William R. Collier Jr. – Whatever you do to promote and maintain your web presence, one thing is becoming a major factor, the ability of the web to fact-check and debunk any myth or lie you want to perpetuate, as we are now seeing with the unraveling of the “DNC Was Hacked By Russia” claim. The lesson to be learned is that myths and lies, while they may propagate online, are hardly worth employing to either use the web to reach your audience or use the web to discredit an opponent. In fact, myths that are born online often die online, and what was once a flood of support based on your myth can produce blowback and a flight of support.
The Spanish-American War is famous for the battle-cry “Remember The Main.” The news media of the day parroted the government line that the Spanish had blown up the USS Main in Havana Harbor in Cuba. The only problem with the entire story, like the story of Iraq WMD’s, is that it was completely false: the explosion that sank the USS Main was an accident that had nothing to do with the Spanish. It was convenient for the government at the time, who wanted the Spanish out of our hemisphere, but it was simply not true.
It took years to uncover and dispel the myth about the USS Main. It took a short time to see that the Iraqis were in fact bluffing about WMD’s. The list of serious errors, and perhaps duplicity, by US “intelligence” has been long and storied, and the costs have been tremendous.
But the ability of governments or anybody to conceal truth or create myths is becoming more and more difficult. Even when the officials and the news media absolutely cooperate, the prospects that you can conceal a matter for too long are slim to none.
No matter your position regarding the current US administration or the results of the 2016 election, most Americans want policy to be set based on facts. And, while many are focusing on how the “Russia Narrative” is being used to delegitimize the 2016 election, others are beginning to fear the real-world foreign policy consequences of what is happening and they want to be sure the claims that Russia hacked the DNC and tried to throw the election to the Republicans are actually built on solid evidence.
Thus far, that evidence has been merely, and tangentially, circumstantial.
The Russia narrative stands on three legs, each related to the one before it. First, it stood on the claim by the DNC hired firm CrowdStrike that the leak of the DNC emails was from Russia. Second, it stood on a dossier making outlandish and salacious claims about Donald Trump, which included him peeing on a bed once slept in by Hillary Clinton in Moscow with Russian hookers. Third, it stands on the claims by one James Comey that President Trump urged him to stop investigating General Flynn, who had failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials. It was Comey’s leak to the press that led to the appointment of an independent investigator, Robert Meuller, who has since hired 17 lawyers, most of whom have partisan ties to the Clintons, to essentially go on a massive fishing expedition.
As to the first claim by CrowdStrike, the FBI has continued to refuse to actually take possession of the servers in questions, no US intelligence agency has seen them, only CrowdStrike has. Despite that, some US intelligence agencies, not the 17 long claimed by the media, definitely “assessed’ that they were certain the Russians hacked the DNC and tried to throw the election to Donald Trump.
As to the second claim, the salacious dossier has seen been discredited, although to date, US intelligence agencies have refused to rule it out and, as near as we now know, it remains the basis of the Meuller fishing expedition.
As to the third claim by Comey, it remains a matter of two different accounts as there is no independent corroboration. The notes Comey took have been presented as proof, but under any legal estimation of evidence of a crime, these notes are merely his written testimony. He remains an impeachable witness.
But cyber sleuths have unraveled the first claim, the one that starts the whole Russian narrative.
This is all laid out in an article in THE NATION by Patrick Lawrence. In his detailed article, which links to original sources, he basically lays out the following:
- The DNC was not hacked, it was a leak from the inside
- The Guccifer 2.0 documents allegedly showing Russian fingerprints were doctored, possibly as a counter-op (though he is not sure) by the DNC as a way to deflect the fallout
- The intelligence agencies and the media in general have hammered away at these claims of Russia “hacking the election” without evidence
The writer is likely not a fan of Trump, and he lays out his concerns in this telling paragraph:
“The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war….. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.”
In other words, there is a huge risk in causing serious damage to Russo-US relations, which could lead to greater instability around the world, and, worse, there is an actual possibility this “Russia Narrative” may in fact eventually provoke a military confrontation.
While there certainly is much to criticize the Russians about, taking such draconian measures as punishment for a “crime” we have no solid evidence either they or President Trump and his team committed is reckless. Not that recklessly playing fast and loose with the truth to overturn election results or force foreign policies favorable by a few, but not in the best interest of the country, have never happened before.
