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Russian email hackers keep playing us for fools

Posted on 22 December 2016 by dana1981

A batch of stolen emails was released to the public, with evidence pointing towards Russian hackers. The media ran through the formerly private correspondence with a fine-toothed comb, looking for dirt. Although little if any damning information was found, public trust in the hacking victims was severely eroded. The volume of media coverage created the perception that where there’s smoke, there must be fire, and a general presumption of guilt resulted.

The year was 2009, and the victims were climate scientists working for and communicating with the University of East Anglia. The story was repeated in 2016 with the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The faux scandal known as “Climategate”

After 1,000 of climate scientists’ private emails were stolen and published online, snippets of text were taken out of context and misrepresented to falsely accuse the scientists of scandal, conspiracy, collusion, falsification, and illegal activities. Climate deniers and biased media outlets whipped up such froth over these misrepresentations that various organizations launched nine separate investigations to identify any possible scientific wrongdoing uncovered by the emails. They found none.

Nevertheless, “Climategate” caused temporary erosion in public trust of climate scientists. Like most such news events, people quickly forgot and the effect soon faded; however, the stolen emails were made public just a month before the Copenhagen international climate summit. The well-timed release of the hacked emails provided a distraction that helped sink the negotiations, which were generally viewed as a failure. A serious international climate agreement was delayed for another six years.

Clinton’s campaign was similarly sunk

Similarly, the stolen emails released by Wikileaks did not identify any damning revelations about Hillary Clinton. The leaks had the desired effect – Clinton’s emails received three times more nightly news network coverage than all policy issues combined.


Gallup consistently found that Clinton’s emails were dominating the newsAmericans were receiving about her. The constant flood of overwhelming media coverage of the emails created the perception that Hillary Clinton was somehow ‘just as bad’ as Donald Trump.

Although Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of over 2% and close to 3 million votes, the email effect helped Trump win the election.

On both email hacking stories, the media blew it

As President Obama said at his year-end press conference last Friday:

This was not some elaborate complicated espionage scheme. They hacked into some Democratic party emails that contained pretty routine stuff, some of it embarrassing or uncomfortable, because I suspect that if any of us got our emails hacked into, there might be some things that we wouldn’t want suddenly appearing on the front page of a newspaper or telecast even if there wasn’t anything particularly illegal or controversial about it. And then it just took off. And that concerns me. And it should concern all of us.

The exact same could be said of the hacked Climategate emails. The contents of the emails were so benign that those trying to attack climate scientists were forced to take statements out of context. For example, a sentence using the word “trick” as in “technique” was distorted and claimed to mean the scientists were nefariously trying to trick people. And the distortions worked. The media treated the hacked emails like a scandal, and the scientists who were its victims were treated like criminals. Even Jon Stewart jumped on the faux scandal bandwagon.

Reading hacked emails is like eavesdropping

At the American Geophysical Union conference last week, attorney Michael Mandig, who represents Dr. Malcolm Hughes and other climate scientists on behalf of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, put his finger on the problem:

Having general, open access to a researcher’s email is the functional equivalent of eavesdropping.

Those trying to block climate policy by any means necessary have resorted to trying to make scientists’ private emails public, via either hacking or frivolous Freedom of Information Act requests. But there’s no reason to electronically eavesdrop on private discussions between scientists. As Dr. Hughes noted:

Email has enabled collaboration without geographical limits in science to an extraordinary degree. Treating scientists’ emails as public records, subject to twisting by anti-science ideologues, chills the vital expression of competing, and changing, views on which science depends.

Science is a competition of ideas, and scientists are critical of each others’ work. Informal discussions between scientists, whether over the telephone or in hallways or via email, depend on privacy to allow the free and frank exchange of ideas.

As President Obama noted, everyone says things in private emails that we wouldn’t want aired in public. Climategate and the 2016 presidential election provided perfect examples – despite no incriminating content, the media treated both events like scandals, and public perception of climate scientists and Hillary Clinton were damaged as a result.

Russia keeps beating us

For the climate scientists who lived through Climategate, the Wikileaks email scandal crated a sense of déjà vu. In both cases, the Russian petrostate may have been the perpetrator of the illegal email hacks, and emerged as the winner of the faux scandals, while the rest of us lost.

By helping elect Donald Trump, Russia now has a friendly American leadership replacing an outgoing administration that sought to punish their invasion of Ukraine and bombing in Syria. Russian operatives covertly interfered with the American election to aid Trump’s campaign, and Americans responded by electing Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate. Russian agents may also have been behind the Climategate email hack (although the perpetrators were never identified), and again they achieved their intended goal of shaking public trust in their victims, and disrupting the Copenhagen conference.

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Comments 1 to 36:

  1. Let’s be clear the Clinton and climategate email hacks were theft of people’s private correspondence. The thieves can’t even claim a public interest defence, or whistle blower defence, because there was no wrongdoing found in the documents.

    It’s quite absurd to suggest climate scientists should be required to publish their correspondence. I don’t see Trump publishing his own private or business correspondence. Hell would freeze over first before he did that.

