Yes, the Russians. Wake up and smell the vodka.

OK, I’ve had enough with these disingenuous demands from the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, etc. that the CIA "show us the evidence," and the frankly absurd charges of "McCarthyism," which is simply reading the politics of this mess backwards. I know not a blessed thing about digital forensics, but all the political logic here points to Russia being behind the hacks in an intentional strategy to throw our election to Donald Trump. All these "leftists" abetting the fascist takeover of the country like this (whether cluelessly or cynically) have me pulling my damn beard out. Please follow this.

For starters... After the Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning affair, I was as enthusiastic for Wikileaks as the next guy. The first thing that woke me up to the fact that something is not right there was the revelation that one of its self-declared operatives was the notorious neo-fascist and anti-Semite Israel Shamir (the Jewish name is part of his wacky schtick), who openly boasted that he had provided intelligence from the Wikileaks cables to the dictatorship of Belarus, which was then unleashing a wave of repression.

Folks may recall that Alexander Lukashenko's regime has been in power for over 20 years now, is Putin’s closest ally in the ex-Soviet sphere, and is known as “Europe's last dictatorship”—although I would argue that Putin by this point has also established a dictatorship. After Lukashenko stole the 2010 elections, there was a popular protest movement, put down wth mass arrests. Shamir was accused of giving the regime Wikileaks intelligence on who were the key activists to round up (and boasted in Counterpunch of how Wikileaks info revealed the protests as "orchestrated" by the US). In other words, Wikileaks likely played the same role in Belarus in 2010 that the CIA played in Chile in 1973—and Julian Assange has never given us a clear accounting on the affair.
 
Then we fast-forward to the 2016 US elections. The political connivance between Putin and Trump first became obvious with the latter's call for the US to abandon its NATO commitments, and statements that Crimea "would rather be" with Russia. And his lavish praise of Putin as an "absolute leader" (no irony intended, apparently) in contrast to weak Obama. Now, this could have just been Trump talking out his ass like he always does. But this possibility was dispelled when the RNC platform was prepared in the prelude to the Cleveland convention, and the Trump team (notoriously lax about policy positions) specifically intervened to remove one, and only one, plank: That calling for military aid to Ukraine.

All this as Russia, having annexed Crimea and de-facto annexed eastern Ukraine, was escalating its massive military intervention in Syria, turning the tide against the rebels (who had been on the brink of toppling the genocidal Assad dictatorship when Russia first intervened last September), and preparing to reduce Aleppo to rubble to achieve this aim. (Now accomplished.) In other words, Russia is embarking on a campaign of imperial aggression not seen since Catherine the Great, let alone the Cold War, and having a compliant president in Washington is critical for this expansionist project to continue.

And then the leaks... Two of them, first of the DNC then of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Obviously partisan in intent. Not one damn syllable was released from the Trump camp. Clinton couldn't even keep the debate focused on policy (and say what you want about her, she actually is a policy wonk) because the supposed "revelations" in the leaks dominated every news cycle.

The Kremlin official state media especially hyped the "revelations"—and not always accurately. One passage about Benghazi falsely attributed to Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal in an (intentionally?) garbled Sputnik account was actually read from the stage by Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., mere hours before Sputnik scrubbed it. Are we really expected to believe this was not coordinated?

And yes, it swung the election. I’m not letting Clinton off the hook for being an uninspiring mediocrity—not in the slightest. But precisely because that reality made for a close race, it was possible for the leaks to swing the election. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times: "Did the combination of Russian and FBI intervention swing the election? Yes. Mrs. Clinton lost three states—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—by less than a percentage point, and Florida by only slightly more. If she had won any three of those states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin/Comey made the difference?"

And mind you, these were private emails. The DNC is not a government agency. If you support the KGB (or whoever) spying on and releasing private emails, then you should reconsider treating Edward Snowden as a hero. If it's bad when the NSA does it, it's bad when the KGB does it. (Although the actual Russian agency in question is probably the GRU, like the FSB née KGB, a holdover from Soviet times.)

And now the disingenuous demands for "evidence"—as if the objective political realities delineated here do not constitute evidence! What they are really demanding is proof—and, as with the 9-11 "Truthies," it is a dishonest demand. There is no proof that would satisfy the skeptics.

CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate the first hack, has apparently uncovered forensic traces indicating that the party behind it was the same as that which engaged in cybernetic sabotage against the power grid in Ukraine last December, plunging much of the country into darkness. This is unlikely to have been carried out by some 400-pound guy in pajamas, as Trump speculated about the DNC hack and as so many "leftists" are so eager to believe. This is presumably the same evidence the CIA now has, and will be revealed soon enough in the Congressional hearings. And, we may safely assume, will be dismissed by those who have everything invested in denying the obvious.

The skeptics fall into two broad categories. First, there are those who have simply not been paying close attention. This is forgivable, and I hope that I have filled in some gaps in your knowledge. Then there are those (the real loud-mouths on the question, like the inevitable Greenwald), who are consciously siding with Putin. (And, if less consciously, with Trump.)

This is not forgivable. These supposed "leftists" are objectively (and perhaps subjectively) on the side of fascism. Putin's intervention in the US election is but his most ambitious ploy. He has been avidly pouring money into the campaigns of far-right xenophobes and neo-fascists across Europe: Marine Le Pen in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece, Attack in Bulgaria, Jobbik in Hungary, etc. Certainly, Russian Cossacks (their equivalent of the KKK, if you know your history) have been joining Le Pen and her ilk in openly celebrating Trump's victory.
 
This is what makes the talk of "McCarthyism" so utterly, maddeningly wrong. There is nothing remotely communist about Putin. He is far closer to fascism, and he is supporting not the political left in the US but the extreme right.

Except, perhaps, those ultra-deluded sectors of the left that have revived the "Red-Brown" politics of the Hitler-Stalin Pact period, and united with fascism in a common hatred of what they think is "liberalism" (a word now so ill-defined that it should be abandoned). But that's a whole other discussion...

Julian Assange shills for Trump

Yet again. From The Hill, Jan. 2: 

WikiLeaks founder: Obama admin trying to 'delegitimize' Trump
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says there's an "obvious" reason the Obama administration has focused on Russia's alleged role in Democratic hacks leading up to Donald Trump's election.

"They're trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House," Assange said during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity airing Tuesday night, according to a transcript of excerpts from the network.

"They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president," Assange said during the interview, which was conducted at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying.

"Our publications had wide uptake by the American people. They're all true," Assange continued. "But that’s not the allegation that’s being presented by the Obama White House."

Assange reiterated the group's denial that Russia was the source of the Democratic documents released over the summer.

"Our source is not a state party, so the answer for our interactions is no," he said.

Uh-huh. And yet he is now openly embracing the Trump-Putin agenda. Also note the pretentious and obscurantist diction ("the answer for our interactions"), a pretty sure sign of prevarication. By which we mean lying.

...while Glenn Greewald shills for Assange

Greenwald in The Intercept meanwhile bashes The Guardian for portraying Assange's earlier pro-Trump interview in Italy's La Repubblica as "guarded praise of Trump"—which it was, despite Greenwald's transparent denails. And here's the proof of the pudding: Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik spun it exactly the same way ("Assange: Trump Offers Chance for Change")—but approvingly! And Greenwald apparently has no problem with that!

Making the current Red-Brown convergence even more blatant, New York Magazine notes that Greenwald appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson to dismiss the Russian hacking alegations as a "smear." Daily Beast notes that Assange did a telephone interview with Fox's Sean Hannity for similar purposes.

Starting to feel a tad bit uncomfortable with your strange bedfellows yet, lefties?

Greenwald praises Breitbart

Breitbart plugs a piece in which contributor Lee Stranahan interviews Glenn Greenwald, who obligingly praises the far-right organ as having "integrity and a sort of editorial independence that I think most media outlets on both the left and the establishment right utterly lack." He adds that Breitbart is "giving voice to people who are otherwise excluded," and says the site is "very impressive in terms of the impact they’ve been able to have." All this hedged with pseudo-distancing interjections about how Breitbart contains content he "sometimes find[s] repellant" and so on.

Feeling the cognitive dissonance yet, "leftists"? No, of course not. #Doublethink

Trump-Assange lovefest: high irony

Well, this is hilarious. Trump now takes to Twitter to crow:  "Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' —why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" CNN thankfully recalls that Trump told Fox News in a 2010 interview that Assange should get the death penalty. When asked about Wikileaks and the Maning leaks, he said: "I think it's disgraceful, I think there should be like death penalty or something."

