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The Future of U.S. - Russian Relations

United States Russia Vladimir Putin Hillary Clinton International diplomacy

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#541
caltrek

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Btw, the (rhetorical) question to Caltrek and others: don't you think that openly declared aim "to split the Russian elite and offer prominent Russians the option to live safely in the West" is a clear and obvious meddling, much more serious than those mystical and elusive "Russian hackers"

 

 

I have already addressed these sort of questions in a general way:

 

 

 

Mind you, I do agree that the U.S. has been involved, using similar tactics, in destabilizing other regimes. Sometimes even regimes that have gained power through largely democratic means.Where that has happened, I have been critical of those actions. As I have said before, I am critical of such actions when undertaken by U.S. operatives, therefore, it is not inconsistent on my part to be critical of such actions when undertaken against the U.S. I do agree that indeed "history is not without irony." I also agree that American elites can, at times, be more than arrogant.

 

Further, a main target of my criticism is Trump, and the apparent collaboration and related coordination of at least elements of his campaign with Russian efforts.  Particularly, efforts that go beyond a diplomat's speech before a receptive audience.  Efforts that involve such things as hacking into private correspondences and other espionage activities that would be in violation of domestic laws had they been carried out by native operatives.  Trump's efforts to obstruct justice in the investigation of such possible collaboration in my mind is an impeachable offense.

 

 

I also think that we are going to find out that it is not just "Russian hackers" that are at issue.  Business deals between Russian investors and high Trump campaign officials arealso at issue.  Including deals involving Trump's own business empire.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#542
Alislaws

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Sure, Don't misunderstand me, Russia has certainly interfered in the US elections in a number of ways and trump has a lot of business ties to Russia that need to be investigated in detail. 

 

It is certainly in the USA's interests to sort this out. 

 

I'm Just saying the level of outrage from the majority of US sources about this is pretty funny considering these same people would have seen absolutely nothing wrong with the USA doing the same thing in reverse.

 

Imagine if you saw a Facebook add a few years ago (before all this stuff happened): "Kickstarter to help fund opposition parties in Russia to overthrow Putin's authoritarian Regime" organised by a bunch of apparently well meaning pro democracy Americans. Would you have thought about Russian sovereignty? Would the majority of Americans? 

 

If US officials were standing up and saying "well we screwed up, should have seen this coming a mile away, we will be taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen again" that's one thing, But all this outrage and the efforts to punish the Russians just looks wholly hypocritical to the rest of the world.



#543
TheComrade

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Funny news: in responce to US renaming of square with Russian embassy, Moscow city administration plans to change the mailing address of US embassy to "North-American Impasse, building 1" :)



#544
TheComrade

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This is not exactly about US - Russian relations, but close enough and doesn't worth a new thread.

 

Dutch foreign minister admits lying about Putin comments

 

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra admitted on Monday he had lied about hearing Russian President Vladimir Putin make comments about plans for a “greater Russia”, unleashing a storm of criticism.

 

“I told an untruth, it was unacceptable,” he told reporters. Zijlstra, who is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in two days’ time, said he had been “stupid” and regretted his behavior.
 
While election campaigning two years ago, Zijlstra said that in 2006 he had been at Putin’s dacha when he heard the Kremlin leader speak of plans for a “greater Russia” which would include some of Russia’s neighbors.
 

And one day later:

 

Dutch foreign minister quits after admitting lie about meeting Russia's Putin

 

Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra resigned on Tuesday, a day after conceding he had lied about personally hearing Vladimir Putin speak about plans to create a “Greater Russia” in 2006.

 

What a fool! He would not confess and continue his career. And if every Western politician who ever lied about Russia will confess, who will then remain in office?



#545
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U.S. Strikes Killed Scores of Russia Fighters Mercenaries in Syria, Sources Say

 

U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.

 
More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured.
 
The Russian assault may have been a rogue operation, underscoring the complexity of a conflict that started as a domestic crackdown only to morph into a proxy war involving Islamic extremists, stateless Kurds and regional powers Iran, Turkey and now Israel. Russia’s military said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. accepted the claim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the whole thing “perplexing,” but provided no further details.
Christ, imagine waking up to this headline.


#546
TheComrade

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OMG, i vowed to not answer, but:

 

More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces...

