Kremlin, WikiLeaks, hackers, trolls, you name it: US spies’ OBSESSION with RT comes full circle in Senate report
Reading the final Senate Intelligence Committee report on ‘Russian meddling’ in US elections, it’s obvious they believe RT is the Christmas tree at its center, with WikiLeaks, troll bots, third parties etc. merely the ornaments.
The US establishment’s obsession with RT dates all the way back to March 2011, when then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton complained about the US “losing... the information war.” The infamous Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on ‘Russian meddling’ from January 2017 devoted more than a quarter of its total volume to RT – seven out of 25 pages, to be precise.
It was so obvious, even reporters with intimate inside knowledge of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) were skeptical.
The ICA was based on the CIA-FBI-NSA-ODNI claim that “RT is the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet.” Yet the bulk of its ‘evidence’ consisted of 2012 'open source' research that was entirely irrelevant to the 2016 election.
That pattern is now repeated in the latest SSCI report, in which RT is referenced more than 100 times. Published on Tuesday, the 966-page behemoth almost seems intended to discourage reading.
It’s not difficult to see why: the report basically regurgitates every single assertion made over the past four years of ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy-mongering, with insinuation and innuendo doing a lot of the heavy lifting. For example, the word “likely” appears nearly 140 times throughout the report, while “almost certainly” appears 21 times.
One such assertion is that WikiLeaks and its senior leadership “resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors,” which is backed by circular reasoning: media reports, and then US laws based on them. This is followed by the assertion that RT has “provided both beneficial coverage of WikiLeaks and a formal, compensated media platform for [Julian] Assange.”
Assange hosted a 12-episode interview show for RT in 2012, called World Tomorrow. This is the sole basis for the SSCI to assert the existence of an “alliance between RT and WikiLeaks” that is somehow “part of the Russian government's overall strategy to use its state-controlled media to undermine US democratic institutions.”
Straining to prove the existence of this 'alliance,' the SSCI literally resurrects the completely debunked conspiracy theory that during the October 2016 release of the Podesta emails, “RT announced WikiLeaks releases on Twitter prior to WikiLeaks making that announcement itself.”
As both WikiLeaks and RT have repeatedly clarified, the content of Podesta6 and Podesta15 releases had been posted on the website, but not yet announced on Twitter. RT journalists were monitoring the website, saw the upload, and reported on it – as journalists are supposed to do. That hasn’t stopped Western media, pundits and politicians from making a crazy conspiracy theory out of it, obviously.
The committee doesn’t stop there, however. They also argue that RT’s “efforts to impugn the US democratic process involve its support for third-party candidates and pushing messaging that 'the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.’”
You heard it right, reporting on the existence of parties beyond Democrats and Republicans is somehow impugning democracy. Never mind that this quote is actually from the 2012 annex of the ICA, though it is used here to discuss RT’s “support” for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016.
That alleged support consisted of hosting a Green Party debate on a RT America show, and inviting Stein to RT’s anniversary receptions in New York and Moscow.
The “sham” part somehow gets attributed to RT as a whole, rather than an individual host. Perhaps that’s because the 2012 debates were hosted by ex-CNN legend Larry King and the ultra-progressive Thom Hartmann, neither of whom fit the category of “individuals who are ideologically aligned with Russian messaging” the SSCI wishes to paint RT employees as being.
RT’s anniversary dinners are also used to actually impugn General Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser who ended up being forced to resign and charged with lying to the FBI. Recent evidence, to which the Senate surely had access, showed that to be a perjury trap orchestrated by the Bureau’s leadership, with knowledge and participation of the Obama White House.Also on rt.com ‘Get him to lie so we can prosecute him’: New docs reveal FBI plan to set up General Flynn in perjury trap
That’s not the kind of evidence the SSCI wants anything to do with, however. The thousands of footnotes in the report overwhelmingly reference either the ICA, or mainstream media reports from outlets such as CNN, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.
These seem to have been the 'investigators' the Senate relied on – when not parroting talking points of US cyber outfits that actually meddled in elections, that is.
How did US Senate Report investigators discover I visited Wikileaks' Julian Assange after he was granted political asylum from, according to the UN, Sir Keir Starmer's torturers?Was it because @Underground_RT has a broadcast reach of 700 million people?:https://t.co/u06ddUNltUpic.twitter.com/1ObjfWwZns— Afshin Rattansi (@afshinrattansi) August 19, 2020
Perhaps the best illustration of the SSCI’s circular reasoning is them citing the fact that RT America registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act – which it was forced to do in November 2017 by the US government – as proof it’s a “foreign agent”!
Assertions are not evidence, no matter how many times one repeats them. That was true in 2016, and remains true today. The SSCI report, truly the pinnacle of ‘Russiagate’ hysteria, serves as textbook example of it.Also on rt.com Not with a bang, but a whimper: Final ‘Russiagate’ report provides ‘BREATHTAKING' evidence of… nothing
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