Monday, January 09, 2017

Intelligence report on "Russian hacking" is embarrassing

I followed the claims that Putin and his evil Russia have somehow lost the elections for Hillary Clinton. Lots of crackpots were spreading these news but days ago, we got the opportunity to read the 25-page U.S. intelligence report about the "Russian hacking",
Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (PDF, NYT browser)
and I have quick read it, too.

The U.S. intelligence community is receiving some $80 billion a year, a staggering amount, and this community has basically signed under this document about this widely discussed theory related to the intelligence agencies' work. So you would expect at least something meaningful in there.

Your expectation would be completely wrong. There's absolutely nothing relevant in the 25-page-long document. Rather than the report of a $80 billion industry about an important accusation, it reads like a homework exercise of an undergraduate left-wing crybaby from a U.S. college that has turned into an indoctrination center nurturing students in a bubble – well, almost all colleges are like that these days. And the student would still deserve a failing grade.

OK, what was the document expected to actually justify and what does it actually contain?

The summary it was supposed to justify is the statement that "the Russians hacked the elections". Now, when he hears this proposition, every person with IQ above 70 starts by asking: What is this statement supposed to even mean? How do you hack the elections?

The only "legitimate" interpretation of the sentence "Russians hacked the elections" is the interpretation that the Russians have penetrated to the computers that quantify the number of votes in favor of Trump and Hillary, changed these numbers, and this change has stolen the victory from the actual winner Hillary Clinton and gave it to the apparent winner Donald Trump.

"An election" is the process that produces the result and the only meaningful way to hack it is to change the result by modifying the mechanisms that actually count the votes. What else could it mean?

Needless to say, no one actually believes that such a thing can take place. The computers that could have been used to count the votes are sufficiently protected, there's been lots of different methods to count, manual counting, and it's just not possible and there's no evidence that it has taken place. The report explicitly says that they believe that no Russian hackers were targeting vote tallying. So "who hacked whom" so that it can be summarized by saying that "Russians hacked the U.S. elections"?

Some people don't have any answer at all. The most widespread answer by those who have an answer is the interpretation that "Russians are behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computers" that have revealed some controversial information about Hillary and her people through Wikileaks. Now, if someone summarizes the hacking of the (badly protected and easily assailable, we were told) DNC computers as "hacking of the U.S. elections", he's already being brutally dishonest because the DNC simply isn't (hopefully isn't) the institution responsible for the fairness of the U.S. elections.

Moreover, it's not even the most "essential" organization connected with the Democratic candidate. And as far as I can say, the information from the Wikileaks haven't been the "most essential information" during the campaign, anyway.

OK, so "Russians hacked the U.S. elections" could be an insanely overinflated rephrasing of the accusation that "Russia's government is behind the campaign that led to the hacking of the DNC server". Yesterday on TV, Czech president Klaus mocked those who believe that Putin said "Dear Russian hackers, now you have to go to work and hack the American political computers" as juvenile.

(If you want to know, all other important Czech politicians on yesterday's, Sunday TV programs – current Czech president Zeman, current foreign minister Zaorálek, and former minister of defense Vondra – were mocking the idea that the "Russians hacked the election". Vondra called post-election complaints by the Democrats "an undignified weeping". Zeman said that whatever helped the information about Hillary to leak is less important than the truthfulness of the leaked information. Zaorálek criticized the U.S. intelligence services and asked why they were waiting so long with releasing the report.)

Well, I tend to agree with Klaus' view even though I am perhaps more open-minded. I can imagine that Putin would try to use this methodology. He's been an agent and James Bond and similar people do sometimes do similar things – even (and perhaps especially) the American counterparts of James Bond do. OK, so I eagerly expected some evidence – or at least a glimpse of evidence – that at least this modest influence by Putin is what has actually happened in the 25-page-long report.

I was utterly disappointed. Those 25 pages are 25 pages of general clichés (also about the IPCC-like levels of confidence and diverse methods to fuzzily accumulate evidence), trivial and innocent publicly known information, ludicrously irrelevant graphs comparing the number of viewers of RT and BBC/CNN (RT wins in YouTube viewers but loses in "likes" LOL) and murky unsubstantiated Russophobic propagandistic language (often comparing the alleged recent Russian interventions to the Soviet ones from the Cold War years – and I think that similar direct Soviet influences to the American internal affairs were always too weak to deserve any discussion; the internal American "useful idiots" who were Marxists independently of Russia were always and are still vastly more dangerous than the Russians).

A crazily large fraction of the document is whining about a particular news outlet, Russia Today (now officially called just RT). I think that the document doesn't say so explicitly but because of the huge yet completely surprising and illogical attention given to RT, it looks like "Russians hacked the U.S. elections" is really meant to say that "RT has hacked the Russian elections by influencing the American viewers' opinions".

Nice! So how did RT – which I sometimes watch myself and I think that the smartphone news app is one of the best ones which is why I use it on my phone as the main English-language news app (I believe that the difference from other news apps in English is small) – hack the U.S. elections? The terrible crime of RT is that it has provided some of the American viewers with information and commentary that wasn't identical to those on MSNBC! What a shocking crime. This shouldn't have happened, let's nuke Moscow now.

The intelligence community's document contains numerous unrelated partial answers – or examples of this mega-crime. Their very existence and especially their combination is silly and all of them confirm the picture of the undergraduate crybaby who wrote the report and who suffers whenever she reads something contradicting the way how she was indoctrinated in the college. So she whines e.g. that RT dared to create a positive image for Julian Assange. Imagine the scandal – and how directly it had to hack Hillary's election – when RT says something positive about Julian Assange.

And there are dozens of such complaints about something that the crybaby saw on TV. Many of them made me smile. But I exploded in laughter when I came to the following complaint in the report:
RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT's hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and "corporate greed" will lead to US financial collapse (RT, 31 October, 4 November).
ROFTL! So the evil lying Russians dared to damage Hillary by pointing out (the surely untrue information) that there's "alleged" greed on Wall Street, that the U.S. has a high national debt, and they even dared to compare the U.S. to the Roman Empire. It's just like if they were saying:
RT was so bad that it failed to report that the U.S. has no debt (as every decent, legal, MSNBC-watching U.S. citizen knows) and runs no deficits and that all the people on Wall Street are modest monks who live in a house of mud from 3 seeds of rice a day, who don't care about their wealth, and who are working hard to spread all their wealth to the whole world. Also, they should have pointed out that the U.S. was much better than the Roman Empire and indestructible, unlike the Roman Empire, and that the non-existent greed couldn't have led to any dangerous financial developments.
Please, you can't be serious. Everyone who doubts that greed is a major force powering Wall Street is a mental cripple. Everyone who doubts that the U.S. has a worrisome high national debt that any responsible politician should try to tame is crazy. Everyone who finds it implausible that greed of Wall Street has contributed e.g. to the 2007-2009 downturn is extremely unreasonable. Are you sure that someone's saying that Wall Street financiers are greedy is the crime that RT should have never done, a crime that Russia (or Putin) deserves to be punished for, and a crime that helped Donald Trump to be elected?

I just can't believe. The stupidity needed for someone to write something like that is so flabbergasting that I would almost be willing to believe that this whole report was a plot by the Kremlin designed to humiliate the U.S. intelligence community. It's just so utterly pathetic. It's all about some completely self-evident facts or at least widespread views that someone at RT has voiced – and millions of Americans and others are voicing them every day as well – and they're views that are surely perfectly legal in a free country and whose relationship to every sane enough presidential candidate should be neutral because no sane enough presidential candidate will openly dispute statements such as there's greed on Wall Street. Most of these views have been pretty much measured to be "dominant" among the U.S. voters, anyway. And as Donald Trump has tweeted, whoever doesn't want better U.S. relationships with Russia is stupid. Only stupid people, fools, 80% of morons, and 90% imbeciles oppose better Russia ties.

You know, judging by my interactions with Max Keiser in 2004, I don't like his anti-capitalist views at all and I never watch his programs on RT. But if he or someone else just says that Wall Street financiers are mostly greedy, how could someone disagree or demonize this opinion? It's just f*cking insane, a full-blown denial of reality.

I've discussed this particular paragraph in some detail but there's a lot of similarly crazy stuff in that report. For example, RT dared to invite guests who warned against the health and environmental risks of fracking. Do you really need a Russian TV station for someone to be able to express these worries and/or data? I was mostly persuaded that the environmental/health risks of fracking are negligible and localized but I am not 100% sure. And even if the worries sometimes presented at RT (I've never seen those) were invalid at the end, how does it affect the U.S. presidential elections? I guess that after all, Donald Trump is gonna be more pro-fracking than Hillary Clinton would be. Anti-fracking programs should have helped (pro-Saudi) Hillary, relatively speaking. So what's going on?

The key big statements – Vladimir Putin has personally organized the gang of hackers and troll to make Trump win – is repeated many times in the report but there's never ever any glimpse of evidence supporting that statement, despite widespread comments that "this report is so important" because it is a "declassified version of something extremely classified". There's not a single damn thing that would be relevant for anything that could surprise a rational person or modify his opinions. And just to be sure, even if Putin led some hackers and/or trolls to do something, it would still not be a decisive force that may determine the result of the election.

Also, we basically read that Putin must be a criminal because he preferred Trump. Half a year before the election, the report admits, Putin has made no explicit statements about favoring one candidate over another – probably because he thought that his public support could be a "kiss of death" for Trump instead, the report suggests. But the very fact that Putin was affecting some people to support Trump through some less visible channels is described as some shocking, devilish crime, a murky criminal plot to undermine democracy in the U.S.

Holy cow.

In recent years, the U.S. government was openly supporting fanatical jihadists in numerous Middle East countries who were struggling to remove either democratically elected or at least stable and sufficiently pro-West leaders. The same government has paid billions for a movement that was shooting at Ukrainian policemen and ultimately removed a democratically elected president Yanukovitch before an oligarch was installed instead. Barack Obama came to the U.K. half a year ago to support the "Brexit Stay" camp and lots of EU and other foreign politicians have openly endorsed Hillary. I could continue for quite a while... All these acts must be fine. But when a Russian TV station mentions that people on Wall Street are greedy, it must be an unforgivable crime hurting Hillary and intolerable intervention to the U.S. internal affairs?

This is so incredibly surreal and ludicrous.

The U.S. intelligence community has been damaged so much and it seems unavoidable that Barack Obama must be responsible for much of this incredible deterioration of that $80 billion industry. Barack Obama has never been a reasonable or helpful politician, at least not when it came to his actual acts, but it seems that in the final two months of his presidency, he has accelerated everything that was so bad about his presidency and he wants to show everyone that he has sucked as a politician and as a human being, to be sure that no one will miss him when he finally moves to the dumping ground of the history in less than two weeks and when his legacy is mostly deconstructed by Spring 2017.

This ludicrous whining undergraduate crybaby's report about the "Russian hacking" also shows how incredibly inefficient and wasteful government institutions may be, especially when they're controlled by a left-winger, especially if he is detached from the reality and prefers to focus on the appearances rather than the beef.

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