10 December 2016

Russian hacking of US elections process: for Trump or against Hillary?

After several months of indecision, CIA came out swinging. The result is expressed in a WaPo headline:

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

The article leaves at least one line of investigation untouched. It also puts the headline's conclusion (Russians rooting for Trump) as the final one. Of course, WaPo is not a PR branch of CIA, but if in that article WaPo faithfully reproduced the CIA findings, they (the findings) smell fishy. It is not unheard of that this mighty intelligence outfit fails to produce a correct assessment of the goings on. But in most cases it was related to predictions and not to the analysis of the past affairs - the hindsight so far worked OK. More or less.

I am not challenging the conclusion about the Russian involvement, far from it. After all, if European media, talking heads and others were so heavily involved in the US elections process, why would SVR/KGB stay away from the occasion to muddy the waters?

Nope, the point that I still can't agree with is the insistence that Russians rooted for Trump. Russian style of managing their international affairs always favored stable and predictable leaders in the seats of power abroad. Why would Russia work to help out a totally unpredictable and mercurial one like Trump and not Hillary, much more stable and predictable? Highly doubtful.

We have to look at the timing and the contents of the leaks to understand their purpose. That same WaPo has quite clearly stated at the time what was the intention of the leaks:

Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.
Lots of other leaks attacked Hillary directly, of course:
Long before Hillary Clinton called millions of Americans a “basket of deplorables,” her top campaign advisers and liberal allies openly mocked Catholics, Southerners and a host of other groups, according to newly released emails that offer a stunning window into the vitriol inside the Clinton world less than a month before Election Day.
The emails, published by WikiLeaks after a hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s private account, also show Clinton campaign officials and Democratic leaders disparaging supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders as “self-righteous” whiners, calling Hispanic party leaders such as Bill Richardson “needy Latinos,” labeling CNN anchor Jake Tapper “a d—k” and even lambasting longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal.
Yes, Hillary clearly was the target, but was the leaking campaign inspired by support for Trump? The timing doesn't figure. The leaks came when the main focus of Hillary's campaign was one Bernard Sanders.

I would say that if there was active SVR involvement, knowing the Russian penchant for predictability and deeply rooted sympathies for the left and far left, the goal was to help out Bern. And this is the line of inquiry totally neglected by the high and mighty in CIA. Why had CIA chosen to produce a conclusion that seems to be so detached from reality? Beats me. Consider me confused. Like this: