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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/15/17

German Intel Clears Russia on Interference

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So it must have come as an unwelcome surprise to Kahl when he found out that, this time, BND analysts would stand on principle and refuse to be as malleable as their Washington counterparts. His analysts could find no proof that the Kremlin was working hard to undermine the democratic process in Germany, and said so.

Worse still from the U.S. point of view, the two German intelligence agencies resisted the usual pressure from some senior leaders in Berlin (perhaps including Kahl himself) to jam whatever innocuous information they could find into the anti-Russian mosaic that Washington was constructing, a kind of Cubist version of distorted reality.

And So, a Do-Over

So, what do powerful officials do when the bureaucracy comes up with "incorrect" conclusions? They send the analysts and investigators back to work until they come up with "correct" answers. This turned out to be no exception. Absent evidence of hacking directed by the Kremlin, the Germans now have opted for an approach by which information can be fudged more easily.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency's headquarters.
CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency's headquarters.
(Image by (U.S. government photo))
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According to the Sueddeutsche, "Chancellor Merkel's office has now ordered a new inquiry. Notably, a 'psychological operations group' jointly run by the BND and BfV will specifically look at Russian news agencies' coverage in Germany." We can expect that any articles that don't portray Vladimir Putin in a devil's costume will be judged "Russian propaganda."

For guidance, Merkel may well give the new "investigators" a copy of the evidence-free CIA/FBI/NSA "Assessment: Russia's Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election." Released on Jan. 6, the report was an eyesore and embarrassment to serious intelligence professionals. The lame "evidence" presented, together with all the "assessing" indulged in by U.S. analysts, was unable to fill five pages; filler was needed -- preferably filler that could be made to look like analysis.

And so, seven more pages were tacked onto the CIA/FBI/NSA Assessment, even though the information presented in them had nothing to do with the cause celebre of Russian hacking. No problem: The additional seven pages bore the ominous title: "Annex A: Russia -- Kremlin's TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US."

The extra pages, in turn, were then used to support the following indictment: "Russia's state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences."

Did an Insider Leak?

It is not clear how the German daily Sueddeutsche acquired the conclusions of the joint investigation or even whether it has the full 50-page copy of the final report. The newspaper did make it clear, though, that it now realizes it was played by Kahl with his unsupported accusations last November.

Russian President Vladimir Putin answering questions from Russian citizens at his annual Q&A event on April 14, 2016.
Russian President Vladimir Putin answering questions from Russian citizens at his annual Q&A event on April 14, 2016.
(Image by (Russian government photo))
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From what the newspaper was told, the analysts seemed willing to give the boss what he had already declared to be his desired conclusion, but the evidence simply wasn't there. The article quotes one security expert saying, "We would have been happy to give Russia a yellow card," a soccer metaphor referring to improper conduct. A cabinet source lamented, "We found no smoking gun."

Initially, the BND and BfV planned to release excerpts of their still classified inquiry, the Sueddeutsche reported, but it's now not clear when, if ever, the full report will be released.

The day after the Sueddeutsche story appeared, some other media outlets reported on it -- briefly. Newsweek and Politico gave the scoop all of three sentences each. Not fitting with the preferred "Russia-is-guilty-of-everything" narrative, it then died a quick death. I have been unable to find the story mentioned at all in major U.S. "mainstream media" outlets.

If Americans became aware of the story, it was probably via RT -- the bete noire of the above-mentioned CIA/FBI/NSA report condemning Russian "propaganda." Can it become any clearer why RT America and RT International are despised by the U.S. government and the "mainstream media?" Many Americans are slowly realizing they cannot count on American network and cable TV for accurate news and are tuning in to RT at least for the other side of these important stories.

It was from a early morning call from RT International that I first learned of the Feb. 7 Sueddeutsche Zeitung report on Germany's failed hunt for evidence of Russian electoral interference.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 
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