Gareth Porter explains why the claim that the Russian government “hacked all 50 U.S. states” is false—namely, the states themselves know that their systems were intact! The narrative has nonetheless been pushed continuously, as democrats try to justify Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss by any means necessary.
Discussed on the show:
- “U.S. States: We Weren’t Hacked by Russians in 2016” (The American Conservative)
- “Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds” (The New York Times)
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on the national security state, and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter and listen to Gareth’s previous appearances on the Scott Horton Show.
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Following is an auto-generated transcript of the episode.
sorry I’m late. I had to stop by the wax museum again. Give the finger that FDR. We know Al Qaeda Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting Al Qaeda in Syria? Hrant, It’s a proud day for America. And by God we kicked Vietnam syndrome once and for all. Thank you. Very. I say it. I see it again. Bin These are trying to simply deny things just about everybody else except as fact Saud died way Kila Bayh, Armey Mutawakil Ind Maale we Bol Beito like say I’m a Bin Say it, say it three times the meeting of the largest armies in the history of the world. Then that’s going to be an invasion. Dohuk All right, you guys. Well, the thing that’s not true was set. And so Gareth Porter wrote an article about it. And so now it’s time for Meteo interview him about his article. He wrote about the thing. That’s not true. Welcome back to the show. Gareth, are you? Hello, Scott, But glad to be back. I’m fine. You’re good at your job. Thanks. I needed that. Uh, I could use all the encouragement I can get. I got plenty here, man. Uh, interview number 300 20 or so U S states we weren’t hacked by Russians in 2016. That’s the headline at the American Conservative magazine. Essentially, what happened here was the Senate came out with this report based on this old De HSE report that you already debunked a solid year ago. Is that about it? That that’s the That’s the background. Exactly. Yes. Okay, so the Russians, I guess that means the Communist KGB trying to kill us and disrupt our society by making black people think that they’re the subject of racism and stuff like that. I read at nbc dot com. So, um, you know, go ahead and tell us what it was. I guess First of all, don’t let me just make fun of the whole thing. The Senate Intelligence Committee came out with this report saying that the Russians hacked essentially all 50 states air tried to Yeah, this is this is the most astonishing thing about this report that they actually, you know, made the argument that that Russia probably hacked all 50 states, and it was based on nothing Maura than the say so of Ah, the opinion of the Obama administration’s hype. Security. A cyber security specialist in the NSC, uh, who didn’t know anything Mauricia than that. He just felt that that was the case because there was no pattern to the apparent or alleged hacking or targeting shall we say that he could find. So the lack of a pattern was used to suggest that that it’s probable that Russia simply hacked all 50 states or tried to hack all 50 states, which is perhaps the most absurd claim that I’ve ever seen in an official document issued by a major congressional committee that’s supposed to be doing serious, serious investigation. Well, I don’t know. I’ve read Cem Kufa stuff in some of the reports before Lif corrected on that. But anyway, that’s an impression. Yeah, no, it’s absolutely, uh, otherworldly. The amount Well, the level of stupidity. I guess that they presume we must have to buy into this stuff. That’s certainly true. And, you know, I mean the point. The point, additionally, that one has to make about the claim that Russia probably or simply the claim that they did try to hack 50 states into their electoral websites is that you know that the Intelligence Committee report doesn’t even substantiate. It’s more fundamental claim the one that it’s more serious about that. The Russians tried toe hack or targeted, as they say, UH, 21 states, at least 21 states is the way they put it. And and, as you say, I did debunk that one. Um, I forgot Gn when it was more than a year ago, I guess. Um and I have written about it twice, in fact, but ah, this this time around, it’s even Maurizio Ge GIs for them to make that claim. Because, in fact, I mean the rial headline in this story. The headline should have been something like, Ah, you know the states themselves refute the claim Maidan The intelligence Committee’s report that you know about the attempt to target 21 states because the states themselves, although not all of them, uh, clearly articulated a position in the or are clearly shown to articulate a position in the report those that did, which I believe is roughly 17. If I haven’t understood, remember correctly, Um, no, None of them actually support the contention of the report of the De hs of the committee that that they were hacked by the Russians or that they were targeted by the Russians. Uh, and and most of them, clearly their report clearly refutes it, suggesting that either there was no sign of Eni attempt to hack into their ah websites or certainly not by anybody that could be identified as Russian or if there were attempts to break in or two to scan. Ah, scanning was the most