Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ex British Ambassador Craig Murray claims Russia did not interfere with U.S. election, but his story seems based on emotion and intrigue, more than facts

Craig Murray
Former British ambassador Craig Murray seems to be the father of the "Russia Didn't Do It" narrative that is taking hold regarding alleged interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi brought the narrative to a broad audience with a December 31 article titled "Something About This Russia Story Stinks." Before that, Robert Parry of Consortium News published at least two articles (on December 12 and December 29) along the same lines.

But Murray, a noted confidant of Wikileaks' Julian Assange, seems to have given birth to the notion that the whole contretemps is the result of a "leak" from a disgruntled Democratic National Committee (DNC) employee, not a "hack" from Russian interests, under the direction of Vladimir Putin.

A consistent theme from Murray, Perry, and Taibbi is that intelligence reports pointing to Russian hacks -- and resulting mainstream press accounts, especially at The New York Times and Washington Post -- are light on evidence and short on fact-based analysis. The same, unfortunately, could be said of the reporting from Murray, Perry, and Taibbi.

Best we can tell, the "Russia Didn't Do It" angle originated with Murray's December 11 post titled "The CIA's Absence of Conviction." This seems to be the gist of it:

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

Murray, like Taibbi, seems to want this complex, international case tied up in a neat box -- right now, dammit. Not even two months have passed since election day, and we're supposed to expect arrests and extraditions already?

Murray is a lot of things -- historian, former ambassador, human-rights activist -- but he does not claim to be a journalist. We can cut him some slack, and that is good because he needs it; his posts have little in the way of journalistic underpinnings. Consider this from the December 11 post:

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

OK, Murray claims the DNC e-mails surfaced because of a leak from an insider. But what does that highlighted section mean? What do Bernie Sanders, the Democratic primaries, and "very weird and troubling people" have to do with Russian interference? Is Murray just a sore BernieBot? He totally loses me with this one.

Then, consider Murray's latest, a December 31 piece titled "Exit Obama In a Cloud of Disillusion, Delusion, and Deceit." Here's the crux:

Anybody who believes the latest report issued by Obama as “proof” provides anything of the sort is very easily impressed by some entirely meaningless diagrams. William Binney, who was Technical Director at the NSA and actually designed their surveillance capabilities, has advised me by email. It is plain from the report itself that the Russian groups discussed have been under targeted NSA surveillance for a period longer than the time frame for the DNC and Podesta leaks. It is therefore inconceivable that the NSA would not have detected and traced those particular data flows and they would be saved. In other words, the NSA would have the actual hack on record, would be able to recognise the emails themselves and tell you exactly the second the transmission or transmissions took place and how they were routed. They would be able to give you date, time and IP addresses. In fact, not only do they produce no evidence of this kind, they do not even claim to have this kind of definite evidence.

OK, that's interesting information, and William Binney seems to be a knowledgeable fellow. Murray says the NSA has all kinds of technical ability to crack this case -- and that's heartening to hear -- but he claims that since they haven't released the date yet, there can be no case. One, however, does not necessarily follow the other. This is a sensitive matter, one that could set off all kinds of geopolitical, social, and financial unrest -- not to mention the possibility of physical war. Maybe the NSA is not ready to release its finding, perhaps other agencies want them to hold off, seeing that this likely is a matter for international law enforcement.

Murray's most intriguing insights come from a December 14 Washington Times article:

A WikiLeaks figure is claiming that he received leaked Clinton campaign emails from a “disgusted” Democratic whistleblower, while the White House continued to blame Russian hackers Wednesday for meddling in the presidential election and asserted that Donald Trump was “obviously aware” of Moscow’s efforts on his behalf.

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said in the report by the Daily Mail that he flew to Washington for a clandestine handoff with one of the email sources in September. He said he received a package in a wooded area near American University.

“Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” Mr. Murray told the British newspaper. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

So, a ticked-off Democratic insider leaked the Clinton campaign e-mails? If that's the case, much still needs to be learned about the leaker and the "clandestine handoff" in the woods near American University. For example, Murray seems to claim the package was delivered by an American. But could that mean Russians paid someone to serve as a plant inside the DNC?

Murray's tale seems to be right out of a Robert Ludlum novel. But it does not preclude Russian interference. What about James Comey's unprecedented public statements regarding the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails? What about Matt Taibbi, who acknowledges evidence points toward Russian involvement in the DNC hack, but still pooh-poohs the broader story? What about the notion, which no one in the MSM seems to want to touch, that Russians hacked the actual vote totals on election day?

We will turn to that subject in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

I don't trust anybody who is close to Julian Assange.

Anonymous said...

CNN reports that U.S. administration is 100 percent certain about Russian hacks . . .

Slinky said...

Been following Murray's blog for a while, and I agree his reporting is weak. I get the sense he has an agenda of some sort.

legalschnauzer said...


I'm guessing Murray's reporting is weak because he isn't a reporter.

Anonymous said...

Murray's agenda is to keep Julian Assange's butt out of the clink.

Anonymous said...

It is strange how this "Russia Didn't Do It" story has grown legs, mostly with the help of BernieBots and Trumpistas. I suspect it's a lot of B.S.

Anonymous said...

Can't decide if this hand off in the woods near American University is interesting as hell or fake as hell.

legalschnauzer said...

Fortune magazine is jumping on the "Russia Didn't Do It" bandwagon: