DOJ Russia Indictment Again Highlights Why Internet Companies Can't Just Wave A Magic Wand To Make Bad Stuff Go Away

from the troll-troll-troll-troll dept

As you've certainly heard by now, earlier today the Justice Department announced that it had indicted thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian organizations for various crimes related to trying to influence the US election. You should read the full indictment if you haven't already. Not surprisingly it focuses on the infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was the giant Russian online trolling operation that we've discussed going back to 2015.

While many are trying to position the indictment as a "significant" bit of news, I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed. It really does not reveal much that wasn't already widely known. It's been widely reported that the Russians had interest in disrupting our democracy and sowing discord, including setting up and pushing competing rallies from different political sides, and generally stoking fires of distrust and anger in America. And... the indictment seems to repeat much of that which has already been reported. Furthermore, this indictment actually reminds me quite a bit of a similar indictment four years ago aginst various Chinese officials for "hacking" crimes against the US. As we noted then, indicting the Chinese -- who the US would never be able to arrest anyway -- just seemed to be a publicity stunt, that had the potential to come back to haunt the US. It kinda feels the same here.

What is interesting to me, however, is that the indictment also demonstrates why all the hand-wringing against Facebook, Twitter and Google seems kind of misplaced. For months we've been seeing big articles and Congressional hearings questioning why the platforms allowed the Russians to use their services as propaganda tools -- even getting the companies to recently send out (useless, confusing) announcements to people about whether or not they saw or reposted Russian troll propaganda. But what the indictment makes pretty clear, is that the Russians made it nearly impossible for an internet service to ferret them out. The money used was spread out among many different banks and laundered through various means to make it more difficult to trace back. And it details just how far the trolls went to appear to be Americans, including traveling to the US, posing as Americans online to talk to actual US activists and push them in certain directions. And, of course, confusing the internet platforms into thinking they were Americans:

ORGANIZATION employees, referred to as "specialists," were tasked to create social media accounts that appeared to be operated by U.S. persons. The Specialists were divided into day-shift and night-shift hours and instructed to make posts in accordance with the appropriate U.S. time zone. The ORGANIZATION also circulated lists of U.S. holidays so that specialists could develop and post appropriate account activity. Specialists were instructed to write about topics germane to the United States such as U.S. foreign policy and U.S. economic issues. Specialists were directed to create "political intensity through supporting radical groups, users dissatisfied with [the] social and economic situation and oppositional social movements."

Defendants and their co-conspirators also created thematic group pages on social media sites, particularly on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. ORGANIZATION- controlled pages addressed a range of issues, including: immigration (with group names including "Secured Borders"); the Black Lives Matter movement (with group names including "Blacktivist"); religion (with group names including "United Muslims of America" and "Army of Jesus"); and certain geographic regions within the United States (with group names including "South United" and "Heart of Texas"). By 2016, the size of many groups had grown to hundreds of thousands of online followers.

Most of those groups (if not all?) had previously been revealed by the platforms or by news reports. But the extent to which the Russians went to cover their trails is more revealing.

To hide their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, Defendants and their co- conspirators--particularly POLOZOV and the IT department--purchased space on computer servers located inside the United States in order to set up virtual private networks Defendants and their co-conspirators connected from Russia to the U.S.-based infrastructure by way of these VPNs and conducted activity inside the United States? including accessing online social media accounts, opening new accounts, and communicating with real U.S. persons--while masking the Russian origin and control of the activity.

Defendants and their co-conspirators also registered and controlled hundreds of web-based email accounts hosted by U.S. email providers under false names so as to appear to be U.S. persons and groups. From these accounts, Defendants and their co-conspirators registered or linked to online social media accounts in order to monitor them; posed as U.S. persons when requesting assistance from real U.S. persons; contacted media outlets in order to promote activities inside the United States; and conducted other operations, such as those set forth below.

Use of Stolen U.S. Identities

In or around 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators also used, possessed, and transferred, without lawful authority, the social security numbers and dates of birth of real U.S. persons without those persons' knowledge or consent. Using these means of identification, Defendants and their co-conspirators opened accounts at PayPal, a digital payment service provider; created false means of identification, including fake driver's licenses; and posted on social media accounts using the identities of these U.S. victims. Defendants and their co-conspirators also obtained, and attempted to obtain, false identification documents to use as proof of identity in connection with maintaining accounts and purchasing advertisements on social media sites.

