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Intelligence Committee Senators Call On Obama To Declassify Evidence Of Russian Election Interference

from the that-would-be-interesting dept

We've been a lot more skeptical than most about all the claims of "Russian interference" with the US Presidential election this year. While I don't doubt there was some effort to do something, Russia is such an easy scapegoat. Still, plenty of people insist that it's true, including those who at least should have a fair bit of insight into what actually happened. To me, the bigger issue is that attribution in many of these things is a lot more difficult than most people make it out to be.

Either way, it's quite noteworthy that seven Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee have asked President Obama to declassify the evidence pointing to Russia and detailing what Russia actually did to attempt to interfere with the election. The Senators sent a very simple letter, which was released publicly, noting that a classified letter with a lot more details was also sent. Here's the entire text of the publicly released letter:
Dear Mr. President:

We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public. We are conveying specifics through classified channels.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Of course, it needs to be noted that this will clearly be seen as a partisan effort. Of the seven Senators who signed on to the letter, six are Democrats, and the other, Senator Angus King, is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Basically it's all of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee except for Dianne Feinstein and Harry Reid. So, it's easy for some to spin this as a case of sour grapes about the Democrats not winning the election, and that they're now clinging to stories of Russian interference to explain what happened.

But... that spin holds somewhat less weight when you look at the details. First off, the letter itself was put together by Senator Ron Wyden. And, yes, his name comes up a lot around here, but that's because he has a pretty long history of being right on lots and lots of stuff. And that's been especially true when Wyden says that there's some secret info that the public deserves to know about. He's been right on that every single time he's said it. So the track record is there. When Wyden says the public deserves to know something, pay attention.

The second thing that provides more confidence here is that this isn't just random conspiracy theories about "rigged" voting or whatever that some have been spewing. This is a specific request for more transparency by asking for specific information to be released to the public -- specific information that the Senate Intelligence Committee members have seen.

Given that, it seems worth paying attention to -- and at least asking why the President won't declassify such information? If there really is such strong evidence, why not reveal it? So far, all of the evidence pointing to Russia has been fairly weak, and it feels a bit like groupthink that everyone just insists it's true. But it's entirely possible (and perhaps now, probable) that the intelligence community has some more serious evidence. And, if that's the case, it seems worth sharing with the public even if you were happy with the outcome of the election. If Russia really did "interfere" somehow in the election, the public deserves to know the details of it.

Filed Under: declassify, election, hacking, interference, ron wyden, russia


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:36am

    The problem is the administration has already stated that Russia did not interfere with the election. Obama can't now release classified information he has stating otherwise without basically admitting he lied. So if any information does exist I find it highly unlikely that Obama is going to release it under any circumstances.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 9:40am

      Re:

      The problem with that is that Obama promised to have the most transparent administration EVAR!

      Which turned out to be quite a disappointment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 11:12am

      Re:

      Actually, the adminstration said the RUusskies didn't manage tamper with the voting machines.
      Doesn't mean they didn't try.
      Use of propaganda, paid posters to website message boards/Twitter/etc and "fake news" sites is another matter entirely...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:40am

    It could be the opposite too. They could be asking to release the info to defuse the conspiracy theories.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      That would work about as well as asking every government agency to release all information about UFOs.

      Crickets.

      Conspiracy theories continue, and possibly are fueled by the silence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2016 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      "It could be the opposite too. They could be asking to release the info to defuse the conspiracy theories."

      Because that worked out so well for the mylar balloon crash in Roswell.

      The guys on that committee are all hawks. They want the rumor mill to flow, so they can start greasing up the military industrial machine with fear and propaganda.

      Not that it matters at all what the Russians did anyway. Nothing has or will in the near future, result in more foreign interference with domestic elections than Citizens United v. FEC.

      So if the committee wants to talk about whose been in bed with Putin, they can start by walking across the street and asking SCOTUS to spit for a DNA sample.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:42am

    Transparency only when it suits them

    I recall a similar request being made by republicans to director Comey, but about the Clinton investigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:49am

    If we wanted transparency...

    We would not have elected Obama for a second term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 2 Dec 2016 @ 2:41pm

      Re: If we wanted transparency...

      I didn't vote for him in '12, for that and other reasons. But we don't get to pick our leaders' policy positions a la carte. I'm sure there were people who voted for Obama in '12 because they don't care about transparency (at least when their guy is in office). But I'm also sure there were people who voted for him despite grave misgivings about his administration's lack of transparency, because they supported him on other issues -- and because, after all, it's a two-party system, with only two viable candidates, and while there were significant differences between Obama and Romney on a number of issues, realistically I don't think government transparency was one of them.

