DC is probably the most well-known to visitors, as well as the location of most of the embassies and other diplomatic buildings in the city. It's not the biggest park in DC, though, not by a long shot. It's not even in the biggest park in NW DC. Both honors go to Rock Creek Park, which, if you're looking at an online map, doesn't show up as a "park" per se. There are also a lot of apartments/condos and $500k+ houses in the area, which would make the property near the park chock-full of security cameras. It's not the kind of place that screams "secret rendezvous," and it's probably not anywhere near the top of the list of places where someone who lived or worked in DC would think of for one. But here's the real kicker: the location where they meet just so happens to be the location of a major plot point in the show House of Cards, where SPOILER ALERT power-hungry schemer and Southern Democrat Frank Underwood murders a reporter SPOILER ALERT. I mean, come on. You couldn't get more on-the-nose if you tried.

In the end, Murray's story sounds great on paper, but only if you're unfamiliar with the federal government or international diplomacy or DC itself. But even if you just scratch the surface it seems like the details are both incredibly inconvenient for actual skulduggery and much too convenient for the narrative of Murray as a daring Wikileaks operative infiltrating the DC political world to bring down the alt-right/conservative fever swamp caricature of the Clintons.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:52 AM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]




Not to sit in this thread, but in many ways I wish that "faithless elector" nonsense never took off, because now people arguing that the CIA is lying use "Clinton wants to flip the electors" as the motivation. Nobody remotely familiar with politics actually believes 37 people chosen for their loyalty to Trump are going to risk their social circles and reputation to vote for Clinton, especially in an election this divided. Even if they vote for a third candidate then the vote goes to the House and Trump gets sworn in anyway. Commentators arguing this are either drowning in their own sea of Clinton conspiracy theories, or they're being purposely disingenuous in order to divert attention from the issue.
posted by schroedinger at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wish that "faithless elector" nonsense never took off, because now people arguing that the CIA is lying use "Clinton wants to flip the electors" as the motivation.

If it weren't that, they'd've just invented some other reason not to believe it. "The CIA is lying because they all get their cheese pizza a Comet Ping Pong." "The CIA is lying because they're in league with China!" "The CIA is lying because they support the TPP!"
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


Commentators arguing this are either drowning in their own sea of Clinton conspiracy theories, or they're being purposely disingenuous in order to divert attention from the issue.

Or they are grasping at straws because they really feel the need to hold on to anything that seems hopeful, no matter how small.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:46 AM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


A sentence I find myself surprised to utter: I believe the spooks.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:48 AM on December 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


I believe the spooks.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet


Eponysterical!
posted by diogenes at 7:53 AM on December 15, 2016 [24 favorites]


"The CIA is lying because they support the TPP!"

Well, has the CIA mentioned their stance?
posted by asteria at 7:59 AM on December 15, 2016


The Democratic Party Allies with the CIA; Renee Parsons; Counterpunch

I don't know who Renee Parsons is when she's at home but she almost immediately alleges that the CIA killed JFK to keep him from dismantling "the Deep State."

If you believe that, then I guess it's much easier to believe that this Russian controversy is merely a "false flag op" by the agency for nefarious reasons of their own. Maybe it has something to do with lizard people, I don't know.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'd somehow missed this:

On Nov. 10, two days after the election, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said “there were contacts” between Moscow and Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives,” Mr. Ryabkov said.

In light of the evidence (loaded word I know) that Putin was orchestrating the use of the hacked information to benefit Trump, is there an acceptable amount of "staying in touch" with Russian representatives?
posted by diogenes at 8:14 AM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wish I could make everyone understand...

1) Clinton CANNOT be president at this point. It would lead to a backlash that could turn into a civil war. it would grind all functioning of government to a stop because Congress would refuse to work with her. It's off the table. The electors can throw the election to the House of Representatives, who would select a Republican, or Clinton's electors could throw their support behind a Republican and convince 37 Republican electors to go along and get a different Republican elected. Those are the only possible things "faithless electors" could realistically achieve right now. Both still result in a Republican president.

2) When people accuse Russia of "hacking the election," they mean "using hacked information to sabotage a major US political party to get their own preferred candidate elected" not "actually changing votes." There's no evidence that any votes were actually changed and no one is saying there is. (Though since the only recount that was completed was Wisconsin's and even that wasn't done 100% by hand, it's hard to say conclusively that it's impossible either.)

3) The hacking itself is not the biggest issue here. The biggest issue here is Donald Trump's questionable loyalty. He is not taking intelligence briefings. He is accusing the CIA of lying. He is repeating Putin's talking points, including falsehoods originating in Russian propaganda. He is supporting Putin's agenda. He and his campaign and cabinet teams have long personal and financial histories with Russian interests, which he still hasn't fully disclosed. The hacking is just an additional strong indication that there is something inappropriate about Trump's relationship with Russia, but it is far from the only indication. That inappropriate relationship rather than the hacking itself is the bigger issue.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:29 AM on December 15, 2016 [39 favorites]


Holy shit. The White House literally used the nuclear hotline to warn the Russians against cyberterrorism and trying to affect the outcome of the election.

In our new Cold War, deterrence should come before detent:
The White House sent a secret “hotline”-style message to Russia on Oct. 31 to warn against any further cyber-meddling in the U.S. election process. Russia didn’t escalate its tactics as Election Day approached, but U.S. officials aren’t ready to say deterrence worked.

The previously undisclosed message was part of the high-stakes game of cyber-brinkmanship that has been going on this year between Moscow and Washington. How to stabilize this relationship without appearing to capitulate to Russian pressure tactics is among the biggest challenges facing President-elect Donald Trump.

The message was sent on a special channel created in 2013 as part of the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, using a template designed for crisis communication. “It was a very clear statement to the Russians and asked them to stop their activity,” a senior administration official said, adding: “The fact that we used this channel was part of the messaging.”

posted by zarq at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Former presidents have the right to also receive intel briefings. My understanding is that they usually don't, but if Trump is going to decline his, I hope Bill, W, and Barack take the intelligence guys up on the offer for the next four years.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:39 AM on December 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


The hacking is just an additional strong indication that there is something inappropriate about Trump's relationship with Russia, but it is far from the only indication. That inappropriate relationship rather than the hacking itself is the bigger issue.

I agree, but it's the intersection of the hacking and the relationship that is particularly problematic. Russia interfering with our election to benefit a particular candidate is inherently bad, but if Putin had done it outside any relationship with Trump or his campaign, and solely because he believed it was beneficial to his interests, it wouldn't really implicate Trump. But if Trump had an ongoing relationship with Putin before and during the hacking and the use of the results, that's an existential threat that cannot stand.
posted by diogenes at 8:41 AM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


I hope Bill, W, and Barack take the intelligence guys up on the offer for the next four years.

Weirdest Three Musketeers remake ever.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:44 AM on December 15, 2016 [25 favorites]


The biggest issue here is Donald Trump's questionable loyalty.

Yeah, that's something that really should be coming out of everybody's mouth's now: where does Trump's allegiance lie?

Lately I've been wondering if Trump's harmful actions toward defense contractors was done at the direction of his Russian handlers. It's all too easy to imagine the "We're just asking questions" headlines that would be all over Fox and NPR if Clinton were the one with ties to Russia tweeting things that caused defense contractor stocks to drop.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's still somewhat shocking to me that there is so little deeper questioning of Trump's ties to Moscow, I mean they're pointed out in general and often vague ways, but matched with the likelihood of Russian interference in the election harming Clinton, it's sort of flabbergasting that articles like this one from NPR: Trump's Men In Moscow: Trump Disciples Suddenly Showing Up In Russia are written without even directly mentioning how unprecedented it is that Trump allies are meeting with the country being accused of cyber-warfare in the US elections which Trump benefited from.

Sure, one can draw whatever inferences one wants from the piece, but NPR somehow decided that the important point here was on how Trump's administration handles sanctions against Russia, not that his buddies are meeting with the people who may have illegally acted to get him elected at significant risk. It's like reading about the early days of the Watergate break in and having NPR focusing on what it means for the future of hotel and office security. Maybe someone might just start looking into those relationships a little more closely or even just point out the obvious conflict of interests involved here, maybe?

This all is starting to feel like people really just don't want Trump's presidency to significantly different than those before, so they're going to pretend it isn't as long as they possibly can to maintain our lovely status quo.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:03 AM on December 15, 2016 [28 favorites]


I imagine all of the "cyber attacks" would have been complete by 10/31.
posted by rhizome at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2016


This all is starting to feel like people really just don't want Trump's presidency to significantly different than those before, so they're going to pretend it isn't as long as they possibly can to maintain our lovely status quo.

Given the long list of unprecedented behavior the media has let skirt on by, I suppose "light treason" is just another on the list.

#Bluth4Prez
posted by schroedinger at 9:15 AM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


When people accuse Russia of "hacking the election," they mean "using hacked information to sabotage a major US political party to get their own preferred candidate elected" not "actually changing votes."

Yes. But its hard to blame people, especially those who are especially casual or partisan readers, from being confused, when pretty much all media is running with some version of "election hacks" or "election hacking". Quite deliberately, I am sure, to keep this as muddy as possible.

It's as annoying as the conflation of the very different terms "election fraud" and "voter fraud", which was also done deliberately to keep people confused during the last few elections.
posted by rokusan at 9:32 AM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think that, just as with so many things about Trump, people are giving him a kind of pass on the Russian thing because it seems so unbelievable and so crude. It's like the crassest kind of 1950s red-baiting (except, of course, that Russia has abandoned all its socialist aims) - a president who is a tool and ally of Moscow, and who has gotten into the highest office in the land with the goal of helping out the Russians, to whom he is in hock!

I think we have to keep beating this drum - it seems like something that could turn into more and more of a story the more it's brought to the public's attention.

Honestly, at first I figured all of this was just "crass international wealthy people are all friends of course" and there wasn't anything in it. Also, at the time I figured that Trump was dumb. I don't think he's dumb now - I think he's really smart, but he doesn't bother being smart at anything that doesn't interest or benefit him directly. I think he plays dumb because it wrongfoots people and he's learned that people don't call you on stuff very often. I think he and his family and his advisors are in it with Putin and I think there's a very strong possibility that they actually are planning to rule like Putin rules. I think this is a very strong cue that we can expect not just standard American attacks on the popular vote, standard hostility to dissent, etc, but an actual coordinated campaign from the presidency to suppress votes at scale or possibly cancel elections, not to mention all the other Putin-esque attacks on dissent, reporters, gays, etc.

One thing: much hay has been made on the alt-right about how the Clintons are supposed to have killed all these people. Which means that when enemies of the Trump administration turn up with polonium in their tea, etc, the narrative will be that after the Clintons' murder spree of course the Trump administration got pushed to the wall and had to take strong measures. Similarly with all the Clinton pedophilia stories - if it comes out that someone in the Trump administration has committed the kind of sexual crime that even the right finds it difficult to hand-wave away, they can just say "well, at least he didn't run a child trafficking ring unlike the Clintons".

Gangsterism is the word for this type of politics, I believe, and we are being softened up for it.
posted by Frowner at 9:35 AM on December 15, 2016 [31 favorites]


1) Clinton CANNOT be president at this point. It would lead to a backlash that could turn into a civil war. it would grind all functioning of government to a stop because Congress would refuse to work with her.

Point A seems unlikely. And if it does happen, Clinton has majority backing so unless there's a legit split in the military or a palace coup a civil war ends real fucking fast.

We lived through Point B for six years, so while it would suck to once again not have a loyal opposition that isn't the end of the world.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:33 AM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


To further theorize on unlikely hypothetical nightmare civil wars:

1) Trump maybe goes full autocrat with Republican blessing. You get to struggle against the US and state militaries.

2) The not-lazy and blowhard portions of the right wing maybe begin a civil war and struggle against the US and state militaries after a Clinton election.

I vastly prefer option 2, as someone who would be sprinting at hypothetical machine guns.

If you think that there are a lot of magically courageous people are going to risk their careers and life trajectories on stopping a nightmare process from the inside, and one much larger than themselves, I'm 99.999% certain you will be disappointed. Especially after the semi-public evisceration of whistleblowers these past eight years.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Point A seems unlikely. And if it does happen, Clinton has majority backing so unless there's a legit split in the military or a palace coup a civil war ends real fucking fast.

I don't have much doubt that today's military and police forces would split heavily towards Trump. I agree the war would be over very quickly. And the Democrats would lose.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:44 AM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't find any new polling, pre election it was a 50/40 split for Trump. Couple that to whoever doesn't want to risk their career for reasons X, Y, and Z. I don't see the military backing Republicans substantially.

AND all this polling was done prior to the Putin connection. How do soldiers feel about putting their lives on the line for a guy who won for/with/because of Russia?
posted by Slackermagee at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can't stop thinking about the fact that the only aspect of the Republican Party platform that Trump took any interest in was policy towards Ukraine.

When Republican Party leaders drafted the platform prior to their convention in Cleveland last month, they had relatively little input from the campaign of then-presumptive nominee Donald Trump on most issues — except when it came to a future Republican administration's stance on Ukraine.

When she presented her proposal during a platform subcommittee meeting last month, "two gentleman," whom Denman said were part of the Trump campaign, came over, looked at the language, and asked that it be set aside for further review.

She says after further discussion the pair "had to make some calls and clear it." She says they found the language was still too strong.

How does that series of events come to pass without some communication with Moscow?
posted by diogenes at 10:56 AM on December 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


The least nefarious possible explanation for Trump's relationship with Russia is that he is an unwitting agent, but does an unwitting agent really fight to weaken language about aid for Ukraine in the party platform (and only fight for that)?
posted by diogenes at 11:03 AM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


unwitting agent

Please, let's use the technical term: "useful idiot." It's applicable in more ways than one.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:07 AM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't stop thinking about the fact that the only aspect of the Republican Party platform that Trump took any interest in was policy towards Ukraine.

Yup. It stank then and it stinks now.

How does that series of events come to pass without some communication with Moscow?

Manafort.
posted by mazola at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Manafort.

Probably, but how does that work? Does he operate independently and just stick up for Russia's interests in general. Or does he talk to them and strategize with them?
posted by diogenes at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2016


I obviously don't know anything for sure but I can see a scenario where Manafort flatters Trump, manages to find ways for money to flow to him, and becomes trusted. Trump could care less about actual policy, he's just a useful idiot and allows Manafort to do his thing behind the scenes. In short, Trump's too dumb to be in on it. He's simply narcissistic, self-serving, and vindictive and Manafort exploits this.
posted by mazola at 11:24 AM on December 15, 2016




Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in the UK is resorting to meme warfare.

