Neocon Death Throes

From the WaPo, two weeks ago:

The Obama administration is close to announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure, according to U.S. officials.

The administration is finalizing the details, which also are expected to include covert action that will probably involve cyber-operations, the officials said. An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week.

The sanctions portion of the package culminates weeks of debate in the White House on how to revise a 2015 executive order that was meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas but that did not cover efforts to influence the electoral system…

The National Security Council concluded that it would not be able to use the authority against Russian hackers because their malicious activity did not clearly fit under its terms, which require harm to critical infrastructure or the theft of commercial secrets.

“You would (a) have to be able to say that the actual electoral infrastructure, such as state databases, was critical infrastructure, and (b) that what the Russians did actually harmed it,” said the administration official. “Those are two high bars.”

Although Russian government hackers are believed to have penetrated at least one state voter-registration database, they did not tamper with the data, officials said.

Some analysts believe that state election systems would fit under “government facilities,” which is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors designated by the Department of Homeland Security.

From Zero Hedge, predictably on Friday night:

One week after a joint FBI/DHS report was released, supposedly meant to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia intervened in the US presidential election, and thus served as a diplomatic basis for Obama’s expulsion of 35 diplomats, yet which merely confirmed that a Ukrainian piece of malware which could be purchased by anyone, was responsible for spoofing various email accounts including that of the DNC and John Podesta, moments ago US intelligence agencies released a more “authoritative”, 25-page report, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections“, and which not surprisingly only serves to validate the media narrative, by concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘ordered‘ an effort to influence U.S. presidential election.

From Zero Hedge,  later Friday night:

In a stunning last minute power grab by the Obama administration with just 14 days left in his Presidency, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement this evening officially declaring state election systems to be “critical infrastructure.”  The statement from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson defines “election infrastructure” as “storage facilities, polling places, centralized vote tabulations locations, voter registration databases, voting machines” and all “other systems” to manage the election process…so pretty much everything.

According to the WaPo article, Obama has met the first hurdle; this week we will presumably be treated to allegations of Russia doing harm to electoral infrastructure now  deemed critical.

From Russia Today, yesterday, responding to the report:

We’ve gone through the 25-page report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), nearly half of which discusses RT’s effects on the 2016 presidential election “by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”..

There’s a lot of rehashing of old allegations, but the document doesn’t seem to include much in the way of specifics about our coverage.

Embarrassing as it sounds, top US spies apparently are also not aware of the Russian date format. The report cites a July 4 interview with RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan published in Kommersant, though the interview was actuallypublished on April 7, 2012.

At least give these people credit for taking a 70 year-old Russian conspiracy theory and running out the clock with a Hail Mary sans evidence.  Hubris obviated contingency and they’ve been in free fall since the election.  That their narrative is holding together is testament to the power they wield.

And Trump just stole the ball:

In a surprising twist, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on Fox News that President-elect Donald Trump accepts that Russia played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta…

“In this particular case, it started way back in 2015 before either nominee of either party was chosen,” Priebus said. “And it started … as a spearfishing expedition over many different institutions.”

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