This was not just some run-of-the-mill "pretend to be Americans," this was a hugely involved process to make it very difficult to determine that they were not Americans.

I've seen some people online claiming that this shows why the platforms have to take more responsibility for who is using their platform:

But my read on it is exactly the opposite. It shows just how ridiculous such a demand is. Would any of us be using these various services if we were all forced to go through a detailed background check just to use a social media platform? That seems excessive and silly. Part of the reason why these platforms are so useful and powerful in the first place is that they're available for nearly everyone to use with little hurdles in the way. That obviously has negative consequences -- in the form of trolling and scams and malicious behavior -- but there's also a ton of really good stuff that has come out of it.

We should be pretty cautious before we throw away all of the value of these platforms just because some people used them for nefarious purposes. People are always going to be able to hide their true intentions from the various platforms -- and the response to that shouldn't be "put more blame on the platforms" -- it should be a recognition of why it's so silly to blame the tools and services for the actions of the users.

Yes, we should be concerned about foreign attempts to influence our elections (while noting that the US, itself, has a long history of doing the same damn thing in other countries -- so this is a bit of blowback). But blaming the technology platforms the Russians used seems to be totally missing the point of what happened -- and risks making the internet much worse for everyone else.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 2:52pm

    and what about using paypal

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 2:55pm

    This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

    Er... I predict this will be echoed endlessly as ultimate proof of "Trump-Russia collusion", when it's not even in the correct half of the planet! It'll grind on for a while, but unless they're extradited, what other point is there beyond publicity?

    Of course, the Russians have already laughed it off.


    Hey, "PaulT" and "Roger Strong", this fits you! "The indictment adds that the British and Canadian serfs "were instructed to post content that focused on 'politics in the USA' and to 'use any opportunity to criticize Trump'."

    Oh, sure you'll SAY that you're not paid to attack Trump. But is that a standard that you want to see set? After all, you're here blatantly, as "PaulT" stated just today, trying to influence US politics.

    Water for thought, eh?

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 2:59pm

      Re: This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

      Oh, if you think I'm at all worried yet and trying to deflect: NOPE. Laughable. This ALL BUT proves not a bit has been related to even the Trump campaign, let alone Trump.

      This is just screeching: "OMG! RUSSIANS HAVE OPINIONS!"

      But again, as "PaulT" so handily asserted just today: Russians have a "right" to state opinions in the US of A. -- They just don't get to vote, legally, as the flood of Hispanics do as aided and abetted by those with "D" by their names.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 3:08pm

        Re: Re: This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

        Aww, such cute racist lies.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 3:02pm

      Re: This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

      keep flailing

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 16 Feb 2018 @ 3:21pm

      Re: This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

      IKR? It amazes me how everyone in the comments is always screaming about how this is deeply related to the Trump campaign. Oh wait...


      If everyone who doesn't like Trump were a paid attacker, the standard of living would have shot up dramatically.

      Russians surely have a right to an opinion about the US. They also have no right to not be exposed as not actual Russian individuals, but as a state organization pretending to be US citizens and going to great lengths to obfuscate their true nature. Same as any other info campaign.

      Trump and his campaign have done some dumbass things wrt Russian involvement. Of course, if one just let an investigation roll, everyone might see how little or how much involvement their was, and whether it is innocuous or not. The bigger issue, really, is the administration's twisting the rule of law, lying, and obfuscating (and their sheer mouthiness in public, for flavor). For argument at the least, say Trump has done zero wrong in connection with Russian actors. His behavior beyond that is appalling. (Just like it has been his entire life.)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 4:55pm

      Re: This is horrible. I sort of agree: "underwhelmed". -- But I don't believe the charges, nor are they criminal, nor are those charged going to be handed over! This is JUST a stunt to try and show SOME results from year-long WITCH HUNT.

      Still mad the ruskies actually pay their peeps do spread propaganda are we?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2018 @ 4:39am

      dribble, dribble, dribble,

      Yawn...

      dribble, dribble, dribble!

