We need a bipartisan Muellergate investigation to determine who cooked up the Russiagate conspiracy that has taken over US foreign policy and driven American political discourse from idiotic to imbecilic.
However, in the schreechfest that our domestic politics has become, we’re no more likely to get a bipartisan Muellergate investigation than we are to get bipartisan agreement on anything but war, austerity, and the “socialist” aspersions now hurled at Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tulsi Gabbard, and Ilhan Omar. Following Trump’s lead, Democrats have begun attacking their own left flank.
I suffered through Volume I of the Mueller Report nevertheless; it’s such a crashing bore that its authors no doubt trusted few would actually read it. Someone else will have to read and review Volume II, which worries the question of whether or not Trump and friends attempted to obstruct justice in the investigation of the “collusion,” aka “conspiracy,” that didn’t happen. At one point Mueller finally acknowledges that there’s no definition of “collusion” in US criminal law, so they were really considering charges for criminal conspiracy. (Calling it “conspiracy” in the first place might have risked allegations that the US government is engaged in “conspiracy theory,” a term invented by the CIA to patently discredit narratives about world-changing events like the Kennedy, King, and Malcolm X assassinations, and the various false flag operations staged to start wars.)
The “Executive Summary” of Vol. I begins with this a priori assumption:
“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. In June, the Democratic National Committee and its cyber response team publicly announced that Russian hackers had compromised its computer network. Releases of hacked materials—hacks that public reporting soon attributed to the Russian government—began that same month. Additional releases followed in July through the organization WikiLeaks, with further releases in October and November.”
Mueller did no forensic evidence of his own to determine how the DNC and Podesta emails reached Wikileaks. He relied in part on Crowdstrike, which the DNC hired to conduct an investigation in lieu of the FBI’s own (despite the agency’s $9 billion budget). Crowdstrike has ties to the Atlantic Council, through its Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dimitry Alperivitch, and its President and Chief Strategy Officer Shawn Henry. Henry was formerly with the FBI, where Mueller appointed him to be Executive Assistant Director of its Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. It’s also worth noting that Google Capital invested $100 million dollars in Crowdstrike.
Mueller didn’t bother to interview any members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), not even Bill Binney, who conducted an independent forensic investigation and concluded that “the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack,” and that “the copying was performed on the East coast of the U.S.” (Not in Russia or Romania.)
Some have said that the DNC or the alleged hackers in Romania may have had internet connections faster than the rest of us mere mortals, but why didn’t Mueller at least look into that instead of ignoring the VIPS report? Wouldn’t the NSA have been more than capable of confirming it? And if the DNC had some sort of unusually speedy internet connection, wouldn’t it have long since offered its internet service bill in evidence?
Mueller did not even talk to Julian Assange, a central player in this saga who is now sitting in London’s Belmarsh Prison while his lawyers fight extradition requests from both Sweden and the US. Assange offered to talk to Mueller in exchange for limited immunity, presumably immunity from charges relating to publication of the DNC and Podesta emails, but Mueller declined.
Russiagate was first and foremost a deflection of attention from the the Democrats’ failure and the content of the DNC and Podesta emails. So it’s no surprise that Mueller never entertained the idea that the emails might have informed the American public about the crimes the Clinton campaign was hiding or that the public might have a right to know.
Nor did he ever consider that the FBI, the CIA, and/or NSA might have fabricated Russiagate. Forty-five years after the Church Committee, it’s as though Cointelpro and Operation Mockingbird never happened. Now even liberal progressives are in love with the FBI and the CIA.
This section includes a curious set of allegations:
“The Russian Embassy made contact hours after the election to congratulate the President-Elect and to arrange a call with President Putin. Several Russian businessmen picked up the effort from there.”
Isn’t that what heads of state do? Don’t the world’s most powerful heads of state call to congratulate one another on their election? And isn’t that what big businessmen in big corporate states do? Don’t they try to make contacts they can utilize to do business? Trump never stops touting the US weapons sales he negotiates with his head-chopping Saudi friends and neither did Hillary Clinton.
Here’s another curious allegation:
“[Kiril] Dmitriev and [Jared] Kushner’s friend collaborated on a short written reconciliation plan for the United States and Russia, which Dmitriev implied had been cleared through Putin. The friend gave that proposal to Kushner before the inauguration, and Kushner later gave copies to Bannon and incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.”
Isn’t that what heads of state and secretaries of state are supposed to do? Shouldn’t the world’s two greatest nuclear powers do their best to reconcile instead of escalating the new nuclear arms race and amassing more and more troops and missiles on either side of Russia’s European borders?
Another allegation is that Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, attempted to negotiate an easing of tensions caused by the sanctions that Obama had imposed on Russia after Trump won the 2016 election and Russiagate sprouted wings.
This is one of several instances in which Trump, like a broken clock, might be right once or even twice a day. However, he’s since been so relentlessly vilified as a “Russian stooge,” “Putin puppet,” etcetera, that Russian scholar Stephen F. Cohen worries he may be politically unable to negotiate us out of another confrontation as perilous as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cohen also argues that US-Russia tensions are now worse than they were at any time in the First Cold War. (He coined the “New Cold War” to describe them.)
After the Mueller Report was released, Cohen said, on his weekly broadcast with John Batchelor, that, “Moreover, if you read the footnotes, and as a scholar, I always look at the footnotes—and there’s hundreds of them—it’s amazing how many of Mueller’s footnotes are to newspaper accounts and even tweets. I’ve never seen what purports to be a scholarly research work footnote tweets.
Where’s the beef?
Much of Volume I is a long tedious account of how various Trump associates had contact with various Russians, all leading up to the great big nothingburger:
“. . . while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.”
Social media crime
Mueller does, however, hold fast to the allegations that Russians conspired to use social media to influence the 2016 election and sow social discord in our otherwise tranquil nation. He never asks why Hillary Clinton’s billion-dollar campaign couldn’t create enough of its own meme-bombs to defeat Russia’s. Nor does he ask whether these claims might have to do with ruling-class anxiety that the internet threatens their control of the narrative and they’re rushing to censor it.
And why would he? The Mueller Report relies heavily on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution,” more simply known as the “intelligence community assessment,” which concludes with a list of “key judgements,” most centrally this:
“Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”
The US-led liberal democratic order meaning of course more war, austerity, and oligarchic rule. It’s grim, but polls at least show that most Americans don’t give a damn about Russiagate and care a lot more about their own impoverishment as wealth inequality continues to soar. Otherwise Trump and the Democratic Party establishment wouldn’t feel compelled to demonize socialism, which 51% of young Americans now prefer to capitalism. And naming it or not, more and more Americans readily see that there’s nothing in this so-called US-led order for them.
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Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at [email protected]. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.