Has Mueller Caught the Hackers?

In this Real News Network interview, Aaron Mate discusses Special Counsel Robert Mueller indictment of 12 officials with the GRU, Russia’s main foreign intelligence agency, for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election, including hacking Democratic Party emails with author and investigative journalist Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News. Case closed?

Mate clearly hasn’t drunk the Kool Aid– and demonstrates  a healthy degree of scepticism about this entire escapade. As for Isikoff…

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News, I’m Aaron Mate. For the first time, special counsel Robert Mueller has issued an indictment directly related to “Russiagate’s” underlying crime, the theft of Democratic Party e-mails. On Friday, Mueller charged twelve officials with the GRU, Russia’s main foreign intelligence agency. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein unveiled the indictment.

ROD ROSENSTEIN: The indictment charges twelve Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Eleven of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election. One of those defendants and a twelfth Russian military officer are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations involved in administering elections.

AARON MATE: The indictment includes the chief of an alleged hacking division inside the GRU known as Unit 26165 as well as “others known and unknown to the Grand Jury.” Michael Isikoff is Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News and co-author of the best selling book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s war on America and the Election of Donald Trump. Welcome, Michael. Your takeaways from this indictment, and does it track with what you’ve been reporting in your now lengthy period of covering this story?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Yeah, it does. And it pretty much lays out the story we told in Russian Roulette with some interesting new details that firm up the clear evidence linking Russian military intelligence to the attack on the American election. I thought probably the most interesting revelation was there was always this sort of mystery about where WikiLeaks got the e-mails that they dumped on the eve of the Democratic convention. And of course, Julian Assange has said repeatedly he didn’t get them from the Russians. The indictment makes clear that’s exactly where he got them. And it quotes from messages sent between WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, the Russian intelligence online persona in which WikiLeaks solicits the e-mails, asks for them to be sent to WikiLeaks, and then they are and then they are quickly published.

AARON MATE: Right, okay. So, this gets to the heart of this allegation here because it contends that Guccifer 2.0 is a fake online persona created by Russian intelligence. I guess my question is, the indictment to me doesn’t contain any evidence showing that it actually is Russian military intelligence. It contends that it is. So, what to you is the main case for believing that Guccifer 2.0 is Russian military intelligence? Because as I understand it, there was some forensic analysis done showing that there was Cyrillic inside the digital fingerprints of of Guccifer 2.0’s activities and what they posted. But to me, they were so sloppy that that’s always raised the question for me as to whether it was someone just trying to sloppily impersonate Russian military intelligence.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, look. I don’t know how familiar you are with reading indictments of this kind, but this is pretty much the way the Justice Department would do it. They would not lay out a whole lot of evidence that would clearly come from classified sources the NSA intercepts. But I think it makes a pretty detailed and compelling case for how Guccifer 2.0 was created, when it was created, the interrelationship with the GRU, the role it played in distributing the documents not just to WikiLeaks but to others, the communications with Roger Stone, the communications with a congressional candidate in Florida.

And you know, look. There’s a lot of specificity here in which they’re tying these activities to specific Russian intelligence officers. And they document payments made through Bitcoin, the use, the leasing of U.S. servers by individuals with the GRU. I think at this point, you really gotta be grasping at straws to try to imply or suggest that all this was concocted and that there isn’t overwhelming evidence to back up what the Justice Department has alleged here.

AARON MATE: I didn’t use the word concocted, but it’s true that I actually don’t rule that out. And I guess my point is that, should we believe that these allegations are true in the absence of supporting evidence?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, look. As as I’ve pointed out before, there are classified sources and methods that prosecutors are not willing to disclose, but do know that they will have to if this case ever proceeds in court. I found the level of detail in this indictment pretty compelling in and of itself. The fact that they can identify particular individuals, they can identify a particular hacking unit in the GRU, they can trace messages sent to it among themselves and to the implantation, to actual spear phishing e-mails. I mean, they show a pretty direct chain from specific individuals at the GRU who are sending specific spear phishing e-mails in order to steal the internal documents of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Now, if you have some alternative theory about how all this played out, go for it. But I think at this point, there’s pretty much a consensus among all of us who have followed this that the evidence is pretty clear-cut.

AARON MATE: I get that that’s the allegation, and honestly I don’t have an alternative theory because I haven’t explored that.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: I would hope that would give you pause, and also you remember, an indictment like this would have to be signed off on by multiple FBI agents. Multiple Justice Department prosecutors would go through extensive reviews. And then, if you put it in the context of everything else that was going on, the social media campaign by some of these same individuals, the fact that there’s actually relationships among some of the Facebook accounts and Twitter bots that were identified previously with the individuals named in this indictment. If one looks at the totality of everything that the Russians were doing in 2016, I think that it all pretty much makes sense. And you got to be, as I said before, grasping at straws if you still want to accept what’s right in front of you.

AARON MATE: Okay, Michael. The social media aspect you mentioned I think is a separate matter. I personally don’t share your assessment of it, whether it points to Russian intelligence. I think it points to a Russian clickbait commercial troll farm operation, but that’s a side point we can return to, maybe.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: The fact that they were actively in sync-

AARON MATE: Michael, wait. I didn’t finish my earlier point. So, I don’t have an alternative theory that I’m convinced of because I’m simply awaiting the evidence. You know, someone like Bill Binney, the former NSA technical expert.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: And Bill Binney-

AARON MATE: All I’m saying is he has claimed it was a leak. I don’t know enough about computers to weigh in either way, so I’ve never actually even gone there. And I think it’s quite possible it was hacked. I’m just not convinced that it was hacked yet by the Russian government. And to illustrate my skepticism, this might come off as cheeky but I think it’s important context, I want to go to a clip from 2003. This is the same prosecutor now. Back then, Robert Mueller was the director of the FBI, and this is what he told Congress about Iraqi WMDs.

ROBERT MUELLER: As as a director Tenet has pointed, out Secretary Powell presented evidence last week that Baghdad has failed to disarm its weapons of mass destruction and willfully attempting to evade and deceive the international community. Our particular concern is that Saddam Hussein may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.

AARON MATE: So, Michael, I think you know my point here, that back then, someone could have said, “Well how could someone as respected and as intelligent as Robert Muller, with all his integrity, certainly he would not go to Congress and claim all this about Iraqi WMDs unless the intelligence was rock solid.” Of course, we know now, based on especilly work you’ve done with your book, Hubris, that that was all a fraud. So, that then leads me to believe that I should not just believe Robert Mueller’s claims now on faith without concrete evidence.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Look, fair enough. But as I pointed out to you before, there were reasons at the time, a lot of reasons at the time to question some of what U.S. intelligence officials and the Bush administration was saying about of Iraqi WMD. I see none of that in the consensus that this was a Russian attack on our election.

AARON MATE: Okay. I want to read to you, then, one quote. Because I want to- this speaks to an issue that we discussed the first time you were on The Real News. You raised the accurate point that to date, nobody from the intelligence community has come forward to dispute the assertion from that January 2017 intelligence report that the Russian government committed the e-mail hacks.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Nobody who has had access to the intelligence, yeah.

AARON MATE: Right, okay. So, I want to read you something that has just come out a few days ago by Jack Matlock, former U.S. ambassador to Russia. He wrote on his blog, this, he wrote this: “I was recently informed by a senior official that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence Research, which is the intelligence arm of the State Department, did in fact have a different opinion but was not allowed to express it. So, the January report was not one of the intelligence community,” Matlock says, “but rather of three intelligence agencies, two of which have no responsibility or necessarily any competence to judge foreign intentions.”.

So, that’s Jack Matlock, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia. I put that out there because that is the first time I’ve heard- of course, Matlock could be wrong, the official he spoke to could be wrong. But that’s at least a claim from someone in a good position, he’s the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, saying that the State Department’s own intelligence wing differed from the other agencies who concluded it was Russia, but they were not allowed to express that opinion.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, fine. Let’s hear from the State Department official who said this, and who he was and what information he had access to and what his basis for saying it was. It’s not clear to me that the State Department intelligence bureau would have been plugged in or have any particular expertise on the forensic evidence that pointed to Russian government hacking of the election. But you know, you’d want to know a hell of a lot more before you’re going to put stock in this second or third hand account of an anonymous official somewhere in the bureaucracy who has a different view than everybody else.

AARON MATE: But could we apply that same standard to the other anonymous officials whose claims are being relied on to fuel this whole story from the beginning?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: No, because they’re not anonymous. They’re not anonymous. I mean, people have been on the record across the board in two administrations, Democratic and Republican now. So, there’s nothing anonymous about it. These people have been completely on the record. We now have an indictment that I have to say, pretty much blows away the argument you’ve been trying to keep resurrecting here. And you know, by all means, I admire your skepticism. I think skepticism about what government officials say is a good, healthy thing for all of us in the press. But that doesn’t mean that everything that the U.S. government says is a lie or is concocted or is created out of “whole cloth.”.

I think at some point, when the evidence is as compelling as I believe it is here, one should accept it. And it certainly fits with everything else we know about what the Putin government has done around the world during this time frame. What they did in the Ukraine, what they did in Estonia, what they did in Germany. I mean, one can go across the board and this all fits in with a pretty concerted effort by the Kremlin to use information warfare and cyber attacks to further its national interests.

AARON MATE: Michael, I don’t agree with your premise there that this fits in with a pattern. All these claims about Putin meddling around the world have proved to be pretty underwhelming. There was the claim about Brexit, it turned out then that RT, Russia Today, spent a total of ninety-seven cents on three ads on Facebook. This claim about Germany, there was widespread speculation that Russia was going to interfere in Germany.

There were even headlines, I’m paraphrasing from the New York Times and the Washington Post, saying A German Election Mystery: Why No Russian meddling? France initially claimed that a hack against Macron was Russia’s fault. Later on, the France Cyber Intelligence Agency admitted that they had no idea who did it. So, out of contention that Putin and Russia, this relatively small country on the on the world stage, is conducting this massive cyber campaign around the world, I- we disagree here on the merits of it.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Who do you think Guccifer is, Guccifer 2.0?

AARON MATE: I have no idea. Whoever it is, I think Guccifer is very sloppy. And given how sophisticated we’re told Russian military intelligence is supposed to be, they didn’t do a very good job of covering their tracks.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Why do you think that Mueller brought this indictment today, identifying specific individuals in the GRU who were behind the creation of Guccifer 2.0? Where do you think he got that?

AARON MATE: Whoever supplied the intelligence that has fueled this thing from the beginning. I’m sure it’s based in something, I don’t think Mueller invented it himself. By the way, I do have to question the timing. It comes right before Trump was about to meet with Putin. My colleague-

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: That’s one of the more interesting aspects of this. And I agree with you. Actually, I also find interesting that the U.S. intelligence community has said that this entire effort was ordered by Putin himself. Now, the indictment does say these twelve GRU officers, as well as “others known and unknown to the Grand Jury,” it does raise the question of whether Putin is an unindicted coconspirator here. One would want to know, who are the “others” known to the Grand Jury?

AARON MATE: Sure.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: I think that is one of the more interesting aspects of this indictment and certainly in the timing.

AARON MATE: Right. So, then let me ask you, Michael, this question, this belief that Putin personally ordered this interference campaign against the U.S. The strongest evidence to bolster it that I’ve seen was this Washington Post report in June 2017, I believe, that said that the U.S. had a mole inside Putin’s inner circle who reported that he personally instructed this operation to happen. Doesn’t that strike you as odd, that, well A, that the U.S. could penetrate Putin’s inner circle at that high level, and B, if they did, that they’d be willing to disclose that in a media report, thereby potentially compromising this incredibly sensitive source of information?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Now, you read Russian Roulette and you read about the secret source they had inside the Kremlin in 2014, who was warning the U.S. government that this is exactly what Putin’s government was up to. And this is what they were planning. And I know exactly. I know, we know a lot more about that secret source than we put in the book. This was something that was vetted very carefully. But it is not at all unusual that American spy agencies would seek to cultivate and develop sources who can provide insight into what Putin’s up to, and in these cases they clearly did.

AARON MATE: Someone claims they did. I just find it shocking that they would publicly reveal that, something that high level.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, so what’s your suggestion? That they invented the source, or what’s your-?

AARON MATE: My suggestion is it’s quite possible that, given the legacy of U.S. intelligence officials inventing intelligence to fix, to comport with political imperatives whatever they are, whether it’s the Iraq War, whether it’s allegations against any number of official U.S. enemies, that that may have happened here. And I’m just urging skepticism in the absence of evidence that we obviously disagree on whether it has been presented yet. Mike Isikoff, I’ve kept you way over time, so I’ll give you a final word and then we’ll wrap.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Now, listen. I admire your skepticism, but I do think that if one clings to it too much, you really do miss a very important story that’s staring right in front of your face.

AARON MATE: We’ll leave it there. Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News, co-author of the best selling book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. Michael, thank you, as always.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Thanks, sure.

AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

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110 comments

  1. Bill Smith

    Well, at the most they would have fingered some of the hackers… There is the repeated story going around that Clinton’s private server was hacked by a foreign entity that was not Russian.

    Reply
    1. Stelios Theoharidis

      This Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) memo which much of this discussion centers around is subject to considerable dispute both from outside sources as well as apparently members of VIPS. Even individuals involved in the report seem to question the “over-ambitious extrapolations”.

      A discussion of the memo, a response, as well as an independent analysis by a third party is included below.

      https://www.thenation.com/article/a-leak-or-a-hack-a-forum-on-the-vips-memo/

      Many of Matlock’s positions are informed by Binney who is a cosigning member on the VIPS memo. You can see Binney mentioned in the thanks for ‘research assistance’ at the bottom of Matlock’s work on this subject.

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/07/05/intelligence-community-russian-interference-and-due-diligence.html

      I’m actually convinced we are all drinking the cool-aid here. Whether we are accepting simple or convoluted arguments that support our preconceived notions, we are still looking for something to support our biases.

      Reply
      1. Adam Carter

        I’ve posted a rebuttal of the expert’s analysis (featured in that The Nation article you’ve linked to) in which I tested assumptions they had made, ultimately demonstrating that their criticism was not applicable to research they were criticizing.

        see: http://g-2.space/thenation/ for more.

        Reply
    2. Roger Fleenor

      The parties that have the self-interest to sink Hillary and her alliance with the renewable energy cartel are Saudi Arabia, Israel and interests inside of the US itself. Very muddy water to pan for evidence and bad actors. Trump has wallowed in Saudi and Russian muck for decades. These two along with the Israelis no doubt held enough mud on Trump to sway the election and send him to prison or at least the political and social grave yard. Instead they held out a oligarchs fortune to him if he went into business with them. A piece of the Aramco offering, oil company interests–billions and billions for the Trump family.

      Reply
    3. Ginavon

      We could all think, talk about this forever and get nowhere…that is the plan!? I say just #WALK AWAY

      Reply
  2. timbers

    I am a bit amazed that Isikoff never mentions the VIP group that has stated the artifacts on the Democratic emails tells us the emails were obtained by an internal leak not a hack over the internet.

    I am also surprised Mate never mentions it, either.

    I have not read Isikoff book, but I also noticed he takes the attitude the indictments have facts to back them up, because all the things he wrote about in his book, and that those who seek facts are denying all the supposed facts in front of their face.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      I am also surprised Mate never mentions it, either.

      That’s what the Bill Binney reference was about.

      Reply
      1. timbers

        Thanks. Didn’t know what that was about.

        One telling fact thing is, the FBI “offering” to examine the server. The DNC turned the offer down, but had the FBI thought it possible there being any truth to what the DNC claims, I would have expected the FBI to seize the server on national security grounds, and quick.

        That they did not IMO says they don’t even take the accusations seriously or that the FBI is a hive of establishment Hillary supporters.

        Reply
        1. Harry

          We have been told the FBI takes an image of the server.

          It was confirmed by Barrett Brown, and TTG on pat langs site.

          I also note PL claims that China has HRCs emails

          Reply
      2. James McFadden

        I find myself in Mate’s skepticism camp – and when Mate shows his grin, you know the guest is in trouble because the trap was set. Poor Isikoff was arguing from “authority” and from his stereotype of Russians – biases shining through.

        However, one twist in the Binney VIP result is the skepticism expressed by Thomas Drake

        https://www.thenation.com/article/a-leak-or-a-hack-a-forum-on-the-vips-memo/#vips-dissent

        It seems rather difficult for us mortals to discern what actually happened – too much smoke and too many mirrors – and of course human fallibility and preconceptions influencing interpretation.

        Reply
    2. Harrold

      Are you talking about John Podesta’s email password being “password“? You don’t exactly need to be a genius to hack that account.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Whoa….don’t sell Podesta short, here. It was way more sophisticated than that… as I recall, it was….

        “p@ssw0rd”

        That’s like, basically un-crackable for the intel community or for Trump’s 300lb guy munching cheetos on the couch.

        Reply
  3. integer

    Anyone else remember this quote from one of the Ukrainian hackers responsible for the release of Vladislav Surkov’s (one of Putin’s advisors) emails?

    “Let’s understand that Ukrainian hackers and Russian hackers once constituted a single very powerful group. Ukrainian hackers have a rather high level of work. So the help of the USA… I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.”

    More here (article written by George Eliason*):

    What sharp movements in international politics have been made lately? Let me spell it out for the 17 US Intelligence Agencies so there is no confusion. These state sponsored, Russian language hackers in Eastern European time zones have shown with the Surkov hack they have the tools and experience to hack states that are looking out for it. They are also laughing at US intel efforts.

    The hackers also made it clear that they will do anything to serve Ukraine. Starting a war between Russia and the USA is the one way they could serve Ukraine best, and hurt Russia worst. Given those facts, if the DNC hack was according to the criteria given by Alperovitch, both he and these hackers need to be investigated.

    By pawning it off on Russia, they made a worldwide embarrassment of an outgoing President of the United States and made the President Elect the suspect of rumor.

    From the Observer.com, “Andrea Chalupa—the sister of DNC research staffer Alexandra Chalupa—claimed on social media, without any evidence, that despite Clinton conceding the election to Trump, the voting results need to be audited to because Clinton couldn’t have lost—it must have been Russia. Chalupa hysterically tweeted to every politician on Twitter to audit the vote because of Russia and claimed the TV show The Americans, about two KGB spies living in America, is real.”

    Quite possibly now the former UK Ambassador Craig Murry’s admission of being the involved party to “leaks” should be looked at. “Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.”

    *George Eliason is an American journalist that lives and works in Donbass. He has been interviewed by and provided analysis for RT, the BBC, and Press-TV. His articles have been published in the Security Assistance Monitor, Washingtons Blog, OpedNews, the Saker, RT, Global Research, and RINF, and the Greanville Post among others. He has been cited and republished by various academic blogs including Defending History, Michael Hudson, SWEDHR, Counterpunch, the Justice Integrity Project, among others.

    Reply
    1. integer

      I expect Seymour Hersh’s version of events, which he said he learned from one of his sources high up in the intelligence community, is correct (i.e. that Seth Rich facilitated the leak of the DNC emails to Wikileaks). At the very least, Hersh’s version of events is consistent with the limited information that has been provided by Assange and Craig Murray. Anyway, if one accepts Hersh’s version is be correct, then the question of who, or what, is Guccifer 2.0 needs to be answered. Personally, I think it is probable that the Guccifer 2.0 operation was set in motion by Crowdstrike after they learned that DNC email data had been exfiltrated from within the network, in an attempt to attribute the source of the impending leak to the Russian government. A likely scenario is that Alperovich directly provided whoever set up the Guccifer 2.0 operation (Poroshenko-government-aligned Ukrainian hackers, I expect) with the email data that that was released by Guccifer 2.0, and, in line with the conclusions reached by VIPS regarding data transfer speeds, provided it to them on a thumb drive.

      Reply
      1. Damson

        My suspicion exactly.

        Probably the same crew involved in the ridiculously amateur Propornot op, which also listed Naked Capitalism as a ‘Russian agent’.

        Only one of the names in the indictment is known – he is head of the GRU and I already put under sanctions by Obama.

        Interestingly, the claims – denied subsequently by the French – of Russian meddling in the French elections came from a Russian ‘investigative journalist’ with close ties to one Mikhail Khodorovsky, wanted for murder – related charges and grand larceny in Russia, following his appropriation of Yukos Oil under the corrupt Yelstin regime.

        Reply
  4. fresno dan

    Isikoff: I would hope that would give you pause, and also you remember, an indictment like this would have to be signed off on by multiple FBI agents. Multiple Justice Department prosecutors would go through extensive reviews.
    ===============================
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-ten-worst-drug-recalls-in-the-history-of-the-fda-2010-12-10

    multiple government officials, signing multiple documents, doesn’t mean much. The one that WON’T sign are just removed from the one NECESSARY to sign the document to continue the process.
    My experience is that there is a certain threshold in human affairs, and once something meets that threshold, it has a momentum that carries it forward that is unstoppable.
    Remember Theranos?

    Reply
    1. Watt4Bob

      My experience is that there is a certain threshold in human affairs, and once something meets that threshold, it has a momentum that carries it forward that is unstoppable.

      I think you’ve hit on something important there.

      And the momentum you talk about seems to have TPTB falling on their faces.

      I’m looking for a silver lining?

      Reply
    2. John H

      This part caught my eye as well. I’m no legal eagle, but I these indictments were issued by a grand jury – I don’t know how many others have to sign off beyond that, but it seems to me those on the GJ were the crucial signer-offers here. I am reminded of the Sol Wachter quote about getting a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I am not a lawyer, and I have never served on a grand jury, so my opinion is not well informed, but I am a bureaucrat, a retired Army personnel sergeant, and I also had some very low-level experience in one of the military intelligence branches. One thing I’m appalled by and that makes me extremely skeptical of the whole story is John Brennan’s public announcement that he has evidence that Putin was personally involved. It seems to me he’s announcing to the world that he has an informant in Putin’s inner office. Now Brennan is not a newcomer to intelligence operations. He spent a lot of years there and was near the top of the CIA when he made his sales pitch for torture. Brennan announcing he has an asset inside the Kremlin is like Cordell Hull announcing that his people had broken the Japanese Diplomatic code. It’s unthinkable, unless it’s not true. Even then it would set off a thorough counterintelligence investigation by the FSB or whatever agency does such things over there. If there was a mole there, he or she is probably dead now. From the level of conversation so far I think most of the current posters are aware that the breaking of code Purple was considered such a vital secret that Hull and Roosevelt decided not to warn CINCPAC when they say a vague, ambiguous comment in a dispatch that suggested a coming attack.

        Now there is a lot of information in this second indictment. Much of it could only have come from intelligence sources, probably the NSA. Every one of those data items is proof to an adversary of an intelligence capability that our side has. If they are true. You know why the CIA never confirms or denies anything? A security-conscious intelligence officer always wants to keep his adversary guessing, uncertain, he never wants to provide confirmation one way or another. So I’m kind of like Mate, here. If Mueller someday releases the evidence that he has, I’ll believe the story. I have lost hope that he’s going to and my expectation now is that in another year or so, after they’ve charged twenty or thirty people with crimes like failing to register as an agent or money laundering, or suborning witnesses, Mueller will say that after months of assiduously trying to declassify the documents, too much of the evidential material is too sensitive, and it all must be treated as state secrets.

        Reply
      2. Ginavon

        The parties that signed those indictments may have a lot to lose if all their shenanigans are exposed. Which I believe will eventually happen regardless of any attempts to control the perception of what took place. Perhaps Julian Assange will testify and release the name of those who actually did hack and release. I still believe SETH RICH DID IT AND GAVE HIS LIFE TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM THE PODESTA BROTHERS. RIP SETH

        Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        It doesn’t bother Isikoff much that all the loudest, most credible people involved in the Russia-gate narrative are PROVEN liars.

        Why, well, there’s this….

        “I mean, people have been on the record across the board in two administrations, Democratic and Republican now. So, there’s nothing anonymous about it. These people have been completely on the record. We now have an indictment that I have to say, pretty much blows away the argument you’ve been trying to keep resurrecting here.”

        ….gotcha, the consensus is BIPARTISAN, so you know, it MUST BE TRUE!!!!

        And come on, the indictment which reveals NO NEW EVIDENCE!!!

        As we all know, famously, prosecutors are powerful enough to indict ham sandwches, so why not Russian intel?

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I discount the lack of new evidence presented. Prosecutors do not give free information to their opponents, revealing what they have. They are forced to in disclosure, but Radley Balko’s column reminds us how often they don’t.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            i discount the arguments that the indictment is further evidence that russia hacked the election. if they want us to believe it, release the evidence, don’t indict a bunch of russians that won’t come over to contest it and trumpet that as proof it all happened.

            Reply
  5. Watt4Bob

    …investigative journalist Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News.

    Does anyone else see how appropriate it is that a nation of yahoos should get their ‘news’, ahem, misinformation, from from a source so aptly named?

    The truth is hiding in plain sight, we’re being led by the nose, to God knows where, apparently around in circles, all so a few insanely rich a**holes can become more insanely rich.

