Former intelligence chief: Trump wouldn’t be president if not for Russian interference

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by SueEllenRules!, May 23, 2018.

  1. SueEllenRules!

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    Former intelligence chief’s argument that Putin did indeed sway the 2016 vote

    James Clapper has always seen himself as “a ‘truth to power’ guy,” he tells us. The former director of national intelligence, now 77 years old, was born and raised in the world of spookery. His father’s career in Army signals intelligence included stints at the National Security Agency when it was known as “the puzzle palace.” And Clapper grew up with the conviction that the very essence of intelligence work is the collection of carefully analyzed “truths,” conveyed in confidence, however unpleasant the conclusions might be for policymakers and politicians.

    Then, after more than 50 years in service, just as the avuncular Clapper, a self-styled “intelligence geezer,” was planning to retire for good from his post as overseer of America’s 17 intelligence organizations, the electoral college named Donald Trump president of the United States. And all the intelligence at Clapper’s disposal suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, had made that possible. Clapper, old Cold Warrior that he was, saw his world turned upside down. Suddenly truth, as he understood the term, was out; “alternative facts” were in; and America’s old enemy had a far too cozy relationship with its new commander in chief.

    So this previously reluctant public figure decided as a private citizen to speak out with a vengeance, appearing regularly on CNN (his shaved head making him look a little like Daddy Warbucks stepping out of the shadows), and with Trey Brown he has written a memoir: “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.”

    The book begins and ends with a bitter appraisal of Trump and the Russian plot to put him in power. “I don’t believe our democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners of truth are dismissed as ‘fake news,’ ” Clapper writes. “I know that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if facts are negotiable.”

    This may sound sanctimonious to those aware of the dirty tricks played, covert wars waged and tortures inflicted by the CIA over the years, but Clapper, who worked in other, more antiseptic parts of the intel world — mainly monitoring communications — is quite sincere. And now he feels free to say about the 2016 elections what he did not say when he testified multiple times before Congress as director of national intelligence:

    “Of course the Russian efforts affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”

    Was there active collusion between the Trump campaign — or the candidate himself — and Russian proxies or agents? Clapper does not go that far because he doesn’t have proof. But what he calls Trump’s “aggressive indifference” to the intelligence community’s detailed presentation of Russian activities is, in his view, damning enough. “Allegations of collusion and the results of the election were secondary to the profound threat Russia posed — and poses — to our system,” Clapper writes, and he does a fair job explaining why.

    He begins with Putin’s conviction that the United States somehow bore responsibility for undermining his party’s victory in Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections, which were followed by protests and widespread charges of fraud.

    Clapper admits that in other cases — many other cases — the United States did try to influence elections and change regimes. He cites a report by Carnegie Mellon researcher Dov Levin indicating U.S. efforts to interfere in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. But Clapper says, “Simplistically, I always viewed us as the ‘good guys,’ with at least noble intentions.”

    Putin certainly did not view the Americans as the good guys, and after 2011 he bore a special animus toward then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had expressed “serious concerns” about the conduct of those parliamentary elections. Putin “is not one to forgive or forget a grudge — ever,” writes Clapper. “So when Clinton announced her candidacy for president in 2015, Putin remembered.”

    By then, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its bloody quasi-war in Ukraine and its role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner there had earned Moscow isolation and sanctions, but candidate Trump seemed more than willing to forget and forgive.

    Clapper and his colleagues had watched with interest and then horror, and reacted with agonizing caution to what the Russians were doing over the spring and summer of 2016. Then, in November, the results came in, and in December lame-duck President Barack Obama asked for a comprehensive report.

    In early January 2017, less than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Clapper and his colleagues presented the president-elect with the sum total of what they had discovered about the Russian influence campaign. The report was far more detailed than the sanitized versions released to members of Congress and the public.

