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13 July 2017


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ex-PFC Chuck

Given what the two candidates were saying and signalling to the electorate during the campaign, one promoting hyped up confrontation the other urging rapprochement, and considering the much increased risk of nuclear war of the former approach, it would have been irresponsible in his duties to Russian citizens for Putin to not attempt to influence the election in the direction of the latter.

Augustin L

Oligarchs of the world unite to Make America Gilded again #MAGA. https://theintercept.com/2017/07/11/russian-oligarch-plotted-aid-trump-named-private-intelligence-dossier/


"hand-picked by the CIA director and set up at the CIA Headquarters who “functioned as a sealed compartment, its work hidden from the rest of the intelligence community.”

Were any of these people formerly in the Office of Special Plans?

Virginia Slim

It's difficult to believe that a D/CIA (even one as full of himself as J.O.B.) would be foolish enough to make such a large bet on a single report. Day 1 of D&D is p(deception) increases as n(channels) decreases. It seems Brennan was so hot to take down Trump that his ordinarily irreproachable, infallible sense of direction failed him.


Virginia Slim

I knew Brennan when he was a junior jackass working for Alan Feiers. IMO, he has always been filled with hatred, rage and murderous animosity. pl


good point


And obviously self-aggrandizement.

Peter AU

How many Peters/Boot types infest the upper levels of the US intelligence establishment?
I guess it would be simple matter to put together a small task force of Dr Strangelove extras to achieve the desired result re Russian "meddling".


Peter AY

IMO that is true and it results from systematic career punishment of the gifted. pl


Been my impression simply by looking at him.

Mahatma Propagandhi

@ luxetveritas

Amen to that. Ritter has long spoken truth to power, to the detriment of his career. From Iraq WMD to his recent buttressing of Sy Hersh's claim that the Syrian "sarin attacks" were bogus, Ritter has earned the bitter enmity of the borg.


I never agreed with much of anything Max Boot had to say in his columns, but the Fox interview was a revelation. He is evidently very seriously impaired in some fundamental way. Very troubling such an individual advises anyone on anything, much less US foreign policy.

Ritter's piece is impressive. Before reading through it I wracked my brains for the most likely suspect for the "sensitive foreign source", assuming for the sake of argument the whole thing was not a fabrication. I settled on Estonia and / or the U.K. Pleased to see other eminences at least partially agreed.


"Boot was born in Moscow. His parents, both Russian Jews, later emigrated from the Soviet Union to Los Angeles, where he was raised."
Whether Alperovitch of CrowdStrike fame or the insane Max Boot at CFR, these Russian-born Jews grew into rabid Russophobes devoid of any sense of measure. Someone should remind them the names of Genrikh Yagoda (founder of KGB) and Lazar Moiseyevic Kaganovich (the butcher of Ukraine). The tragedy of the 20-th century Russia was "arranged" to a large extend by a group of powerful Jews.

The Twisted Genius

I seriously doubt there are more than a few dozen experienced analysts in the CIA,NSA and FBI to do this kind of analysis crossing the fields of Russian cyber operations and information operations. DIA had maybe three or four when I was there. A lot of these people are sucked up by the private cyber intelligence firms like FireEye. Their resources dwarf anything DIA had. It would be interesting to know whether this hand picked task force was picked for being red or expert.

Keith Harbaugh

I'm somewhat of a fan of music,
but sometimes there is an overlap of that with, oddly enough, say,
the political situation in Russia.
Would the experts on Russia who read this blog
care to comment on how authentic (similar to the post-1980, say, reality),
in terms of physical setting and Duma-like action,
is the scene in the following video?
(That URL is tagged to start at 1:49:36.
If it doesn't start there automatically, you can start it there yourself.)

BTW, the conductor both supports the current regime and has received an award from it: https://youtu.be/4VhEt8y34ik?t=1m .
But my main question is on the authenticity of the setting of the scene.
And also BTW, don't those horns (as well as the whole orchestra and vocal performance) sound great!



Ah, but your comment is concerned with actual personnel resources to do cyber-detective work as opposed to a cabal of hyper-ambitious schemers. pl

The Twisted Genius


That's why I wondered if the analyst task force was red or expert. This must be known within the fairly small community of competent cyber intelligence analysts. This is a very different skill set than the pure code forensic analysts. The answer to that question is key to determining if this is a witch hunt or not.

