Obama Administration Should Be More Transparent About Russia Allegations

Public hearings and documents, not anonymous sources describing unreleased reports, should drive any substantive discussion.


White House

Leaks about Russia's alleged role in election-related hacking this year didn't end up changing the results of the election, despite some Democratic electors demanding intelligence briefings before the Electoral College vote. President-Elect Trump, meanwhile, says he doesn't need daily intel briefings telling him the same thing every day because he's a "smart person." Trump's also dismissed the CIA leaks, pointing to the intelligence community's pre-Iraq war stance on weapons of mass destruction as evidence of their reliability.

The Obama administration fingered Russia as the culprit of election-related hacks of the DNC and John Podesta's emails that were leaked this summer, even though that's far from clear and little of the information has been released publicly. Skeptics of free speech like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), meanwhile, are already looking to conflate hacking with leaks in the public interest, calling the leak of material embarrassing to politicians a "threat to democracy."

The allegations of hacking and interference, meanwhile, remain largely advanced by anonymous sources and political operators who find the narrative beneficial.

I write at The Hill:

Despite the severity of the allegations, the intelligence community has not gone on the record with any of them. That reality demonstrates a stunning lack of regard for transparency at the tail end of an administration that touted itself as the most transparent ever. The Obama administration has prosecuted more individuals for leaks under the Espionage Act than all its predecessors combined, while at the same time trying to keep tight control over all kinds of information about how government operates under the guise of national security.

Administration critics have long complained of politically motivated leaks that "paint the president as a strong leader," as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) complained in 2012. The anonymous leaks about Russia's alleged election-related hackings also appear politically motivated. The Obama administration should brief Congress and, given the strong public interest, that briefing should not be behind closed doors.

Read the whole column here

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  1. Nu, shto ti, Ed?

    and little of the information has been released publicly.

    Really, though, that’s probably because there’s not much to release. Like, nichevo.

    1. Little?

      As far as I know, there has been no evidence released that the Russian government hacked Podesta and the DNC. Zip. Zero. Nada.

      Nobody from the intelligence industry has put their name or letterhead to it. When “invited” to testify to Congress about it, every single agency declined.

      1. Da, tovarisch. Ya skazal “nichevo.”

      2. They think they’re gonna do Trump like they did Obama. I am not so sure yet. Like I said another day, I’m sure there are some high TB refugee camps in Europe that need HUMINT done on them. Or that several analysts were needed above the Arctic Circle right now but their cold weather gear would be slow in arriving.

      3. Lost in all the smoke and noise is Assange telling everyone how and from whom he got the info. I heard an ex-nsa guy say on the radio a few days ago that if the Russians did it the NSA would have known the instant they did it. There is no evidence that there was a hacking so the info (Podesta) had to be an insider who physically gave it to Wikileaks on some kind of memory device…which is exactly what Wikileaks said happened.

        As far as I can tell the allegations against the Russians is pure fiction.

        1. What was the name of the Hillary staffer who got mugged and killed, but they forgot to steal his wallet?

          1. Seth….uh. Let me google.

            Seth Rich…whom Assange implied was the source.

        2. Actually, we know how Podesta’s email got, umm, penetrated. He was spear-fished, and his IT guy had a typo attack.

          That may have been the penetration route for the entire DNC server, as sloppy as these people were with security.

          Or, it could have been leaked.

          Or both, really.

          1. ^ This.

            What has been most clearly revealed is the utter incompetence of the DNC and the Clinton campaign when it comes to cyber security. My 9-year old could have hacked them.

  2. Obama Administration Should Be More Transparent About Russia Allegations

    1. He still has 30 days to give us the Most Transparent Administration Ever. He can do it!

      1. He can still de-schedule cannabis and close Gitmo too. I’m sure you’re not holding your breath either.

      2. That would be *awesome*.

        The Legacy of The Greatest President Ever.

  3. I suspect the Obama administration has about as much evidence that Russia hacked the emails as Selina Meyer has that China hacked her twitter account.

    1. +1 loudmouthed Finn

  4. Obama Administration Should Be Morethe Least Bit Transparent about Anything.

    did someone just wake Rip Van Krayewski up?

  5. I write at The Hill:

    Yes, you do, don’t you.

    Explains a lot.

    1. What, that other places will pay for his writing? He’s not THAT terrible…

  6. “Krayewski” huh? Sounds kinda Russian to me…

      1. He did a comic book with his father about his father’s trials and travails in Communist dominated Poland, and dodging conscription etc.

        So, yeah Polish.

        Also pro-tip: if it ends in I typically Polish, if Y usually Lithuanian or Belorussian ( or Ruthenian)

  7. The signatories of Monday’s letter represent some prominent party names. Pelosi’s mother is the highest-ranking House Democrat, Bonds is a member of the Washington, D.C., city council, Norelli is a former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Shea-Porter was recently elected to her old seat in Congress. Pell, the grandson of Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. His wife, the former figure skater Michelle Kwan, was a senior staffer in Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    The letter begins with a lengthy defense of the Electoral College’s role in the election process. The Democrats argue that it’s their duty not simply to rubber-stamp the Election Day results but to “investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for.”

    Wait a second. Hold on. Just stop right there.

    So the Democrats now vigorously defend the electoral college and eschew direct democracy in the presidential election?

    1. So the Democrats now vigorously defend the electoral college and eschew direct democracy in the presidential election?

      I dunno… what day of the week is it?

    2. Christine Pelosi is kooky.

      1. It’s congenital.

    3. “”So the Democrats now vigorously defend the electoral college and eschew direct democracy in the presidential election?””

      For liberals, all principles and ideas are subject to change.

  8. Obama demands Trump be more transparent for the sake of democracy and the children in 3…2.5….2….

    1. “Well, uh, this edifice, uh, of imperial power and secrecy that, uh, i’ve secured in the White, uh, House… I shouldn’t have built that.”

  9. It’s kind of unfair of us to suddenly stop taking Obama’s word for everything.

    Hell, they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize because his intentions were so honest and good.

    Trump wins an election and suddenly Obama’s word isn’t good enough anymore?

    How come no one ever questioned his integrity before?

    Why isn’t anyone accusing us all of racism?

    America doesn’t believe what Obama is saying because he’s black, isn’t that it?

  10. There’s nothing these Russians cannot do. They’re all like clones of that dude from the Rocky movie, or Alexander Povetkin, or the Klitschko brothers (yes, I know, they’re Ukranian).

    Why don’t we just anoint Putin World Emperor now? I mean, what can we do?

  11. The Obama administration fingered Russia

    I think the reverse is more common.

    1. Ooh la la!

  12. President-Elect Trump, meanwhile, says he doesn’t need daily intel briefings telling him the same thing every day because he’s a “smart person.”

    I’m curious, is there anyone else here who doesn’t see the problem with this? As I understand the full stance, he was saying that he didn’t need updates when there was no new news because “he is a smart person”. That doesn’t seem at all out of line to me. Most managers and executives I know pretty much take that position. They’re busy and if things are going par for expectations, don’t waste their time. Have other people had wildly different experiences? Now, I’ll grant that that creates the problem of subordinates trying to weave stories where there isn’t necessarily a story to start with in order to get face time. But, why should the president necessarily be sitting around listening to somebody go over things they’ve gone over before?

    1. Most managers and executives I know pretty much take that position. They’re busy and if things are going par for expectations, don’t waste their time.

      But it’s unseemly.

      1. It’s unseemly or “it doesn’t give enough second tier bureaucrats face time with The President for them to pad their resumes and get bragging rights to all their colleagues about how incredibly important they are”? Or are those the same thing?

        1. He’s not acting like a politician is supposed to and it’s driving them nuts.

      2. And precedent! All presidents have to do like Carter for the rest of the Republic. Need I remind you all of the Taiwan call?

    2. For all his up-to-the-nanosecond briefings, Obama was constantly learning about things like warrantless wiretaps of reporters, the Obamacare website disaster-launch, etc. “from CNN this morning just like you.”

      1. Insight like this (okay, call it snarkiness if you want) is why I come to H&R comments.

    3. If the briefings are exercises in agency CYA, then yeah, I can see not doing them daily. Depends on the quality of the info. Low signal to noise ratio briefings are not a good use of his limited time.

      I do seem to recall Obama not doing briefings either before or after taking office, at least, not very often. I wonder how many of the people clutching their pearls over Trump waved off Obama on this topic?

      1. Well, Trump doesn’t have any relevant experience.

      2. “”I wonder how many of the people clutching their pearls over Trump waved off Obama on this topic?””

        They can’t think that far in time. They were applauding Obama’s phone and pen to get around congress. The concept that someone like Trump would inherit that phone and pen was waaaayyyy beyond them.

      3. But Politisnopes or Snopifact rated the claim that Obama doesn’t attend security briefings as false because he gets the briefings in writing. And surely he reads those briefings.

        1. And that’s all you need to dismiss those fact-checking organizations.

          An assertion that someone didn’t attend briefings is not falsified if he is given written reports.

  13. Alt text: “Do the goddam math, Barry. Who’s going to make you look better after they’ve had four years in office, Trump or Hillary?”

    1. I have said that since before Hillary entered the race: Clinton is the only person who can do for Obama what Obama did for Carter.

  14. “Obama Administration Should Be More Transparent About Russia Allegations
    Public hearings and documents, not anonymous sources describing unreleased reports, should drive any substantive discussion”

    Yeah. Good luck with that.

    The whole point of this allegation, like Harry Reid’s accusation of Romney not paying his taxes, is to be murky and slippery. It’s the big lie and right out of the left’s playbook. The left thrives on lies.

    1. This massive, orchestrated attempt to play fake it til you make it with such a major fact falls more into the territory of Big Lie.

  15. No names, no truth.
    Cite a verifiable source or shut up.
    Journalism 101 (from a long, long time ago)

  16. Hillary supporters are still so beside themselves, that at this stage, they’d rather go to war with Russia then accept Trump as president.

    1. As long as America can wash its hands of it, let’s send them to war with Russia. Let them fight Russia in Syria, alongside ISIS.

  17. Okay snowflakes. All is not lost.

    Yes, you flooded the internet with fake stories of Trump planning to badge all Muslims, only to scare the pants off of your fellow snowflakes.

    You sent your 21st century brownshirts into the streets to smash and burn import car dealerships, in areas that voted pretty heavy for Clinton.

    The you sent out your fake harassment stories, only to get several of your fellow snowflakes charged with filing false police reports, and one of them got her head shaved by her own parents.

    Then, oh now comes the broad strokes of art, true cinema! You sent Stretch Cunningham, President Bartlet, and Hotlips Hoolihan to the small screen to urge the Electoral College to vote for anybody but Trump. IT WORKED! Eight Clinton electors tried to vote for people other than Trump! Well, and other than Clinton too. So you kinda missed again there. Ever efficient, in a way, you did have three States oust the errant voters and replace them with True Believers.

    And you got two Trump voters to vote for different Republicans than Trump. Awesome!

    1. As it stands now, Trump had a bigger electoral college lead than projected after the popular votes were tallied. Mostly because Mrs. Clinton did worse than expected in the EC. So, overall, your Hamilton was a bit of a bomb.
      There is that plan by Kenneth Jost to declare the Electoral College unconstitutional, but that might not undue the results of this fair election that you find so unfair.

      Don’t worry! You still have Lunchbox Joe Biden, as President of the Senate counting the votes in January, 2017. But, who are we kidding, you can’t really rely on that. Joe could end up giving Trump even more votes after the count gets past three.

      There is a plan. Another plan, that kicks off before the votes are certified. Hey, don’t tell anybody you got this from me, okay? Just copy the link and share it with all of your friends. The reliable friends. The ones who thought both hijab wearing Muslim victims were real victims. The ones who think every swastika is from a Trump supporter. You know who I mean. The “right people.”

      Here you go.

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