But the advent of the web, and the ability of web sleuths, with high skills in forensic analysis of data, means that such myth and narrative creation not backed by demonstrable fact is becoming problematic.
What the web sleuths involved have done, and which has been verified by countless experts, is totally disprove the claim by CrowdStrike that the Russians “hacked” the DNC. They have been able to show how the download speeds, which are recorded in the files, and which they can forensically see came from the DNC servers, could only have occurred through a local area network, which would have been an inside job.
When we consider motive, means, and opportunity it is not heard to tell that any insider angry at how the DNC shafted Bernie Sanders and who had access to the server could have been the source. The claim by Guccifer 2.0 that he hacked the files does not stand up to the irrefutable forensic analysis of the files. His files, which included Russian “fingerprints” were also shown to be altered after the fact, raising the very real suspicion that the DNC and CrowdStrike, which refused to allow the FBI to take possession of the servers, concocted Guccifer 2.0 and the “Russian Fingerprints” to cover themselves and as damage control.
The contents of the leaked emails were damming, and remain indisputable: the DNC played fast and loose with the truth, collaborated with the media, and created a corrupt primary process designed to ensure a Clinton win, regardless of what the voters wanted.
As the author noted, “Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception.”
Much of this forensic evidence came from the irrefutable fact that the transfer speed of the download, can be ascertained in such a way as to rule out any external hacking. This can be found in this article by Disobedient Media.
The report concluded, “Below, performance data is tabulated that demonstrate that transfer rates of 23 MB/s (Mega Bytes per second) are not just highly unlikely, but effectively impossible to accomplish when communicating over the Internet at any significant distance. Further, local copy speeds are measured, demonstrating that 23 MB/s is a typical transfer rate when writing a USB-2 flash device (thumb drive).”
In other words, it wasn’t a hack, it was a leak. Any staffer who was upset to discover how badly Bernie Sanders had been treated would have had the means, the motive, and opportunity to leak this as an act of final revenge.
The Forensicator includes all the discussions that led to this conclusion.
The potential blow-back for this myth has not revealed itself. Most of the media continue to ignore the story, the “investigation” by Mueller and company continues, and most of the political elites in both Parties still stand firm in both their adherence to the myth and their strident and provocative anti-Russian rhetoric and policies.
In the case of the USS Main, the country moved on. There was no real blow-back, other than to the men and women who list their lives in that war. Teddy Roosevelt became a hero, and not even the fact the entire war was built on a lie has changed that. Indeed, in all fairness to Teddy, he was certainly not privy to the falsity of the cassus beli.
But in the case of the DNC hack and the whole “Russia hacked the election” myth, whose foundation has been destroyed, it remains true that few Americans would even know about these findings. The Nation is the first partisan leftist media to even have an article on the subject, though it has not received top billing.
The difference here is that perhaps a third of the populace is invested in the Russia narrative being true, a third are convinced it is not only not true but designed to overturn an election result through framing both Trump and a foreign power for crimes not committed, and the other third are not invested but not really informed. In other words, 2/3rds of the American public don’t know, don’t care, or refuse to consider that the entire claim against Russia and Trump is unfounded.
What will the remaining 1/3rd do?
This remains to be seen, but if, or when the people in the middle figure out that their media institutions, their intelligence institutions, and the Democratic Party all apparently peddled a dangerous claim that would both undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of elections and create unnecessary hostility with the only other country that COULD wipe us off the map, it would seem that those institutions will indeed suffer blow-back.
Because of the web being what it is, and despite efforts by the “powers that be” to control news and information, eventually the truth that these claims have no basis in fact will percolate to more and more people, it will make through the news media blackout and the din of rhetoric coming from the political elites, and the average person will feel lied to, used, and disrespected. One can imagine a “how dare they think they could fool me like this” backlash.
It is a truism in marketing that you need to make a claim that is the best face of your offer then stand by it unless it can be disproven. Standing by a claim that Russia hacked the election with Trump’s connivance is not merely tenuous, it is disproven. Eventually, most Americans will find this out, and if they find it out after a conflict with Russia or a removal of President Trump of key members of his administration, effectively delegitimizing his presidency and ensuring that his platform for which he was elected is nullified, then one can imagine the outrage will be even greater.
In the end, the Russia myth will go down with the Main, but one wonders how many other ships will sink before that happens.
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