I Have Another Crazy Theory!

UPDATED: to rewrite some parts based on very good feedback from my new English teacher. Thank you!

Fair Warning: This post may require a double thickness tinfoil hat to enjoy properly.

Coincidences take a lot of planning. This has been a recurring theme over the course of the misadventure we now know as The 2016 American Election And What Happened Thereafter. Many events have lined up in a very coincidentally beneficial way, and even if Occam’s Razor applies, it might be simpler to believe they were planned this way. I believe the Intercept’s June 5 article on the leaked NSA report was absolutely vital to Comey’s testimony today specifically and to the impeachment efforts in general. Until June 5, there had been no hard statements that Russia was the confirmed actor in the DNC hack and that its goal was to affect the US election. There were innuendos and many disturbing quotes from people in senior positions who had concerns based on what they had seen, but lack of proof in the public realm had so far provided deniers with significant confirmation for their argument. On June 5 we were given this:

“Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.” – the leaked NSA report

And this:

“The assessment concluded with high confidence that the Kremlin ordered an extensive, multi-pronged propaganda effort “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” ~ The Intercept

How did we get this damning NSA report? Reality Winner was an employee at a contractor who works with the NSA. Ms. Winner was known to be anti-Trump, and looked up to Edward Snowden, the infamous leaker of the treasure trove of NSA documents that revealed the nature and extent of America’s spying operations on its own citizens. On Twitter she only followed 50 accounts, including those of the hacker group Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden. One day she printed out the May 5 NSA report, folded it up, and carried it to her computer. She then emailed it to the Intercept media outlet. Her leak was easily discovered, as she was one of only 6 people to print the document and appears to have emailed the Intercept directly from her work computer/work email. This doesn’t sound like something a highly trained, top security-having, intelligence polyglot would do if she wanted to avoid detection. Did she want the fame and notoriety of Snowden? Or did she leave her tracks obvious to ensure the report was verified as authentic faster, ensuring its quick public release? Did she act of her own accord out of frustration at the corruption and lack of action she saw in the White House?

Regarding the Intercept: it is jokingly called “The Ivancept” in some circles because it has been known to carry Russian propaganda pieces and toe the pro-Putin line. The Intercept’s reporter, instead of setting up properly secure channels to verify Winner’s document, called the NSA directly, leaving obvious clues as to where it came from, thus triggering Ms. Winner’s arrest. I find it interesting that the Intercept turned her in so obviously and so quickly. A grand jury was convened, a warrant was issued, and Ms. Winner was promptly arrested.

The Timeline

  • May 5 – NSA releases the classified report internally
  • May 9 – President Trump fires James Comey
  • May 30 – Intercept contacts the NSA to verify the document
  • June 5 – Intercept publishes story with redactions requested by NSA
  • June 8 – Mr. Comey testifies under oath & on camera as a private citizen

Previous to this release, the public had confirmation that the DNC emails were hacked and that Russia likely had something to do with it. Even Putin very recently admitted to an American interviewer that perhaps some “patriotic” Russian hackers woke up one morning and decided to do something. However, the buzz online was still very much focused on the lack of proof of Russian involvement. Mr. Comey’s testimony day was fast approaching and it was obvious he could neither mention anything that would hinder any current investigations, nor discuss anything currently classified. This would have limited today’s session to his conversations with Trump and how he felt pressured to cancel various investigations. Because Trump didn’t explicitly direct Comey to cancel the investigations, but used vague language to imply his desires, this could be a non-starter legally. Up for debate: does a President’s wish automatically become a direction when detailed verbally to a subordinate? I digress: because the NSA report became public knowledge, the Senators could ask and Mr. Comey could answer questions about the hacking itself and Russian involvement, to the extent that the material in questions was not still currently classified. The NSA report turned Mr. Comey’s testimony into a much more interesting and important affair.

Because the truth is now in the public realm, the country can finally discuss who knew what when, and what they did about it. Now that we know Russia’s GRU used various and multiple hacking attempts to affect the US election and President Obama knew this, we can ask:

Did President Obama make the extent of the hacking clear to Trump and Clinton before the election?
Did President Obama make it clear to the winner of the election the actions he had taken to punish Russia and to reduce their power to do this again?
What did Trump do with this knowledge?
Did Trump know this before Kushner attempted to form a back-channel with Russian comms equipment through the Russian Ambassador Kislyak?
And the kicker: What possible reason does Trump have for supporting Putin’s goals with zero public criticism since the early days of the campaign EVEN AFTER HE WAS TOLD OBAMA KNEW ABOUT THE HACKING ATTEMPTS AND RUSSIA WAS CLEARLY DECLARED AN ENEMY?

We are left with only two answers that I see:

  1. Trump is merely a useful idiot. He owes Russian oligarchs & banks tons of money and favours, and must therefore do Putin’s bidding or risk his own demise.
  2. Trump is a willing actor. He worked with Russian oligarchs & banks & Putin to hack the election in order to accomplish Putin’s political goals and enrich himself and those around him.

