In December 2016, the Washington Post and CNN published articles claiming there was “strong evidence” that Russia hacked the U.S. election.
The Washington Post and CNN have lengthy histories of falsifying details inside their news stories and publishing extravagant and misleading headlines. In December, WashPo “confirmed” that a nameless CIA agent stated Russia hacked the election, although no details about the hack were provided. The publication was such a bombshell that it left Democrats and Republicans in the Senate requesting briefings to confirm that such a hack had, indeed, taken place. Initially, several high-ranking officials within the FBI were reluctant to acknowledge a clear link to Russia in the “hacking” of the U.S. election, though all 4 of the major intelligence chiefs including John Brennan of the CIA, James Comey of the FBI, Michael Rogers of the NSA, and James Clapper of the DNI, ultimately implicated Russia. Yet, supportive evidence is sparse at best. The agencies continue to withhold essential data from the public. Complicating the matter further, WashPo and CNN have refused to reveal their intelligence sources on election hacking. Take, for example, a portion of the original article published on December 9th in which WashPo uses dubious sources (italicized) to accuse Russia:
The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”1
(Dubious means “of doubtful quality.” Dubious sources are intentionally obscured by the publisher so that the truth can’t be known. “Condition of anonymity” is often used to avoid accountability for the claim.)
Still, specifics about election hacking, such as which states experienced a hack and whether the hack result in actual election fraud, have not been provided to the public by the CIA or any of the 17 intelligence agencies in the United States. It is confirmed that Russia did not hack any type of voting machines or equipment. Additionally, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has consistently denied operating as a proxy for a large-scale Russian operation to bring down Hillary Clinton. To date, they have not been proven wrong. On the other hand, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence sources have lied, repeatedly, about their claims. History may be the best lesson about the trustworthiness of the U.S. Intelligence Community: the CIA has a lengthy history of falsifying claims about everything from WMDs to torture. Somewhat humorously, the same columnist for the Washington Post who wrote the Russia-helping-Trump-win-election story using “intelligence” from the CIA also penned a 2014 piece about the lies of the CIA regarding a secret interrogation program that used waterboarding as a method of interrogation.2 In 2003, another falsity was promoted as well: WMDs in Iraq, promoted by the head of the CIA George Tenet and then President George W. Bush. It turned out to be a fantasy that cost U.S. taxpayers 2 trillion dollars in expenditures and thousands of American lives. Colin Powell used CIA claims in his 2003 U.N. speech about the urgent threat of Iraq, however Powell now admits the intel was faulty. Misleading intelligence would not be considered extraordinary for the CIA, NSA, or DNI to produce. They’ve done it many times before.