The Smoking Gun: Putin’s Specific Instructions for Active Measures Against the United States During the 2016 Presidential Election

The Washington Post reports (emphasis mine):

The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

Specifically:

Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

The White House debated various options to punish Russia, but facing obstacles and potential risks, it ultimately failed to exact a heavy toll on the Kremlin for its election interference.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.

Miller, Nakashima, and Entous’s excellent, detailed reporting now tells us exactly what Putin’s guidance to his subordinates was. It also tells us what his strategic objective was: to elect Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. It is important to be very, very, very clear here about what this reporting tells us. It confirms that not only did Putin order active measures against the United States, specifically during the 2016 presidential election. He did so specifically to damage Secretary Clinton and elect President Trump.  As I wrote in July 2016 we are at (cyber) war. And again in March 2017 – we are at war. The only question now is what do we do about it?

ETA at 1:05 PM EDT

The US government has specific actionable intelligence, that is assessed to be of high confidence, that a hostile foreign power has attacked and continues to attack the United States for its own ends. This is a national security problem. And every part of the solution, including election system reforms, need to be understood within the discussion national security responses and solutions to the threat we face.



The Overarching Middle East Problem Set: Proxy War and Forced Realignment

Over the past several weeks the just below the surface proxy wars and attempts to forcefully realign Middle Eastern politics, power dynamics, and alliances have come into full view. Over the past two weeks the Saudis and Emiratis have attempted to isolate their erstwhile Qatari partner. Turkey and Iran have come to Qatar’s aid as a result of the Saudi led blockade. ISIL conducted an attack in Iran and Iran retaliated with a missile strike on ISIL in Syria. We’ve also had ongoing Saudi operations against the Zaydi/Fiver Shi’a Houthis in Yemen and the ongoing low intensity war in Libya.

All of these actions and events have one thing in common: they are all about attempts to forcefully realign the politics, power dynamics, and alliances within the Middle East. A significant portion of this attempt to remake the Middle East’s political map is the result of a several year old proxy war between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey for hegemony in the Middle East. This proxy war is being fought over who will be the preeminent regional power; a power that will speak not just for the region, but for Islam. And this latter component is a major complication. The Saudis are promoting the Wahhabi understanding of tawheed – the radical unity of the Deity, which also forms the basis for both al Qaeda’s and ISIL’s doctrine/theology. Iran seeks hegemony not just to represent the Ithna Ashari/Twelver Shi’a that are the majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, a significant plurality in Lebanon, a significant minority in Syria – including the Alawite sect, and are a minority in several of the other Gulf states, but also on behalf of the Ismaili/Sevener and Zaydi/Fiver Shi’a throughout the region. Finally, Erdogan’s Turkey seeks to not just reassume its historic role of being the North-South and East-West bridge and power player in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the trans-Caucasus, but also to represent and speak for Islam throughout the region. Specifically Erdogan’s politicized Islam.

Against this backdrop we also have the ongoing activities of al Qaeda’s regional proxies throughout the Middle East, as well as ISIL’s ever more tenuous attempt to hold on to actual physical territory as part of their self proclaimed caliphate: the Islamic State/al dawlah al Islamiyah.

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The Navy Hymn

 



Some Thoughts on Today’s Shootings

I’ve done a technical post on mass shootings before. Specifically what simulations and simulated recreations can tell us in terms of potential outcomes. And as the author of the US Army report on Soldiers who commit mass shootings (authorized by the Office of the Provost Marshall General and US Army Corrections Command via my office at USAWC), I’ll most likely have another technical post on the subject in a few days. And I’ve done numerous posts here on stochastic violence and terrorism – domestic, international, right wing extremist, religious, etc. And it is the stochastic element that I want to talk about right now.

As numerous others have referenced today there is a lot to unpack behind today’s events. Both the shooting targeting Republican members of Congress in Alexandria and the active shooter/mass shooting in San Francisco. And we’ve seen a variety of calls for comity and a reduction in heated and divisive political rhetoric and pointing of fingers as to who is responsible for what. I’m not linking to all of it as I don’t feel like going to dig up the different reporting, but we’ve seen it all day. All of it misses the point.

The real reason we see so much stochastic violence and terrorism in the US is because it is part of our foundational myths and ethos. We rightly, as a point of pride, celebrate our revolutionary success against the British. We turned the first verse of a hard to sing song based on a poem about a slightly obscure battle against the British in a subsequent war into our national anthem. And we have carried through the decades a mistaken belief that citizen militias, still often considered or referred to as the hallmark of American civic pride and engagement, were actually an effective force during the American revolution. As opposed to the actual professional army that General Washington required his aides and lieutenants create – two of whom weren’t even American, because the militia was absolutely useless for his needs in stopping the British forces.