    “I remember just how staggering the assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence were,” Clapper writes. “We showed unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence the election, that the campaign was multifaceted, and that Russia had used cyber espionage against US political organizations and publicly disclosed the data they collected through WikiLeaks, DCLeaks, and the Guccifer 2.0 persona. We documented Russian cyber intrusions into state and local voter rolls. We described Russia’s pervasive propaganda efforts through RT [satellite television], Sputnik, and the social media trolls, and how the entire operation had begun with attempts to undermine US democracy and demean Secretary Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their strategic goals. . . . The Russian government had done all of this at minimal cost and without significant damage to their own interests, and they had no incentive to stop.”

    This was not the now-famous “dossier” compiled by a former British spy about prostitutes and conniving oligarchs, which Clapper calls “pseudo-intelligence” — this was solid stuff. But Trump set out to discredit the whole report before he’d so much as seen it, claiming that it was all a plot by the Democrats to explain away their loss and casting doubts on the reliability — and abilities — of the intelligence community as a whole.

    Unfortunately, on that point, Trump might find plenty of extra ammunition in Clapper’s bland but frank memoir. In many places it’s a defensive chronicle of private disappointments and public failures by America’s intelligence services, from Vietnam to, well, the elections of 2016.

    America’s spies famously missed the coming collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989; they judged that Saddam Hussein was bluffing about an invasion of Kuwait in 1990; they failed to predict with any actionable intelligence Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States in September 2001; and they completely misconstrued the evidence at hand (much of which was faked) about Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, which gave the George W. Bush administration the pretext it wanted to invade Iraq in 2003, with all the grim consequences that followed.

    Clapper dismisses the excuses tendered by die-hard invasion rationalizers. They don’t “attribute the failure where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”

    The missteps continued after Obama made Clapper the director of national intelligence in 2010.

    The Arab Spring came as a complete surprise, toppling several tyrants in the region who had been reliable partners to the intelligence community.

    In September 2012, an attack on an ill-protected diplomatic compound and nearby CIA outpost in Benghazi, Libya, cost the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clapper concluded that it was largely improvised and that the militant group or groups involved probably had no operational ties to al-Qaeda, but the initial intelligence reports, repeated by Obama officials, suggested that the whole thing had started as a protest, which was not the case.

    Internally, on Clapper’s watch the intelligence community did not detect or stop the flood of classified documents Chelsea Manning sent to WikiLeaks, which were “embarrassing,” as Clapper puts it, and completely missed the much more damaging activities of Edward Snowden, a “traitor” who absconded with vast quantities of America’s most closely held secrets about intelligence operations. Then the 17 agencies of the intelligence community failed to anticipate the defeat of the Iraqi army by the Islamic State when it took Mosul in 2014.

    So it is perfectly possible for Trump to argue that these tellers of “truths” often do not know what they are talking about. But the situation is actually worse than that for intelligence gatherers under Trump, because the very concept of their basic product is discredited.

    As Clapper points out: “Getting its target audience to conclude that facts and truth are ‘unknowable’ is the true objective of any disinformation campaign. . . . If someone actually believes the falsehood, that’s a bonus, but the primary objective is to get readers or viewers to throw their hands up and give up on ‘facts.’ Do vaccines cause autism? Maybe. Was Senator Ted Cruz’s father involved with President Kennedy’s assassination? Anything’s possible. Is Hillary Clinton running a child-sex ring out of the basement of a DC pizza parlor? Who knows?”

    “Could be” and “could have been” are, of course, staples of Trumpian discourse. Maybe the Russians were hacking the Democratic National Committee, maybe it was the Chinese, maybe it was “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” or “some guy in New Jersey,” he said. Who knows?

    Or maybe, just maybe, the problem is “the deep state,” which at least one member of Trump’s current legal team has suggested.

    Given the overall tone and themes of the book, there are some passages by the old hand that readers may find surprising. At several points Clapper writes with considerable emotion about how unfairly LGBT intelligence officers were treated in the past and how pleased he is that they are fully accepted now.

    Clapper is generally sympathetic to Obama’s leadership — but not always. On the problem of how to deal with North Korea, particularly, he thinks Obama’s “policy rationale of not discussing anything else until North Korea agreed to end its nuclear capability and ambitions was flawed.” Trump, “surprising everyone,” has agreed to talk, and Clapper concedes that as a result the situation is at least “poised for change,” although he adds grudgingly: “whether for better or for worse.”