      And? Did you want to say something?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 3:26pm

    It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

    "While many are trying to position the indictment as a "significant" bit of news, I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed."

    This is like criticizing plain white toast for failing to be a culinary masterpiece. This indictment is just a perfunctory step in a far larger process -- a necessary one, even if rather predictable by any of us who have been following Russian interference in US elections for a few years. Note that in practice this is likely to have little effect on the principals, as there is no extradition treaty in place between the US and Russia. But that's inconsequential because that's not who it's aimed at.

    The people who should be sweating right now are the ones who funded the IRA, because they are now at risk for losing many of their assets outside Russia. Why? Because (1) many of them own property in western Europe and the US (2) western Europe and the US are mostly members of NATO (3) an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all (4) this is clearly an attack on the US. There are BILLIONS of dollars worth of property collectively owned by these oligarchs in the US and Italy and France and so on, and if there is a coordinated decision by NATO to act on this, they could lose it all in a day.

    Keep in mind that none of them like Trump. They despise him, as any reasonable person does; it's just that he's been their useful idiot. If they're squeezed between having their assets confiscated or confessing to everything, including their role in funding his election, they'll flip on him...and that will include the kompromat, the recordings of his meetings with their agents, the financial transactions, everything.

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    • icon
      Richard (profile), 16 Feb 2018 @ 3:54pm

      Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

      There are BILLIONS of dollars worth of property collectively owned by these oligarchs in the US and Italy and France and so on, and if there is a coordinated decision by NATO to act on this, they could lose it all in a day.

      I wonder if this isn't all a plot by Putin to rid himself of a few more inconvenient Oligarchs....

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      • identicon
        ConspiracyMuch, 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:20pm

        Re: Re: Conspiracy Theory

        How dare you ruin a good conspiracy theory with an even better double cross conspiracy theory.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 12:52am

        Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        That would be a rather bold move by Putin, considering that they collectively wield more power than he does. He maintains his position at their discretion, because he preserves and enhances their wealth; if he can no longer do that, then he might find himself losing support.

        Keep in mind that "Russian government" and "Russian mob" are essentially synonymous. So when trying to evaluate the power dynamics in play, ask yourself how the Mafia would handle things. Russia's economy has been systematically looted and if it wasn't for their nuclear weapons, they'd be the geopolitical equivalent of Mexico. The oligarchs are trying to sustain their wealth by projecting the appearance of Russia as a power broker on par with the USSR, but they're not doing it in a sustainable way. All of which means that collaborative economic sanctions enforced by NATO would be devastating to not only the country, not only their personal fortunes, but to Putin's career.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2018 @ 11:50am

          Re: Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

          Many economies are being looted by various parties. At one time the looting in Russia was alleged to be non-Russian entities. Now the claim is it is favored Russian entities. And if one is worried about militaries and spending the US of A is a nation that should be worried about such.

          There are so many layers of ugly and bad I'm not sure how one is going to apply a meaningful fix.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 6:53pm

      Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

      It seems more like it was the rack-tag team around Trump that had some serious money-laundering going on with russian entities and people. The real connections to Trump seems to be through a lot of the people around him. Deniable plausibility, hush money, he knows the drill.

      That they are starting to get the ball rolling with indictments on the russian trolls is a very small part of the larger story. IRA are nothingburgers.

      I think you are getting way ahead of yourself when talking about oligarchs. IRA is not a secret organisation and the people funding them are not news to the CIA. Because of that the oligarchs should have had enough time to ferret the important parts of their deputy prime ministers and hookers away on yachts off the coast of Norway...

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 1:22am

        Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        "It seems more like it was the rack-tag team around Trump that had some serious money-laundering going on with russian entities and people."

        The team around Trump hasn't been involved in serious money laundering - for the most part - because they don't have serious money to launder. But Trump does. Let me give you a case study: 515 North County Road in Palm Beach, Florida.

        Look it up on a map. It's prime real estate. There was a 62,000 square foot mansion there that went up for auction in 2004. Trump bought it for $41M and had some minor work done. In 2006 he put it on the market for $125, which is insanely overpriced. In 2008, he cut the price to $100M. Still insanely overpriced, which is why there's little interest from buyers.