Between this and Emojigate yesterday, can we just kill Twitter already?
posted by zachlipton at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2016


Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in the UK is resorting to meme warfare.

what is this world we live in i don't understand anything anymore
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Cute dog, though.
posted by Coventry at 12:05 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


they're good dogs Brent (that exchange is, incidentally, the reason why Twitter should not be killed)
posted by zachlipton at 12:10 PM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


This whole thing is, among other things, a terrible shame for anyone in the Russian civil service who just wants to be, like, a regular civil service person doing a regular civil service job. I'm not saying things aren't pretty dysfunctional in Russia, but there are plenty of ordinary people doing ordinary, competent work who are going to get blamed and tarred by the disgraceful stuff.

This whole thing is such an...ideological disaster. Like, I never wanted to feel this kind of opposition to another state - it's stupid, bankrupt politics, and why would I stan for the great United States of America, funder and apologist for things like the massacre at El Mozote? And yet on the sheer "Frowner living a life" level, I do not want things to get worse and more Putinist here than they already are, and that seems to require saying loudly that we do not want Putin's influence in our elections, we do not want our officials buddying up to Putin's cronies, etc.

In some ways I feel like this is worse than the Cold War, because if it goes on it will pit ordinary people against each other even more. I remember the Cold War, and the sort of "popular left" framing was always that ordinary people were better than their political masters and that Russians and Americans basically wanted the same kinds of things if we weren't kept apart by our leaders and their corruption and paranoia. I always thought favorably of Russia, in fact, and until the friend of a friend was thrown out of a highrise window during a break-in in Moscow in the early 2000s I was making fairly serious plans to go and teach there. Even that made me think unfavorably only of, like, the actual throwers.

It's not that now I'm thinking "ordinary Russians, boo hiss", it's that the political angle on this situation seems so much worse and so much more likely to stoke a pervasive hatred.
posted by Frowner at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Hey, do you guys remember when Paul Manafort said the Incirlik NATO airforce base in Turkey had been attacked by terrorists, and it turned out the there were no terrorists?

No? That's probably because it happened around the time Trump suggested "second amendment solutions" should Clinton win.

Anyway he seems to have gotten that fake story from Russian propaganda. But definitely not from a CIA briefing 'cause Trump doesn't trust the CIA.

I dunno that story just seems pretty relevant now, and doesn't get talked about much.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:12 PM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Frowner, for what it's worth, I absolutely see the Russian people as Putin's victims. I feel sorry for them in the same way that I feel sorry for us, under Trump. I absolutely don't want to go to war with Russia. But I don't think they want to go to war with us either. So there is a lot of space between "war" and "grant their every request" which a normal administration would be able to occupy.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


This Vox article has some good insights about the domestic politics of Russia.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:20 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


The least nefarious possible explanation for Trump's relationship with Russia is that he is an unwitting agent.

Well, no, the least nefarious possible explanation would be that he is some kind of master politician/diplomat who is playing Putin by pretending to go along with him, as part of a multi-year strategy to defeat and marginalize Russia both militarily and economically.

Now if you said most realistic on the other hand, like in this actual world...
posted by rokusan at 12:50 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


What has impressed me most about Trump in the month or so since the election is the way he hides the fact that he actually does have a plan. Sometimes he doesn't have a plan and he's just fakin it until he makes it - but in other instances, he does. Like I think he really sees being Pres as a big money making opportunity and not much else. The big 'tell' that he has a plan is when he actually says or does something definite, like not condemning Russia's potentitial involvement in the election. Condemning it only does him good - at least with his constituents. I don't know what he thinks he's doing with Russia - but let's imagine he has a thing with Putin going on. I honestly don't know who the joke's on, Putin who might well kill Trump if Trump bails on his side of the deal, or Trump who is a chronic screwer-of-the-people-he-is-working with. I can imagine misery from their relationship more easily than joy. Like watching a mantis and a wasp trying to come to terms. What I'm saying is, there is the potential for a positive outcome here, though not necessarily for the principles.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:51 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Say we assume that Trump is "only" a useful idiot. Someone in his circle has to be more than that, right? It can't be useful idiots all the way down. At some point, the entity for whom the idiot is useful has to have a way to direct him. They can't rely on the idiot just randomly furthering their interests.
posted by diogenes at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is really starting to feel like we're discussing W's administration again.
posted by rokusan at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in the UK is resorting to meme warfare.

Quick! Someone photoshop Putin pointing to a dog and saying "The dog farted!" We must not allow a meme gap!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:19 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


What is Trumpski apoplectic over today? The possibility of Russian meddling in American politics? Or a bad review of Trump Grill in Vanity Fair magazine? The latter, naturally.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Trump is, if nothing else, much smarter than people give him credit for. I mean, he doesn't know policy, but that's because he doesn't care and he doesn't need to. Why not go off on someone on Twitter? It'll just make the opposition stew more. People keep talking about how much he didn't want this to happen, but he's exactly where he wants to be. We need to stop taking presidents seriously when they play the idiot routine.
posted by teponaztli at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


As I think about this Russian business, it seems like here's the really bad bit: Two things are happening simultaneously - Trump and Putin are allied in their own interests and the US is pursuing its usual geopolitical angling, part of which is against Russia. So you can't really trust the US narrative about, e.g., our aims in Syria (even though we know that Russia/Assad are targeting civilians; that's not the same as believing that the US has great aims in the region; there can be two bad guys in proxy conflict). But at the same time, you know that Putinist aims and influences are bad and dangerous.

So basically you have to have a "neither Washington nor Moscow" approach, and that is, historically, not the easiest to explain or most successful one. And it's complicated by the fact that you have to be "Moscow? No thanks!" in terms of on the ground US stuff just for your own future.
posted by Frowner at 2:03 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, what I see on the left of center (in the media, not here) is everyone rushing to align themselves with a state - either the US didn't do anything bad to Russia or Putin is the US's fault, Russia is blameless, they have valid national interests in Latvia, whatever. Either you're supposed to ignore US meddling in Russia since 1989 or you're supposed to believe that Manafort and Trump's other buddies and Ivanka vacationing with Putin's girlfriend and Trump stanning for Putin and taking the Russian line on Ukraine just don't mean anything. Because you have to sign up with one of the great powers, ideologically speaking.
posted by Frowner at 2:13 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Trump is, if nothing else, much smarter than people give him credit for. I mean, he doesn't know policy, but that's because he doesn't care and he doesn't need to.

If he were really smarter than people give him credit for, his casinos wouldn't have gone bust. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, sort of, but honestly I can't see him as having more than the low-level canniness that isn't really "smart" that other grifters have too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


New York Times’ narrative of Russian hacking: War propaganda in the guise of news
As “news,” the article by Lipton, Sanger and Shane does not conform to the most elementary standards of journalism. It is based entirely on unnamed or clearly partisan sources. By the article’s own account, the authors consulted “dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response”—in other words, the Democratic Party officials and US intelligence agents who originated the story of Russian hacking. There is no attempt to present opposing opinions or challenges to statements in the article that are clearly absurd.
...
The claim that there is incontrovertible evidence of Russian state direction of the hacking of Democratic Party emails during the US presidential election is a fiction, but one the Times hopes will, if endlessly repeated, be established in popular consciousness as a fact.
...
Most of the information contained in the Times article is based on the findings of CrowdStrike, which the newspaper identifies only as “a cybersecurity firm retained by the DNC.” In fact, CrowdStrike is hardly a neutral source. Its president, Shawn Henry, and its senior vice president of legal affairs, Steven Chabinsky, are both former top officials in the FBI.
...
The basic problem the Times and the American media are seeking to overcome is the absence of any significant popular support for war, let alone war with the country possessing the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Popular opposition is to be countered through a McCarthyite-style campaign of lies, with all opposition branded tantamount to treason.