    I don’t know about you, but I was a lot happier back when I could blame all our problems on the republicans.

    This free-for-all, bat-sh*t crazy propaganda surge, if nothing else, has made plain what our betters think of us.

    Investigative journalism courtesy of Yahoo News, what will they think of next, intelligence services working tirelessly to keep America safe in a dangerous world?

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      The Dems. and journalists are jumping all over themselves to fawn over the intelligence services as the defenders of democracy.

      What is the journalism equivalent for ‘regulatory capture’?

      And even assuming that everything in the indictments are 100% true, then the DNC were grossly negligent in handling their communications. And Clinton too, with her email server.

      And the Obama administration for letting this happen.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        I just finished reading Donna Brazile’s book, Hacks.

        According to Brazile, the DNC’s IT department was alerted by the FBI. This was back in 2015 when a G-man called the DNC headquarters and was transferred to the DNC’s help desk, which had been outsourced to a Chicago-based company called The MIS Department. And, you guessed it, this company had connections to Obama.

        Well, it gets worse. The help desk guy who answered the phone thought it was a crank call. And, after a cursory examination of the DNC computer network, he concluded that there was no hack.

        Reply
      2. Michael Fiorillo

        And yet, despite being so incompetent that they allowed the “attacks” to happen, their subsequent investigation then pinpoints the exact address, room numbers and computer locations of each named Russian operative.

        The script doctor needs to work on that one a bit, don’t you think?

        Reply
  6. Ignim Brites

    It is very convenient too that the case will never come to trial. Now the question is: Does this represent a causus belli? And is it possible that these allegations represent a post hoc justification for current covert CIA operations against Russia that are in danger of being exposed?

    Reply
    1. Eimear

      Putin has offered co-operation to the Mueller ‘investigation’ – in return for assistance in the extradition of Bill Browder (Hermitage Capital) for the billion – dollar plus heist he pulled off in Russia (mainly through money laundering tax avoidance scams).

      The scale of it would have required Intel cooperation/knowledge, hence the screams of outrage over the summit by Brennan and his fellow apparatchiks….

      How else to explain Putin’s ‘kind offer’ being greeted with an outbreak of mass msm hysteria?

      Reply
    2. Procopius

      I think that’s what they thought in the first indictment, too. Lo and behold, one of the companies named in the first indictment, Concord Management, had their lawyers attend the arraignment in May and enter a plea of not guilty. They are now demanding disclosure, as is their right. There’s not much information available, as you might imagine, but when DoJ tried to ask for a delay because they were not sure service had been properly made, the Concord lawyer waived that and asserted their right to a speedy trial. I don’t know about civilian life, in under the UCMJ that puts both prosecution and defense in a very tight schedule and you had better not be late. I saw elsewhere, and don’t remember where it was, that DoJ responded by delivering a huge batch of documents. All in Russian. Not a problem for the Concord lawyers, obviously, but it is not clear to me how they are going to use those documents to show that Concord influenced American voters.

      Reply
  7. voteforno6

    I don’t know…yeah, there’a lot of specificity there, but I have to wonder how they obtained that. Is it something that would actually stand up in court? Would they want it to? After all, attribution is extremely difficult – not just at who hacked the DNC (it could’ve been multiple actors, since most intrusions go undetected), but also who provided the emails to Wikileaks.

    That being said, once again, these emails are legitimate. If their release impacted the election, then that’s on the Democrats.

    Reply
    1. j84ustin

      these emails are legitimate. If their release impacted the election, then that’s on the Democrats.

      I think that’s an important point that’s getting drowned out by all of this.

      Reply
      1. Pym of Nantucket

        Your understatement is noted and appreciated. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

        Reply
  8. clarky90

    Rosenstein, Mueller and Strozk are clever, privileged boys who have always been able, to bamboozle their way out of a jam. So we have this scary, claptrap yarn about twelve ethereal “Russian Agents” ((1) Boris (2) Natashia (3)…..) who, being in Russia, can never be extradited or interrogated. Therefore, the narrative can be endlessly developed. The only constraint is the imagination of the second-rate story writers. An ongoing serial…wow

    I believe that Seth Rich was the leaker. What are the FBI/CIA/DOJ doing to investigate Seth’s murder? Not much.

    However, the FBI/CIA/DOJ, ARE consumed with The Hunting of the Russian Snark…….”It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
    And seemed almost too good to be true.
    Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
    Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo—”

    Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
    A weary and wandering sigh
    That sounded like “-jum!” but the others declare
    It was only a breeze that went by.

    They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
    Not a button, or feather, or mark,
    By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
    Where the Baker had met with the Snark.

    In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
    In the midst of his laughter and glee,
    He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
    For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43909/the-hunting-of-the-snark

    I have watched Rosenstein, Mueller and Strozk testifying over the last months. Creeps. I wouldn’t leave a pet Labradoodle in their care, much less entrust them with the defense of “Our” Democracy

    Reply
  9. DJG

    An important point:

    AARON MATE: I have no idea. Whoever it is, I think Guccifer is very sloppy. And given how sophisticated we’re told Russian military intelligence is supposed to be, they didn’t do a very good job of covering their tracks.

    Maté makes an excellent observation here. Further, if you go to Guccifer’s site, his style is U.S. hipster English. It is possible that the Russians are that adept at U.S. hipster English, or have suborned some hipster from Brooklyn, or, maybe, that Guccifer is an American who has some other agenda.

    Interestingly, in all of this hacking, we haven’t heard what happened to Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 yoga e-mails, which would be a masterpiece of contemplation of yoga, on the level of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. We read repeated allegations that the Clinton Family server was hacked. How is it that the injured party here is only the Democratic National Committee?

    And how many of these dangerous Russians will be extradited to the U S of A? You can’t have a finding of fact without a trial, and conveniently for aggrieved people like Isikoff, there isn’t going to be a trial.

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    Tomorrow, I am going to get in contact with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and tell him that I have found the real people behind the hacking of the 2016 US election and they aren’t Russian – they are Chinese! I am prepared to give names and so to give everybody the scoop, here they are-

    Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Zhou Qiang, Cao Jianming, Li Yuanchao, Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He.

    They are all real names of real Chinese government officials but unfortunately, as they are Chinese, they cannot be extradited out of China in the same way that Russians can’t be extradited out of Russia. And like Special Counsel Robert Mueller, I have no real proof that they did it and cannot bring them to a US court for trial so you will all have to take my word for it so we’re cool, right?

    Reply
    1. Skip Intro

      Probably the best way to do this is to put the names on a list first, that way when you do your press conference, you’ll have a prop. Like Colon Powell with a vial of confectioners’ sugar at the UN, you can wave the paper and say “I have in my hand a list with the names of a deplorable dozen Chinese officials…”

      People believe you if you have a prop… ask the pros.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        or you can put some names on a list on a piece of paper and wave it around dramatically. the more energetically you wave it, the more credible it is.

        Reply
  11. Quanka

    Aaron Mate does a fine job in this interview of pushing back against unproven claims. No hysteria, no yelling. But point by point he just takes Isikoff to task, calmly. He even manages two separate digs without staking a high moral ground: Isikoff’s own previous reporting on (lack of) WMD, and a clip from a lying Robert Mueller in front of congress in 2003.

    So I was very impressed with this interview. As someone who’s taught myself the read the lies in the MSM this was a clinic in how to get a major journalist (Isikoff) to make concessions that essentially wipe out his argument without getting into a yelling match.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      He’s done some of the best reporting on this story that I can recall. Credit to Isikoff for having the courage to face a skeptic, even if his attitude is indignant that Mate ain’t buying what he’s selling.

      It kills me that the only ‘evidence’ supporting Russia-gate is the public statements and testimony of a bunch of high level government officials that are 1) proven liars and 2) have reason to believe they’ll never be held to account for these lies.

      If you saw Strzok’s testimony the other day, you’d have seen a number of Dems absolutely willing to lay down in front of oncoming traffic to ‘protect’ the FBI. If my reps were that dedicated to protecting me from the horror of facing a series of probing questions, I’d feel pretty comfortable that I was untouchable, too!

      Reply
      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Credit to Isikoff for having the courage to face a skeptic, even if his attitude is indignant that Mate ain’t buying what he’s selling.

