If you’ve gotten whiplash due to the widening dissonance between reality and legacy press coverage of the Russian hacking narrative, you are not alone.
An October 24th meeting between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former NSA Technical Director and Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity (VIPS) founder Bill Binney at the behest of President Trump has resulted in a flurry of disconcertingly inaccurate media coverage.
VIPS founder Bill Binney has extensive experience with the NSA: as former technical director has a wealth of knowledge regarding the NSA’s implementation of mass surveillance.
The meeting was both significant and politically sensitive because it concerned a VIPS memo that called the Russian hacking narrative into question. The memorandum, which was addressed to President Trump, had cited the findings of The Forensicator, whose work was first reported by Disobedient Media in July. There are multiple nuances at play regarding the Forensicator’s findings, the VIPS report and legacy media discussion of the Russian hacking narrative that are rarely reported accurately by establishment press.
Issues with The Intercept’s coverage arise when the report characterizes the meeting between Binney and Pompeo as somehow scandalous, as pointed out by independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone and independent analyst Adam Carter.
The Intercept’s report briefly discusses the analysis of the Forensicator, reducing their findings to the single issue of copying speeds. The article also conflates the issue of the Guccifer 2.0 data and the DNC leak itself. The Forensicator’s analysis is based on more than the one issue of copying speeds, which The Intercept failed to mention in their coverage of the issue.
The findings of the Forensicator only concern Guccifer 2.0, and have no demonstrable bearing on the source of Wikileaks’ publication of the DNC leak. By showing that Guccifer 2.0 did not hack the data eventually published as NGP-VAN, the Forensicator’s analysis calls into question claims that Guccifer 2.0 was the perpetrator of Russian hacking. Some recent establishment press reports have recently attempted to revive the idea that Guccifer 2.0 might be a team of Russian state agency spies
It suggests that Guccifer 2.0 did not publish material hacked from Russia, but does not prove the source of Wikileaks’ material. This nuance is often lost on legacy press. Generally, no convincing links have yet been made between Guccifer 2.0 and the DNC email leaks or the Podesta emails, both published by Wikileaks. Essentially, the issue of the source of the Wikileaks DNC emails is not necessarily relevant to the Forensicator’s findings, but their work does potentially negate Russian hacking claims based on Guccifer 2.0.
Another problem is the portrayal of VIPS members and their memo as somehow right-wing. VIPS and its members have long histories of being staunchly anti-war, dating to their founding during the lead up to the disastrous conflict in Iraq. VIPS had warned at the time that pro-war rhetoric was based in large part on faulty intelligence.
VIPS’ long held stance against war should not be confused with partisan opinion. As they stood then against a Republican President advocating war, so now VIPS stands against what appears to be a largely Democratic establishment that has continually beat the drums of war against Russia.
Disobedient Media previously covered the serious inadequacies that taint Crowdstrike’s Russian hacking claims, which are the ultimate, central, source for what The Intercept describes as intelligence agency consensus that Russia meddled in the Presidential election. Despite this, The Intercept fails to mention Crowdstrike once in their report. This is a highly significant omission, as any honest discussion of Crowdstrike’s role in the matter would reveal the utterly murky basis of the Russian hacking narrative.
As Disobedient Media and others have reported, Crowdstrike is a private firm, not an intelligence agency. Crowdstrike also has financial ties to the DNC. Despite all this, it is the only cited source of the Russian hacking claims. To date, the company has refused to provide evidence backing their theory and has refused to allow authorities access to the DNC servers in order to verify them.
Ignoring all of this, The Intercept wrote in their coverage of the meeting between Pompeo and Binney: “Instead of acting as a filter between Trump and the intelligence community, Pompeo’s decision to meet with Binney raises the possibility that right-wing theories aired on Fox News and in other conservative media can now move not just from conservative pundits to Trump, but also from Trump to Pompeo and into the bloodstream of the intelligence community.”
That legacy press outlets, especially ones that are generally well respected, would misrepresent evidence supporting the Russian hack theory is deeply troubling. This is unfortunately evident in their omission of Crowdstrike’s role in this matter, as well as the dishonest characterization of VIPS’ memorandum as a product of the right-wing conspiracy theory. On the contrary, it is the Russian hacking claims that lack real credibility, and are to date based on deeply problematic speculation by a biased private firm.
Disobedient Media has strenuously criticized Mike Pompeo, specifically when he termed Wikileaks a ‘non state hostile intelligence service.’ This author has no intention of defending Pompeo, but the fact that The Intercept speaks at such length regarding rumors of his behavior, even praising Clapper in comparison, frames their coverage in a way that ignores the absolute integrity of Bill Binney and VIPS and their separation from the interests of the CIA or President Trump.
The Intercept’s report states that Pompeo appears to be “actively taking Trump’s side,” which is also concerning because the truth of whether or the DNC was hacked, or that such a hypothetical action was perpetrated by Russia, is a factual issue that can be demonstrated or disproven with hard evidence. The Intercept’s conflation of intelligence community opinion with evidence is alarming.
This hypocrisy on the part of The Intercept is particularly troubling when it praises former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Salon reports that Clapper had committed outright perjury when he lied under oath regarding the extent of mass surveillance practices in testimony given to the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 12, 2013.
This type of dishonest coverage unfortunately exemplified by The Intercept has marred virtually all mainstream coverage of the Russian hacking narrative, with the shining exceptions to this rule including articles by The Nation, Salon and Bloomberg, in addition to Redacted Tonight, Caitlin Johnstone, Jimmy Dore, HA Goodman, and a large number of other voices within independent media. Goodman in particular dedicated an entire text on the failures of the Russian hack myth.
Despite the seemingly endless cacophony of establishment press’s dishonest portrayal of the issue, there is a plethora of evidence, that deeply questions the Russian hacking narrative. This evidence is in large part owed to the tireless work of independent analysts including The Forensicator and Adam Carter. Their efforts have shown that it is likely a hack never took place in order to produce the Guccifer 2.0 material.
Adam Carter has also indicated that Russian ‘fingerprints’ were purposefully left on Guccifer 2.0 metadata in order to effectively frame Russia and support claims that Guccifer 2.0 operated on behalf of the Russian State. Carter has indicated Crowdstrike higher ups may have actively created the Guccifer 2.0 persona in concert with the DNC in order to deflect public attention from the content of the DNC leaks.
The establishment’s active efforts to suppress the content of the DNC leaks published by Wikileaks was corroborated recently by Twitter’s own counsel during a senate intelligence committee hearing. Disobedient Media previously reported that Twitter’s counsel made the admission that the social media giant had censored a mind numbing 48% of tweets containing the #DNCLeak hashtag.
If it were to be proven that the Russian hack myth originated with the DNC’s effort to cover up corruption, it would be monumentally important in demonstrating the depths of nepotism that inhabit the power structure of the DNC. This would come not only from the revelations already shown in the DNC emails, but in showing that the DNC actively encouraged raising tensions with a nuclear power in the interest of distracting from the proof of their own wrong doing.