In the last few weeks, we have witnessed two pillars of the Russiagate narrative continue to disintegrate and erode. First, we heard that a bipartisan inquiry by the Senate Intelligence Committee admitted that they have yet to find evidence indicating that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election. Secondly, new light was shed on the process by which the DNC Emails published by WikiLeaks may have been sourced, thanks to two reports: one authored by former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney and former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, with the other work penned by Disobedient Media’s Adam Carter.
Of course, this does not entail that the establishment-backed media will stop promoting the neo-McCarthyist insanity that has held legacy press audiences captive for the last two and a half years.
No Evidence For Trump-Russia Collusion
A recent report from NBC related an admission from both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicating that they have discovered no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion to date. NBC’s report reads in part:
“The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the 2016 election has uncovered no direct evidence of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia, Democrats and Republicans on the committee told NBC News. But different parties’ investigators in the probe, which is winding down, disagree over the implications of a pattern of contacts between Trump associates and Russians.”
Let’s review that again: the only thing the Democrats and Republicans disagree on is the significance of an alleged “Pattern of contacts between Trump associates and Russians.”
Note: the “pattern” here does not specify that the “Russians” in question were associated in any sense with the Russian government. One should not have to stress the significance of differentiating between a nationality versus affiliation with the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the characterization of “Trump associates” is entirely vague.
To conclude from such sentiments that anyone who so much as has “contacts” with “Russians” (again, not the same thing as contacts with proxies or employees of the Russian state) must be working at the behest of Putin would represent an intense strain of xenophobia, if not outright racism.
Independent journalist and comedian Jimmy Dore also commented on NBC’s report, saying: “For two and a half years, [Rachel Maddow] has been an out-of-her-mind conspiracy theorist. She said that Russia is going to freeze you when it gets cold… These people are the biggest conspiracy liars in the world.”
One does not have to rely on the statements of the Senate Intelligence Committee to understand that no shred of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion has yet been shown to the public. Last month, The Nation’s Aaron Mate wrote:
“Not a single Trump official has been accused of colluding with the Russian government or even of committing any crimes during the 2016 campaign. As The New York Times recently noted, “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.”
In the wake of the latest news regarding such lack of evidence, Mate wrote via Twitter:
I am much looking forward to hearing from those who've mocked & attacked myself & others for pointing out that there is no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy how they feel about the bipartisan Senate Intel Cmte. finding no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy. https://t.co/slE1xZNlg6
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 12, 2019
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald also chimed in on NBC’s report, writing via Twitter: “When even NBC, [Ken Dilanian] and Democrats (excuse the redundancy) are admitting this so clearly in the first paragraph of their article, it’s time for people to start facing some facts about what they’ve been telling people.”
Of course, many have long pointed to evidence countering the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, expecting such contrary evidence to become the “death of Russiagate.” Unfortunately for the sake of truth and sanity, it seems that this writer’s opinion on the immortality of Russiagate is going to continue to prove true, as long as the saga serves the establishment’s need for deflection from real election interference and other pressing domestic issues.
As this author opined last year: “Standing on the shoulders of this methodical evidence, it seems at this point that no amount of contrary evidence, exposure or implosion will ultimately kill the undead Russiagate monster. If that were possible, the Thing would have been put irrevocably into the ground over a year ago. Or six months ago. Or a few weeks ago.”
Russian Hacking Narrative Implodes
The Russian hacking aspect of the scandal was also severely discredited in recent days, in the wake of two new reports. One article was authored by Disobedient Media’s Adam Carter, with a separate piece published by Bill Binney and Larry Johnson. Binney is a former NSA Technical Director; Johnson an ex-CIA analyst. Both are active members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
The two articles discussed revelations arising from studies of the DNC Emails released by WikiLeaks in 2016. We remind our readers that, while Adam Carter, Disobedient Media, The Forensicator, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Stephen McIntyre, and others have regularly reported regarding documents published by the Guccifer 2.0 persona, the latest pieces focus instead on the DNC Emails as published days before the DNC convention.
