Ray’s take on the Trump-Putin meeting

On July 7, Ray commented on the Trump-Putin two-hour, “constructive” discussion that had just ended, on the margins of the G20 meeting in Hamburg. The two presidents were accompanied only by Secretary of State Tillerson, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and interpreters.

(seven minutes)


Much will be learned from what happens with the newly agreed-upon cease-fire scheduled to go into effect in southern Syria on July 9.  Putin will be watching very closely to see if, this time, Trump – unlike Obama – is able to make a cease-fire stick.  Or whether – like Obama – he (Trump) will let it be sabotaged by Washington’s deep state actors.


The proof is now in the pudding.  A lot hangs on the outcome.  Former Secretary of State John Kerry and Lavrov saw earlier puddings trod upon by U.S.-supported rebels – “moderate” and immoderate alike – and last September by the U.S. Air Force.  It will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to expect to see the ceasefire hold this time around.


Last fall Lavrov’s foreign ministry spokeswoman actually expressed sympathy for Kerry, giving him an “A” for effort, after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sent his Air Force to sabotage the cease-fire that Kerry and Lavrov had labored for 11 months to produce.


For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting hubris so well becoming the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – that he was unable to “align” all the forces at work.  With the ceasefire in tatters, on September 29, 2016 Kerry complained:


“Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusrah. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.


“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated.  Indeed, it was a tough way to end nearly 34 years in public office.

The moral of this story: after Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has any better luck with Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad-Dog” Mattis.

Ray McGovern Puts Anti-Missile Defense in a 45-Year Perspective

Drawing on his lengthy experience analyzing Russia’s foreign and security policy, Ray addressed the issue of anti-ballistic missile defense in historical context at a Webinar on February 13, 2017.  The audience was/is comprised of specialists interested in what implications the U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 might have for the U.S. area-defense missile system now being emplaced in the Far East.

Members of CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, which Ray led in the 70s, were personally involved in the U.S.-Soviet SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) in Vienna and Helsinki that prepared the ABM Treaty for signature in May 1972. The CIA had told President Nixon that we could verify Soviet compliance, and Nixon decided to trust.  Ray was in Moscow when Nixon came to sign the Treaty, which was the linchpin of strategic equilibrium and stability until President George W. Bush stepped out of the Treaty in 2001.

At the Webinar, Ray showed two slides and two short video clips to illustrate recent trends in U.S. and Russian attitudes toward the post-ABM Treaty world.  In Ray’s view, President Putin is genuinely concerned at the current strategic disequilibrium, worried that it could get still worse, were there a breakthrough in U.S. technology, and mystified as to why Washington seems reluctant to take into account what he believes are his legitimate concerns.

On June 23, Scott Horton of Antiwar.com and Ray had a relaxed, hour-plus Skype conversation prompted by the web version of the Washington Post’s most fulsome attempt yet to show that Vladimir Putin bears primary guilt for Donald Trump’s success in insinuating himself into the White House.

6/23/17 Ray McGovern on the latest Trump-Russia hoax in the Washington Post


In the Sunday Post on June 25, star reporters Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous – with contributions from Karen DeYoung and Julie Tate – present a gripping narrative dominating five pages, replete with photos of, and interviews with, the super-serious players on Obama’s minor-league team that had to go to the showers in January.  Above the fold on page one is a telling photo evincing the article’s main theme; namely, that Obama let Putin steal the election for Trump.  A wimpish-looking Obama is looking more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger at a clearly unrepentant, shorter-but-tougher Vladimir Putin, over the caption HACKING DEMOCRACY and the article’s title, Obama’s secret struggle to retaliate against Putin’s election assault.


(Psst!  Ordinarily, we are reluctant to give away the ending, but we decided to spare you the need to wade through the turgid prose; and if you’re a reader of the Post, the ending will come as no surprise: The wimp lost to the bully.)