    People I know still quote climategate as if it proves the IPCC wrong. The trouble is the media publish the headlines about a hack, but the enquiries that found no wrong doing never get published in the media, or only in the fine print at the back somewhere, and so another urban myth gets born.

    We have evidence these hacks originated in Russia at high level. Putin is an authoritarian, and a populist, and his popularity has rested on him demonising America, especially liberal America. Trump has used similar tactics to get elected. They talk the same language so no wonder theres an attraction.

    I don’t like the thought of Trump attempting to appease Putin any more than the way Clinton antagonised him. Both can only create all sorts of obvious problems. It would be better to maintain a sincere, respectful, but slightly detached approach.

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  2. People in US as well as the rest of English-speaking world may not know who is standing behind that russian efforts to hijack western political system: Aleksandr Dugin. Specialising in propaganda and information war, employing social media, Dugin is the likely mastermind behind all latest russian hacking efforts. Consider for example this analysis. Based on this information, Dugin can be characterised as present day's Joseph Goebbels.

    The same cannot be said of 2009 climate gate because there is no evidence of Dugin involvement. I don't think such nazi extremist as Dugin even cares about climate science: his motivation is purely political and not anti-scientific, and fossil fuel interests do not seem to influence him.

    I'm mentioning Dugin here to remind the SkS readers how vulnerable western political systems are to such attacks: more vulnerable than we do realise. Dugin is now celebrating his big success in US and no doubt preparing for next polls in Europe: France and Germany. Unless we (western world where I also belong) find a way to stop post-truth propaganda influencing people via social media, we will continue losing that information war.

    But there is no point discussing this subject here any further because it has nothing to do with climate sicence. This whole op is in fact unrelated to climate science. The link - that the 2009 climate gate hacks and 2016 election hacks that gave rise to post-truth politics of trumpism, both originated in Russia - appears incidental and perpetrators were likely different groups representing different special interests. 

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  3. Come on guys and girls.
    You need to stop over analysing what 'Russia' is doing or even individuals in Russia.

    It is simple propaganda. The same goes for climate skeptics (in any country) etc.

    There is NO interest in science. It is purely a war of intelligence and propaganda.

    The idea is to confuse and destabilise the enemy. Hence you still get climate change skeptics deliberately regurgitating old lies and myths about ice, polar bears, volcanoes etc. There is no interest in science, it's purely to confuse, thereby maintaining the policy status quo or to reverse it to some previous state.

    Hacking emails, denial of service attacks etc. It's all about causing disruption.

    Remember, this is all during peace time. Basically if war broke out, nowhere online would be safe!
     We made our bed...

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  4. nigelj@1,

    Populist does not really mean what you are using the term for. The Populists were a political movement that included socialist objectives like graduated taxation and state ownership of railways for the public good (to improve the circumstances of the less fortunate at the expense of the more fortunate).

    Even using a term like popularist may not be helpful since my 1988 Canadian Edition of Webster's Dictionary indicates that is a person who seeks wide public support (and my older Oxford Dictionary does not even include that term). The likes of Putin and Trump do not seek wide support, they seek just enough support at the right time in the right place. And the thrive on misunderstanding that leads peoples thoughts awary from understanding and supporting what is required to advance humanity to a lasting better future for all (since the actions required for that advancement are clearly contrary to many of their selfish interests).

    My description of Putin attempting to not use terms that could be twisted is: 'A greedy selfish person who deliberately and willingly appeals for popular support by promoting selfishness, intolerance and many other special interest groups that would be considered deplorable by Main Stream aspects of humanity that pursue the advancement of humanity through raised awareness, new learning and better understanding'. Trump and so many other powerful wealthy people are just like Putin.

    Use of 'terms' can be subject to misunderstanding, especially when the meaning of a term can be subverted the way "Sustainable" has been subverted by proponents of the burning of fossil fuels to label efforts to "Prolong" the activity that is fundamanetally not sustainable (if sustain means continue to do indefinitely - which it did and always should), and that udeniabley needs to be curtailed far before the 'Freer choices of people in an industrialized consumerism midsleading marketing ruled economy of popularity and profitability' would end it.

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  5. PaulD @3, I agree that climate scepticism is primarily a war by vested interests to divide and confuse, but the email hacks discussed do seem to relate to Russia, and almost certainly have a range of motives. I was just sticking to the content of the article.

    Dugan is another figure on the "alternate right" and a very concerning sort of person. Scientists just doing their jobs with integrity are up against people like Dugan, and political and business interests who sometimes want to win at all costs, and who recognise no sense of fair play. Its a most uneven playing field.
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  6. One planet only @4, I agree with all your comments. I regretted using the term populist the second I pressed submit, because it means different things to different people. But I stand by the rest of what I said.

    Personally I think populist is an idea with good and bad connotations. Popular policies are often genuinely good, and I like binding public referedums on policies, and proper consideration given to the concerns of ordinary people, and majority sentiment. 

    But populism can sometimes be used to unfairly oppress minorities, and Trump plays to the dark side of populism.

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  7. Interesting. If the climate hack of 2009 had Russian fingerprints, they certainly got punished in 2010 with the record heat and massive fires. Anyone know if they saw the connection?

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  8. I love the "Russians are Coming" ploy. You think it's played out and no one will fall for it again, but no.. 

    JFK running for president in 1960, outflanked Nixon with it. Reagan and the "evil empire" in the 80s. And now Clinton in 2016. And of course, in the meantime, countless lower level politicians showing their tough credentials.

    At least this time around we have an organization with the highest ethical standards inspiring news stories.

    Who would need evidence when the CIA is allegedly the off-the-record source?

    Apart from a few minor ethical blemishes like overthrowing foreign governments, attempting to overthrow other foreign governments, running domestic psyops campaigns through favorable media sources, manufacturing evidence favorable to an incumbent government so they can invade a foreign country, lying on the record about torture, lying on the record about spying on oversight committees - apart from those minor pranks (I probably missed a few) - absolutely an unimpeachable source.

    And the conduit for this unimpeachable off the record uninvestigable evidence - the Washington Post. Owned by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, owner of around 17% of Amazon, and luckily, not in hock to the CIA at all. Well, apart from Amazon's $600M contract for IT resources with the CIA. But let's not get picky.

    I don't even know why I wrote these comments.

    The Russians are Coming. Let's get serious. We will fight them on the beaches..

    [Notes for students of pointless-level picky detail - read Noam Chomsky (if you prefer left-leaning commentary), Andrew J. Bacevich Washington Rules (if you prefer right-leaning commentary), or The Intercept if you want current commentary on CIA scoops from a left perspective and also appreciate Glenn Greenwald and Hero Snowden].

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  9. Stevecarsnr @8, it's true past presidents scaremongered about Russia and the cia have a dubious history, and Chomsky is about right, but so what? Vladimir Putin is still  not a good leader. read the history. Even Chomsky would probably agree.

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  10. nigelj @9:

    What have I said to endorse Vladimir Putin? Nothing. But let's throw that into the mix to somehow support our non-argument.

    Anyone not endorsing the fake news story reported by the Washington Post that was allegedly produced by the highly ethical CIA must, logically, be a fan of Vladimir Putin?

    Or is this a parody article and I'm the dummy that didn't get the joke?

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  11. Stevecasnr @10, well at least you now admit you dont endorse Putin, because your other post certainly lacked clarity on that.

    It's not a fake news story. Theres no reason to doubt the CIA have information that Russia was involved in a hack. They have said the have very clear evidence, and have released a small part of it already. Just because their evidence on Iraq was weak, doesnt mean you can dismiss them for all eternity. Thats childish thinking. .

    The FBI have also stated they have evidence Russia was involved. Are they making it up as well?

    You are sounding like a conspiracy theorist! However I do agree with some of your cynicism in general terms, but dont let it overtake your assessment of Putin. He is running Russia almost like a police state, so its  not a huge step to believe he or possibly his subordinates have been involved in this hack.

    People in America have started to believe everything is lies, which is just absurd. The G W Bush blunder over Iraq has destroyed trust. Trump is adding petrol to this fire. Unfortunately it is also undermining trust in science.

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  12. nigelj,

    "Stevecasnr @10, well at least you now admit you dont endorse Putin, because your other post certainly lacked clarity on that."

    It lacked clarity on 1,000,000 other points that have no relationship to the question.

    "Theres no reason to doubt the CIA have information that Russia was involved in a hack."

    Their record of making stuff up? What I wrote in my earlier comment is the reason to doubt.

    "You are sounding like a conspiracy theorist!"

    Got me. I think the CIA helped foreign overthrow governments, and testified on the record to what turned out to be lies. Must be that I'm a conspiracy theorist. Perfect, that's that then.

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  13. stevecarsonr @8, the key premise of your theory is that the CIA is the only source on the claim that Russian, security agency aligned hackers were responsible for the hacking of the Democrat National Committee.  That key premise is false.  In particular, the private internet security firm, CrowdStrike has published its analysis of the DNC hack, revealing some of the evidence involved, and stating in the update,

    "CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016."

    This analysis has been independently confirmed by Fidelisecurity, who state:

    "Based on our comparative analysis we agree with CrowdStrike and believe that the COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR APT groups were involved in successful intrusions at the DNC. The malware samples contain data and programing elements that are similar to malware that we have encountered in past incident response investigations and are linked to similar threat actors.

    In addition to CrowdStrike, several other security firms have analyzed and published findings on malware samples that were similar and in some cases nearly identical to those used in the DNC incident. Many of these firms attributed the malware to Russian APT groups."

    What is more, according to Time Magazine (who does not share an owner with the Washington Post):

    "The private firms admit their open source evidence is not conclusive, but say in the world of cyber-attribution, this is close to as good as it gets. Those familiar with the classified evidence say there is even more convincing information that has not been released."

    That this was reported by Time Magazine undercuts the second premise of your wild claims, ie, that the reporting is through the Washington Post who are compromised by financial entanglements with the CIA.

    In short, your conspiracy theory, like most such theories, is only sustainable by the careful neglect of contrary facts.

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  14. Just a correction that I think is important to make..

    I think you will find that it was the West that engineered a coup in Kiev/Ukraine (Nuland openly boasted of it) replacing a corrupt but elected government with one that was much closer to the West ie would do their bidding, even though Russia had offered some very attractive financial incentives to help the Ukrainians pay of a huge gas bill.

    There is NO proof that Russia invaded the Ukraine. They did enter the Crimea to protect the people in the East who were being threatend (and later attacked repeatedly) by forces of the coup, including fascists/Neonazi elements of Right Sector/Svoboda.  The Crimean population held a referendum and voted to stay closer to Russia. No surprise considering the majority are ethnic Russians and Kiev coup leaders/West wanted to take control of them and the Black Sea port of Sevastopol..

    The significance of Trump perhaps being closer to President Putin and Russia (if that be so, although recent events make that hard to believe) is that there is probably less chance now of a Nuclear Winter, but more chance of ongoing climate heating. Either will be ultimately catastrophic for life as we like it but at least climate change is somewhat slower than a nuclear exchange and gives surviving sentients more chance, perhaps to prepare for further changes.

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  15. Richard,

    Please provide a reference for your claim that the West engineered a coup in Ukraine, it is different that I recall.

    As for proof that Russia invaded Ukraine perhaps this WIkipedia reference documenting extensive Russian military involvement in the "Ukrainian revolution" is adequate.  Since the leader of the Ukrainian insurgents was a Russian officier it stands to reason that Russia was involved.  There was no problem in Crimea before th e RUssian invasion.

    You need to provide references for your claims.  

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  16. Stevecarsonr @8, Im going to agree with you on one thing.The CIA have a certain history of activities that are rather dubious and questionable, if I can put it that way. A related book is "Confessions of an economic hit man".

    But the point I'm making is you need to avoid a total over reaction or total lack of trust in anything the CIA say. Some of the activities they have engaged in would have been pushed on them by certain presidents. I just dont believe they are totally corrupt or incompetent  on every issue.

    As I pointed out other sources have found a connection between the hacks and Russia, like the FBI. Tom Curtis has listed a whole lot more, and these sources are not known to be corrupt and its unlikely they would "all" be corrupt. You are fixated on the CIA (although I do understand why) and as a result are ignoring the weight of evidence from numerous other sources.

    This is what interests me more. I believe the CIA did have weak and mistaken evidence on Iraqs weapons of mass destruction. But the point is it was obvious at a glance that the evidence was weak and the CIA never claimed it was strong evidence. It was Bush and Blair that decided to go with such weak evidence, so its unreasonable to entirely blame the CIA. The Iraq war was arguably a mistake, but thats another issue.

    I believe (just my opinion here) the net result of the Iraq War was ordinary Americans including both Democrats and even Republicans have lost faith or trust in politicians and agencies of the state. Other leaks have found solid evidence that the other American spy agency the NSA exceeded its surveillance powers. This has added to the problem of trust.

    Americans have over reacted to all this, and lost all trust in government and "all" its agencies. This is a step way too far, and a dangerous situation where facts and truth now become elusive and truth is whatever you want to believe.

    This history has undoubtably reinforced scepticism about climate change and agencies like NASA who do the research. They have probably been labelled just another lying government agency, all because a couple of problems emerged with the CIA. But its totally irrational to deduce all agencies of the state are somehow corrupt, because of the intelligence services. I'm not saying you are doing this, but many appear to be.

    Climate change scepticism increased after the Iraq war blunder and again after climategate. Its an unfortunate over reaction.

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  17. Come on you "hacking sceptics" and see the big picture on this. Russia relies very strongly on oil and gas exports. They therefore have enormous motivation to undermine climate science, support Trump, attack Clinton and Obama etc. I would therefore not be remotely surprised if Russia is implicated in the email hacks of both clinton and climategate.

    This doesnt mean Russia is an evil empire and America is allways pure and innocent. When you look at politics, foreign policy, etc,etc, there is often fault on both sides.

    However right now Putin does not appear to be the quality of leader Gorbachev was. Human rights  are under threat. Russias economy is in trouble and Putin is maintaining public popularity by finding as many scapegoats to blame as possible, and America is an easy target.

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  18. nigelj @17, while both the DNC and CRU hacks were sourced from Russia, it does not follow that both were sourced from the Russian government.  Specifically, as I understand organized crime is very active in Russia, and among their activities are hacking to directly exploit sensitive information, or for hire.  In addition, Russia serves as a haven for rerouted attacks used to disguise the actual country of origin.  Until the article above, I have heard no suggestion that the CRU hack was anything but one of the last two (ie, a hack by a gun for hire, or a hack from some third country rerouted through Russia).  I have certainly seen no evidence that it was a Russian government associated hack, such as is available for the hack of the DNC.

