Guest Opinion: Russia-gate? Evidence is more important than opinion

By John Marciano

The corporate media have inundated the public with allegations about Putin and Russia. A key allegation is that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, costing Hillary Clinton the presidency. This election “meddling” is at the heart of a disinformation campaign by media pundits, establishment Democrats, and neocons.

A report from Obama’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper stated that Putin ordered the hacking, but it provided no substantial evidence. Challenging the DNI report, William Binney, former Technical Director at NSA and a member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), states that the DNC email action was a leak, not a hack, because NSA’s “cast-iron” coverage “would almost certainly have yielded a record of any electronic transfer from Russia to WikiLeaks” (Consortium News, “Demand for Russian Hacking Proof,” Jan. 17, 2017), which is accused of receiving the alleged hack.

If it was a hack, is it worse than the documented US interference in Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 Russian presidential reelection, or its record of election subversion, regime change, and attendant lies by the CIA; for example, Italy 1948, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, Nicaragua 1990, Venezuela 2002, and Honduras 2009? We need to be especially skeptical of the CIA, given its history of manipulating intelligence for political ends, such as the bogus “intelligence” in 2003 about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

As the public intellectual Noam Chomsky argues, “Only those who are ‘radical’ or ‘irresponsible’ or ‘emotional’—and thus quite beyond the pale—will insist on applying to the [US] the … standards that are taken for granted when [it comes to] the behavior of officially designated enemies….” When it comes to Russia, however, any charge can be made because the accusers suspend evidence and principles of reason.

Clapper also lied under oath when Senator Ron Wyden asked him whether the NSA was monitoring citizens’ private communications. Obama’s CIA Directors John Brennan and General David Petraeus also lied about national security matters: Brennan to Congress and Petraeus to the FBI about highly classified information he gave his biographer-mistress. The three Obama appointees did no prison time, but he prosecuted more government whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all presidents combined since its passage.

We also have the false media claim that all US intelligence agencies signed on to the hacking charge. Journalist Rick Sterling writes that Clapper “simply claimed to be speaking for the Intelligence Community and that was then falsely interpreted to mean that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed.” The DNI report, however, was the work of “hand-picked” analysts from only the CIA, NSA, and FBI, and the NSA would only grant only “moderate confidence” to the Putin hacking accusation (Consortium News, “Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession,” July 9, 2017). Translation: It might have happened but they’re not sure. This caution, however, has not prevented the king and queen of Russia-bashers, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, from accusing Moscow of having demonic plans.

The alleged Russian hack has been condemned as an “act of war,” and the Washington Post even called it “the crime of the century.” By pushing this Russian-phobia, Sterling argues, Democrats and liberals are increasing the danger of a nuclear war with Russia, thus supporting the CIA and war hawks.

The present anti-Russian coverage is so disturbing that it has even stunned Putin’s Russian critics, as Glenn Greenwald reports in the Intercept: “[These] critics … are constantly warning that the US media’s unhinged, ignorant, paranoid reporting on Russia is harming their cause in all sorts of ways.” According to Greenwald, these are dissidents who understand the dynamics of Russian politics.

If we rely solely on the corporate media to get the facts, we will never discover the truth. We need to read alternative sources, such as Consortium News, VIPS, Intercept, and historian Stephen Cohen. The stakes are too high to uncritically accept the story about Russian hacking being peddled by the ruling elite through influential intellectuals and media pundits.

— John Marciano of Talent is professor emeritus at State University of New York, College at Cortland, and co-author of “The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce” (2018).

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