The Post article is so replete with “alternative facts,” that Ray chose mostly to present a very different narrative based on facts that won’t go away, rather than inferences and “Brennan-facts” that cannot bear close scrutiny.  While the Columbia School of Journalism is still with us, someone should send them the June 25 Washington Post for use as a case study showing how not to do investigative journalism.

Listeners to the Scott Horton interview will find it more discursive and informative than the 19-minute one Ray gave RadioSputnik an hour before.

Ray discusses the latest Washington Post “analysis” of Russia’s “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election; provides a very different narrative – one supported by evidence as well as inference.

Pompous Pompeo

On a lighter note …


Ray comments on CIA Director (and court jester) Mike Pompeo’s evangelical attempts to denigrate Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.  It is hard to complain when the pompous Pompeo brings a bit of comic relief, however unwittingly, to the gloom in today’s Washington.  So give the man his due.

June 26, 2017 (eight minutes)


President Donald Trump clearly needs all the help he can get these days with entertainment at the White House.  Better for the media to direct its laughter at a court jester than at the President.


It could even be that the new pretend-Caesar recalls some Shakespeare.  This may account for why Trump chose to get his security advice from Pompeo and to fire Flynn.  If Julius Caesar is a factor, then Pompeo seems all set to be in for the duration – “in like Flynn” never was.


How do we say this – Pompeo’s gravitas alone – not to mention his sleek head and well rested visage makes him a shoo-in to be “in” a lot longer than Flynn.  Pompeo is said to have earned all “A”s at West Point, but back in the day, teachers of our future military brass clearly were marking on a curve.


From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:


CAESAR to Antony:

Let me have men about me that are fat,

Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.

Yond Flynn has a lean and hungry look.


German translation of April 11, 2017 VIPS MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT on chemical event in Syria

With rising interest in Germany regarding what President Trump is up to in Syria, German friends translated VIPS’S ‘MEMORANDUM FOR: The President” of April 11, 2017 (five days after Trump’s “retaliatory” attack for the chemical event at Khan Sheikhour).  VIPS’s conclusions in that early memo are virtually identical to those of Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh, published this past weekend in Germany’s die Welt (and commented on by Ray in:


Trump soll die Eskalation in Syrien überdenken

Mehr als zwei Dutzend ehemaliger US-amerikanischer Geheimdienstler bitten Präsident Trump eindringlich, seine Behauptung, die syrische Regierung trage die Schuld an den Gas- Toten in Idlib, zu überdenken und seine gefährliche Eskalation der Spannungen im Verhältnis zu Russland zu beenden.

MEMORANDUM FÜR: den Präsidenten [der USA]

VON: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)* BETREFF: Syrien: War es wirklich „ein Chemiewaffenangriff“?

  1. Wir schreiben Ihnen, um Sie unmissverständlich vor der Gefahr einer bewaffneten Auseinandersetzung mit Russland – mit dem Risiko einer Eskalation bis hin zum Atomkrieg – zu warnen. Nach dem Marschflugkörperangriff auf Syrien als Vergeltung für den von Ihnen behaupteten „Chemiewaffenangriff“ auf syrische Zivilisten am 4. April im südlichen Teil der Provinz Idlib ist diese Gefahr gestiegen.
  2. Unsere Kontaktpersonen aus US-Armeeeinheiten in der Region haben uns berichtet, dass dies nicht den tatsächlichen Geschehnissen entspricht. Es gab keinen syrischen „Chemiewaffenangriff“. Vielmehr hat ein syrisches Flugzeug ein Munitionsdepot von Al- Qaeda-in-Syria bombardiert, in dem, wie sich zeigte, giftige Chemikalien lagerten. Ein starker Wind blies die Chemikalienwolke über ein nahegelegenes Dorf, in dem viele Menschen infolgedessen starben.
  3. Dies entspricht dem, was die Russen und die Syrer gesagt haben. Noch wichtiger: sie glauben offenbar, dass es so passiert ist.
  4. Müssen wir daraus schließen, dass das Weiße Haus unseren Generälen ins Heft diktiert hat? Dass sie vortragen, was man ihnen vorgegeben hat?
  5. Nachdem Putin Assad 2013 überzeugt hatte, seine Chemiewaffen aufzugeben, zerstörte die US-Armee in nur sechs Wochen 600 Tonnen syrischer Chemiewaffenbestände. Das Mandat der UN-Organisation für das Verbot chemischer Waffen (OPCW-UN) bestand darin sicher zu stellen, dass alle Bestände vernichtet würden, – wie das Mandat der UN- Inspektoren für Massenvernichtungswaffen im Irak. Die Ergebnisse der Untersuchung der UN-Inspektoren über Massenvernichtungswaffen im Irak waren korrekt. [US- Verteidigungsminister Donald] Rumsfeld und seine Generäle hatten [2003] gelogen, und dies scheint nun wieder zu geschehen. Jetzt steht sogar noch mehr auf dem Spiel; die Bedeutung einer auf Vertrauen beruhenden Beziehung zu Russlands Führungspersonen kann nicht genug betont werden.
  6. Nachdem Putin Assad überredet hatte, seine chemischen Waffen aufzugeben (wodurch er Obama aus einem heiklen Dilemma half), schrieb der russische Präsident im September 2013 einen Meinungsartikel für die New York Times, in welchem er sagte: “Meine dienstliche und persönliche Beziehung zu Präsident Obama ist von wachsendem Vertrauen gekennzeichnet. Ich begrüße dies.”

Quelle (englisches Original): https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/11/trump-should-rethink-syria-escalation/ (veröffentlicht am 11.4.2017, Download am 17.4.2017)
Übersetzerinnen: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen. Copyright für die Übersetzung: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen; Verwendung ist kostenfrei und ohne Gewähr möglich. Um einen Publikationshinweis an stefanie.intveen@web.de wird freundlich gebeten.

  1. Etwas über drei Jahre später, am 4. April 2017, sprach der russische Premierminister Medwedew von “absolutem Misstrauen”, welches er als “traurig für unsere nunmehr vollständig ruinierten Beziehungen, [aber] eine gute Nachricht für Terroristen” beschrieb. Nicht nur traurig, sondern unserer Meinung nach völlig unnötig – schlimmer noch, gefährlich.
  2. Nachdem Moskau die Vereinbarung zur Flugsicherheit im Luftraum über Syrien aufgekündigt hatte, wurde die Zeit sechs Monate zurückgestellt, zurück zu der Situation im letzten September/Oktober, als die elf Monate lang zäh geführten Verhandlungen eine Waffenstillstandsvereinbarung zum Ergebnis hatten. Am 17. September 2016 griff die US-Luftwaffe eine feste Stellung der syrischen Armee an, tötete etwa 70 Personen, verwundete weitere 100 und machte damit die Waffenstillstandsvereinbarung zunichte, welche Obama und Putin gerade eine Woche zuvor genehmigt hatten. Vertrauen löste sich in Luft auf.
  3. Am 26. September 2016 klagte [der russische] Außenminister Sergei Lawrow: “Mein guter Freund [US-Außenminister] John Kerry (…) steht in harter Kritik des US- Militärapparates, der anscheinend seinem Oberbefehlshaber nicht wirklich zuhört.” Lawrow kritisierte den Vorsitzenden der Vereinigten Stabschefs [Joint Chiefs of Staff, JCS] Joseph Dunford, der dem US-Kongress erklärt hatte, er sei dagegen, nachrichtendienstliche Erkenntnisse über Syrien an Russland weiterzugeben, „obwohl die auf direkte Anordnung des russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin und des US- Präsidenten Barack Obama geschlossene [Waffenstillstands-]Vereinbarung beinhaltete, dass beide Seiten [militärische] Erkenntnisse austauschen würden. (…) Es ist schwer, mit solchen Partnern zusammenzuarbeiten.“
  4. Am 1. Oktober 2016 warnte Maria Sacharowa, die Sprecherin des russischen Außenministeriums: “Sollten die USA einen direkten Angriff auf Damaskus und die syrische Armee beginnen, würde das eine schreckliche tektonische Verschiebung nicht nur in diesem Land, sondern in der gesamten Region bewirken.”
  5. Am 6. Oktober 2016 warnte der Sprecher des russischen Verteidigungsministeriums Generalmajor Igor Konaschenkow, Russland sei bereit, unbekannte Flugzeuge über Syrien abzuschießen – einschließlich jeglicher Tarnkappenflugzeuge. Konaschenkow fügte eindringlich hinzu, die russische Flugabwehr werde „keine Zeit haben, die Herkunft [des Flugzeugs] zu identifizieren“.
  6. Am 27. Oktober 2016 bedauerte Putin öffentlich: „Meine persönlichen Übereinkünfte mit dem Präsidenten der Vereinigten Staaten haben keine Ergebnisse gebracht“. Er beschwerte sich über „Leute in Washington, die bereit [seien], alles Mögliche zu tun, um zu verhindern, dass diese Übereinkünfte in die Tat umgesetzt werden.“ BezüglichSyriens verurteilte Putin das Fehlen einer „gemeinsamen Front gegen den Terrorismus nach all den langen Verhandlungen, enormen Kraftanstrengungen und schwierigen Kompromissen“.
  7. Daher die unnötig labile Lage, in die die russisch-amerikanischen Beziehungen nun gedriftet sind – von „wachsendem Vertrauen“ hin zu „absolutem Misstrauen“. Zweifellos