WaPo meanwhile reports that communications intercepted by US intelligence reveal high-ranking Russian officials celebrating Trump's victory and congratulating themselves on the outcome. The evidence is reportedly in a classified document that National Intelligence Director James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan will confront Trump with at a briefing in New York today...

Admin finds election was tainted, cooperates in transition

Clapper, Brennan and Comey delivered the intelligence assesment on Russian meddling in the election to Trump, the beneficiary of that meddling. Immediatly afterwards it was released to the public. (NYT, Jan. 6) All this happened on the same day that Congress certified the Electoral College vote (with full White House complicity) and officially delivered the presidency to Trump. Utterly surreal.

Strange political lines over Trump-Putin axis

Trump's incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the US the have been in frequent contact in recent weeks—including on the very day the Obama administration hit Moscow with sanctions in retaliation for election-related hacking, AP reports. After initially denying that Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak spoke Dec. 29, a Trump official said late on Jan. 13 that the transition team was aware of one call on the day Obama imposed sanctions.

As we all know, Putin unexpectedly did not retaliate against the US for the move, a decision Trump quickly praised. It all seems very choeographed. The obvious implication is that Flynn assured Kislyak that the sanctions will be promptly lifted.

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who investigated Trump’s Russian connections, was so worried by what he was discovering that at the end he was working without pay, Britain's The Independent reports. Steele was working with Fusion GPS, the firm that had been hired by Republican opponents of Trump, and ultimately came up with the "perverted" claims. Steele says he produced a memo in July, which went to the FBI, stating that Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Just days later Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Steele complained of his frustration as FBI sat on the Trump Russia file for months—whiule aggressively pursuing the Clinton investigation.

The political lines continue to be drawn strangely around all this. Russophilic darling of the left  Stephen F. Cohen spoke with Fox News' Tucker Carlson for a second time in a week Jan. 13, warning against a perceived anti-Russia hysteria. He particularly addressed prospective secretary of state Rex Tillerson's refusal to call Putin a war crminal when questioned in his confirmation hearings. Cohen said embracing that epithet "would end what president-elect Trump says he wants to do, and that's create a new policy toward Russia that we used to call detente—cooperation." (PJ Media)

Some elements of the national security estabishment are not embracing the Russophilia, however. "My take is this is an act of war," the Seattle Times quoted Chris Jones of the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, speaking about Moscow's meddling in the election. MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance charges that the Trump team may be in violation of the Espionage Act.

Mysterious death of ex-KGB chief linked to Urine-gate?

From The Telegraph, Jan. 27:

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

The FSB, which is investigating the matter, has seized Erovinkin's body.

Another KGB head rolls in Urine-gate?

From the New York Times, Jan. 25:

A senior official in the Russian cyberintelligence department that American officials say oversaw last year's election hacking has been arrested in Moscow on charges of treason, a Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

The arrest of Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor agency to the K.G.B., is a rare instance of turmoil in the country’s usually shadowy cybersecurity apparatus slipping into public view.

Mr. Mikhailov served in the F.S.B.'s Center for Information Security, the agency’s cyberintelligence branch, which has been implicated in the American election hacking. But it is not clear whether the arrest was related to those intrusions.

More KGB heads roll in Urine-gate?

Russian news agencies report that three FSB officials and one executive from the Kaspersky Labs cyber security company have been charged with treason. Two of the FSB officials have been identified as Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev. The Kaspersky Labs executive has been identified as Ruslan Stoyanov. Mikhailov is accused of being the leader of a covert hacking group called "Humpty Dumpty." All the defendants are accused of giving US intelligence services Russian state secrets. Kremlin spokesperson, Dimitry Peskov has stated that the arrests are not related to any hacking of US institutions during the recent election. (Jurist)

Uh-huh.