Though this writer will not attempt to present every aspect or technical detail contained in the articles, we will endeavor to make our readers aware of the essential points which Carter, Binney, and Johnson have raised.
Carter’s work suggests that the DNC Emails were originally accessed via a USB thumb drive or similar device, concluding: “The evidence strongly suggests that the first three batches of DNC emails were transferred via a USB storage device at some stage between acquisition and then subsequently being published by WikiLeaks.”
As noted by Carter, such a scenario aligns with allegations made by former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, who claimed that he was the recipient of the files via an intermediary rather than the original source. Carter adds: “However, transfer speeds observed for the batches with last-modified dates matching the dates of acquisition indicate that they were transferred at approximately 3 megabits/second, a lot slower than we would expect if it were a local or LAN transfer, so the transfer we’re looking at likely involved a remote transfer at some point between acquisition and delivery.”
Carter continued: “… It seems likely that the original emails were copied soon after acquisition… The (hypothetical) existence of an intermediary doesn’t tell us anything about the individual (or individuals) who originally acquired the emails. Thus, this scenario does not necessarily rule out the possibility of an insider acquiring the emails. If we contemplate the intermediate use of cloud storage, this could have been used as a method to decouple the acquisition of the emails from delivery to another party that subsequently delivered them to Wikileaks.”
The article by Binney and Johnson also discusses the relevance of indications that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks were likely accessed via a storage device, rather than leaked. They state in part:
“An examination of the Wikileaks DNC files do not support the claim that the emails were obtained via spearphishing. Instead, the evidence clearly shows that the emails posted on the Wikileaks site were copied onto an electronic media, such as a CD-ROM or thumb-drive before they were posted at Wikileaks… We believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller faces major embarrassment if he decides to pursue the indictment he filed–which accuses 12 Russian GRU military personnel and an entity identified as, Guccifer 2.0, for the DNC hack—because the available forensic evidence indicates the emails were copied onto a storage device.”
Binney and Johnson conclude: “Taken together, these disparate data points combine to paint a picture that exonerates alleged Russian hackers and implicates persons within our law enforcement and IC taking part in a campaign of misinformation, deceit and incompetence. It is not a pretty picture.”
The Real Cost Of Russiagate
Though Russiagate may be summed up as a never-ending theatrical performance designed to hold attention rather than prove itself, that does not mean that the saga has had no tangible effects in the real world. Regardless of what one makes of the legitimacy of Russiagate or any one of its sub-narratives, we can all agree that it has wreaked havoc directly and indirectly on many fronts.
Journalist and award-winning author Patrick Lawrence wrote a ground-breaking article with The Nation in August of 2017, covering a Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) memorandum to President Trump. The memo, and Lawrence’s article, indicated that the Guccifer 2.0 persona had published documents that were likely accessed locally, rather than hacked remotely.
The repercussions for Lawrence – professional, financial, personal – continued for many months. In an interview, Lawrence told Disobedient Media: “My working principle from the first is that disagreements and other such matters internal to a publication – any publication – shouldn’t be aired outside the newsroom door. When I was trained, you’d be summarily fired if you went public with such a stunt. I thought this at the time my article came out, and on that same principle, I won’t comment now.” Lawrence concluded: “I should add I have no reason to retract a single syllable of what I wrote.”
A hit-piece authored last year by Duncan Campbell saw the doxxing of Disobedient Media’s Adam Carter, putting his livelihood in jeopardy and conflating anonymity with wrongdoing, among other things. Campbell’s text received much criticism from this outlet and others for its disastrously inaccurate depiction of the opinion of Bill Binney and other VIPS members.
NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake was also quoted in the piece, comparing CIA veteran and VIPS co-founder Ray McGovern with George W. Bush’s politicization of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War.
Tom Drake commented; “Ray [McGovern – who controls VIPS]’s determination to publish claims he wanted to believe without checking facts and discarding evidence he didn’t want to hear exactly reproduced the Iraq war intelligence failures which the VIPS group was formed to oppose”.
