Saturday 20th of July 2019

the hacking is now official: gus apologises...

emailsemails

President-elect Donald Trump acknowledges that Russia was to blame for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on Sunday.

According to Priebus, "no one is disputing" that Russia is responsible for the leaking of internal emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign officials. "[Trump] accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia," he said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," adding that it is possible that Trump will consider sanctions against Russia after taking into account the US intelligence community's recommendations as to what should be done.  

However, Priebus also criticized the DNC for having "nearly no defenses on their system" and constantly ignoring the FBI's warnings about possible intrusions.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/us/201701091049383169-trump-accepts-intelligence-conclusion/

the truth will come out...

Eventually, the origin of the DNC email dump to Wikileaks will come out, but the Russians will have to wear the flak for a little while. Ninety nine per cent of the dump came from within the USA, via the Royal Mail, in a brown paper bag. I have guessed the route taken by the core of the information and can say the Russian hackers had little to do with it, but most of it came via ordinary post. Can't say anymore.

the kremlin denies involvement in hacking...

Russia categorically denies that any of its official agencies took part in any cyberattacks on the United States, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, noting that the "witch hunt" is becoming tiresome.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Commenting on an unclassified US intelligence report published on Friday, the Kremlin spokesman echoed a range of expert opinion that the US Intelligence Community's "high confidence" on alleged Russia's interference in the US election lacked proof. "We continue to categorically rule out any involvement by Moscow and accusations that officials or official Russian agencies could be involved in any hacker attacks," Peskov told reporters. "We are observing serious fatigue from these charges.

It is reminiscent of a full-grown 'witch-hunt'," he stressed. "This publication has not added any substance to merit comment. From our viewpoint, allegations supported by absolutely nothing continue to be heard at quite an amateur, emotional level, which is hardly applicable to the highly professional work of really high-quality security services," Peskov stressed.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/politics/201701091049395372-us-hack-kremlin-witch-hunt/

 

Yep... Tiresome is the word I used here... 

getting tiresome...

christians pleaser, including christian women...

And he signed a third order reinstating a Reagan-era law which bans US-funded non-governmental organisations from providing or promoting abortions overseas.

The rule, lifted by Mr Obama when he took office in 2009, has been used by incoming presidents to signal their positions on abortions and was created by former president Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The rule affects groups getting funding from the US Agency for International Development, even if they use separate money for abortion services, counselling or referrals, advocates said.

It comes two days after millions of people marched in cities in the US and around the world, expressing concern that women's rights will be eroded under Mr Trump.

read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-24/trump-withdraws-from-tpp/8206356

freedom of speech...


Trump Vows to Allow Tax-Free Churches to Talk Politics

 

President Trump vowed to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from engaging in political activity at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

 

If you have not understood yet, the Russians had nothing to do with the election of Trump. He was voted in by the rabid American Christians who had been cleverly corralled by Uncle Rupe. Check this site and read the cartoon at top CAREFULLY. 

ah mother jones, give it a rest...

There have been plenty of significant topics for journalists to press Spicer and the administration on—the travel ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, Trump's plan to dump Obamacare, various nominations and a Supreme Court pick, Trump's fact-free charge of widespread voter fraud, Steve Bannon's participation on the National Security Council, Trump's contentious calls with foreign leaders, the president's erratic behavior, and much more. But the lack of media attention to the Russia story, at the White House briefings and beyond, is curious. It is true that the intelligence committee probes are being conducted secretly, and there are no public hearings or actions to cover. (Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, hoping to confine this scandal, succeeded in preventing the creation of a special committee or an independent commission to probe this affair—either of which would have probably sparked more coverage than the highly secretive intelligence committees.) Still, in the past, pundits, politicians, and reporters in Washington have not been reluctant to go all-out in covering and commenting upon a controversy subjected to private investigation.