        Good catch! I noticed this also, though I’m not as sure it’s to Isikoff’s credit. Mate has positively ripped to shreds at least one other Isikoff like stooge (Luke Harding of The Guardian) in this interview: https://therealnews.com/stories/wheres-the-collusion-2 which really makes one wonder why Isikoff accepted such a challenge. (I include the link for the benefit of others – it looks like you are already aware of it). After all, he has basically nothing the other one didn’t have other than perhaps a conviction he knows some secret alchemy that: when lies reach a certain volume, or quantity, or momentum, they miraculously transform to truth.

        If anything, I suspect Isikoff is simply as full of himself as Luke Harding. Their basic argument (it must be true because of the sheer volume and detail of all the allegations) is exactly the same with Isikoff only having the advantage of yet another heaping helping of allegation pudding that he knows full well will never see the light of verification.

        As an aside, did you notice Isikoff’s sour sign off? I think he was quite aware Mate had served him some serious egg on the chin and was none too happy about it. Just my take on it.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          “which really makes one wonder why Isikoff accepted such a challenge” – Because he genuinely thinks he’s proven his case.

          I did see the Luke Harding interview and the guy was a joke and seemed to hang up on Mate in haste.

          Isikoff at least keeps his composure and does make a stronger case, even if he’s much more thoroughly convinced that BIPARTISANSHIP on the Intel committee means that it MUST be true. After all, the important people have unanimously stated that it is true.

          Cruder version of Isikoff: “All of the nation’s most powerful liars have put aside their differences and agreed on this one thing, why don’t you believe them?”

          Reply
          1. Anonylisa

            I love this:

            “All of the nation’s most powerful liars have put aside their differences and agreed on this one thing, why don’t you believe them?”

            Reply
          2. Brooklin Bridge

            Cruder version of Isikoff: “All of the nation’s most powerful liars have put aside their differences and agreed on this one thing, why don’t you believe them?”

            How can one explain Isakoff being genuinely convinced by the Muller indictment of Russian tampering with US election and at the same time smugly pleased the allegations he bases his conviction on will never see the light of hard evidence? It would seem contradictory, no? You nailed the answer to that in your Cruder version.

            Reply
  12. Katniss Everdeen

    isikoff has been in on this from the git go. (Remember judy miller?)

    He’s the one who wrote a “yahoo” article, after talking to christopher steele of dossier fame, that was cited as “confirmation” of the dossier “evidence” when it was used to get a fisa warrant on Carter Paige to justify the Trump campaign “wiretapping” that “never happened.”

    christopher steele got “fired from the fbi,” and isikoff, claiming he didn’t do nuthin’ “wrong,” apparently got a book deal. He now seems to have decided that his mission in life is advocating for nuclear war with Russia because john podesta got sucked in by a phishing email and gave away his password which was, in perfect keeping with the stupidity of it all, “password.”

    Reply
  13. begob

    The best evidence rule should result in the DNC server being made available for inspection by the accused at the discovery stage. Naw gaw hap’n?

    Besides, the Crowdstrike copy will have to qualify for a hearsay exception, and trustworthiness comes into issue.

    Reply
    1. Peter VE

      I am willing to bet money that those servers. or more accurately, their hard drives, will be found to have become mysteriously corrupted and no longer readable. The scene from The Big Easy comes to mind, when a heavy magnet is “accidentally” set next to the incriminating videotape in the police evidence room. That, of course, assumes that they will ever be subpoenaed.
      Crowdstrike brings up a couple of interesting questions.
      1) Were they so bumbling that they would wait a full month after evidence of “hacking” turned up at the DNC to take action to protect the network? They worked for the DNC, so it’s possible.
      or
      2) Did they use that month to ensure that the proper evidence pointing to the GRU could be found on the duplicate copies of the hard drives which they supplied to the FBI, and set up redirecting intermediary steps somewhere on 3rd country servers? In which case, were they actually working for the FSB, (since we know from our own experience that the worst enemy of any intelligence agency are the ones you compete with for funding)?

      Reply
  14. Brooklin Bridge

    Truth by volume.

    It looks like the MSM, as public face of the establishment, has simply become too vested in this theory to back out, ever. That may be at least a superficial difference (but indicative of much deeper and more serious issues) between this incident and weapons of mass destruction.

    Or, it could all come down to a visceral reaction to Trump by the media steming from and being continuously exacerbated by his utter disregard of the “rules” of fair play and etiquette – American Empire Style – which had the media, and not Trump, and certainly not Russia, gaming the election.

    Either way, if the truth ever does surface to the public in the same canonical way that WOMD did, Isikoff will be a laughing stock to those who keep tabs, as he richly deserves regardless for being so ready to go for the kick time after time, in this case simply because -when convenient to him- a large number of lies makes them the truth by volume.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      I really like Pat Lang’s blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis. He’s a former officer in Army Intelligence and has extensive knowledge of the Middle East.

      Reply
  15. Peter VE

    Based on the incredible sloppiness of their work for the DNC, one can only assume that Crowdstrike is actually a GRU operation.

    Reply
  16. Indrid Cold

    Mr Mate brings up the timing and at least Issikoff cops to the peculiarity of the timing. It’s like the spate of media horror stories about North Korea just before that meeting. A faction buried in the Intel “community” wants the return of smiling obedient cut outs as presidents. The white shoe law firms, big banks and military industrial archons don’t want an executive who shoots his mouth off without every word being vetted by ‘experts’, or who doesn’t show constant obeisance to “diversity”, “global warming” or similarly airy concepts.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Dang, you beat me to it!

      It’s way above my pay grade to evaluate, but seems like might be onto something.

      Reply
  17. RWood

    This surprise (to me):
    https://theintercept.com/2018/07/13/indictment-of-russian-intelligence-operatives-should-quell-harebrained-conspiracy-theories-on-dnc-hack/
    My!
    and this reply, substantiated (for me) by its source:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/14/clinging-to-collusion-why-evidence-will-probably-never-be-produced-in-the-indictments-of-russian-agents/
    and this:
    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/07/14/five-things-that-would-make-the-ciacnn-russia-narrative-more-believable/
    with this most recent:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/15/memo-to-the-president-ahead-of-mondays-summit/

    Reply
  18. Blue Pilgrim

    This is obviously more horse poop, timed to mess up the Trump-Putin summit. Hardly worth time to pay any attention to.
    I could read about this, or I can read a nifty book I found in PDF format,
    https://kalamkopi.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/utsa-patnaik-the-agrarian-question-in-the-neoliberal-era.pdf
    The Agrarian Question in the Neoliberal Era Primitive Accumulation and the Peasantry
    Utsa Patnaik and Sam Moyo with Issa G. Shivji

    Read chapters 4 and 5 so far — very good stuff. Talks about the fallacy of Ricardo’s ‘comparative advantage’ concept.
    It was worth including in a link in my comments at
    https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/07/us-senator-duma-mp-and-ukraine-mp-agree-sanctions-useless/
    US Senator, Duma MP, and Ukraine MP agree: Sanctions useless

    What do you think I’ll spend my time doing? (And also finding other material from Utsa Patnaik.) No, the deep state does not want people reading about these neoliberal and imperialist frauds, but wants to distract them from understanding what it is really up to. Let them keep their fairy tales or tell them to the mystified — I’m going to keep exploring the reality.

    Reply
  19. rps

    Mueller the ultimate connoisseur of ham sandwiches. How’s the indictment of three Russian companies coming along? Federal judge slaps Robert Mueller with humiliating fact check in courtroom over massive ‘error’:
    U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey asked one of Concord’s attorneys, Eric Dubelier, if he was also representing Concord Catering. They were not because the company did not exist during the time period Mueller alleges, Dubelier said.

    “What about Concord Catering? The government makes an allegation that there’s some association. I don’t mean for you to — do you represent them, or not, today? And are we arraigning them as well?” the judge asked. Dubelier responded: “We’re not. And the reason for that, Your Honor, is I think we’re dealing with a situation of the government having indicted the proverbial ham sandwich.”

    “That company didn’t exist as a legal entity during the time period alleged by the government.

    Yawn…I’m waiting for Mueller to take the fifth prior to indicting foreign interference of Christopher Steele- former British M16 spy, for the Steele dossier during a presidential election. Oh lest not we forget who the players were and who funded that too….

    Reply
  20. edmondo

    Now that Mueller has solved the mystery of the Russians “hijacking” an election that the Democrats wanted to hijack, maybe he could turn his attention to helping OJ find out who killed Nicole and Ron. The National Enquirer is now our newspaper of record. Adios America. 200 years wasn’t a bad run but it’s over

    Reply
  21. redleg

    Indictments for hacking the election?

