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US has intervened in twice as many elections as Russia

US Politics
on 35 Comments

Donald Trump made bombshell news yesterday at his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki when he said that the Russian president’s case that the Russians did not intervene in the 2016 election was as strong as the finding by American intelligence agencies that Russia did. John McCain has said it was “one of the most disgraceful performances by a U.S. president in memory,” and the mainstream media have echoed that view. Some have accused Trump of treason.

Not to take Trump’s side here, but his abandonment of U.S. intelligence agencies has exposed some hypocrisy on the liberal Democratic side: their support for the security state and their inability to acknowledge the long history of American interference in foreign elections. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on the PBS News Hour last night injected that realism.

I would say that President Trump has a healthy dose of skepticism towards our intelligence community and I share some of that. James Clapper [then director of National Intelligence] came before the Senate and lied. He said they weren’t collecting our information. That’s the biggest boldface lie that we’ve had in decades and no one did anything about it… They [Clapper and former CIA director John Brennan, who also faulted Trump] had the power to snoop on any American, to snoop on any person in the world. And believe you me they were scooping up everybody’s information…

I’m not saying they [the Russians] didn’t interfere with  the election. In all likelihood they did.  There’s a guy named Dov Levin from Carnegie Mellon who looked at this from 1946 to 2000, and he found 81 times in which the US intervened in elections, about 36 times for the Soviet Union. None of it makes it right, but any country that can spy does and any country that can intervene in foreign elections does. Yes, we’ve been involved in Russia in their elections, we’ve been involved in the Ukraine elections. And we say it’s for democracy. But we don’t support the Russian party. We support the pro-western party. And we paint ours as if ours is always just on the up and up. But we get involved in foreign countries’ elections.

And so yes, we have elevated this Russian thing to a degree that we are simply deranged by it… Did the Russians get involved in it? Yes. What I would tell Russians is exactly what I have told their ambassador and others: if you thought it would help things, it’s actually backfired. Because there can be no rapprochement with Russia, no engagement with Russia, because of the meddling in the election.

Here is an interview from 2016 with Levin about that study.

How often do other countries like Russia, for example, try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the United States?

LEVIN: Well, for my dataset, the United States is the most common user of this technique. Russia or the Soviet Union since 1945 has used it half as much.

Ben Rhodes

Finally, here’s a choice bit from top Obama aide Ben Rhodes’s new memoir, The World As It Is, about a documented instance of the U.S. interfering in a foreign election: the Ukraine. Rhodes reports a conversation in 2014 with a staffer at the National Security Council about a phone call documenting US interference– and notice where Rhodes’s outrage is. Not the American interference. “Russia has reached a new low”!

The intercepted call was between Toria Nuland, our assistant secretary of state for Europe, and Geoff Pyatt, our ambassador in Kiev. Nuland was a hawkish Foreign Service officer, anti-Russian, a savvy veteran of Dick Cheney’s staff who served as Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman at State. In the recording, she and Pyatt sounded as if they were picking a new government as they evaluated different Ukrainian leaders. “I don’t think Klitsch should go into government [I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea],” she said about one Ukrainian politician. “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience,” she said about another Ukrainian, who soon became prime minister [Arseniy Yatsenyuk]. At the end of the call, complaining about a lack of European pressure to resolve the crisis, Nuland said, “Fuck the EU.”

I was stunned. The Russians had almost certainly intercepted the phone call. That was hardly surprising–in these jobs, you have to assume that any number of governments could be listening in if you’re on a non-secure phone. What was new was the act of releasing the intercepted call and doing it so brazenly, on social media–the Russian government had even tweeted out a link to the YouTube account. Doing so violated the unspoken understanding among the major powers–we collect intelligence on one another, but we use it privately, for our own purposes. A Rubicon had been crossed–the Russians no longer stopped at hacking information; now, triggered by the threat of Ukraine sliding out of their sphere of influence, they were willing to hack information and put it into the public domain.

“I don’t know what we can say about this,” I said. “What have we said so far?”

“State hasn’t commented.”

We ended up noting that the Russians were the ones who had published the video and calling it “a new low in Russian tradecraft.”

 

 

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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35 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    July 17, 2018, 3:20 pm

    It cracks me up that American politicians think it’s:
    – entirely acceptable for the U.S. to arbitrarily sanction, embargo, bomb, destabilize and “regime-change” other countries; but,
    – entirely unacceptable for Russia to “meddle” in an American election.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 17, 2018, 4:05 pm

      “– entirely unacceptable for Russia to “meddle” in an American election.”

      And it is considered very bad form for American Presidential candidates to solicit their aid, and make use of it.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        July 18, 2018, 8:35 pm

        But it’s only a crime if he aids them.

  2. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    July 17, 2018, 3:56 pm

    I’m reading it as Obama having to clean up another of Hillary’s (and her hand-picked neocon/neolib staff’s) messes/unsecured communications: “The intercepted call was between Toria Nuland, our assistant secretary of state for Europe, and Geoff Pyatt, our ambassador in Kiev. Nuland was a hawkish Foreign Service officer, anti-Russian, a savvy veteran of Dick Cheney’s staff who served as Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman at State. In the recording, she and Pyatt sounded as if they were picking a new government as they evaluated different Ukrainian leaders. … The Russians had almost certainly intercepted the phone call. That was hardly surprising–in these jobs, you have to assume that any number of governments could be listening in if you’re on a non-secure phone. … [Obama] “State hasn’t commented.” “

  3. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    July 17, 2018, 4:32 pm

    Poor, innocent “Toria”!

  4. Philip Munger
    Philip Munger
    July 17, 2018, 5:16 pm

    Although I’m disturbed by the constantly lengthening procession of neocons trotting out to pretend the USA somehow, rather exceptionally, doesn’t routinely disturb the political routines of many other countries – most notably and recently in Honduras and Nicaragua – I’m more disturbed about an issue that hasn’t gotten the attention I think it deserves: possible voter machine manipulation in the 2016 election.

    Maybe it wasn’t even needed, given how close the apparent results were in those few important upper Midwest swing states that HRC’s inept campaign wrote off as “hers.” The so-called experts we’ve heard from keep intoning that there is no evidence voters or voting mechanics were tampered with beyond the fake accounts designed to either manipulate voters on who to vote for, or to convince them it wasn’t worth it to pull the lever. Actually, very little appears to have been done to really verify this as fact.

    In past elections, it has been difficult to get actual recounts of electronic, computer networked voter machine tallies for a variety of reasons: The information in the machines is often the private property of the vendors the state contracts to provide the machines (!!!). Secretaries of State generally have to be sued to get inside info on how vote counts from precinct to precinct are tabulated on their way up the chain of highly vulnerable computer steps they go through in the process of being posted publicly.

    There are many steps of vulnerability in our voting process. Even when we seem to finally get a dream candidate, such as Alex in the Bronx, they are under constant pressure to comply with absurd constraints such as Phil W. covered here recently.

    Many U.S. laws were broken in the 2016 election. We will never be able to prosecute the Russian military figures indicted last Friday, but now that the indictments are in the mill, I feel it is important we view this strange set of events they are part of as a learning experience on how vulnerable our political system is, rather than how futile or useless it is to participate in the Federal election process.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      July 21, 2018, 2:13 am

      “how vulnerable our political system is, rather than how futile or useless it is to participate in the Federal election process.”

      I would add how weak the famous checks and balances are in the face of autocracy.

      One of the things about the US from the point of view of an outsider is how worshipped the institutions are. The US is not even 250 years old. I often look at the book ads in the New York review. End less riffs on the civil war and the Constitution.

      France has had 5 constitutions since 1789.

      There are 3 pillars of the US system – the President, an independent Senate and an independent Supreme Court. The Plutocrats now own all 3.

      The Constitution is useless if the Supreme Court can legalise things like Citizens United.

      @EJDionne

      “Conservatism of the Burkean variety tends to conserve settlements that seem to work, that deliver acceptable levels of prosperity and civil peace” & allow “social, economic & political experimentation.” Charles Fried: The Roberts Court is not conservative

       @Norman Ornstein

      There will likely be five justices willing to blow up the essentials of democratic rule in a free and diverse republic. It will be a nakedly partisan set of decisions to enable a dwindling party minority to maintain control.

      Hamilton and his counterparts deliberately created a system to provide safeguards against this kind of corrupt demagogue. They started with an independent Congress and an independent Supreme Court. Sadly, neither seem to be working

      https://blog.harvardlawreview.org/not-conservative/

      “In several of the most controverted areas that the Court has entered and in which its decisions have had a profound effect on law and on our national life—voting rights, gerrymandering, affirmative action, abortion, campaign finance, and most recently mandatory agency fees to public sector unions—the Court has undermined or overturned precedents that embodied longstanding and difficult compromise settlements of sharply opposed interests and principles. These decisions are not the work of a conservative Court.”

      This is MUCH more serious than Russian interference. The US system is broken.

  5. Kay24
    Kay24
    July 18, 2018, 5:17 am

    America might have interfered in other nations, but no other US president has stood next to America’s enemy or friend on a stage, and totally rejected his country and his intelligence officials, and instead choose a brutal dictator and the KGB, on foreign soil. I have never seen any other world leader behave like he did, and that goes for dictators too. It seems Trump became a Russian official at that moment.

    He did not put America first, instead the world saw him put Russia first.
    Disgraceful.

    • eljay
      eljay
      July 18, 2018, 8:03 am

      || Kay24: … no other US president has stood next to America’s enemy or friend on a stage, and totally rejected his country and his intelligence officials … He did not put America first, instead the world saw him put Russia first. … ||

      What the world saw was “fake news” because according to Trump it’s obvious that when…
      – he says “I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia”;
      – he actually means “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.”

      Sounds like (The) Donald has been taking word re-definition lessons from Zionists.

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        July 18, 2018, 4:26 pm

        Eljay and Misterioso, considering the number of times he contradicted himself, reversed himself, and confused the country, pundits who questioned his sanity seems to be right. No sane person will behave so erratically, and I am wondering when the republicans in congress will allow their patriotism to kick in, stand up to him, and do something to stop this runaway train. The longer he stays in power, the more damage he is doing to the country. Damage that will be irreversible, and harm the fabric of this nation. Scary.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      July 18, 2018, 10:42 am

      @Kay24, et al

      I may well be over optimistic, but Trump’s “performance” in Helsinki with Putin and his scripted bull**** response to the resulting criticism and rage in Washington yesterday, may prove to be his and the Republicans’ “Waterloo.” (Fingers crossed.)

      Indeed, Bibi and his fellow murderous, racist Zionist thugs, including Sheldon Adelson, may well be discussing the distinct possibility that Trump is rapidly becoming a liability. (“Lie down with dogs and you’ll get fleas.”)

    • Keith
      Keith
      July 19, 2018, 10:25 am

      KAY24- “It seems Trump became a Russian official at that moment.”

      Defending the integrity of the CIA? Calling detente treason? You must be a diehard Democratic loyalist. The lying, cheating, murderous empire is on a rampage and you defend the rampage? What next, Heil Hitlary? Unbelievable.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 19, 2018, 4:39 pm

        Pssst, “Keith”, listen, when the time comes, I’ve got a couple of underscores for sale to the highest bidder.

      • Keith
        Keith
        July 20, 2018, 5:34 pm

        MOOSER- “Pssst, “Keith”, listen, when the time comes, I’ve got a couple of underscores for sale to the highest bidder.”

        Better save them for yourself and other Democrat warmongers. Not all that long ago, the Democrats were talking about cooperation with Russia. During the 2012 Presidential election campaign, Obama and the rest of the Democratic elite pilloried Mitt Romney for demonizing Russia as our enemy. They described Romney as stuck in an out of date cold war mentality. Some turnabout! What happened, Moosie, why the change?

        I link to a Chomsky interview where clips of some of these comments are shown. Most interesting. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/49873.htm

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 20, 2018, 6:01 pm

        ” Not all that long ago, the Democrats were talking about cooperation with Russia.”

        The videos of Hilary and Obama inviting Russia to launder money, meddle in elections, hack into e-mails and buy a candidate are damning, aren’t they?
        And remember them insisting all this “cooperation” should be, must be outside normal diplomatic procedure or policy, and consist of a whispered “summit” with no record or transcript?

      • Keith
        Keith
        July 21, 2018, 12:37 am

        MOOSER- “The videos of Hilary and Obama inviting Russia to launder money, meddle in elections, hack into e-mails and buy a candidate are damning, aren’t they?”

        Give it a rest, for cry sakes. So you think that Russia “meddles” in our (fraudulent) elections more than Israel? More than Saudi Arabia? More than the Military Industrial Complex? More than Wall Street? More than the f***ing MSM? We are part of an incredibly corrupt empire where everything is for sale and the Russians don’t have enough money to make a significant impact. But if it makes you feel good to parrot the party line even as you piss upon your brain, what can I say? Rubbing shoulders with John McCain, channeling Joe McCarthy, you have turned into some peice of work. Seriously. Another quote for you.

        “Where to begin to analyze the madness of mainstream media in reaction to the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki? By focusing on the individual, psychology has neglected the problem of mass insanity, which has now overwhelmed the United States establishment, its mass media and most of its copycat European subsidiaries. The individuals may be sane, but as a herd they are ready to leap off the cliff.

        For the past two years, a particular power group has sought to explain away its loss of power – or rather, its loss of the Presidency, as it still holds a predominance of institutional power – by creation of a myth. Mainstream media is known for its herd behavior, and in this case the editors, commentators, journalists have talked themselves into a story that initially they themselves could hardly take seriously.

        On the face of it, this is preposterous. Okay, the United States can manage to rig elections in Honduras, or Serbia, or even Ukraine, but the United States is a bit too big and complex to leave the choice of the Presidency to a barrage of electronic messages totally unread by most voters.” (Diana Johnstone) https://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trump-was-elected-by-russia-mass-dementia-in-the-western-establishment/5648031

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    July 18, 2018, 6:54 am

    Thanks for this politically incorrect reminder of an inconvenient truth.

    BTW: I infer that Ms. Nuland is “Toria” to her friends. I’ve always referred to her as Ms. Nuland, or as Mrs. (neocon “liberal interventionist”) Robert Kagan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kagan

  7. Shingo
    Shingo
    July 18, 2018, 7:03 am

    There is so much cognitive dissonance in the US. The ruling elite routinely pontificate about regime change and supporting oppositioin groups in other countries, but the mere suggestion that they have a taste of their own medicine incites reactions like the US has been raped or touched innapropriately.

    The supreme irony is that the left have claimed there was an attack on US democracy, referring of course to the DNC emails which revealed evidence of egregious violations of democracy on the part of the DNC.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 18, 2018, 11:45 am

      I have always thought that not following server best practices is exactly like colluding with Russia.

      • Keith
        Keith
        July 19, 2018, 10:47 am

        MOOSER- “…colluding with Russia.”

        What are you, a DNC parrot? A new cold warrior? This Russiagate nonsense is pure BS. The world would be a better place if Israel had as little influence on US policy as Russia which is close to zero. The New Democrats are the new warmongers, McCarthyites on steroids.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 19, 2018, 5:41 pm

        “Keith”, please don’t think I blame Russia. Either its government or its people.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        July 20, 2018, 10:41 pm

        Mooser, please don’t think anyone is blaming you or Rachel Maddow personally.

  8. Tuyzentfloot
    Tuyzentfloot
    July 18, 2018, 8:50 am

    After the summit with North Korea this is Russia summit is another excellent action from Trump. I would even claim he’s acting in America’s interests and I’m sure there are officials and advisers quietly supporting him. Quietly, because the reactions to his actions are reminiscent of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    It doesn’t matter much what the intensity was of Russia’s undercover actions. In normal circumstances one would expect a lot of aggressive stuff, and when tensions are high, even more.
    But I doubt that Russia has been involved in even one of the things it has been accused of, a position which in the current climate is shunned because it damages the reputation of those who hold it.

  9. hophmi
    hophmi
    July 18, 2018, 9:11 am

    Funny how much in common Weiss has with Trump.

  10. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    July 18, 2018, 10:02 am

    Yeah, the first thing that occurred to me when Russia was accused of interfering in US elections was: We do it all the time!

    For might makes right,
    And till they’ve seen the light
    They’ve got to be protected,
    All their rights respected,
    Till somebody WE LIKE can be elected…..

    — Tom Lehrer, “Send the Marines,” 1965

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 18, 2018, 11:42 am

      If Russia offers to help an American Presidential candidate, is the candidate (and his or her Party) Constitutionally required to accept the help, or can he refuse?
      Would this candidate be automatically disqualified from the Presidency if he made the illegal Russian (or whatever) overtures known to the FBI?

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        July 18, 2018, 8:43 pm

        You sure put in a lot of work on “definitions” before we can start answering.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

        So if a US Presedential candidate is offered help in a campaign from a foreign power, he (or she) must accept it?

  11. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    July 18, 2018, 11:06 am

    US Interfered in Elections of at Least 85 Countries Worldwide Since 1945
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-interfered-in-elections-of-at-least-85-countries-worldwide-since-1945/5601481

    The U.S. attempted to influence the elections of foreign countries as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000.

    Since 2000, the U.S. has attempted to sway elections in Ukraine, Kenya, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, among others.

    Levin’s figures do not include military coups or regime change attempts following the election of a candidate the U.S. opposed, such as when the CIA helped overthrow Mohammad Mosaddeq, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, in 1953.

  12. marc b.
    marc b.
    July 18, 2018, 11:55 am

    Ukraine and . . . NSA monitored email communications of Mexican presidential candidate Pena Nieto in 2012, and had HUMINT (i.e. spies) assets infiltrate french political parties during 2012 presidential election. see also Colombian/Cuban right wing ties to efforts to undermine Nieto’s opponents.

    Although he was well paid for his work, Sepúlveda said his primary motive was political. He supported right and centre-right candidates against what he called “dictatorships and socialists governments”.

    In Mexico, however, he reportedly had a $600,000 budget to undermine the campaigns of Peña Nieto’s two main opponents on either side of the political spectrum: the ruling National Action party’s Josefina Vázquez Mota and the Democratic Revolution party’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

  13. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    July 19, 2018, 8:55 am

    The US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/mar/19/facebook-posts/united-states-spent-5-billion-ukraine-anti-governm/ on a lighter note to all rap [I think that’s what it is called] fans at Mondoweiss here is Acid Pauli doing his take of Victoria Nuland and that phone call ‘f**k the EU’ https://soundcloud.com/acidpauli/fuck-the-eu Personally I’m a George Formby fan.

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