Friday, December 16, 2016

Russian Strongman Ignoring the Rules

Russia sent soldiers into combat into places where it simply denies that there are any Russian soldiers. Like eastern Ukraine.
Russia deploys “freelance” local hackers, folks that range from drug addicts with expensive habits to geniuses that love the under-the-table money, to crack into U.S. companies, governmental agencies and most-definitely the Democratic Nation Committee, pretty much trying to influence the US election to diminish Hillary Clinton and enhance Donald Trump. Viceland TV’s Ben Makuch makes an excellent presentation on the subject in his Crime & Government: Russian Hackers episode on his Cyberwars television series, where those from Russia’s underground freelance world are interviewed on camera. This use of freelancers keeps a useful layer between official Russia and her real foot soldiers – enhancing plausible deniability by Putin’s official government – so that Russia can claim innocence when it is guilty as sin.
That our intelligence agencies have also uniformly laid the blame on the Russian government is simply not proof to our president-elect: “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” Trump told Time magazine in his Person of the Year interview released on December 7th.  Or this message to the C.I.A. from the Trump team: “President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is casting doubt on a CIA report that claimed Russia tried to aid him in the US election… ‘The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history.’ the Trump transition team's statement read. ‘It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.' ’”, December 10th. Tshe trail seems to lead directly to Mr. Putin’s doorstep: U.S. intelligence officials now believe with ‘a high level of confidence’ that Vladimir Putin ‘became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign’ to interfere in the presidential election.” Daily 202, Washington Post, December 15th.
Even as his GOP leadership makes it abundantly clear that they believe the Russian threat of continued hacking is both real and serious and even with President Obama’s pledge to release the relevant evidence to the public before the Inauguration, Donald Trump sees a bit of himself in the rule-bending, ends-justifies-the-means, strongman, Vladimir Putin, his new global best friend. Putin seems to be playing Trump like an easily manipulated puppet. Trump even named another close Putin buddy, ExxonMobile CEO, Rex Tillerson, as our Secretary of State. Tillerson even negotiated a major agreement with Russian oil giant, Rosneft, giving that company access to Arctic oil…  for which Putin awarded Tillerson Russia's prestigious Order of Friendship in 2013.
Nothing evidences Putin’s willingness to bend the rules, lie and cover up traceable tracks, like his rather obvious sanctioning of illicit activity in what is anything but a nation security issue for him: global competitive sports. Heading an Olympic Committee investigation into the consistent practice of government-sanctioned doping among Russian competitors, Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren has issued a detailed and scathing report on the details of this rather long-standing Russian pattern of athletic deceit and manipulation. Against a simple and continuous Russian denial in the face of overwhelming evidence.
The December 9th explains: “More than 1,000 Russians - including Olympic medallists - benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015, a report claims… At least 30 sports, including football, covered up samples, the report says.
“‘It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy,’ said the report's author, Richard McLaren… Lawyer McLaren said London 2012 was ‘corrupted on an unprecedented scale.’… The report also implicates medallists at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi…
“The report added the system was refined over the course of the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and Winter Olympics to protect likely Russian medal winners… Russian MP Dmitry Svishchev, who is also the head of Russia's Curling Federation, was quoted by Ria Novosti news agency as saying: "This is what we expected. There's nothing new, only empty allegations against all of us. If you are Russian, you'll get accused of every single sin."
“When asked for a reaction to those comments, McLaren said: ‘I would say read the report. Its findings are not challengeable. He is reacting in a vacuum because he has not read the report.’… The new report also found:
  • At the Sochi Games, two Russian female ice hockey players had male urine samples.
  • A total of 15 Russian medal winners at London 2012 were implicated [10 medals have since been taken away].
  • The samples of 12 medal-winning athletes at Sochi 2014 had evidence of tampering.
  • Six winners of 21 Paralympic medals at Sochi had their samples tampered with.
  • Emails were found asking for instructions from the Russian Ministry of Sport on what to do with a positive sample - save or quarantine?
  • Spreadsheets were found containing lists of athletes whose samples had been saved.
  • A clean urine bank was kept in Moscow.
  • A cocktail of drugs - known as the ‘Duchess’ - with a very short detection window was developed to assist athletes in evading doping.
  • Salt and instant coffee granules were added to clean urine samples to match the appearance of the positive samples.
  • Three samples at Sochi had salt readings that were physiologically impossible.
“Once again the gory details of Russian state-sponsored cheating have been laid bare by Professor Richard McLaren… The difference now is those claims have been backed up with concrete evidence…Some of the details really do defy belief, and the fact the Russian government is so strongly implicated will inevitably lead to calls for Russian athletes to be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics, and perhaps even for the 2018 football World Cup to be taken away from the country.” If Putin is willing to condone such illicit activities in such an incidental arena as sports, you can pretty much imagine how trustworthy he is in much more serious matters.
In the end, Donald J Trump is cozying up to a man who has supported genocidal attacks against Syrian civilians caught in the crossfire between Assad-regime troops, on the one hand, and rebels and ISIS on the other. Putin has upgraded his nuclear stockpile, spent fortunes developing military technology that most certainly rivals the best we have (from missiles to aircraft), undermined democratic elections across the entire Western world (we’re not alone), invaded and taken entire regions (like Crimea) and hacked into any server with the slightest benefit to Russia, political or economic. Vladdy is most happy that an American president is actually helping knock the United States down a giant notch on the global stage to move Russia up… and support the lies promulgated by the Russian apparat.
I’m Peter Dekom, and I am thinking about that Manchurian Candidate film I saw a while ago.

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