The Russkies Are Coming…to The Fifth Column

What happens when you add free whiskey to a discussion about the intel community's weak Russia-hacking report?


It's the maturity that stands out. ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

Friday afternoon's news dump, as Scott Shackford blogged here, was an oddly unconvincing report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about Russian attempts to undermine the U.S. presidential election. A few hours later, The Fifth Column, your favorite Kmele Foster-co-hosted podcast, got deep into some whiskey sent to us by loyal listeners. You can probably guess at the results. Listen to the whole thing here:

As one might expect on a podcast that includes former Reasoner Michael C. Moynihan, the subject of Russia came up in the previous episode, on Dec. 30. For more Fifth Column check out iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play,, @wethefifth, and Facebook.

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  1. “What happens when you add free whiskey to a discussion about the intel community’s weak Russia-hacking report?”

    Whiskey? Did the Irish hack the election, too?

    1. Scotch…so it is Scottish. Get it right, dammit. /whiskey pedant
      *swigs some Bushmill’s

      1. *swigs some Glenlivet to wash the Bushmill’s down

        1. Swigs Knob Creek bourbon to wash the furriner down

              1. You found the only bacon related product besides bacon flavored vape juice that I do not want. Thanks Doc!

                1. You’re welcome!

                  Though, I figured it would be this at the top of your list, actually… I, for one, don’t wish you to require it any time soon, be Da ‘Beetus or something else Magically Unpleasant.

          1. *swigs Laphroaig to wash the taste of not-peat-mouth down*

            1. Too peaty for meh.

              1. I am not a sophisticated drinker. When I find a flavor I like, I go overboard finding the most extreme examples. I have yet to find a scotch that’s too peaty.

      2. You may be a whiskey pedant, but we’re talking about whisky here.

    2. You’re doing a report on Russians, without vodka?

      So wrong.

  2. The same people who are practically calling for war with Russia over the DNC being hacked didn’t say a single thing about the Chinese hacking OPM.

      1. Office of personnel management. IT is when the Chinese stole the security clearance applications of everyone in the government who holds a security clearance.

        Google is your friend.

        1. I was having a lazy spell, and you enabled it.

          1. Good job, not it’s your fault I’m lazy, I’d write a letter of protest but, you know…

            1. *now* it’s your fault etc.

              That was too much effort for a joke.

      2. Yeah, you know me!

    1. That was just part of our Asia pivot. It’s where we pivoted at the waist and let the Chinese bugger us.

    2. Over 20 million people. Social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, financial information, personal information. Enough info to steal the identities and ruin the lives of any of them. Enough info to blackmail some of them.

      Fucks given by the administration and the media…zero.

      (I’m also starting to question that China was definitely the source of it, given what’s happening now. Seems like they might be comfortable just throwing the “boogeyman of the day” up there.

      1. My aunt got caught up in that.

        At this point, quite frankly, I wouldn’t trust anything related to intelligence or IT coming from this administration. And if that lying bastard Clapper says it, I’m betting on the opposite being true.

  3. This whole episode was a brazen excuse to get listeners to send them things. DON’T FALL FOR IT.

    1. My first thought was to send Moynihan some self-tanning lotion.

      1. They had enough to do everything but one foot. He looks ridiculous.

      2. Why? The only thing that will get dark are his palms and his…. Well, let’s not revisit the time he applied monoxidil and ended up with hairy palms and packing a personal Wookie. A terrible episode, to be sure.

    2. I’ve already sent them a sixer of Miller Lite. 🙁

      1. Why do you hate them?

        Besides the obvious reasons.

      2. PBR is more appropriate.

    3. I actually think it makes a lot of sense. They’re better when they’re drunk. Why NOT throw them a bottle every now and then. Its like guaranteed quality control

      1. Welch is not better when he’s drunk. He’s worse. Much, much worse.

        1. Anything that gets more exaggerated accents out of moynihan is a good thing.

          1. I was hoping he’d do the whole show in Wisconsin.

        2. I thought he was better than normal, esp the shout out to GILMORE. His TDS is waning.

  4. I’m boycotting The Fifth Column until the three hosts retract their shameful statements regarding the much despised commenter Gilmore.


    1. Demeaning, deplorable, disgraceful!

      I’m going to start commenting on the Reason video production values until I get a shout-out.

      1. I’m just going to insult their masculinity.

        An ice cube in your glass of JW Black! What! A real man drinks it neat, straight out of the bottle while being serviced by a fairly adequate wench!

        1. The episode is even called “Johnny Walker – Neat,” so what’s all this talk of ice cubes?? And this is with a whole discussion of the best JW whisky to drink.

    2. I’m on board with this, until they retract or the next episode is released. Whichever comes first.

    3. I was also disgusted.

      1. The shout-outs just encourage us. Do you want H&R commenters? Because that’s how you get H&R commenters.

        1. Look, nobody wants H&R commenters. But it’s not up to us. H&R commenters are inevitable. And if you have to have H&R commenters, you might as well pander to them.

  5. “…was an oddly unconvincing report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about Russian attempts to undermine the U.S. presidential election….”

    That’s a kind way of putting it.
    It was a cut and paste of some old files filled with innuendo, wrapped in a mealy-mouthed claim that ‘the Russkis are poopy-heads, so they must be doing something wrong’.
    If Trump ever needed to justify ignoring most of what they say, he should just trot that out.

    1. “””If Trump ever needed to justify ignoring most of what they say, he should just trot that out.”””

      If Trump ever needed to justify firing everyone involved, he should just trot that out.

      1. Please, he’s not the kind of guy who fires people.


        1. You’re terminated!

          1. Trump didn’t invent the drone program.

    1. Supposedly, the Center will only be targeting propaganda from foreign sources. But given that our government does not hesitate to cast blame on other countries without providing evidence, there’s little reason to believe that American citizens with dissident views can’t be branded as foreign propaganda outlets

      You think?

      1. Supposedly, the Center will only be targeting propaganda from foreign sources.

        Key word there is “supposedly”. What’s to stop them from just deciding to ignore the plain language of the bill and go after propaganda – aka “anything that we don’t like and/ or makes the government look bad” – from American sources too? The surveillance powers grant the NSA in Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act was also supposed to only be used against foreign targets too but we all know how that turned out.

        1. Well, when domestic news agencies are being obviously duped by foreign sources, we have to do something right?

    2. JHTFC

      Sandwiched in the middle of the 969-page Act, we find the production of the latest Department of State agency. The newly created Global Engagement Center is tasked with coordinating the Federal Government’s efforts to “understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation? aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

      This new agency will also have the power to collect, what the U.S. Code defines as, any collection of information about an individual, “including, education, financial transactions… or other identifying particular assigned to the individual, such as a finger or voice print or a photograph.”

      Notably, it is also authorized to financially support various groups, apparently of its own choosing, including “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”

      1. e.g. “Funnel money to DemOp Media”

        and of course no one in the GOP said boo, because who reads things?

        1. McCain was the bill sponsor. Not that the addled old twat actually realizes what’s in the bill, but still.

          1. I don’t know who the “constituency” for him, Tom Cotton, and Lindsay Graham is…. but the Warboner Caucus is the most retarded aspect of our government.

            I’ve heard lefties asserting that their collective, enthusiastic embrace of the “Russia Hacked Us!” is proof of its validity. Because stupidity becomes common-knowledge as long as it is Bipartisan Stupidity.

            1. I don’t know who the “constituency” for him, Tom Cotton, and Lindsay Graham is

              I’m guessing old ladies.

              1. you’re probably right. “the arsenic-and-old-lace”-vote.

    3. It won’t be effective until they can unilaterally wield the Memory Hole.

  6. Michael C. Moynihan lets his hatred of all things Russian get the best of him. Moynihan errs when he asserts that Assange is just making up the story about Podesta’s password being password. I’d go so far as to say he lied, but Moynihan’s assertion is instead a factual statement with a Clintonian regard for the truth.