At the same time, the Times is intervening in an escalating conflict within the state over the foreign policy of the incoming Trump administration, with those factions of the military-intelligence apparatus that supported Clinton determined to prevent any retreat from the aggressive line that has been developed against Russia.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:33 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


In all this confusion, it's worth taking a step back and having a read about the theory of "Reflexive Control" (PDF) — the "intellectual" method of information warfare. Reflexive control has been studied and applied by the Soviet/Russian military and state since the 60s, and continues to develop. It's defined in many different ways, but here is one way distilled into 10 categories:
1. Transfer of an image of the situation: providing an opponent with an erroneous or incomplete image of the situation.
2. Creation of a goal for the opponent: putting an opponent in a position in which he must select a goal in our favor (for example, provoking an enemy with a threat to which he must rationally respond).
3. Form a goal by transferring an image of the situation: feigning weakness or creating a false picture.
4. Transfer of an image of one’s own perception of the situation: providing an opponent with false information or portions of the truth based on one’s own perception of the situation.
5. Transfer of an image of one’s own goal: a feint by a basketball player is a classic example where you change the enemies perception of where he thinks you are or are going.
6. Transfer of an image of one’s own doctrine: giving a false view of one’s procedures and algorithms for decision-making.
7. Transfer of one’s own image of a situation to make the opponent deduce his own goal: presenting a false image of one’s own perception of the situation, with the accepted additional level of risk.
8. Control of a bilateral engagement by a third party.
9. Control over an opponent who is using RC: exploiting opportunities identified as imitation of the initiators own process of RC.
10. Control over an opponent whose doctrine is game theory.
New technology and media are just providing broader horizons for application of reflexive control strategies, and I think we're bearing witness to that.
posted by Kabanos at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


The basic problem the Times and the American media are seeking to overcome is the absence of any significant popular support for war, let alone war with the country possessing the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

Yes. That is the problem they are trying to overcome. Because there's nothing like a nuclear war to sell newspapers!

Why is it easier to believe that the New York Times (and the American media in general) is dedicated to starting a war with Russia than to believe that Russia is actually screwing with us? This just seems childish to me.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2016 [29 favorites]


The basic problem the Times and the American media are seeking to overcome is the absence of any significant popular support for war, let alone war with the country possessing the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world

Jesus freaking Christ. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

You know what's a terrible idea? Declaring war on a nuclear power when you have less than 40 days in office and when your incoming president is an emotionally unstable man who has repeatedly asked why he can't use nukes. Announcing that the other political party may have been infiltrated by sympathizers to a foreign power. Poisoning half of the ruling political party against everyone else in the country.

Also, this is Obama. Say what you will about the dude, he is a true believer in the American system of government. He believes in the democratic process to a fault. And he is way more cautious about making allegations than basically anyone else I can think of. Someone else might consider using this as an excuse to declare some kind of emergency powers, but Obama would hand over the presidency even if he knew his entire family would be executed once he stepped off the stage.

I keep going back to this question: given the facts on the ground, given what we know about Putin and what other intelligence agencies have said about him, what is more likely-- that both the EU and the US intelligence services have unleashed a conspiracy to take down Putin, or that this is really an unprecedented situation?

I get that people need time to deliberate these things. But we don't have time. Trump is going to be president in January, and there's no reason to believe he'll investigate these issues further. If we want to know what actually happened, we need to absorb information now.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


Upon posting: what OnceUponATime said, only less succinctly.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:03 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to write a serious article that the public evidence doesn't prove the case strongly enough, then all the power to them. I've seen several such articles and largely agree. But accusing the NYT and President Obama of wanting a nuclear war is not how you write that article.
posted by zachlipton at 3:07 PM on December 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


If [Trump] were really smarter than people give him credit for, his casinos wouldn't have gone bust.

I'm not sure this is the case. You know that bit in Goodfellas, where the restaurant owner is persuaded to take a mobster on as a partner? The mobster's associates strip the business clean with every legal and illegal technique, from false invoicing to simply walking out on their bills. It would be naive to ask why the mobster let the business go broke: his motives were never the same as the owner's and running the business at a profit wasn't the point of the acquisition.

Trump reportedly did very, very well out of at least one bankruptcy. I think it's naive to ask why he "let" it go bankrupt; it's more likely that running it at a profit was never really the point. Maybe he planned to go bankrupt, maybe the income stream from running it into the ground was more than the potential income from running it profitably. That seems more likely than arguing that he fortuitously ended up with a billion-dollar tax writeoff. As for the other ones, perhaps they were the same, or maybe he was just operating like a stock promoter: his business wasn't running casinos, but getting people to invest in his casinos. Either way, he's sitting pretty.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Maybe he planned to go bankrupt, maybe the income stream from running it into the ground was more than the potential income from running it profitably.

No, that's not at all what happened - it's the usual tale of Trump's grandiose promises undermined by his lazy incompetence and short-attention-spanned mismanagement. Trump doesn't know how to plan, but he has enough money to get leverage over his business partners despite his mistakes and leave them holding the bag.

Putin couldn't have picked a better puppet to sabotage the US government if he wanted one to do it deliberately.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:44 PM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]




Trump's casino may have failed, but we are talking about the person about to hold the most powerful position in the world. I'm not saying he's Einstein, but right now he's doing what he wants, after a year and a half of being consistently underestimated. He probably does suck at business, but he's not just bumbling his way through life here.
posted by teponaztli at 5:00 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


He's a rich dude who knows who he can bully and knows whose ass he should kiss (Putin). He pretty much is a richer Biff Tannen.
posted by asteria at 5:14 PM on December 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Trump's casino may have failed, but we are talking about the person about to hold the most powerful position in the world. I'm not saying he's Einstein, but right now he's doing what he wants, after a year and a half of being consistently underestimated. He probably does suck at business, but he's not just bumbling his way through life here.

What? There is nothing at all that indicates that intelligence or knowledge are qualifications for being elected as the president of the USA. In recent history, one may point to Reagan or George W. Bush. There is a pattern - a downward spiral. Reagan was more ignorant than Ford, but still an experienced politician. Bush was more ignorant than Reagan, but still a politician. Trump is more ignorant than any of them. All of them were elected. Because they were guys you'd like to have a beer with, in spite of two out of three being teetotalers. Go back and watch The Wizard of Oz.

There is also very little evidence that Trump wanted or expected to be president. He hadn't even thought about what a president does, or cabinet choices, or policies. He really likes doing rallies, and the election process gives him the opportunity to do rallies.

Bumbling through life is probably a very good description.
posted by mumimor at 5:37 PM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


They're just gonna turn all the governments everywhere into kleptocratocracies. That's the end-goal. That's the road we're on. Oligarchs R Us.
posted by valkane at 5:45 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


he's not just bumbling his way through life here.

Evidence suggests that he is just bumbling his way through life right now. To his advantage, tho, the things he wants: power, money, status, aren't too hard to bumble your way into more of, especially if you've already been elected President by just over a quarter of the population of the United States.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:50 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Maybe smart is the wrong word. Savvy? George W. Bush was called an idiot and he led the county for 8 years. I don't care what their raw intellectual capability is like, because we underestimate them and say, "well, doesn't know a thing, just being steered around by much smarter people." And they keep doing exactly what they set out to do, while people like us are saying "yeah, what an idiot, managed to get reelected by dumb voters, what a dope."

