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A Look Back at Clapper’s Jan. 2017 ‘Assessment’ on Russia-gate – Consortiumnews

Trump’s Timidity is Letting Comey Off the Hook – Consortiumnews

On the 2nd anniversary of the “assessment” blaming Russia for “collusion” with Trump there’s nonetheless no proof aside from displaying the media “colluded” with the spooks, says Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern
Particular to Consortium Information

The banner headline atop web page certainly one of The New York Occasions print version two years in the past at this time, on January 7, 2017, set the tone for 2 years of Dick Cheney-like chicanery: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.”

Beneath a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous People have been led to consider that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose “influence campaign” in response to the Occasions quoting the intelligence report, helped “President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

Arduous proof supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, although, an alarming improve in the potential of warfare with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued — whether or not by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The attainable penalties for the world are much more dire than 16 years of warfare and destruction within the Center East.

If It Walks Like a Canard…

The CIA-friendly New York Occasions two years in the past led the media quacking in a marketing campaign that wobbled like a duck, canard in French.

A look at the title of the Intelligence Group Evaluation (ICA) (which was not endorsed by the entire group) — “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” — would suffice to point out that the extensively revered and independently-minded State Division intelligence bureau ought to have been included. State intelligence had demurred on a number of factors made within the Oct. 2002 Estimate on Iraq, and even insisted on together with a footnote of dissent. James Clapper, then director of nationwide intelligence who put collectively the ICA, knew that each one too nicely. So he evidently thought it will be higher to not contain troublesome dissenters, and even inform them what was afoot.

Clapper: Displaying handpicked proof? (White Home Photograph)

Equally, the Protection Intelligence Company ought to have been included, notably because it has appreciable experience on the G.R.U., the Russian army intelligence company, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. However DIA, too, has an unbiased streak and, in truth, is able to reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Only one yr earlier than Clapper determined to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the next heterodox concept in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

Any additional questions as to why the Protection Intelligence Company was evaded the ICA drafting desk?

Handpicked Analysts

With assist from the Occasions and different mainstream media, Clapper, principally by his silence, was capable of foster the charade that the ICA was truly a bonafide product of all the intelligence group for so long as he might get away with it. After 4 months it got here time to fess up that the ICA had not been ready, as Secretary Clinton and the media stored claiming, by “all 17 intelligence agencies.”

In reality, Clapper went one higher, proudly asserting — with hanging naiveté — that the ICA writers have been “handpicked analysts” from solely the FBI, CIA, and NSA. He might have thought that this is able to improve the ICA’s credibility. It’s a no-brainer, nevertheless, that whenever you need handpicked solutions, you higher handpick the analysts. And so he did.

Why is nobody within the identities of the handpicked analysts and the hand-pickers? In any case, we now have the names of the chief analysts/managers liable for the fraudulent NIE of October 2002 that greased the skids for the conflict on Iraq. Listed within the NIE itself are the principal analyst Robert D. Walpole and his chief assistants Paul Pillar, Lawrence Okay. Gershwin and Maj. Gen. John R. Landry.

The Missed Disclaimer

Buried in an inside web page of the Occasions on Jan. 7, 2017 was a cautionary paragraph in an evaluation by reporter Scott Shane. It appears he had learn the ICA right through, and had taken due observe of the derriere-protecting caveats included within the unusually cobbled collectively report. Shane needed to wade via 9 pages of drivel about “Russia’s Propaganda Efforts” to succeed in Annex B with its curious disclaimer:

“Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents. … High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong.”

Small marvel, then, that Shane famous: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission…”

Scott Shane (Twitter)

Since then, Shane has evidently realized what aspect his bread is buttered on and has joined the ranks of Russia-gate aficionados. Many years in the past, he did some good reporting on such points, so it was unhappy to see him determine to mix in with the likes of David Sanger and promote the NYT official Russia-gate narrative. An embarrassing function, “The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far,” that Shane wrote with NYT colleague Mark Mazzetti in September, is filled with gaping holes, picked aside in two items by Consortium Information.

Shades of WMD

Sanger is among the intelligence group’s favourite go-to journalists. He was second solely to the disgraced Judith Miller in selling the canard of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq earlier than the U.S. invasion in March 2003. For instance, in a July 29, 2002 article, “U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike As Iraq Option,” co-written by Sanger and Thom Shanker, the existence of WMD in Iraq was said as flat reality no fewer than seven occasions.

The Sanger/Shanker article appeared only a week after then-CIA Director George Tenet confided to his British counterpart that President George W. Bush had determined “to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” At that crucial juncture, Clapper was answerable for the evaluation of satellite tv for pc imagery and hid the truth that the variety of confirmed WMD websites in Iraq was zero.