    This in no way obviates against the point made in the OP that the hacking of large volumes of private emails followed by publicly drawing attention to a few, out of context samples biases the discussion.  Whether or not Richlieu actually said it, the principle that "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him" is valid.  That certainly happened with regard to the CRU hack, and may have happened with regard to the DNC hack.  (More likely with regard to the DNC hack, IMO, is that a small number of genuinely objectionable acts were revealed, but were beat up to look like overwhelming pattern of corruption rather than a selection of a few isolated incidents from among many unobjectionable acts.  It is also likely, IMO, that had the similar data from the Republicans been released, it would have looked as bad or worse.)

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  19. Tom Curtis @18, I agree there's no  evidence that the Russian government as such was involved in the CRU hack. I should have been clear on that.

    However theres evidence the hack originated in Russia and remember Gazprom, the Russian oil and gas agency is state owned. The government or alternatively the Gazprom directorship (which is independent of government) would certainly have motivation in theory to discredit climate science. Or as you appear to imply interests in the western world could have used Russian hackers to discredit the CRU to make it look like it was Russian, or because they were available for hire. This is of course a distinct possibility.

    The point I was really making to the other poster was just because Russia has been excessively and hypocritically demonised at times by America, not all criticism of Russia is wrong or "scaremongering". I say this from my perspective as a person living in another country observing, and I mean it respectfully. No country is perfect by a long way.

    Yes it's possible to hack someones correspondence and find a small number of problems and blow them out of proportion, or alternatively quote things out of context, or subtly distort what was really said, or imply its more than it is with rhetorical questions etc. This happened with the CRU hack. The people trying to discredit the CRU used every tactic possible to make it look as bad as possible, when there was nothing of genuinely huge significance there in the documents.

    The same could be done with the emails of any organisation. In fact the lack of anything of real problems in the CRU emails should have been if anything reassuring that science was being done properly, with the various enquiries just making a couple of minor criticisms. This became lost in the general hype about the whole thing, yet maybe a lot of people did notice this fact.

    The media (or some media I can think of) carry some responsibility for the resultant shambles, with various shallow screaming headlines that stirred it up, and not much in the way of explanation of what was really going on.

    There is also an element of just bad luck. I knew what the term 'trick' really meant from an article I had previously read on tree ring issues, but this word unfortuanately left a bad impression with the public, and I can see it from their perspective. Its an unfortunate term really. Unfortunately the course of human events are sometimes shaped by oddities like this.

    However the physical reality of climate change such as last years record temperatures, and sea level issues in Florida etc may hopefully make things like the CRU issue fade from memory and significance.

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  20. The terms trick and also  hide the decline were a bit unfortunate in their wording and impression created, but of course had totally innocent meanings, as was established in at least 5 separate enquiries. Sadly this was probably not emphasised enough in the media.

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  21. The supposedly Russian hacked e-mails is one thing but the e-mails which were subpoenaed were first sanitized by the Clinton staff. They simply wiped out a large tranche of them. Do you think there might have been a reason for this??
    As for the hacked e-mails, I understood (possibly mistakenly) that they showed a high level of corruption in the Democratic National Congress in spinning the ball toward Hillary and away from Bernie. This was supported later when Debbie Wasserman Shultz had to resign (to be hired almost immediately by Hillary). Since all polls showed that Bernie would have beaten Donald by a huge margin while the chances of Hillary were touch and go, the CF we find ourselves in at present is directly attributable to the DNC. If this isn't the crime of the century, I don't know what is.

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  22. William @21

    I agree with your comments at least to the extent that the Democratic Congress obviously favoured Clinton over Sanders despite the fact he had a higher popular vote. But I wouldn't speculate too much about what was in Clintons emails. Like we have all said you could probably trawl through any organisations emails and find "issues" that are either genuinely problematic, or could be quoted out of context. There are therefore several reasons for deleting things. We just dont know and need to be careful before making accusations of serious wrong doing.

    I think the preference for Clinton probably relates more to campaign donations. The democrats supporters include business interests who would almost certainly prefer Clinton to Sanders due to perceived policy positions. It's this campaign donation issue and lobbying in general that is the significant issue.
    I'm not making excuses for Clinton. I personally prefer Sanders, then Clinton, then Trump ( a distant third).

    However the result of all this is the Democrats ended up with Clinton, who had this ongoing email problem. This was a huge gamble which didn't pay off and lost her the election, along with other things in her performance.

    The real issue is more general, namely peoples private correspondence. Surely it should remain private? The only case I can see otherwise for publishing someones hacked emails is if there is absolutely clear evidence of illegal behaviour at a level that would have major public interest. However then surely the first course of action of hacker with the interests of the public genuinely at heart (and not just making money out of the issue) should be to go to the police. Only if the police ignore an obvious problem, or would have vested interests in ignoring it, would publication be justified. To be fair this does sometimes happen.