Quelle (englisches Original): https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/11/trump-should-rethink-syria-escalation/ (veröffentlicht am 11.4.2017, Download am 17.4.2017)
Übersetzerinnen: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen. Copyright für die Übersetzung: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen; Verwendung ist kostenfrei und ohne Gewähr möglich. Um einen Publikationshinweis an stefanie.intveen@web.de wird freundlich gebeten.

begrüßen viele die extreme Spannung, die anerkanntermaßen super für die

Waffenindustrie ist.

  1. Wir halten es für überragend wichtig zu verhindern, dass die Beziehungen zu Russland ineinen irreparablen Zustand fallen. Der Besuch von [US-Außen-]Minister [Rex] Tillerson in Moskau diese Woche bietet die Gelegenheit, den Schaden zu begrenzen. Aber es besteht ebenfalls die Gefahr, dass er die Verbitterung noch verschärfen könnte – besonders wenn Minister Tillerson mit der oben zusammengefassten kurzen Historie nicht vertraut sein sollte.
  2. Natürlich ist es an der Zeit, mit Russland auf der Basis von Fakten zu verhandeln,
    nicht aufgrund von Behauptungen, die im Wesentlichen auf zweifelhaften Indizien – beispielsweise aus den „sozialen Medien“ – beruhen. Während viele vielleicht der Auffassung sind, dass ein Gipfeltreffen in dieser sehr angespannten Lage nicht stattfinden kann, möchten wir nahelegen, dass das Gegenteil zutreffen könnte. Sie sollten in Erwägung ziehen, Minister Tillerson mit den Vorbereitungen für ein baldiges Gipfeltreffen mit Präsident Putin zu beauftragen.

* Hintergrund zu den Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) [„Nachrichtendienstveteranen für die Vernunft“], deren Stellungnahmen hier aufgeführt sind: https://consortiumnews.com/vips-memos/.

Eine Handvoll CIA-Veteranen gründeten VIPS im Januar 2003, nachdem sie zu dem Schluss gekommen waren, dass Dick Cheney und Donald Rumsfeld unsere früheren Kollegen angewiesen hatten, geheimdienstliche Erkenntnisse zu fabrizieren, um einen unnötigen Krieg mit dem Irak zu „rechtfertigen“. Zu jener Zeit hatten wir uns entschieden, davon auszugehen, dass Präsident George W. Bush darüber nicht vollständig informiert war.