In this instance, the president's own people may be under investigation, and Trump has demonstrated no interest in holding Putin accountable for messing with US elections in what may be considered an act of covert warfare. Still, there has been no loud demand from the DC media (or most of the GOP) for answers and explanations. This quietude is good news for Putin—and reason for him to think he could get away with such an operation again.

read more:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/russia-trump-putin-scandal-m...

 

Okay, why has the suject of Russia hacking the elections mysteriously disappeared? Simple. No concrete proof has been procured to say that Russia interfered in the Presidential elections. Second, in which manner could Russia interfere with the elections? Voting booth tempering? Showing that Hillary wrote stupid emails? Create "fake news" about Hillary in the Social Media, especially one story about a pizza-shop? Satire? More devious schemes like spicing her drinking water so Hillary would go to a toilet break during a debate?

The one fellow that is not credited by the "liberal/left" media for having engineered Trump's victory is laughing at you. He is somewhat untouchable, because he does not care what you think. He knows you're swimming in the contrary guilt of being socialistic capitalists. At elections time, he is only interested in shifting perceptions in people who are sitting on the fence. He is a master of psychological manipulation of the trodden while maintaining the conservative elite under check. But it's a constant brainwashing exercise. When the "general news" is against Donald (or Turdball in Australia for that matter), his "working class" media outlets will have a toy promotion. The one fellow is a former Aussie: Rupert Murdoch. He played the same trick on us, Australians, in 2013 and again in 2016... And we, the majority of dumb voters, fall for it. Rupert does if for fun. He does it for making money. He does it because he hates lefties. He does it because he hates the global warming human induced syndrome. He does not want his pleasure toys to be associated with burning the planet down or be taken away from him by real taxes. Denialism of global warming makes sure his conscience is clear. And Rupert's list of fun desires goes on. Aged 86, he married one of the most attractive bird on the planet for chrissake...

It's all explained on this site and the cartoon at top.

There is 99 per cent chances that there was NO HACKING FROM THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT in the last US Presidential election. Some information came via Julian Assange, the "darling of the left" now the "devil on both sides" which he always was because he does no one any favours. And that's cool. The information about the emails he published have 99 per cent chance of having travelled from the US to his refugee pad, by "simple mail". This is code to say someone in Hillary's camp leaked. And the boffins in that camp are pissed off. Since they don't want to expose their failure and weakness, they blame the Ruskies. Ruskies are easy targets when something goes apeshit in your backyard.

 

And one more thing: dissect for a second the snide analysis of SNL (Saturday Night Live) on the NYP. Here you can see the master (via his master's voice scribes) who acknowledges the brilliance of the non-regular "professionals" spoof-masters, while the show itself could not sustain satire with the grace of their in-house comedy team only... This is a mastery of turning things around with a jab to the intestines...

 

Melissa McCarthy’s performance as White House press secretary Sean Spicer on last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” was the show’s best satire in ages. Sharp as Dexter Morgan’s scalpel, the chaotic press-room scene was intelligently written and acted with an archer’s focus. It’s since been watched on YouTube more than 19 million times.

It also raised a Big Red flag.

NBC viewers are starting to catch on to “SNL’s” No. 1 problem: None of the show’s most memorable moments belongs to regular cast members anymore.

read more:

http://nypost.com/2017/02/09/why-snl-cast-members-cant-do-impressions-an...

 

The New York Post loses money, but when you powerfully promote your ideology, any loss of petty cash will do when compensated by the billions made somewhere else in the News Corp media stable. Then you have:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/09/rupert-murdoch-was-in-room...

 

See toon at top.

phishing in their own pond...

Hillary Clinton's run for the White House will be remembered for many things, but information security isn't likely to be one of them. Her campaign was buffeted by two major hacking episodes. First, the contents of Democratic National Committee servers were stolen and disseminated through WikiLeaks and other news organizations. Then campaign chairman John Podesta had his personal email account hacked and its contents passed to WikiLeaks, which subsequently released the 50,000-email set in chunks over a period of weeks as the presidential election reached fever pitch. The US government's intelligence community went on to assert that the hacks had been orchestrated at the behest of the Russian government as a deliberate attempt to hurt Clinton's chances and boost Donald Trump.

But Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager, said this week that the hacks didn't hit the campaign itself, and that's because the campaign conducted regular security training for staffers, including sending them fake phishing emails to see how they'd be handled.

"We sent out phishing emails of our own to test people and communicate back to team to see how far they were clicking, to educate people, and show their vulnerability and how much their choices matter," Mook told Dark Reading, a cybersecurity news website, while attending an information security conference in San Francisco.

Mook said there were at least three phishing tests sent out to staffers, and there were also regular emails sent to staff preaching good IT practices. There were signs in the bathrooms "about not sharing passwords and 'Don't clink that link, stop and think,'" Mook said.

The Dark Reading piece doesn't address when the training took place or whether Podesta and his aides were involved. Podesta and Mook did not respond to requests for comment about the IT training during the campaign.

phishing attack is an attempt to trick a victim into giving up personal information, including logins for email accounts, bank accounts, and other sensitive information. In Podesta's case, hackers sent a phony warning from Google alerting him that his Gmail password needed to be reset. According to the New York Times, a campaign IT staffer inadvertently advised Podesta and his aides that the warning was legitimate. By using the fake password reset page, Podesta gave the hackers access to his Gmail account and years' worth of political communications that eventually found their way to WikiLeaks via the Russian operation, according to the US government.

read more:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/mook-clinton-campaign-sent-f...

 

Yep, the Russians are blamed for the DNC's own caca...

are the democrats worried about about finding the truth...

WASHINGTON — They agreed just a week ago to the terms of a House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But now some of the panel’s Democrats are warning that they may pull their support for the inquiry if it becomes mired in party-line politics.

When that might happen is unclear, and Democrats know that the current moment of even tentative comity on the Republican-controlled panel may offer their best chance for scrutinizing ties between people close to President Trump and Russian officials.

Still, Democrats are bracing for fights over subpoenaing witnesses and documents — including, possibly, Mr. Trump’s tax returns — since Republicans have balked at an outside, independent inquiry into what intelligence officials say was an unprecedented intrusion into an American election by a foreign power.

“I’m not going to be part of a dog-and-pony show that is not a serious effort to do an investigation, because this is really serious,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California. “If it’s not a legitimate and comprehensive and in-depth investigation, why would we be party to it?”

Continue reading the main story

Ms. Speier said the committee’s Democrats — all nine of whom were interviewed by The New York Times — would not hesitate, “under certain circumstances,” to pull their support.

read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/11/us/politics/house-intelligence-commitee-russia-investigation.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

 

Are the Democrats worried about about finding the truth?

The truth could be that the Russians didn't hack the US presidential elections — unlike the US having "interfered" in the 2014 Ukrainian elections for a change of government.

The truth could be that the "hacking" of the US presidential elections "by the Russians" had no bearing on the result. And considering all the noise made before election day, about the "Russian interference", could have Donald Trump won by a bigger margin and even win the "popular vote" considering that 99 per cent of the US voters have been wired to "hate the Russians" since the 1950s?

Could it be that the supposed "hacking" of the US presidential elections by the Russians was actually "a false flag" from the CIA to scare voters away from voting for Trump?

see also:

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201703081051372136-cia-wikileaks-dump-twitter-reaction/?utm_source=adfox_site_41917&utm_medium=adfox_banner_

see toon at top...

fake urine-soaked orgies at the ritz carlton...

The former British spy who compiled a controversial dossier of claims linking Donald Trump to the Russian government has broken his silence over the affair.

Christopher Steele issued a public statement saying he was returning to work at the London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, where he is a director.

Speaking outside his firm's offices in Belgravia, he said: "I'm really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis's offices in London today.

"I'm now going to be focusing my efforts on supporting the broader interests of our company here.