        Then Dmitry Rybolovlev -- yes, a Russian, and yes, an oligarch who's worth an estimated $10B shows up. He offers $75M. Trump says no. They haggle and he buys it for $95M.

        First clue: Rybolovlev paid more than it's worth. WAY MORE than it's worth. No sane person would do this, and someone who made $10B in potash mining is clearly sane enough to understand that.

        Second clue: HE NEVER MOVES IN. That's right. He dropped $95M on a house that, as far as anyone can tell, he only visited once.

        Third clue: he continues to drop money on it. From 2008 to 2016 he pays property taxes, upkeep, etc., an estimated total of $11M. So now he's into it for about $105M and still never moves in.

        Fourth clue: in 2016, he asks Palm Beach for permission to TEAR DOWN THE HOUSE. Which they grant and he does. Then he divides up the land into three chunks and puts it up for sale.

        If you don't understand that this is an absolutely textbook case of money laundering, then you haven't got the faintest clue how it works. The point of this exercise wasn't to buy a mansion and live in it, the point was to launder money and transfer it to Trump. And now Rybolovlev is doing the same thing, assuming the buyers are passing clean money.

        Note: this is one example. There are dozens that I know about, and since it isn't my full-time job to catalog them, I'm sure there are hundreds more that haven't hit my radar yet. It's not an exception. It's the rule.

        Trump is an absolute idiot who hasn't got the faintest clue how to run a business (or anything else). That's why every venture he's started has failed. That's why he's been financially vulnerable. And that's why he's been laundering money for the Russians for decades, because he needs their cash in order to prop up his brand. If it wasn't for dirty Russian money, he would have gone under years and years ago.

        They OWN his ass. Trump is the property of the Russian mob.

        And untangling decades of dirty money transactions with the Russian mob -- money they made from drugs, human trafficking, arms deals, etc. -- is a massive task. That's why it's taking time, and that's why, if you look at who Mueller's put on his team and read their resumes, you'll see that they're on it. Which of course is why the alleged party of law-and-order is on an anti-FBI crusade: they're terrified of what Mueller's team knows...and not just about Trump.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 10:33am

      Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

      CNN and the Washington Post have both confirmed through anonymous DOJ insiders that Mueller's investigation has uncovered startling evidence implicating Donald Trump in a broad-ranging money laundering operation. The Russian Federation has also been implicated in the scheme.

      The Trump real estate business is reported to have been used as a way to develop upon existing money-making channels from at least as early as 1998, one unnamed insider reported. In this scheme, Trump was implied to have purchased parcels of land in an undeveloped area. Later, after building various structure on these parcels of land, Trump would then sell the land/structure combination for a larger amount of money than he had originally paid. Former US Southern Disctrict attorney Morty Goldblatt, a New York Times special consultant, has even theorized that the amounts of money Trump received for these parcels exceeded the amount of money spent on building or improving new structures on the parcels. Goldblatt further explained this type of activity is very common in Russia, with Vladimir Putin having participated in the buying and selling of real estate to increase cash reserves in the mid-1990s, shortly after leaving the KGB.

      While Trump's location is currently unknown, anonymous Washington insiders have reported that Trump may have gone into hiding in order to avoid incarceration for these crimes. Widespread lawlessness is predicted to descend upon North America, with packs of wild dogs controlling most major cities, according to retired CIA Counter-intelligence Agent Phillip K Mudd. Trump's chief spokesman Thomas Mortiarti had no comment when asked to confirm or deny Trump's participation in Russia-linked money laundering deals.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 1:09pm

        Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        Nice, Ivan, you've outdone yourself with this one.

        But you konw: Mueller has Trump's tax returns. He has Deutsche Bank's records. He has everything FINCEN has. He has everything Five Eyes has. And he has a superstar team of prosecutors with years of experience in money laundering.

        Everyone is going to prison. And then we're going to deal with Putin.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 4:13pm

        Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        So do you guys have a native born English speaker writing your scrips or do yo have to do that yourselves in-between borscht breaks?

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

      • identicon
        carlb, 18 Feb 2018 @ 7:49am

        Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        Re:"Widespread lawlessness is predicted to descend upon North America, with packs of wild dogs controlling most major cities, according to retired CIA Counter-intelligence Agent Phillip K Mudd."

        Sounds like an improvement on the status quo, as the difference between American politicos and dogs is that dogs are actually capable of expressing loyalty.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2018 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

        " with packs of wild dogs controlling most major cities"

        Don't refer to your GOP handlers like that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 4:23am

          Re: Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

          In this thread: People with no sense of humor.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 10:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It wasn't meant to be a bombshell

            Better that, than being a rug for Putin’s trolls to put their feet up on. Isn’t that right Mr. Usefull Idiot?

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  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:13pm

    The "offline industry" litmus test

    Any time people say online platforms should do X or be responsible/liable, that same proposal should be applied to other industries to see how reasonable it is. I think real estate, vehicles, and banking are good ones to use.

    So should the real estate industry do more background checks on people to whom they sell/rent to ensure they won't be used for nefarious purposes? How about car and truck dealers? Or banks?

    Or to put it another way: apply the Alice test. Just because it's "on a computer" or "on the Internet" doesn't mean it should be any different than offline businesses.

    More often than not, I think this simple thought experiment will expose just how ludicrous the original proposal is.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:32pm

    What a bunch of ignorant cunts .
    The CIA has manipulated foreign countries for years .
    Killed Democratically elected officials to install
    Puppet Dictators to tow the American line .
    Sorry if you can't handle the same shits been pulled on you .

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      So all you got is a shit whataboutism? How trite.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 4:53am

        Re: Re:

        It'd be nice if the US of A lead by example by NOT pulling crap like GLADIO.

        It shows the level of discourse when no effort is made to examine the past and determine how the US of A is not gonna keep up with its old habits. Bullies need excuses to not change and slapping a label of "whataboutism" to not change is gonna work for many fine people.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So doubling down on the whataboutism eh? Let’s see how that plays it for ya.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 12:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          By the way sonny, the current level of discourse is russian troll factory and their useful idiot counterparts. And since you’re one or the other, you might want to get the fuck down off your high horse.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 8:06am

      Re:

      Yeah, that makes it ok then

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:34pm

    Real Americans, Too

    From the indictment:

    The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns, and stage political rallies.

    So even something crazy, like requiring people to prove US citizenship in order to use social media, wouldn't have prevented this.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 7:30pm

      Re: Real Americans, Too

      Yeah. The political solution of big hammer, moral panic legislation is as much a refusion of solution as doing nothing... And requiring peoples opinions and morals to conform when the requirement doesn't solve a problem is very much against libartay and away from a democratic identity.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 6:11pm

    You know, before we start raising hell about other countries doing things to us, maybe we should look seriously at our own practices.

    While I don't like the idea of Russia attempting to influence our elections and political stances, I think I would like it even less were Russia trying to take over our country with military forces such as we did in Iraq. Nor is Iraq the only country the US has been involved in doing so.

    Our government doesn't like Russia meddling maybe they should stand back and take a long look in the mirror.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Feb 2018 @ 4:19am

      But what about THEM?

      Nah, I'd much rather talk about the colonies on mars. I mean what about the horrible stuff that they've done, clearly the focus should be on them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      Before we talk about your whataboutism, let’s just verify that your IP address doesn’t come from a country currently in the FBI’s crosshairs for meddling in a recent election.

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

  • identicon
    Eric Blair, 16 Feb 2018 @ 6:27pm

    The real issue here is that you cannot childproof society. The problem is that far too many Americans lack basic critical thinking skills, not that a few Russians trolled on Twitter. The oligarchs who have been running the US war machine since Woodrow Wilson have worked very hard to turn Americans into ignorant, compliant proles that were easy to control. Unfortunately for them, they lost control of the narrative with the spread of the internet. That's what all of this idiocy has been about, ever since Obama kicked it off with his speech - before Trump was elected - about how we need a "curating function" to filter out frowned-upon information in the "wild west" media landscape".