Wir gaben unser erstes Memorandum an den Präsidenten am Nachmittag des 5. Februar 2003 heraus, nach [US-Außenminister] Colin Powells unlauterer Rede bei den Vereinten Nationen. An Präsident Bush gerichtet schlossen wir mit den Worten:

Niemand hat einen Alleinanspruch auf die Wahrheit, noch hegen wir Illusionen, dass unsere Analysen „unwiderlegbar“ bzw. „unbestreitbar“ seien (Adjektive, die Colin Powell in seinen Anklagen gegen Saddam Hussein verwendet hatte). Aber nachdem wir Minister Powell heute beobachtet haben, sind wir der Überzeugung, dass Sie gut beraten wären, die Diskussion (…) über den Kreis derjenigen Berater hinaus auszuweiten, die klar einen Krieg befürworten, für den wir keinen zwingenden Grund sehen und von dem wir glauben, dass seine unbeabsichtigten Folgen wahrscheinlich katastrophal wären.

Hochachtungsvoll bieten wir Ihnen, Präsident Trump, den gleichen Rat an.

Quelle (englisches Original): https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/11/trump-should-rethink-syria-escalation/ (veröffentlicht am 11.4.2017, Download am 17.4.2017)
Übersetzerinnen: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen. Copyright für die Übersetzung: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen; Verwendung ist kostenfrei und ohne Gewähr möglich. Um einen Publikationshinweis an stefanie.intveen@web.de wird freundlich gebeten.

Für den Vorstand, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Eugene D. Betit, Nachrichtenanalyst [Intelligence Analyst], Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Soviet FAO, (US-Armee, i. R.)

William Binney, Technischer Direktor, National Security Agency (NSA); Mitbegründer des SIGINT Automation Research Center (i. R.)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Diplomatin und ehemalige Leiterin einer Abteilung des Bureau of Intelligence and Research im US-Außenministerium (i. R.)

Thomas Drake, Senior Executive Service, NSA (ehem.)

Robert Furukawa, Captain, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), United States Navy Reserve (USN- R) (US-Marine, i. R.)

Philip Giraldi, Central Intelligence Agence (CIA), Operations Officer (i. R.)

Mike Gravel, ehemaliger Adjutant, Aufsichtsbeamter für höchste Geheimhaltungsstufe, Communications Intelligence Service; Beamter [special agent] des Counter Intelligence Corps und ehemaliger US-Senator

Matthew Hoh, ehem. Captain, US Marine Corps (USMC) in Irak und [US-]Diplomat in Afghanistan (VIPS assoziiert)

Larry C. Johnson, CIA und US-Außenministerium (i. R.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, US Air Force (USAF) (i. R.); ehem. Überlebenstrainer [Master SERE Instructor] für Strategische Aufklärungsoperationen [Strategic Reconnaissance Operations] (NSA/DIA) und Spezialeinsatzkräfte [Special Mission Units, JSOC]

John Brady Kiesling, Diplomat (i. R.)

John Kiriakou, ehem. Auswerter und Antiterrorspezialist, CIA, und ehem. Senioranalyst [Senior Investigator] im Auswärtigen Ausschuss des US-Senats

Linda Lewis, Politikanalystin, Zivilschutz gegen Massenvernichtungswaffen [WMD preparedness policy analyst], US-Landwirtschaftsministerium (i. R.) (VIPS assoziiert)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (i. R.)

Quelle (englisches Original): https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/11/trump-should-rethink-syria-escalation/ (veröffentlicht am 11.4.2017, Download am 17.4.2017)
Übersetzerinnen: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen. Copyright für die Übersetzung: Hella Schier, Stefanie Intveen; Verwendung ist kostenfrei und ohne Gewähr möglich. Um einen Publikationshinweis an stefanie.intveen@web.de wird freundlich gebeten.

Ray McGovern, ehemaliger Infanterie- und Nachrichtendienstoffizier der US-Armee und Auswerter bei der CIA (i.R.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer für den Mittleren Osten, CIA und National Intelligence Council (i. R.)