 

Look at these photos, this is the result of ordinary battle in Abu al-Duhur pocket:

 

Spoiler

 

And now imagine the destroyed battalion-size military column: bunch of burnt vehicles, blood and corpses everywhere, brave US soldiers and their Kurdish minions proudly posing near to these corpses... where is it? Where is the photo evidence? So far, nothing... but why? Don't you find it a bit strange?

 

Actually, the only "photo evidence" i saw was this naive fake:

 

1518371948_1.jpeg

 

Which was made from Martian landscape:

 

1518371959_3.jpeg

 

...combined with Ukrainian army defeated in Illovaisk pocket of 2014:

 

1518371990_2.jpeg

 

Really? And this is all what you have?

 

Second, believe it or not, Russia is an open society. You can not hide the death of 200 people in one single day. Thousands of other people will immediately start asking angry questions.

 

Btw, i also heard the version that this whole story was actually the US "friendly fire" on Kurdish column. Very precise and successful "friendly fire", i must admit, which killed about 300 Kurdish militants... and to cover this "mistake", they invented the cool story about "hundreds of Russian mercenaries" and glorious victory over them. Why not? At least this would perfectly explain why there is no any photo evidence.


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#547
Mike the average

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Western media is useless and full of propaganda. But in this latest story of claiming to have killed all these russians is more than the typical claim. It is a popular thing to insult Syria and Iran even with false stories. But as soon as you put Russian deaths in there, it is fighting words. Russia are also claiming that they dont care for mercenaries. This will also add speculation Russian forces pose as mercenaries, as we have seen elsewhere. False story or not there is no difference, Putin would be pissed off.
'Force always attracts men of low morality' - Einstein
'Great spirits always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds' - Einstein

#548
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Nice photos, but just a few notes: what you have pictured there is a bunch of dead bodies (could be anywhere and anytime in the Middle East), some fat guy's face with the ruins of a house (could be any house in the Middle East), and the ruins of a vehicle (again could be an image from 2014, who knows). In any case, the circumstances of this particular conflict were likely not the same as any old rebel-vs-rebel battle. I mean, getting bombed doesn't leave much of a body to collect, so the lack of bodies isn't too much of a surprise. I wouldn't expect any US soldier to be posing with corpses, unless the pilots decide to abandon their aircraft and parachute down to the bodies. As for the other pictures, I don't know if you actually saw those photos as evidence of Deir Ezzor (I've been looking for half an hour, can't find the same ones), but that's the problem with anecdotal evidence. Speaking of lack of evidence, your last paragraph contradicts what you said earlier: if the US accidentally killed 300 Kurds, where are the photos? Where are the outraged families? 

 

I'll admit though, the article I posted jumped the gun in quoting the Russian sources who initially came up with the figure of 200 Russians killed. Other Western media sources have been cautious to use these figures. What is being corroborated by other news sources, including Russian sources, is that so far at least 4 Russian mercenaries have been confirmed KIA in this incident. According to Novaya Gazeta (I don't know how trustworthy this is), 15 Russians were killed. In any case, the figures that most sources seem to agree on are clearly way lower than the figure from the previous article. It's interesting however, that the figure of 200 dead came from Russian sources apparently: this could have either been an attempt to make Russia's presence in Syria look bad, or an attempt by certain Russians who wished to provoke retaliation against the US. It's too bad Bloomberg used it without verifying first, I'll make sure to avoid quoting them on matters like this in the future.



#549
TheComrade

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I mean, getting bombed doesn't leave much of a body to collect, so the lack of bodies isn't too much of a surprise.

 

Then how did they knew that these 200 killed men were Russians? Or that there were exactly 200 of them and not 100 or 300? If there is no a single recognizable body, there should be burnt vechicles whose photos would say a lot to specialists...

 

I wouldn't expect any US soldier to be posing with corpses

 

Kurds would definitety do it to prove the victory. And Americans would definitely do it few hours later (the event allegedly happened on their territory).

 

I don't know if you actually saw those photos as evidence of Deir Ezzor (I've been looking for half an hour, can't find the same ones)

 

How is it? Google Image Search is not so hard...

 

According to Novaya Gazeta (I don't know how trustworthy this is)

 

Pro-Western liberal newspaper. This mean they're tend to mock / underestimate the Russian achievements as well as mock / overestimate the troubles. But they're still relatively moderate unlike of...

 

It's interesting however, that the figure of 200 dead came from Russian sources apparently: this could have either been an attempt to make Russia's presence in Syria look bad, or an attempt by certain Russians who wished to provoke retaliation against the US.

