Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

Some interesting assertions … that raise some interesting questions.


Here’s my take:

First, the non-classified report isn’t very compelling.

For openers, the 25-page report isn’t really 25 pages of report … it has a 3-page summary of a 5-page report … with 17 pages of filler on the front and back (the media “annex”).

Hope my students don’t get a whiff of that report-writing strategy.

And, the report contains mostly top-line assertions with virtually no new news or supporting data.

That’s understandable since the evidence is classified and can’t be revealed to us minions.

click to view report


Despite the above, I stipulate that the Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails … and fed the info to WikiLeaks and RT media.

Here’s my take on the key points (and the questions that the report leaves unanswered):


The program started — before Trump was considered a credible candidate — as a #NeverHillary initiative motivated largely by her actions and rhetoric.

“In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks”

“Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.”

“Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.”


Secondarily, the hack attack was directed at the “liberal democratic order” … think: DNC and Team Hillary.

“In trying to influence the US election, we assess the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin’s regime.”


Eventually, the Russians began cheering for Trump – for 3 reasons – (1) perceived laxity on Syria & the Ukraine (bad); (2) a willing deal-maker (ok), and (3) tough on ISIS and terror (very good)

“Starting in March 2016, Russian Government–linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump’s candidacy.”

“If President-elect Trump won, Russia would “drink champagne” in anticipation of being able to advance its positions on Syria and Ukraine.”

“Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.”

“Moscow also saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”


Finally, it’s implied that — when Clinton began pulling away from Trump in the polls — the Russians pulled back on the dissemination of potentially damaging information for use after the election.

“When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start.”

“This (hacking) campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans.”


Trumps victory was viewed by the Russians as a defeat for Western-style liberalism.

Russian media hailed President-elect Trump’s victory as a vindication of Putin’s advocacy of global populist movements — the theme of Putin’s annual conference for Western academics in October 2016 —and the latest example of Western liberalism’s collapse.“


Importantly, the report raises prompts questions that nobody seems to be asking

During the Clinton-server investigation, the FBI reported that “foreign actors undoubtedly breached” Hillary’s server which was proven to contain classified information … some at the highest level of classification.

According to the NY Times: “It very likely that the Clinton server had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.”

My questions …


How did the Russians get so dumb so quickly?

They didn’t leave any cyber-prints on the Clinton server, but suddenly got sloppy and left a cookie trail on the DNC server and Podesta’s email account.


That raises a question:

Now, since we have Russia’s cyber-prints, shouldn’t we be taking another look at the Clinton server?


What about the other renowned cyber-hackers – say, China and North Korea?

Apparently, there’s no evidence of their hacking into the Dem computers and emails … despite their past record of cyber-penetrations.

Of course, the intelligence agencies can’t say for sure since they didn’t personally get their hands on the DNC servers. They left that sleuthing to a private security company.

Say, what?


What will Russia do with the sensitive information that it jacked but didn’t dish during the election – saving it for release during the expected Clinton’s presidency?

I was pretty disappointed by the WikiLeaks.

Just pin pricks.  Stuff that everybody already knew: Hillary’s dishonest, DNC was favoring Clinton over Sanders, CNC & NBC were “with her’, little affection for Catholics, etc.

I was expecting some bombshells that never came.

Now I understand why.

The Russians are stockpiling the heavy ammo for future use.


Final note

The report said that all of the emails released seemed legit …

“Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.”

… and, unlike the Clinton server findings, the report didn’t say that any classified information was compromised.


Maybe info snatched from the Clinton server is among the bombshells that Russia is stockpiling.

We’ll see.



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