Torin Nelson, ehem. Intelligence Officer/Interrogator, Department of the Army, [US-]V erteidigungsministerium

Todd E. Pierce, Major [MAJ], Armeejurist [US Army Judge Advocate] (i. R.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent und Juristin [Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel] (i. R.)

Scott Ritter, ehem. Major, USMC, und ehem. UN-Waffeninspekteur im Irak Peter Van Buren, US-Außenministerium, US-Diplomat (i. R.) (VIPS assoziiert)

Kirk Wiebe, ehemaliger Leitender Auswerter [Senior Analyst], SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Robert Wing, ehem. US-Diplomat (VIPS assoziiert)
Ann Wright, Oberst der Reserve der US-Armee (i. R.) und ehem. US-Diplomatin

FBI Relied on a Private Firm’s Investigation of the DNC Hack—Which Makes the FBI Harder to Trust

By Josephine Wolff, Slate, May 9 2017


Ray comments: This is step in the right direction, but Ms. Wolff apparently is unaware of WikiLeaks’s publication of Vault 7, part 3, to connect the dots and understand how this apparently went down.  The New York Times published stories, based on original CIA documents, on Vault 7, parts 1 and 2, but avoided like the plague publishing anything about part 3 (which WikiLeaks published on March 31).


In a word, even perceptive folks like Ms. Wolff may not realize that the motto of the New York Times has changed to: “ALL THE NEWS THE CIA SAYS IS OKAY TO PRINT.”


After reading the original CIA documents in Vault 7, part three, Ray concluded – and started pointing out – that easily-connected dots lead to John Brennan (probably in connection with Hillary’s people and perhaps including the unsavory Crowdstrike – itself of ill repute – itself) as the likely hacker, using the capabilities of the ‘MARBLE” program revealed in Vault 7, part 3, to leave behind the “tell-tale” Cyrillic to blame the Russians.  This has worked famously – at least up till now – large because educated folks still seem to believe the NY Times operates under the old motto.


And “highly respected” Comey behaved the way he did because he was in on the CIA/NSA/FBI operation, in Ray’s view.  Could he not have gotten the proper authority to get access to the DNC computers, if he really wanted to?  Hard to believe that he could not.


Ray is getting a little frustrated; he gets zero reaction (pro or con) to his piecing together of the evidence.  Please let him know what you think.


Here’s the meat of Josephine Wolff’s article:

“When will the Fake Media ask about … why the DNC wouldn’t allow the FBI to check their server or investigate?” President Trump tweeted on Sunday at 4:15 a.m. … there’s actually an interesting question worth revisiting. … Why wouldn’t the Democratic National Committee allow the FBI to check their servers during the investigation of the DNC breaches during the 2016 election?

The DNC maintains there’s a simple answer to this question: According to the group, the FBI never asked to see their servers. But FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee back in January that the FBI did, in fact, issue “multiple requests at different levels” to the DNC to gain direct access to their computer systems and conduct their own forensic analysis.

Instead, whether because they were denied access or simply never asked for it, the FBI instead used the analysis of the DNC breach conducted by security firm CrowdStrike as the basis for its investigation. Regardless of who is telling the truth about what really happened, perhaps the most astonishing thing about this probe is that a private firm’s investigation and attribution was deemed sufficient by both the DNC and the FBI.

That’s not meant as an insult to CrowdStrike … But it’s one thing to trust tech companies to provide email servers and cloud storage and quite another to rely exclusively on them to collect and analyze evidence of a major security incident attributed to a foreign national government.

Good security companies … can certainly, at times, provide useful assistance to law enforcement investigations—but when they end up essentially doing law enforcement’s job for them, as seems to have been the case with the DNC breach, it becomes exceedingly difficult to know whom to trust and whether to take the results of that investigation at face value. In fact, the president made this point himself, in a Jan. 5 tweet about the FBI investigation, back when he apparently believed the DNC’s version of events: “So how and why are they so sure about hacking if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers? What is going on?”

Knowing who conducted a breach investigation is particularly important when it comes to international cyber conflicts because just about everything the government tells us about those conflicts we are expected to take on faith. Consider the declassified summary of the Intelligence Community’s assessment of “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.”

