Like TV's worst reality show, the Putin-Trump Show rolls on with a new report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) James Clapper, along with the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and National Security Agency (NSA).
The report claims with "high certainty" that Russian president Vladimir Putin directed an influence campaign of cyber-hacking and propaganda that targeted the US elections. It also claims that Russian military intelligence (the GRU) transmitted to WikiLeaks the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chief.
According to Reuters, the CIA believes that the GRU passed the emails to WikiLeaks through "third parties." This would not contradict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's insistence that "our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party."
The unclassified version of the latest intelligence report offers no supporting evidence. Spies, it tells us, need to protect their sources and methods. They do. They also hide behind the same shibboleth to get away with their all-too-frequent lies and misbegotten slam-dunks. They hide their hand when they set up front groups, wage psychological warfare, create their propaganda campaigns, interfere in foreign elections, or topple foreign governments. And ... though forbidden by law ... they frame public debate within the United States, from the Crusade for Freedom of the 1950s to today's Putin-Trump Show.
As Trump repeatedly reminds us, the American intelligence community sold us Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). They lied us into the Vietnam War. They lied us into the Cold War. (See Philip Agee and Steve Weissman, "The CIA in Europe," Oui, January 1977.)
Yet many historically blind progressives eagerly use the report's assertions to bear-bait Donald Trump. They will learn. A quick clue to their fate comes from the columnist Ann Coulter, one of Trump's earliest supporters and political mentors.
"Two sources claim it was Sanders-supporting Dems who leaked to WikiLeaks, not Russia," she tweeted. "So, it was communists who leaked, not former communists."
The point here should be obvious. In the absence of proof made public, only a damned fool would believe anything the American intelligence community says.
Even when Trump turns against Putin, as I predict he will, Intelligence Director James Clapper, the report's chief author, will hardly deserve our trust. Keep in mind March 12, 2013, the day he testified before the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence.
"Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?" asked Senator Ron Wyden.
"No, sir," Clapper replied.
"It does not?" Wyden repeated.
"Not wittingly," Clapper explained. "There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly."
On June 5 and 6, The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first of a long series of revelations based on the information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA had wittingly and massively collected data on American citizens, and Clapper was caught in a witting and massive lie.
Worse, the strongest backers of the intelligence community's claims have their own agenda, and ... someone please tell my fellow pundits ... their agenda does not primarily concern Trump. He is a late addition to their hit list, and the idea that he could be Russia's man is an unexpected gift to their cause.
Hillary and Bill Clinton, the ever-hawkish Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, most Republicans and many Democrats in Congress are doing what they've been trying to do for years, calling for war, cold or otherwise, against Vladimir Putin's Russia. And, in their fervor for the Putin-Trump Show, they have raised double-standards to a new high and self-righteousness to an art form.
If only some almighty god could step in and say, "You are all fired."
Steve Weissman © 2016
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work.