Mueller Indictment – The "Russian Influence" Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme


Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency on some dubious legal grounds. It covers thirteen Russian people and three Russian legal entities. The main count of the indictment is an alleged “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.
The published indictment gives support to our long held believe that there was no “Russian influence” campaign during the U.S. election. What is described and denounced as such was instead a commercial marketing scheme which ran click-bait websites to generate advertisement revenue and created online crowds around virtual persona to promote whatever its commercial customers wanted to promote. The size of the operation was tiny when compared to the hundreds of millions in campaign expenditures. It had no influence on the election outcome.
The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is “doing something”. It distracts from further questioning  the origin of the Steele dossier. It is full of unproven assertions and assumptions. It is a sham in that none of the Russian persons or companies indicted will ever come in front of a U.S. court. That is bad because the indictment is build on the theory of a new crime which, unless a court throws it out, can be used to incriminate other people in other cases and might even apply to this blog. The later part of this post will refer to that.
In the early 1990s some dude in St.Petersburg made a good business selling hot dogs. He opened a colorful restaurant. Local celebrities and politicians were invited to gain notoriety while the restaurant served cheap food for too high prices. It was a good business. A few years later he moved to Moscow and gained contracts to cater to schools and to the military. The food he served was still substandard.
But catering bad food as school lunches gave him, by chance, the idea for a new business:

Parents were soon up in arms. Their children wouldn’t eat the food, saying it smelled rotten.As the bad publicity mounted, Mr. Prigozhin’s company, Concord Catering, launched a counterattack, a former colleague said. He hired young men and women to overwhelm the internet with comments and blog posts praising the food and dismissing the parents’ protests.
“In five minutes, pages were drowning in comments,” said Andrei Ilin, whose website serves as a discussion board about public schools. “And all the trolls were supporting Concord.”

The trick worked beyond expectations. Prigozhin had found a new business. He hired some IT staff and low paid temps to populate various message boards, social networks and the general internet with whatever his customers asked him for.
You have a bad online reputation? Prigozhin can help. His internet company will fill the net with positive stories and remarks about you. Your old and bad reputation will be drowned by the new and good one. Want to promote a product or service? Prigozhin’s online marketeers can address the right crowds.

Pic: A Russian influencer
To achieve those results the few temps who worked on such projects needed to multiply their online personalities. It is better to have fifty people vouch for you online than just five. No one cares if these are real people or just virtual ones. The internet makes it easy to create such sock-puppets. The virtual crowd can then be used to push personalities, products or political opinions. Such schemes are nothing new or special. Every decent “western” public relations and marketing company will offer a similar service and has done so for years.
While it is relatively easy to have sock-puppets swamp the comment threads of such sites as this blog, it is more difficult to have a real effect on social networks. These depend on multiplier effects. To gain many real “likes”, “re-tweets” or “followers” an online persona needs a certain history and reputation. Real people need to feel attached to it. It takes some time and effort to build such a multiplier personality, be it real or virtual.
At some point Prigozhin, or whoever by then owned the internet marketing company, decided to expand into the lucrative English speaking market. This would require to build many English language online persona and to give those some history and time to gain crowds of followers and a credible reputation. The company sent a few of its staff to the U.S. to gain some impressions, pictures and experience of the surroundings. They would later use these to impersonate as U.S. locals. It was a medium size, long-term investment of maybe a hundred-thousand bucks over two or three years.
The U.S. election provided an excellent environment to build reputable online persona with large followings of people with discriminable mindsets. The political affinity was not important. The personalities only had to be very engaged and stick to their issue – be it left or right or whatever. The sole point was to gain as many followers as possible who could be segmented along social-political lines and marketed to the companies customers.
Again – there is nothing new to this. It is something hundreds, if not thousands of companies are doing as their daily business. The Russian company hoped to enter the business with a cost advantage. Even its mid-ranking managers were paid as little as $1,200 per month. The students and other temporary workers who would ‘work’ the virtual personas as puppeteers would earn even less. Any U.S. company in a similar business would have higher costs.
In parallel to building virtual online persona the company also built some click-bait websites and groups and promoted these through mini Facebook advertisements. These were the “Russian influence ads” on Facebook the U.S. media were so enraged about. They included the promotion of a Facebook page about cute puppies. Back in October we described how those “Russian influence” ads (most of which were shown after the election or were not seen at all) were simply part of a commercial scheme:

The pages described and the ads leading to them are typical click-bait, not part of a political influence op.

One builds pages with “hot” stuff that hopefully attracts lots of viewers. One creates ad-space on these pages and fills it with Google ads. One attracts viewers and promotes the spiked pages by buying $3 Facebook mini-ads for them. The mini-ads are targeted at the most susceptible groups.A few thousand users will come and look at such pages. Some will ‘like’ the puppy pictures or the rant for or against LGBT and further spread them. Some will click the Google ads. Money then flows into the pockets of the page creator. One can rinse and repeat this scheme forever. Each such page is a small effort for a small revenue. But the scheme is highly scaleable and parts of it can be automatized.

Because of the myriad of U.S. sanctions against Russia the monetization of these business schemes required some creativity. One can easily find the name of a real U.S. person together with the assigned social security number and its date of birth. Those data are enough to open, for example, a Paypal account under a U.S. name. A U.S. customer of the cloaked Russian Internet company could then pay to the Paypal account and the money could be transferred from there to Moscow. These accounts could also be used to buy advertisement on Facebook. The person who’s data was used to create the account would never learn of it and would have no loss or other damage. Another scheme is to simply pay some U.S. person to open a U.S. bank account and to then hand over the ‘keys’ to that account.
The Justice Department indictment is quite long and detailed. It must have been expensive. If you read it do so with the above in mind. Skip over the assumptions and claims of political interference and digest only the facts. All that is left is, as explained, a commercial marketing scheme.
I will not go into all its detail of the indictment but here are some points that support the above description.
Point 4:

Defendants, posing as US. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive US. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by US. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants’ means to reach significant numbers of Americans …

Point 10d:

By in or around April 2014, the ORGANIZATION formed a department that went by various names but was at times referred to as the “translator project.” This project focused on the US. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. By approximately July 2016, more than eighty ORGANIZATION employees were assigned to the translator project.

(Some U.S. media today made the false claim that $1.25 million per month were spend by the company for its U.S. campaign. But Point 11 of the indictment says that the company ran a number of such projects directed at a Russian audience while only the one described in 10d above is aimed at an U.S. audience. All these projects together had a monthly budget of $1.25 million.)
(Point 17, 18 and 19 indict individual persons who have worked for the “translator” project” “to at least in and around [some month] 2014”. It is completely unclear how these persons, who seem to have left the company two years before the U.S. election, are supposed to have anything to do with the claimed “Russian influence” on the U.S. election and the indictment.)
Point 32:

Defendants and their co-conspirators, through fraud and deceit, created hundreds of social media accounts and used them to develop certain fictitious U.S. personas into “leader[s] of public opinion” in the United States.