 

Yes, these sources are well known. This is Igor Strelkov, once the prominent leader of "Russian Spring" and now the furious critic of Putin (which sent him into political abyss). Plus Strelkov's ally blogger El-Murid. Strelkov was careful and tried to use phrases like "unconfirmed" and "probably fake". During few days, these posts were multiplied by others, 200 corpses quickly became "600" and "at least 600" while "unconfirmed, probably fake" evaporated.

 

=== === ===

 

Here is the Official Russian version and as long as there is no reliable evidence, there is nothing to even discuss. I've read a lot of such stories in 2014: "Once again we, brave Ukrainians, won a brilliant victory and killed a lot of enemies. Alas, our cameras were discharged, so..."

 

Since then "my camera was discharged..." became a meme in Runet.



#550
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In addition: the full collection of fake "evidence" (incl. those Martian photos) and those who was caught posting them. Plus another version of what "actually" happened there (in short: small group of "ISIS hunters" accidentally revealed the hidden US military camp and were killed for this). In Russian.

 

PS very good summary for this whole story:

 

20588243.png

 

"The private contractor "Wagner" reporting: two hundreds of our guys were killed by Girkin and El-Murid in Photoshop. The only survivor found a shelter in the Curiosity rover and is waiting for the red Tesla to return to Earth."


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#551
Maximus

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Alright, clearly 200 Russians weren't killed. When I woke up and saw that headline, the next headline I was expecting to see was "Russian Jets strike US Military Base in Response to Earlier American Attack", which needless to say is enough to make anyone shit their pants.  It was also very misleading as they used "Russian fighters" instead of mercenaries, which made it sound like actual Russian soldiers were killed.

 

Still, even the 4 confirmed Russian deaths should concern us, as these weren't just random Russian citizens who ran off to join ISIS or something; these guys were employed by a well known private Russian military firm. Is there really no reaction in Russia? I understand that many Russians might be more irritated by how this is being portrayed by certain sources in the West, but even 4 deaths should raise some reaction. I'm sure if the roles were reversed (i.e. Russian jets kill Blackwater fighters) there would be some anger in the US.

 

Anyway, it's not a good sign that the situation has degenerated to the point that Americans and Russians (albeit not "official" Russians) are able to engage each other in Syria. 



#552
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Anyway, it's not a good sign that the situation has degenerated to the point that Americans and Russians (albeit not "official" Russians) are able to engage each other in Syria. 

 

Of course this is not good, and this is only the beginning. You're already know my views and I don't wish to repeat myself only to be called (once again) "paranoid / fascist prick"... so that, here we stop.



#553
caltrek

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More than just robocalls.

 

Russians Sentenced for Roles in Massive Data Breach

 

https://www.courthou...ve-data-breach/

 

 

(Courthouse News) – Two Russian hackers who were key players in one of the largest, most brazen data breaches involving the theft of 160 million credit card numbers were sentenced Wednesday to a combined 16 years in prison.

 

Vladimir Drinkman, a Russian citizen, pleaded guiltyin 2015 to committing the biggest data breach ever prosecuted by the U.S. government: hacking 17 corporate networks – including at Nasdaq, 7-Eleven, JetBlue, and others – and stealing more than 160 million credit card numbers.

 

Three of the corporations targeted reported losses of more than $300 million combined. The biggest hit was credit-card processing company Heartland Payment Systems, which reported losses of $200 million.

 

From 2005 to 2012, Drinkman and four others hacked the corporate networks used for financial transactions, with Drinkman specializing in penetrating network security and then mining the networks for personal information.

 

Authorities say the hackers exploited vulnerabilities in special programming language at corporate networks, infiltrated the networks, and then inserted malicious code into the systems, allowing “back door” access for the data thieves.

hacking-code.jpg?resize=300%2C200


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#554
Maximus

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Alright, clearly 200 Russians weren't killed. 

Woah, not so fast there. Apparently some of the surviving Russian mercenaries have begun speaking out about what happened. Polygraph.info, admittedly a Voice of America funded website, got hold of a few taped calls with some Russian mercenaries who supposedly took part in the incident

 

 

In the first audio clip, a man says “one squadron fucking lost 200 people …right away, another one lost 10 people… and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too... So three squadrons took a beating.”

 
The man explains that American forces used artillery and helicopter gunships to repel the assault. “They were all shelling the holy fuck out of it and our guys didn’t have anything besides the assault rifles… nothing at all, I'm not even talking about shoulder-fired SAMs or anything like that… they tore us to pieces, put us through hell,” he says.
 