Regardless of that reality and that his “assessment” has by no means been confirmed, Clapper continues to obtain reward.

Throughout a “briefing” I attended at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington a number of weeks in the past, Clapper displayed grasp round reasoning, saying in impact, that the evaluation needed to be right as a result of that’s what he and different intelligence administrators informed President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

McGovern questions Clapper at Carnegie Endowment in Washington. (Alli McCracken)

I received an opportunity to query him at the occasion. His disingenuous solutions introduced a painful flashback to one of the crucial shameful episodes within the annals of U.S. intelligence evaluation.

Ray McGovern: My identify is Ray McGovern. Thanks for this guide; it’s very fascinating [Ray holds up his copy of Clapper’s memoir]. I’m a part of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  I’d wish to check with the Russia drawback, however first there’s an analogy that I see right here.  You have been in control of imagery evaluation earlier than Iraq.

James Clapper: Sure.

RM: You confess [in the book] to having been shocked that no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered.  After which, to your credit score, you admit, as you say right here [quotes from the book], “the blame is due to intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help [the administration make war on Iraq] that we found what wasn’t really there.”

Now quick ahead to 2 years in the past.  Your superiors have been hell bent on discovering methods accountable Trump’s victory on the Russians.  Do you assume that your efforts have been responsible of the identical sin right here?  Do you assume that you simply discovered plenty of issues that weren’t actually there?  As a result of that’s what our conclusion is, particularly from the technical finish.  There was no hacking of the DNC; it was leaked, and you recognize that since you talked to NSA.

JC: Properly, I’ve talked with NSA so much, and I additionally know what we briefed to then-President Elect Trump on the sixth of January.  And in my thoughts, uh, I spent lots of time within the SIGINT [signals intelligence] enterprise, the forensic proof was overwhelming about what the Russians had finished.  There’s completely little question in my thoughts by any means.  The Intelligence Group Evaluation that we rendered that day, that was requested, tasked to us by President Obama — and uh — in early December, made no name in any way on whether or not, to what extent the Russians influenced the result of the election. Uh, the administration, uh, the group then, the President-Elect’s group, needed to say that — that we stated that the Russian interference had no influence by any means on the election.  And I tried, all of us did, to attempt to right that misapprehension as they have been writing a press launch earlier than we left the room.

Nevertheless, as a personal citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the variety of residents in our nation they reached and the totally different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to assume they didn’t have a profound influence on election on the result of the election.

RM: That’s what the New York Occasions says.  However let me say this: we have now two former Technical Administrators from NSA in our motion right here, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; we even have forensics, okay?

Now the President himself, your President, President Obama stated two days earlier than he left city: The conclusions of the intelligence group — that is ten days after you briefed him — with respect to how WikiLeaks obtained the DNC emails are “inconclusive” finish quote.  Now why would he say that when you had stated it was conclusive?

JC: I can’t clarify what he stated or why.  However I can inform you we’re, we’re fairly positive we all know, or knew at the time, how WikiLeaks received these emails.  I’m not going to enter the technical particulars about why we consider that.

RM: We’re too [pretty sure we know]; and it was a leak onto a thumb drive — gotten to Julian Assange — actually easy.  In case you knew it, and the NSA has that info, you will have an obligation, you might have an obligation to admit to that, in addition to to [Iraq].

JC: Confess to what?

RM: Confess to the truth that you’ve been distorting the proof.

JC: I don’t confess to that.

RM: The Intelligence Group Evaluation was with out proof.

JC: I don’t confess to that. I merely don’t agree together with your conclusions.

William J. Burns (Carnegie President): Hey, Ray, I recognize your query.  I didn’t need this to seem like Jim Acosta within the White Home grabbing microphones away.  Thanks for the questioning although.  Sure ma’am [Burns recognizes the next questioner].

The above change might be seen beginning at 28:45 on this video.

Not Value His Salt

Having supervised intelligence evaluation, together with chairing Nationwide Intelligence Estimates, for three-quarters of my 27-year profession at CIA, my antennae are fine-tuned for canards. And so, at Carnegie, when Clapper targeted on the rump evaluation masquerading as an “Intelligence Community Assessment,” the scent of the duck got here again strongly.

Intelligence analysts value their salt give very shut scrutiny to sources, their attainable agendas, and their data for truthfulness. Clapper flunks on his personal report, together with his efficiency earlier than the Iraq warfare — to not point out his giving sworn testimony to Congress that he needed to admit was “clearly erroneous,” when paperwork launched by Edward Snowden proved him a perjurer. At Carnegie, the questioner who adopted me introduced that up and requested, “How on earth did you keep your job, Sir?”

The subsequent questioner, a former supervisor of State Division intelligence, posed one other salient query: Why, he requested, was State Division intelligence excluded from the “Intelligence Community Assessment”?