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-decries-wild-west-media-landscape-214642552.html?soc_src =mail&soc_trk=ma

    All of this - the invented Russian nonsense, the "fake news" brouhaha, the panic about "bots" and "Bernie Bros" is designed to recapture control of the narrative by those in power. This new McCarthyism tars anyone who deviates from the orthodox DC/CIA media-establishment narrative as either a traitor or a "useful idiot". Under these efforts, pushed universally by corporate media outlets, marks anyone who questions US/NATO global hegemony as an enemy.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/washington-post-blacklist-story-is-shameful-disgustin g-w452543

    The goal, of course, is censorship. Both direct censorship as we have seen directed towards RT (and now Al Jazeera), as well as indirect censorship, as we have seen from CIA clients such as Google, who have systematically delisted and deranked voices that don't jive with the DC/CIA media-establishment.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/technology/google-search-bias-claims.html

    Ulti mately, unfortunately, as evidenced by the masses of Americans whipped up into an anti-Russian frenzy that threatens global extinction from nuclear war due to some frowned-upon tweets, it seems very likely that the oligarchs running this country will be successful in their attempts at controlling the internet. All too many Americans are ready and willing to give up their freedoms under the guise of "protecting us from Russian attacks".

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  • icon
    Richard Hack (profile), 16 Feb 2018 @ 9:10pm

    This Indictment is a Load of BS and Mueller Desperation

    You want to know who these guys were?

    Anti-Russia Russians recruited by the CIA to do this stuff...

    Read here and learn:

    A Brief History of the “Kremlin Trolls”
    https://thesaker.is/a-brief-history-of-the-kremlin-trolls/

    There was no attempt by Russia to "meddle" in the election. It was a CIA disinformation campaign.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 2:37pm

      Re: This Indictment is a Load of BS and Mueller Desperation

      I love it when the trolls in Saint Petersburg go to all the bother of setting up an account and using it here and there to promote that are a regular identify on Techdirt.

      Be careful Ivan, I hear pooty poot sends naughty time wasting trolls to Siberia.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 3:49pm

      Re: This Indictment is a Load of BS and Mueller Desperation

      The diminutive Richard is dick, and dick hack is about right.

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

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 16 Feb 2018 @ 10:10pm

    Three observations...

    1) The press conference is very careful to say that there was no knowing collaboration by any group of Americans under the charges in _this_ indictment.
    2) The significance of the indictment isn't so much the facts and accusations, it's that they are now out in the open in the judicial system. Someone clearly decided to pull the trigger on this group at this particular time, rather than maintain silence that could protect methods and sources. The consequences of this indictment are also significant: a) It shoots a warning shot at the Russians, b) the critics who had been growing bolder in their claims that there was no interference at all now have to fall back on either "there was no knowing collaboration in the Trump administration" or "an indictment is not a conviction. It changes the public discourse completely. c) It's a confidence booster (justified or not) for the public that the mid-term elections will be that much cleaner.
    3) Welcome to the Second Cold War, baby. If there was any doubt that US-Russian relations are completely adversarial, those doubts are over.

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

  • identicon
    stine, 16 Feb 2018 @ 11:52pm

    U.S. foreign policy

    When can we expect all of the countries that we interfered with back in the early 1900's/ mid 1900's to start demanding reparations?

    Do you think President Carter would enjoy his final years in an Iranian prison? The Bush's in Iraq. Clinton in Somalia? Obama in Afganistan?

    Or does it just mean that all of the money spent on/by/for the NSA has been wasted?

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

    • identicon
      teka, 17 Feb 2018 @ 7:29am

      Re: U.S. foreign policy

      Sure is a lot of "what-about-ism" suddenly popping up whenever certain keywords happen. Weird.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 8:09am

        Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

        Yeah - let's not try and fix anything, lets just whine and moan about the past.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

          Right, so let's stop harping on shit that happened all the way back in 2016 and focus more on positive messages for 2018 and 2020 instead.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 2:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

            Like the current indightments? Good idea. Someone should write an article about that on an opinion blog..

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2018 @ 4:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

              People aren't going to be electing an indictment that fails to improve the lives of ordinary people in any way.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 5:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

            A positive message like "yea, turns out we pulled some shit in the past and here's some new policy/tools to prevent that kinda shit happening in the future."? Moving toward being the example of better behaviour?