Peter AU

ex-PFC Chuck

Digging dirt on one candidate - attempting to advance one candidate - a candidate colluding with and working in the interests of a foreign power?

The narrative of the Russian leadership at present is no regime change. They have been walking the talk to instil confidence and draw countries away from the hedgemon. If they were caught trying to install a candidate, Russia's cred's would be destroyed.
For this reason I doubt Russia actively worked to install Trump.
On the other hand, exposing the dirt on one candidate who was a danger to RF would bring little backlash amongst those who RF are trying to impress.
Then looking at who would want to bring Clinton down.... the list would be never ending.


you made me curious when you wrote: "bring red or expert" wonders me - what does 'red' stand for? I don't know what you mean.

I know an admittedly silly) comic wäre 'red' stood for Retired and Extremely Dangerous'. Can you explain please?


Ritter writes:

"According to reporting from the Washington Post, sometime during this period, CIA Director John Brennan gained access to a sensitive intelligence report from a foreign intelligence service. "

The "sensitive intelligence report from a foreign intelligence service" is the Steele dossier. A paid-for rumor and fantasy collection of a (former?) MI-6 man and Russia hater designed to hurt Trump and Russia.

The Steele thingy is the only document that fits the WaPo description.

This also explains why Obama did nothing after Clapper peddled that nonsense to him. If he had taken it serious as proof of Russian intervention in the U.S. election he would likely have done something. But this was too vague and too obviously made up to deserve more attention.

The Twisted Genius


This phrase encapsulated a debate within Mao's Cultural Revolution which pitted ideological purity (red) against scientifically objective expertise (expert). The ideal was red and expert, but it seldom worked out that way in practice. I've seen this phrase also applied to situations in the Soviet Union. It's a variation on Colonel Lang's idea of Artists versus Bureaucrats."

In this case I was referring to the possibility of using politically driven analysts with no real expertise in the subject rather than the core group of IC analysts who have dealt with the subject for years and have developed true subject matter expertise. Was it a group of ideologues like Cheney's OSP or a gathering of the known IC experts in Russian cyber and info ops?

Sam Peralta


"That's why I wondered if the analyst task force was red or expert....The answer to that question is key to determining if this is a witch hunt or not."

Will we ever get that answer? Or will it remain in the hall of mirrors?

David Habakkuk

Keith Harbaugh,

I have no claim to be an expert on Russia – don’t know the language, never lived there. And I can’t comment on the authenticity of the settings in Valery Gergiev’s modern-day version of Boris ‘Godunov.’

His own history may, however, illuminate both his attitude to Putin and his performance of the opera.

The great contemporary Russian conductor is not actually an ethnic Russian at all, but an Ossete – as also is his wife. So he is very much a man of what one might call the ‘borderlands.’

This became vividly apparent at the 2008 Georgian War, following which he emerged in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, which had been heavily attacked by the Georgians, with his Mariinsky Orchestra.

They played first Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathetique’ Symphony, and then Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, the ‘Leningrad’, with the city hall as an illuminated backdrop in the gathering gloom.

As I noted in a post here in October 2015, there seemed a rather clear allusion to the performance that was given in what is now again St Petersburg on 9 August 1942, the day when Hitler had intended he would celebrate the fall of the city.

(See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKqSTPNCsMM ; http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/10/a-few-observations-by-david-habakkuk.html .)

As to the transposition of ‘Boris Godunov’ to the modern day.

The term ‘semibankirshchina’, coined to describe the period in the ‘Nineties when in the aftermath of Western-sponsored ‘shock therapy’ Russia was effectively ruled by seven ‘oligarchs’, comes from ‘semiboyarshchina’, the term used to describe an episode in the ‘Time of Troubles’.

After the death of Boris Godunov in 1605, the boyar Shuisky, whose intrigues are central to the opera, became Tsar, but was deposed by the ‘seven boyars’ in 1610. The time of anarchy and disorder ended with the election of Michael Romanov as Tsar in 1613.

An early act of the new Tsar was to institute a ‘Day of Moscow’s Liberation from Polish Invaders’, which was celebrated on 4 November through until 1917, when it was replaced by a celebration of the October Revolution. This was got rid of, and the earlier holiday reinstated as ‘National Unity Day’, by Putin in 2005.

