The Intercept Trumpets Time-Wasting News

Eric Zuesse

The Intercept headlined on June 5th, “TOP-SECRET NSA REPORT DETAILS RUSSIAN HACKING EFFORT DAYS BEFORE 2016 ELECTION” and devoted 3,811 words to saying that America’s National Security Agency alleges that “a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure” is the subject of a top-secret “report, dated May 5, 2017,” which “is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light. While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying ‘raw’ intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.”

“The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document.”

If the NSA’s conclusions are true, then Russian President Vladimir Putin is lying to say that the Russian government was not involved in any attempt to manipulate the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

However, The Intercept also provides allegations from its news-sources saying that the only entity that the alleged Russian government effort succeeded in penetrating was “VR Systems, a Florida-based vendor of electronic voting services and equipment whose products are used in eight states. … According to its website, VR Systems has contracts in eight states: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.”

Consequently, according to the NSA’s report, the only three states that were close enough in the vote-count for them to have switched the National election-result away from a Trump victory — which were Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — weren’t even possibly affected by this alleged penetration of VR Systems by the Russian government. (Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes; Wisconsin by 22,748; Pennsylvania by 44,292. All three would need to have switched.)

The news-report by The Intercept fails to note this key fact, that even if the report is accurate, it’s irrelevant to the key question of whether there exists a possibility that Russian involvement in “hacking” the Presidential election might have affected the election’s outcome. Apparently, the four-reporter team at The Intercept weren’t interested in that question. All of their 3,811 words avoided mentioning it.

The NSA’s allegation that “states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document,” is the news, if there really is any that won’t subsequently be found to have been false. Even taking the document at face value, it isn’t alleging that any of the three states, all three of which would have had to be switched to Clinton’s win-column in order for her to have won the election, was involved in this “news.”

One might speculate that if this NSA report is accurate, then Russia’s GRU botched rather stupidly to be penetrating into the computers of a vendor that had no contract in any of the battleground states, but The Intercept didn’t even make note of that, either.

If you’ve wasted your time reading the present news-report, you’ve wasted reading only 597 words — less than 16% as many as are in The Intercept’s article.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • Jay

    That wasn’t the only report.

    • cettel

      Yes it is, but other ‘news’media, such as Britain’s Guardian, report about the Intercept’s report. So did I, here. That doesn’t make my report ‘another’ source about the matter — only The Intercept’s report is that — the source news-report about it. However, mine is the only critical report about it.

      • Jay

        The only NSA report, you rube.

        • cettel

          First, you employ vague, ambiguous language. Then you insult me for trying to clarify the situation. But still you’re not clear about whether you are by the term “report” referring to the news about the NSA’s report about the VR Systems breach, or whether you are instead referring to that NSA report that was the subject of the news-report. And, yes, according to The Intercept, it is one NSA report on that subject, not more than one.

          • Jay

            If you bide your time you won’t have to keep eating your hat on these pages by trying to tamp down the news about what happened.

          • kimyo

            why don’t you save us all a bunch of time and link to the other reports.

  • blue579

    Is this Kabuki election nonsense going to live on forever? A Psy Op Zombie that never goes away.

    The Intercept is highly suspect from the very beginning with arch global elite billionaire Pierre Omidyar bankrolling it as he also simultaneously bankrolls, along with the likes of the Clintons and Gates, the UN tied program Better Than Cash Alliance that was behind the recent demonetization fiasco in India. It’s the organization driving the march to a global cashless society.

    Omidyar is also bankrolling Singapore based Lenddo which is developing Orwellian China-style Social Credit Score algorithms for the rest of the world. Omidyar’s position on the NSA has been one of approval.

    Then there’s Greenwald, the key journalist for whom The Intercept was created to release Snowden leaks. Greenwald threw NSA whistle blowers under the bus when he was working as the primary reporter covering the States Secret Privileges Act (evidentiary rule), for which Sibel Edmonds called him out. …Snowden as Snowjob is another big rabbit hole Jon Rappoport deconstructed. >>
    = A lot of deception going on.

    • eddysachs

      *Absoluuuuutely!….Real News that you’ll never hear about on any corporate MSM alpha~waved Fake News propaganda pablum stations…& of course…with a special specious & prevaricated ‘tailored’ delivery, by the ‘plastic-fantastic’ vacuous smiles of their ‘Talking Heads’…Cheers on your temerity

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        • cettel

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  • Marko

    ” A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.”

    Translation : “It’s 100% bullshit , but don’t quote me on it.”

  • teri

    The big news here is that The Intercept just outed a whistle-blower and got her arrested. Whether or not the document is all that important (it’s not, really: nobody’s voter registration was actually changed and the “Russian hack” into the voter system didn’t affect the election results at all), the lesson to be learned here is to not trust The Intercept when you think you are doing some civic duty to leak information to the public. Too bad for the young lady who made the mistake of sending her document to Greenwald, et al., who supposedly specialize in leaked documents. The way she was outed was completely predictable – the NSA traced the markings on the document, which was published as a screenshot on The Intercept rather than being re-typed so as to be unmarked in this way, to a particular computer in a particular location – yet the Intercept did not seem to understand that this could be done. Unlikely, considering they handle this sort of thing all the time. More likely, they did understand, and didn’t care. Or they are a honeytrap organization. Or they are creating their own follow-up story (“The arrest and mistreatment of a whistle-blower”) by ensuring that she was caught doing her good deed.

    Whatever the case, the woman will no doubt spend a number of years behind bars, and The Intercept has not explained or apologized for her outing.

    • cettel

      Thanks for that information, and that terrifically informative link.

      • teri

        Welcome. I was hoping you could use it in another article.

        I quit commenting on Greenwald articles after he moved to First Look/The Intercept because 1) I seriously mistrust the backing of PayPal’s Omidyar, who is an oligarch who interferes in other countries’ internal governances and who should therefore be suspect as an “independent” media source, 2) it was pointed out immediately by other commenters that the commenting system at Intercept utilizes algorithms that track the users (Greenwald refused to answer inquiries about this), 3) later, it has turned out to be the case that Greenwald hoarded the Snowden documents and has never released them all, and 4) Greenwald, Snowden and The Intercept stable as a whole supported all the follow-up surveillance legislations after Cispa (or whatever that one was called – the one that simply allowed the Patriot Act to continue on basically unchanged. They have supported and endorsed these surveillance acts under their new names, although each is as bad as what we had and still allows full-scale scooping up of our phone calls and emails.)

        Anyway, it seems to me that even if the leaker in this Russia case was too dumb to recognize her error when she sent a trackable document to The Intercept, they should have known it could be traced and should have taken the simple steps to protect her identity. What has happened instead is that this lady is going to be made an example of by the Trump administration. And over a document that is fairly meaningless, as your article points out.

      • teri

        Hm, a Jesselyn Radack tweet posted in a comment at MoonofAlabama article on this topic:

        unR̶A̶D̶A̶C̶K̶ted @JesselynRadack

        Winner [Teri’s note: this is the name of the leaker who handed the document over to The Intercept] case is 2nd time Matt Cole was involved in a story where the source ended up prosecuted for Espionage

        1st was my client @JohnKiriakou

  • I don’t believe the NSA conclusion of Russian meddling are true, for several reasons.

    First of all, they have nothing to gain, the Duopoly continues to win elections, no matter which particular side of the Duopoly wins, the Deep State Neocon narrative continues to rule without exception making it pointless to even bother with such an elaborate exercise, the Deep State Neocons however, need an enemy, real or imaginary or they’ll lose control of over their war mongering narrative, not to mention the overblown budget and all that personal power.

    Second of all, all this Russian hacking was debunked quite some time ago, Wikileaks revealed that the CIA have the software that can be used in order to make it look like the Russian did it, which also plays straight into the hand of the Straussian Neocons.

    Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed 7 March 2017

  • Feudal Peasant
    • teri

      That is an excellent piece at your link! Yeah, it says what I said, only better.

  • ICFubar

    Is this a lame attempt at setting the stage to have the last election cycle over turned and a new election called so that the Deep State can get it [far] right the next time around using even more manipulation and subterfuge than they did and failed to succeed in last time around?

  • Kansas_Voter

    The Intercept can be good but some of their writers are so rabidly anti-Trump that they’ve ended up publishing a lot of nonsense over the past year and a half. This story is one of those nonsense articles, and like you said, a waste of time.

    And is Reality Winner a real person? Is she one of those Bruce or Bradley kinds of ladies or a real one? Maybe her parents were just crazy hippies, but a name like that just seems fake.

  • 1johnnyrotten1

    anyone who doesn’t expose Israel’s role in the 9/11 false flag is a GATEKEEPER… period… that includes the intercept and washington’s blog …

  • time waste, indeed. not much different from snowden and assange.
    i hope everyone can now see limited hang out artists for exactly what they are.
    i try not to waste your time, but seem to have wasted plenty of my own.

  • paul

    Notice that election hacking that happens in the US, the real issue, is never even considered. Ok, let’s say you believe that Russians did hack our election – which is fairly absurd – then why aren’t you even more concerned about Americans hacking our election (eg the ‘stolen election’ of 2004)?

  • Whistleblower tries to leak material that serves the long term interest of the Neocons.