    Until there’s a call for changing the vote tabulation system to something secure and public, DOJ can indict every single person in Russia and its nothing but tilting at windmills. It doesn’t address the problem at all.
    WMD in 2003 = Remember the Maine in 1898 = Russia Russia Russia.

    Reply
  22. Disturbed Voter

    Since we know that CIA has tools to make hacks look like it came from any suspect source, and this technology has been leaked (after the DNC problem though) … we will never know anything true about this, not the public, not the prosecutors. They don’t have the technical ability, if anyone has, at this point, to distinguish a real from a fake hack.

    I wouldn’t be surprised now, if the Russians did the hacking, because they were paid by the Clintons to do it. Certainly the NSA and GCHQ has it all too.

    Reply
  23. Ashburn

    I don’t get why so many commenters are willing to see some grand conspiracy behind charges that the Russians tried to influence the voting public against Hillary. It make perfect sense to me that they wouldn’t want such a warmonger in the White House. If you haven’t read the full indictment I urge you to. It is an incredibly detailed document. https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/80-netyksho-et-al-indictment/ba0521c1eef869deecbe/optimized/full.pdf?action=click&module=Intentional&pgtype=Article

    I certainly believe that many folks would like to use this Russian meddling to advance a neocon agenda and start a new cold war, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that Russians might have done this. The US certainly does it (and far worse). Israel certainly meddles in our elections as do the Saudis, most likely. So does the Supreme Court, as do the Republicans with their gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts. I believe that is what the Left should be protesting, not joining in to the belief that this is all some giant frame-up of Putin and Russia.

    I’ve been a cautious skeptic about this whole collusion issue up to now, but after reading the latest indictment it seems to me that Mueller is very close to closing the ring on Trump. Perhaps I’m wrong but I find it hard to believe that Mueller, after a lifetime of mostly very honorable public service, would join in to such a conspiracy. I find it easy to believe Trump and Co. would.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I can’t comment for others, but frankly I have two reasons for not believing “The Russians Did It!” boondoggle.

      1st: Of Course Russia was using the technology available to them to influence the election. So was Israel, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, France, Great Britain, etc. Any major nation whose intelligence services were not ‘hacking’ into our system, using Facebook, and every other claim against Russia was not doing their job. The idea that this was limited to Russia, and untenable to any other nation is BS on its face. Just like the idea that we aren’t doing it everywhere else is. It is the job of our intelligence community to either shut down intelligence breeches. I’m amazed at the everyone who looks at the stories put out about this who doesn’t recognize the level of incompetence of the CIA, FBI, NIS, etc.

      2nd: The more that has come out about the so-called hacks has made it clear that the DNC was largely responsible for being an open sieve. And most of the most the items that were most damaging to Clinton and the Democrats were, well true, and frankly items that our so-called free press should have been hunting down if they weren’t so captured.

      3rd: This truly only became a problem when Clinton wasn’t running away with the polls. The breathless announcement with the Bull about the 17 different agencies when it was a organization that speaks for the 17 agencies that reported it. Once again what was the Coast Guard intelligence service doing investigating a hack of DNC servers? It was all PR again. There still wasn’t all that much concern on any one’s part because no one was really worried about the actual election. What were the agencies and the DNC doing to secure things?

      4th: The hysteria involved in this hit high gear when Clinton lost because she and her campaign was incompetent. They had to find an excuse besides Clinton being intensely disliked by almost half the country, her campaign being stupid and the policies of the Democratic Party being disliked. They didn’t lose all those state houses and governorships and both Houses of Congress because of the Russians, but the Presidency, nope that was because of interference.

      IOW, sure there was interference, interference that no one much cared about until the guy willing to upset the apple cart got elected. And the interference that everyone recognizes was the one that supports further Military action beloved by our NeoCon/NeoLiberal political class and the MIC. Gosh. Recognizing the overwhelming finger of Israel on our political system (including with Trump) isn’t being addressed at all.

      It is like not recognizing that Clinton was treated differently for actual illegal activity regarding her security breeches at State, but pretending she was cleared. All show and little actual concern for the problems at hand.

      Reply
      1. redleg

        Excellent.

        Saudi, Israeli, corporate interference is OK, but not alleged Russian interference.

        Election tampering/hacking in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2016 is OK only if it wasn’t the Russians.

        Reply
        1. Blue Pilgrim

          There was a preference by Putin and many others, Russians and other nationalities, for Trump based on, as Putin said, Clinton wanting to start a war (she said she would do a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria) and Trump wanting normal relations — but that was not tampering or hacking. Also, as Putin said, he would deal with whoever was elected, it could not be predicted with confidence what either would do when in office, and it is Russian policy not to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries. Some Russians preferred Trump and some Clinton, like most everyone in the world. Most everyone would have preferred Sanders if the primary hadn’t been rigged against him.

          Just having a preference is not the same as tampering, or everyone who voted could be accused of tampering or hacking by casting his/her vote. I don’t Russia had anything to do with swaying the election, and it is only just now, going on two years after, that Putin even let it be known he preferred Trump and normalization of relations over Clinton and war. Putin is diplomatic but he plays it straight.

          Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      Isikoff’s responses made me curious so I went and looked it up (PBS has it as well). It’s a bit under 30 pages long and relatively easy to read. I encourage anyone following the story to do so.

      Of all the Russia theories, the bit about the Russians being behind the DNC e-mail hack has always seemed the most credible to me, if only because they were apparently able to convince Trump of it when they presented the evidence to him. The indictment is very detailed and implies the existence of considerable hard evidence that would have been used to create it. There are names, dates and times, aliases, specific servers and tasks performed on them, and so on. Either Mueller is going all in on a bluff or he actually has this stuff. The former would be very risky because there is so much detail in the indictment that he would rapidly need to put up or shut up in order to maintain any kind of credibility in court. If he tried to handwave then it would all fall apart like a house of cards. I don’t completely rule it out (especially given that they did exactly that for the Iraq WMDs) but in this case I think a legal challenge from one of the accused would expose things pretty quickly. It will be interesting to see whether anyone does that.

      So suppose it’s true and Mueller has the evidence. That would mean that agents of the Russian military were involved in the DNC server hacks. That’s it. There have to date been no claims from the intelligence community that the election itself was compromised, and the only dirt on the Trump campaign was from the discredited Steele dossier. I think this falls within the realm of things that big countries do all the time (the US probably did something similar to obtain the evidence referenced in the indictment). It might have been a bit more serious because it was politically sensitive material during an election campaign, which likely merited some kind of response (Obama’s “I told the Russians to cut it out” would seem appropriate). “OMG the Russians stole our democracy!” is a hysterical overreaction.

      The other thing is that the activities described in the indictment are nothing particularly special or unusual. There are bad actors out there doing this kind of thing all the time, and the DNC would be a high value target. Having a robust security policy and ensuring it was followed would have been enough to thwart pretty much all of it. The real story here is that DNC security practices were sloppy enough to allow this to happen. The fact that it was the Russians that ended up doing it (if it was) is almost incidental.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        The “real story” behind all the current brouhaha and kayfabe, is that the DNC is a vastly corrupt, organized mob (sorry, the court said they are a “private club or association), their candidate was and is an evil POS, and they played not hardball but dirty tricks all the way through the 2016 campaign. They are the ones who make a mockery of ‘democracy,” however loosely it might be defined, and the electoral process. And one little piece of the rot has fortuitously been uncovered, all those emails and the existence of that “public-private partnership” server and the rest.

        (If it was) the Russians, and not some little person, maybe an unpaid intern, within the DNC, with a residue of conscience, or just building some credit with the potential prosecutorial futures… Trying to lay it off as just a failure of the DNC to “have a robust security policy, what do they call it, “gaslighting?”

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          Well yes, that’s all true as well, but the topic at hand was the hacking of the DNC e-mails, so I was confining my remarks to that.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Ok, we must remember to compartmentalize these things very carefully, so as to avoid confusion, obfuscation, and loss of central issues in all the details that we mopes are told will eventually be revealed. Among all the items in the news that Mayor Richard J. Daley, in his malaprop way, referred to as “insinuendos.”

            How many laws and policies did Clinton flout with just the private server and handling of classified material? Let us write off her grifting-in-office as just an MMT-correctable bad debt, rendered nugatory by the overtaking issue du jour of “who extracted the emails showing felonies from the illegal but good old American DNC’s should-have-been-better-protected storage media?”

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      > It is an incredibly detailed document.

