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US Senate Rubber Stamps Intel Report Finding Russia Meddled in 2016 Election

© AP Photo / Chairman of the Joint ChiefsUS Senate Foreign Relations Committee
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Sputnik International
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The US Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that it agrees with the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) from January 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election and that President Vladimir Putin personally approved the meddling campaign, despite admitting that it didn’t have access to the sensitive data underpinning the report.

"The ICA [Intelligence Community Assessment] is a sound intelligence product," the committee said in its report. "The Committee concurs with intelligence and open-source assessments that this influence campaign was approved by President Putin."

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The ICA mentioned Russian-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik News as having "contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences." The Senate report found, however, that the ICA only provided a summary of Russian state media operations in 2012, failing to provide an updated assessment of Russian media "capability" in 2016.

"The ICA provides a summary of Russian state media operations in 2012," the Senate report notes, though it fails to explain how this would be relevant to alleged meddling in 2016, the time the report is intended to cover. It called this lapse a "shortcoming."

The committee also came to its conclusion without access to much of the data the ICA supposedly relied on, acknowledging on the second page that "the Committee had to rely on agencies that the sensitive information and accesses had been accurately reported." The Senate committee seems to have come to its conclusions that the ICA report was accurate by simply asking the drafters of the ICA report if it was accurate.

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As some recall, the ICA was written by "hand-selected" analysts, as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in May 2017. These analysts were selected while President Barack Obama, an ally of defeated election candidate Hillary Clinton, completed the final weeks of his presidency.

Even though the CIA, NSA and FBI are supposed to be focused on American national security and law enforcement, the ICA reached a remarkably unified conclusion on a politically radioactive subject without so much as a single dissenting view, raising questions about potential bias and improper influence on the part of its authors.

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Congress, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, have been investigating alleged Russian interference in the US election and alleged Russian collusion with US President Donald Trump's election campaign for 14 months now. Mueller's investigation has generated a number of indictments, notably of Paul Manafort, briefly Trump's campaign manager, and his associate Rick Gates, all having to do with financial fraud and conspiracy to cover up such fraud well before the US election. Indictments were also handed out to the operators of a private Russian "troll farm" for allegedly using false online personas to promote Trump's candidacy. No links between theses individuals and the Russian government have been made public, and Moscow has consistently denied meddling in the US election and colluding with any candidate.

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