The danger in underestimating people like Trump is that we don't think they're capable of as much as they are. He knew exactly what he was doing throughout the primary and the election, and he knows exactly what he's doing now. I have yet to see evidence that he's not getting what he wants.
posted by teponaztli at 5:58 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Or to put I another way, his casino failed, but did he? Pointing to his shitty failed businesses as proof of idiocy only makes sense if you presume that he cares if they do well. He's a TV star with a worldwide brand and 30 years of name recognition, who was just elected president. I'm finding it hard to believe that he just sort of slipped into all that in spite of himself. He's dangerous, and it's not because of the people he's with, it's because of who he is and what he's capable of.
posted by teponaztli at 6:12 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


The thing is, in many ways, the president of the USA is like a monarch. Yes, there are checks and balances, and yes, they work to some extent. But the powers of the president are larger than those of any other Western head of state. So when someone is the president, the whole governmental system has to respect him, or rather his office, almost as if he was an 18th century king. Because when the founding fathers were imagining a new system, their point of departure was an 18th century king, and while they were improving on that, they were not changing the fundamentals.
At the time, that was radical, and yes, an improvement.
The point is that there were tons of ignorant 18th century kings and some of them were popular for various reasons. Popularity is not an indicator of competence. Voters are uninformed, not dumb. I know extremely smart people who never read the politics parts of the newspapers (or whatever online media).
posted by mumimor at 6:12 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trump is more ignorant than any of them. All of them were elected. Because they were guys you'd like to have a beer with

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son. It's a good way to get elected president, though.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:22 PM on December 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have yet to see evidence that he's not getting what he wants.

I mean, I think he's quite competent at getting what he wants, but what he has wanted has been fairly narrow: attention, status, money, and really, lastly, power; lastly, because if he had wanted power more than he did, then he'd have probably made a run for office before now. But besides a desire to impress his personality on the nation, it's hard to say what he does want. And it's not hard to get that if you are A) a rich guy with a willingness to be outrageous and/or B) President of the United States. Beyond this, at the moment, the answer to the question: "is he getting what he wants?" must remain inconclusive.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:33 PM on December 15, 2016


He really likes doing rallies, and the election process gives him the opportunity to do rallies.

QFMFT
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


John Podesta wrote an op-ed: John Podesta: Something is deeply broken at the FBI
What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.
...

Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.
He calls for the Administration to declassify as much as possible and brief the electors and for Congress to launch a 9/11 Commssion-style panel and investigate why the FBI spent so much time and publicity on Clinton's email while doing very little about the DNC hacking.
posted by zachlipton at 6:50 PM on December 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


He calls for the Administration to...

Isn't it pretty to think so?
posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Obama administration.
posted by zachlipton at 6:56 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters

That part really is mind boggling. They left voicemail for the guy working the help desk! For weeks!
posted by diogenes at 6:58 PM on December 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I know.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:58 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Congress to launch a 9/11 Commssion-style panel and investigate why the FBI spent so much time and publicity on Clinton's email while doing very little about the DNC hacking.

I suspect, particularly given the CIA's "hey over here", that this may be a failure of separation in the intelligence community. It seems to suggest the CIA was handling the "Russian Hacking Issues" - probably in conjunction with NSA given their feels about Wikileaks - but CIA figured they'd done their job in briefing the issues.
posted by corb at 7:04 PM on December 15, 2016


I think it's naive to ask why he "let" it go bankrupt; it's more likely that running it at a profit was never really the point.

I don't think he let it go bankrupt. I think he's incompetent and couldn't prevent it from going bankrupt.

he's not just bumbling his way through life here

Kinda is, but starting from so close to home plate that it looks like he hit a home run. I mean, I'm not a financial expert but we're talking about someone who by some accounts would be richer than he is if he had just taken his inheritance or whatever you want to call it and dumped it into an index fund. Someone whose whole business career has actually been a long string of decisions that end up destroying his own wealth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:10 PM on December 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


This NYT editorial hits quite hard: Donald Trump’s Denial About Russia. First, it goes though the ways in which Trump's statements about the hacks echo Mowcow's and some of the connections, including Sergei Ryabkov's statement about "contacts" between Russia and the campaign, Manafort and Flynn, and Trump's business ties. Then:
Mr. Trump’s reaction to the C.I.A.’s findings leaves him isolated, and underscores his dangerous unfamiliarity with the role of intelligence in maintaining national security. There could be no more “useful idiot,” to use Lenin’s term of art, than an American president who doesn’t know he’s being played by a wily foreign power. Or maybe it’s as Mr. Trump says: He’s “a smart person,” and avoids presidential intelligence briefings because they repeat what he already knows. If so, what else does he know about Russia that the intelligence agencies don’t?
posted by zachlipton at 7:18 PM on December 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


The thing is, in many ways, the president of the USA is like a monarch. Yes, there are checks and balances, and yes, they work to some extent. But the powers of the president are larger than those of any other Western head of state. So when someone is the president, the whole governmental system has to respect him, or rather his office, almost as if he was an 18th century king.

I have to disagree - a prime minister in a parliamentary democracy is much more powerful, in constitutional terms, because in addition to executive power, they have the direct ability to pass new laws, which the president does not. A US president with a loyal majority in congress gets close to that level of power, as we are about to be reminded of in a terrifying way, but it's not the default state of the presidency.

The reason the presidency is so powerful is not because of the its constitutionally envisioned role and powers, but because the country the president governs is the world's military and economic hegemon, and because of the national security state that has developed to maintain that hegemony.

I guess now we probably get to find out what happens when the hegemony withers away but the national security state doesn't.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I suspect, particularly given the CIA's "hey over here", that this may be a failure of separation in the intelligence community. It seems to suggest the CIA was handling the "Russian Hacking Issues"

It just hit me that this probably is worse than we'd assume.

If the FBI were doing its due diligence, it ought to have told Obama that the DNC was hacked. And, had Obama known that the DNC was hacked, you'd think it would make sense for him to contact his own political party and be like, hey, everything's under control there, right?

I get that a bunch of stuff would have security issues. But not mentioning the hack to the DNC would be like not asking your friend about his house that burnt down because the details of the arson are classified.

So: when was Obama briefed on this? Shouldn't he have been briefed on it at a time where he could have contacted the DNC himself
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


The fact that the FBI contacted the DNC, even though they did a horrible job of it, is interesting in and of itself, as it would seem to indicate that they knew of the hacks through some outside means while they were taking place. The logical guess is that the NSA knew something and tipped off the FBI.
posted by zachlipton at 8:29 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


NYT headline writers ate their Wheaties:
Trump Falsely Says U.S. Claim of Russian Hacking Came After Election
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:59 PM on December 15, 2016 [23 favorites]


Trump Falsely Says U.S. Claim of Russian Hacking Came After Election

Right now it says, "Obama Says U.S. Will Retaliate for Russia’s Election Meddling" and the opening is:
President Obama said on Thursday that the United States would retaliate for Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election, asserting that "we need to take action," and "we will."

The comments, in an interview with NPR, indicate that Mr. Obama, in his remaining weeks in office, will pursue either economic sanctions against Russia or perhaps some kind of response in cyberspace.
It's gonna be one hell of a barn door.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 PM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Call me son one more time...

(Come on, that one hadn't been used yet. We can still do this.)
posted by rokusan at 10:18 PM on December 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


is it too much to ask for:

Trump Falsely Says Lies: Says U.S. Claim of Russian Hacking Came After Election
posted by j_curiouser at 10:33 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trump Falsely Says U.S. Claim of Russian Hacking Came After Election

Is it too much to ask of reporters covering Trump's surrogate-bots, that they ask them about the state of Trump's mental health every time he says something provably untrue that we know for certain he was aware of before?

