Anonymous CIA insiders convinced national mainstream media outlets that Russian hackers attempted to sway the 2016 presidential election for Donald Trump, but an Atlanta television reporter actually did some reporting and quickly found five solid reasons to question the claim.
“By now you’ve heard that the CIA is sure that Russia did hack the DNC and John Podesta’s emails with the intent of swaying the election toward Donald Trump,” Swann said.
“But what most media isn’t doing is actually asking for evidence of these claims,” he said. “I’m going to give you five problems with what the CIA is saying.”
The first problem revolves around how the information about the alleged hacking was released.
“The CIA did not officially release this information, rather anonymous sources inside the CIA leaked this conclusion to The Washington Post on Friday, and then another anonymous source leaked the same conclusion to the New York Times,” Swann said.
He quoted the Post’s claim that a “secret assessment” into the Democratic National Committee and chairman John Podesta’s emails conducted by the CIA concluded Russia hacked in with a focus on helping Trump. The Post reported that the CIA believes individuals with ties to the Russian government shared the information with Wikileaks, which posted it online.
“The second problem here is the anonymous sources did not provide any evidence to support those statements, and by releasing the information anonymously there is no one accountable to provide that proof,” Swann said.
“The third problem here is the CIA lies,” he continued. “Not always, but I can give you a number of recent stories where that agency has made claims that have been proven untrue.”
Swann cited the Senate Intelligence Committee’s criticism of the CIA’s “culture of misinformation” in 2014, as well as comments from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon about the public’s lack of trust in the CIA.
“That trust has been seriously undermined by senior officials’ reckless reliance on secret interpretations of the law and battered by years of misleading and deceptive practices,” Wyden said.
“Please excuse us if the public needs the CIA to do more than just leak anonymously its conclusion that Russia tried to sway the election,” Swann said.
The fourth problem highlighted by the Reality Check is that CIA officials don’t agree on the agency’s secret conclusion.
Swann quoted the Post:
There were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.
“What does that mean?” Swann questioned. “What are those disagreements? And without providing that information how can we trust that these disagreements are actually minor, since that, of course, is a relative term?”
The fifth problem: Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks, is adamant the leaked emails did not come from a “hack” – Russian or otherwise – and contends it came from a DNC insider.
“Only days ago, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murry, said he has met the person who gave the DNC emails to Assange and Wikileaks and he says it is not the Russians,” Swann said.
“I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider,” Murry said. “It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”
So what you need to know is that on top of all of these questions is one fundamental issue that everyone is missing. The claim is that Russia decided to hack the election, not by altering voting results but by making public actual emails from the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
Look, I have said this before and I will say it again: How bizarre is it that the argument is not that the Russians were trying to influence the election through lies or electronic voting, but rather the claim – if you really boil it down – is that the Russians swayed the election for Donald Trump by revealing the truth about the Clinton campaign and the truth about the DNC.
That’s Reality Check …