“Read the declassified report by the intelligence community that came out in early January,” said (Hillary) Clinton. “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement – which I know from my experience as a senator and secretary of state is hard to get – they concluded with ‘high confidence’ that the Russians ran an extensive information war against my campaign to influence voters in the election.”
Senator Al Franken and Joe Biden repeated the 17 Agency consensus myth even though Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper corrected it. “Only three agencies” were directly involved in the assessment, “plus my office,” Clapper told Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
From the Washington Examiner, A rather large New York Times correction:
To be fair to the paper, however, it’s important to note the Department of Homeland Security, the ODNI and the FBI issued a joint statement on Oct. 7, 2016, announcing Russia was responsible for the hacking of email accounts belonging to Democratic National Committee staffers and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. However, unlike the Jan. 6 assessment, which the Times referenced specifically, the U.S. intelligence community did not at that time conclude that the hacks were done for the benefit of Trump.
Lastly, even before Clapper testified in May, the claim that all 17 intelligence agencieswere in agreement should have raised red flags for the Times and others. The U.S. intelligence community is comprised of 17 separate groups, including the Department of the Treasury, the CIA, the FBI, Army Intelligence, Marine Corps Intelligence, the DNI, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the NSA and the Department of State. Also included are the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Energy and the Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy Intelligence groups.
What role would the Coast Guard have played in drafting an assessment stating the Russians interfered in the election to help Trump?
The partisan noise has combined three Russian scenarios into one weak accusation. Hacking into Hillary’s and John Podesta’s e-mails is one act. Whatever the political purpose of this is questionable. It is ironic that while excuses were made by her supporters for her reckless handling of her e-mail server, it was the same recklessness that led to her being hacked. The revelations that sunk Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile may have invaded their privacy, but the truth from these revelations was never doubted.
The second accusation was Russia’s attempt to influence the election process itself. This could mean tampering with voting machines or the voter registration list. Apparently there were signs of attempts to hack the process, but they were unsuccessful. There was no consensus or indication that they had any impact on the voting tabulation.
The third accusation which gets the most attention and also seems to have the least credibility is that Trump was intentionally colluding with the Russians to influence the election.
Perhaps the Russians just wanted to created havoc and discord. Perhaps they succeeded. We have also tried to influence elections. Obama threatened Britain with trade restrictions if they voted for Brexit and he blatantly tried to influence the Israeli elections.
Alan Dershowitz has criticized the Russia investigation because it is presuming a crime before it has enough facts. It should be conducted as a hearing to gather information, not gathering evidence in a closed format with a presumption of guilt.
The CNN retraction and the James O’Keefe sting show that when rage trumps (pun intended) judgment, the truth is the first victim. The partisan bubble that infects major new outlets provides an environment for political advocacy rather than objective journalism.
This reckless disregard for quality journalism only empowers and enables Trump.