    Whatever progress is made on the Korea front or elsewhere, as Trump comes under increasing legal pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, allegations of a “witch hunt” and talk of a “deep state” conspiracy will continue to divide the country.

    Trump will want to convince his hard-core supporters that people like Clapper, and the men and women of the intelligence community and law enforcement whom Clapper worked with for so many years — Mueller and fired FBI director James Comey, for instance — were the real power in the country before Trump took over, and it is he, Trump, who is now speaking truth to them.

    Could be. Who knows?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/outlook/former-intelligence-chiefs-argument-that-putin-did-indeed-sway-the-2016-vote/2018/05/22/0d26c13a-53ac-11e8-a551-5b648abe29ef_story.html
     
  2. SueEllenRules!

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    James Clapper on Russia: ‘They swung the election to a President Trump win’
    The former Director of National Intelligence describes the effect of the massive Russian propaganda campaign in support of Trump in the 2016 election.

     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  3. Mazzilli

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  4. Mazzilli

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  5. SueEllenRules!

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    Clapper: 'More and more' of Steele dossier proving to be true

    Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said more of the so-called Steele dossier's claims are proving to be true.

    In an interview with Salon, Clapper said the dossier, part of which lays out alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, has been corroborated by subsequent U.S. investigations.

    The Obama-era intelligence chief stressed that while the most "salacious" claims in the dossier have not been proven to be true, "more and more" of the dossier's other allegations about President Trump and his allies' ties to Russia have been backed up over time.

    "Some of what was in the dossier was actually corroborated - but separately - in our intelligence community assessment, from other sources that we were confident in," Clapper said.

    "The salacious parts, no. That's never been corroborated," he added. "It would appear to me that as time has gone on more and more of it has been corroborated, but I can't actually give you a percentage."

    The dossier, which was created by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele as part of his work for political intelligence firm Fusion GPS, had circulated in media circles before being published in full by BuzzFeed News in January 2017.

    Clapper stressed that the dossier was never used as a source for the 2017 intelligence community assessment that stated the Russians interfered in the election for the purpose of damaging Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and aiding Trump.

    "Well, some of what was in the dossier ... first of all, I need to make an important point here. We did not use the dossier as a source for the intelligence community assessment, that's point one," Clapper said.

    "The dossier is not classified or an intelligence document," he continued. "It's actually a collection of 17 separate memos."

    Republicans have frequently pointed to the dossier as proof that the FBI investigation into Trump's campaign began with political motivations, as the Fusion GPS investigation was funded in part by lawyers for the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

    Trump has erroneously accused the FBI and Clapper over the last several days of planting a spy in his campaign after it was revealed the agency used a confidential informant to contact several members of the Trump campaign.

    https://www.thehill.com/policy/national-security/389522-clapper-more-and-more-of-steele-dossier-proving-to-be-true%3famp
     
  6. Frank Underwood

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    I'm sure the working class in the rust belt decided to vote for Trump because of Russian trolls and not because of Hillary's shitty trade policies and lack of campaigning in those states.

    The intelligence community also said that Iraq had WMDs, so obviously everything they say is gospel. Funny how the same former intelligence officials who discovered the WMD lie also claim that the DNC "hack" was actually an internal leak. And then there's this excerpt from The Hill: "Mueller revealed that 13 Russians and 3 companies were allegedly involved in attempting to sow dissent in the U.S. prior to and after the election. Most of their spending on Facebook ads occurred after the election, and they included spurring both pro-Trump and anti-Trump outbursts. Many of the ads were dopey even by Facebook standards, including a picture of Jesus getting ready to punch Hillary Clinton. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declared that there is 'no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the American election.'"
     
  7. SueEllenRules!

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    Clapper: 'No doubt' Russia is the reason Trump won

    Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper writes in his new book that he has "no doubt" Russians swung the 2016 presidential election to President Trump.

    MSNBC host Rachel Maddow read an excerpt from Clapper's new book, "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence," during her Tuesday night show.

    "Of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point," Maddow read from Clapper's book.