    There was no public interest justification for either the Clinton hack or CRU hack because nothing of consequnce was found. The hackers could easily have established that the "hide the decline" issue was not what it seemed. The hackers went ahead and leaked material and its hard not to conclude they simply wanted to discredit the CRU climate scientists.
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  23. Nigelj,

    At Skeptical Sciece we are expected to reference our claims.  If you checked before you posted you would find out that Clinton had 3.8 million more votes than Saunders.  Claims that Saunders got more votes are untrue.  You need to start to support more of your claims.  People can speculate now that Saunders would have done better against Trump because so many voters wanted change, which Saunders stood for, but that is just speculation.  Republicans thought Trump woud do better against Saunders before the nomination.

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  24. Michael Sweet @23

    "If you checked before you posted you would find out that Clinton had 3.8 million more votes than Saunders. Claims that Saunders got more votes are untrue. "

    1. William is the person primarily claiming that Sanders had more votes, "in all polls". Why are you having a go at me, and not him as well?

    2. The issue of how many votes they got is clearly beside the point of the comments I made.

    3. I accept we should strive for accuracy, and provide sources of information, and your link appears authoritative, however Media in my country consistently stated that Sanders was getting more votes. I took them in good faith.

    4. I generally back up what I say with links or stated sources, at least better than most people. Thats absolutely indisputable. Remember we are entitled to opinions, and should be able to explore issues with some freedom, and can't be expected to have a link beside every sentence like an entry in wikipedia! I think its a case of providing sources for critical aspects of things.

    Nothing personal. We appear to agree on a lot of things!

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  25. william @21:

    1)  On May 4th, when Trump became presumptive nominee of the Republican party to June 7th (the last major Democrat primary), Hilary Clinton's lead in the polls over Donald Trump dropped from 6.5% to 2%, a fact attributable to her being attacked from two sides: from a Donald Trump no longer needing to concentrate on Republican opponents, and from Bernie Sanders continuing to push for a nomination it was already clear he would loose.  Arguably had Sanders withdrawn his candidacy when it was clear it was hopeless, Clinton would have started the election proper in a much better position, from which she would have won.

    2)  While Sander's poll results vs Trump were much better than Clinton's towards the end of the primary race, that is at least in part due to his not having been attacked by the Republicans.  Certainly based on conventional wisdom, the US would never elect a President as left leaning as Sanders; and it is more than likely Sanders poll lead would have quickly evaporated.  Of course, conventional wisdom was a poor guide in this election, and may also have been on this point - but that is just pure speculation.

    3)  As michael sweet notes, Sanders got less primary votes than Clinton, and always trailed her in the polls.  That, however, is from results for Democrat voters, and not responsive to your actual point @21.

    4)  Your point about the DNC emails simply ignores the whole argument in the OP.  In particular, the damaging emails are from a very few (<50) from >19,000 emails released and hence are not evidence of systematic bias.  Further, they mostly come from after a period when it was clear Sanders was going to loose in any event.  Several of the more damaging emails have a specific context which, if taken into account, show they are not evidence of bias.  More importantly, no emails show the DNC taking any actions that disadvantaged the Sander's campaign, or were designed to do so.  At least one suggestion that such action be taken was vetoed because "...the Chair has been advised not to engage". 

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  26. Nigelj,

    I am mostly letting this topic go by.  I think it is not productive to cry over spilt milk.  I did not mean to pick on you.  Where do you live that the media was so uinformed?   Hillary was ahead in the popular vote by a lot the entire election.

    Acording to the Daily Kos, 43% of voters think unemployment increased under Obama and 32%  think the stock market has gone down.  The stock market is money!!  How can we hope to get people behind climate action when the media are so biased and under the control of conservatives that these things are believed?

    I teach High School science.  If you are hoping that teachers will inform young people that AGW is a big problem you need to move out of the USA.  I do what I can in my class but I hear that other teachers teach AGW is a scam.

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  27. Michael Sweet @26, your comment stung because normally I make a considerable effort to get facts right. I can tell you from memory unemployment under Obama dropped from approximately 12% to 5%. I just got trapped by the Clinton Sanders issue.

    A very good website on economic data and trends is which is basically a financial database for business, but covers a vast range of material including data and also graphical trends in data.

    I know you want to forget the history. Maybe so, but I make this comment to anyone reading: the Democrat Party promoted a candidate with a criminal investigation hanging over her head, and I thought it was a dumb strategy from day one! I hope the Democrats take a lesson from this. There must have been other people besides Clinton or Sanders.

    I have nothjing against Clinton. She had a fine set of sensible policies, and her heart and mind is mostly in the right place, but the email thing meant all this became buried, and most of what we saw in our media was about the email issue.

    Everyone has to take some care to not become an easy target,me included,  scientists included, everyone.

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  28. And Michael Sweet, given you have just taliked about the importance of facts, dont jump to conclusions about what other teachers teach on climate change. I would be interesting to see some hard data. My guess (in the absence of such data) is it would follow general trends so at least the majority would teach something sensible.

    Its frustrating if even one teacher teaches nonsense, man I can sympathise, but dont let it get you down. In the end we can only calmly but very firmly promote what we believe is solid science on the weight of evidence,and rational good sense. At least we can sleep well at nights if we do that.