First sanctions against Russia lifted

The US Treasury Department on Feb. 2 eased economic sanctions on Russia, allowing some cyber-security transactions with the FSB. (USA Today) This comes simultaenous with an escalation of Russia's proxy war in Ukraine, with Moscow-backed rebels shelling the government-held town of Avdiivka, outside Donetsk. (CBC)

Flynn discussed sanctions with Russians before inauguration

That's the claim of the New York Times on Feb. 9, citing "current and former American officials." Despite White House denials, and in potential violation of the Logan Act, Flynn conveyed to the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, that the Obama administration was Moscow's adversary and that relations with Russia would change under Trump—a message that was "unambiguous and highly inappropriate."

Wake up and smell the vodka redux

Well, our new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is revealed by Justice Department officials as having met with the Russian ambassador when he was a Trump surrogate last year, which means he perjured himself in his confirmation hearings—although he tries to mince the matter by saying he met with Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a senator and not a Trump campaign operative. This is pretty disingenuous, as he distinctly said: "I did not have communications with the Russians." (CNN, WP, The Hill

The White House has also now admitted that Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner had a previously undiclosed meeting with Kislyak during the campaign. (NYT)

Robert Reich offers a list of seven "close Trump associates who have been accused of having undisclosed contact with Russian agents, or who have reportedly been investigated by the FBI"...  Sessions, Flynn, Kushner, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone and Carter Page.

The Crooks & Liars website makes note of several Russian oligarchs and political operates with links to Trump (often via the men on Reich's list) suffering mysterious deaths in recent weeks. The most recent case—of Ukrainian magnate Alex Oronov, who apparently met with Michael Cohen on a "peace plan" that would recognize Russian control of Crimea—is also noted by the Independent.

Add to which... the obvious quid pro quo of tweaking the GOP platform to remove military aid to Ukraine... the talk of abandoning NATO commitments at a time when Russia is waging multiple foreign wars and threatening more... the Tillerson-brokered Exxon-Rosneft deal that was iced by US sanctions over Crimea... All this "show me the evidence" talk is willful denialism.

But, as Occupy Democrats notes, Trump is now taking his pointing talks from the left, accusing those who want to probe his Russian connections of "McCarthysim."

Beyond surreal.

Assange is on Team Trump. Who is he kidding?

All the evidence you need. Now that the Trump admin is openly at war with the CIA and intelligence community, WikiLeaks releases what it says is its biggest data dump ever—of CIA documents related to surveillance capabilities. (NYT)

Meanwhile, The Guardian recalls that despite the current widespread denials, the BBC reported back on Jan. 12 that the Justice Department did seek a FISA warrant to investigate Russian ties to the Trump campaign. However, the BBC wrote: "Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities - in this case the Russian banks." Whereas another piece cited bt The Guardian, on Murdoch-owned Street Heat, said the warrant also covered "US persons."

No, the Russian connection is not a 'distraction'

"Pursuing the Russia story is a retreat from politics, only if it is framed simply as a matter of Trump having ties with Russia, and not connected to Trump's ideological agenda. But the story is organically linked with other aspects of Trump that deserve critique. Trump's mysterious ties to Russia can’t be divorced from his secrecy about his finances, his affinity for autocratic politics, and his desire to upend American foreign policy in the pursuit of an Islamophobic agenda. The Russia story is not a distraction from developing an anti-Trump politics, but central to the case against him." — Jet Heer in The New Republic, March 13

Rep. Schiff connects the dots between Trump and Russia

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave a lengthy statement during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in which he expertly connected the dots between Trump's campaign and Russia. Required viewing for the "show me the evidence" crowd. Online at Raw Story.

Blackwater link to Trump-Putin plot

Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the mercenary brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, secretly met with an ally of Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles islands to "establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump," the Washington Post reported. (Souciant.com)

'Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign'

That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump's inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting...

The Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged Mr. Putin that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

'Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign'

That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

WASHINGTON — Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone's message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information...

Still waiting for "evidence"?

'Russian Dirt on Clinton? "I Love It," Donald Trump Jr. Said'

That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

Donald Trump Jr. received an email on June 3, 2016, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. The information was described as being part of Russia's support for his father’s presidential bid. His reply? "I love it."

Still waiting for "evidence"? How would you like your crow prepared, all you denialists?

The Nation eats a little crow...

WaPo reports that The Nation has now issued an "edtor's note" concerning an Aug. 9 article, "A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year's DNC Hack" by Patrick Lawrence, acknowledging sloppy journalistic and editorial work. The "report" was issued by the right-wing conspiranoids at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).