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
“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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
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”