      And so it should be. Since my earlier comment on this seems to have been missed, I’ll repeat it, in relevant part:

      the issue of provenance takes center stage. At this point I’m reminded of this passage from Teller of Penn and Teller:

      I think you’ll see what I mean if I teach you a few principles magicians employ when they want to alter your perceptions….

      2. Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth. You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money, and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don’t hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming…. Then we built a secret compartment out of foam-core (one of the few materials cockroaches can’t cling to) and worked out a devious routine for sneaking the compartment into the hat. More trouble than the trick was worth? To you, probably. But not to magicians.

      I can’t say whether the claims in Mueller’s brief are true or false because I haven’t seen the evidence for them. Of course, reverse engineering the digital evidence for an entire narrative of online actions by a foreign intelligence service would be a lot of “trouble”, even for agencies with “time, money, and practice” (which our agencies have). But again, “You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you … would be willing to invest.” So remember that not only does our intelligence community* have enormous resources, the enormous stakes — giving the intelligence community veto power over the selection of a President, based on evidence the public is not allowed to see — would make an enormous investment worthwhile. I’d be very happy to be wrong, but I think the only way to approach the work product of not only our intelligence community but their assets in the press and the political class is with a hermeneutic of suspicion.

      * Really, powerful factions in the intelligence community. I don’t believe in “the Deep State” as a concept.

      Reply
      1. Damson

        Excellent analogy.

        Can’t vouch for this, but a Gladio – style cyber-op exploiting the essential impossibility of confirmed attribution wouldn’t be something I’d rule out – not least, because it is known the CIA has the means to copycat signatures and related cyber ‘origins’ :

        http://themillenniumreport.com/2018/07/the-gladio-code-has-been-broken-natos-terror-matrix-shattered/

        A huge amount of time and money has been invested in the demonisation of Russia in general and Putin in particular for them to give up now…

        Reply
  24. travy

    i value this site and community but you guys have a real blind spot on this russia issue and i hope you’ll own up to it when the truth is known. i hate the current milquetoast dems as much as anyone but if you can’t smell the rot on this story or see that something big is lurking under the surface, then you are willfully blind in my opinion.

    Reply
    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Of course that’s always possible (blind spots), but do you have any particular reasons or evidence you can point to or link to that support your accusation? Is your opinion based on the “overwhelming detail” in the current indictment? Doesn’t it bother you that these allegations (for they ARE only allegations) will likely never have to be proven since the possibility of getting the 12 Russians extradited to the US is virtually nil (meaning no trial where the facts must be presented)? Doesn’t the timing of this indictment also strike you as suspicious?

      Reply
      1. travy

        i don’t want to start a scrum but i’ll just say i find chait’s recent piece, marcy wheeler and tpm’s coverage very convincing. too many “innocent explanations” don’t add up when taken as a whole and trump’s behavior surrounding russia is simply troubling. also, too, he’s pretty clearly a money launderer and criminal with ties to russian money. pile on me if you will but we’ll have to agree to disagree until more facts come out

        Reply
        1. Duke of Prunes

          Help me out, please. What has Trump done that is so beneficial to Russia? I’m asking a serious question and not trolling whatsoever. I can’t follow all of the news, and maybe I have a blind spot and missed where Trump sold us out to the Russians. All these people are convinced that “Russia has something on Trump”. How are they leveraging this something?

          What is Trump doing to the benefit of Russia and the detriment of the USA? If it benefits both, IMHO, then it doesn’t necessarily require Russian leverage.

          Reply
            1. Michael Fiorillo

              How can Putin sow chaos in the US, when organized chaos is the already-existing state of affairs, and often explicit policy?

              Whatever the Russian did, it was in keeping with the Great Game, with all the major players constantly vying for position and to keep each other off balance. Some of it is “Spy vs. Spy,” as in Mad Magazine…

              Here’s my analogy, assuming Russian “interference” but not direct collusion with Trump: all the various forms of cyber, low frequency warfare states conduct against each other results in a form of “background radiation.” Russiagate is the insistence of a patient severely ill with diabetes, heart disease and cancer – gained from decades of junk food, politics and culture – that background radiation was the sole cause of it all.

              Reply
            2. Blue Pilgrim

              Just the opposite, really. Putin is working towards a stable and peaceful world, the rule of law, the establishment or re-establishment of treaties, predictability in negotiations and trade and business deals, and domestic and international security, and fairness for sovereign countries and people. The man is a true conservative in these respects, as are a great many in Russia.

              This is the opposite to the US and it’s policies: ‘creative chaos’, and a definition of ‘stability’ to mean the subjugation and control of all other nations and people, and the destruction and ‘regime change’ of any who resist. It is the US which creates and supports terrorists, and Putin who has been fighting them. Just look at the results, as well as the stated policies, of the two nations. This what Naomi Klein’s book ~The Shock Doctrine’ is about.

              Reply
              1. Michael Fiorillo

                I think we are in agreement: though perhaps unclear, it was my intention to say that “organized chaos” is the state of affairs and frequent policy of/in the US.

                Reply
                1. Blue Pilgrim

                  Yes — my response was for Travy.

                  I’ll slightly disagree with you in that chaos is getting very disorganized lately, as the various factions and gangs become lost in their own ideologies and propaganda, and go astray. Even the phrase ‘creative destruction or chaos’ is not so creative now — same old tactics and strategy with the same bad results. We have disaster capitalism, with mostly just disaster, while the wealthy, although getting more money, don’t understand how they are bringing on their own demise when it all falls apart (system failure) and, at best, they will have to live out their lives in bunkers.

                  This is political nonsense: the DNC leak was a leak, not a hack, and Clinton’s emails could have been hacked by anyone from an insecure server. We are seeing calls for a coup of some of some sort, for treason, for a US president is now, for having a normal meeting with the Russian president. It’s delusional insanity.

                  US people are being denied over-priced education while other nations, China for example, are preparing it’s young for the new post-industrial technological economies.

                  The US is in the process of losing yet another aggressive war, wasting it’s resources on death and destruction — while it’s own infrastructure crumbles, and American people fall into unemployment, poverty and sickness.

                  Do we want to call these sorts of blunders ‘organized’, which implies a thoughtful strategy? Is insanity ‘organized’? I gotta wonder about that.

                  Reply
            3. Lambert Strether

              > Help me out, please. What has Trump done that is so beneficial to Russia?

              That was the question. This:

              > i think putin is looking to destabilize the west. nato, chaos in the us, etc

              Is simply not an answer. It’s handwaving. So I presume that’s the best you can do….

              Reply
              1. travy

                we’re clearly on different planets if you can’t see how the west limits putin and how he’d like to minimize it. if you require hard proof, i don’t have it. this is all speculation. something very odd is happening with trump and russia and you guys can’t even admit that.

                your blind, if valid hatred of the dnc is clouding your vision. i guess that’s what i was getting at from the start. fire away

                Reply
                1. Code Name D

                  we’re clearly on different planets if you can’t see how the west limits putin and how he’d like to minimize it.

                  True. But how do you get “Putin colluded with Trump” from this observation?

                  if you require hard proof, i don’t have it. this is all speculation.

                  If you don’t have proof, then exactly how did you arrive at your conclusion? The evidence must come first, and one’s conclusion is based on the evidence.

                  And simply noting that something is possible is not proof that something actually happened. Yes, its possible, even likely that Trump has some shady financial deals in Russia, perhaps even with Putin. But this isn’t evidence that any shady deals actually exist. And when past accusations fall apart or are discredited, I am inclined to be increasingly skeptical of new claims, especially from the same sources.

                  That which is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

                  Reply
            4. Damson

              NATO needs no help in destabilising anywhere, including the ‘West:.

              The unprecedented mass migration into Europe is a direct consequence of the destruction of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria to name just a few.

              Now depleted uranium has been discovered in Libya, just like Iraq.

              Are you going to blame the Russians for this too?

              Reply
        2. Cyber Expert

          Chait’s piece was a completely paranoid rant and a total shitshow. It should have never been published. It rivals the unhinged insanity that Glenn Beck was doing a few years ago.

          Reply
    2. witters

      “but if you can’t smell the rot on this story or see that something big is lurking under the surface, then you are willfully blind in my opinion.”

      Ah, I am “willfully blind” for not sharing your faith-based conviction. I’m afraid all I have is reason.

      Reply
      1. travy

        ‘willfully blind’ is a bit harsh and i apologize. but i can’t see where reason is exclusively on your side of the argument. there’s more than enough smoke to be concerned

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          And the US state security apparatus, in cooperation with the media, has the most effective smoke generators in the world. Like Operation Mockingbird, among so many others.