We have a deep seated tradition of civic engagement that refers back to and is rooted in political violence. The first use of stand your ground as a defense was from the 1790s in Philadelphia. It was related to and rooted in this tradition. In this case a radical localist – an extreme, minority offshoot of the anti-Federalists –  member of a citizen militia decide to use his firearm in self defense while posting political handbills. His defense argument – that he had an enumerated right to self defense through using his firearm – was rejected by the court. The actual coverage of the event and trial from one of the local Philadelphia papers at the time is attached as a pdf at the bottom of the post.

The reason we have so much stochastic violence and terrorism is because we’re Americans. We have a civic inheritance that includes the justifications for it. Including that of the radical localist offshoot of the anti-Federalists that teach us that all government above the municipal level is always potentially tyrannical and the purpose of the armed citizen, as part of the citizen militia, is to provide a check on tyrannical government. We are the inheritors of a revolutionary state and society. And the inheritors of political traditions that are rooted in the revolutionary politics of the Founding – the Federalists, the anti-Federalists, and the radical localists. Each had different understandings and views of the citizen militia, of the proper role for an armed citizenry, but each were reflections of and responses to the revolutionary ethos that led to the split with Britain and the founding of the US.

And we have stochastic violence and terrorism because Americans just aren’t joiners. Despite Putnam’s Bowling Alone, which makes the mistake of understanding American social interactions through the forty to fifty year window between the end of WW II and the late 90s/early 00s, and ignore everything that came before the 1940s, Americans just don’t like to belong to groups. We self atomize. We don’t like to associate. And while modern technology has made it easier to form new associations, it also makes it easier to isolate ourselves into groups that are insular and insulating.

What happened today, and what will happen next week with the next mass shooting or terrorist attack or hate crime, isn’t an aberration. It is pure Americana. It is at our core of who we are as a people. If you spend enough time promoting the idea that one’s political opponents aren’t really even human or that the 2nd Amendment exists to prevent governmental tyranny, then you’re going get what happened today in both Alexandria and San Francisco. It doesn’t matter if the people making the assertions were just being hyperbolic or really didn’t mean it. Nor does it matter if you were actually and only messaging to the people who you identify as your side. All that matters is that someone hears the message over and over and over again, internalizes it, and then acts on it.

What happened today has happened many times before in the US. The ideas and messaging that promote and produce it have a long lineage in the US. And it will all happen again. The saying that “G-d made man, Samuel Colt made all men equal” doesn’t just apply to people that look like you, vote like you, worship like you, and behave like you. And, as a result, you get what happened on both the east and west coast today.

And all of this is why you get this type of paradox:

Versus Senator Paul today as quoted by NBC:

“We’re just like normal people, I go to the grocery store like a normal person. I buy my groceries. I go to the gas station. We practice out there and we just … we live in a country where we hope there’s not such hatred or craziness and, I don’t know, disappointing, sad.”

Here’s the pdf:

Duane 1799 – Report of extraordinary transactions at Philadelphia (1)



Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Attorney General Sessions Testimony

Here’s the live feed for AG Sessions testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

We now know that the source of the allegations of a third meeting between then Senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Kislyak is from signals intelligence (SIGINT) captured last year.

The origin of the Mayflower story can be traced, according to several American officials, to raw intelligence picked up by American spy agencies last year that is now held at C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia. The intelligence appears to be based on intercepts of Mr. Kislyak discussing a private meeting he had with Mr. Sessions at a Trump campaign event last April at the luxury hotel.

Lawmakers have reviewed the intelligence — which remains classified — as part of the congressional investigations into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential election. Several news outlets have reported that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior White House adviser, may have also attended the meeting.

Here is a link to Ryan Goodman’s, Just Security‘s co-editor in chief’s five not so obvious questions for Attorney General Sessions.

Update at 2:35 PM EDT

Don’t forget to call your Senators!



Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former Director Comey Testimony II

Here’s a fresh thread for former Director Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Update at 12:10 PM EDT

Because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, do not forget to call your senators about the attempt to jam the AHCA through the Senate!!!!!! You know what to do!



Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former FBI Director Comey Testimony

Here’s the live feed for former FBI Director Comey’s testimony.

Update at 10:34 AM EDT

I switched the live stream below to PBS’s.