    "Less than 80,000 votes in three key states swung the election," the excerpt continues. "I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians."

    Clapper's book was released on Tuesday. Clapper said he didn't plan on writing a book but changed his mind because of Trump's presidency.

    His book details the time leading up to and following the 2016 election, with a focus on Russia's election interference.

    The intelligence community concluded shortly after the 2016 presidential election that Russian-linked groups attempted to sway the presidential election in favor of Trump. Intelligence officials did not come to a conclusion, however, as to whether or not Russian meddling efforts were successful.

    https://www.thehill.com/homenews/news/388939-clapper-no-doubt-russia-is-the-reason-trump-won%3famp
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  8. Frank Underwood

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    Unless he's personally talked to each of those 77,744 voters that swung the election to Trump, he's just editorializing.

    Remember when Robert Mueller tried convincing us there was "no doubt" that Iraq had WMDs? That's the infallibility of our intelligence agencies in action!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2018
  9. Snarky's Ghost

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    Funny, even the CIA fought back (but not enough) at the time against the Dubya White House demand that they sign off on the fake WMD story.

    Of course, the Dubya gang was much, much worse than Trump's keystone goons.
     
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  10. Frank Underwood

    Frank Underwood Soap Chat Addict

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    Yes. The only thing worse than evil and incompetent is evil and competent.
     
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  11. SueEllenRules!

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    You say 'editorializing.' I say 'informed opinion.' An opinion based on 25 years experience in U.S. intelligence. And to quote him: "To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point."

    You just really, really can't stand the thought of that rotten b!tch Hillary getting some small measure of justice, can you? Even if it means letting a colossal scumbag like Trump and his cronies get away with bloody murder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2018
  12. Snarky's Ghost

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    It's an informed editorializing. He doesn't know for sure, unless he's hiding some concrete information which will indict Trump literally and figuratively soon.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
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  13. SueEllenRules!

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    Indicting Trump doesn’t require evidence that the outcome of the election was affected. I’m pretty sure the act of conspiring with a foreign power is a crime in and of itself called treason. Not to mention obstruction of justice by firing the FBI Director to stop the investigation, which he confessed on camera to at least twice that I know of.
     
  14. Frank Underwood

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    If it's just his informed opinion (which it obviously is), how does it stretch logic to believe otherwise? Especially when there are other "informed opinions" that offer a different perspective? I don't believe in the infallibility of our intelligence agencies who routinely lie about their activities around the world, the WMDs in Iraq lie being one of their worst.

    Not true in the least. I've said many times that Trump's associates who've been found guilty of perjury and illegal dealings with Russian oligarchs deserved to be locked up. I've even acknowledged Russia's role in spreading disinformation. And as far as getting away with bloody murder, Trump's bombing of Syria without Congressional approval is grounds enough for him to be imprisoned. But they won't go after him for that, of course. The problem with scandals like Russia-gate is that people who hate the target (in this case Trump) often believe every salacious story that comes out about it. I believe in the importance of the investigation, but I also believe in the importance of discerning between fact, fiction, and outright opinion. And to say that there's "no doubt" that the 77,744 voters who swung the election to Trump were swayed by Russian propaganda is pure opinion, informed or otherwise.

    How does he explain Hillary winning the popular vote by three million votes? And he doesn't find it suspect that she lost the states known for their blue collar workers, even though there were reports that the Hillary campaign ignored warnings that she was loosing support there? Chuck Schumer understood the lack of support she had there, saying they would pick up two moderate Republicans for every blue collar Democrat they lost. But Clapper wants us to believe the swing states went for Trump because of Russian propaganda? Um... okay then.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  15. Angela Channing

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    I don't know exactly as we don't get a lot of news about the last US Presidential election in the UK any more as the media here have moved on to the damage the Trump is doing to international elections and everyone considers Hillary to be irrelevant ancient history as far as contemporary US politics is concerned. However, it's possible that Russia targeted voters in particular states. Russia wouldn't waste effort trying to swing votes in states like California because they were always going to support Hillary so they would have concentrated their efforts in states that Trump had a chance to win such as the ones with significant amounts of blue collar workers. If I was trying to get Trump elected, that's what I would have done and I wouldn't be at all interested in who won the popular vote.
     