            Naw, simpler to leave the past unexamined and throw up one's hands.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 10:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: U.S. foreign policy

              Looks like someone down below you already covered that angle. Got any other whataboutisms to deploy?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 10:47am

      Re: U.S. foreign policy

      Those countries aren't powerful enough to do anything.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2018 @ 2:48pm

      Re: U.S. foreign policy

      Ok Boris I’ll bite. What about Russia in Afghanistan? What about the proxy wars in Africa in the 70’s-90’s? What about Russia in the Ukraine? What about Russia in the Crimea? What about Russia in Chechnya?

      By the way Bush started the American Afghanistan Adventure so they will have to chop him in 1/2. And same with Bush Senior in Panama. You also forgot Regan’s Iran-Contra problem, so we will have to disinter him and then cut him in 1/2 as well.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 19 Feb 2018 @ 8:47am

      Re: U.S. foreign policy

      Oh my God.

      Here I've been going into threads where Trump's name was in the headline and joking "Why isn't anybody talking about Carter?"

      I thought I was joking. I thought I was engaging in comic exaggeration of the type of stupid shit trolls say in these threads to try and distract from the issue. Not an accurate verbatim repetition of it.

      At least I've still got my "What about Dukakis?" joke.

      I think. I'm kind of afraid to scroll down through the rest of the thread.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Feb 2018 @ 4:41am

    Have fun with that

    So the takeaway from this seems to be to highlight yet again why those calling for platforms like Twitter need to 'do something' is hilariously impractical. Even modest background checks would not have caught this, yet 'just' taking that step would likely slash use of the various platforms by an enormous amount, chilling massive amounts of speech.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 18 Feb 2018 @ 3:42am

    1. So what? 2016 presidential election price tag was $2.4 bn. What difference do a few million from Russia make?

    2. If, by some magic formula, Putin can swing elections in the most powerful country in the world with a tiny budget share, then America would have a much bigger problem than just election tinkering.

    On the other hand, making a big show of arresting the hired help like Bin Laden's Taxi chauffeur and Putin's kitchen staff instead of real villains does not really support the superpower-image we'd like to see. And if President Trump were indeed a puppet whose strings are pulled by Putin - would it really be a smart move to broadcast that to the world before there is solid evidence to take both of them down?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2018 @ 6:35am

      Small force applied correctly beats brute force almost every time

      A few bucks worth of metal in the right shape and you can pick basically any tumbler lock on even the most expensive house.

      That something might be easy or require minimal effort applied in just the right way does not excuse the act itself, any more than a burglar would be able to argue their way out of a trespassing charge by claiming that hey, if they can break in with a handful of cheap tools then the homeowner has bigger problems to worry about then them.

      As for the third paragraph, exactly what do you think they should do? Refrain from making anything public with regards to an investigation that a bunch of politicians including the president of the US would really like to go away post-haste?

      Sure it may not be ideal to snag some small-fry while working on the bigger game, but if they can't show something being accomplished then it becomes easy for certain parties to claim that the investigation is a baseless witch-hunt, finding nothing because there is nothing. By instead showing that yeah, they are finding things then it's much harder to just dismiss the whole thing out of hand.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2018 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      And how do you know there isn’t solid or liquid evidence? You guys have the pee tape locked up tight right? We’d hate for that to get out into the wild accidently.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2018 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      Don't bother, it's just another Russian troll who took Putin's cock out of his mouth long enough to type some bullshit.

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

  • identicon
    John, 18 Feb 2018 @ 2:36pm

    Is the government really pissed off?

    If this results in the government forcing serious ID checks on people using Facebook etc to protect us from the Russians, you can only assume this has been a deliberate act by the government to control the internet. They may have even colluded with the Russians.

    Russia, China etc can force controls over their internet users. But in the west, fear is the tool that will achieve the same thing and the citizens will give up their freedoms without even realizing it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 4:41am

      Re: Is the government really pissed off?

