Kremlin Echoes Trump, Calls Hacking Allegations A 'Witch Hunt'

On Friday the CIA, FBI and NSA released a joint report alleging that Russian foreign intelligence services used disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks to help get Donald Trump elected. But this morning the Kremlin shot back. And they used words pretty identical to Donald Trump in the process.

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"We are growing rather tired of these accusations. It is becoming a full on witch hunt," spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a phone call this morning with a number of news organisations. Coincidentally, Trump himself called the report a "political witch hunt" on Friday.

It's unclear if the identical language was used by the Kremlin coincidentally or as a way to antagonise the US intelligence services that issued the report.

"Without getting too far in front of the headlights of our rollout next week to the Congress, this was a multifaceted campaign," James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence testified to members of the Senate on Friday. "The hacking was one part of it, but it also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news."

The unclassified version of the report that was released on Friday has been criticised for lacking concrete evidence tying Russia to the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and strategist John Podesta's email account. The contents of those hacks were supplied to Wikileaks, which shared them with the world in the lead up to the US presidential election.

"These are baseless allegations substantiated with nothing, done on a rather amateurish, emotional level that is hardly worthy of professional work of truly world class security services," said Peskov.

The denunciation of the report as "amateurish" and unworthy of "truly world class security services" is the strongest condemnation of the CIA yet from Moscow. And clearly intended as a rather direct "screw you" for fingering Russia in the report.

"We still don't know what data is really being used by those who present such unfounded accusations," Peskov said this morning.

"We are still categorically denying any implication of Moscow and any accusations that officials or official government agencies have anything to do with hacking attacks," he continued.

The editor-in-chief of RT (formerly Russia Today) shared similar sentiments in a blog post this weekend. Though, perhaps notably, that editor, Margarita Simonyan, did not use the term "witch hunt". RT is the Kremlin's international propaganda arm, not unlike the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in the United States.

The post by Simonyan called the US intelligence report the "comedy hit of the year". The editor in chief gave a run down of ways in which she couldn't possibly be taking instructions directly from the Kremlin, something that's completely unnecessary for a propaganda arm of any state actor to do when the journalists of that organisation know what's expected of them.

Whether Russian intelligence agencies were involved in tipping the US election for Trump or not, we're about to witness an unprecedented relationship between the President of the United States and his own intelligence services.

An incoming president has never been so publicly at odds with the CIA and NSA, and we're truly in uncharted waters when it comes to where the US goes from here. If Trump and his own intelligence agencies continue squabbling we can probably expect, at best, plenty more Snowden-level leaks in the years to come.

Worst case scenario? The instability ripples around the world and we'll tell our grandchildren about an antiquated notion of civilisation as we huddle around barrels of "Make America Great Again" hats to stay warm.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    Well the declassified report has as much evidence as a Salem witch trial so the comparison seems apt.

    I mean, when the same people who created the US crack cocaine tell you that, in their judgement, "'this' is true", you'd have to be a complete moron to not be skeptical until they produce some evidence...

    At the moment all they've said is Russia did the 'hack' because Putin doesn't float in water.

      Exactly. Where is the evidence? Seems like Gizmodo US is left-wing aligned and happy to spread anti-Trump propaganda. You lost, your SJW movement is failing, time to come up with something better.

        So because trump won, He is exempt from any and all criticism?

        For a group who loves to scream freedom of speech, You seem to be cracking down on that freedom.

          Um... okay?

          I don't see how baseless claims of foreign interference in the election could be interpreted as a critique of either candidate.

          But feel free to explain.

          Hey man, it's the current year! Reporting news is now espionage. You need to educate yourself :P

      The declassified report is here, for anyone interested in reading it themselves. It does contain quite a bit of evidence, though some evidence remains classified as the report notes:

      This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment; its conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.

      What the report doesn't contain is evidence related to the DNC and email hacks. It does contain evidence of deliberate, coordinated campaigns to influence the election results in favour of a Trump victory.

      The likelihood that all of the major intelligence agencies in the United States would concur with this assessment as a conspiracy against Trump is extremely unlikely, particularly given that it reflects a failure on their part to insulate against foreign influence and because statistically large (but minority) numbers of staff in each agency would have supported or voted for Trump to begin with.

      Last edited 10/01/17 10:46 am

        You're right. It's not like the US government is capable of cooperating with itself. That would make sense!

        I've read the report and it has a lot of assessments with zero evidence.

        It's like me saying, "I assess that you are incompetent, based on your test results."

        Then you say, "Okay. Can I please see my test results so that I can have them independently assessed."

        Then I say, "No. Sorry those are classified. Trust me."

        That's all fine and good when the person asking for trust is trustworthy. But you're talking about the people who assessed that Iraq had WMD and who, prior to that, were instrumental in developing the crack cocaine market in the USA.

        I don't know about you but I don't place much trust in the words of drug dealers who have previously made demonstrably false statements which have caused the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

        For their 'assessments' to hold any credibility they need to be accompanied with evidence.

