Caitlin Johnstone

@caityjohnstone

The Big Fat Compendium Of Russiagate Debunkery

Trouble loading? Check out the Index of Russiagate Debunkery, where this article is broken up into parts one, two and three for easier viewability.

Russiagate is like a mirage: from a distance it looks like something, but once you move in for a closer look, there’s nothing there. Nothing. Nothing solid, nothing substantial, nothing you can point at and say, “Here it is. This hard evidence justifies saturating the media waves with obsessive 24/7 coverage, escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower, stagnating political discourse in America and fanning the flames of a hysterical, xenophobic McCarthyist feeding frenzy.”

Let me preface this article by affirming that I am not a Russian propagandist or shill and I have never received any money from the Russian government, nor, contrary to a blatant lie currently being circulated by establishment loyalists, have I ever written for any Russian publications of any kind. Due to the aforementioned McCarthyist witch hunt this obnoxious accusation will inevitably be leveled by more than a few people as a result of my circulating these arguments, but anyone who does so is wrong. My loyalty is and always has been to truth and peace, in that order.

The other day I asked my social media circles for their very best links, ideas and arguments countering the anti-Russia sentiment that the American psyche has been pummeled with relentlessly by establishment politicians and the corporate mass media, and the response was overwhelming. There’s no way I can use everything I was given, but for right now here are 27 solid reasons to reject the narrative being promulgated by the American power establishment about Russia.

[This article has been updated on June 7 2017 at 2PM GMT to include more supporting links and add Debunkery #27]

1. There is no proof.

This was by far the most common point I saw people emphasizing in my exercise in crowdsourced journalism that gave rise to this article. People who question the establishment’s Russia narrative are acutely aware that the American people have seen no solid, tangible evidence of either the alleged Russian hacking or of collusion between Trump and the Russian government to win the 2016 election. We have seen analysis reports in both official and now unofficial releases, but none of them contain a single shred of hard evidence, raw intelligence, or testable data.

In reality, the certainty that establishment liberals feel in Russia’s having meddled in US elections and Trump-Russia election collusion is built entirely upon the way official-looking people have been saying in official-sounding voices that these things have happened and repeating this self-assured assertion until their audience assumes that there must be some solid evidence underlying it. There is not. There’s just official-looking people pointing at unsubstantiated claims in a confident tone of voice and trying to connect them to innocuous factors like businessmen doing business with a newly-capitalist nation in the nineties.

We have been shown no proof. They refuse to show us any proof. That is extremely suspicious, and by itself is sufficient reason to be intensely skeptical of the Russiagate narrative.

“Eh, you could just start with evidence,” Eoghan O. points out on Facebook. “There is none. I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to the first person to provide me actual direct evidence of Russian hacking interfering with the US election. Or Brexit, the French elections or the German elections. Silence. Evidence.”

“ ‘Because I Said So’ is not evidence,” Liz B rightly notes. 
“Or if Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid say it a million times,” adds Greg G.

“As a lawyer, when you accuse someone of a wrongdoing, the burden is ON YOU to provide evidence. They have not provided any evidence to support that assertion,” says Esha Krishnaswami.

2. The NSA could at any time provide public proof of Russian hacking without compromising any intelligence sources, and yet they don’t.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has attested that the NSA “certainly” has evidence that could prove Russians hacked the DNC, but the NSA has refused to share this information with the public despite the massive impact that the Russian hacking allegations have had on the American people, on US foreign policy, and on the relationship between two nuclear superpowers. This entire dispute could be settled without blowing the cover of any US spies and without revealing any sources or methods, but instead the American people have to settle for “trust us, we wouldn’t lie to you” from an organization that knowingly kept its domestic surveillance programs a secret from the public, and which James Clapper brazenly lied about to the US Senate.

The NSA either has proof and is refusing to share it for stupid reasons, or there is no proof and they therefore cannot provide it. And speaking of the NSA…

3. This is all coming from the same people who told us, incorrectly, that Russia hacked the French election.

NSA Director Mike Rogers asserted that his agency “watched” Russia hack the French election infrastructure. For the last month establishment media outlets and establishment loyalists have been repeating this allegation as unquestionable fact, in the exact same way they repeat the Russian hacking narrative of the 2016 US elections as an unquestionable fact. And yet they were all dead wrong. Guillaume Poupard, the head of France’s cyber security agency, told the Associated Press that there was “no trace” of Russian meddling and that the hack of the Macron campaign “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

In fact, Rogers was so off the mark from France’s own findings that Poupard was absolutely baffled as to what he could have been talking about.

“Why did Admiral Rogers say that, like that, at that time?” Poupard asked. “It really surprised me. It really surprised my European allies. And to be totally frank, when I spoke about it to my NSA counterparts and asked why did he say that, they didn’t really know how to reply either.”

Speaking of Mike Rogers, guess who was one of the handful of intelligence officials publicly suggesting that Russia hacked the DNC?