— Duncan Campbell (@dcampbell_iptv) August 17, 2018
Most readers do not require the reminder that McGovern and other members of VIPS were strongly opposed to the faulty intelligence used by the Bush administration as a pretext for the 2003 war in Iraq. This history makes Drake’s comparison particularly odious and is additionally damaging because like McGovern, Drake is a respected member of VIPS. Disobedient Media reached out to Drake for comment on this point and others, to which we received no reply by the time of publication.
McGovern spoke with Disobedient Media, saying: “I knew Tom Drake to be a straight shooter, an impression strengthened by our teamwork in Moscow presenting Ed Snowden with the Sam Adams integrity award that Tom himself had won two years before. I normally cut Tom some slack, in view of all he has been through. But when he belatedly took issue with the key VIPS memo of July 24, 2017 on “Russian hacking,” and made claims unsupported by evidence (claims strongly challenged by his fellow NSA “alumni” in VIPS), I, as chair of that memo, had to call him out of order. He reacted poorly and seems now to be in for further embarrassment.”
Disobedient Media also spoke with Bill Binney, who told this author:
“Tom has been a friend of mine for about 20 years. During that time he has demonstrated sound analytic judgment on technical issues with the exception of one. That is the issue of Russiagate and association with the Trump campaign and administration. In this case, I believe he has allowed himself to be diverted by the rather large hoard of emotionally motivated who are intent on associating the Russians with Trump to form the basis for impeachment. They have and continue to convict Trump based on statements made by large numbers of people – as if that were proof of anything. So, on this issue, a good chunk of the US population have lost their objectivity and instead of demanding proof based on observable facts (available to be inspected) they accept assertions generated by emotion. The true test will be in a court of law where all these assertions would be treated as hearsay and inadmissible as none are first-hand observers.”
Disobedient Media has been separately smeared by entities like Media Bias Fact Check, whose report appraising this outlet laughably alleged that we have been a “defender” of the Guccifer 2.0 persona. While such an absurd statement would carry no weight with even the most cursory of Disobedient Media’s readers, it is nonetheless noteworthy in that it specifically uses a false neo-McCarthyist narrative to attempt to assassinate the credibility of this outlet.
When asked about the real-world implications of Russiagate thus far, Ray McGovern – who, as we remind our readers, is a former CIA analyst with decades of experience during the Cold War period – expressed deep concern, saying:
“I worry about what conclusions President Putin may draw from attempts to demonize him and to make Russia a pariah. Inflammatory rhetoric can be prelude to war. Worse still, the temperament and hubris of President Trump’s advisers are a far cry from the sage, sober advice Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, for example, gave President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Shattered, at this point, is any residual hope Putin may have harbored that Trump would be able to improve ties with Russia. Trump is not his own man. Putin, thus, must prepare for the worst. This is the most serious damage from the Russia-gate narrative so far.”
Patrick Lawrence also appraised the damage done by Russiagate in a piece published via Consortium News, writing: “Numerous sets of sanctions against Russia, individual Russians, and Russian entities have been imposed on the basis of this great conjuring of assumption and presumption.”
As described by McGovern and Lawrence, the tensions raised between two major nuclear powers is perhaps the most important real-world result of over two years of neo-McCarthyist fervor in the US. However, the smearing of members of the independent press and the worsening division amongst VIPS members comprise additional serious damage stemming from a scandal-that-never-was.
In terms of the larger political picture, Russiagate has been endlessly hyped to deflect from public outrage that rightfully erupted in response to overt election interference by the Democratic Party in the 2016 primary season. It has been used in an attempt to mask the failure of the Democrats and specifically Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate.
As long as the legacy press continues to use Russiagate to gaslight the public from focusing on ongoing domestic election interference, it remains imperative to point out that Russiagate, to date, has no basis whatsoever in fact. For that reason, Disobedient Media will continue to report on the subject as it develops.