The Enigma of US Intel or How RT "Meddled in US Elections"

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteA CIA internal report from 2009 shows that the spy agency repeatedly overstated the value of intelligence gained through the torture of its detainees.
A CIA internal report from 2009 shows that the spy agency repeatedly overstated the value of intelligence gained through the torture of its detainees. - Sputnik International
The declassified report released by the US intelligence community on Friday accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential race, while failing to produce any single evidence of Moscow’s wrongdoing, looks like a bad joke indeed.

Instead of promised answers, all one gets sifting through the 25-page report, jointly prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency, are phrases like “we assess with high confidence,” “this is likely,” etc.

What one does not get, however, is any hard evidence of President Putin personally authorizing a campaign of cyberattacks aimed at influencing the outcome of the recent presidential elections in the United States.

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The only “proof” of Putin’s interference the report’s authors manage to produce is that the Russian president used to heap praise on Trump and stopped doing this in June 2016 in order not to undermine Americans’ growing support for the billionaire businessman, RIA Novosti commentator Andrei Smirnov wrote.

The report also mentions Guccifer 2.0, a Romanian hacker or group of hackers who the authors claim also worked for the Kremlin.

“Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election,” the report reads.

Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists,” the report adds. This is about all its authors managed to dig up.

Their main focus, however, is on the Kremlin’s alleged use of “state-sponsored” media companies and publications like RT and Sputnik that target overseas audiences to discredit Hillary Clinton and aid Donald Trump’s campaign.

Eight of the report’s 25 pages are about RT, which the authors call Russia’s number one propaganda tool. However, most of this coverage happens to come from a 2012 CIA report, which is exactly when Barack Obama was reelected for a second term in the White House.

Does it mean that Putin had a hand in this too?

The report claims that RT threw its weight behind Trump in March 2016, while any Google user can see that in September 2016, shortly before the Americans went to the polling stations to elect their new president, RT published on its website materials about Donald Trump having used $258,000 of his charity's money to settle legal disputes.

RT ran hundreds of other reports about Trump and Clinton, but the only thing that grabbed the authors of the report’s attention was the channel’s coverage of Clinton’s emails, physical and mental health and her links to Islamic extremists.

The impression is that the intelligence experts who prepared this document completely missed out on numerous US media reports about Clinton blacking out right in the middle of a campaign speech and her subsequent pneumonia diagnosis.

Neither could RT have ignored the front-page US media coverage of the Clinton Foundation’s links to financiers of terrorism, especially after Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “the co-founder” of Daesh.

RT has not been entirely pro-Trump either. In an October 2016 interview with RT’s Ed Schultz, Clinton's primary Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, spoke at length why he thought Hillary Clinton was best suited to become America’s next president.

RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan - Sputnik International
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The report’s authors were particularly unhappy about RT’s active cooperation with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. To an extent that they called Assange’s chat with Dartmouth Films reporter John Pilger “an exclusive interview for RT.”

As a result of all these foul ups, the report failed to gain traction even in the United States itself. After reviewing it a visibly disappointed The Daily Beast came up with an article titled “U.S. Spy Report Blames Putin for Hacks, But Doesn’t Back It Up.”

“[The report] contains some outdated information that seems slapdash considering the attention focused on it. Errors in the report were almost inevitable, because of the haste in which it was prepared, said one US official briefed on the report,” the American news reporting and opinion website wrote.

The Washington Post earlier quoted US officials who had read the report before it came out as saying that even its classified part offered no sensations at all.

The New York Times disagreed, though, describing the report as “damning and surprisingly detailed.”

“We must be reading different reports," Shaun Walker, the Moscow correspondent of The Guardian, observed.

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