Someone in the U.S. intelligence community–if it has been reported exactly who, I haven’t seen it–has prepared a 50-page report on, among other things, alleged Russian efforts to “meddle” with the 2016 presidential election. That report was delivered to President Obama today, and will go to Donald Trump tomorrow. Naturally, it took only a matter of hours for the Washington Post to be briefed on the report’s contents.
One point, before getting to the Post’s story. It isn’t hard to see what is going on here: Democrats in the intelligence agencies prepared a report for President Obama. The report was immediately leaked by Democrats in the Obama administration (or else Democrats in the intelligence agencies) to Democrats at the Washington Post, so they could slant the story to influence those who will never actually see the report. The purpose of this charade is not to inform President Obama (still less, President-Elect Trump). It is, rather, to advance Democratic Party narratives and undermine the legitimacy of the Trump administration.
Now, to the Post’s story:
Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.
Well, that’s possible. We know for sure that Putin’s government celebrated Barack Obama’s win in 2008. To their credit, the Republicans never tried to make political hay out of that fact.
Other key pieces of information gathered by U.S. spy agencies include the identification of “actors” involved in delivering stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website, and disparities in the levels of effort Russian intelligence entities devoted to penetrating and exploiting sensitive information stored on Democratic and Republican campaign networks.
Of course, if there was such a disparity it may have been due to the Russians’ assumption that Hillary Clinton would win the election. Certainly that is what they expected if they read the New York Times and the Washington Post. And if they failed to penetrate the Republican National Committee’s email system, maybe it is because no one there was dumb enough to fall for a crude “spearfishing” scheme that, as Julian Assange said, could have been perpetrated by a 14-year-old.
Some in the intelligence agencies weren’t entirely happy with the Post’s account of the report, so they leaked to NBC News:
A senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge confirmed to NBC News that the report on Russian hacking delivered to President Obama Thursday says that U.S. intelligence picked up senior Russian officials celebrating Donald Trump’s win.
The source described the intelligence about the celebration, first reported by the Washington Post, as a minor part of the overall intelligence report, which makes the case that Russia intervened in the election.
“Highly classified intercepts illustrate Russian government planning and direction of a multifaceted campaign by Moscow to undermine the integrity of the American political system,” said the official.
The official agreed to talk to NBC News after the Post published leaked details of the review because the official felt that the details the paper chose focused too much on the Russian celebration and not enough on the thrust of the report.
These people are falling over themselves to help the Democrats. No wonder Donald Trump posted on Instagram a little while ago:
He is right: the leaks demonstrate that what is going on is politics, not serious intelligence work.
Meanwhile, an unclassified version of the report will be made public next week. It will be interesting to see whether it contains more compelling information than the disastrous first effort that the same agencies released a week ago. I will try to read it as soon as it is available.