"I'd like to say a warm thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages and support over the last few weeks.

"Just to add, I won't be making any further statements or comments at this time."

Mr Steele rose abruptly to international fame from the necessary obscurity of his role as a former operative with the British intelligence services, after his dossier about Mr Trump was published in full by BuzzFeed News in January.

Read more

The document set out months of leads and unverified intelligence reports which linked Mr Trump and his associates to the Kremlin.

It had been compiled as oppositional research, first on behalf of Mr Trump's rivals for the Republican presidential candidacy and later for the Democrats. None of the claims had ever been confirmed, but BuzzFeed said it released the dossier in full "so that Americans can make up their own minds".

Last week The Independent reported that Mr Steele had been approached informally by the US Senate Intelligence Committee, sounding out the possibility of the former spy giving evidence about the Russia claims.

Mr Steele’s friends say it is currently unlikely he would be willing to travel to the US. But it is understood Democrats – as well as some Republicans – in Congress are prepared to facilitate discreet initial meetings in the UK or on other neutral territory.

Earlier, it was reported that the FBI had been considering paying Mr Steele to continue his research once the election was over and the Democrats withdrew funding. In the end, Mr Steele was so worried by what he had found that he ended up working on the dossier for free, as The Independent reported in January.

read more:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/donald-trump-russia-dossi...

 

See also:

The salacious “golden showers” dossier, alleging that now-US President Donald Trump engaged in urine-soaked orgies at the Ritz Carlton resort in Moscow, was a “disgrace” on the part of his Democratic opponents, Trump told the Washington Times on Monday.

The dossier, compiled by shady former British spy Christopher Steele, raised allegations that Russia had compromising intelligence on the sitting US president. From the get-go, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the 35-page memo as “pulp fiction.” 

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201705021053216003-trump-disgraceful-do...

 

see toon at top...

slowly, nailing the coffin...

 

A top Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has told CNN that she has seen no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials during last year’s US presidential election.

Dianne Feinstein was interviewed on the news channel following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday where FBI Director James Comey was questioned about possible collusion between Trump officials and Russia.

READ MORE: FBI director: I have 'never' been anonymous source on Clinton, Trump investigations

Referring to a briefing Feinstein attended at CIA Headquarters in Langley on the alleged Russia meddling on Tuesday, host Wolf Blitzer asked: “Do you have evidence that there was in fact collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign?”

“Not at this time,” Feinstein replied.

“Well, that’s a pretty precise answer,” Blitzer said, quickly bringing the interview to an end.

read more:

https://www.rt.com/usa/387299-feinstein-trump-russia-collusion/

 

Meanwhile:

A Washington DC federal court judge has ordered the State Department to turn over Hillary Clinton’s emails that immediately followed the terrorist attack in Benghazi to the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson reviewed the documents and rejected the government’s contention that the records had been properly withheld under FOIA exemption.

The “Defendant contends that it properly withheld eight identical paragraphs in two different emails, which were summaries of calls between the President of the United States and the Presidents of Libya and Egypt in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack,” wrote Judge Jackson in her memorandum opinion on March 20.

Judges backfire on #obama & #Hillary despite #Trump trying to help them. Must Release Clinton Benghazi email https://t.co/TpZYIwxKI3#tcot

— BearClayborn Report (@bearclayborn) May 5, 2017

The State Department argued the summaries were meant to provide information to senior officials to be used in their decision making on how to respond to a national security crisis.

Plaintiffs argued the subject line of the email “Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt,"and the FYSA annotation, a common acronym for 'For Your Situational Awareness' “refute any suggestion of careful analysis, deliberation or judgment.

“The Court finds that the two records, even if just barely pre-decisional, are not deliberative,” and “the Court finds that the misconduct exception cannot be evoked in this FOIA action…and defendant’s motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part… Defendant is instructed to produce documents C05739592 and CO5739595 to plaintiff,” wrote Judge Jackson.

read more:

https://www.rt.com/usa/387300-court-orders-state-clinton-emails/

 

the russians had nothing to do with it...