The indictment then goes on and on describing the “political activities” of the sock-puppet personas. Some posted pro-Hillary slogans, some anti-Hillary stuff, some were pro-Trump, some anti-everyone, some urged not to vote, others to vote for third party candidates. The sock-puppets did not create or post fake news. They posted mainstream media stories.
Some of the persona called for going to anti-Islam rallies while others promoted pro-Islam rallies. The Mueller indictment lists a total of eight rallies. Most of these did not take place at all. No one joined the “Miners For Trump” rallies in Philly and Pittsburgh. A “Charlotte against Trump” march on November 19 – after the election – was attended by one hundred people. Eight people came for a pro-Trump rally in Fort Myers.
The sock-puppets called for rallies to establish themselves as  ‘activist’ and ‘leadership’ persona, to generated more online traffic and additional followers. There was in fact no overall political trend in what the sock-puppets did. The sole point of all such activities was to create a large total following by having multiple personas which together covered all potential social-political strata.
At Point 86 the indictment turns to Count Two – “Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Bank Fraud”. The puppeteers opened, as explained above, various Paypal accounts using ‘borrowed’ data.
Then comes the point which confirms the commercial marketing story as laid out above:
Point 95:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

There you have it. There was no political point to what the Russian company did. Whatever political slogans one of the company’s sock-puppets posted had only one aim: to increase the number of followers for that sock-puppet. The sole point of creating a diverse army of sock-puppets with large following crowds was to sell the ‘eyeballs’ of the followers to the paying customers of the marketing company.
There were, according to the indictment, eighty people working on the “translator project”. These controlled “hundreds” of sock-puppets online accounts each with a distinct “political” personality. Each of these sock-puppets had a large number of followers – in total several hundred-thousands. Now let’s assume that one to five promotional posts can be sold per day on each of the sock-puppets content stream. The scheme generates several thousand dollars per day ($25 per promo, hundreds of sock-puppets, 1-5 promos per day per sock-puppet). The costs for this were limited to the wages of up to eighty persons in Moscow, many of them temps, of which the highest paid received some $1,000 per month. While the upfront multiyear investment to create and establish the virtual personas was probably significant, this likely was, over all, a profitable business.
Again – this had nothing to do with political influence on the election. The sole point of political posts was to create ‘engagement’ and a larger number of followers in each potential social-political segment. People who buy promotional posts want these to be targeted at a specific audience. The Russian company could offer whatever audience was needed. It had sock-puppets with pro-LGBT view and a large following and sock-puppets with anti-LGBT views and a large following. It could provide pro-2nd amendment crowds as well as Jill Stein followers. Each of the sock-puppets had over time generated a group of followers that were like minded. The entity buying the promotion simply had to choose which group it preferred to address.
The panic of the U.S. establishment over the loss of their preferred candidate created an artificial storm over “Russian influence” and assumed “collusion” with the Trump campaign. (Certain Democrats though, like Adam Schiff, profit from creating a new Cold War through their sponsoring armament companies.)
The Mueller investigation found no “collusion” between anything Russia and the Trump campaign. The indictment does not mentions any. The whole “Russian influence” storm is based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in U.S. social networks.
There is a danger in this. The indictment sets up a new theory of nefarious foreign influence that could be applied to even this blog. As U.S. lawyer Robert Barns explains:

The only thing frightening about this indictment is the dangerous and dumb precedent it could set: foreign nationals criminally prohibited from public expression in the US during elections unless registered as foreign agents and reporting their expenditures to the FEC.

Mueller’s new crime only requires 3 elements: 1) a foreign national; 2) outspoken on US social media during US election; and 3) failed to register as a foreign agent or failed to report receipts/expenditures of speech activity. Could indict millions under that theory.

The legal theory of the indictment for most of the defendants and most of the charges alleges that the “fraud” was simply not registering as a foreign agent or not reporting expenses to the FEC because they were a foreign national expressing views in a US election.

Author Leonid Bershidsky, who prominently writes for Bloombergremarks:

I’m actually surprised I haven’t been indicted. I’m Russian, I was in the U.S. in 2016 and I published columns critical of both Clinton and Trump w/o registering as a foreign agent.

As most of you will know your author writing this is German. I write pseudo-anonymously for a mostly U.S. audience. My postings are political and during the U.S. election campaign expressed an anti-Hillary view. The blog is hosted on U.S, infrastructure paid for by me. I am not registered as Foreign Agent or with the Federal Election Commission.
Under the theory on which the indictment is based I could also be indicted for a similar “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.
(Are those of you who kindly donate for this blog co-conspiractors?)
When Yevgeni Prigozhin, the hot dog caterer who allegedly owns the internet promotion business, was asked about the indictment he responded:

“The Americans are really impressionable people, they see what they want to see. […] If they want to see the devil, let them see him.”

Posted by b on February 17, 2018 at 03:09 PM | Permalink


next page »

The indictment is of individuals who will never be caught, never be tried. So it is accusation only. It is safe to accuse those who will never contest the accusation. So if it indicts simple commercial profit from click bait as an evil political attack, that will never be defended against, never be challenged in court. It will by design stand unchallenged, an accusation that is “proof” of itself to all who wish to believe it.

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Feb 17, 2018 3:15:25 PM | 1

Welcome earthlings. I bring you good tidings from free Russia, where we are in the midst of CIA plundering. But that nothing new.
My master want me ask, will America be free anytime soon? Exit the matrix please.

Posted by: RusBot_AQF4 | Feb 17, 2018 3:44:48 PM | 2

Excellent work, b! The indictment has all the logic of a dog chasing its tail.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 17, 2018 3:52:13 PM | 3

I only glanced at my Twitter feed today as the craziness is hard to endure. A puff piece of an indictment and everyone is seriously raising the question if the US are going to be taken over by Russia and begging for more sanctions.
While the US are causing actual and serious harm in foreign countries, past, present and future.

Posted by: BX | Feb 17, 2018 3:53:21 PM | 4

I think that there are tons of such companies, and the reason Mueller could identify this one is that it is a small outfit that did not bother with a more sophisticated payment scheme using intermediaries in tax heavens like Cyprus or Panama (see Panama papers) that could create legal persons having actual American bank accounts with ownership that is hard to trace (physical owner is a Panamanian attorney who represents a Cypriote attorney who represents Latvian attorney who represents Maldivian attorney… , and none will disclose the client without a court order valid in their country.
I have very small experience with “social media”, I follow several Twitter accounts and I never access Facebook, but I noticed “sponsored content” on many news sites that get ad money, and often it reeks of political manipulation, presumably with heavy money behind it. So this is the newest instance of “they hang small thiefs”.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 17, 2018 3:54:21 PM | 5

Damn good write, It was explained so well even I could understand. Thanks a bunch.

Posted by: ken | Feb 17, 2018 4:03:12 PM | 6

LOL and Thanks b.

Posted by: jo6pac | Feb 17, 2018 4:16:07 PM | 7

A Virtual Reality Guantanamo in Virtual Reality AmeriKKKa?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 17, 2018 4:19:37 PM | 8

thanks b… this is an excellent overview.. i didn’t have the heart to do the work you did here… i guess we are all guilty, lol…

Posted by: james | Feb 17, 2018 4:34:33 PM | 9

b-thank you! Do you see a further motive here, is this a first step in ending “trolls” on media, or to be clear; whomever the US Justice Dept deems a troll?