The speaker is also critical of the Russian government’s response to the incident, saying, “They beat our asses like we were little pieces of shit... but our fucking government will go in reverse now and nobody will respond or anything and nobody will punish anyone for this.”
 
"My guys just called me, they are sitting there drinking, many are MIA, it's a total fuck-up, another humiliation... nobody gives a fuck about us." 

Looking back, this is in line with what I initially said: of course there isn't any photo evidence of piles of bodies, if US forces used this sort of fire power against foot soldiers. Might find an arm or a leg here and there, but getting hit by an artillery shell isn't the same as getting shot by some rebel with an ak-47.

 

 

I mean, getting bombed doesn't leave much of a body to collect, so the lack of bodies isn't too much of a surprise.

 

Then how did they knew that these 200 killed men were Russians? Or that there were exactly 200 of them and not 100 or 300? If there is no a single recognizable body, there should be burnt vechicles whose photos would say a lot to specialists...

Why would there be any photos? By the sounds of it, there were no Kurds or otherwise to pose with any bodies. It sounds like this was solely between US military and a ragtag column of mercenaries and pro-government fighters. If the US forces did take any photos, they're probably classified. This is a real military, with laws and procedure that have to be strictly obeyed, not some ragtag group of rebels whose first thought is to post it on liveleak. Of course they knew how many there were initially; it's not that hard to count when a group of a few hundred people is approaching a military location. Surely there were surveillance cameras, drones, and other other aircraft equipped with cameras in the area if US forces were being attacked. How did they know they were Russian? Military intelligence probably intercepted communications with Wagner, who knows. They probably knew the convoy was coming long before it arrived. The US certainly has the ability and will to spy on such communications, especially if its soldiers are about to attacked. If not, then certainly while the convoy was getting shelled and radioing for help, or when they were retreating. Or maybe at the end, there were a few somewhat intact bodies left that didn't look very Syrian. It was probably some combination of all of this.

 

Anyway, more information seems to be coming out about what happened. We've gone from no casualties, to admitting 3-5 dead, to admitting several dead and dozens wounded. The truth gets out eventually.



#555
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Goodbye Arms Control, Hello Arms Race? 

 

http://www.worldaffa...g-new-arms-race

 

Introduction:

 

(Rado Free Europe) WASHINGTON -- If it hasn’t started already, then a new arms race is almost certainly about to get under way, arms-control experts and analysts warn.

 

With his announcement that Russia has developed new strategic weapons, including a nuclear-powered missile that he said can fly indefinitely and evade U.S. missile defenses, President Vladimir Putin grabbed the attention of policymakers, military experts, and legislators from Washington to Berlin.

 

He made clear that was the intention and laid the blame on a 16-year-old grievance over a collapsed arms control treaty with the United States.

 

“Nobody listened to us then,” Putin said in his March 1 live televised speech before hundreds of lawmakers and other officials. “Well, listen up now.”

 

Moscow and Washington, which combined hold some 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, have both made clear shifts in policy regarding their arsenals.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#556
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As our Russian friends seem no longer interested in defending their country, or at least Vladimir Putin, I thought I would post the following from Counterpunch. 

 

 

The Skripal Poisonings and the Ongoing Vilification of Putin

 

https://www.counterp...ation-of-putin/

 

 

Introduction:

 

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent on March 4 on a park bench in Salisbury, England.

 

Skripal had been a Russian double agent, a spy who turned over 300 names of Russian spies to British intelligence from 1995 to 2004. He was (not so surprisingly) arrested in Russia in 2004 and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. He was released in a spy-swap in 2010, settled in the UK and became a British citizen.

 

I see no reason to judge his moral character, although some might reflect that in Kantian general terms what he did was rather bad. (In precisely the same sense that it would be bad for a British citizen to become a double agent for Russia.) Double agents are often punished harshly; this is the way of the world.

 

Skripal posed no further threat to the Russian state. There is at least one report that he sought to return to Russia recently. It’s hard to comprehend why at this time Moscow would poison him and his young daughter visiting from Russia with a nerve agent (Novichok) created in the USSR from the 1970s but subsequently banned and destroyed under international supervision. Cui bono? Who profits from these poisonings?