John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2016 presidential election campaign, knows more about the political damage hackers can inflict than most people.

Key points:
  • Mr Podesta's email account was hacked during the 2016 US election campaign
  • Russian agents were allegedly responsible, and gave the files to WikiLeaks
  • He told the ABC governments "have to fear" interference in democratic institutions

 

Russian cyberattacks against the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign saw thousands of compromising emails from Mr Podesta's personal Gmail account stolen, and later published by WikiLeaks in the weeks leading up to polling day.

Speaking to national affairs correspondent Greg Jennett for the ABC's The World program, Mr Podesta said cyber security was an issue governments across the globe needed to increase their awareness of.

He made the comments while visiting Australia in the wake of last month's hacking attempt against the Australian Parliament, which officials believe was committed by a foreign government.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-20/hillary-clinton-campaign-chair-on...

 

A bit rich for the ABC to appear categorical about the Russians in this affair. MAKE YOUR BRAIN WORK, there is no evidence of Russian interference in Hillary's defeat:

 

Glenn Greenwald said if special counsel had any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and hasn't shown it yet he would almost be guilty of treason. Greenwald said if Pelosi actually believes that Trump is serving the interests of Russia and takes her time to remove him from office you would wonder if Putin had something on Pelosi too.

"If Robert Mueller had any evidence of that and hasn't shown it to us he would almost be guilty of treason," Greenwald said Monday. "If Nancy Pelosi really believes that Donald Trump is serving the interest of Russia and decides, oh, we're going to take our time in removing him from control over the nuclear arsenal and the executive branch and the military, until we feel like we are ready to do it. You would wonder, does Putin have something on Pelosi too."


"Why would you leave in place somebody controlled by the Kremlin for two years if you really believed it, if you really have that evidence for it?" Greenwald asked.

 

Read more:

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/03/19

 

 

 

Read from top. Please note the cartoon is reverse sarcasm.

an arsonist on fire...

 

by Scott Ritter

Post-Mueller report insanity has gripped the nation. In between Presidential proclamations that the report provides proof of his exoneration, and Democratic declarations that the report contains evidence of crimes deserving of impeachment, lies the reality of U.S.-Russian relations, and the fact that these two nations live in a world where their combined nuclear arsenals can eliminate humanity as we know it. 

While President Trump struggles to gain traction for his campaign promise to better relations, his political opponents are stuck in a time warp that has them reliving the 2016 Presidential election and its allegations of Russian interference. 

Americans have every right to be concerned about the prospects of Russian interference in elections which serve as the foundation of American democracy. However, in seeking to find a solution to the problems that plague the relationship, it is imperative that the American people understand how we got to where we are today. You can’t solve a problem without first accurately defining the problem, and as such any examination of the Genesis of the he-said/she-said aspects of alleged Russian interference in 2016 must take into account the fact that, if anything, the Russians were reacting to a lengthy history of U.S. interference in their internal affairs since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. 

One of the key players in this interference was Michael McFaul, a Stanford professor who, while serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, oversaw a policy of engagement with Moscow on behalf of the Obama administration and, when that policy failed, facilitated U.S. interference in the 2012 Russian Presidential election in an effort to keep Vladimir Putin out of office.

In October 2006 Michael McFaul was approached by people close to Barak Obama to join a circle of experts who were advising the Illinois Senator on foreign policy issues in preparation for an anticipated presidential bid in 2008. 

McFaul, who at that time was working as a professor in political science at Stanford University, agreed, and quickly became Obama’s go-to expert on Russian issues. Following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Obama picked McFaul as the special assistant to the president and senior director of Russia and Eurasia affairs at the National Security Council. 