common term used. It was simply that that there was a ah, basically was using a tool to try to scan the website that was identifed that had been identified by the FBI as a um as a tool associate Id with the Illinois break in the break in. That actually stole some 200,000 personal files of registered voters. Uh, and and so, of course, the Intelligence Committee and the De HS have always claimed that the, uh that that tool using that tool is somehow evidence of Russian hacking Oo are hacking attempt. But in fact, you know the tools that they identified Wone was ah, Akkad genetics. Um, and the other one sq l ah at the SQL Tool. Uh, they’re comin. The tools used by Awal hackers or attempted hackers on the Internet. I mean, these air just absolutely the most common tools available, uh, to to anybody who wants to try to, ah, scan or or to probe a website on the Internet S O. So it’s absolutely not evidence off of any Russian attribution Oo or justification for ah, Russian attribution of these probes and scans. And so you know this is this is really a perfect case of just how ah, the the system, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, the D. H S and the FBI have promoted this this phony idea about Russian hacking into the election systems of the United States. Hold on just one second, be right back. So you’re constantly buying things from amazon dot com Maor. That makes sense. They bring it right to your house. So what you do, though, is click through from the link in the right hand margin at Scott Kortan dot or Ge, and I’ll get a little bit of a kickback from Amazon’s into the sale. Won’t cost your thing nice Louay To help support this show again. That’s right there in the margin at scott horton dot or Ge. Hey, guys, check it out. 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I sold it to Rick McGinnis, and he’s done a great job with the company ever since they got what you needed over there at the bumper sticker dot com. All right, Now, are you sure this is really you mentioned? The SQL map and the this other. Ah, Aq. You have every cue Knittig ce over these Andrei, these air very common. Is that it, though? I mean, there’s not ah ah more specific accusation. Tying this to the g r u. Somehow it all just you know, they the pattern of activity, the thing. The thing that happens in this report is that that the Senate Intelligence Committee quotes the VHS in every case of ah state, which they cover, um, as saying that the g r u attempted to hack into this state’s ah election ah, or or into the States websites, public facing websites. And so that’s sort of the formula that’s repeated over and over again. But there’s nothing Maura my way of serious evidence that’s offered for this. Um, I mean, they sight Ah ah, the site. The the I P addresses. I didn’t mention the I P addresses. That’s the other thing. There are a few cases where the I p address that was used Foer The Illinois heist, if you want to call it that were found in scans efforts to scan a public facing website in the States. I would my recollections that would possibly was five or six? Uh, maybe four. Possibly four or five. Um, that that did, in fact, mention the i p address in the state reports. But that’s it. Basically, it’s the I P address and the tools the hacking tools that were used in the Illinois case which the FBI then set out to the states to all the states, Uh, release the 21 states. I’m not sure they sent it to all the states, but they sent it to these 21 states. Uh, and ah asked them to report back to them on any evidence that they could find in checking their files that either the tools or the I P address. Ah, one of the I P addresses that was used in Illinois. I was, um, was found in their in their own case. And so, you know, that’s, you know, some of the some of the states reported back that yes, they found one of the I P addresses or the hacking tool that have been used against a public facing website. But, um, and and in a couple in a very few cases, it was both Ah, it was a, uh, website that was related to the election as well as other websites. Um, so you know, that was the That was the state of their ah, of their the sum total of their evidence. Basescu. Um and then the i P address was tied directly to G r U headquarters Awene Spy Street in Moscow. Right? Uh, I’m not sure that that’s the case. I’m not sure that that’s the case at all. They didn’t say that. There’s nothing that said that in this report I’ve not seen anywhere else. I think he said it of the Wone are a few of them were traced to this server in Siberia. That was apparently Dr Alaa Ehren case. Yes, of course. Different question. Uh, you’re right. Of course. Uh, there, there is this, uh, this argument that well, after all, he’s I p addresses were traced to a server in Siberia. Ah, and that somehow that could be a suggestion that somehow the Russians were involved. But of course, in fact, that’s not evidence of that at all, because a server located in a particular location has many I p addresses. Um, that are not connected with that with that country. Of course, some of them. Maybe, but some of them are not. And, um, uh, you know, it’s this with this point has been made by cyber security specialists Awene more than one occasion. And, uh, the the fact is that the Intelligence Committee and the FBI are perfectly aware that this is not a, uh, riel ironclad indicator of Russian involvement, Russian government involvement at all. In fact, there’s a quote that I have in my story in the report that, uh, actually indicates that the De hs and and the Senate Intelligence Committee are perfectly well aware of this. That it said that I don’t have exact words in my head. But it said something to the effect that, um, the I p address, um er could be an indicator of a possible Russian involvement I have here provided some indications the activity might be attributable to the Russian government. That’s extremely weak. Extreme week and and to my mind, it’s the most damning thing in the entire report. All right, well, so who cares about house cards is built on quicksand can look good. In a snapshot on CNN for a minute, Senate report reveals that the Russians attacked every voting system in all 50 states. We’re at their mercy. Whatever we’re gonna do to defend ourselves from this aggression. Yeah, well, of course, this is Ah, that this is one of the worst cases ever of abuses by the mass media. I mean, the New York Times story is absolutely the worst. David Sanger was the author or co author of that story. Um, in which the headline Leat blared out You know, Hiran s Excuse me? Russia got around in my mind. Russia Ah, hacked Awal of 50 states. Uh, and of course, uh, this was not was not even clarified in the story itself. Ah, Sanju Norwin ahead on the premise that that the that the intelligence report actually showed that Iran had had hacked into 50 states. Sir Akkad, 50 states. You know what Cem artists should do A comic book about David Singar. You could have so much fun with something like somebody if they’re crazy enough to, uh, want to do that and make a real star out of him, you know? Yeah, well that he deserves, he deserves special treatment. He’s been doing this for more than two decades. If I remember correctly or at least almost two decades, in any case, all right, Well, now so take us back to a year ago, because again, it’s the new Senate report essentially recycling this old VHS report from a year ago that you already debunked then, right? Yeah. It’s essentially the same story line, but But with this new twist of the 50 states claim Plus, you know, sort of having a state by state round up, Not not all the 21 because there’s, ah, a couple of states that, uh, are not, um, you know, not clearly. There’s not a clear report on them, but but basically, it’s ah, report on the 21 states and ah, the the claim of the De hs. In each case, the g r u was behind it. Ah, but that’s ah, that’s the only riel new element. And it plus, you know, I think they went so far as to you know, they have ah, long quote, most of which is redacted. Um, from the, um ah. From from the report that, um had to do with the I P addresses and the, um I guess it was. It was about the i P addresses as evidence. And as I say, I think they went too far. And they actually included this quote, which is quite damning. The rest of it, we don’t know what it was, but it appears that some of the redacted material what were arguments that have been made against using the I. P address? Yes, it’s about Russian attribution and And what was What were those? Well, we don’t know because they were redacted. We don’t know what the arguments were, but the sentence ah, that we’re talking about here begins with, however So that suggested that, ah, that this sentence was following some arguments that were against the idea that could be used to just two would attribute this to to Russia. That’s funny. Um, all right. And now So now, back a year ago, you went and actually talk to some of these officials at the state level and then some of them, and talk to some other media sources. And you have a pretty good run down here of I guess they made the biggest deal about Illinois. Sahih have Cem quotes. Orbi else have Oregon and California and Arizona, I think, Can you take us through some of that. Well, yeah. Um, Arizona is the most interesting one because it was highlighted in the report, uh, as a case where the FBI thought they really had him here. Ah, they thought there were two cases where the Russians were involved in efforts to hack. Ah, the electoral system. One of them was, ah, a local official who had gotten his credentials. Internet credential stolen, um, Awene by a spear phishing operation. And the other one was, uh, what was claimed to be a hack of a Gn election of a public facing election site. Well, it turns out that the, uh, the case of the Ms of the stolen credentials was not attributed. Could not be attributed the Russians, after all that the FBI backed down on that, but they continued to argue that the other one, the public facing Internet site, was a Russian operation. The only problem was that it turned out when the when the Arizona officials confronted the De hs with their denial that any of their election sites have been hacked into or there was any serious effort to do so. Ah, the De hs admitted that the site they were talking about was the Phoenix Public Library. And so this this is the one that the FBI has not yet given up as a supposed Russian operation. That’s so far though, the Arizona cases the most amusing Wone and the other the other cases have to do with the state election officials again confronting the D. H s. For example, if I remember correctly, Minnesota did this confronted De HS officials and got them to back down on their claim that that that their electoral website had been have been scanned or somehow serious effort had been made to penetrate Cem. Um and same thing happened with, um with California. Um And what was what came out of these various