U.S. Marine patrols the streets of Al Faw, Iraq, 2003. (U.S. Navy photograph by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks.)

Among the many doubtful causes Clapper gave was the declare, “We only had a month, and so it wasn’t treated as a full-up National Intelligence Estimate where all 16 members of the intelligence community would pass judgment on it.” Clapper then tried to unfold the blame round (“That was a deliberate decision that we made and that I agreed with”), however as director of nationwide intelligence the choice was his.

Given the questioner’s expertise within the State Division’s intelligence, he was painfully conscious of how shortly a “full-up NIE” may be ready. He knew all too properly that the October 2002 NIE, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction,” was ginned up in lower than a month, when Cheney and Bush needed to get Congress to vote for warfare on Iraq. (As head of images evaluation, Clapper signed off on that meretricious estimate, although he knew no WMD websites had been confirmed in Iraq.)

It’s within the Russians’ DNA

The standards Clapper used to handpick his personal assistants are usually not onerous to divine. An Air Pressure basic within the mould of Curtis LeMay, Clapper is aware of all about “the Russians.” And he doesn’t like them, not one bit. Throughout an interview with NBC on Might 28, 2017, Clapper referred to “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” And simply earlier than I questioned him at Carnegie, he muttered, “It’s in their DNA.”

Even those that might settle for Clapper’s weird views about Russian genetics nonetheless lack credible proof that (because the ICA concludes “with high confidence”) Russia’s important army intelligence unit, the G.R.U., created a “persona” referred to as Guccifer to launch the emails of the Democratic Nationwide Committee. When these disclosures acquired what was seen as inadequate consideration, the G.R.U. “relayed material it acquired from the D.N.C. and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks,” the evaluation stated.

At Carnegie, Clapper cited “forensics.” However forensics from the place? To his embarrassment, then-FBI Director James Comey, for causes greatest recognized to him, selected to not do forensics on the “Russian hack” of the DNC computer systems, preferring to rely on a pc outfit of tawdry status employed by the DNC. Furthermore, there’s zero indication that the drafters of the ICA had any dependable forensics to work with.

In distinction, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, working with unbiased forensic investigators, examined metadata from a July 5, 2016 DNC intrusion that was alleged to be a “hack.” Nevertheless, the metadata confirmed a switch velocity far exceeding the capability of the Web at the time. Truly, all of the velocity turned out to be exactly what a thumb drive might accommodate, indicating that what was concerned was a replica onto an exterior storage gadget and never a hack — by Russia or anybody else.

WikiLeaks had obtained the DNC emails earlier. On June 12, 2016 Julian Assange introduced he had “emails relating to Hillary Clinton.” NSA seems to lack any proof that these emails — the embarrassing ones displaying that the DNC playing cards have been stacked towards Bernie Sanders — have been hacked.

Since NSA’s dragnet protection scoops up the whole lot on the Web, NSA or its companions can, and do hint all hacks. Within the absence of proof that the DNC was hacked, all out there factual proof signifies that earlier within the spring of 2016, an exterior storage system like a thumb drive was utilized in copying the DNC emails given to WikiLeaks.

Further investigation has proved Guccifer to be an out-and-out fabrication — and a defective foundation for indictments.

A Gaping Hole

Clapper and the administrators of the CIA, FBI, and NSA briefed President Obama on the ICA on Jan. 5, 2017, the day earlier than they briefed President-elect Trump. At Carnegie, I requested Clapper to elucidate why President Obama nonetheless had critical doubts.  On Jan. 18, 2017, at his ultimate press convention, Obama noticed match to make use of lawyerly language to cowl his personal derriere, saying: “The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.”

So we find yourself with “inconclusive conclusions” on that admittedly essential level. In different phrases, U.S. intelligence doesn’t understand how the DNC emails acquired to WikiLeaks. Within the absence of any proof from NSA (or from its overseas companions) of an Web hack of the DNC emails the declare that “the Russians gave the DNC emails to WikiLeaks” rests on skinny gruel. In any case, these businesses acquire every part that goes over the Web.

Clapper answered: “I cannot explain what he [Obama] said or why. But I can tell you we’re, we’re pretty sure we know, or knew at the time, how WikiLeaks got those emails.”


Ray McGovern works with Inform the Phrase, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Throughout his 27-year CIA profession he supervised intelligence evaluation as Chief of Soviet Overseas Coverage Department, as editor/briefer of the President’s Day by day Temporary, as a member of the Manufacturing Assessment Employees, and as chair of Nationwide Intelligence Estimates. In retirement he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

(Clarification:  After a reader’s remark, this text was amended to point out that the Occasions was quoting from the ICA and that the Shane article, which the writer stated was buried inside, was not the identical because the paper’s entrance web page story.)