Posted by: frances | Feb 17, 2018 4:40:07 PM | 10

Great post

Posted by: par4 | Feb 17, 2018 4:41:15 PM | 11

How did Facebook and Twitter find the “Russia-connected” accounts? They claimed that they had all by themselves investigated and identified accounts with connections to “Russia”, FB says that the suspended accounts were also somehow interconnected.
A “connection” to Russia is in itself no proof that the accounts were operated by Russians. People seeking anonymity from NSA and FBI spies would be likely to use Russian VPN and even banking services. Only later was it claimed that these accounts were operated by the mysterious and possibly non-existent “Internet Research Agency”.
Where did this information or claim come from? The claim is odd as the St. Petersburg “troll factory” was exposed already 3 years ago. The consensus in Russia is that it does not even exist. Even if it existed, it would be an unlikely outfit for a sensitive, secret operation, as their activities (if any) would be closely monitored by Western intelligence agencies.
It is marginally possible that the NSA had monitored and identified the “Russia-connected” accounts – possible even tracing them to their operators in Russia – and gave this information to Facebook and Twitter in September 2017. It this is the case, then Facebook and Twitter lied about how they had identified the accounts.
(It is also possible that the accounts were fake Russians operated by U.S. intelligence agencies as a insurance policy against a Trump presidency.)

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Feb 17, 2018 4:54:41 PM | 12

Thanks for simplifying the BS, b. It reminds me of the earlier DHS “assessment.” Much ado about nothing or little.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 17, 2018 5:04:47 PM | 13

I can only paste my yesterday’s response on SST. This whole thing is an embarrassment. I am sure real SVR people laughed their socks off when read this “incitement” written by amateurs. Here are some points I make:
while I was driving home from work I desperately tried to recall when any serious intelligence asset in the history of spying addressed the other in open with “OK, Gestapo got me”, or sent a telegram to Lubyanka “OK, I got busted by FBI”, nor do I expect CIA assets in Russia, the moment FSB gets to them, start sending e-mails to Langley with “Dudes, got to run, FSB is on my tail”. Not only it goes against anything real professionals do, but even real military guards rank and file, guarding weapons and ammo depots have parole and response which are secret “words” known only to them–all that is required by basic field manuals. Now, I am pretty sure that real serious SVR assets have a well trained and worked out open communications protocols which include secret ciphered words and phrases for a number of urgent contingencies. Even boy-scouts do that. I am sure that real SVR officer or agent would write, in case of being under FBI surveillance and feeling a heat something like that: “Got a serious caries problem in my low far left mole. Hurts like hell, need to make a dentist appointment”, or “Have issues with bowel movement, need to take stool softener.” And who in our time doesn’t need a stool softener, right? So, yes, there are huge questions about this Mueller’s “work”, for me at least, and I do not deny the possibility, albeit asses the probability as very low, that Russia could have been involved in some form into “influencing” something, but this is not it. Money laundering? Yes, that is more like it but then serious SVR assets on assignment to subvert US democracy are not engaged into questionable financial activities.

Posted by: SmoothieX12 | Feb 17, 2018 5:10:37 PM | 14

And back to context, it’s not as though the US hasn’t interfered in the elections and governments of other countries. Putin pointed this out in his interview with Megyn Kelly. And what exactly were the US NGOs like the IRI doing in Russia?
Woolsey in an interview admits as much after asserting the official message:

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 17, 2018 5:16:36 PM | 15

To emphasize a fact already alluded to, there could be no “Russian influence” because the chain of command as detailed by the indictment stops at chef Prigozhin, long identified as the chief architect of the profit-seeking Internet Research Agency. So whatever happened in that agency was a personal/corporate effort, and not anything promoted by the Russian government. IOW, regarding a suggested event, if b were indicted would it constitute “German influence?” No.
Judging from the indictment, there is apparently no evidence that the US government, or the Trump campaign, was involved which is logical since whatever happened was a private affair by Prigozhin. “Collusion” implies Russia/Trump contact. But the fake-news NYTimes headlines: “Indictment Makes Trump’s Hoax Claim Harder to Sell.”
Also there is no information yet on the alleged DNC hacking.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 5:18:54 PM | 16

@ 14
Regarding your mention of SST, here are two (puzzling) Lang comments on the indictment:
>Looks to me like a very professional operation I look forward to more indictments. Let’s see them! pl
>Mueller has made a good start with the St. Petersburg 13. He needs to clear up the rest or these “loose ends” will remain forever in the realm of urban myth and partisan propaganda. pl

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 5:29:39 PM | 17

@ 16
And what exactly were the US NGOs like the IRI doing in Russia?
They were promoting democracy for the US State Department.
. . .I kid you not, as The Angry Arab would say. (But he would mean it; I’m being facetious.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 5:35:09 PM | 18

Most excellent article, b
Could you comment on this. All things being equal the marketing scheme would have spread
their positive and derogatory posts equally to any given candidate, yet Mueller says
Hillary was under attack.
Section 43
“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Posted by: liburl | Feb 17, 2018 5:37:13 PM | 19

@1 There must be some Russians who are sorely tempted to send those 13 indicted to the USA, arms outstretched, and loudly shouting “This is slander! Bring it on, Mueller, I want my day in court!”.
Because I would think that his worst nightmare would be that his bluff is called and someone ends up having to actually prosecute this “crime” in a court of law.
Talk about a hopeless brief……

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Feb 17, 2018 5:38:03 PM | 20

@Don Bacon
My impression is that Colonel, being a true American patriot and a man with vast experience, might be simply embarrassed himself for all this. US is literally going insane and humiliates itself non-stop, so, in my humble opinion, what else does he have to say? This is my personal impression but I could be wrong, of course. The whole Russiagate is a psychiatric pathology unparalleled in modern history.

Posted by: SmoothieX12 | Feb 17, 2018 5:40:53 PM | 21

The indictment is the sequel to the Trump dossier. Both works of fiction.
That piece in the indictment about a US person holding up a sign on 29th May…
“The Americans are really impressionable people, they see what they want to see. […] If they want to see the devil, let them see him.”
That seems to apply to both the Americans that write the impressions, and those that read them.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Feb 17, 2018 5:43:02 PM | 22

@Don Bacon
For some reason my response didn’t post, so the short version of it–I think he may be embarrassed for this whole thing.

Posted by: SmoothieX12 | Feb 17, 2018 5:46:02 PM | 23

The whole “Russian influence” storm is based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in U.S. social networks.

I posit there there is no ‘misunderstanding’ at all. At the beginning of his excellent piece ‘b’ writes that “The indictment is fodder for the public to prove that the Mueller investigation is “doing something”. That looks like intelligent design to me (! 😉 ), or am I missing something?*
Considering US behavior over the last quarter of a century or so whereby they seem to incapable of
looking beyond their noses at any possible mid or even long term consequences of their actions (allies too), and/or are simply disinterested (job done, move on), I looks far more like the latter. A case of, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”
*The cat’s been messing up my sleep. My legs are very humpworthy.

Posted by: et Al | Feb 17, 2018 5:53:32 PM | 24

Let’s get it on….from The Hill:

A White House spokesman accused Democrats and the mainstream news media of creating more recent “chaos” in America than the Russian government.In an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Saturday, Hogan Gidley blamed the two groups for causing “chaos” by spreading stories related to Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians and that’s the Democrats and the mainstream media,” Gidley said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 6:15:32 PM | 26

I have been following this site for about two years now. Really enjoyed reading logical analysis. This is the first time I post anything here.
I came to a conclusion that the accused Russians were trying to make money just like many others did described on several news stories before.
Just to name few I found, here they are:
Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’
This is how Facebook’s fake-news writers make money
How Facebook powers money machines for obscure political ‘news’ sites

Posted by: Pekka | Feb 17, 2018 6:24:01 PM | 27

@ 25
Not only is Mueller “doing something,” as you suggest he’s constructed a self-licking ice cream cone, i.e. he doesn’t have to do anything else like take his charges into a courtroom (unless some smart-ass Russian calls him on it as suggested above). He knew the establishment media and politicians would go for it and they did.
But they may have underestimated Trump. I think Trump’s national security adviser McMaster has already exhibited his general officer stupidity. He may have signed his exit papers with his enthusiasm for the indictment.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 6:29:01 PM | 28

The copy of the indictment on NPR’s web site that b’s article links to is currently unavailable because the site never responds. Perhaps under DDOS attack?
Because of that issue I could not view the linked document. being There is a .jpg version of the indictment that’s difficult to read being passed around by mainstream media. That looks like it could be an amateur job of obfuscation to me, considering that the original on the DoJ website is a completely legible (and text copyable) PDF:
To view the doc sooner and to prevent eyestrain, I recommend the DoJ version.

Posted by: Paul E. Merrell | Feb 17, 2018 6:34:03 PM | 29

Anti-Russian hysteria is simply a belated recognition that Moscow is winning the Second Cold War. And the scariest part of it all is that the latter is gaining the upper hand without even trying. The West is doing the job of destroying itself with such enthusiasm that all Putin has to do is to sit tight, remain silent and not resist interfering in the process. Which is exactly what he’s doing.
US Deep State is ruining America, German government is killing Germany, British ruling class has all but obliterated UK, and so on. There is not a single healthy entity here, and they all need to blame someone for this unfolding catastrophe, and Russia is the most convenient target.
This won’t work because the credibility of the accusers is almost non-existent by now.
Without the 180-degree course correction the most far-gone and damaged part of the West – the USA – has very little shelf life left in it. And once it expires for good (give or take 5 years, and no later than the last Putin’s term ends), the whole modern world will fracture and shatter to pieces with it.
Good or bad, but the legend of Vladimir Putin as the “man who destroyed the West” is already set in stone and will from now on live forever. And it’s his detractors who placed him on a world’s highest pedestal and immortalized him. The irony…

Posted by: telescope | Feb 17, 2018 6:43:13 PM | 30

Correction – please read “resist” instead of “not resist”.

Posted by: telescope | Feb 17, 2018 6:45:15 PM | 31

If I had to guess I would say that a trade off between the two halves of the amerikan empire party is what has happened here.
The dems have agreed to say that while the russkies ‘did it’ there was no collusion from the trump campaign and in return the rethugs have agreed the russkies were ‘at it’ without their knowledge.
It is handy for both sides as the morons in the dem party can keep up the lie that hil the shill lost because of outside influence, thereby avoiding the unpalatable truth that she was the worst prez candidate since Alfred E Neuman, and the rethug derps can say “see I told ya we didn’t do it” without having to confront the idiotic meeting Don jnr attended with a bunch of sleazy Russian lawyers.
In other words things can continue as before with both sides continuing to put forward low-life scoundrels you wouldn’t wish on yer mother-in-law as “the next president of amerika”.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Feb 17, 2018 7:02:11 PM | 32

Only later was it claimed that these accounts were operated by the mysterious and possibly non-existent “Internet Research Agency”.
Where did this information or claim come from? The claim is odd as the St. Petersburg “troll factory” was exposed already 3 years ago. The consensus in Russia is that it does not even exist. Even if it existed, it would be an unlikely outfit for a sensitive, secret operation, as their activities (if any) would be closely monitored by Western intelligence agencies.
Posted by: Petri Krohn | Feb 17, 2018 4:54:41 PM | 12
To emphasize a fact already alluded to, there could be no “Russian influence” because the chain of command as detailed by the indictment stops at chef Prigozhin, long identified as the chief architect of the profit-seeking Internet Research Agency. So whatever happened in that agency was a personal/corporate effort, and not anything promoted by the Russian government.
Also there is no information yet on the alleged DNC hacking.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 5:18:54 PM | 17
It has been pointed out several times in the last 48 hrs, on this website, that the so-called “Internet Research Agency”, in all liklihood, doesn’t even exist, or what little existence it has suggests some sort of non-russian (CIA/MI6 etc) intelligence front, created simply for the purpose of smearing the Russian state/Putin.
yet this “Internet Research Agency” idiocy persists nonetheless.
Petri Krohn pointed it out @ 12, before that guy posting @17 posted his nonsense, and he acts as if Krohn’s post and the link to the Saker article on the “Internet Research Agency”, ( never even existed, as if it has never been mentioned nor links to it posted on this or any other thread at MOA. Either he didn’t read it or he did and has dismissed it entirely and doesn’t even have the honesty to aat least acknowledge its existence.
This sort of stupidity is what people are up against – .

Posted by: Bobby Mueller | Feb 17, 2018 7:06:27 PM | 33

Thanks for the summary, reading the full text of an indictment is torture because they are basically a string of non-sequiturs with occasional references to the actual criminal code. For example, ‘Jeff and his co-conspirators regularly neglect to cut their lawns which impacts the real estate value of their neighbors …. we are charging him with bank fraud”
Is it a federal crime to create a fake facebook account?
I am still scratching my head at Mueller’s core charge, is it a fed. crime to create a fake facebook account and post political content? If this is what Mueller is alleging, with B’s qualifications, ‘foreigner’, ‘political content during election cycle’, and ‘failure to register as foreign agent’ doesn’t the prosecutor have to cite the statute.
What federal statute applies to fake facebook accounts?

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Feb 17, 2018 7:10:26 PM | 34

Mueller’s indictments are meaningless chaff, thrown up to distract from the fact that after months and months of Putin nonsense he has a big massive Nothing-Burger.
None of these people will ever be apprehended let alone actually charged in person, with anything. So Mueller can claim what he likes about them because none of these claims in his risible “indictment” are ever intended to be tested in any court of law anywhere on the planet.
The FBI has no jurisdiction in Russia last time I checked.

Posted by: Bobby Mueller | Feb 17, 2018 7:16:26 PM | 35

Great piece. It’s time I bookmarked this blog.