cases where the state’s actually stood up to the D. H s was that the De hs publicly admitted that they considered that Eni Eni time Eni public facing website um on the Internet. Foer within a state had been scanned that this was this could be considered evidence of a Russian effort to penetrate the electoral system because it was a case of trying to enter a website or get into a Beppe website that might have similar characteristics that was the wording they used. And so I mean, this was the kind of argument that the D. H s resorted to in order to include more states in their list. In fact, most of the states would come under that under that rubric of of the fact that they that some website was scanned that could have the same characteristics as a state electoral, election related website head. It’s a very sneaky kind of approach, which I written about before and I think deserves public. Ah, condemnation. Yeah, well, you know, it’s funny because when it comes to Russia Ge Ayt mostly we think of the Mueller investigation and you know, Carter Page didn’t do it, and Papadopoulos didn’t do it, and Flynn didn’t do it, and Sessions didn’t do it. And the whole collusion narrative was bake. And then there’s focus on Huu really hacked the DNC or leaked thumb drive worth or whatever exactly happened with that and this kind of thing. But there’s so many of these extra side stories, um, of Russian interference that sort of made up for the I don’t know, which called the background noise, essentially Oo they attacked our electric infrastructure. Awal. They attacked Awal. The voter rolls Oo they, you know, tried to disrupt this. That and every other thing. They had a secret server communicating with Trump Monde. And there’s just such a long laundry list on. It’s sort of like the way that they claimed Iran was making nuclear bombs 100,000 times only This is just 100,000 separate fake claims, but it really is a lot, and you really have whatever percent. It may be a narrow percent, but boy, were they deeply committed to this narrative of the Russian attack on America that gave us Donald Trump’s government and all of this. Yeah, I just want to make the point, though, that this narrative about the effort to hack into the alleged effort to hack into state election Web Sepp uh, it has been extremely significant politically in this country because the public absolutely believes that the Russians did, in fact, hack into election systems. And a friend of mine who lives in California, who I spoke with on the phone, he and his wife on the phone, uh, she piped up and said, I told her what I was working on what I’d written about. And she said, But the Russians did hack into our election system, didn’t they? And and so I mean, they absolutely believe this on. And this has been extremely damaging in a fundamental sense to the stability of this political system. And by the way, I mean, you know, and the whole show, I mean your anecdotes. Great. But Jeremy Hammond wrote a piece debunking this the other day as well that we Raan Awene antiwar dot com. And he quotes the poles of where among Democrats, I’m not sure, overall, but certainly among Democrats, it’s super majorities believe this and could never be convinced otherwise, either. Yeah, I know it’s true. Of course, the Democrat is the Democrats. Huu fundamentally believe that I understand that. I mean, a lot of Republican. I just mean and it’s in high high numbers to absolutely Yeah, yeah, it’s And so it is. You know, we saw with Iraq war to where the Republicans were so committed to Iraq or two, and then they never really came clean on. It just took, you know, through by the end of the Obama years, they were able to admit that Okay, Yeah, well, maybe shouldn’t have done that. Not that I was wrong about it or anything, but it took that long for them to sort of climb down from that and really for Donald Trump to finish it off by attacking Jeb the way he did. Really helped with that, I guess. But it took that long for the pro Iraq War, right to sort of forget all that are, you know, Cees identifying with that pro war pro wreck or sentiment that they had previously held. So is it going to take that long for these Democrats to get over this nonsense? Ghafoor, You know, two term administration Post Trump before they’re willing to admit that. Okay, that really was just the c A. B s in us. Yeah, it’s very, very interesting question. I don’t know what the answer is, and I think in fact, it’s It’s ah, it’s very possible that if there were sufficient questioning by Cem Ki people political of figures in this country about this narrative that it could very quickly collapse. I think that’s that’s a possibility. I think it collapse. The collapse of this could be much quicker than the one on Iraq potentially, Cem. I should have. When? When the Mulla report was wrapped up. And that was the end of that. Anyway, I’m sorry. I just realized how late I am for my next interview. But thank you so much for coming on the show to talk about this again with scared Bin. A pleasure. Thanks Guen. Aren’t you guys? That’s ah great Gareth Porter. He’s at the American conservative dot com U S states. We weren’t hacked by Russians. 2016 Stupid liars. All right, Yul. Thanks. Find me at Libertarian Institute dot or Ge at scott Kortan dot or Ge antiwar dot com and reddit dot com slash scott Horton Show. Oh, yeah, And read my book Fool’s Errand Timed and the War in Afghanistan at Fool’s errand dot us.
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