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  16. Frank Underwood

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    That's at least an actual plausible theory. Clapper's statement that there's "no doubt" Russia swung the election doesn't explain how or why he believes that.

    Of course, Russia co-opted talking points that had been held by progressives for decades. So if someone says they didn't support Hillary because she was pro war, pro TPP, and pro Wall Street, her supporters now claim that's Russian propaganda! There's nothing inherently Russian about progressive policies, but that's the narrative many Dems are running with.

    Here's another part of the article I found interesting:

    I love how they say Clapper is sincere in maintaining the integrity of our intelligence agencies after listing many of the atrocities they've committed. They didn't even mention the WMDs lie that led to the Iraq War. The intelligence community has itself to blame for people being skeptical of their narrative. They're proven liars and propagandists.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  17. SueEllenRules!

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    Yes, exactly. Namely, the 3 states Clapper referenced in his book: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election.”
     
  18. Frank Underwood

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    So Clapper asserts that Russia specifically targeted those three states?

    It's still a huge coincidence that the Hillary campaign ignored warnings that she was loosing support there. Not to mention her support for trade deals which would have cost many of these blue collar workers their jobs. Even if Russia specifically targeted these particular states, their fears that Clinton's agenda went against their interests weren't unfounded.

    Hillary had to have seen Trump campaigning in those states to end TPP while promising to protect and create jobs. The fact that she didn't try to counter him there is quite a mystery.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  19. Angela Channing

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    It's not a mystery, hindsight is a great thing. The polls were showing that Hillary had a chance of picking up Ohio and Florida so it wasn't an unreasonable campaign strategy to target those states instead of those that the Democrats usually expect to win.

    I suspect the reason why the Democrats chose not to counter Trump's promises in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as vigorously as they should have was again because opinion polls were showing Hillary had a good lead in those states so campaign resources were focussed on those that the polls were showing to be more marginal.

    For example, the last opinion polls before the election gave Hillary a lead over Trump of 7% in Wisconsin and 6% in Pennsylvania. It's easy now to say she should have campaigned harder in those states but any election strategist would have said based on those opinion polls it would be more productive to concentrate on more marginal states. At the time it was a good strategy, it's only with the benefit of hindsight that shows that the Democrats should have approached it differently.

    I'm really curious, are people in the US people are still so focussed on the failings of the Hillary campaign rather than on what Trump is doing? If they are Trump much be laughing. While people try to rerun the rights and wrongs of the Hillary campaign, Trump is given a free pass to wreck the lives of the most vulnerable people in American society.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  20. Frank Underwood

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    Polls can be extremely fallible. And as I've said before, people in those states reached out to the Clinton campaign and warned her that she wasn't reaching the blue collar class. The fact that more outreach wasn't being done felt like hubris on their part. Those states were known as the Democratic firewall, so surely they wouldn't fall for Trump's pro-worker messaging. But there was a sense that the Democratic leadership knew they were in trouble there, hence Chuck Schumer saying they would they would pick up moderate Republicans instead.

    Bernie Sanders was smart in that his pro-worker messaging was nation wide. As a Democrat, one would have expected Hillary to be on board with that as well.

    I hear this a lot, and I find it misguided. If you don't analyze the mistakes made by the Democrats in 2016, how do you expect to beat Trump in 2020? Many Democrats are content blaming Hillary's loss entirely on Russia, but there was much more going on than just that. There were failed campaign strategies, support for neocon policies, Hillary laundering money through the DNC and controlling its operations, primary rigging, etc. The Democratic Party still doesn't have an agenda outside of hating Trump. Like Bernie Sanders has said, it will take more than just a hatred of Trump to beat him. The Democrats are currently meddling in the Congressional primaries, proving they haven't learned a damn thing. They want to continue supporting identity politics, corporatism, and militarism, but they refuse to support economic, healthcare, and education policies that benefit the majority of Americans.

    And for the record, Hillary herself is constantly relitigating the 2016 election and assigning blame for her loss. Clapper's doing the same as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018

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