As the controversy over Russian hacking swirls around the capital, it is well worth remembering Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s admonition that Intelligence should never be confused with intelligence. Consider this when listening to National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s testimony before Congress, especially when he said this: “I don’t think that we have ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our electoral process.” He then went on to say that the Russian hacking efforts “did not change the vote tallies” in the election. In fact, no one has credibly asserted that the Russians (or anyone else outside of Cook County) even attempted to tamper with voting machines.
What it comes down to is this. The CIA has determined that the Russians probably tried to influence the results by planting unflattering stories about the Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton in particular. Well, you don’t say. Perhaps the real story is that James Clapper seems to think that Russia’s behavior constitutes the most aggressive campaign they (read the KGB) have ever launched to influence U.S. politics.
It’s pretty hard to understand why Clapper thinks this is so aggressive compared to past behavior. The KGB organized and financed huge demonstrations and all kinds of agitprop to try to prevent the U.S. from deploying Pershing missiles in Europe during the early 1980s. Just like they financed and helped to organize Peace groups in the 1960s in the U.S. and Europe. Including the more violent ones like the Red Brigades and the Bader Meinhof gang.
Then there was the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981, ordered by Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Communist Party in Russia. Prior to this assassination attempt, Andropov ran the KGB just like Putin. And while we are on this trip down memory lane, let’s not forget about the Weather Underground, an offshoot of the Weatherman, which in turn was an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
It turns out that some Members of the Weather Underground collaborated on and published a manifesto advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in order to build socialism and create a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. I wonder where they got that idea? And is there any question where at least some of their support was coming from?
Anyway, here is what the manifesto said (in part). “The only path to the final defeat of imperialism and the building of socialism is revolutionary war … Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit … Revolutionary war will be complicated and protracted … It includes mass struggle and clandestine struggle, peaceful and violent, political and economic, cultural and military, where all forms are developed in harmony with the armed struggle. Without mass struggle there can be no revolution. Without armed struggle there can be no victory.”
The authors of this gem include Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who as it happens are friends of none other than Barrack Obama. And it’s not like this was just idle chitchat. The Weather Underground and their ilk were responsible for multiple murders on top of a wave of rioting, bank robberies, bombings and other crimes.
Which brings us back to James Clapper. How can anyone, much less the Director of National Intelligence, profess to be in the least bit surprised that Vladimir Putin tried to influence U.S. elections for his strategic advantage. How can anyone look at the history and think that this go around comes close to some of the worst episodes in the past?
Which is why we need to bear in mind Patrick Moynihan’s distinction between Intelligence and intelligence.