In its last months the Obama administration ordered the intelligence agencies to collect and distribute information of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. This to prevent any change by the Trump administration of the hostile policy towards Russia that the Obama administration instituted. The intent was also to give the intelligence services blackmail material against the Trump crew to prevent any changes in their undue, freewheeling independence.
The above is reported in a little discussed New York Times piece published yesterday. The reporting angle captured in the headline is biased to set the Obama efforts into a positive light: Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking.
Make no mistake by straight-reading that headline. Not single shred of evidence has been provided that "Russia hacked the election" or had anything to do with various leaks of Clinton related emails. A lot of fluff and chaff was thrown around but not even one tiny bit of evidence.
The Obama effort was clearly to sabotage the announced policy of the incoming administration of seeking better relations with Russia. Obama intended to undermine the will of the voters by abusing instruments of the state.
Excerpts from the piece:
In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about … possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.
It is completely normal for any campaign, and especially an incoming administration, to have contacts with foreign government officials.
Such contacts are needed to prepare policies and to get the facts right to plan and run a consistent foreign policy. I am very sure that there were hundreds of talks between Trump campaign and incoming administration officials with Israeli, European and Arab officials. These are regular contacts and they do not violate any law. There was and is no reasons at all to pick out talks with Russian officials as something sinister or even illegal. Again – no evidence has been provided that Russia somehow interfered in U.S. elections. None at all. There was no sound reason to give special treatment to campaign contacts with Russia.
American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence.
Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.
Here the NYT is divulging "sources and methods" – usually the holy grail of the intelligence community. U.S. intelligence is intercepting communication "within the Kremlin"? That is surely of interest to Russian counter-intelligence. One also has to ask who ordered the European intelligence services to watch over U.S. contacts with Russia. Were similar orders given to the Dutch secret services to report on contacts of the Clinton campaign with Israeli officials? Undue influencing attempts of Israeli politicians on U.S. policies are legend. Were they watched? If not why not?
Mr. Trump has denied that his campaign had any contact with Russian officials, and at one point he openly suggested the American spy agencies had cooked up intelligence suggesting that the Russian government had tried to meddle in the presidential election. Mr. Trump has accused the Obama administration of hyping the Russia story line as a way to discredit his new administration.
Guess what – Trump is right. The "Russian hacking" story is not backed by any evidence at all. It IS cooked up. And to say Trump "accused" the Obama administration of attempts to "discredit his new administration" is quite weak. The article says exactly that. How else could one interpret the following section?
As Inauguration Day approached, Obama White House officials grew convinced that the intelligence was damning and that they needed to ensure that as many people as possible inside government could see it, even if people without security clearances could not. Some officials began asking specific questions at intelligence briefings, knowing the answers would be archived and could be easily unearthed by investigators — including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which in early January announced an inquiry into Russian efforts to influence the election.
At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies. This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia, a secret wiki used by American analysts to share information.
There was also an effort to pass reports and other sensitive materials to Congress. In one instance, the State Department sent a cache of documents marked “secret” to Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland days before the Jan. 20 inauguration.
The "intelligence community", it is specifically the CIA here which campaigned on the Clinton side, manipulated the classification of secrets for the sole purpose of instigating witch-hunt investigations against the incoming Trump administration. Such secrets were then used to decapitate the Trump administration with the first casualty being his selected national security advisor Flynn. We currently see an attack on the administration's attorney general Session for a routine talk with the Russian ambassador. This based on "Justice department officials", i.e. FBI flunkies. Why would they know who Session legitimately met in his function as U.S. Senator?
Slandered intelligence analysis was classified in low categories with the aim of distributing it far and wide and to practically guarantee that it would "leak" to the media. The real facts though were hidden as much as possible to provide no material for the Trump administration's defense.
The opposite happened with the most sensitive intelligence, including the names of sources and the identities of foreigners who were regularly monitored. Officials tightened the already small number of people who could access that information. They knew the information could not be kept from the new president or his top advisers, but wanted to narrow the number of people who might see the information, officials said.
Everyone was to receive the slander "analysis" the intelligence services provided but no one was supposed to know the sources and the real facts. This would make sure that the anti-Russia and anti-Trump "analysis" would leak but not the weak bits of facts it is based upon.
To repeat: The Obama administration and the intelligence services spared no effort to sabotage the policies of the incoming Trump administration and prepared the grounds for baseless investigation against it. A lot of dirt is now thrown based on that effort and the hope is that some may stick.
The whole effort by the Obama administration started only after Trump was elected:
In early December, Mr. Obama ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full assessment of the Russian campaign.
In the weeks before the assessment was released in January, the intelligence community combed through databases for an array of communications and other information — some of which was months old by then — and began producing reports that showed there were contacts during the campaign between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Again – there is nothing illegal with such contacts. These are routine and happen all the time. U.S. ambassadors all over the world routinely talk with local politicians in foreign countries. The Russian ambassadors do nothing different. This is known as diplomacy. There was no reason for the incoming administration to avoid such contacts with German, South African, Japanese or Russian officials or semi-officials. They intelligence community knows that there is no evidence that Russia interfered in the election. If it had any it would have long provided it. The ffort is specifically against the announced Russia policy.
Trump was election in part because he promised better relations with Russia. What the intelligence services do here is to undermine the will of the people.
As Joanne Leon opined:
Need to recognize this for what it is. The incumbent president used SkyNet to try to rig election and as blackmail tool on his successor
Building on the illegal moves of the Cheney administration Obama installed and empowered the intelligence instruments and the precedence for such manipulations. Not since the worst days of J. Edgar Hoover has the U.S. seen such an interior assault on politicians and policies.
Trump now hired some partisan Russia expert from the Clinton aligned Brookings to run Russia policy in the NSC. She will institute anti-Russian bias in his policies. This would not have happened under a national security advisor Flynn. For now the Obama assault on Trump's announced policy has succeeded. Those who voted for Trump for a change in Russia policies have been disenfranchised.
I do not prefer Trump policies. Flynn was a maniac and Session is a crazy fossil. But that does not justify this anti-democratic abuse of the foreign policy instruments of the state against the political opponents within the country.
Obama created these tools and now left them for the Trump administration to use. They will come back to haunt the Democrats. What will they say and do when the Trump administration will use these against them?