Posted by: GM | Feb 17, 2018 7:25:01 PM | 36

1) Russians posted cute cat and dog pictures on Facebook.
2) U.S. Air Force massacred 644 (maybe) Russian mercenaries in Deir ez-Zor.
This weeks two Russia stories are intervened.
Dmitry Utkin, the alleged founder of the likely non-existent Wagner Group is also the General Director of Concord Management and Consulting, the parent company of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Concord Catering. Both companies were indicted by Mueller.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Feb 17, 2018 7:57:33 PM | 37

The entirety of the discussion surrounding the bogus accusations of “Russian meddling” presupposes that elections in the US are valid democratic exercises where “the people” use their vote to influence and/or change the government. This is an unwarranted assumption that has no basis in reality.
It also presupposes that US elections are “free and fair” which of course they are not. The US elections are rigged affairs right from the get-go as anyone who has studied the details of election rules and regulations know.
Of course in every election we are bombarded with propaganda about how “your vote makes a difference” and associated nonsense. According to the official version ordinary citizens control the state by voting for candidates in elections. The President and other politicians are supposedly servants of “the people” and the government an instrument of the general populace. This version is a myth. It does not matter who is elected because the way the system is set up all elected representatives must do what big business and the state bureaucracy want, not what “the people” want. Elected representatives are figureheads. Politicians’ rhetoric may change depending on who is elected, but they all have to implement the same policies given the same situation. Elections are a scam whose function is to create the illusion that “the people” control the government, not the elite, and to neutralize resistance movements. All voting does is strengthen the state & ruling class, it is not an effective means to change government policy.
By regarding society from a class perspective, one can see through the machinations of the rich. Marx explained that “in any epoch, the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas…” The ruling class insists on control. Hence it demands unchallenged domination of the political system. It acts to mold all social institutions — including schools, media, & political parties — to serve its own interests. Any group that might oppose it (such as militant labor unions, leftist intellectuals, antiwar types, consumer & environmental advocates, etc) it tries to marginalize, coopt or destroy.
The political system that best serves the interests of the rich is the one that A) obediently does their bidding, while B) posing theatrically as a “democracy,” in a convincing enough way so that most people don’t catch on that they’re simply being played. Objective “B” serves to greatly reduce resistance.
The illusion of “choice” and “free elections” is very important to the ruling class. They recognize that this pretty illusion makes their job much easier, so they want to preserve it. The rituals of campaigns & elections function to con most of the population into believing that “they’re free.” Most people will never clearly recognize that the choice they’re being offered is a highly contrived one. They’re being forced to choose between 2 parties which are united against them, rigged to serve the interests of their oppressors.
In today’s US, especially at the national level, elections are worse than worthless — they simply perpetuate illusions & waste time. They are degrading & repulsive exercises in Madison Avenue PR techniques, where “the truth” is off limits from the get-go. Effort should be directed not at participating in this system, but at bringing it down, exposing its corrupt essence, & building genuinely constructive alternatives.

Posted by: Allen | Feb 17, 2018 8:03:06 PM | 38

Don’t worry b. If Meuller or someone were to try to charge you it would be a complete joke. Even Americans are not so stupid. Besides, you would become the new Julian Assange. It would become a giant circus.

Posted by: blues | Feb 17, 2018 8:10:56 PM | 39

I suspect this will be just phase one if they can get away with it. It will take time, but the powers that be will be persistent. All establishment parties, and more particularly the giant corporate forces behind them, want these kind of restrictions on the net and have since Hillary lost against Obama. Going after “foreigners” is the logical first step, the low hanging fruit, but by no means the last.
Moon Of Alabama indirectly helped get Trump elected (or get Hillary NOT elected), so did Assange, and so did countless sites foreign and domestic that were fact oriented (and willing to dig and in many cases such as MOA, perceptive). The point is Trump isn’t about to thank them, he’s going after them as much and as hard as the DNC and for the same reasons. Like any business, he will take advantage of what ever is out there “blowing in his direction” when he can’t afford not to. Now that he is in power, however, he will – within his power – crush anyone with the ability to threaten him. Because willingly or not he is part of something much bigger, truly international, with vast technological as well as financial, political and military resources, that (accurately) sees the Internet as Actual Freedom of Expression, and therefore as a very real threat, he has a lot of force on his side.

Posted by: Brooklin Bridge | Feb 17, 2018 8:20:50 PM | 40

Saying, “phase one” above was inaccurate. The recent rewinding of Net Neutrality would be a better “phase one” but even that would be inaccurate. Suffice it to say, this is one of the early battles against an open internet which is itself part of a larger battle between International Finance Capitalism and the people (or anything in it’s way).

Posted by: Brooklin Bridge | Feb 17, 2018 8:41:26 PM | 41

Below are some quotes in a recent interview between ex CIA Chief James Woolsey and Laura Ingraham

But then, beginning at around 4:30, the real debacle of the conversation begins as Ingraham asks Woolsey,
“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?”
He responds, surprisingly frankly…
“Oh probably… but it was for the good of the system…”
To which Ingraham follows up…
“We don’t do that now though? We don’t mess around in other people’s elections?”
Prompting this extraordinary sentence from a former CIA chief…
“Well…hhhmmm, numm numm numm numm… only for a very good cause…in the interests of democracy”

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 17, 2018 8:48:29 PM | 42

Thanks for another good write up. Of course this is all bullshit, the only question is who is going to buy it Outside of the spectrum of Clinton and Blair neoliberals and the Military Industrial Complex insiders, I see very few people willing to sign onto this PR campaign.
If Mueller really wanted to trip up Trump, he would have gone after the Exxon Rosneft deals involving Rex Tillerson and Igor Sechin. But then, he would have had to address Clinton Foundation deals as well.
China wins, Russia and America are Cold War leftovers similar to the French and British Empires after Suez Canal 1956 right, FSB and CIA cannot handle the new world reality ha ha ha

Posted by: nonsense factory | Feb 17, 2018 8:49:44 PM | 43

I should also have emphasized that it is not only Mueller, (and the Dems) (oh yes, and the Russians under our beds), going after real, or un-disneyfied journalism on the net. I made it sound like the article posted was about Trump. My point was rather, that it might as well be one person with Trump’s face on one side and Mueller’s (twisted in with Hillary’s) face on the other.

Posted by: Brooklin Bridge | Feb 17, 2018 8:51:25 PM | 44

Posted by: blues | Feb 17, 2018 8:10:56 PM | 41
I’m sure b will be heartened to hear that many of us will think of him a coupla times a day while he sits rotting in the hole of some supermax.
Fortunately it will never come to that chiefly because the arseholes have bigger fish to fry and there is no desire in DC to get offside with Germany with so many other ‘allies’ already dirty on them.
But this does mean we should exercise a bit of commonsense, b has to be pushed to an extreme to delete a post which is as it should be, nevertheless say back in ’12 I posted “I’d like to rip off Obama’s head and shit down the hole in his neck”, ten years from now some fed contractor looking for a reason to go after MoA found it, they could give b a hard time for letting it stay up, especially if the original poster is untraceable.
It doesn’t mean ‘giving in’ and only saying what the pricks say is permissable, we can still express ourselves vehemently, state our opinions but not couch it in terms that arseholes can easily use to cause trouble.
Myself I would have thought freedom of expression amendments would permit threats against any of the low life scum who have been prez but AFAIK no one has got a judgement overturning that encroachment on freedom of speech.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Feb 17, 2018 9:04:00 PM | 45

good for him
CNN: Trump: ‘Case closed’

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 9:51:27 PM | 46

“Fake News” Is Fake News”
From Global Research:

Posted by: ben | Feb 17, 2018 10:13:54 PM | 47

So if the Christopher Steele dossier was funded by the DNC can we assume the Russian bots and Prighozin are funded by Perkins Coie. As far as I recall the DNC paid Perkins Coie millions for their legal work recruiting and resourcing Steele but disbursements to Steele and his ‘russian’ contacts were only a fraction of that.
The real ‘russian’ influencers are Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS principals, Nellie Ohr and husband of DoJ notoriety, Perkins Coie lawyers, John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. We are waiting for Mueller to get the picture and say/do something.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Feb 17, 2018 10:32:19 PM | 48

@ uncle tungsten who wrote:

The real ‘russian’ influencers are Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS principals, Nellie Ohr and husband of DoJ notoriety, Perkins Coie lawyers, John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. We are waiting for Mueller to get the picture and say/do something.

Do you not understand that Mueller and your list all work for the same elite? They will give you the next act in this circus when they are ready or another crisis opportunity presents itself.
I don’t understand folks that think that Trump is going to be mankind’s savior rather than the immoral grifter he seems in his Apprentice position for his family being “real” plutocrats.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 17, 2018 11:13:13 PM | 49

Mr Barns has made a mistake in his article. Mueller DID NOT INDICT the Russians on those charges, while laying out that it is illegal. It is suspected he did not do so because of comparisons to the behavior of Christopher Steele.

Posted by: MikeN | Feb 17, 2018 11:20:09 PM | 50

@ ph 51
You don’t like the elite nor Trump.
What other choice is there?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 17, 2018 11:23:46 PM | 51

Even if we say the Russians interfered in the recent election, so what? How many elections have the Americans interfered with? How many democracies have they overthrown? How many wars and invasions have they started? Or what about voter apathy in the States? Never mind the fact that tens of millions of working class voters are disillusioned with the American political and economic system, instead we’re made to believe that alleged Russian meddling which is immeasurable and insignificant even if it did occur, changed the election results. The’ democratic’ party is desperately trying to absolve itself by pointing at an imaginary enemy. The Americans are their own worst enemies.

Posted by: Ninel | Feb 18, 2018 12:02:37 AM | 52

@ Don Bacon who asked me what other choice is there
The short answer is structural change instead of ongoing lipstick on the pig that is our form of social organization.
I don’t believe in benevolent dictators which is what Trump is trying to become. Clinton II is a war criminal.
We don’t have either capitalism nor a democracy but do have those that own private finance running America and the rest of the Western world through their private Central Banks in the various nations. If we don’t make finance a public utility and reign in unfettered inheritance of private property then it will continue to not matter which puppet is dancing for public consumption.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 18, 2018 12:45:51 AM | 53

The short-sightedness of the American Press is hard to believe.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 18, 2018 1:14:48 AM | 54

The irony of this indictment is so thick that it is overwhelming.
The US has as far back as I can recall, as an political aware person, say 1973, been implicated in regime change or meddling. In Europe less violent than the rest of the world, but never the less they were there, as was the USSR. Spending money, influencing, subverting, coercing and in some cases resorting to violence, in order to get their government of choice. Italy and Greece were places that were sought out because of the strong left. And things did get violent from both sides. Those not old enough , look it up, there is plenty of evidence, declassified documents available. Northern Ireland was another place they meddled quite openly.
In the rest of the world, especially in South America, it was far, far more violent and less covert, almost all South American countries suffered.
It is blatantly hysterical, mind boggling hysterical, that Israel’s influence and is silently accepted, but Israeli influence is so huge that opposition can be suppressed.
To counter foreign “meddling” the US is quietly regulating the Internet, introducing the Great US Firewall.
What a pathetic nation, what a joke….

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Feb 18, 2018 1:52:42 AM | 55

@35 CHristian Chuba,
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act seems to make a Federal crime of creating fake accounts or acting beyond the terms of service on a website.
@51 psychohistorian,
There is value in making service to the elites so fraught and dangerous that it’s not worth the risk. 100 years ago, labor was using firebombs and simple thuggery to make this point. Today, as much as I hate to see it weaponized, nude selfies and other conduct unbecoming a WASP might do.

Posted by: Jonathan | Feb 18, 2018 2:28:29 AM | 56

To further my previous comment:
The problem as I see it is that most people are unlikely to directly engage in politics. Memberships in political parties (in Europe , at least) has generally declined. Except the “populist” parties, where the only qualification for engagement is hate. And hate is a strong and powerful emotion.
Normal political parties has had a hard time attracting members, they cannot meet peoples wish of change now, the parties of course subscribing to the constitutional rules and boundaries in place. So change will be slow and cumbersome.
The parts of the populace that are left out, the unemployed, immigrants, are far more likely to be politically active, whereas the well off, the wealthy working and middle class, are too busy for politics, pursuing even more wealth, hollidays and gadgets.
It is depressing that the political parties, both right and left, have not been able to unify on this matter and counter this trend.
European politics is slowly being re- defined, and we have to see the fringe setting the political agenda, the vile populist parties have conquered the scene and setting the agenda, while the majority is scratching their collective bums.
Exactly the left as the left in the seventies (Peoples front of Judea, Life of Brian), fractured, mindless academic, completely irrelevant and clueless.
That many social democratic parties embraced liberalism in the nineties and early oughts, almost killed the Social-democratic idea.
But we have not given up yet, by being active CAN change the direction, and has slowly changed directions, but we must also use the tactics and means available i.e. we need a Tailor Swift, a Lady Gaga to draw attention and when the audience is there, hope people will see the light (look up, Blues brothers) and engage actively.
A great article b, and sorry if my comment is slightly out of order and relevance.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Feb 18, 2018 2:36:11 AM | 57

b’s assessment rings true to me. It also fits with the view that we are all merely viewers of the first Reality TV Show Presidency. It’s more entertainment to distract and divide us, and addresses none of the real threats we are facing.
The demonization of Putin and rebooting of the Cold War against Russia was underway no later than 2013. The “Russian Meddling” narrative serves as a big excuse to escalate it, but is just one of many that have been promoted.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continues or expands the very rapacious economic policies and murderous foreign policies which Candidate Trump denounced, and Democrats are attacking him (and progressives) from the right.

Posted by: Daniel | Feb 18, 2018 2:40:17 AM | 58

Is there any evidence of Russian govnerment involvement? If not, we basically have regular people using freedom of speech – maybe thats a crime today according to the establishment? Sickening.
As most of you will know your author writing this is German. I write pseudo-anonymously for a mostly U.S. audience. My postings are political and during the U.S. election campaign expressed an anti-Hillary view. The blog is hosted on U.S, infrastructure paid for by me. I am not registered as Foreign Agent or with the Federal Election Commission.
Its not only you, but everyone here that comment, thats the unfortunate dangerous situation this hysteria has led to.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 18, 2018 3:15:13 AM | 59

Facebook VD goes on paranoid rant against Russia,
read all tweets:

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 18, 2018 3:20:14 AM | 60

Last year: “FBI Investigating Breitbart, InfoWars: Report”

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 18, 2018 3:36:34 AM | 61

For hundred times it is all provocation against Russia, psyop that intensified since Putin returned to power and started rebuilding Russian military after another western provocation in Georgia and later in Moldova, it became exponential after Ukrainian putsch in 2014.
Ultimately removal and Putin and now Xi who will follow Putin to be elected four times breaking the western imposed rotation of CIA agents in the Chinese and Russian leadership is the ultimate goal of the Western globalists to be replaced by oth Chinese and Russian oligarchs wth more consmopolitan autlooke devoid of notions of nation states but rather global imperial provinces of US western emporium.
These are neocons sick dreams but as we see they will not be stopped without real bottom up anti oligarchic revolution and instead escalate into preprogrammed chaos and global conflict among people while harmony among oligarchy.