If he is asserting he didn't know or doesn't remember saying something that is available on tape, it suggests he either has a serious mental health condition, which could reasonably be seen as making him unfit for office, or he's flat out lying to the nation. Now we can presume it's the latter, but making his surrogates deal with that directly would be far better than just asking and letting them keep trying to reframe the truth into lies they prefer.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:35 AM on December 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Article in Bloomberg on Thursday: who wins if climate change mitigation efforts are scaled back? Russia. How great will it be for Russia to have a friend in the White House?
posted by StrawberryPie at 1:32 AM on December 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just finished reading Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere, which makes many of the same points in a somewhat different format
posted by zachlipton at 1:46 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is it too much to ask of reporters covering Trump's surrogate-bots, that they ask them about the state of Trump's mental health every time he says something provably untrue that we know for certain he was aware of before?

If he is asserting he didn't know or doesn't remember saying something that is available on tape, it suggests he either has a serious mental health condition, which could reasonably be seen as making him unfit for office, or he's flat out lying to the nation. Now we can presume it's the latter, but making his surrogates deal with that directly would be far better than just asking and letting them keep trying to reframe the truth into lies they prefer.


That is a great idea! Many years ago, I was married to an abusive, lying and gas lighting mean person. And he continued to harass me for years after. But this strategy was how I finally got him to stop: "you deny you said/did this: I have in in writing/on tape. I'm concerned for your health, are you OK? You may be in the first stages of dementia, or schizophrenia. This is very serious, can I help you?".
posted by mumimor at 3:28 AM on December 16, 2016 [25 favorites]


The Unfolding Chronicle of WTF

I've been waiting for Josh Marshall to weigh in on the latest updates. He'd previously been taking a fairly big picture view with the hacks as just one part of the larger story of the failed campaign.

The title captures my current feelings well.
posted by diogenes at 5:59 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think Trump's successes, such as they are, are any indication that he isn't an incompetent buffoon. That's the scariest part. He's like some bizarro Forrest Gump - the heartwarming fictional tale of a kind-hearted simpleton bumbling his way into extraordinary situations. Except it isn't fictional, he isn't kind-hearted, and it sure as shit isn't heartwarming. His buffoonery works out great for him but leaves chaos and misery in its wake.
posted by Roommate at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't think Trump's successes, such as they are, are any indication that he isn't an incompetent buffoon.

Yeah, his successes are only an indication of how far you can go with an abundance of low cunning and a pile of money to start with.
posted by diogenes at 6:04 AM on December 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yah, the only real difference between him and the guy on the corner running three-card monte is that Trump started with a gazillion dollars instead of jack shit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:19 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think too many of us on the left have a smart-fetish which isn't all that useful given there is no proof at all it is an advantage in most areas of life, and it just keeps coming back to bite us when we look to assert its existence or lack thereof.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:32 AM on December 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think too many of us on the left have a smart-fetish which isn't all that useful given there is no proof at all it is an advantage in most areas of life, and it just keeps coming back to bite us when we look to assert its existence or lack thereof.

Meh, I'm going to keep on valuing intelligence over cunning.
posted by diogenes at 6:42 AM on December 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


By which I just mean that politicians don't have to be smart to win their seats, just shrewd, and maybe a dash of ruthlessness doesn't hurt. Other than Obama, and maybe Bill, I haven't seen too much of the smart = wins in my lifetime. (And Bill was as shrewd an operator as there could be with an amazing memory, so smart wasn't necessarily the big selling point there.) Obama needed to be twice as smart as his opponents because we'd demand at least twice as much from a black candidate for him to get elected. It serves white pride to believe that he was "equal" to them for being so intelligent since that made whites seem smarter for electing him.

(Of course we each may differ on what does or doesn't constitute "smartness" so I'm not suggesting my view should hold, but just that it hardly seems a defining characteristic of government office holders over all.)
posted by gusottertrout at 6:46 AM on December 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Meh, I'm going to keep on valuing intelligence over cunning.

Oh, me too, but I just don't find it all that useful to harp on the intelligence of opposing candidates given my above stated feelings on the matter.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:52 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I see what you're saying. I agree.
posted by diogenes at 6:55 AM on December 16, 2016


By which I just mean that politicians don't have to be smart to win their seats, just shrewd, and maybe a dash of ruthlessness doesn't hurt.

Okay. But if you're projecting what's going to happen over the next four years, assuming he sticks around, whether he's smart or just shrewd or cunning matters, because what a smart person and a grifter's-cunning person will do in office probably don't share much in common. I don't think he's playing an idiot routine, I don't think it's just for public consumption, I don't think it's a mask over any kind of deep smarts. I think we're already seeing the best Trump can do, and it just isn't very good. And it's likely to result in outcomes that are bad enough that at least as many people end up as pissed off and disdainful of him as they were against Bush II. It's a lot harder to cheat macroeconomic forces for years on end than it is to cheat a few investors.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Which is to say that I at least don't mean to "harp on" his intelligence as just an insult. I mean that people seem to think he's playing some kind of umpty-dimensional chess when I think he just isn't, and worrying about the umpty-dimensional-chess consequences of his decisions and so on is misplaced. I think he's an impulsive, easily-led doofus who responds impulsively and in accord with whoever most recently made him feel good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:45 AM on December 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I agree that the result of Trump being elected will likely lead to some very bad events, and in that instance, should they profoundly effect his base, then the support will at least somewhat evaporate. I'm not convinced the Russian hacks will be that thing since it has so little connection to the people who support him. The other Republicans might start to feel some heat if they're in areas without huge Trump support, but that weighed against a chance to hold all branches of government seems to tilt more towards running with the scissors to cut as much as they can before things go south and they have to drop their support.

I don't think they really like or care about Trump at all other than that he provides them cover for what they want to do, so the moment that cover weakens they'll feel free to turn on him if they can find a good out in someone else. McCain has an image to protest, so he'll gripe and moan, but we know he's pretty toothless if the party pushes him, and Graham has nothing to lose by going after Trump and not much to fear from the party so he can indulge more freely. The rest?

As for Trump himself, he's certainly not smart and only strangely shrewd, but has a personality that draws people in because he can work against, well, everyone and say what he wants. Which can read as its own sort of clever in its way, though of course not to anyone who really cares about the things he's talking about in a direct sense.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:59 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


>>"Trump Falsely Says U.S. Claim of Russian Hacking Came After Election"
> Right now it says, "Obama Says U.S. Will Retaliate for Russia’s Election Meddling"


Yeah, the headline was changed between my post (11:59PM) and Kirkaracha's (12:48AM).
Oh well, editing happens I guess.

Still has the sentence, "The president-elect falsely stated that Mr. Obama had waited until after the election to raise the issue."
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:17 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


there's something interesting happening on John Robbs twitter timeline.
posted by xcasex at 9:17 AM on December 16, 2016


Can we declare this thread dead and consolidate back into the new ElectionFilter thread?
posted by diogenes at 10:33 AM on December 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I second the motion to consolidate threads.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2016


My tabs would like that too.
posted by lydhre at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2016


10-4
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:44 AM on December 16, 2016


there's something interesting happening on John Robbs twitter timeline.

He seems very wedded to the idea that "the CIA is trying to topple the government." That's an allegation, if we're speaking of evidence, for which there doesn't seem to be a lot of.

