Winning A War Without Firing A Shot

The American public has heard so much about Russian activities–about interference with the 2016 election,  about Russian “bots” that continue to infest Facebook and Twitter, and about Donald Trump’s longtime dependence on Russian money to finance his developments–that significant segments of the population have simply tuned it out. It’s last week’s story–and as a nation, we have a very short attention span.

That’s unfortunate, because Russia is winning Putin’s war on our democracy without having to fire a shot.

Roll Call recently had a headline that caught my attention.“The Most Important Document You May Ever Read.”

On the day that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on election interference came out, cable news anchors strained to race through its 448 pages and describe the findings, all in the same breath. Computer sleuths hacked the document’s setting to let users search for “Trump,” “president,” “collusion” and “Russia.” Talking-head lawyers feverishly opined that Volume I contained less incriminating information than Volume II.

But around the country, voters mostly gave an “Is that all there is?” shoulder shrug and went back to their corners. Many members of Congress admitted they didn’t even bother to read it.

Nearly six months later, and to almost no fanfare last week while Congress was in recess, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the second of two installments of its own bipartisan investigation into roughly the same topic. The slim, 85-page report reads like a Russian spy novel crossed with a sequel to Orwell’s most dystopian version of the future — right down to an interview with a paid Russian troll who said his experience in 2016, pitting American voters against each other with social media platforms of their own making, was like being “a character in the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee is chaired by Republican Richard Burr; Mark Warner, a Democrat, is Vice-Chair, and the investigation that led to the report is as bipartisan as you are likely to get in today’s Senate.

The report–available here-– doesn’t mince words. First, it confirms that the Russians deliberately attacked the American electorate in 2016 with an active campaign intended to benefit Donald Trump and destroy Hillary Clinton. One of the former trolls told the committee that, on the morning following the election, exhausted hackers in St. Petersburg, Russia, uncorked champagne, looked at each other and uttered “almost in unison: ‘We made America great.’”

The tactics and strategies that the Kremlin directed included every major social media platform you can think of — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — and a few you’d never suspect, including Pinterest, LinkedIn and 4Chan. The hashtags alone tell the story— #MAGA #TrumpTrain #Hillary4Prison #ZombieHillary #SickHillary. Along with anti-Clinton stories, they also pushed out messages against Trump’s primary rivals like Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Once in the general election, they pumped up third-party candidates to siphon support away from Clinton with posts including, “A vote for Jill Stein is not a wasted vote.”

Online trolls were based in St. Petersburg and were given daily quotas for targeting Americans online, including 50 Facebook posts per day. They were even given a list of American holidays, to remind them of times to post less, so as to avoid detection from online providers.

Americans gobbled it up. The Senate Intelligence report details a troubling fact: in the three months leading up to Election Day, Russian-planted false information on Facebook outperformed real news.

Russian messages were crafted to erode Americans’ trust in investigative and political journalism, and to exploit racial divisions. The sheer volume was so enormous that it overwhelmed readers, who could no longer separate what was real from what wasn’t.

As the article in Roll Call concluded: “If you read nothing else now that Congress is back in session, take a moment to digest this report. It may be the most important document you ever read.”


  1. Regarding released “documents” we have seen, have been told about or should read, including the Mueller Report and Trump’s phone call to President Zelensky, are in actuality summaries, heavily redacted transcripts or “he said/he said/she said” versions. Mulvaney stated that asking a foreign nation to investigate Trump’s political opponent and his son is the “norm” for government and to “get used to it”. This morning it was reported that AG Barr considers Rudy Giuliani’s active role in the Ukraine situation are merely Giuliani’s “shenanigans”.

    Who cares if Republicans do not plan to watch the Impeachment Inquiry Public Hearings; they should be watching Russia, North Korea, Iran and at this time closely watching Turkey. Pence met with the President of Turkey recently and he is here at Trump’s invitation today when there should be actions taken to impose sanctions on that country for attacking our Kurdish allies we are wining and dining him at tax payer’s expense. This visit will result in more summaries, heavily redacted transcripts and he said/he said from the White House which we should read.

  2. If the Senate really wanted to inform the public of the Russian interference in the 2016 election by issuing a report, why redact it? Why not tell the public the truth? Why all the secrecy? It’s as if their real purpose was make it look like they did their jobs when in actuality they were covering up something else.
    There is no way for there to be as much “top secret” info in the government as we see today. But it sure makes those reporting on issues look important now, doesn’t it?

  3. Putin’s Russia exists because of and for corruption. Obviously, our somnolent electorate and general public are too busy trying to make ends meet or making more money that unless there is a political thermonuclear explosion – which the Mueller Report wasn’t – they will “go back to their corners”. We, the American people have for so long thought we were above the slime of corruption as a way of life….until now.

    NOW, we see absolute corruption in our hallowed halls of government. To the Russians, this corruption and primitive hoarding/greed/tribal warfare behavior is NORMAL. They are good at it. We are not. We simply cannot believe that our elected officials would stoop so low. Well, not only have they stooped, in the form of the Trump family and his ass-kissing acolytes (Nikki Haley being the latest), they have crawled on their bellies to kiss the feet of their new god of corruption, Vladimir Putin.

    Trump’s corruption has been there for decades. But now that he is president, it is visible to all and the stench is making honest, thinking people gag. He and his fellow gangsters can’t be gone soon enough.

  4. I’m surely not the only person who reads your blog who remembers Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table and shouting, “We will bury you.” Well, it’s just taken a bit longer than he intended.

  5. The problem with the Mueller Report was that he couldn’t prove conspiracy because people lied. In volume 2 of that report, IMHO there are at least 5 slam dunk cases of obstruction of justice, 3 that were close to slam dunks and another 2 that would end in acquittal. After Barr’s performance, it would have been political suicide to bring an Impeachment Inquiry. It wasn’t an easy read, as it was both redacted and redundant, so very few people have actually read the it.

    To have a Republican controlled Senate Committee state categorically that the Russians did it is a small victory. My question is, will the Republican members of that committee actually examine the evidence for the Impeachment, or will they fall in line and follow orders?

  6. Our high-minded principles were always in direct conflict with our economic system, from the founding on. It’s what the Civil War was really about, after all, from the southern side. When they said it wasn’t about slavery, in a sense they were right. It was about property. Our republic was always going to stand only so long as wealth did not accumulate to the extent necessary to pay for its dissolution. We may have now come to that point. The criminal gang that runs Russia has aligned with the wealthiest capitalists of the west to end this foolish experiment that gave power to the people. Better sharpen that pitchfork, peasant.

  7. “He and his fellow gangsters can’t be gone soon enough”. But they won’t be gone. These last three years have uncovered a substrata of American (and not only American) thought and practice. It’s now in the open. We at least have to consider that this might be the actual America and the honorable and freedom proclaiming world we knew was simply a cover. It’s not going to go away even if Mr. Trump and is minions are defeated.

    Mr. Nixon fell from grace for much less than we are seeing unfold today. What shocked then seems commonplace and even acceptable today. If we complain we are told to get over it. Our world has changed. We are no longer living within the moral universe we knew in 1973. It is indeed the brave new world of 1984 that Huxley and Orwell foresaw. It is not simply a bunch of crooks in power. It is a culture that loves having them in power.

    But O how I hope I am wrong!

  8. gee,since i dont twit and face,i guess im outta the circle. though if one reads enough of dirtectly focused journalists,who keep aware of the slants and slander,one could assume,from past experience,and being in a circle of dedicated journalists,who dont jerk your chain,its obvious social media isnt resposable,or its followers,to be aware,of the chain being jerked. like gun control.if you dont weed out,in public those who are a threat,then expect problems… when i was young,i was told, the communists will always try a sway the youth first..seems they have branched out…
    if anyone would like a view of how mining intrests can remove a president elect. ,,when u.s supports it,its not a coup..seems u.s. corp media rose to the accaision,and implemented voice for it. paragraph 6,
    theres a study of this election,CERP in blue,tap it,read it. seems the OAS and private mining intrests seem to have enough power to oust a fairly elected president who supported his people over corporate greed. teslas stock jumped 25% after the coup…lithium baby..

  9. Putin conquered the United States and British government.

    All three branches of our government. He was caught at it. Evidence was made public. The public did nothing unlike in Hong Kong, Baghdad, and Northern Syria. I’m sure that went in the GRU journal of effective spycraft notes.

    Democrat leaders took back the House in 2018 and we helped them but we stayed pretty quiet about everything else.

    Was there ever a cheaper more complete victory?

  10. Let’s see…we did Radio Free Europe and now Voice of America to tell the”truth” to our allies. Why isn’t a function of DC to tell the truth to us??? Why not dedicate a chunk of NPR and PBS to that , too. And throw in some social media spots, too?

  11. Gimme some truth

    I’ve had enough of watching scenes
    With schizophrenic, egocentric, paranoiac, prim a-donnas

    All I want is the truth, now, now
    Just give me some truth

    John Lennon 1971

  12. To my fellow contributors > All right, we now know that we are governed by criminals with the aid and assistance of domestic sycophants who are in the game to get their piece of the pie along with foreign mobsters (Putin is not the only one) who are intent on the destruction of what is left of our democracy to suit their own geopolitical purposes, so what are we going to do about it? Will Trump’s impeachment and even his unlikely removal from office end our problem?

    I think the answer is no (though it would be a start). There are many “Trumps” lurking in our political pasture waiting for their shot at criminal power grabs, ranging from zoning payoffs at the local level to the hundreds of crimes committed by the present occupant of the Oval Office in pursuit of his self enrichment and that of his progeny and selected sycophants. We need an informed citizenry in order to end this plunge into 1984, not a pro-gangster cult, but what we need most is congressional activism. Following is a brief overview of one way we can end the present unholy alliance of crime and government.

    Thus, for instance, the Constitution plainly states that the Congress is in charge of foreign trade (which includes tariffs and the like), but the Congress under Section 232 of a Cold War trade act delegated that power to the president on a finding that national security is involves, a delegation Trump quickly exploited, and now we have a manufacturing sector in recession, soybean and other farmers on welfare, and tariffs which increase prices to American consumers etc., and this delegation of power is just one such example. There are many others where the Congress has yielded its legislative prerogatives to the executive via delegation of its authority under one pretense or another, some delegations good and some bad as they worked out in practice.

    My recommendation is that the Congress have staff comb through every statute on the books to see what legislative powers they have delegated to the executive and reclaim such powers to themselves, doling out or removing such powers if already doled out on a one by one basis to the executive as the Congress may direct. Unwieldy? Probably, but better an unwieldy reclamation of powers than their delegation to an administration composed of crooks and a president who has no interest in governing other than to feather the financial nest of his and his progeny’s nests (along with a share of the boodle to supportive sycophants).

    This, in view of the resistance one can expect from settled interests, will not be easy and will take time, but the reality is that the judicial branch has no authority to reform the system and the executive branch cannot be expected to go along with a reduction in its powers, so only the Congress is left to reform a system of delegation of powers that has been hijacked by a crime syndicate only interested in governing to the extent that its members can make money. (See Ivanka’s Chinese patents and trademarks, Trump’s Turkish property interests; massive tax cuts for his “settled interest” and himself etc.).

    If there are better ideas in how to end this assault on our economy, our democracy and our mores and folkways, I’m open to suggestion. Whatever works – but it had better work soon lest there be no framework to reform.

  13. Gerald @ 10:29 am, good observations and a suggestion for Congress to reclaim it’s power. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. published a book in 1973 – the Imperial Presidency. He outlined the Imperial Presidency from 1793-1973. This aggregation of power by the President’s, diminished Congress. However, Congress by abdicating it’s power, evaded responsibility.

    Anyway, all this Putin, Putin, Russia, Russia is getting old and tired. Blame Putin and the Russians is a strategy of deflection . Our own American Oligarch’s have far more power in determining who is selected and elected than Putin or the Russians. Here is a clue, it was not Putin or Russians that engineered gerrymandering or voter suppression across the USA.

    The McMega-Media announces who is a viable candidate and who is not based upon campaign financing success. The ability to fund Pacs, Super Pacs no matter what their source is not questioned by the McMega-Media as being bought and paid for by the 1%, rather they are heralded as a “viable candidate”.

    Who has more raw power in terms of campaign finance donations the Health Care Industry, Big Pharma, the fossil fuel companies, chemical industry or Putin and Russians? You really do not need a calculator to give you the correct answer. It’s not Putin and the Russians.

  14. Glen beck tonight 8pm on Facebook and YouTube if you want to see his investigation on things. You have to look at everything from Rachel To Glenn Beck

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