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Had Hillary won, I would probably have found some logic and predictability in her evil. With Trump the evil unfolds erratically. He drops a MOAB on Afghanistan (or his generals do, without necessarily consulting). He attacks a Syrian army base in response to an unproven sarin attack. His cabinet members contradict him, espousing the gospel truth that Russia and its allies such as Syria are threats to U.S. national security, whatever that is. One feels that as his personal situation deteriorates, the president will be more prone to lean on his generals, and listen to their advice while also heeding the horrific Bolton. This is a very bad situation.

 

 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#557
caltrek

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Speaking of the Skripal poisonings.

 

Putin hits back over Skripal expulsions by closing US consulate in St Petersburg

 

https://www.thenatio...rsburg-1.717241

 

Introduction:

 

(Introduction) Russia hit back at the US’s earlier expulsion of 60 diplomats and shut down the Russian consulate general in Seattle.

 

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the US ambassador had been informed of “retaliatory measures”, saying that “they include the expulsion of the equivalent number of diplomats and our decision to withdraw permission for the functioning of the US consulate general in Saint Petersburg”.

 

What bothers me about this is that the kleptocrats will keep talking to each other, while government to government communications will be severely curtailed. As the Counterpunch article concluded: "a very bad situation."  


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#558
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White House walks back Nikki Haley's Russia sanctions talk

 

https://www.politico...anctions-526856

 

Introduction:

 

(Politico) President Donald Trump walked back U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s assertion on Sunday that the administration would be imminently announcing another round of sanctions against Russia.

 

A White House official told POLITICO Monday that Trump had not signed off on the sanctions, despite Haley’s Sunday comments on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that they would be announced as soon as Monday.

 

The administration had reviewed a series of options as part of the response to the chemical attack in Syria earlier this month, including the sanctions on Russian entities, but Trump had not officially approved them, the official said.

 

"The sanctions were always something that was just under consideration," the official said, adding, "We would not have rolled out sanctions through somebody saying them on a Sunday show."

 

The official added that Trump had not totally ruled out additional sanctions, but was not prepared to move forward with them at this time. Trump’s decision was first reported by the Washington Post.

 

 

So Trump gets to play the role of an indecisive fence sitter, while Nikki Haley gets to look tough.  Can anybody say "good cop, bad cop"?   


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#559
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Accused Funder of Russian Troll Farm Pleads Not Guilty

 

https://www.courthou...ads-not-guilty/

 

Introduction:

 

WASHINGTON (Courthouse News) – One of the Russian companies that special counsel Robert Mueller has accused of funding the troll farms used to disrupt the 2016 presidential election pleaded not guilty Wednesday in U.S. federal court.

 

Eric Dubelier, an attorney with the firm Reed Smith, said St. Petersburg-based Concord Management and Consulting LLC authorized him to enter the plea.

 

“We exercise our right to a speedy trial,” Dubelier said during a 15-minute arraignment hearing this afternoon.

 

Dubelier said his client Concord is aware of the pending charge, conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum fine of $500,000.

 

The firm is one of two controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and caterer known as “Putin’s chef” for his ties to the Russian president. Of the three companies and 13 Russian nationals that Mueller’s team indicted on Feb. 16, Concord Management and Consulting is the first to respond to the charges.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#560
caltrek

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Senate Report Implies Russian Hacking Story Was A Public Service - But Related Whistleblower Remains in Jail

 

https://theintercept...reality-winner/

 

Introduction:

 

(The Intercept) PRESS COVERAGE OF Russian intelligence attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems during the 2016 election played an important role in alerting state elections officials to the threat because government warnings were inadequate, according to a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week.

 

The most detailed such news story, based on a classified National Security Agency document, appeared in The Intercept last June. A former NSA contractor, Reality Winner, has been charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking a top-secret document describing the Russian attempt to penetrate voting software. The Intercept received the document featured in its June 5, 2017 Russian hacking story anonymously. (This reporter is the director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund, a division of The Intercept’s nonprofit parent company, First Look Media Works, which has contributed funds to Winner’s defense.)

 

In implicitly conceding the impact of The Intercept’s story, as well as other coverage, the new Senate report detailing the committee’s investigation of Russian election meddling makes the case that the leak helped state officials around the nation begin to address the threat of Russian hacking into American voting systems. It is a remarkable and paradoxical assertion from a government that has used the full force of the law to pursue Winner for allegedly sharing the document with a news organization. The committee’s conclusions offer strong support for the argument that disclosing the document was in the public interest.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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