      I hope it will cause the government to force Facebook to shut down and that it will imprison everyone who works there.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Personanongrata, 19 Feb 2018 @ 1:52pm

    “We're all mad here.” *

    DOJ Russia Indictment Again Highlights Why Internet Companies Can't Just Wave A Magic Wand To Make Bad Stuff Go Away

    The italicized/bold text below was excerpted from a report found at the website zerohedge.com titled:

    Watch A Flustered John Podesta Respond To "How 13 Russians Operatives" Outsmarted Hillary

    In a discussion of 13 Russian nationals indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, host Nancy Cordes noted that Russian operatives who meddled in the election somehow realized the importance of focusing on those highly contested swing states.

    “How is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn’t?” Nancy Cordes, the host of “Face the Nation,” asked Podesta.

    Click the link and watch John Podesta tap dance:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-19/watch-flustered-john-podesta-respond-why-russians-o peratives-were-smarter-hillary

    That's right over one year of special prosecutor Mueller and all he has to show for the great Russian 2016 US presidential election caper is a great big fat nothing.

    It's been widely reported that the Russians had interest in disrupting our democracy and sowing discord, including setting up and pushing competing rallies from different political sides, and generally stoking fires of distrust and anger in America.

    Where is the evidence supporting your allegation that the Russians had interest in disrupting our democracy and sowing discord?

    The very same Russians that still fly US astronauts to the International Space Station?

    https://www.space.com/38134-space-station-expedition53-crew-launch-success.html

    The same Russians which still supply the US government with RD-180 rocket engines for it's heavy lift Atlas rockets?

    http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/space-flight-news/russia-claims-u-s-will-continue-purchase-rd-180 -engines/

    The same Russians that let the US use railways and an airbase in Russia to ease the logistical nightmare the US/NATO face(d) in Afghanistan (the Russians closed the door in 2015 after repeated US kicks to the groin).

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-afghanistan/russia-may-give-nato-a-base-for-afghan -supply-runs-idUSBRE82D16P20120314

    https://jamestown.org/program/russia-shutters-northern-distributi on-network/

    * Borrowed from Lewis Carrol's 'Alice in Wonderland'

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2018 @ 2:49pm

      Re: “We're all mad here.” *

      The same zerohedge that’s a Russian propaganda tool? Oh my! Fetch my fainting couch as I seen from the shock of it all.

      As far as the rest, to quote the ruskie tinged running theme; what about it?

      At least your name checks out; no one wants your borscht flecked shit staining this page.

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Feb 2018 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re: “We're all mad here.” *

        Guys... you're both right.

        The Russians attempted to make nice with the West at the end of the Cold War, but the West still needed a boogeyman to keep that sweet, sweet military-industrial contract money flowing.

        Then Putin came to power with a head full of nationalistic dreams, the idea being to supplant the USA as a superpower. Result: what we see today. We own this.

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

  • icon
    Dank710 (profile), 20 Feb 2018 @ 8:02am

    Long story short we got PLAYED

    We have no one to blame but ourselves. We as Americans seem not to question anything or do any research. We just hear or read something and pass it down the line.

    We are a nation of sheep so alseep.

    The woke are a very small fraction of the population.

    This will keep on happening as our intelligence level lowers.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 20 Feb 2018 @ 9:26am

      Re: Long story short we got PLAYED

      It's unclear whether the Russian interference swung the election. If it did, it was a less significant factor than the campaigns themselves and good old-fashioned homegrown propaganda like Fox News. Nate Silver had a pretty good article on this the other day.

      Which isn't to say that the Russian interference wasn't a big deal; even if it didn't swing the election this time, who's to say it won't next time?

      I'm also not dismissing the Trump campaign's apparent collusion with the Russian government. While we've seen no direct evidence that Trump himself was personally involved, there's plenty of evidence that his family and staff were, and that's certainly suggestive.

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

      • icon
        Dank710 (profile), 20 Feb 2018 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re: Long story short we got PLAYED

        I agree our own country does a great job of brainwashing sheep on our own. Don't really need their help.

        However I'm certain FOX are dumb as well and fell for stupid stories they then went on to share with their audience. Surely some of their sources are Russian and where part of the plot.

        We might be blaming Social Media now but the MSM gets much of their news from SOCIAL so it all goes hand in hand.

        Americans need to get back to READING. Talking heads on TV is no way to gain insight.

        Cut the cord

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


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