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Saturday, January 07, 2017

The key findings from the US intelligence report on the Russia hack, decoded - Vox

“Putin publicly pointed to the Panama Papers disclosure and the Olympic doping scandal as US-directed efforts to defame Russia, suggesting he sought to use disclosures to discredit the image of the United States and cast it as hypocritical,” the ODNI report states.
The campaign was designed to disproportionately target Clinton, whom Putin saw as a threat — he blamed her, in particular, for the 2011 anti-government protests in Russia. So the “consistent goals” of the influence campaign, the report says, were “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

As time went on, however, the Russian campaign shifted — evolving into an attempt not just to hurt Clinton but to outright elect Trump. The Kremlin, according to the report, saw Trump as potential ally — someone with the right policy views and the right dealmaking disposition.

“Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,” the report’s authors explain.

There’s an interesting diversion at this point in the report. The CIA and FBI conclude that the hack was designed to help Trump “with high confidence,” whereas the NSA does so only with “moderate confidence.” This is a little hint as to the sources for this report’s conclusions.

The CIA and the FBI rely more on “human intelligence” — that is, spies talking to sources. The NSA is responsible for what’s called “signals intelligence”: electronic intercepts, email surveillance, and so forth. This suggests that one of the report’s main conclusions — that the goal was to elect Trump — is based less on technical analysis and more on information American spies gleaned from their sources.

Then, as the election got closer and closer and a Trump victory looked less and less likely, Russian aims shifted again — becoming a campaign aimed at weakening a future Clinton administration.

It seems the Kremlin was just as surprised as the rest of the world when Trump won — and, indeed, thrilled. CNN and the Washington Post reported that the classified version of the report includes quotes from leading Russian officials celebrating on the night of Trump’s victory. They were, in the Post’s telling, “congratulating themselves.”

The key findings from the US intelligence report on the Russia hack, decoded - Vox

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