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  29. Nigelj @ 27 - i dont think Clinton spoke about policy during the campaign. Dont recall her raising the issues about wealth inequity, corporation not paying tax, wages, globalisation and the rise of part time/casual employment. I do recall her stance on foreign policy in terms of being more aggressive which concerns me. 

    Tom @ 25. Sanders did really well considering he openly declared himself as a socialist, (which in america equates to being the devil), the backing of wall street for the clintion campaign and with 95% of U.S. media backing Clinton during the campaign.

    Have you read Craig Murry blog where he states that he has spoken wih the democrate who leaked the emails? Wouldnt this seem a more plausible explanation of what happen with a member upset with the rigged DNC election process rather persuing cold war mcarthyism.  

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  30. adamski @29, I refer you to my comment @ 13.  With regard to the idea that the emails was leaked, leakers do not leave the footprints of malware on the targeted computer.  They certainly will not leave malware used by hackers associated with the Russian government.  So, if we assume that Craig Murry is being truthful, and that his source was being truthful, we are then left to believe that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC files at the behest of the Russian government, but that their nefarious aims were preempted by an internal leaker.  We are also to assume that the leaker coincidentally took an action that would damage Hilary Clinton, and help Donald Trump when public statements by Putin show that is an outcome he would have been very happy to achieve.  Further, we must assume the internal leaker had complete access to the DNC computers, so would be easilly identified if it was revealed that there was a leaker, which he himself reveals.

    At the same time, if we believe that the alleged internal leaker exists, we also have to beleive that the purported Romanian hacker Guccifer 2.0, who also claims credit is lying (even though he made the claim, and released some documents four weeks prior to the wikileaks leak).   (With regard to the relationship between Guccifer 2.0 and the Russians, see here.)

    I do not consider that credible.

    What I do notice is that Julian Assange's leaks are exclusively damageing to the US and its allies.  No leaks of Chinese or Russian material are, apparently, to be found.  He is an intelligent man, and must realize he is being used as a pawn for some power inimical to the US, and conincidentally to Australia.  That he continues to release the material on those terms makes him not a champion of free information, but a selective releaser of confidential material of the US and its allies, and therefore a traitor to his own nation (Australia).  Any close associate such as Craig Murry is tarred with the same brush.  Given that assessment, it is no surprise that they would attempt to disassociate their source from the Russian government; even if the data was dumped in their files anonomously.

    In short, I do not believe the alleged leaker to have been dishonest because I believe the allegations of the existence of the leaker to be fictions. 

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  31. Tom @30. U.S. Intel Chiefs have a history of deceiving the public ( Glenn Greenwald). Who can forget James Clapper performance before Congree regarding the NSA in 2013??  So then - where is the evidence?? The latest report again says nothing on this, a report which was claimed to be  why the 35 diplomats were deported. The phrase “we assess”  was used 19 times without a single fact to demonstrate Russian involvement. In  other words we, the intelligence community, have made a judgment, and you, the American people, must take it on faith. NSA even gave it a moderate vote of confidence. 

    So lets look at your reasons.

    Malware  - It cannot be claimed that tools such as X-Agent have  been exclusively sourced by Russia when it can be shown others have access and these tools and the infrastructure the DNC hackers allegedly used are not evidence that points to any specific actor. Indeed any cyber-crime actor, like the NSA, seeks to disguise as a different actor when committing attacks. Something that "proves" that A did it is likely to have been created by B, C or D to disguise as A. All such hacking tools use freely available infrastructure like TOR or rented networks from cyber-crime wholesalers like the recently exposed Israeli denial-of-service franchiser.

    Crowdstiker - FBI claims that democracts refuse full access to DNC servers. Did C/striker get this? How do you do a thorough investigation without full access? 

    Putin -  stated that he would like a cooperative relationship with US. With Clinton comparing him to Hitler, naturally look to the othr side. How many time have we heard the US state thier preferred candidate.

    Assange - WikiLeaks conducted themselves as actual journalists, not stenographers for the CIA and Pentagon, and made the secret documents public, damaging the candidate who was the overwhelming favorite of the military-intelligence leadership. If you think the publication by WikiLeaks of US military and diplomatic communications that document war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and conspiracies against governments around the world is treasonous, then you and I have a major difference. 

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  32. adamski @31, there are now six independent organizations with relevant expertise that claim the malware shows the computers to have been probably hacked by Russian government associated hackers.  Those organizations state that fingerprints are emulatable by others so that it is not definitive proof, but all are confident that it is relevant evidence.  Given that you are not an expert in cybersecurity, your opinion that it is not evidence at all is irrelevant.  

    The recent claim by a purported "whistleblower" to have leaked the data (your original postion) is shown to not be credible by the prior claim by Guccifer 2.0, who is shown to have been running a false flag operation by his deficient knowledge of Romanian (his purported nationality).  He also (unconvingly) claims that Russian metadata left on the files was his "watermark"; but that metadata shows a Russian connection prior even to the wikileaks dump.