4. The “17 intelligence agencies” narrative was a lie.

Since October, Hillary Clinton has been advancing the falsehood that “17 intelligence agencies” agreed that the Russian government was responsible for hacking Democratic party documents and giving them to WikiLeaks. This assertion has been repeated as fact in thousands of articles and by countless pundits, and anyone who debates this stuff regularly has heard it repeated as fact by establishment loyalists ad nauseum. This was an extremely funny-looking assertion from the beginning since, as WikiLeaks notes above, in order to be true it would need to include opinions from agencies which would have no business involving themselves in such a case. And now it has been thoroughly debunked.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry of Consortium News reports that on May 23, former CIA Director John Brennan testified that the only agencies involved in the hacking report were the NSA (see debunkeries #2 and #3 in this list), the FBI and the CIA, along with James Clapper’s (see debunkery #2) overseeing Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Clapper himself had said the same thing in another hearing on May 8, stating that only a couple dozen “hand-picked” experts from these three agencies were involved in compiling the report Clinton falsely referenced.

This has been a known, established fact since May 8, reinforced on May 23, and yet Clinton repeated the same falsehood in her interview at the Recode Conference on May 31, saying, “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”

Now we know for a fact that she wasn’t merely speaking a falsehood out of ignorance. She was lying, she knew she was lying, and to this day establishment pundits like Megyn Kelly are repeating this same lie:

These people are deliberately lying to make the evidence seem far more overwhelming than it is. It wasn’t “17 intelligence agencies”, it was two dozen hand-selected establishment stalwarts. On this point Parry rightly notes, “as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you ‘hand-pick’ the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.”

5. The CrowdStrike report on the alleged DNC hack is extremely suspect.

Because the DNC refused the FBI access to their servers to investigate the alleged hacking incident, third-party cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike took on sole responsibility for that investigation, which means that the security report from CrowdStrike is, as Progressive Army puts it, “literally the only link that exists that is pointing the finger at Russia.”

The trouble, apart from the fact that the DNC are the ones who financed this singular crucial report, is that CrowdStrike itself is sorely lacking in credibility. Dmitri Alperovich, its chief technical officer, is a senior fellow with the Saudi-funded, virulently anti-Putin Washington think tank, the warmongering neocon Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council, which Paul Craig Roberts calls “the marketing arm of the military-security complex”, has been cranking out think pieces with such vitriolically anti-Kremlin titles as “Distract Deceive Destroy: Putin at War in Syria” and “Six Immediate Steps to Stop Putin’s Aggression,” and is funded by a Ukrainian billionaire.

As if this weren’t incriminating enough, Consortium News reports that this neocon think tank is also a longtime supporter of one Hillary Rodham Clinton. Indeed, the Atlantic Council presented Clinton with its Distinguished International Leadership Award in 2013. Mike Sainato reports that the aforementioned Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, donated at least $10 million to the Clinton foundation.

CrowdStrike’s credibility took an even bigger hit when it came to light that data they’d cited in their report to marry the hacks to the Russians has been denounced as erroneous by two of the parties involved, the Ukrainian military and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The report asserted that Russians had previously hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists, and that the same fingerprints of that hack were found in the DNC hack. According to a report by VOA which names Alperovich specifically, however, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense asserts that these combat losses and hacking never happened, and IISS says CrowdStrike reached its conclusions by misreading IISS data.

Jeffrey H. writes the following:

How many people have actually read the Crowdstrike and joint intelligence agency reports, publicly available and very brief considering the gravity of the allegations. Some highlights:
- Crowdstrike prejudicially renamed the APT28 and APT29 malware to the now infamous “Fancy Bear”, “Cozy Bear” and “Grizzly Steppe”. There was no reason whatsoever to do that, apart from propaganda.
- Crowdstrike used the words “likely” and “suggests”, in the absence of concrete evidence.
- Joint intelligence reports took the Crowdstrike report as a starting point and quoted liberally from it, adding their bureaucratese: “we assess” with “high [moderate in the case of NSA] confidence”. William Binney pointed out that when you see words like that, it means there is no evidence — otherwise they would have said “we have direct evidence that…”
- Joint intelligence reports spent 2 -3 pages repeating the Crowdstrike material, adding no new evidence, then fluffed out to 12–13 pages with diatribes against RT’s exercise of their First Amendment rights, and windy explanations of how to detect malware in general.
- Which of course led to the “scandalous” discovery of malware on one non-connected laptop at Burlington Electric Co. (Sanders’ town — huh!) and the media erupts with fantastical claims about attempts to hack the power grid.
- APT28 and APT29 are everywhere, loose in the wild.

So the evidence for Russians hacking the DNC is paper thin and highly suspect. Oh yeah, and guess what?

6. There’s no good reason to believe the Russians (or anyone) hacked Podesta’s emails, either.

When the Seth Rich murder investigation spiked in public interest recently, the CIA-funded Washington Post hastened to tell its readers that Seth Rich being the source of the DNC leaks wouldn’t invalidate Russiagate because Russia still definitely hacked the Podesta emails. The following completely debunks this assertion.

There’s a common belief that Clinton campaign manager John Podesta was using the word “p@ssw0rd” as a password, but that was just a temporary one given to him after he carelessly left his phone in a taxi in early 2015. An under-appreciated WikiLeaks document reveals that Podesta’s password was actually “Runner4567”, and from the context of the email appears to have been commonly known among his office assistants. He’s seen asking his assistant Eryn Sepp if she knows his password, and she tells it to him “in case Milia hasn’t gotten it to you let [sic],” referring to Podesta aide Milia Fisher. This remained his password for many months, and still wasn’t changed after WikiLeaks began publishing his emails, which was almost certainly how one of the naughty boys on 4chan was able to access Podesta’s Twitter account and make this tweet:

The Twitter hack was confirmed by the Clinton campaign, and Podesta hasn’t had any issues with that account since. That mischievous /pol/ anon was able to get in there because Podesta not only used this very weak, easy-to-remember password for months, but apparently used it for everything, not just his Apple ID.

So we’re really meant to believe that this guy who couldn’t even keep track of who at his office knew his weak password, and who used that weak password for everything, needed to be hacked or phished by Russian operatives in order for those emails to make their way to WikiLeaks? In an environment like that, anyone who spent any time around his office could’ve gained access to those emails; read the drama about Podesta’s taxicab experience for a clear picture of how involved his assistants were in his passwords and technology access. Anyone with any insider access could have leaked Podesta’s emails to WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks ally Craig Murray insists that this is exactly what happened. Podesta’s email security was as airtight as a sieve, so there’s no reason to attribute their release through WikiLeaks specifically to Russia.

7. Many experts are highly doubtful of the hacking narrative.

8. Also worth noting: the CIA is known to have actively cultivated the ability to forge signs of Russian cyber intrusions.

“The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation,” WikiLeaks wrote upon release of the first of their Vault 7 CIA leaks.

9. The Democrats are flat-out lying when they say the WikiLeaks emails didn’t contain anything incriminating.

So as we’ve discussed, both the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails have massive, gaping plot holes in the official establishment narrative about how they were released. These hacking allegations were what sparked off the anti-Russia blame game we experience today, but the Democrats knew they could never get away with simply saying “The Russians cost us the election by telling the American people the truth!” They needed a new narrative, which was where all the talk about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” came in.

If you’re feeling a bit masochistic, watch Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance at the Recode Conference for a pure picture from the horse’s mouth of what this carefully-crafted narrative is meant to look like. She says the information in the Podesta emails are nothing but innocuous run-of-the-mill shop talk and calls them “anodyne to boredom”, then goes on to speak about how bits and pieces of these 100% boring, innocuous emails were picked up out of context by outlets like Infowars and spun into “the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine.” Throughout her interview she speaks of how “weaponized information” like this was spun into “fake news” and then circulated by Russian agents in targeted areas.

So to reiterate: the establishment narrative, per Hillary Rodham Clinton herself, is that there was absolutely nothing incriminating in the WikiLeaks emails, but they were spun into fake news stories and circulated throughout America by a sophisticated Russian propaganda network, which Clinton asserts was probably informed by the Trump camp.

The trouble with this narrative? The emails were intrinsically very, very incriminating on their own; they didn’t require any fake news or Russian propaganda to be seen as incriminating by anyone who read them.

In reality, the conspiring and “us vs. them” language between DNC officials in their leaked emails unquestionably reveals a blatant violation of Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC Charter, which promises the American people that the DNC Chairperson (who was included in and participated in many of these emails) “shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.” This plainly did not happen, as a glance at some of the nastiest emails reveals. The DNC Charter was revised with this promise to prevent a DemExit after the 1968 fiasco in Chicago, and in 2016 they undeniably broke this promise.

And as bad as the DNC Leaks were, the later leak drops were far more incriminating. From Donna Brazile serving as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passing multiple debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton, to an email from a CitiGroup executive instructing Obama what cabinet picks (who would then go on the shape policy for dealing with Wall Street crooks after they caused the 2008 global financial crisis) he was permitted to choose from prior to his election in 2008, to the Clintons taking bribes from Qatar and Morocco and knowingly accepting funds from political bodies that arm ISIS, to evidence that the DNC was stacking the deck for Clinton as early as 2014, to a suggestion that the Clinton campaign had some sort of “leverage” over Bernie Sanders, to Clinton promising a group of Goldman Sachs executives that she would lie to the American people for their benefit by assuring them that she understood the importance of having both a “public position and a private position” when it comes to economic matters, there was more than enough shocking data there to rightly hurt Clinton’s approval rating.

So this notion that fake news and Russian propaganda were needed in order for the WikiLeaks releases to hurt the Clinton campaign are blatantly deceitful. Clinton wasn’t hurt by fake news and Russian propaganda, Clinton was hurt by the truth.

10. This hilarious three-minute video, comprised entirely of mainstream media clips.

11. Even if Russia did hack the Democratic party, that doesn’t justify all the hysteria and McCarthyism that has engulfed America today.

I think at this point we can comfortably say the narrative that Russia hacked Democratic documents and gave them to WikiLeaks has about as much credibility as the ramblings of your average street schizophrenic, and the fact that the public has yet to be shown a single, solitary shred of proof for this inflammatory accusation means it should be treated with nothing but general disdain.

But none of that ultimately matters. It is technically possible that the Democratic emails may coincidentally have been hacked by the very country Clinton was saber-rattling at throughout the entirety of her campaign and yet left no trace that the public has been able to see, but even if they did, so what? The US government’s own data shows that it deliberately meddled in the elections of 81 foreign governments between 1946 and 2000 (including Russia), and that isn’t even counting the coups and regime changes it facilitated. If Russia meddled in the elections by showing the American people the truth about their government, that would just be the US getting a small taste of what it’s been shamelessly dishing out for decades.

It is only the confident-sounding assertions of the official-looking people in nonstop media coverage which leads anyone to believe that the source behind the DNC leaks and Podesta emails matters at all. What actually matters is the shocking and incriminating content of those leaks, and the resulting revelation that one of the parties in a country with a rigidly-enforced two-party system feels entitled to manipulate its primaries and sabotage progressive candidates. Compared to the revelation that democracy does not exist in America, the notion that some icy potato patch on the other side of the world may have partially tagged the US back for meddling in the reelection campaign of Washington puppet Boris Yeltsin is insignificant.

