Anaylisis by Reporting San Diego
Jan 6, 2016 (San Diego) The intelligence community released the unclassified version of the report this afternoon. The report was coauthored by the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The three agencies mostly agree on the conclusion that Russia ran an influence campaign during the election. They also agree that there were significant cyber operations against both political parties, as well as think tanks and non-governmental organizations
The report also goes into the motives for Vladimir Putin to order this operation. According to the report:
Putin publicly pointed to the Panama Papers disclosure and the Olympic doping scandal as US-directed efforts to defame Russia, suggesting he sought to use disclosures to discredit the image of the United States and cast it as hypocritical.
This reference to the Panama Papers refers to the amounts of Sergei Roldugin. Who is this man? He is a violoncello player, he has accounts with Mozak-Fonseca in Panama, and he is a very close friend of Vladimir Putin. The documents revealed that Putin is likely using him to hide the proceeds of large companies in Russia, or even that he is stealing government funds and enriching himself. In other words, Putin is a kleptocrat. He also has accounts with the Rossiya bank in St Petersburg. This bank has been added to the sanctions regime against the Russian government. It is also called by friends of Putin as his personal bank.
So that was one motive. The next, well the Russians restarted a program that ran during the Soviet years, to dope athletes, and they got caught. This embarrassed the motherland and Putin personally.
More motives to this. Why Hillary Clinton and why Donald Trump? In effect, Clinton was the greater evil for Putin and the Kremlin, and they have had efforts like this in the past. During the Russian years, there were many efforts to try to get better, as in read friendlier administrations. A Trump administration might remove the sanction regime, or at least weaken it. Right now the Russian economy is on its knees.
As Secretary of State, Clinton ran policies that led to protests in 2012 in Moscow. These protests started in 2011 and lasted until 2013, though we still see some protests from time to time. For example, in 2015 there was a protest, albeit smaller than in previous years, against Putin.
So the Kremlin was sure that a Clinton presidency would be a negative development. So they chose to back up Trump. They used not just the hacks, and strategic release of information obtained from the DNC. But they used state propaganda, including RT. Incidentally, RT was used the same way we use Voice of America, so there is that to consider. They used RT to try to influence the public. The footprint for RT has grown considerably on social media where it was shared by millions.
They also used another tool. These are trolls, operating from Russia, to influence the election through social media. They also continued a goal that goes all the way back to the Cold War and the Soviet Union. This is discrediting liberal democracy as an institution and a form of government.
Significantly they also are going from experience and Trump (as well as Rex Tillerson, his nominee for Secretary of State, have business in Russia. Far more for Tillerson than Trump who has been trying to penetrate the Russian market for decades. From the report:
Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Trump has also had contacts with the Russians spanning decades starting with Mikhail Gorbachev. While they have never been able to get the towers up, Trump has never given up.
Our analysis could not end just here. One of the contentions from the transition team is that any talk of this is to delegitimize the incoming president. The issues the incoming president has will not go away if all of us stay quiet. Moreover, his problems are related to the fact that he did not win the popular vote. In the minds of many voters, a president without it has problems. This does not change if the name is Trump, or Rutherford B Hayes, or for that matter George W Bush.
Finally, the Russians did not affect the tally of the vote.