          The NSA and CIA are independent agencies by congressional statute, they don't answer to the executive and they don't fall under presidential authority. The CIA and FBI in particular hate each other and almost never cooperate, which actually led to one of the preconditions of the September 11 attacks not being properly investigated. Sure, they can work together in theory, but in practice there are institutional reasons why it almost never happens.

          As for the report, keep in mind they don't care what you or I think. It wasn't written to persuade us, we're not the report's audience. The partially declassified summary was released only because it was requested through FOI, but the full report was written for senior members of the current and future administration and the evidence they gathered was delivered to those people along with the full assessment.

          Last edited 11/01/17 5:17 pm

            This is all irrelevant. Without real evidence, there is no credibility to the report, as the authors have ZERO trust.

            I mean the substance of the report is essentially that Russians stole the election because RT likes Donald Trump and dislikes Hillary. Based on that 'evidence' we should also be concerned about organisations like CNN who tried to steal the election for HRC.

            Did you read it? It literally provides YouTube subscription numbers and synopses of RT's regular programming. What a joke!

            I don't know how anyone with more than half a brain could read that report cover to cover and not call bullshit.

              Okay, I'll put this more bluntly. Nobody cares what you think is credible. They're not trying to persuade you. They don't care about you. The people who matter got the evidence. You are not a person who matters. You don't have the information available to come to any conclusion, either in support or rejection.

              Trump has seen this report as well as the supporting evidence. If the claims in it weren't backed by evidence, don't you think he would have loudly declared it full of lies? But he hasn't, he's done the opposite - he's acknowledged the report but holds that the actions in it didn't influence the election.

              Last edited 12/01/17 11:00 am

    Someone should google Colin Powell and "intelligence agencies".

    In the leadup to the Iraq War, he said precisely that "We don't often see all 16 intelligence agencies" agreeing as much as we do with Iraq possessing WMD.

    And now Obama's white house spokesperson said the exact same thing about Russia, except he said "all 17 intelligence agencies".

    By the way, is anybody disputing the accuracy or truth of what was actually released about the Democratic Party's emails ? People are getting all worked up about leaking the truth of what happens in politics. Hillary always has a public position and a private position. And Goldman Sachs wrote her legislation.

      The National Intelligence Estimate put together by the US intelligence community regarding the Iraq War was largely declassified in 2015. It mainly indicated that they lacked specific information on key aspects of an Iraqi WMD program, and included some low confidence estimates of where the program might be at.

      After the war, Congress investigated and concluded that the Bush administration overstated several elements of the estimate, and that the intelligence community failed to adequately explain to the administration the level of uncertainty in the estimate's assessments. Since the investigation, intelligence estimates and briefings to the administration now all include a confidence indicator. The report on Russian influence in the 2016 election campaign included an indicator of high confidence from all but one participating agency.

      The Iraq war intelligence debacle was an absolute mess, for sure, but it's worth keeping in mind that the NIE analyses weren't as strong nor nearly as certain as the Bush administration told everyone else they were.

    "lacking concrete evidence " Just more FAKE news from the CIA, FBI & NSA
    I really dont understand why they do this , maybe they want to start a war before Trump get swarn it ...hence the en masse of harrware and troops they have sent to Europe to bolster NATO

      Is this the new alt right thing to do? If there is an article showing something you disagree with, Instead of intelligently debating the point, You just stick your fingers in your ears and yell "FAKE NEWS!!!"?

        The fact that you pigeon hole nodd as 'alt-right' when their comment had nothing to do with right or left leaning parties, only adds fuel to the disdain of liberal identity politics. There is overwhelming evidence that the Obama appointed DOJ has compromised numerous intelligence agencies - the FBI of most note in recent times. Notice Director Jim Comey being stuck between a rock and a hard place? Watch what happens comes Jan 20 when Loretta Lynch has no power to exert over the proper course of justice.
        How quickly some forget the term 'fake news' was coined by the Washington Post and the New York Times when the #PizzaGate scandal came to light. Fortunately, it blew up in their faces. People began dubbing the corporate media, 'fake news' en masse - now, (get ready, the toys are coming out of the pram again) - they want to retire the term!
        LOL.

        https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/818455299472392195

          Lemme guess? You think Pizzagate is real

        Or maybe he read the report which basically says that reporting news = espionage!

    Slight correction. The report was signed off by the CIA, NSA and FBI but there were some conflicts. The NSA doesn't believe that the hacking was an attempt to get Trump in power. They believe it was revenge on Hillary for mistreatment of Putin.

    It should also be noted that while these 3 agencies signed off on it, the other 14 intelligence agencies wouldn't sign off on the report. I wouldn't call it a "witch hunt" by any measure, but it also may not be as definitive as it's advertised. And to suggest that Trump is a puppet of Russia is a little bit defamatory.

    As much as i think Trump is a small handed prick, with or without Russia helping him. He still would have won.

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