12. The Clinton camp was building the Russia narrative long before it was sold to the public, and long before allegations of Trump-Russia election collusion surfaced.

13. Hillary Clinton was pushing for escalations with Russia throughout the entirety of her campaign, long before any leak drops or hacking allegations.

Russia, Russia, Russia. What are the odds that everything that goes wrong keeps coming back to this one country that your average American hardly ever thought about less than a year ago? And what are the odds that it’s the same country Hillary Clinton has been pushing for horrifying escalations with for years?

Here is an article from early 2015 in which Clinton calls for increased US military support in Ukraine. Here is an article from September 2015 about Russia beginning airstrikes in Syria at Assad’s request. Here is an article from October 2015 about bloodthirsty neocon John McCain’s support for Hillary Clinton’s proposed no-fly zone in Syria, which is unquestionably an act of war and which would by that point have involved a direct confrontation with the Russian air force to implement. Here is a New York Times article from 2013 revealing that this no-fly zone would have required 70,000 ground troops to invade and dismantle Assad’s anti-aircraft capabilities before the US could take control of Syria’s air space.

Here is an article from June 2015 titled “Hillary Clinton’s hawkish position on Russia troubles both sides of aisle,” which says explicitly, “Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has pivoted left on domestic issues but stands out on foreign policy as more hawkish than some of her GOP rivals, even stoking fears that she’s ready to put the U.S. on a warpath with Russia.”

She was heating things up with Russia prior to the hacking allegations, she heated them up even more after the hacking allegations, and she and her fellow establishment loyalists are continuing to find excuses to heat things up with Russia long after the hacking allegations. This same country is now on the receiving end of sanctions and provocative troop amassment along its border, escalated by the outgoing Obama administration in response to this alleged election meddling.

What are the odds? What are the odds that the country which is alleged to have both “hacked the election” and colluded with Trump is the same country that has long been the center of Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy? It’s just very interesting to note that there has been a hawkish agenda against Putin at the top of the US power establishment since long before the establishment media turned him into the national boogieman that he is today.

Which brings us to our next point:

14. The US power establishment stands everything to gain by lying to the American people about Russia.

America’s unelected power establishment has been trying to gain control of Syria for a long, long time, and Russia’s direct military involvement in that strategically crucial nation has thrown a major monkey wrench in those plans. The fact that Putin is taking such bold actions, as well as annexing the strategically valuable Crimean peninsula from America’s puppet regime in Ukraine and collaborating with China to undermine the hegemony of the US dollar in the east means the US power establishment must push for regime change not just in Damascus, but in Moscow as well. And it is openly admitting to its desire to do this; Congressman Eric Swalwell told Fox’s Tucker Carlson in March that the plan for Russia is to “squeeze their economy” with “tougher sanctions” to the point that it “cuts off Russia from the rest of the world” in order to “hurt [Putin’s] popularity”.

In order to escalate tensions with a nuclear superpower for nothing but geopolitical power that benefits nobody other than a few plutocrats, America’s power establishment needs to manufacture the consent of the governed. Without that consent, they’d be dealing with 320 million angry, heavily-armed Americans who’ve got a problem with the way their government is risking their lives by playing nuclear brinkmanship with NATO troop amassment along the Russian border and a needless military presence in Syria.

If you look at these things in light of the rhetoric and behavior coming from Hillary Clinton and the Washington establishment both before and after the hacking allegations surfaced, all you see is a pre-existing agenda being justified and advanced. You see “Saddam has WMDs”.

Which takes us to our next point:

15. This is the same power establishment that lied to us about WMDs.

“So at this point, the American people themselves need to take some responsibility in terms of understanding that we have had such a history of this being the status quo, the way that the United States justifies and launches wars. Our premise should be — they’re going to lie to us. And our burden of real proof should be through the roof.”
~ Debbie Lusignan

There was a right side of the debate and a wrong side of the debate on the issue of whether or not US and coalition forces should invade Iraq and depose Saddam. These same Russiagaters would have been demonizing us as subversive, treasonous monsters for expressing skepticism over the “weapons of mass destruction” narrative and the value of regime change in Iraq. We would’ve been on the right side of the debate, and these neocon establishment loyalists swallowing the official narrative of the mass media would have been on the wrong side.

Whenever people try to tell me I’m a paranoid conspiracy theorist for saying the entire political establishment and its corporate media mouthpieces could all be brought on board with the task of selling the American people on a lie, I tell them that this is literally exactly what happened with Iraq. When you’ve got a corporatist system wherein just a handful of extremely powerful plutocrats own virtually all media in the United States, this isn’t difficult to do. The media-owning plutocrats who benefit from the status quo hire people who will advance that status quo. If anyone with an ounce of integrity happens to slip through their screening system, as Phil Donahue did, they are fired and replaced by someone who will toe the establishment line.

Donahue had MSNBC’s highest-rated show in 2003, and yet he was let go in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. A leaked MSNBC internal memo revealed that he was let go because he would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war…. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” The memo warned that the Donahue show could become “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

So it’s actually extremely unreasonable to believe that these media outlets don’t promote hawkish agendas when given the chance, and the wide bipartisan support for the Iraq invasion shows that this support for those agendas enjoys fertile ground in Washington as well. These people will lie to us. These people do lie to us. These people are lying to us to manufacture support for a geopolitical power grab and regime change in Moscow and Damascus.

