On the eve of Trump’s historic meeting with Vladimir Putin - with Russia-US relations at their worst since the fall of the USSR - Grand Inquisitor Robert Mueller handed down 12 indictments of Russian military intelligence operatives accused of participating in the 2016 hacks of the DNC, DCC and Clinton presidential campaign. This is it, we’re supposed to think. The proof we’ve all been waiting for - that Russia hacked the election. It's not quite the holy grail of Collusion, but it's red meat to the starving faithful. It is now the skeptics’ turn to wipe the egg off our faces.
US courts will indict a ham sandwich, goes the proverb. Mueller indicted 13 Russians linked to the “troll farm” Internet Research Agency in February, hoping that they wouldn’t bother to appear in court, not being bound by US law or having anything to gain by participating in his show trial. But a few sent their lawyers and demanded discovery, which would have forced Mueller to reveal the evidence he had against them. Finding his own indictments riddled with errors - one of the companies named didn’t even exist at the time of the election - Mueller quietly backpedaled. Score one for the Russians.
But this time he has evidence, right? Surely he wouldn’t make that mistake again. And this time it’s Russian military operatives, not some two-bit troll-farmers! The indictment accuses them of spear-phishing Democratic staffers and using those login credentials to access the party’s servers, stealing the famous documents and leaking them to the public through Wikileaks and DCLeaks (though they seem unsure whether DCLeaks is a person or a website). Isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for?
Perhaps it would be, if the FBI had actually encountered the servers firsthand. Government investigators (from both the FBI and the DHS, which also wanted in on the action) never even laid eyes on the “hacked” servers belonging to the DNC and DCCC, instead relying on the assessment of a computer security firm headed by a Russian expat with an ax to grind against his former government. Dmitri Alperovitch’s CrowdStrike specializes in attributing malware attacks to state actors - a no-no in the computer security industry, and something he was discouraged from doing by former employer McAfee (whose founder has personally commented on the lack of evidence implicating Russia in the DNC hack). Alperovitch launched CrowdStrike to offer his attribution services to clients like the US government which might care more about blaming a hack on a government than finding out how to protect against such hacks in the first place.
The DNC hired CrowdStrike to find evidence that Russia was behind the hack on its servers. CrowdStrike dutifully found (produced, embellished) that evidence. When the FBI came knocking, the Democrats had no interest in getting a second opinion about who’d been rooting around in their digital underwear drawer, and Alperovitch certainly didn’t want some upstart security expert revealing his business model was hideously flawed. Fortunately, James Comey’s FBI was sympathetic to the Democrats’ concerns and took CrowdStrike’s assessment as valid legal proof as if its own agents had poked through those servers themselves.
If this dubious information, sourced from an unaccountable third party never placed under oath with numerous reasons to lie or at least mislead, was used as evidential basis for any indictment, that indictment cannot stand up in court. The foundations of Mueller’s case collapse on even the most cursory scrutiny (that article refers to the original 13 indictments, but unless a clean chain of evidence was used to generate the latest 12, its conclusions remain applicable). CrowdStrike delivers geopolitically-actionable conclusions swaddled in just enough technical jargon to dissuade observers from looking too closely. It’s a perfect dance partner for the Deep State hawks who want war with Russia, whether it’s another 50 years of cold war or (and this is what they jerk off to at night) a hot, sexy, nuclear war, a proper World War 3, something they could tell the kids about (if they hadn’t nuked humanity off the planet).
(A footnote to the whole affair is that whoever "hacked" the DNC and DCCC merely leaked secure information and internal communications that revealed the extent of Democratic Party corruption, and the notion of "hacking the election" is something of a misnomer as no voting machines were tampered with; sure, it would have been nice to get a bipartisan view, with the Republican Party's dirty laundry hung out for all to see, but exposing the crimes of others is not the same as committing them oneself. Indeed, one viable alternate explanation of the DNC hacks is that a disgruntled Party worker leaked the documents himself, frustrated with the unfair treatment Bernie Sanders was receiving at the hands of Clinton's minions within the Party.)
Congress is in the process of handing Trump authorization to deploy “usable nukes” in a theatre of war that is rapidly expanding to cover the entire globe (and now space, because when you’re printing money with no basis in reality, the sky is literally the limit). There’s no reason to use nukes in Afghanistan, the poorest country in Asia, nor even in Iran, since it’s too close to Israel to risk decades of fallout and radiation sickness for the guys pushing the whole regional conflict. The nukes are for Russia, for when the next false flag “chemical attack” in Syria (that Russian intelligence is already warning us about, if we would actually listen to them this time instead of continuing to fund the terrorists responsible for the last one) inevitably touches off a hot war with Russia.
Trump’s meeting with Putin has the potential to put the WW3 genie back in the bottle, to remove fingers from triggers on both sides. Russia has been developing new weapons at a pace unseen since the Soviet years, now that the US has been poking a stick in their geopolitical eye for 4 years over Ukraine, but the US cannot afford a prolonged arms race - we are already throwing more than half of every tax dollar at the Pentagon just to maintain the aging arms infrastructure we have. Most of that money is going toward waging the insanely destructive, strategically self-defeating don’t-call-them-wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya - and paying the contractors the military must hire as they run out of indigent youth willing to risk their lives to pay for college, and equipping the monstrously wasteful aircraft carriers that have become little more than sitting ducks in the wake of Russian and Chinese advances in missile technology. Trump’s meeting with Putin could set the two countries back on a peaceful path. This is unacceptable for the war machine.
Americans are sick of Russiagate, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There’s nothing new in the information that led to these indictments - Mueller long ago despaired of coming up with actual proof that Russians “hacked” the 2016 election, hence his more recent diversions into Trump and Cohen’s personal finances, Stormy Daniels’ panties, and the byzantine financial dealings of Trump Inc. But only by hysterically hammering away at the Russia-Hacked-Our-Democracy narrative can the establishment hope to raise popular opposition to the Trump-Putin summit. Democrats, taking a break from shedding crocodile tears for separated migrant families, have demanded Trump call off the meeting until Putin says he’s Very Very Sorry and Won’t Do It Again. Panic reigns as peace threatens to break out.
Trump’s meeting with Putin could set the two countries back on the path to peace and sanity, or irrevocably on the road to the war the military-industrial-intelligence complex is salivating for. The media establishment has long known Trump’s primary vulnerability was his outsize ego, and used accusations of Russian puppetry to manipulate him into antagonizing the country he’d campaigned on easing relations with. One hopes that by now, after two years of superhuman restraint from Russia as the US’s disgusting and illegal military adventures in Syria racked up Russian casualties - and no such restraint from certain unelected factions of the US government - Trump might be more willing to take up a dialogue with the Russian president. Certainly, they should be able to bond over their demonization in the American press.