Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Commentary on Taibbi's Commentary on I.G. Report

I feel compelled to address this subject because I need to believe that liberals (and/or progressives) are salvageable. Conservatives, for the most part, adhere to a worldview that is almost completely full of shit. They indulge in brazen hypocrisy so often that it is hard to imagine they're capable of better. Reality seems to have a liberal bias. But, sadly, with the demonstrated incapability to recognize the monstrousness of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Justin Trudeau, liberals are showing themselves subject to the same toxic, partisan insanity that conservatives are. The terrifying levels of self-delusion that went into "Russia-gate" demonstrated by liberals came as a further blow to my dwindling faith in humanity. I want to post this piece in the hopes that a progressive "Russia-gater" might somehow read it and have the scales fall from their eyes as they suddenly grasp how utterly ridiculous, counter-productive and insane their conspiracy theory was.

The shit-for-brains "Russia-gate" conspiracy theory goes like this: Donald J. Trump (held up as a figure of pop-culture laughs for decades before exposing himself as a shameless racist) might have been groomed by people from Russia as far back as 1987 (ie., the last days of the USSR) to be an political-intelligence asset for them. 1987 was the year that Trump went to Moscow with vague plans of building a hotel there. The hotel was never built despite there having been numerous rounds of discussions all the way up to 2014.

Somehow, even though the project never got to the point where even one shovel went into the ground, it was still enough to make Trump want to become President of the United States so that he could eliminate sanctions placed on Russia by Barack Obama for Russia's having seized the Crimea in 2014. [Do we follow that? In order to get a hotel built in Moscow, Trump would become the POTUS, do Vladimir Putin a favour, and thereby get the approvals and the financing for his dreamt-for hotel that he never built.] The decision to step-up support for Trump went into high speed in 2012 (says long-time conspiracy theorist Malcolm Nance) on the evening that Obama beat Mitt Romney. Within a year of that event the Internet Research Agency (IRA) had been created and would begin its sophisticated psy-ops campaign to influence US-Americans to elect Donald J. Trump as President.

The St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency is a troll farm. It's run by a billionaire who (not surprisingly) knows Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It spreads disinformation around the internet with a pro-Russian bias. One way that it self-finances is by creating online groups of non-IRA members (attracted to whatever political cause is being used) and letting paying advertisers have access to them. All-in-all, this outfit (which has morphed into "Russia's vast troll army") is alleged to have spent somewhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 on US facebook and other social media sites on a number of themes during the 2016 election cycle. Supposedly this piddling amount can be credited with sowing divisions between US-Americans that wouldn't have otherwise existed, or turning the election in Trump's favour. (FWIW, Israel has its own internet trolls, as does the USA.)

Along with the IRA, Russian intelligence hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, as well as the e-mails of Hillary Clinton advisor and campaign chairman John Podesta. (These are still just allegations by the way.) Russian intelligence then gave this information to Wikileaks to release. (Julian Assange denies this. So does Craig Murray, a former diplomat and current Wikileaks envoy who claims to be the person who received the leaks and gave them to the organization. Robert Mueller never bothered to interview either of these men in his quest to leave no stone un-turned to discover the truth about the 2016 election.)

Anyhow, as we all know, the whole thing was full of shit. And now we find that it was based on shit from the get-go. The US Justice Department Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has released a report on the inquiry into the investigation of Donald Trump's Russia ties. Rolling Stone politics writer Matt Taibbi (who has already detailed the glaring journalistic failures of "Russiagate") summarizes the Horowitz Report and lays out the general idea:
The Guardian headline reads: “DOJ Internal watchdog report clears FBI of illegal surveillance of Trump adviser.”
If the report released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz constitutes a “clearing” of the FBI, never clear me of anything. Holy God, what a clown show the Trump-Russia investigation was.
Probably the same way that all powerful actors are "cleared" in the Anglo-American countries. Despite massive evidence against those being investigated, those bureaucrats who could prosecute are too afraid of rocking the boat and pissing-off powerful interests to actually enforce the law. Either because they're guilty of things themselves or they're simply cowards.

Taibbi describes how the FBI essentially LIED about their target (Carter Page) in their application for a warrant from the FISA court, and that (contrary to Democrat and allied media denials) the so-called Steele Dossier was the "central and essential" source for their application. And, as their "central and essential" source, the Steele Dossier (and subsequent breathless journalistic "bombshells" based on it) was garbage.
Steele in his “reports” embellished his sources’ quotes, played up nonexistent angles, invented attributions, and ignored inconsistencies. The FBI then transplanted this bad reporting in the form of a warrant application and an addendum to the Intelligence Assessment that included the Steele material, ignoring a new layer of inconsistencies and red flags its analysts uncovered in the review process.
Then, following a series of leaks, the news media essentially reported on the FBI’s wrong reporting of Steele’s wrong reporting.

After beginning this piece I discovered that Glenn Greenwald (who has also eviscerated media conspiracy theories about Russiagate) has weighed in on the Horowitz Report too.

If it does not bother you to learn that the FBI repeatedly and deliberately deceived the FISA court into granting it permission to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign, then it is virtually certain that you are either someone with no principles, someone who cares only about partisan advantage and nothing about basic civil liberties and the rule of law, or both. There is simply no way for anyone of good faith to read this IG Report and reach any conclusion other than that this is yet another instance of the FBI abusing its power in severe ways to subvert and undermine U.S. democracy. If you don’t care about that, what do you care about?
* * * * *
But the revelations of the IG Report are not merely a massive FBI scandal. They are also a massive media scandal, because they reveal that so much of what the U.S. media has authoritatively claimed about all of these matters for more than two years is completely false.

This is why it's so disheartening to read otherwise intelligent people babbling about the "Russian usurper" and "Moscow Mitch" and how there was collusion goddammit but Trump obstructed the investigation and that's why Saint Robert (blood on his hands) Mueller couldn't prove it. I watch writers I used to respect turning on a dime from opposing US militarism and spying to condemning Trump for "not listening to his generals" and hoping that the CIA can save us from the Mango Mussolini.

When I read such nitwit garbage and delusion and stupidity and gullibility and xenophobia, I am again reminded of the reasons why I'm such a despairing pessimist.

No comments: