Russia election hacking and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Eleven months ago, before Defectio.com officially launched, we published an inquiry into William M. Arkin. He had just released a breaking NBC article stating the Russians hacked the November 4th election and democracy was at stake.
The reader immediately understands how devastating the NBC article is, one nuclear power subverting the election of another nuclear power. We at Defectio thought to take a deeper look. Not into the claim, but the authors.
The Russia-Hack article was written by three people, each bringing a unique background to the table so the public would accept it. Below is our analysis of each author.
Cynthia McFadden is near retirement at the age of 61. Her career highlights include delivering softballs to the Clinton campaign, and example of which can be found here.
Nothing else of note in her background could be found that would lend support to the article from NBC. We believe that she simply adds credibility to the claim and inserts a known public face into the article.
The second author is Ken Dilanian. His career as an objective reporter had been destroyed previously in 2014, by the fantastic work of Ken Silverstein at the Intercept, where a close collaboration with the CIA was discovered from a FOIA request.
Silverstein revealed that, "Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. ... the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times."
The following email was from a Freedom of Information Act Request, as noted by Silverstein.
In the email highlighted in Silverstein's article, Dilanian plays directly for the CIA. He offers friendly advice on how the agency should comment on its covert operations.
We can be sure that Dilanian is not acting as an objective journalist, but as a public relations agent for the CIA.
William M. Arkin
The third and most troubling author is William M. Arkin. He makes no secrecy about his past affiliations.
Among the more structured far-left groups Arkin worked for is the radical leftist think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The IPS acted as an information gathering and propaganda force for the Soviet Union inside America.
During the 1980's, William Arkin delivered great damage to the United States where he contributed to the Natural Resources Defense Council's Nuclear Weapons Databook series. In this publication, key information on America's nuclear readiness, to include weapon locations, were revealed to the general public.
Arkin's releases of classified information were so devastating, the leftist New Zealand government prohibited U.S. nuclear powered ships and weapons from entering the country.
We know now that the Central Intelligence Agency had been closely watching Arkin's publications following that release. Declassified FOIA dumps are available on the CIA website that show the extent of the monitoring.
With some background on all three authors, the NBC article can be put into better context. The three can be identified as leftists. One author coordinates with the CIA, another was previously under surveillance by the agency
We can form three scenarios why this article was written with this information in mind.
Scenario 1: Assuming the leaks are coming from the intelligence community.
If we assume the leaks came from the intelligence community, there are two key facts to consider.
1. Of all the individuals that the unnamed intelligence sources could have chosen, they elected to leak to Arkin, a known traitor that undermined U.S. national security during the cold war.
2. Of all the individuals that the unnamed intelligence sources could have chosen, they elected to leak to Arkin, who the CIA was watching since the 1980's as displayed by the FOIA requests.
These two facts suggest it would be a huge stretch for the leaks to come from the intelligence community, or it would have to be an example of gross incompetence. The intelligence agencies have methods to get information to the public through congress and the executive branch already.
Scenario 2: Assume the leaks did come from "unnamed senior Officials".
If we assume that Arkin and Dilanian did receive a tip from "unnamed senior officials" we need to have a motive. We can think of two reasons why these officials would leak.
1. There was in fact an election hacking, and the sources couldn't go through official channels for reasons of national security. Here the executive branch would prevent disclosure that could reveal Cyber-Defense methods. The sources leaked to Arkin/Dilanian to avoid this process.
Likely not the case. Why would the officials pick a known traitor to relay this information when the author wouldn't be credible?
2. There was actually no hack, and activists from the Democratic party in the intelligence community were seeking to weaken the incoming administration in the public eye.
Possibly and very likely from our perspective.
Scenario 3. Arkin and Dilanian are DNC activists themselves.
In the last scenario, Arkin and Dilanian fabricated the entire story. The reasons for releasing this story into the public sphere is up to the reader's imagination, but it could be anything from acting on behalf of the DNC, to forming their own resistance to the Trump administration.
The Russia hacking narrative erupted across the mainstream media like nothing I had seen prior to this election. The entire left wing media circus piggy-backed on the NBC article within hours. This should have been enough for readers to pause and consider the sources.
The public needs to be more cautious before accepting a narrative. Prior to running with a story, we should google the author's name to find out if they are in lockstep with the CIA, like Mr. Dilanian.
Perhaps, we should ask ourselves if William M. Arkin, who revealed the locations of the United States nuclear arsenal to the Soviets, is a man fighting to protect America, or trying to subvert it.
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