    Public statements by Putin show him to have a strong preference for Trump as president, showing the Russian government to have a clear motive compatible with their having leaked the DNC documents.  He may have had a reasonable motive for that, but that has no bearing on the matter.  (I will note that everybody, always, would "like a cooperative relationship".  The question is, on what terms.  Russia's activities in the Ukraine and Syria show the terms on which they will accept a "cooperative relationship" is explicitly inimical to US foreign policy, and to the supporting of democracy in general.  Putin is a hardline, nationalist, dictator.  Any US President who gains a "cooperative relationship" with Russia while any of those three descriptors applies is probably sacrificing US interests to do so.)

    Finally, Assange is not a journalist of any description.  At best he merely dumps data to the web with no effort to assess its import.  However, he does far worse thant that.  While initially favourable to the idea of wikileaks, Assange lost my support when he dumped a large body of unredacted data revealing the names of Afghanistanis cooperating with NATO forces, thereby setting them up to be murdered by the Taliban.  Since then, the further, completely targeted dumps show him (at best) to be a stooge for people inimical to the West.  His public statements suggest he is a willing stooge.

    I am not going to endlessly reprosecute these points.  Nothing in your response actually presents counter evidence to the evidence I already detailed @13.  You have just thrown mud (together with an unwarranted testimonial for Putin) in the hopes that the evidence will be ignored.

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  33. Tom@32 How is it that other actors are eliminated without giving us factual substance of thier claims? You are prepared to question assange's claims yet give no qualifications to what is being claimed by  the agencies ( remember Iraq?) You provide a link that half way down states there Assange asked the US to review and redact names but refused and that there is no evidence that anyones life has been threatened as a result. You also omit that it was a 'real journalist' - David Leigh of the Guardian, who made it necessary for the cables to be dumped en masse after he published the decryption codes in a book.

    Is it possible for you to provide examples of countries where the US has suppported democracy as I can give plenty where the opposite is true (read Chomsky)  

    Leak or hack, what does it really matter as we know all govts are involved in such affairs, but in this case what is seen as the "crime" is its release to the american public. 

    Demonising Putin with descriptors such as hardliner, nationalist, dictator are meaningless when there are plenty of leaders around the globe who enjoy full US suuport and protection. Putin is an oligacarch thanks to US capitalism after the collapse of USSR and the privatisation of state assets. 

    And finally, where are you getting you information of Ukraine and Syria? Are you saying Nuland had nothing to do with the illegal overthrow of Yanukovitch despite her admission of spending $5bn to secure "a democratic Ukraine"

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  34. In my opinion, Kurt Eichenwald is one of the best investigative journalists in the US. I therefore place great weight on the accuracy of his reports about the Russian/Putin interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Here is an introduction and link to his most recent Newsweek piece on this topic.

    Prior to the November presidential vote, Newsweek published an article revealing the scope, intent, mechanisms and global impact of Russia’s interference with the American election, based largely on information from European intelligence services. Given the recent release of declassified government documents confirming large portions of the original article, we are combining new reporting with extensive information from the first Newsweek piece that has yet to be declassified and has been described by individuals from and connected to several foreign intelligence services who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election by Kurt Eichenwald, Newsweek, Jan 11, 2016 

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  35. As I have said previously, I am not going to endlessly reprosecute this point.  I will note, however, that while adamski will not accept significant evidence of Russian involvement in the DNC hack, he reverses the onus of proof when it comes to condemning Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, who is charged with fomenting a coup simply because the US has given aid to the Ukraine.  Next he will be telling us that the US pulls Putin's puppet strings because of the >10 Billion in aid given to Russia over the same period.

    I will also point out that my accurate description of Putin as a hardline, nationalist, dictator is not in any way weakened by the extensive support of such dictators by the US in the past, given that I am not a US citizen, and have never condoned that support.  Indeed, I have condemned it.

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  36. Nigelj@1:  "Let’s be clear the Clinton and climategate email hacks were theft of people’s private correspondence. The thieves can’t even claim a public interest defence, or whistle blower defence, because there was no wrongdoing found in the documents."

    You mean that a Democratic operative at CNN can hand over debate questions to Hillary Clinton and that doesn't represent "wrongdoing"?

    Oh please.  Bernie Sanders can be ousted by the joint efforts of DNC operatives who want Hillary crowned, and no "wrongdoing" there?

    And on and on..


    "People I know still quote climategate as if it proves the IPCC wrong. "

    Why your ongoing uproar if climategate documents showed no wrongdoing?  In fact, it was a major embarrassment which showed inexcusable and indefensible bias by supposed "scientists" with a very profitable "research" axe to grind.


    "I don’t like the thought of Trump attempting to appease Putin any more than the way Clinton antagonised him. Both can only create all sorts of obvious problems. It would be better to maintain a sincere, respectful, but slightly detached approach."

    How did you like Obama appeasing Putin in 2012: "Tell Putin I'll have more flexibility after the election," Obama said to the Russian diplomat.

    And then Hillary giggled as she and a different Russian diplomat hit the little red "Reset Button" she gave him.  Democrat appeasement of Russians is just fine, isn't it.  But when the other side does it.... ooooo baby.   Danger Will Robinson.

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