by Ann Garrison
Russiagate fanatic Michael Isikoff, co-author of “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” has been producing a series of “Conspiracyland” podcasts for Yahoo News so as to put an end to any suspicion that Democratic or Clinton operatives murdered Seth Rich, the young Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer who was shot dead on his way home from work on July 25, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Curious project – Isikoff’s – because the best way to bury inconvenient suspicions, expressions or even truths is to ignore them, refuse to talk about them or pretend they don’t exist. Why start a radio drama series, replete with music and special effects, about something you want people to forget?
Seth Rich had access to the DNC emails. He could have downloaded them to a thumb drive and then given the thumb drive to Wikileaks, or he could have uploaded them to a dropbox, but no one has ever produced any definitive proof that he did. Whether they were downladed or hacked, the emails exposed the DNC conspiracy to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders. No one, however, has proven that that’s why Clinton lost.
“The evidence that WikiLeaks had an impact is circumstantial,” wrote Five Thirty Eight political analyst Harry Enten in December 2016. “Trump, for instance, won among voters who decided who to vote for in October [by] 51 percent to 37 percent, according to national exit polls. That’s Trump’s best time period. He carried voters who decided in the final week, when you might expect Comey’s letter to have had the largest impact, [by] 45 percent to 42 percent. (Although, Trump’s margin among those who decided in the final week was wider in the exit polls in some crucial swing states.)
“And while Clinton’s lead was dropping in the FiveThirtyEight polls-only forecast before the Comey letter was released, the drop accelerated slightly afterward. Of course, one thing didn’t sink Clinton. The evidence suggests WikiLeaks is among the factors that might have contributed to her loss, but we really can’t say much more than that.”
Former NSA Technical Director William Binney conducted several data transmission experiments and thereby proved that the email could not have been sent across the Atlantic at the speed indicated by the time stamps. However, another security state pro suggested that the DNC might have had an unusually speedy Internet connection. However, if that were true, wouldn’t the DNC have long since produced their Internet service bills to prove it?
In any case, it would seem more important that the DNC interfered in the 2016 presidential election. They stole the nomination and most likely the presidency from Bernie Sanders, but that was of course buried in liberal hysterics over Trump’s election. The Democratic National Press (DNP) had to find someone to blame besides the Democrats and their own thieving national committee, so we were subjected to the two-year, $30 million Russiagate investigation that finally ended with the grudging conclusion that there’s no evidence to indict Trump.
But that by no means ended the bipartisan determination to scapegoat Russia for whatever conspiracy theory they can whip up. It didn’t end the Democrats’ theory that “Russian hackers” working for Vladimir Putin stole the emails and thereby threw the election to Trump. And at the Mueller hearing, Congressmember Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, tried to get Mueller to comment on the Republicans’ theory that the allegations in Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier were part of a Russian government disinformation campaign to damage Trump. Devin Nunes, the most recent Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, insists that Trump did not conspire with Russians, but that he, Nunes, repeatedly warned of Russian interference in US elections during Obama’s second term.
So now we have conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory about how demon Russia interfered in our last presidential election, including Isikoff’s latest – that Russians created and spread the theory that Seth Rich was murdered for leaking the emails so as to turn attention from their own DNC hacking. He even suggests the possibility that Russians might have gone so far as to murder Seth Rich themselves.
I’m waiting for the theory that Russia conspired with Al Qaeda to bomb the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to instigate the endless “War on Terror” and thereby bankrupt America with unfathomable war-and-weapons budgets. But I probably shouldn’t give Isikoff any new ideas.
Seymour Hersh on Seth Rich and Russiagate
In August 2016, legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh began to investigate Seth Rich’s murder. He eventually called Dallas money manager Ed Butowsky to ask what he knew about it because someone had told him that Butowsky had unreported information. Butowsky recorded 20 minutes of their conversation because, he said, his handwriting is so poor that he couldn’t take legible notes. Both men agreed that they were speaking in confidence, but Butowsky later published the recording on YouTube because, he said, Hersh had betrayed his confidence.
In the recording, Hersh told Butowsky that a high level FBI source had shared with him an FBI investigation into Rich’s death and Rich’s contact with Wikileaks, which included a forensic investigation of Rich’s computer. This is part of that conversation:
Hersh responded that he could not risk exposing his high-level FBI source by sharing a document even if he could get one. He then asked Butowsky to tell him what he knew:
SH: My pen is down. I’m not quoting you about anything. I know that. What do you know?
EB: I know that Julian Assange told a friend of mine who met with him that he got the emails from Seth Rich.
EB: And they’re very personal friends.
Hersh said that he had been working on the story since August 2016 because he foresaw that Russia would be blamed for the email leaks.
SH: I’ve been doing this story since the late summer because I smelled it. I smelled it in August, OK? That the fallback was going to be Russia.
That’s an abridged version of the conversation between Seymour Hersh and Ed Butowsky, but anyone who wants to listen to the whole thing – to be sure I haven’t mangled the meaning or for any other reason – can find it on this Reddit post of the YouTube video: Full 20 min audio available for first time of Sy Hersh & Ed Butowsky discussing Seth Rich.
Occam’s Razor, which Seymour Hersh cites as the guide to his conclusions, is a philosophical principle. If there exist two explanations for how and/or why anything happens, the one that requires the least speculation is usually correct. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation. Perhaps someone could suggest using Occam’s Razor to Michael Isikoff.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. Please support her work on Patreon. She can be reached at ann(at)anngarrison(dot)com.