16. The US power establishment is lying about the threat Putin poses.

One of the leading arguments for a “strong” stance against Russia is that Putin poses a threat to surrounding countries, citing Russia’s “invasion” of Crimea in 2014 as evidence that he may “invade” other nations. Stephen F. Cohen is arguably the foremost American authority on US-Russia relations, and he says there is “no evidence” that Russia has any intention of invading anybody.

More importantly, the notion that Russia “invaded” Crimea is one of the most ridiculous and easily-debunked lies being promulgated by the US power establishment today. Russia didn’t “invade” Crimea anymore than my friend “invaded” my home when I invited her over for tea; the Crimeans held a referendum asking whether or not they wanted to be a part of Ukraine or Russia, and they overwhelmingly chose Russia. This is an indisputable fact, by the way: American polling found that the overwhelming majority of Crimea’s residents favored the Russian annexation and believed Ukraine should honor it, and a year later a German polling company found that this had not changed.

That’s it. That’s the full extent of the big, scary “Russian expansionism” being touted by people who want you to desire a conflict with Russia. Crimea found itself at odds with Ukraine’s ousting of its president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, its people wanted to go to Russia, and Russia made that happen. Crimea is a strategically and culturally significant location, and its people saw themselves as Soviet/Russian more than Ukrainian but lost in the shuffle of the shifting borders of that region, so it was a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Crimea and Russia. And yet corporate media frequently tries to compare the annexation to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. That is stupid.

Do you believe that the state of Texas should be returned to Mexico, regardless of what the people of Texas want? Because exactly the same thing happened with Texas; the overwhelming majority of Texans wanted to be part of the US, and the US made it happen, despite Mexico’s angry objections and refusal to acknowledge Texas’ sovereignty. Forcing the Crimeans to go back to Ukrainian rule regardless of what they want would be exactly as insane as forcing Texans to go back under Mexican rule regardless of what they want, right down to the way they don’t even speak the same language; just as most Texans speak English instead of Spanish,most Crimeans speak Russian instead of Ukrainian.

Most of the promoters of anti-Russia vitriol don’t even know how to pronounce Crimea (Russiagate queen Maxine Waters called it “Korea” in February), let alone understand these basic dynamics. If you object to the Crimean annexation, you are just plain wrong. The notion that the people of Crimea shouldn’t be allowed to determine their nationality is just as much a depraved American supremacist neocon position as thinking it’s okay for the US to depose a sovereign nation’s leaders through military force. The Russians were right to honor the will of the Crimean people, and there is no reason to believe it means they’ll be “invading” anything.

Rob Snyder writes:

[T]he US is the aggressor in Ukraine and all of the middle east and Africa, and Russia has finally opposed this aggression, in Crimea, and Syria. So American policy (hegemony) is to go to war with Russia (no power can exist that limits American power). The Russia-gate media project is part of the war against Russia, which the US will escalate, particularly if the media/propaganda war is allowed to continue unchallenged. Therefore these links are relevant:
(1) Seumas Milne, It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war, The Guardian, 30 April, 2014
(2) Seumas Milne, In Ukraine, fascists, oligarchs and western expansion are at the heart of the crisis, The Guardian, 29 January, 2014
(3) Robert Parry, What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis, Consortium News, 2 March, 2014
(4) Christopher Booker, Fresh evidence of how the West lured Ukraine into its orbit, The Telegraph, 9 August, 2014
(5) Ukraine: far-right extremists at core of ‘democracy’ protest, Channel 4, 24 January, 2014
(6) Remarks at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Conference, US Department of State, 13 December, 2013
(7) Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call, BBC News, 7 February, 2014
(8) House grilled Nuland over US’ Cooperation with Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, NSNBC International, 9 May, 2014
(9) Ukraine Coup: Obama Admits to ‘Brokering Power Transition’ in Kiev, The Pontiac Tribune, 2 Feb, 2015
(10) Tony Cartalucci, West visits newly installed regime in Kiev, New Eastern Outlook, 23 April, 2014
(11) US vice president Joe Biden meets Ukraine’s acting prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk in Kiev, ABC News, 23 april, 2014
(12) Tony Cartalucci, Ukraine and the Battle for South Stream, New Eastern Outlook, 27 June, 2014

17. The US power establishment is lying about Syria.

Another thing establishment loyalists cite as evidence of “Russian expansionism” to justify their xenophobia and McCarthyism is Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Their narrative, if you really examine it closely, boils down to a bizarre notion that both Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have a strange fetish for the gratuitous killing of civilians, but Bashar didn’t want to hog all the butchery to himself so he invited his buddy Vlad over to join in the bloodbath. Putin, for whatever reason, didn’t feel like dropping bombs on any of the civilians closer to home, so he obliged. This is seriously their underlying premise. A lot of them haven’t examined it very closely — they just espoused it without thinking too hard about it — but this is really the only way their “Putin and Assad are vicious killers who’ve teamed up to slaughter civilians” narrative makes any sense.

In reality, Russia and Syria are longtime allies, and the Russian military is in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government. Here is a video clip of award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh telling Democracy NOW that his sources had been telling him that any moderate rebels in Syria had been “overrun”, and that this was known since the “beginning of the year.” This interview was in 2013.

Since the only forces left fighting the pro-Assad coalition are extremist jihadist factions, Putin argues that Russia is in Syria to prevent Syria from becoming another Libya — another collapsed state ruled by terror and chaos. That’s his stated agenda; surely Putin also wants to keep the US from taking control of yet another key strategic location via regime change intervention, but that isn’t what Americans are being told, because the American people would never consent to another war over fossil fuels and resources.

So they lie. They tell you it’s about protecting children.

CNN’s collaboration with the Bana Alabed psy-op is enough to completely destroy any notion that the mainstream media is telling the truth about Syria. The fact that such a mainstream news organization knowingly staged a fake interview featuring a seven year-old girl who can’t speak English reading scripted war propaganda to CNN’s unsuspecting audience necessarily means there’s no valid reason for anyone to ever believe these horrible people ever again. The fact that CNN knowingly participated in such a profoundly deceitful, manipulative, and morally evil thing means that there is nothing you can put past them.

Watch this video. The girl is definitely not speaking in the conversational way that a child speaks or using words and concepts that a child would use. You know that this is true. Watch her eyes; she certainly appears to be reading from a teleprompter and sounding the words out syllable-by-syllable. Why would a seven year-old girl be using a teleprompter? Or even if you don’t believe she’s reading from a teleprompter and just reciting from memory while moving her eyes back and forth, who gave her those words to say? Who fed her that script, and why does CNN’s Alisyn Camerota have the other half of it? Why is CNN pretending they’re interviewing a little girl when they’re following a script authored by adults? Why is the host pretending she’s engaging in a real back-and-forth dialogue when she’s spouting scripted lines just like the little girl is?

And when I say that Bana does not understand the sounds she is being made to sound out, I mean she does not understand even the simplest English sentences, let alone the complex scripted ones she recited syllable-by-syllable for CNN. Look at this video shot sometime after her arrival in Istanbul a few months ago where she doesn’t understand a simple question about what food she likes to eat, so she begins reciting a line she’d been fed earlier about saving the children in Syria:

They are lying to you. They’re using small children to manipulate you into supporting military interventionism for the benefit of a few plutocrats. When you have time, please watch this interview with Vanessa Beeley, who explains the elaborate network of lies and propaganda that the west is being fed to manufacture support for intervention in Syria. It’s not happening the way the corporate media liars insist it is happening. They are lying. We know that they are lying to us about Syria, so there is no reason to believe them about Russia, either.

18. The US power establishment has an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for immoral acts of military aggression.

From the Vietnam War to the Gulf War to the Iraq invasion, the corporatist power structures who run the US government have been deceiving the American people into consenting to military responses to non-existent threats. With Vietnam it was the fake Gulf of Tonkin incident. With the Gulf War it was the false Nayirah testimony which convinced Americans that Iraqi soldiers were killing hundreds of premature babies in a Kuwait hospital by removing them from their incubators. With the Iraq invasion it was the weapons of mass destruction lie and the deliberate psy-op by the corporate media to marry the ideas of “Saddam Hussein” and “9/11” in the minds of their viewers, which was so successful that six months after the invasion 70 percent of Americans still believed that Saddam was responsible for the September 11th attacks.

Do you now truly believe that this same power establishment would not lie to you in order to manufacture support for a power grab in Russia and the Middle East, or to pressure a sitting president into playing along with that power grab, or to distract from incriminating emails released by WikiLeaks? Do you truly believe that they would never do such a thing?

19. This epic Twitter rant by the dude with the accurate username deserves its own entry.

20. Even stalwart establishment Democrats are openly acknowledging that there is no proof of Trump-Russia collusion.

Hi there. Still with me? Medium’s read-time estimator says you’ve probably been chewing on this article for about 25 minutes now, if you’ve been reading straight through and haven’t stopped to enjoy any of the awesome videos I’ve included. You may have noticed that throughout those 25 minutes you’ve scarcely read a word about the Trump-Russia collusion allegation itself, which is the alleged scandal that gives Russiagate it’s “-gate” suffix. I covered all those other points first because they address the foundations of everything the Trump-Russia collusion allegation is premised on.

What that means for you is that in order for Russiagate to be true, I have to have been dead wrong about everything you’ve been reading for the last 25 minutes. If Russia didn’t hack the Democratic party and pass the emails on to WikiLeaks, there is no collusion between Trump and Russia to win the 2016 election, since the hacking is what Russia’s half of the bargain is alleged to have looked like. If the pundits and politicians are lying about Putin, then there’s no reason to believe them about Russiagate. If this is all a ploy to manufacture support for escalations with Russia and Syria for the benefit of a few US oligarchs, Russiagate should be aggressively rejected.

And it’s possible that I am wrong about everything I’ve written over the course of the last 6,413 words. But can you at least acknowledge in your heart of hearts that there is reasonable cause to take the official narrative with a grain of salt? Are you 100 percent certain that collaborating with the dangerous escalation of tensions with a nuclear superpower is worthwhile? Are you 100 percent certain that the Democratic party’s singular fixation on this one issue is worthwhile? Are you 100 percent certain that all the stress, tension, McCarthyism and xenophobia are worthwhile?

You shouldn’t be. There is no reason for you to trust those known liars and manipulators. You should disbelieve the things they are telling you until you see a full mountain of rock-solid proof, and thus far what you have seen is pretty much the exact opposite.