      If you voted last month, I'm guessing you probably voted for a candidate who you agree with on some issues and not others. That's how voting usually works; it's pretty rare that you find somebody who you agree with 100% on everything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:52am

    They are hiding it because they aren't going to be able to prove anything, if the election was hacked and the results affected, they aren't going to find a smoking gun, they are going to find a bunch of suspicious stuff that isn't going to accomplish anything except make more people pissed off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:56am

    they found a line in the voting machine code

    "all your wodka are belonging to hac"

    so obviously they know the Russian hackers were there...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 8:57am

    What would happen in the U.S. if they disclosed stuff that says the election was "probably" rigged? Nothing good. If Russia or anyone else hacked the election, they did so successfully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 2 Dec 2016 @ 2:43pm

      Re:

      You're advocating on behalf of the government deliberately suppressing information because the public would react badly if it knew the truth.

      I don't think you'll find many people on Techdirt who are sympathetic to that viewpoint.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        crade (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re:

        Don't get me wrong, I always wish they would release it anyway, I just don't think they will.

        Of course, I'm just a popcorn eating bystander in this fight :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 2 Dec 2016 @ 9:20am

    Vicious rumor mill:
    All the evidence you need of Russian hacking is that Trump won.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 2 Dec 2016 @ 9:39am

    Why all of a sudden are all these people hanging on Barry's leg like a drunk girl that just got dumped?

    They all have had 8 years to apply pressure for his administration to be more open. Barry isn't going to ruffle any feathers that will spoil his future speaking engagement gigs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 9:53am

    The source of all problems in the United States of America is Russia... and China... and Mexico... and Iran... and Afghanistan... and Iraq...

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:23am

    WTF???

    What the *!$&@! is going on here? The cry for releasing info is now being repeated in the DC halls of power:
    First it's the church committee staffers on intelligence
    Then it's Feinstein on torture
    Now it's the rest of the intelligence committee on the Russians

    Is the possibility of powerful secret tools in the "wrong" hands suddenly waking everyone up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 2 Dec 2016 @ 4:52pm

      Re: WTF???

      I'm not a fan of Feinstein, but it's not like she just started asking for declassification of the torture docs. Whatever her flaws (and she has many), she's been pushing for that for years.

      That said, yeah, there are definitely some people who have just now found religion on a myriad of issues related to executive overreach now that there's a new guy about to take office.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 2 Dec 2016 @ 2:20pm

    Sony all over again

    I'm reminded of the "North Korean" Sony hack that no knowledgeable person believes had anything at all to do with the North Korean government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 2 Dec 2016 @ 2:52pm

      Re: Sony all over again

      I'm reminded of the "North Korean" Sony hack that no knowledgeable person believes had anything at all to do with the North Korean government.

      Well, rather a lot of knowledgeable people do, actually; see https://www.operationblockbuster.com/ . It's a pretty exhaustive analysis by a number of well-respected security researchers.

      It's quite clear that the attack went on for years, so the assertion that it was all a response to The Interview is clearly wrong. And it's quite possible that the attackers had inside help (there's some disagreement on this).

      There's no smoking gun proving the involvement of North Korea, and there's some dispute about it. But to say "no knowledgeable person believes" NK was involved is simply not true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDAH, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:07pm

        Re: Re: Sony all over again

        I dunno. You could have some security experts with an axe to grind against the North Koreans perhaps. Mebbe some South Korean security experts think it was NK.

        Beyond that, spooks should be too skeptical and paranoid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2016 @ 12:33am

    The information was wiped from a private server located in an unnamed officials basement, sorry folks. Maybe Wikileaks can help you out though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Mayor, 3 Dec 2016 @ 3:23am

    TRUMP WIN?

    Ha, ha, ha!... very interesting! This new request combined with the stuff at, http://www.foxla.com/good-day/good-day-la-experts-and-other-guests/218882862-story... AND... http://www.blueoregon.com/2016/11/oregon-can-help-abolish-electoral-college-right-now-no-really/... AND... "Jill Stein Just Called..." at, http://www.globalresearch.ca/j-31-chino-vs-f-35-estadounidense/5403013 (see, left window, "All Articles" bar!)!... AND... http://meetup.blackmattersus.com/meetup/one-person-one-vote-march/... is making December 19, 2016, look a loooong way away!

    .
    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 3 Dec 2016 @ 3:43pm

    Grasping at straws. I look forward to the next thing they try when this fails.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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