So ‘Boris Godunov’ may very well look, to Putin, like a ‘tract for the times.’ If Russians indulge their propensity for internecine strife, the Poles and Lithuanians, or whoever their modern analogues are, will come and get them. And – as Gergiev’s case makes clear – this message may have particularly resonance for those ethnic groups in the ‘borderlands’ who, traditionally, have looked to Russia as their protector.

These days, those groups in the ‘borderlands’ who have commonly been associated with Russia’s enemies – be they Polish or Lithuanian nationalists, or indeed Georgian or Galician nationalists – have the massive power of the United States behind them.

So Gergiev saw his own ethnic group come within a ‘hair’s breath’ of having half of its traditional territory reincorporated by Georgian nationalists determined to impose their own version of identity on it. It is no wonder he played the symphony which symbolised the will-to-resist of ‘Leningrad’ against the Germans with very visible conviction.

Meanwhile, precisely Putin’s conception of ‘national unity’ is ultimately neither ethnic, nor simply religious, but cultural, he may well see Gergiev as invaluable. The Ossete has revived the Mariinsky – in Putin’s native city, from which so much modern Russian culture comes – as a great centre of opera and of concert-giving, and ‘show-cased’ the great works of the Russian musical tradition. (A performance he conducted of ‘Khovanshchina’, Mussorgsky other operatic masterpiece, is traditional in style, but also first-rate.)

The theme of reconciliation is central to ‘Putinism’. In 2003, at his request, he had met with members of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in New York, and been presented with an icon of Saint Elizabeth.

He talks about her life and death in the interviews with Oliver Stone, and how, in bringing the icon back to the Kremlin where she had once lived, he felt he was bringing her home. What he does not mention is that she was actually the maternal great-aunt of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Why she was canonised – and was also such a powerful symbol of repentance and reconciliation – is evident from here Wikipedia entry. It also describes the particularly gruesome way in which the Cheka murdered – the name of the ‘Chekist’ in charge of the operation was, apparently, Pyotr Startsev.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Elisabeth_of_Hesse_and_by_Rhine_(1864–1918)

This is useful background, when one comes across the claims about the DNC leaks by the former GCHQ employee Matt Tait. According to these, the presence of the name and patronymic of the founder of the man who would have been Startsev’s ultimate boss in the ‘metadata’ of the disclosures by ‘Guccifer 2.0’ proves that he was a GRU front.

This is really is ironic, given that, as his Wikipedia entry makes clear, Dzerzhinsky’s ‘aristocratic family belonged to the former Polish-Lithuanian szlachta (nobility), of the Sulima coat of arms.’ Ironically, the manor house where he was born was destroyed, and family members, including Dzerzhinsky’s brother Kazimierz, were killed by the Germans, because of their support for the Polish Home Army.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Dzerzhinsky .)

The claims by Tait have to me a very ‘fishy smell’ indeed – they look like part of the kind of rather crude ‘information operation’ we have come to associate with MI6.


Col Lang,

I concur with TTG. I have many direct clients in cyber security, mostly on the industry side. The number of people who have the skills, connections, and knowhow to uncover the source of a skilled cyberattack is quite small. So much so, that there’s a prevailing belief that you can’t do so. This is wrong. There is a small community, composed mostly of ex-FBI and their trainees, at places like Mandiant, Crowdstrike, and ThreatConnect, who do this stuff. I’ve had some interaction with them.

Ritter’s critique is not substantive. It describes a process and then draws a parallel to a process that was similar in form. But things can take the same form for different reasons. In one case, it can be a choice made out of convenience or malice, in the other of necessity. In the case of the Iraqi WMD intelligence failure, there were many who could have been called in to perform the analysis on the WMD. Many people in that community at the time questioned that analysis, often loudly. With this stuff, there’s only a small community of people who can do this, only a small fraction of which would been available.

So TTG’s question is a good one. It's also, I want to emphasize, a question. That question can have different answers, and I certainly don't know the answer.


thanks for the explanation.

PS: What I like to add about the comic RED - honestly, the comic isn't as good as the entertaining movie RED made of it (with Bruce Willis, Paul Malkovich and Melen Mirren), but, so to speak, it's 'better drawn'. The comic is nice to read, rather well drawn, but too short, and it, well, has more action than sense.

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