These people are openly stating that there is no evidence of collusion, and then citing the absence of evidence as a reason to go digging for evidence in the hope that they find something. That’s not how criminal investigations work; you’re supposed to find a dead body with bullets in it, then gather evidence to find who put the bullets in the body. With Russiagate, there is no body, and there are no bullets, there’s just a bunch of people looking at the president saying “You seem kinda weird, I bet you’ve done something wrong. We need to investigate you and see if we can find evidence of your having committed some sort of crime.”

If this were being done to anyone else, this would never be stood for. A police department singling out a civilian and actively digging for evidence that they’ve committed some sort of crime would be seen as unconstitutional and there would be immense public outcry. But because establishment Democrats hate Trump so much and they’re so upset that he won, they’re willing to take a fascist approach to investigations just this one time.

21. The Trump-Russia collusion narrative makes no sense.

Another reason I saved the Trump collusion stuff for last is because I just plain do not like the man, and it annoys me that my desire to be true to the truth gets me stuck in positions where I need to come across as defending him. So I’ve been happy to put this part off, but really, as gross as he is the idea that Trump colluded with Putin to win the 2016 election makes no sense if you think about it.

This argument is hard to address because so few people are even willing to express a clear model of how this alleged collusion is supposed to have happened (see debunkery #27). Hillary Clinton presented a concrete theory as we saw in debunkery #9 of this article, but as we discussed it’s based on the absolutely ridiculous notion that the leaked emails weren’t intrinsically incriminating, and therefore required a sophisticated system of fake news and bots to make them seem inflammatory enough to go viral.

In March we saw a popular story going around that anonymous officials had told CNN the collusion consisted of the Trump campaign giving the Russians a “thumbs up” when it was time to release the allegedly hacked documents to WikiLeaks, which makes no sense whatsoever because Russian hackers wouldn’t need the go-ahead from an American political candidate to share their documents with the goal of swaying voters, they’d just do it.

Then there’s the infamous Christopher Steele dossier which alleges that the collusion takes the form of blackmail, namely that Russians videotaped Trump engaging in vengeful erotic activities with a group of well-hydrated prostitutes and are using that video to blackmail him into a stance on Russia that is identical to Obama’s. The dossier is a joke; its allegations sound made-up, it is full of significant errors, and due to its uncorroborated and highly suspicious nature the only outlet willing to publish it was the “Which One Direction Member Are You?” website Buzzfeed. Oh yeah, and Steele has since acknowledged that parts of his dossier are unverified and that it was never meant to be published.

Other speculative theories I’ve heard in my conversations about this thing are that the collusion was more of an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” nature, but it’s hard to say what that would even look like. There’s been some speculation that it involved “softening” the GOP’s stance on Ukraine, but the revised Republican party platform is arguably more hawkish than the original draft, as was revealed when the original draft finally came to light.

Trump was consistent in his advocacy of non-interventionist foreign policy for years prior to taking office. Clinton Democrats, because they are literally neocons, are unable to conceive of a reality in which someone could think having an amicable relationship with Russia or wanting to stay out of Syria might be a good thing, but Trump’s base largely elected him because of that very platform, which was why so many of them were outraged when Trump launched a missile strike on a Syrian airbase two months ago.

Which come to think of it kind of kills that collusion theory, doesn’t it? If Putin had his hackers steal Democratic emails in exchange for Trump espousing a more pro-Russia stance than the one he already had, one would expect him to become more pro-Russia, not less. Certainly not striking a Syrian airbase, giving the okay to arrest Julian Assange of “Russian WikiLeaks” fame, amassing troops in Syria, repeatedly attacking pro-Assad forces, or saying relations with Russia were at an “all-time low” while maintaining all the dangerous provocations along Russia’s border.

Robert Parry makes some more convincing arguments in an article titled “The Missing Logic of Russia-gate”, pointing out some major plot holes in the establishment’s Michael Flynn narrative, the bizarre amount of emphasis being placed on RT’s programming, and the absurd arguments being made about it. Parry also points out the ridiculousness of the collusion narrative which asserts that Putin was able to magically foretell that Trump could become president back when everyone else scoffed at the possibility, which enabled him to begin grooming Trump as a Kremlin puppet years in advance, yet Putin also lacked the ability to foretell all the trouble Russiagate would cause him.

Parry also points out how it would make no sense for Putin to want to upset the projected winner of the election Hillary Clinton by publishing embarrassing emails about her, writing,

Those “assessments” also assume that Putin’s motives were to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign, boost Trump and — as FBI Director Comey added on Monday — turn Americans against their democracy.
But there is a counter-argument to that thinking: Assuming that Putin read the polls like everyone else, would he risk infuriating the likely next President of the United States — Hillary Clinton — by embarrassing her with an email leak that would amount to a pinprick? Clinton herself blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director Comey’s decision to briefly reopen the investigation into whether she endangered national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State.
Unless one assumes that Putin’s Ouija board also predicted Comey’s actions or perhaps that Comey is another Russian mole, wouldn’t it be a huge risk for Putin to anger Clinton without ensuring her defeat? There’s the old saying that “if you strike a king, you must kill him,” which would seem to apply equally to a queen. But logical thinking no longer applies to what’s going on in Official Washington.

But for me the biggest plot hole in the collusion theory (which again can only be real if the hacking allegations are true and this isn’t a geopolitical power grab by America’s unelected power establishment) is the lack of proof. There’s nothing any investigation could possibly find that the US intelligence community’s vast, sprawling surveillance networks wouldn’t have found and leaked to the Washington Post in November if it existed to be found. No investigative team is going to find something that the combined efforts of the CIA and the NSA could not. Simple as that.

22. Russiagate can be used to leverage Trump into acting in alignment with establishment interests.

Trump is now unable to make any move that looks even remotely pro-Russian or even not-sufficiently-anti-Russian, no matter how sane that move is, without severe political repercussions. The mass media whips America’s establishment loyalists into a frenzy whenever he looks like he might be resisting the oligarchic agenda a little too much (which is why I secretly relax a bit whenever they’re in full-blown alarmist mode), but shower him with bipartisan praise when he attacks Syria like a good boy.

However…

23. Russiagate can get us all killed.

This carrot-and-stick game mentioned in debunkery #22 can be used to leverage Trump into relatively pro-establishment behavior until they can get him out of office, but it is also extremely dangerous. Russia is (as I’ll never tire of repeating) a nuclear superpower, and as Stephen Cohen recently said,

“You know it’s easy to joke about this, except that we’re at maybe the most dangerous moment in US-Russian relations in my lifetime, and maybe ever. And the reason is that we’re in a new cold war, by whatever name. We have three cold war fronts that are fraught with the possibility of hot war, in the Baltic region where NATO is carrying out an unprecedented military buildup on Russia’s border, in Ukraine where there is a civil and proxy war between Russia and the west, and of course in Syria, where Russian aircraft and American warplanes are flying in the same territory. Anything could happen.”

The fact-free Russia hysteria is being used to pressure Trump into maintaining these omnicidal tensions in the Baltic region, Ukraine and Syria which could blow up any second and lead to a chain of events which see a nuclear warhead being deployed by either side accidentally, on purpose, or a mixture of the two in the chaos of armed conflict, and once one goes off, they all do. As Cohen rightly pointed out in an interview last month with Democracy NOW, imagine how much more dangerous the Cuban Missile Crisis would have been if Kennedy had had to deal with such a situation while also juggling insane pressures to never back down in any area from his own government?

A 2014 report published in the journal Earth’s Future found that it would only take the detonation of 100 nuclear warheads to throw 5 teragrams of black soot into the earth’s stratosphere for decades, blocking out the sun and making the photosynthesis of plants impossible, starving every terrestrial organism to death that didn’t die of radiation or climate chaos first. The United States and Russia currently have about 7,000 nuclear warheads apiece that we know of.

24. The xenophobia is getting scary.

25. The McCarthyism is disgusting.

The reason I prefaced this article with the disclaimer that I am not a Russian shill or propagandist is because I get accused of being one multiple times every single day for pointing out the plot holes in the Russiagate narrative. A madness has seized American political discourse where people can’t just disagree and argue about this subject like normal people arguing about normal political opinions; if you question Russiagate in a public forum, you will be accused of being a paid Kremlin operative trying use deception to harm the American people and undermine the United States government. Not just by one person usually, but by a whole gaggle of people agreeing with each other and validating one another.

This is McCarthyism. This is insanity. Dismissing people who argue with you on the grounds that they are conducting psychological operations on behalf of a hostile government is not a legitimate thing for a human being to do. I may not be American, but that doesn’t make me a Kremlin operative, and the horrifying witch hunt environment that has engulfed the United States makes me glad my American husband and I are here in Australia and not up there.

I am not a shill. I am not a propagandist. I criticize Russiagate because it is stupid, crazy, dangerous, and lacking in any evidence whatsoever. Stop attacking journalists and anyone who speaks out. Stop trying to bully people into shutting up about this thing with your disgusting McCarthyist tactics. It is vile.

26. Hillary has plenty of Russian ties herself.

Pretty much all the frenzied accusations being made about Trump can also be looked at as normal things that have lots and lots of precedent. Jared Kushner sought a “back channel” to Moscow? Kissinger did that for Nixon. Flynn spoke to Russian officials during the transition period? Former ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock says that’s actually standard practice.

People make ties. Powerful people make powerful ties. Trump may be corrupt, but so is virtually everyone else in Washington, and corruption is a far, far cry from treasonous collusion. Until we are shown hard, testable proof that Russia hacked the Democratic party, gave the documents to WikiLeaks with the intention of manipulating the election, and colluded with the Trump campaign to win the 2016 election, there is no reason to pay Russiagate any mind, because his ties to Russia actually look more harmless than Hillary’s.

27. This video of Russiagaters demonstrating with their own words that their schtick arises not from facts or logic, but from a cultish, faith-based belief system.

This is something anyone with any interest in Russiagate of any kind needs to watch. Michael Tracey interviews Russiagaters who cannot clearly articulate their own position and admit that they’re getting their information from known liars like Louise Mensch and the Palmer Report, and Tracey shows how their arguments are premised on a pure, religion-like faith in something that has yet to be established as fact. These people don’t believe what they believe because of facts or evidence, they believe what they believe because they really want to believe it.

And that is it, brothers and sisters! I think I did an okay job of encapsulating the spirit of the bulk of the arguments I was given by my readers in the time I had available, but I’ll probably update this baby periodically and share it around whenever I do. Thank you for reading, thank you to everyone who contributed your brainpower to this effort, thank you to my patrons, and thank you to the hunger for truth which burns in the human heart.

Peace.

— — —

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