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Intel report on Russians ‘fails to provide critical evidence’

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A privacy organization that has been pressing the Washington establishment for evidence supporting Democratic claims that Russia hacked their emails to influence the U.S. presidential election is ramping up the pressure with a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is seeking the public release of the unredacted ODNI 2017 report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” noting the full report was directly referenced in the redacted version.

In its letter to the ODNI, EPIC points out that a number of claims are made, including that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.”

However, EPIC points out, no evidence has been presented.

Specifically, the “redacted report fails to provide critical technical evidence.”

EPIC only weeks ago had submitted a FOIA request to the FBI on the same issue, and its new letter points out that the evidence “is urgently needed to resolve any outstanding questions about the accuracy of [intelligence community] assessments and the response of the FBI, and inform the public debate over imminent congressional act.”

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WND reported President Obama, claiming Russia tried to influence the U.S. presidential elections, ordered that dozens of Russian diplomats be expelled from the United States and two of Russia’s compounds be closed down in retaliation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to Obama’s move by inviting the children of U.S. diplomats in Washington to a Christmas party.

Obama himself, however, was accused of meddling in the elections in Israel in 2015 and in the U.K. Brexit vote in June.

EPIC’s earlier request, which went to the FBI, sought the details of Russia’s alleged malicious interference in the U.S. election process.

“The U.S. intelligence community has officially attributed the attacks [on Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee] on the Russian government, yet questions have been raised about the failure of the FBI to investigate that attacks on the political parties of the United States,” EPIC said then. “The FBI is entrusted with protecting the cybersecurity of the public and its institutions. The American public, thus has a great interest in understanding the nature of the FBI’s response to the Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.”

A number of reports, including from the CIA and later from the FBI, have concluded that Russia hacked the American election through its political parties. Whether or not that happened, unanswered is whether it had any impact, but advocates for Hillary Clinton have claimed that it was Putin himself who directed the hacks to benefit Donald Trump and hurt her.

It hasn’t been explained how it would help Russia to have Trump in office instead of Hillary Clinton, as she was part of the Obama administration that Russian analysts have called the weakest in generations. At the same time, the Russians have warned their own country that Trump will be calling the shots from a position of strength.

EPIC noted news reports claiming that the Russians hacked the email account of John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign.

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, which released the emails, has insisted, however, the Russians were not involved, a position also taken by the Russians.

Putin himself, according to CNN, has told the U.S. either to put up evidence of Russian involvement or shut up.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN it was “indecent” for the U.S. to accuse Russia of being involved without having any grounds to do so.

“They should either stop talking about that or produce some proof at last. Otherwise it all beings to look unseemly,” he said.

The demand for information already has been growing.

“We need to get to the bottom of this,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., “We need to find out exactly what was done and what the implications of the attacks were, especially if they had an effect on our election.”

And Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said: “I do believe the Russians hacked into the [DNC]. I do believe they hacked into Podesta’s email account. They hacked into my campaign account. I believe that all the information released publicly hurt Clinton and didn’t hurt Trump.

“I don’t think the outcome of the election is in doubt. What we should do is not turn on each other but work as one people to push back on Russia.”

A Daily Caller report pointed out that the code that the FBI identified as being used by Russian agents actually is an outdated malware developed by Ukrainians that is available online.

The Obama administration’s formal indictment of the Russians came with a statement from the Department of Homeland Security: “The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”

Supporters of Trump have charged that the issue is nothing more than a campaign to delegitimize Trump’s victory.

Obama has been briefed on the contents of the classified full report, but the Ars Technica technical website lamented that the government provided “almost none of the promised evidence linking [Russians] to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”

The government’s unclassified version of the report “does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity,” the site criticizes.

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