I propose: this Intercept report is no mere “leak.” It was absolutely required to further the impeachment process, as there was no other way to declassify the information. Just as Buzzfeed was the outlet to first publish the Steele Dossier, the Intercept had little mainstream reputation to protect or lose and only notoriety to gain by publishing such material. No major MSM outlet would risk touching the illegally leaked documents until they were made public knowledge, so they had to be released by a minor fringe player in the media game.

Extra tinfoil points: Ms. Winner is not quite who she claims to be. If she is, she was probably a very willing pawn (of the good guys) and will receive compensation once she’s out of the spotlight. Of course, she must be punished. But we shall see. I mean, come on, “Reality Winner?” It’s the kind of name Fancy Bear would enjoy.

Works Cited
The New York Times: “After Reality Winner’s Arrest, Media Asks: Did ‘Intercept’ Expose a Source?”
The New York Times: “Intelligence Contractor Is Charged in First Leak Case Under Trump
The Intercept: “Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election
The Atlantic: “Who Is Reality Winner?”
Mashable: “Here’s what we know about alleged NSA leaker Reality Leigh Winner”

3 thoughts on “I Have Another Crazy Theory!

  • Avory

    I agree with Cliff that this will be a long, uphill climb for investigators. They must be meticulous and not rush to judgment. You don’t build cases from the top down; you build them from the bottom up, brick-by-brick, carefully applying mortar to the evidence so it is unassailable. You never force the evidence, you let it come to you, then let it lead.

    Because of the complicated task of unraveling potentially conspiratorial and treasonous activity probably also associated with complex financial crimes, this is the type of case where the forensic work required to unearth evidence will require extensive (and expensive) expertise as well as time. Bit players will need to be quietly shaken down to put pressure on others up the chain, voluminous testimony will need to be taken, and most everything will need to take place in complete secrecy. Which is why Comey needed to be cagey in today’s testimony, and reassure Trump and his inner circle that the president isn’t subject to an investigation. Mustn’t let rat finks think the G-men are coming, even when everyone knows the evidence will likely lead them to the Oval Office.

    Which is why I suspect Elli is right on the money. Momentum needs to be generated in the public sphere while the slower closed-door investigative work is being done. Such momentum can be coerced through unorthodox measures, including the “discovery” of leakers who can be held up to the bloodthirsty public while the underlying leak–the real story–is generally ignored by the average citizen because of its complications. But that’s why the leak is more a tool than anything else, to be used as (as Elli says) “to further the impeachment process.” It may just be a brick in the road, but a path needs to be laid to the house and this is a necessary step.

    As an old school liberal, I’ve been very uncomfortable depending upon (much less trusting) the United States intelligence community to further democratic values abroad, but maybe it might be more legitimately useful in efforts to preserve and protect those values here at home. Even if comprised of often misguided patriots, they are patriots nonetheless, and we need them now more than ever.

    It’s a topsy -turvy world indeed when Sean Hannity daily hammers the “deep state” (which, to the extent it exists, has to be an amalgam of DOS and the IC, as they are the only ones with the means or gravitas to stand up to the POTUS) while the progressive community leans hard on components it would never trust normally for national preservation. Strange bedfellows indeed. I mean, as someone with Russian heritage, I was brought up to believe that the US and Russia should be better friends that they’ve historically been, but now I find myself being more of a hardliner while I watch incredulously as the GOP genuflects to Mother Russia. I just don’t get it…but I sure hope the intelligent community does.

    Good thesis, Elli…it may be crazy, but it ain’t you who is.

  • Cliff

    Good points. Sessions testifies Tuesday. The four from yesterday are testifying in closed session next week. Unfortunately, it will probably still be many months, perhaps years, before the various investigations are complete. By then (or even now), the United States reputation in the world is in tatters. Although, they GOP could be setting things up for Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to take over as acting President if Trump gets too crazy even for them. That would still be awful, and Pence may end up in trouble as these investigations move forward. It also looks like some members of Congress, including leadership, may be implicated as well. It’s gonna be a long slog. We Americans need to continue to resist the drastic changes to our democracy that the GOP are trying to push. I’m getting close to retirement, but this mess has guaranteed I won’t be able to early retire, unless I move to Canada. 😉 Seriously though, I have been giving some hard thought to retiring in another country. Problem is the decline of America could bring the rest of the world with it.

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m hopeful, but yes, the scope of the investigation suggests this could be years in the making. What happens if he’s not impeached by 2018? What will be done to secure the next election cycle from interference? Ugh. I hope and believe that the IC is going to take down multiple players at once, and Pence will be one of them. This is really, really complicated.

      How did we get here from there? http://www.wwe.com/f/video/thumb/2013/02/20070401_trump_vkm.jpg

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