Russian Hacking

Monday, December 12, 2016

John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit.

Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies’ bathroom. Progress.

Mark Steyn

If Republicans want to force through massive tax cuts, we will fight them tooth and nail.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



The squabble over who hacked who, and did the Russians try to influence our elections, and who’s going to investigate who seems to be boiling, but there’s very little there. Actually, there’s a lot to worry about, but none of the serious stuff is being talked about at all.

First, there’s the question of who, precisely, is this “Intelligence Community” which may or may not have a consensus about the Russians and their activities and intentions. As far as I know, that “community” doesn’t exist; it certainly didn’t exist back in the days when I was an intelligence consumer. The Army had its intelligence people, the State Department had some, the Navy had its share, and while the Air Forces came late to the game, they managed to come up with Intelligence people as well. The three Service Intelligence organizations were sort of supervised by the Defense Intelligence Agency, headed by a three-star General – the late General Dan Graham was once that general – who reports directly to the Secretary of Defense, and sometimes to the President. It has both humint (spies) and sigint (electronic intercepts) and usually acts as if it doesn’t want anyone to know it exists.

DIA was supposed to work with but not exactly be subordinate to the Central Intelligence Agency, which grew out of the Office of Strategic Services formed during World War II to be a civilian military intelligence and black ops organization. Because it had responsibility for behind the lines resistance people, it learned to work through the case officer/ informant/client/ model, and still does that. In theory it has no jurisdiction over the Caribbean, which Hoover insisted belonged to the FBI along with the United States and all its Territories, but that distinction has been fading. The CIA was supposed to be the primary source of Intelligence for the President, and to have the last word on what the President was told, but it couldn’t always enforce that; the Director of Central Intelligence does not have the authority to forbid anyone from meeting the President, either alone or in an invited group; although some CIA heads are rumored to have tried.

Then there was the NSA, sometimes known as “No Such Agency”, which was formed by Harry Truman from the old Army/Navy codebreaking group of the Army Signal Corps that existed long before either DOD, DIA, or CIA were dreamed of. By law it deals only in Sigint, and does not have any case officers or black ops operatives despite popular TV shows portraying both.

There are others, but this should be enough to make it questionable just how such a diverse group of rivals can be called a community. The Director of Central Intelligence was supposed to calm their squabbles and produce a National Intelligence Estimate, but after the 9/11 disaster, something had to be done.

The something was the creation of the Director of National Intelligence who by law was the head of the Intelligence Community. By law he cannot be either the Director of Central Intelligence – who still runs the CIA but now reports to the DNI – or the DIA or any other intelligence organization. He shares this power with a deputy.

It gets more complex, but that, by law, is the way the “Intelligence Community” comes into being, and the DNI, who has (at least in theory) no spies or hackers or case officers or black ops agents under his direct control is supposed to keep the Community in line and deliver the real poop to the President. Those of you who wonder how anyone possessed of his senses thought that adding another layer at the top could form a community out of a group of rival organizations with radically different origins are permitted to do so. I quote from Wikipedia


“Critics say compromises during the bill’s crafting led to the establishment of a DNI whose powers are too weak to adequately lead, manage and improve the performance of the US Intelligence Community.[6] In particular, the law left the United States Department of Defense in charge of the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). (The limited DNI role in leading the US Intelligence Community is discussed on the Intelligence Community page.)”

One reason for all the complexity comes from the Cold War days: the predecessor of the National Security Agency broke some of the Soviet codes used by Soviet agents in the United States and shared that data with the FBI. Hoover knew that many of the old OSS and State Department Intelligence operatives were communist sympathizers, and did not tell anyone at State or the OSS (which was becoming the CIA) lest the Soviets suspect we were reading their spy reports (which identified some of the Soviet agents in the US.) The knowledge that the old code breakers had actually (partially) broken some of the Soviet unbreakable codes was not made public until the 60’s, and Eisenhower was probably the first President to know about it; Truman was explicitly not told because the Truman White House was thought to be a leaky operation, and any hint that Venona existed would end its usefulness. That’s another and complex story. But it helps explain the mutual distrusts within the Intelligence Community.

We can also add the relatively recent Department of Homeland Security which is trusted by almost none of the traditional intelligence workers, some of whom believe it to be outright incompetent.

Finally, we add that over eight years nearly all the senior people within the “Intelligence Community” have been appointed by the current President, and many of the career people within those agencies do not respect their appointed bosses.


With that background, which is known to anyone who cares to look, we can now look at the claim that the Russians have hacked various electronic sources within the United States. The question is absurd. Of course the Russians listen to any electronic source they can find, as to the Brits, the French, the Swiss, the Chinese, the Nigerians, the Danes, various Arabs, the Israelis, and nearly everyone else including Boy Scout Troops. Some are more successful than others. I can’t comment on the security of government communications between government servers which are said to use security measures comparable to those used by banks to transfer huge sums of money; I can comment on private servers used by government officials for various reasons mostly of convenience – really secure systems are cumbersome – and which are routinely hacked – listened to – by teenage pranksters who buy a script for a few bucks on the dark net and go fishing.

I don’t know personally what scripts were available for the server that sat in the Clinton family home basement; but I am told that several were for sale at various prices; so I would be astonished if there were anyone who seriously wanted to know about the Secretary of State’s emails was denied that knowledge; and from my acquaintance with various members of subsets of the Intelligence Community I’m pretty sure that that server was examined by experts with malicious intents. Certainly anyone in the KGB or GRU who worked for me would have a junior officer whose job was the scan the printouts daily once the first classified document showed up.

One tenet of the intelligence game – at least when I was involved – is that you can rarely get decent intelligence of intentions, so you have to gather everything you can about capabilities, which is the basis of all threat analysis: while intelligence would like to know what you want to do to me, it first needs to know what you can do to me. Of course each of the various rival groups within the nonexistent intelligence community has its own notion about what are the most important threats.

And you don’t have infinite resources. You allocate what you have to do you the most good. Now we can be pretty sure that the Clinton basement server was hacked, after which the hard drive was destroyed, preventing even NSA from discovering just who had got into it; despite the TV wizards at NCIS, shamming the hard drive with a hammer pretty well makes it impossible to recover much from it. In a TV script there would be one little scrap that you can build a plot from, but in actuality it isn’t very likely.

Signals from one server to another san often be recorded as they go by. With enough effort some of that can be read. Is that hacking? The Russian Intelligence Community is itself divided, between the successors of the State Security Committee (KGB) and the military intelligence organization (GRU). Both still exist but I think under different names; the KGB was successor to the ministry if the Interior, and went by MVD, NKVD, and a other names; there was also a party intelligence agency under the Soviets; I believe its assets were mostly absorbed by the KGB, which itself divided into an internal and an external agency, like the British MI 5 and MI5. Of course there are the remains of the old spy nets in the US and Canada; they are officially disbanded, and you can believe as much of that as you want to.

What they don’t have is infinite resources. They have enough to go after the low hanging fruit like a private server used by the Secretary of State, but hacking the Democratic National Committee with a goal of influencing an American election?

Hillary would like an explanation of the disaster that befell the Democrats in 1916 – one other than her candidacy. She hinted at stolen elections in key states, since she won the popular vote. Mr. Trump said a few words about investigating illegal alien voting in Democratic strongholds, and that talk died fast. Then came

Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says

From the United States newspaper of record.

WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.

Republicans have a different explanation for why no documents from their networks were ever released. Over the past several months, officials from the Republican committee have consistently said that their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked. On Friday, a senior committee official said he had no comment.[snip]

Of course it is possible that there were no Republican documents worth publishing on the RNC servers? Maybe there were no Republican Congressmen whose wives were senior Trump advisors sending out pictures of their private parts to underage girls? The Director of the FBI concluded that Hillary had put classified information on her basement server – i.e. published to anyone who seriously wanted it – but since she acted without malice it wasn’t really a crime. Then Weiner wagged his photographs, and hacked documents were in the news again, and the head of the FBI – of that part of the Intelligence Community – said he needed another look. I have no idea of why; perhaps Weiner’s wagging had nothing to do with it. Then he decided she wasn’t to be prosecuted after all, but it was too late. Now she lost Pennsylvania. And it was all the Russians’ fault.

Meanwhile, the recounts demanded either were not conducted or were slightly in favor of Trump, but CNN reported

“[snip] While there is no evidence of large-scale voting machine hacking, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia targeted Clinton in a series of cyber attacks on Democratic Party groups. Trump has questioned those reports.[snip]”

But just who are these US Intelligence agencies? The New York Times says it’s the US Intelligence Community.

U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections

The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, immediately raising the issue of whether President Obama would seek sanctions or other retaliation.

In a statement from the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security, the government said the leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

Since by law the Director of National Intelligence speaks for the “Intelligence community” the Times is correct in saying this is the opinion of the “Intelligence Community” and the career operatives have no right to say different.

“[snip] The official accusation against Russia comes after anonymous American intelligence officials told The New York Times in July that they had “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the hack of the D.N.C., which led to the resignation of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat, as committee chairwoman, amid evidence that the committee was favoring Mrs. Clinton over her competitor for the party nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.[snip]”

Mr. Obama, we are told by the Times, announces this now, because to say it later might be interpreted as political.


Mr. Trump was elected to drain the swamp. Does anyone wonder that he is appointing experienced managers without much political experience to head agencies that seem to be very much in need of attention and who complain of inexperienced managers?

Phillip is in from Washington for a visit, and it is bed time.


Fake News

Remember CIA wasn’t onboard with the other 16 agencies just before the election.

Look who’s pushing the Russian narrative with no evidence and look what news organizations support the operation and witness the effectiveness:

@thehill: Electors demand intelligence briefing on Russian interference before Electoral College vote

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo



Subject: CIA Fake News BS

Why is CIA allegedly — and I say allegedly because “the news” tells me so — saying Russia hacked the US election with no evidence?

If CIA is doing this, CIA is wrong for one of two reasons: CIA is wrong because they know — based on their history e.g. Church Hearings, MKULTRA — they cannot say anything and expect to be believed without evidence. Other examples exist to support my argument of poor audience analysis, public speaking skills, and presentation skills. Or CIA is wrong because they are lying.

But, let’s suppose CIA actually said this and it’s not just some nonsense fake news narrative led by the liar Brian Williams [the irony] and the corporate media, desperate to maintain market share and job security. And, let’s suppose CIA is correct in saying this. If all true:

The Obama Administration brought us Operation Gunwalker, Snowden as “the hacker”, ISIS as the “JV team, the six month intermission to develop “an ISIS strategy”, and every other failure we’ve commented on for the last eight years failed again. According to the Obama narrative, this administration allowed Russia to influence an election and failed to protect America — again. In fact, we have accusations the Department of Homeland Security tried to hack an election site, but nothing about Russia except from this administration and “the news”. So, Russia felt this administration and it’s party were failing so badly that even Russia didn’t want them in power, is that the narrative? It’s either that or this administration and it’s media shills are lying.

Let us hope CIA are incompetent and POTUS failed. After all, despair is a sin and the beat will continue until everything dies…. And people wonder why Trump got elected; it was a desperate move by a desperate people if you ask me..

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Among the political appointees to the various and sundry intelligence agencies I suspect you can find any anonymous opinion you like. Only one person by law may speak for the intelligence Community, but since that community does not really exist…


Maureen Dowd
Did Dowd really write this? It seems incomprehensible, but it shows that sometimes even liberals can be embarrassed.

Maureen Dowd
Election Therapy From My Basket of Deplorables
The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms. Since he became president, his party has lost 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 14 governorships.
The country had signaled strongly in the last two midterms that they were not happy. The Dems’ answer was to give them more of the same from a person they did not like or trust.
Preaching — and pandering — with a message of inclusion, the Democrats have instead become a party where incivility and bad manners are taken for granted, rudeness is routine, religion is mocked and there is absolutely no respect for a differing opinion. This did not go down well in the Midwest, where Trump flipped three blue states and 44 electoral votes.
The rudeness reached its peak when Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by attendees of “Hamilton” and then pompously lectured by the cast. This may play well with the New York theater crowd but is considered boorish and unacceptable by those of us taught to respect the office of the president and vice president, if not the occupants.
Here is a short primer for the young protesters. If your preferred candidate loses, there is no need for mass hysteria, canceled midterms, safe spaces, crying rooms or group primal screams. You might understand this better if you had not received participation trophies, undeserved grades to protect your feelings or even if you had a proper understanding of civics. The Democrats are now crying that Hillary had more popular votes. That can be her participation trophy.
If any of my sons had told me they were too distraught over a national election to take an exam, I would have brought them home the next day, fearful of the instruction they were receiving. Not one of the top 50 colleges mandate one semester of Western Civilization. Maybe they should rethink that.
Mr. Trump received over 62 million votes, not all of them cast by homophobes, Islamaphobes, racists, sexists, misogynists or any other “ists.” I would caution Trump deniers that all of the crying and whining is not good preparation for the coming storm. The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility. I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. I watched the networks and cable stations in their midnight meltdown — embodied by Rachel Maddow explaining to viewers that they were not having a “terrible, terrible dream” and that they had not died and “gone to hell.”
The media’s criticism of Trump’s high-level picks as “not diverse enough” or “too white and male” — a day before he named two women and offered a cabinet position to an African-American — magnified this fact.
Here is a final word to my Democratic friends. The election is over. There will not be a do-over. So let me bid farewell to Al Sharpton, Ben Rhodes and the Clintons. Note to Cher, Barbra, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham: Your plane is waiting. And to Jon Stewart, who talked about moving to another planet: Your spaceship is waiting. To Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z, Beyoncé and Katy Perry, thanks for the free concerts. And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.
As Eddie Murphy so eloquently stated in the movie “48 Hrs.”: “There’s a new sheriff in town.” And he is going to be here for 1,461 days. Merry Christmas.

Well, Snopes says no:

The original column is and Ms. Dowd has not changed her opinions much.





Trump could not give any tax breaks to Carrier, not now, not after he is inaugurated. The only taxes he might influence with more than the “bully pulpit” would be federal income or payroll taxes, and that not without Congress and IRS approval. I suspect the tax breaks were from state and local taxes, which the VP-elect could influence, since he is still governor of that state. State and local tax breaks are common when trying to lure companies into a state; why not when trying to keep one already there. 

Not likely, I hope, that a “Bury My Heart at Lake Oahe” disgrace takes place. 

Pipelines in the states… 

Charles Brumbelow


McCain, Graham join Schumer in accusations of Russian hacking

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing back against President-elect Donald Trump’s dismissal of a CIA assessment that Russian hackers tried to tilt the election in his favor, setting up a potential battle between Trump and Congress.

“I think they’re probably popping champagne bottles at the Kremlin over the tension between the incoming executive branch and the Congress,” said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow in the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution.

Related Story:
Obama mocked Romney over Russia, but now he blames Russia for Trump

Yesterday, U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for congressional investigations, saying in a statement that “interference in our election should alarm every American.”

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace of the CIA’s conclusion, instead blaming Democrats for “putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.”

“I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.”

Related Story: Divisions between CIA, FBI surface in debate over Russian motives in election hacks

The CIA has accused Russian hackers of giving embarrassing Clinton campaign emails to WikiLeaks in an effort to sway the election. A statement from Trump’s transition team dismissed intelligence officials as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” an assertion Pifer said is misinformed.

“The intelligence community has tightened its standard since then,” Pifer said.

Asked about Trump’s dismissals in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” McCain said: “The facts are there about Russian behavior, and Russian, not just hacking into the United States in the 2016 election campaign, but throughout the world.

McCain said he will push for the formation of a select committee to probe the hacking.

Trump blamed Democrats for pushing the narrative of Russian involvement, and said the intelligence officials he’ll appoint would be better than those laying the blame on Russians.

Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress specializing in national security strategy, said that assertion demonstrates “an ignorance of political intelligence organizations which should be concerning.”

“The number of political appointees in intelligence agencies is relatively small,” Katulis said.

Trump also dismissed criticism of his consideration of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the post of secretary of state, given his Russian business ties.

“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players. And he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia,” Trump said, adding that Tillerson is under consideration along with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.


And Mr. Trump continues to consider his cabinet.



Napolitano: NSA hacked Clinton emails after revelation of secrets

Take with whatever size grain of salt you prefer.




This really IS good.



Twenty years ago, if I felt like this, I’d go to my Dr.  Now, I consider it a “good day”.


It amused me. 


Free trade reducto redux 

Dr Pournelle 


Jim’s observations on free trade spurred a memory. 

Roman merchants encountered trade problems with foreigners. Specifically, 1) whose law applied to whom and 2) how were contracts enforced? Were goods exchanged for other goods or for an agreeable coin, the deal was done in an instant, and the need for law faded to insignificance. But if the transaction required future performance, how could a Roman bind a Syrian by oaths that held no meaning for the Syrian? 

The Roman solution was religion. If the Syrian’s religion would outlaw him if he broke an oath, then the Roman could contract with him. Such a religion — one that supported outlawry — was call a good faith, bona fides. 

And that’s the origin of the term in contract law. 

Live long and prosper 

h lynn keith




peek into the Trump Transition

people at the DOE were angry about some questions the transition team asked, so they leaked the questions and they got published
a transcription (+ commentary) of the questions is at
If all of the agencies are getting similar questions, things seem poised for some rather significant shake-ups under the new leadership.
David Lang

When fighting the alligators it is sometimes difficult to remember that the mission was draining the swamp…


AAAA batteries

There are now lithium 9v batteries. I don’t know how much better they are for longevity, but they’re marketed as being for hard-to-reach applications.
I once had a secondhand laptop whose battery had evidently died and was too costly to buy another… so some clever previous owner had replaced the battery’s original innards with a couple dozen neatly soldered-in rechargeable AA batteries. Worked fine!



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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