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How ‘Russia Did It’ Became Part of US Political Football Between Democrats and Republicans

© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the mediabank One of the Kremlin towers in Moscow
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On 21 October, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation pointed the finger of blame at Moscow and Tehran for alleged meddling in the US election campaign by manipulating "some US voter registration information". International observers have discussed Washington's obsession with Russian "interference".

According to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, Iran sent spoof emails to Americans that were "designed to intimidate voters". While claiming that Moscow had also obtained US voter data, the FBI failed to explain both Russia's rationale and the way this information had supposedly been used. As on many previous occasions, no credible evidence confirming Russia or Iran's "interference" in the 2020 race was presented. Moscow and Tehran have resolutely denied the allegations.

These accusations "are rolling in every day and they are all completely groundless", said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, suggesting that they are linked "to the internal political processes [in the US] that have to do with the fact that election is coming soon".

We Hear 'Russia Did It' Over and Over Again

"Americans fear foreign meddling, and this fear creates paranoia, which decreases confidence in the legitimacy of the process and of institutions and of politics", says Jo Jakobsen, professor of political science and international relations at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. "Come early November, we can expect an even more chaotic situation rife with controversies and polarised and politicised viewpoints and conflicts".

Indeed, Russia doesn't need to do much, he notes, as "the psychological effect stemming from the mere fear of foreign meddling is perfectly sufficient to add to the severe chaos currently afflicting the US". Unfortunately, deepening political polarisation and paranoia "actually decreases the power of the US, probably long-term, and it certainly distracts Washington from real issues of geopolitics", according to the professor.

"Director Ratcliffe's passing mention of Russia is puzzling, especially since the announcement was focused on the claim that Iran was behind the fake 'Proud Boys' emails threatening Democrats in Florida and Alaska", says Nebojsa Malic, Serbian-American journalist and blogger.

If Ratcliffe has some tangible evidence to back his claims he should put it on the table, the blogger says, stressing that "the American people deserve better from their officials than the insinuations, fabrications and outright lies they have been hearing about 'Russian meddling' since 2016".

"These accusations, whilst they are irritating, they are amusing too", opines Dr David William Norris, a political commentator and former teaching fellow at a college in Birmingham.

He notes that Russophobic provocations have been instrumentalised on multiple occasions by the West, recalling that Britain's Times newspaper "has long indulged in Russia-baiting, going right back to the Crimean War in the 19th century".

In addition, the current attempts to smear Moscow and to contain Russia bear a striking resemblance to the situation before the First World War, when Germany was continually hampered and harassed by Britons and its allies, according to the political commentator.

"We know where this animosity led: the most disastrous conflict", he says. "So Russophobic interventions are not to be taken lightly, ridiculous as they so often are, they are dangerous".

Are Hunter Biden Emails a 'Russian Disinformation Op'?

Russia once again became the subject of American partisan political football earlier this month. Following the 16 October publication of emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, House Democrats and left-leaning media pundits linked the Bidens' scandal to an alleged Russian spy op. Speaking to CNN last Friday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) suggested the "smear campaign" against the son of the Democratic presidential nominee is part of a "Russian disinformation plot".

​Additionally, 50 plus former intelligence officials, including ex-CIA Directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta as well as ex-DNI James Clapper, signed a letter claiming that the recent disclosure of emails has "all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation". The former security officials admitted, however, that they did not know whether the aforementioned emails are genuine or not and they "do not have evidence of Russian involvement".

​These allegations have not been confirmed by Director of National Intelligence Ratcliffe, who stated on FOX Business’ "Mornings with Maria" on 19 October that "Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign".

"Let me be clear: The intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that. And we have shared no intelligence with Adam Schiff, or any member of Congress", Ratcliffe said.

The attempt to cover up the Bidens' scandal as a "Russian intel op" was subjected to ridicule by Fox News host Tucker Carlson: "They are not even trying to convince you really that Russia did this, they are trying to bully you into shutting up and they are using lies: 'Russia did it, Russia-Russia-Russia!" he said.

Hillary Clinton's 2016 'Russian Interference' Plot

This is not the first time that US policymakers have used alleged Russian "interference" in their internal political strife. In 2016, the Clinton campaign blamed the alleged "hack" of the DNC server on some "Russian hackers". In July 2016, the FBI kicked off Operation Crossfire Hurricane over the alleged "collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia.

However, CrowdStrike, the cyber firm that examined the server, admitted under oath that it had no evidence that the Russians had stolen emails from the DNC server. Earlier, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of former officers of the United States Intelligence Community, came to the conclusion that no external hacking had ever taken place, insisting that it was an "inside job".

Neither this, nor the fact that the allegations against Donald Trump and his campaign were based on the unverified "dirty dossier" by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele prevented Special Counsel Robert Mueller from conducting a two-year probe into the supposed Trump-Russia "plot". Mueller even indicted 12 Russian individuals, claiming that they were "intelligence operatives" behind the DNC "hack". However, the case stalled as none of the individuals answered the charges in court. Moscow shredded the accusations as groundless. All in all, the special counsel found zero evidence to back the initial claim of Trump-Russia collusion. Currently, Crossfire Hurricane is itself part of the DOJ's scrupulous investigation.

​The icing on the cake to that story is that on 29 September, the DNI office sent an email to US lawmakers citing an "insight" obtained from a Russian intelligence analysis which said that Hillary Clinton had cooked up the story of Donald Trump colluding with the Russians to interfere in the American elections in order to divert the public from her own emailgate scandal.

Ex-CIA Director John Brennan "subsequently briefed President Obama and other senior national security officials on the intelligence, including the 'alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services'", the DNI letter unveiled.

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