Critics Still See Holes in US 'Evidence' of Russian Election Interference

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Critics Still See Holes in US 'Evidence' of Russian Election Interference

"Like the Bush administration's claims of Iraqi WMDs, the charges that Russia 'hacked' the presidential election in November have not been established beyond secret intelligence sources"

On Thursday, the DHS and FBI released a report on alleged Russian election interference, dubbed GRIZZLY STEPPE. (Screenshot)

As the U.S. expels 35 Russian diplomats over hacking charges, critics say the so-called evidence released Thursday alongside President Barack Obama's sanctions is an insufficient response to calls for hard proof of the allegations.

The FBI/Department of Homeland Security Joint Analysis Report "Grizzly Steppe" (pdf), published as part of the White House's response to alleged Russian government interference in the 2016 election process, "adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacking the [Democratic National Committee, or DNC], the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], the email accounts of Democratic party officials, or for delivering the content of those hacks to WikiLeaks," wrote cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr on Friday. 

The brief report "merely listed every threat group ever reported on by a commercial cybersecurity company that is suspected of being Russian-made and lumped them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection exists," Carr said.

He continued:

If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn't means either that the evidence doesn't exist or that it is classified.

If it's classified, an independent commission should review it because this entire assignment of blame against the Russian government is looking more and more like a domestic political operation run by the White House that relied heavily on questionable intelligence generated by a for-profit cybersecurity firm with a vested interest in selling "attribution-as-a-service."

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In fact, cyber-expert Robert M. Lee, in his posted critique on Friday, noted that the FBI/DHS report "is intended to help network defenders; it is not the technical evidence of attribution."

As such, Lee argued, it is likely to "confuse readers" who are seeking such evidence.

Meanwhile, Intercept journalist Sam Biddle, who recently published a take-down of the public evidence that had been put forth as of mid-December, added his voice to calls for more in the way of hard evidence:



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And The Young Turks politics reporter Jordan Chariton also raised questions in a video posted Thursday afternoon:

For raising these questions, Chariton and others who supported his demand were branded "Kremlin cheerleaders," continuing what journalist Glenn Greenwald described as a trend:

Like Greenwald, author and media critic Howard Friel sees parallels between the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the current "unconfirmable claims" of Russian election interference.

"Like the Bush administration's claims of Iraqi [weapons of mass destruction], the charges that Russia 'hacked' the presidential election in November have not been established beyond secret intelligence sources, which have been treated and printed by the New York Times as impeccable," Friel wrote on Friday.     

He continued:

Just as the Times editorial page in February 2003 had no basis for concluding that Colin Powell's presentation at the UN was "the most powerful case to date" that Iraq possessed WMD, the Times today has no confirmable basis for concluding that "there should be no doubt" that Russia hacked the presidential election last month or that President Obama has any basis for "punishing Russia," which in any event is unprofessional and jingoistic journalistic usage from the leading newspaper in the United States. 

Yet, it reflects the warlike tone and tenor of the liberal political and journalistic establishments, led by the New York Times, which seems determined to drive us over the cliff once again toward war.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he would not expel any U.S. diplomats in retaliation for Obama's moves—"a surprisingly calm reaction," as the Guardian described, "that appears to be designed as an overture to the incoming U.S. president, Donald Trump."

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