          Reply
        2. Aumua

          I certainly am concerned, but it’s not about the Russians. It’s really more about the fate of humanity, and we really don’t have time for another cold war. I’m simply not buying without evidence that the Russians have to be our enemies, and that all this adds up to what they’re telling me, over and over, that it adds up to. I think you’re a fool if you do buy it. I think the American people keep proving that we are fools, and if we have a fool and a buffoon for a president, well then that befits us.

          Reply
  25. Angry Panda

    Well this…wasn’t very insightful. Was it.

    From the get-go there are two questions that I haven’t seen anyone address. This is before you get to any “substantive” bits of the indictment, or of the whole Evil Russian Hacker scandal.

    1. Why GRU. WHY GRU.

    GRU is the Russian military intelligence agency reporting to the General Staff. While it has many different units and functions, the common denominator is that these have something to do with MILITARY intelligence or activities. Battlefield intelligence, counter-terrorism units, special forces, saboteurs, et cetera.

    Meanwhile, the Russians also have the SVR – “Service of Foreign Intelligence” – which is what the foreign intelligence departments of the KGB were folded into in the 1990s (the domestic departments went into the FSB – hence creating a CIA-FBI type duality). Although much of the structure is classified, the SVR does have an entire department dedicated to “information systems”.

    In principle, an operation against a political target with the view of affecting a political process should involve the SVR – not the GRU. It, in fact, makes absolutely no sense for the GRU to get involved in this, as hacking Podesta’s Gmail has no discernible military intelligence objective. And yet, the only acronym various US publications (and indictments) have been pushing since 2017 is the GRU while the SVR…does not exist?

    This continues to perplex me.

    2. Technically speaking, the GRU operates under a very heavy classification regime. Meaning the names of their operatives themselves are classified information. And yet, here we have an indictment with not less than a dozen names.

    Which means that either the US has infiltrated the GRU top to bottom and sideways, and Mueller is somehow not gun shy to reveal this fact to the world – or someone is making stuff up. Unless someone wants to point out to me some other explanation for a dozen classified – top secret and all that – names showing up in a public US document…

    —-

    But hey, I am not a professional journalist, so what do I know about asking questions.

    Reply
  26. Ashburn

    My fear is that many on the Left are jumping into a rabbit hole where, as Isikoff says, “everything the US government says is a lie, or is concocted, or is made up out of ‘whole cloth’.” Even the Republican Senate Intelligence Committee report blames the Russians for interference. This from Charles Blow’s column in today’s NYT:

    As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out:
    https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/publications/russia-inquiry

    “In 2016, cyber actors affiliated with the Russian Government conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure. Russian actors scanned databases for vulnerabilities, attempted intrusions, and in a small number of cases successfully penetrated a voter registration database. This activity was part of a larger campaign to prepare to undermine confidence in the voting process.”

    Rather than be distracted with whether Mueller and DOJ and the Intel Community is making it all up let’s wait and see what the special counsel ultimately finds and the evidence he produces to support it. In the meantime, the Left should be shining the light on our own, well documented, interference in other countries’ elections, our illegal regime change operations and calling out the neocons and their fellow travelers for trying to start a new Cold War with Russia.

    Reply
    1. Code Name D

      Rather than be distracted with whether Mueller and DOJ and the Intel Community is making it all up let’s wait and see what the special counsel ultimately finds and the evidence he produces to support it.

      You have this backwards. The evidence must come first before one is justified in believing the claim. Hay, I am all for waiting to see what the report says. But I am not going to pretend this is all true based on a yet-to-be-released report. Until then, that which is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

      Reply
    2. djrichard

      Let’s suspend judgement? And let due process do its job?

      Maybe the powers that be can come up with some sort of detente with Trump. “Look you let us do our job and we’ll let you do your job. No skirmishes between us, at least with respect to Russia.”

      Think either side would agree to that? If not, and skirmishes are going to happen, the left should just render itself mute?

      Reply
  27. sd

    As an aside, back in the day, the State Department didn’t want anything to do with Chalabi and kept trying to get rid of him. It was the think tanks, CIA and other defense agencies who kept pushing him and finding him funding. Turned out much later that State was right as Chalabi was working for Iran.

    So when someone with State connections steps forward and says not so fast, I think it is worth listening.

    Reply
  28. Skip Intro

    I find it most remarkable that in both the US and the UK, internal party-political stunts, (the russkis stole my election in US, brexit in UK) have come to dominate the narrative and shape world events profoundly.

    Reply
  29. likbez

    Looks like it was actually China which implemented forwarding of all 30K email to controlled by them account. See sic_semper_tyrannis blog for details. This is a bombshell revelation, if true,

    For debunking of the information presented in the indictment see

    https://disobedientmedia.com/2018/07/muellers-latest-indictment-ignores-evidence-in-the-public-domain/

    To me Mueller fiction sounds like a second rate Crowdstrike “security porn” — a bragging about non-existent capabilities.

    And I agree that the “Le Carre level of details” with names (which are obviously classified) are extremely suspicious. It also invites a nasty retaliation, because it breaks de-facto mode of work of intelligence agencies with each other and undermines any remnant of trust (if such exists in respect to CIA; it probably existed for NSA).

    As sessions were encrypted so to decode them you need to steal SSH key, or break SSH encryption. Both are not very realistic, and, if realistic, disclosing such NSA capabilities greatly damages those capabilities.

    Also Guccifer 2.0 Internet personality looks more and more to me like a false flag operation with the specific goal to implicate Russians. Mueller is actually pretty adept in operating in such created for specific purpose “parallel reality” due to specifics of his career. So nothing new here. Just a strong stench of a false flag operation

    Another weak point is the use of CCcleaner. This is not how professionals from state intelligence agencies operate. Any Flame-style exfiltration software (and Flame was pioneered by the USA ;-) has those capabilities built-in, so exposing your activities in Windows logs is just completely stupid.

    Reply
  30. mike oxbig

    Mate forgot to speak of one of the most important facts of all.

    After Kissoff claimed that Mueller would never ever bring an indictment like this unless he had all his t’s crossed and i’s dotted, mate should have brought up how we already had a mueller indictment of russians and when the russians fought back, it became clear that mueller did, in fact, make it all up and had no evidence of any value whatsoever to provide in discovery to the russians. And mueller got down on his hands and knees and begged the judge to give them more time. As we’ve found out, time to hand off the fraudulent case to the DOJ to bury in the files.

    Reply
  31. Cyber Expert

    Isikoff is a hack who like so many supposed “journalists” these days is trying to earn a living by passing on the story that the frustrated masses yearn for. They also become captured by their sources and he is just a mouthpiece of the Intelligence Community now. NYT and WAPO are totally captured now. It is the path of least resistance and the most profitable. If you actually show skepticism and try to find the truth you will have to fight against all the biased actors involved who are pushing their own agenda. You don’t have to like Trump to fear what has happened to our MSM and all aspects of our IC. War is power. They all want more wars, more death because it gives them power and money. We are seeing an outright battle for control of the state agenda.

    Reply
  32. Jabbawocky

    I take one thing from this text. That Mate is a gas lighter extraordinaire. No evidence, no alternatives, just a merchant of doubt. He should get into climate change denial! Then he goes on to smear Mueller. Nice work! Using all the tools of the dreaded MSM.

    Let us not forget that there are emails between the Trump team and the Russians in the public domain that show the trump team were approached by Russians offering info on Clinton. There was a meeting in trump tower. Then let us not forget that the hacking of the emails was demanded by Trump on live TV.

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,”.

    The very next day it is alleged by Mueller that Guccifer 2.0 hacked them on behalf of the Russian government and passed them to Organization 1, which has been commonly assumed to be wikileaks.

    I’m not surprised people are calling Trump treasonous. Is it not clear that Trump hoped these emails would contain material that would derail Clinton’s campaign, or better still provide grist to the mill for his ‘lock her up’ narrative? Is this collusion?

    This week Trump is there in Helsinki saying that the Russians are innocent and it’s all a witch hunt by us intelligence agencies. Furthermore, Putin will help sort the mess out if he can have Browder and start undermining the Magnitsky act. Trump calls Putin ‘strong’.

    I’m more surprised that there appear to be numerous Americans apparently willing to assume that all this is some grand elite conspiracy, on the flimsiest of evidence. Even if the allegations are only half right, this is crazy stuff. You don’t trust Obama and Mueller, but you do trust Trump? What have you become!

    Reply

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