The DNC breaches feature prominently in that summary but, more to the point, the primary rationale readers are given for why they should believe that the Russian government meddled in the U.S. election is because the FBI, CIA, and NSA believe that to be the case. We are given very little actual detail about what happened or how the incidents were traced to Russia specifically, while we are treated to numerous statements along the lines of: “We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” or “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Of course, there are many reasons the Intelligence Community might have decided not to reveal any actual evidence for these claims. But in the absence of that evidence, whether or not you believe their conclusions rests entirely on your confidence in the judgment and investigative abilities of the FBI, CIA, and NSA. And if the evidence that they’ve used to level major accusations at a foreign government comes not from agencies of the U.S. government or direct law enforcement investigations, but rather from private sector firms like CrowdStrike, then the “high confidence” of the government counts for very little.

The DNC breach is not the only incident attributed to Russia in the Intelligence assessment summary and it’s likely that some of the others were directly investigated by the government. But even so, this conflation of government- and industry-gathered evidence without clear distinctions makes it harder to take the agencies’ assessments at face value.

… turning over an entire law enforcement investigation to the private sector is a serious mistake. Companies have very different agendas and motivations from those of law enforcement agencies—companies want to raise their own profiles, satisfy their clients, and draw new customers, while law enforcement agencies aim to identify criminals and hold them accountable. Especially when the government is going to justify an accusation by urging citizens to trust its judgment, it matters that they have actually conducted an investigation themselves and drawn their own conclusions based on a first-hand examination of the available evidence.

So if the FBI didn’t ask for access the DNC’s servers out of laziness or negligence, it certainly should have. And if the DNC denied them that access for fear of being embarrassed by what they might find, or because they had more faith in CrowdStrike than the FBI, then it served only to undermine confidence in the ultimate results of the investigation and give the impression of having something shameful to hide. Neither the DNC nor the FBI should have been satisfied with an investigation that did not involve the FBI conducting a first-hand look at the compromised systems. And all of us should be concerned about the seeming acceptance of both parties to let a private company singlehandedly carry out an investigation with such significant political consequences.

Sy Hersh Strikes Again: on Syria

Famed investigative Journalist dissects the chemical event in Syria’s Idlib Province on April 4 and Trump’s impulsive order to fire cruise missiles two days later – never mind that he was told the event was not caused by Syria dropping a chemical weapon.  Hersh writes about how Trump’s yes-sir generals supported “retaliation,” lest they anger the President and lose their jobs.  No profiles in courage here.




Danger:  It is left to the Russians to figure out which is worse: a President controlled by “his generals,” or a reckless President (Trump) who shoots first, and asks later for “his generals” and national security adviser to fill in behind with a concocted legend to “justify” the shooting.  With Russia threatening to target aircraft flying in Syria west of the Euphrates, Putin may also choose to shoot first, and ask later who ordered the aircraft into the air – the President, or “his generals.”  Hold onto your hat.

Ray will be writing tonight on Hersh’s typically well-sourced, groundbreaking article, for which he could not find an outlet in English. Even the London Review of Books turned him down this time.  They were happy to let Hersh keep the money, lest they be “vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russia governments when it came to the April 4 bombing in Khan Sheikhoun,” according to Hersh.  For, as is well known, if the Russians and Syrians say it, it cannot be true!  And if you agree, you are a Russian puppet.  Quid est veritas?

Whether it was seeing the dead babies on social media, or an attempt – successful, it turned out – to boost his approval ratings and show he is not “in Putin’s pocket,” Trump did not wait.  VIPS sent did send him this memo on April 11 — https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/11/trump-should-rethink-syria-escalation/ and it turns out to have been among the first – perhaps the first – to get it right, as corroborated now by Hersh.  But there is little reason to believe VIPS memos actually reach Trump.  And, in this case, he clearly was not interested in anything that might have made him think twice, or even once, before — or even after — shooting.