Posted by: Kalen | Feb 18, 2018 3:38:32 AM | 62

@liburl @20 – “Could you comment on this. All things being equal the marketing scheme would have spread
their positive and derogatory posts equally to any given candidate, yet Mueller says
Hillary was under attack.”
Aside from the “Russian influence” there were commercial fake-news site created and run from Macedonia. These were widely reported about. for example by Wired: Inside the Macedonian Fake-News Complex.
The people running these sites did not care who would win the election. But they found that stories about Trump generated MORE TRAFFIC than pro Clinton stories. (BTW: U.S. main stream media found the same and was therefore full of Trump stories.) More traffic/followers is their sole point.

What Veles produced, though, was something more extreme still: an enterprise of cool, pure amorality, free not only of ideology but of any concern or feeling about the substance of the election. These Macedonians on Facebook didn’t care if Trump won or lost the White House.

Trump groups seemed to have hundreds of thousands more members than Clinton groups, which made it simpler to propel an article into virality. (For a week in July, he experimented with fake news extolling Bernie Sanders. “Bernie Sanders supporters are among the smartest people I’ve seen,” he says. “They don’t believe anything. The post must have proof for them to believe it.”) He posted under his own name but also under the guise of one of 200 or so bogus Facebook profiles that he’d purchased for this purpose. (A fake profile with a Russian name cost about 10 cents; for an American name, the price went up to 50 cents.)

Posted by: b | Feb 18, 2018 3:52:42 AM | 63

Just come across this The water runs milky and can feel like fire.In this impoverished county, Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan may not help Text for link (not the URL)
In the impoverished county Warfield, a tiny town on Martin County in Kentukey, ordinary American people couldn’t get safe water to drink for years, like a third world country. It needs $13 million for repairment but the local government does not have the money to replace the rusty water supply pipe. Yet USG just increases military budget to $700+ bllions and has wasted trillions $$$ on unnecessary wars in Syria/Iraqi/Afghanistan. You just wonder where USG’s priority lays.

Posted by: mali | Feb 18, 2018 5:09:34 AM | 64

“… The sole point of creating a diverse army of sock-puppets with large following crowds was to sell the ‘eyeballs’ of the followers to the paying customers of the marketing company [Concord Catering] …”
In other words, what Prigozhin’s company is doing is hardly much different from what Facebook originally was set up to do: sell its followers, their details and their behaviours to paying customers, be they marketing organisations or the US government.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 18, 2018 5:40:31 AM | 65

No Russian influence-just more fake news, more lies, more manipulation, more of the same pantomime politics starring puppet politicians and directed by the dangerous psychopaths who rule us and who are rushing us down a one way street to extinction…

Posted by: Rich | Feb 18, 2018 7:27:05 AM | 66

“Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security”
2018 National Defense Strategy

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Feb 18, 2018 7:36:38 AM | 67

Mueller would not have bothered indicting 13 Russian nationals unless he thought that it would further his investigation. He is proceeding slowly and methodically and that is causing our sensation and bombshell-driven media to explode in frustration.
At some point he will produce enough sworn testimony that is mutually contradictory or inconsistent to the point that one partner of the other will have to face charges of perjury.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Feb 18, 2018 7:44:23 AM | 68

European MSM are salivating at these indictements as “smoking gun” for Russian “hyjacking of US democracy”. As ukronazi – supported by NATO countries – are escalating military attacks in Donbass, an all-out offensive in Summer is likely. Europeans are fed with propaganda and are sleepwalking into war at Russian border

Posted by: Buenaventuradurruti | Feb 18, 2018 8:03:08 AM | 69

Posted by: b | Feb 18, 2018 3:52:42 AM | 63
And anti-Hillary news probably produced many clicks, too.
However, there is no separation of private/public any more. Just as facebook is linked to the NSA, and just as the NSA is about industrial espionage as much as politics, some of the customers of these commercial enterprises in all likelihood were public.
As long as we don’t manage to have public control of secret services all kind of murky stuff is going to happen.
Russia had skin in the game (just as Julian Assange, in a different matter) as Hillary had come out on stronly opposing Russia’s stabilization policies of the post soviet space.
The obvious elephant in the room is that US election machines can easily be hacked.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 18, 2018 8:07:27 AM | 70

The Mueller indictment seems to have been written in parts along a story about the company in the Russian paper RBC
Especially the names of the indicted seem to have been copied from that papers investigation.
One of the authors of the RBC piece was just interviewed by the Washington Post:
The Russian journalist who helped uncover election interference is confounded by the Mueller indictments
He says:

They are proud of their work. For them it was really fun: 90 people sitting in St. Petersburg, organizing groups with thousands and thousands of likes. It was a very successful social media marketing campaign.

Posted by: b | Feb 18, 2018 9:06:28 AM | 71

@21 — it’s on a spectrum: next stop on the line after ‘crazy’ is ‘destruction’… and the criminals-in-charge seem to be doing exceptionally well at it. Check out Political Ponerology.
“They walk among us. On the outside. they’re just like you and me, but on the inside they are unfeeling automatons who care only for themselves. They are the psychopaths, and they are in control of our governments, our corporations, our military and all of the positions of power. Join us this week on The Corbett Report as we delve into Political Ponerology, a diagnosis of our politicians and a brief look at the bigger picture.” (2017 – 54min)

Posted by: sheepdogs | Feb 18, 2018 9:14:47 AM | 72

@somebody 70
Russia had skin in the game
No, Russia was not mentioned in the indictment.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 18, 2018 9:31:42 AM | 73

As clearly pointed out in the article, the US government could be dragged into international court for threatening every country in the world with prosecution for voicing unapproved political opinions on the world wide internet inhibiting their free speech rights. It would be interesting to see which governments defended their citizens or picked the other side to share in the suppression of free political speech all over the world. Who wants to see China issuing arrest warrants on Americans or Iran issuing arrest warrants on Israelis, Erdogan demanding England cease criticizing islam or face incarceration in turkish jails?

Posted by: dunce | Feb 18, 2018 9:34:07 AM | 74

why organize demonstrations?
b’s assertion that this was a run of the mill, money making scheme, makes perfect sense except for the part about organizing staged political events. If a company was just casting a wide demographic net in order to obtain the most ad revenue then why take it to this level? The more conspicuous you are the more likely you are to get banned from FB and have to start all over again with creating new accounts, including paypal accounts.
BTW B’s theory makes the most sense of anything that I have heard. This is the only ‘loose end’ versus the frayed ends of ‘Russia is trying to create discord’ theory. If Russian Intelligence was actually behind this they unnecessarily provoked the U.S. just to make themselves poison. Pol’s don’t even want to speak to their ambassadors anymore. This has been a disaster for them.
This also means that the FBI concocted a counter-intelligence operation when they must have figured out that this was just a marketing scam. Rooms in hell are being prepared for them. They are helping to restart a Cold War just to save their own rear ends.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Feb 18, 2018 9:58:57 AM | 75

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 18, 2018 9:31:42 AM | 73
I am not talking about the indictment. I am talking about Russian interest in anybody not Hillary.
Western Strategy toward Russia and the Post-Soviet Space

In 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russia’s push for a Eurasian Customs Union “a move to re -Sovietize the region,” and warned, “we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

