Sitting in US Senate hot seats yesterday and today, America’s intelligence chiefs hurled accusations against Russia. Moscow, they said, meddled in the US presidential election. The interference, they said, included computer hacking which, among other things, was "ordered at the highest Kremlin level."
Russia's conduct in this matter, concluded US Senator John McCain, was "an act of war."
Testimony came from the highest level of the US intelligence community, including the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the National Security Agency head Admiral Michael Rogers.
Proof of meddling, they said, was in the form of a top-secret report that revealed interference by Russian President Vladimir Putin, interference directly in the US election and in favor of its winner, President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Asked to disclose proof from the report, intelligence chiefs refused, blunting their refusal by promising a short, censored version of the report for public eyes that will be released on Monday, 9 January.
Immediately after the hearing, however, CIA chief John Brennan and Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson went straight to the White House where they presented the confidential report to President Barack Obama.
One day later they promised to get it to President-elect Trump. He is supposed to get it sometime in the next 18 hours or less.
Why so much sound and fury about Russia, especially now?
According to the Israeli intelligence news service, DEBKAfile, the growing crescendo of rhetoric is being conducted by President Obama. All of it, says DEBKAfile, "is being orchestrated by the outgoing president and his intelligence chiefs to ramp up US-Russian friction to an eve-of-cold war pitch."
Why? The news service cites five motives:
1. The president-elect not only proposes to put relations with Moscow on a new and different footing, his transition teams are already at work with Putin’s advisers to chart areas of cooperation between the two powers, ready for the Trump administration to go forward when he moves into the White House on 20 January.
The most prominent area is the war on the Islamic State. The closely related issues are conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Putin and Trump are also exploring a joint US-Russian effort to resolve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
2. Obama has decided to retain a team for monitoring Trump’s policies. Indicating his intent to actively confront Trump, he has plunged into a dogged fight against his successor’s decision to reset US-Russian ties.
Obama is battling to salvage a part of his legacy. His intensity in waging that battle now, and after he leaves office, is exceptional for departing American presidents.
Barack Hussein Obama is determined to cast a long shadow over his successors’ actions and policies.
In the next four years, he will continue to hammer at the Russian hacking affair in order to keep the flames high against Trump’s “Russian steps.”
3. It is important to note that Trump and his advisers, including designated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, do not propose rushing into détente with Moscow or any sort of honeymoon.
On the other hand, they are acting to restore relations to an even keel and to end the disequilibrium of the past eight years. During those years, Obama talked while Putin acted, especially in East Europe and the Middle East.
If Trump's effort to restore balance to the relationship with Russia succeeds, cooperation in common areas of concern might follow. But if he does not succeed, the rivalry will continue. The difference will be that, under Trump, America will operate from a position of strength.
4. Working together in the war on Islamic terror will call for a large measure of cooperation between US intelligence agencies and the Russian secret services.
Sixteen years ago, after 9/11, Putin proposed this kind of cooperation to President George W. Bush in the fight against Al Qaeda.
In 2011, he stepped in again with an offer of assistance to Obama in the Libyan war.
Putin was rebuffed by both presidents.
Donald Trump is the first US leader ready to seriously explore Putin’s intentions.
The US intelligence community is up on arms at this prospect, mainly because its clandestine branches were built to confront Russia, America’s historic Cold War enemy. It is hard for them to wrench the wheel round and head in the opposite direction at the bidding of the Trump administration.
5. Notwithstanding denials by administration officers, the president elect has every intention of overhauling the character and operational methods of America’s intelligence services.
His overarching goal is to cut down the vast numbers off officers, analysts and computer operations, which turn out mountains of intelligence reports most of which he claims no one reads.
Trump plans to focus more on the product of secret agents in the field, and so save the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on desk staff and high-tech computer systems. His administration will prefer to rely more on human intelligence and less on technology-based input.
Trump encapsulated his approach to intelligence and computers in a remark to reporters on New Year’s day: “No computer is safe. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”
The source, and original English version of this DEBKAfile story, complete and unedited, is at http://debka.com/article/25875/Why-Trump-and-US-intel-clash-over-Russia