The Gang That Couldn’t Tweet Straight
Jeffrey St Clair, Counterpunch, Mar 10 2017
Former DNI Clapper is one of the most peculiar figures of our time. Until Jeff Sessions, Clapper was infamous for having committed one of the most flagrant acts of perjury before Congress, when he flatly denied to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden that the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans. The exchange is worth revisiting.
Q: I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer, the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Pindosis. He replied, and I quote here, ‘The story that we have millions, or hundreds of millions, of dossiers on people is completely false.’ The reason I’m asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozens years, I don’t really know what a dossier is in this context. So, what I wanted to see if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Pindosis?
A: No, sir.
Q: It does not?
A: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.
Clapper’s claim collapsed a few weeks later, when Edward Snowden blew the lid off the NSA’s vast domestic surveillance operation. Yet to Clapper’s credit, he is a more transparent liar than Jeff Sessions. A review of the tape shows that Clapper looked like he was lying as he lied. Sessions, who proffered his lie about never parlaying with any Russian officials before even being asked, is a more habituated and practiced liar, who honed the craft of prevarication in the courtroom prosecuting poor blacks for crimes they didn’t commit. Last weekend, Clapper was hauled back in front of the cameras to pass judgment on Trump’s crepuscular Twitter rant accusing that “bad/sick” man Obama of “wiretapping” him during the closing days of the 2016 campaign. Clapper told Chuck Todd on NBC Meet the Press:
I can’t speak officially anymore, but I will say that for the part of the national security apparatus I saw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect or his campaign.
At the very moment Clapper condemned Trump for bogus Tweeting, he dashed the hopes of the Demagog schismatics by throwing cold water on the grand conspiracy of our day, that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to rig the 2016 elections. Clapper said:
I didn’t see any evidence of collusion.
In other words, there’s no there there. Take both of these statements for what they are worth, after all they were made by Jim Clapper, professional liar. But maybe there was a little “there” somewhere in the anterooms of Trump Tower, if not in the mysterious server being pinged by a Russian bank perhaps it is to be found in the strange peregrinations of Jared Kushner, who seems to take a cut out of every Trump deal, political or otherwise. When it comes to tracking the roots of a political scandal, Deep Throat’s old adage remains the guidestar: follow the money. Frankly, I take it as an article of faith that the Russians did try to meddle in our elections, as we do more menacingly in theirs. These hijinks have been standard tradecraft for decades. I think it’s also safe to assume that the Russians wanted to see Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, who, as far as I could tell, spent much of her campaign trying to provoke a nuclear confrontation with Moscow over Syria and Ukraine. The problem was how to pull it off? The central allegation, that Russian hackers pilfered the email databases of the DNC + Podesta and turned those juicy troves over to Wikileaks, remains unproven. Even Jim Clapper was a skeptic, tending to believe, as I do, that the emails were leaked rather than hacked.
Then we are meant to believe that the Russians used their influence over 200 western alternative media outlets (including this one, dear readers) to have stories on these leaks saturate the political news on the web to the point that undecided voters flipped to Trump. It’s a ludicrous theory, riven with holes, and even if true almost certainly didn’t play any decisive role in swaying the election, for the obvious reason that 80% of Pindosis simply don’t read anything anymore, never mind digging their way through insipid email chains from the likes of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, John Podesta and Neera Tanden. On the subject of collusion, the questions are, what did the Russians want, how were they going to get it from Trump, and who were they going to deal with? Even a cursory look at the characters involved in meetings with the Russians, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, J D Gordon, Carter Page, reveals that these are hardly reliable figures. There’s not a potential Kim Philby in the bunch. Call them the gang that couldn’t tweet straight. It’s hard to imagine that seasoned operators like Sergei Kislyak would trust any deal hatched with these buffoons. After months of non-stop probing and prognosticating, the only real gift to Russia that anyone has detected is the alteration in the GOP platform, to oppose weapon shipments to Ukraine, which brought them into harmony with one of Obama’s saner policies. If this is quid pro quo, then let’s have more of it!
The Demagogs are at risk of making the rest of their already frail political agenda, such as it is, collateral damage in their pursuit of a collective fantasy, a mad quest to find ghostly Russian agents inside the House of Trump. No amateur spy hunter has been more intrepid than the Walter Winchell of MSDNC, Rachel Maddow, who has rebranded her nightly show “The Russian Connection.” For two months now, Maddow (annual salary: $7m) has been spinning nightly sagas of Russian espionage that twist and turn through the dark labyrinths of Washington and end where they began: nowhere. Predictably, Maddow’s audience is swelling as numbed Democrats, still dazed by Hillary’s defeat, tune in hoping for some kind of explosive revelation that will explain the inexplicable from these paranoid potboilers, which often cast the CIA in the most unlikely role of victim. I fear our long national hangover is just commencing. The deeper the Demagogs descend into the Russian rabbit-hole, the farther they remove themselves from the working-class people whose defection cost them the election, and the longer the odds grow that they will ever revitalize their party as a real oppositional force to the reactionary freight-train bearing down upon them. Trump has probably had the worst start to a presidency since William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia only 32 days after taking the oath. But by all measures the Demagogs have fared even worse than the president, and rightfully so. Since Trump’s win, and despite relentless attempts to invalidate his victory, there has been a steady attrition of support for the Demagogs, who are now less liked and more hated than Trump and by a fairly wide margin, according to a recent Suffolk poll. This is a party in need of embalming fluid.