One of McFaul’s first tasks was to formulate and implement a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations. There was widespread acknowledgement among Russia observers that, as of 2008, relations between Washington, D.C. and Moscow were at an all-time post-Cold War low. The goal of a “reset”, McFaul believed, was to “find cooperation with Russia on common interests” and “develop a multi-dimensional relationship with Russia” inclusive of “societal contacts” that would be pursued through a policy of “active engagement.”

For McFaul, however, the Russian “reset” wasn’t about U.S.-Russian relations as much as it was about building strong ties between the Obama administration and Dmitry Medvedev, the former prime minister who had assumed the Russian presidency in 2008 from Vladimir Putin. Putin, who had succeeded Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 2000, had finished out his second term (the Russian Constitution forbade a president from serving more than two successive terms.) Putin became the prime minister, effectively trading places with Medvedev.

Obama’s secretary of state at the time, Hillary Clinton, was scheduled to meet with her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva in March 2009. McFaul advised that it would be a good idea to publicly draw attention to the “reset,” and a State Department staffer came up with the idea of presenting a symbolic “button” that would be symbolic of the occasion. The staffer approached McFaul who, as the resident Russian expert in the NSC, provided the translation for the word “reset” (peregruzka) and the correct spelling. When Clinton presented the “reset button” to Lavrov, however, he pointed out that peregruzka did not mean “reset”, but rather “overload”, referring to putting too much power through an electrical system, leading to blown fuses, or even a fire. 

While the embarrassing gaffe did not sink U.S.-Russian relations (this would happen on its own volition), it did underscore a level of amateurishness at the highest levels of American policy making by someone who was purported to be an expert on all things Russian.

McFaul’s academic credentials and training as a Russian specialist are impressive. McFaul graduated from Stanford in 1986 with a B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages, and went on to get his master’s degree, also from Stanford, in Russian and East European Studies, before heading off to Oxford, England, where he pursued his Doctorate in International Relations as a Rhodes Scholar. McFaul returned to the Soviet Union in 1990 as a visiting scholar at Moscow State University, where he finished up his doctoral dissertation (he was awarded his Ph.D. the next year.) 

It was during his time as a visiting scholar that McFaul began to blur the line between pure academia and policy activist. In 1990, McFaul signed on as a consultant with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), self-described as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that has supported democratic institutions and practices in every region of the world.” 

The NDI was founded in 1983 as an action arm of the National Endowment for Democracy (NEC), created by Congress under the eponymously named National Endowment for Democracy Act. The congressional action was in response to an executive decision on the part of President Ronald Reagan, promulgated under National Security Decision Directive-77, to promote so-called “public diplomacy” operations in furtherance of U.S. national security interests. McFaul dual-hatted as a visiting scholar and as NDI’s official Field Representative in Moscow.

As the NDI’s representative in Moscow, McFaul actively supported “Democratic Russia,” a coalition of Russian politicians led by Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Federation, even though the official U.S. policy at the time was to support Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the Soviet Union. McFaul likened Yeltsin to the “catalyst for the Cold War’s end.” While recognizing Yeltsin as “the unquestioned leader of Russia’s anti-Communist movement,” McFaul noted that Yeltsin’s embrace of Democratic Russia was more a byproduct of the realization that such an alliance was needed to defeat the Soviet regime, rather than a genuine embrace of liberal ideas. 

This realization seems absent, however, from McFaul’s later apologia about the decade of corrupt, ineffective governance that defined Yeltsin’s time as the president of Russia. 

McFaul had become enamored with the concept of Russian “democracy” but he could not define it with any precision. In his 2001 book, Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin, McFaul throws the term “democracy” around freely, only acknowledging (in a footnote) that, in the context of Russia, it may not exist. The reality was that Yeltsin, far from an idealistic paragon of democratic virtue, was little more than the hand-picked puppet of the United States. 

In 1999, Yeltsin, his health ravaged by alcohol and his legacy haunted by a decade of corruption and mismanagement, stepped aside (“peacefully and constitutionally,” according to McFaul) in favor of his hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin. Within a period of less than two years (Putin assumed power on New Year’s Eve in 2000, and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution was released in 2001), McFaul declared that the former KGB officer had “inflicted considerable damage to democratic institutions” in Russia. There were, however, no genuine democratic institutions in Russia to inflict damage upon when Yeltsin stepped aside—Russia’s first president had seen to that by destroying the Russian Parliament in 1993 and rigging an election (with extensive American support) in 1996. It was everything Putin could do upon his accession to the presidency right the Russian ship of state, let alone reinvent something (Russian democracy) that had never existed to begin with.

McFaul’s problem with Putin centered not on what he had done as president as much as the fact that he was president. There was an inherent inconsistency between McFaul’s theory of Russian “democracy” and the reality of Putin. Putin viewed the collapse of the Soviet Union as “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” He had stood next to Yeltsin as he debased himself and Russia in conversations with President Bill Clinton. If one thing was for certain, Putin would never allow himself to behave in a similar manner. 

McFaul’s “reset” policy was intended to reassert American influence into the Russian body politic in a post-Putin Russia. As such, when Putin announced in 2011 that he would again run for president, McFaul’s “reset” policy collapsed. Under the “reset,” the Obama administration, at McFaul’s urging, provided funding through the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the NED, NDI, and other non-governmental organizations to Russian civil groups that had coalesced into a political opposition to Putin’s 2012 presidential ambition. McFaul also encouraged Secretary of State Clinton to speak out in support of the Russian opposition. “We are supportive of the rights and aspirations of the Russian people,” Clinton stated in December 2011, “to be able to make progress and realize a better future for themselves.”

Putin and the Russian government responded by accusing Clinton of interfering in the domestic political affairs of Russia. When McFaul was appointed by Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Russia in late 2011, one of his first actions was to invite the leaders of the various Russian opposition groups to the U.S. embassy to meet with him. After Putin won his bid for election in March 2012, he immediately set about to ban foreign funding for Russian non-governmental organizations. USAID, the NED, NDI, and other organizations used to channelling U.S. money to Russian political entities were evicted from Russia. 

McFaul, whose entire ambassadorial persona was built around the kind of societal engagement produced by these NGOs, never recovered. In February 2014, McFaul announced his resignation as U.S. ambassador, declaring that it was time for him to return to Stanford and resume his previous life of academia.

Since leaving Moscow, McFaul has become one of the leading critics of Putin, writing prolifically on the topic, and frequently appearing as a talking head on television. Putin’s Russia has provided McFaul with plenty of material to work with, including the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the military intervention in Syria in 2015, and the alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A staunch supporter of Clinton, McFaul has turned his sights on Trump, strongly criticizing Trump’s own efforts for a new “reset” with Russia as misguided. By McFaul’s telling, the abysmal state of U.S.-Russian relations is the fault of Putin and Putin alone, and Trump’s efforts at normalizing relations only plays into Putin’s hands.

But it was McFaul’s role in the U.S. interference in the Russian 2012 election that put in motion everything that followed. Perception makes its own reality, and the Russian perception is that McFaul and the Obama administration purposefully put their thumb on the scale of Russia’s presidential election to keep Putin from winning. McFaul has been banned from traveling to Russia, and in 2018 Putin approached Trump for permission to have Russian intelligence officers question McFaul about alleged illegal activities conducted while he was ambassador. While the Russian claims are unsubstantiated allegations, and their request facially absurd, the fact remains that when it comes to apportioning blame for the sorry state of U.S.-Russian relations today, one need look no further than Michael McFaul and his decades-long effort to create Russian “democracy” from whole cloth as laying the foundation for failure. 

For McFaul to today condemn the Russians for their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is like an arsonist seeking to assign blame for a blaze sparked by the embers of his own handiwork.  

 

 

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Dealbreaker: Donald Trump and the Unmaking of the Iran Nuclear Deal (2018).

 

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