    Here’s the link to the email in WikiLeaks.

    This is hard evidence, which was confirmed as authentic in Friday’s DNI report, that DNC IT security was so lame that they would gmail each other user names along with passwords and use passwords as lame as “p@ssw0rd”.

    1. I warn you, the Windows 8 system is VERY different from what we had back at the WH. Might require a tutorial. It’s an operating system that is best with touch screens, which we obviously don’t have. If you need tech’s help, they’re at x5683. Otherwise, I can show you some tricks when I get in. I have it on my home computer, and it took a while to get used to completely.

      Most competent team for the most competent nominee ever.

      I am wondering whether “back at the WH” meant back when Clinton was SoS, or when she was First Lady.

  7. Gilmore gets the greatest hat tip ever.

      1. Make America Great Again

        1. Dress America Great Again

  8. So the day after the government declares the Drudge Report a “pro Russian” website and Obama vows to take revenge against the Russians, it is suddenly the subject of sustained and pretty serious DNS attacks.…

    It couldn’t be the US government doing that. The intel community is above reproach right?

    1. In this case, it would make perfect sense for the Russians to DDOS Drudge just to make the US intel agencies look corrupt and politicized. At least that’s what I would do.

      The entirety of these shenanigans is to make the US government, and the Democrats in particular, look corrupt, inept, and completely incompetent.

      1. “””‘ just to make the US intel agencies look corrupt and politicized””””

        Or they are corrupt and politicized.

        I think Trump should do a full audit on them to find out where they are spending all that black budget money.

        1. The entirety of these shenanigans is to make the US government, and the Democrats in particular, look corrupt, inept, and completely incompetent.

          Since that’s true within a ? of 95% (if not 99.7%), it’s shouldn’t be a hard task.

        2. Personally I think, that like every other bureaucratic agency, their first priority is to maintain their existence and budget. In so much that anyone threatens that, they will act accordingly.

          1. Stansfield Turner, former Director of Central Intelligence, wrote a Foreign Affairs article in 1991 titled Intelligence for a New World Order.

            In the article he agreed with Lee Genes’ sentiment, stating quite directly that “Any reduction in effort against the Soviet Union will be resisted strongly in the CIA, where the Cold War ethos runs very deep. Similarly, any reduction in effort against the Soviet military threat will be opposed by the various military intelligence agencies when, after all, that threat is their raison d’?tre.”

            Turner went on to propose that, since they indeed have the political staying power to resist any reductions in their power and budgets, the intelligence agencies be re-purposed to engage in commercial espionage against international competitors.

        3. “black budget money”

          Trump makes another racist statement!

    2. Drudge has been subject to several serious and extended DNS attacks. I know this from my own experience in using that site.

      Following a rigorous investigation to “integrate information from a wide range of sources, including human sources, technical collection, and open source information, and apply specialized skills and structured analytic tools to draw inferences informed by the data available, relevant past activity, and logic and reasoning to provide insight into what is happening and the prospects for the future”, I am highly confident in assessing that these attacks originate from US intelligence services. Unfortunately, I can provide no evidence in this assessment or for high degree of confidence. However, as Solon would put it, there’s an “Overwhelming Case that US is Hacking Drudge”.

  9. Please move on from the Russians. Despite the fact that Putin may be evil, the fact that Matt and Michael continue to just take the US Intelligence Community’s word for it is getting boring. I agree with Kmele that they could indicate the channel for their discovery of this information broadly without burning any sources. “we have signals (or human) intelligence that confirm” would be the minimum for me. Yes, its fun to speculate about the conspiracies, but there must be some way to fill the interval between the election and inauguration besides rehashing whether Putin is an evil genius, or merely evil.

  10. That’s the recording studio? My mind pictured a windowless room with egg crate foam on the walls and Chad in a glass booth next door. And people dressed professionally. I guess what they say is true. Never meet your heroes’ venues.

  11. That was one of the most entertaining episodes yet.

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