(Besides, is merely revealing the reliance of a President-Elect on a foreign government, if such a thing is true, and letting the Electors do what they will "toppling" the government?)
posted by octobersurprise at 10:47 AM on December 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I felt like this thread had a higher signal to noise than the general election thread for awhile ... but a merge may be better at this point.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


It did, but there's also the standard "new thread" burst of noise in the new general election thread I've come to dread.
posted by zachlipton at 11:30 AM on December 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Whelp, I'm recently committed to a post inaugural Women's March (cis-het man, if that's how it works) in Sacramento, CA, far from where it really matters, and where there was no chance of a march pre-election, and less of my participation if Trump lost, and it pains me to note that Zizek et alia were right in this. Trump winning cracked the old order, and plenty of us who were content on the sidelines to donate money or comments are jumping on to the field. It's just a walk, but it's a start.
posted by notyou at 11:03 PM on December 16, 2016 [4 favorites]




Something About This Russia Story Stinks
By Matt Taibbi
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:14 PM on December 31, 2016 [4 favorites]




Both of those articles are pretty disingenuous. Taibbi's argument boils down to "but Iraq". Carr has been involved in the attribution debate for a while now, and his arguments are old ones that discount the possibility of evidence that intelligence agencies can't reveal for very good reasons. He also mis-characterizes ESET's report. Like, he claims ESET refuses to name any groups and this is proof that nobody knows who the hackers are. ESET's actual argument is "Attribution is outside our scope, but it's already been discussed anyway"--and refer the reader to the very Crowdstrike report that Carr is pissing on.
posted by schroedinger at 5:08 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Taibbi's argument boils down to "but Iraq".

Ok, so refute that argument. Why should we trust the intelligence community? Also, why is that argument disingenuous? It seems to me that if I were a member of the press I would be very wary of parroting what some war criminal enabling intelligence asshole tells me.

his arguments are old ones that discount the possibility of evidence that intelligence agencies can't reveal for very good reasons.

Nope. This is what he says:

If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn’t means either that the evidence doesn’t exist or that it is classified

He then goes on to call for an independent review of the classified material if it exists.

he claims ESET refuses to name any groups and this is proof that nobody knows who the hackers are

Speaking of mis-characterizing what people say...Carr actually says this:

Unlike Crowdstrike, ESET doesn’t assign APT28/Fancy Bear/Sednit to a Russian Intelligence Service or anyone else for a very simple reason. Once malware is deployed, it is no longer under the control of the hacker who deployed it or the developer who created it. It can be reverse-engineered, copied, modified, shared and redeployed again and again by anyone. In other words — malware deployed is malware enjoyed!

In fact, the source code for X-Agent, which was used in the DNC, Bundestag, and TV5Monde attacks, was obtained by ESET as part of their investigation! If ESET could do it, so can others. It is both foolish and baseless to claim, as Crowdstrike does, that X-Agent is used solely by the Russian government when the source code is there for anyone to find and use at will.


I think it's pretty clear to anyone who can read what the argument is, and it is not as you have portrayed it in your comment...i.e. the refusal to name groups as proof that there's no evidence about who perpetrated the "hacks."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:01 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Why should we trust the intelligence community?

I trust them more now that they confirmed what was obvious. But your question is relevant in general and applies to all parties. I have been wondering for years why so many people drank the Koolaid on Assange, an admitted anti-American who wanted death to anyone in the world informing to the Americans. Now that Russia is the likely cyber attacker against the entire American political system, they seem to getting the full benefit of doubt from those who whitewashed Snowden and oversold Greenwald. (links are WaPo and WSJ)
posted by Brian B. at 10:25 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


It's not just that the intelligence agencies are liars, being a liar is in the job description for some of them, it's also that the executive routinely lies. My favorite is all the sturm and drang around Bin Landen's capture. It was great PR.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 2:16 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that reason is the reason Carr is claiming ESET is not providing attribution. Here is ESET's actual paper with its discussion of attribution:
One might expect this reference whitepaper to add new information about attribution. A lot has been said to link the Sednit group to some Russian entities [7], and we do not intend to add anything to this discussion.

Performing attribution in a serious, scientific manner is a hard problem that is out of scope of ESET’s mission.As security researchers, what we call“the Sednit group” is merely a set of software and the related network infrastructure, which we can hardly correlate with any specific organization.

Nevertheless, our intensive investigation of the Sednit group has allowed us to collect numerous indicators of the language spoken by its developers and operators, as well as their areas of interest, as we will explain in this whitepaper.
That "[7]" is a link to the CrowdStrike report. If they lacked confidence in the conclusions, one wonders why they would link it. By the way, the ESET report confirms, repeatedly, that all the targets just happened to line up with the Russian government's, that the attackers were operating in Russian timezones, that the attackers used Russian, and that the attackers had access to a significant number of resources.

Also, again: intelligence agencies do not only look at code. They also look at the larger geopolitical context and non-code-related evidence about the attackers. And that all points to Russia.

As for why we should believe them--it's a good question, and one that has already been extensively discussed in this thread. This information has been leaking out for well over a year, before anybody cared. The "evidence" around Iraq never shared this unanimity of support and strength of evidence--even US allies were openly questioning its wisdom. And while the Iraq evidence was presented by people who had everything to gain, this evidence has been presented by people who have everything to lose. Why would people lay their jobs on the line for this? What could possibly be their motivation?

You are asking questions that have been debated ad infinium within this thread. If none of the discussion convinces you, frankly, I think you are just not interested in being convinced. One wonders why we should we believe Russia or Assange, two entities who do have a lot to gain from refuting all the evidence . . . But hey, if you think Putin is the upstanding character Trump says he is, who am I to interfere with your fantasies?

My favorite is all the sturm and drang around Bin Landen's capture. It was great PR.

Wow, don't even know what to do with this one except to say it's a perfect example of how people's political beliefs are shaped by preconceptions rather than factual evidence.
posted by schroedinger at 2:58 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Why should we trust the intelligence community?

Why shouldn't we? The intelligence commumity wasn't fooled on Iraq (see Valerie Plame), it was Dick Cheney and George Bush who screwed that particular pooch. And honestly, I'm much more likely to take the word of the CIA in this instance than the word of some pseudonymous guy on the internet who've I've watched go to bat for the Tea Party, Alex Jones, Russia, and Osama Bin Laden.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:12 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Here is Hersh on the Bin Laden capture.

It reminded me much of the halabaloo around the Lynch video. Turned out that was a fiction spun by the executive then too.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 10:49 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Strange_Robinson: Here is Hersh on the Bin Laden capture.

To be fair, there's a great deal of controversy surrounding Hersh's Bin Laden story - that it was a single source, that it might've been the Pakistanis saving face ("We were involved in the operation from the very beginning" instead of "We got caught with our pants down and didn't protect someone who was very popular with the Pakistani people.").

Peter Bergen has a great deal of respect for Sy Hersh but says "what's true isn't new, but what's new isn't true." For example, he was in the compound after the raid and saw many bullet hits on the walls, which would break with Hersh's claim there was no firefight.

And from a former deputy director of the CIA who was in the room for some of the meetings Hersh described: Separating Fact From Seymour Hersh’s Fiction About bin Laden
posted by bluecore at 7:44 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I'm familiar with the Bergen criticism. It's all about credibility for me. Hersh drips the stuff.

Unfortunately, the ex deputy of the CIA, well, his article is behind a pay wall. So three strikes against that one: an article I can't read, it's the wsj opinion section, and it's an ex CIA officer.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 8:20 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


> I'm familiar with the Bergen criticism. It's all about credibility for me. Hersh drips the stuff.

Bergen's no slouch in the Bin Laden department, having met him and lived to report on it. What do you make of Bergen being in the compound after the fact and seeing the bullet hits on the walls?

Does it make it sense to you that the President would risk involving the Pakistani ISI in an operation, knowing that they leak like a sieve, and being fearful of another Operation Eagle Claw/Desert One?
posted by bluecore at 8:37 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


As far as the allegation of coordination with Pakistan, it seems there would have to have been some. Otherwise we're talking a dangerously incompetent Pakistani military. And a brazen act of war against a nuclear power. None of that part of the official account even passes the smell test.

The bullets in the compound wall is circumstantial. I don't know what to make of the contradiction there, so I pick the one accounting authored by a reporter with an increadible track record.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 9:29 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Strange_Robinson: As far as the allegation of coordination with Pakistan, it seems there would have to have been some. Otherwise we're talking a dangerously incompetent Pakistani military. And a brazen act of war against a nuclear power. None of that part of the official account even passes the smell test.

Think about this logically - we can't even get the CIA and FBI to play nicely (see: Comey investigation of Clinton's emails.) The same forces are at play in other countries. Bin Laden was most likely under the protection of elements of the Pakistani military as he was a couple miles from their West Point. Even if there are elements of the ISI who would've helped us, they might be at odds with opposing elements in the ISI or the Pakistani military.

Knowing all this, do you think the White House would risk another Desert One crash or even Navy SEALs being taken hostage and paraded out on TV if the operation was compromised? And if we had safe passage, why use a prototype stealth helicopter that ended up crashing because they didn't have time to train on it? Is the CIA known for sharing intel or "playing nice with others"? Would they do so for the most wanted man in the history of the world and risk him getting away again? Or is it more likely the President made the calculation that Pakistan wouldn't want to be seen in the international community as harboring a mass murdering terrorist, that they would kick up a fuss about doing it without their permission or maybe even save face by claiming to be helping all along?

Although I respect Hersh's reporting greatly, his account here makes no sense. Do you want an example of how hard it is to keep stuff like this a secret? The Rock (as in the actor) tweeted about Bin Laden's death before the President announced it because his cousin is a Navy SEAL. That's how easy it is for an operation to get compromised. Sorry, I don't buy hundreds of ISI agents and Pakistani military members all the way down to the air defense radar operators keeping something like this a secret.
posted by bluecore at 10:08 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


You wouldn't need hundreds. Or even thousands. You'd need just one high level official. Then orders given out would be contained, as is normal in a military, so that folks would know only what they need to know to carry out their orders. In the case of the radar folks, for instance, all they'd need to know is that they have diagnostics to run, and that the stack will be offline for a block of time.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 10:37 AM on January 3


You wouldn't need hundreds. Or even thousands. You'd need just one high level official. Then orders given out would be contained, as is normal in a military, so that folks would know only what they need to know to carry out their orders. In the case of the radar folks, for instance, all they'd need to know is that they have diagnostics to run, and that the stack will be offline for a block of time.

This doesn't fit with the way the world works, including our own Navy SEALs, who texted movie stars, wrote books, gave interviews.

Again, why use an experimental stealth helicopter if there was no risk of being discovered? The Chinese had agents at the crash site taking measurements and samples of the fuselage before it was hauled away, so why risk losing that tech? If Pakistan was on our side, why would they let Chinese agents have access to the fuselage? I think you might be ignoring contradicting evidence and confirmation biasing your way into this narrative.
posted by bluecore at 11:06 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


We were playing a game of what if, and I described normal compartmentalization of intelligence within militaries. It completely plausible there was coordination with Pakistani officials without leaks. There's even a nice, big linguistics barrier, with a good dose of American exceptionalism, to help.

I'd encourage a look-see at stealth tech history. It goes back a couple decades now. It's short term, and expensive, and only useful for offensive warfare. It's a great perpetual revenue stream for 'defense' contractors.

It's great they got Bin Laden. The Hollywood story we got was unnecessary, and benefits only the US relationship with India, a short term bump in good publicity, while eroding the public trust over the long run. Short term gain over long term prosperity is nothing new in today's US.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 12:26 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Strange_Robinson: I'd encourage a look-see at stealth tech history. It goes back a couple decades now. It's short term, and expensive, and only useful for offensive warfare. It's a great perpetual revenue stream for 'defense' contractors.

Huh? I know about stealth tech history, and you're off by three or four decades. Not sure what your point is? That SOAR crashed on purpose? That we let the Chinese have access to the tech on purpose so defense contractors could make more money developing even better tech? I don't even know what to say to this.
posted by bluecore at 1:44 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm realizing now I'm being too oblique.

This doesn't fit with the way the world works, including our own Navy SEALs, who texted movie stars, wrote books, gave interviews.

See the drone war for more examples of controlled leaks. Note, a controlled leak isn't a leak, its official policy, whatever that is, under cover of a leak. This technique isn't cute, and our leaders will only get so much mileage out of this kind of psyops.

Note these are post-event leaks.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 1:55 PM on January 3


I said a couple decades. I'll concede the stealth part anyways. It's a less compelling bit to me because I've yet to see a fiscally responsible military. I'm not sure an imperial nation can exist without stupid, gluttonous excess.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 2:05 PM on January 3


Yes, strange to say that there have been no leaks of the alternative bin Laden story, as there have been, including but not limited to the sources of Hersh's story. (He was in fact not the first to report this version.)

If your argument for discrediting the story is that the secrets it posits would be impossible to keep, well, congratulations I suppose, because the secrets are in fact out. They haven't become the consensus narrative, but they've been published. Do you believe that secrets and lies are inevitably revealed within 5 years? Why?

BTW, everything about the "stealth" Blackhawks from the Bin Laden raid is speculation -- especially the claim that the helicopter crashed because the SEALs / SOAR hadn't had time to train on the new technology. Might be true! although the rumored helicopter program goes back to early 2000's, so time probably not the issue. But the point is this colorful detail, stated as though with complete authority, is really nothing but a guess.
posted by grobstein at 2:10 PM on January 3


Hersh has had his misses. He reported that TWA 800 was shot down by a missile. He reported that a US invasion of Iran was imminent. Prior to 9-11 he didn't think much of the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. He also claimed that Hillary Clinton approved sending Ghaddifi's Sarin gas to Syrian via the US consulate in Benghazi.
posted by humanfont at 2:14 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


[Friendly suggestion to nudge this back in the direction of the Russia thing.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:18 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


IMHO, the "b-b-b-but what about Bin Laden?" derail should've been terminated at the start. It's frustrating to watch it go on for a dozen back-and-forth comments, only to be told that it can't be addressed any further.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:04 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


[AElfwine, you know if you have a problem with moderation, that goes to the contact form or metatalk, thanks.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:39 PM on January 4




They list "family" first, presumably just to be clear that they will convince people to swat your kids and fuck them up.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:52 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


They're also pals with Gamergate (and everything that entails) and anti-Semites. Everything is fine.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:56 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]




And, lest we forget, Julian Assange is a rapist fleeing justice. This is the sole and exclusive cause of his "exile".
posted by kafziel at 3:10 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Is the Brexit Vote Legitimate If Russia Influenced the Outcome? (Newsweek) References Russia's "Troll Army" used to influence polling.
posted by Brian B. at 7:45 PM on January 6


Julian Assange is a rapist fleeing justice. This is the sole and exclusive cause of his "exile".

Yeah. I think that Sweden is perfectly capable of preventing internationally known individuals under 24/7 surveillance from being kidnapped by a foreign nation.

All of which is to say, Assange has nothing to worry about if he's willing to do time in Swedish prison.

He's not a political refugee by any means. He's a rapist and a coward.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 9:19 PM on January 6


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