Posted by: somebody | Feb 18, 2018 10:07:14 AM | 76

Way back when, McCann-Erickson tried to create billboards to appeal to the ‘largest public.’
They pegged -> blondine + slim + dreamy eyes + blue background + sunlight + plainish text…you get the picture (!), the end result of the accumulation of ‘likes’ (teased out with surveys, focus groups, etc.) was too generic, looked too calculated, didn’t appeal, wasn’t succesful in terms of sales of common consumer products.
Segmenting the audience in terms of the addressee, what papers, magazines, radio stations, roads, etc. were capted by what audience has always been part of advertising strategy since Sumer. At some point the idea that aiming at a small segment of a potential audience could be more successful – a narrow demographic could be ‘galvanised’ and the ‘edginess/ novelty/ originality’ could even attract others. The prime ex. is advertising > to male homosexuals (women didn’t have enough surplus income) before being \gay/ was basically decriminalised (dates vary), accepted, popularised, culminating with gay marriage. This kind of advertising proved to be +++/3. Today a similar boost is going on based on ‘sexual desires of another kind’, sad story not for now.
Segmenting the population but not the target audience is a staple of the advertising industry and relates in a deep-rooted way to identity politics (à la Killary, where all is drowned in what demographic you belong to, how it is defined, what rights can be demanded, how you can attack and denigrate others, claim victim insult, then privileges etc.,) a mainstay of “Capitalism”, in the sense of a society driven by some aspects of the ‘free-market’ in which allegiance, belief, and **hope** in some ‘brethren’ group, lacking any other outlets, aka a form of tribalism, are turned into cash profits.
The internet revolutionised the industry, in the sense that it became possible to prompt the audience to self-select what it was exposed to. So many schemes were tried out, b outlines some, that is exactly right…and of course ‘political attitudes’ come into play, as they are (US) a summary of various aspects of variously defined demographic categories.
The end result is that political attitudes as judged, and their manipulation, become a staple of commercial marketing outside of any what one might call ‘genuine politics.’
It follows that external threats are over-represented, Russia as ‘interfering’ in US elections is just some dumb marketing ploy, totally ridiculous, but an outcome of processes that remain very opaque (tried to give one path here.)

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 18, 2018 10:12:21 AM | 77

Thanks, b.
It is too bad your comment @63 requires patience and digging to arrive at. Too bad it wasn’t part of your original article.
It provides insight into the curious distribution of articles between the candidates. Why is it reported that there were more favorable Trump articles then unfavorable and more unfavorable than favorable Clinton articles. The answer was the click count, what click-bait generated the most $income$.

Posted by: librul | Feb 18, 2018 10:38:22 AM | 78

INdeed, western media is fanatical these days, its only war they have in mind and they want Trump to start it for them it seems.
We also could forget about Trump will meet with Putin for diplomacy, that is completely off now.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 18, 2018 10:54:35 AM | 79

This whole “Russia did it’ operation stinks of other than Hillary lost the election and this must be set straight. We know Hillary was getting rich on selling influence. We also know that Trump had real estate ‘dealings’ with Russian oligarchs that likely involve money laundering and/or tax evasion. Elites interact across the international scene to run business operations that are legit or not as they can operate above the law with impunity. Meanwhile as this fireworks show grabs the attention the American public, complete with such inanities as a ‘Trump revolution’ and a ‘Q anon’ Trump revolution warrior, all as a fictitious manipulation, the Trump administration has given everything and more that Wall Street has asked for. This is likely the real reason for this shiny sideshow as hardly anyone is reporting on the goodies Wall Street robber barons have accrued for themselves. The Marten’s “Wall Street On Parade” being one of a few web sites that have kept their eye on the ball. Just sayin’….

Posted by: BRF | Feb 18, 2018 10:56:47 AM | 80

Hasn’t anyone considered a more simple explanation for the announcement of these indictments and especially their senindipitous timing?
Indictments were based on junk overflow info laying around from Special Counsel’s investigation. Announcement took place on same day Gov of Fla called for head of FBI to resign due to missing the ball re: Fla school shooter debacle. I.e.; this was announced to protect the FBI. Diversion!

Posted by: Snow Belt Willie | Feb 18, 2018 11:23:28 AM | 81

Reposting to the correct thread:
Obama, the faux populist, had the “Birthers” on his ass for years saying that Obama wasn’t qualified to be President and – “stirring the pot” which included accusations that Obama was a Muslim socialist that sought to destroy America.
Now Trump, another faux populist, faces outlandish accusations of Russian collusion. As with Obama and the Birthers, nothing is likely to come of this.
Should we just ignore the parallels? And the possibility that it is all theater for public consumption? And the implication that the elections themselves were just theater?
<> <> <> <> <> <> <>
Some say that the Russian investigation is meant to cover for Hillary’s embarrassing failure to win the Presidency. But was she ever really in it to win it? Oh sure, she went thru the motions and raised a lot of money but her email server scandal was a atheist for a women in public life for years and who planned another run for President.
What Hillary has really done is to emasculate the Democratic Party and squash discontent from the left.
Others says that Trump’s election represents a counter-coup. I used to think this too. But what has changed? How much different is Trump’s center-right rule from how centrist Hillary would have governed? I think it foolish to believe that Hillary would’ve started WWIII. No, the smart move was to pretent to fight ISIS, co-opt the Kurds (the effort begun under Obama), and grab Eastern Syria – exactly as Trump has done.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 18, 2018 11:25:24 AM | 82

Correction: atheist ==> amateurish

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 18, 2018 11:27:33 AM | 83

Correction: atheist ==> amateurish

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 18, 2018 11:28:30 AM | 84

Smoothie #21-you are 100% right on-MUELLER IS SICK…..

Posted by: sejmon | Feb 18, 2018 11:30:04 AM | 85

Christian Chuba 75
I have only skimmed through the indictment, but to obvious pieces of fiction stood out. The placard holder of 29th May – JFK’s birth date, and the Russian busy deleting emails that were evidence and simultaneously sending out emails bragging about. How much of the rest is fiction?
I think the shady Russian company sort of fitted as a foundation stone to build the fictional narrative of the idictment as a replacement for the now discredited golden showers/Trump/Russia collusion narrative.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Feb 18, 2018 12:01:01 PM | 86

Thanks for this illuminating analysis of the reality behind the US/Western Russophobia “hologram”.
As the information in B’s #71 post suggests, this indictment even reads more like a tawdry work of fiction than a rigorous, meticulous legal pleading. It’s a lurid rat’s nest of trash-tabloid doubletalk.
It’s basically a narrative that recycles and clumsily stitches together some well-worn factoids and hype from the Russophobia infoganda campaign.
It’s like a jigsaw puzzle assembled by meth freaks who just hammered random pieces together until they’re all used up. The result is roughly rectangular, but the contents are fractured and incoherent, with no resemblance to the picture on the cover of the box.
In short, it’s just the latest Beltway MacGuffin: “an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance”.
The legal underpinnings are sketchy and virtually nonexistent, to the point where the “indictment” has to rely on preposterous, tortured interpretations of existing crimes, and invent new crimes, to give this piece of chicanery a very faint, pastel “color of law”.
It isn’t plausible enough to support a show trial, even given the state of post-9/11 US kangaroo jurisprudence. It’s just something to string along complacent, submissive, and desperate rubes in the belief that US citizens are victims of malicious predators: Russia, Putin, and “not my President” Trump.
Speaking of which, as B. notes, the main count of the indictment is an alleged “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”. I know, it’s too easy– but this may be a “be careful what you criminalize” moment too.
After all, it’s a succinct capsule description of the everyday work of the US Congress– and, for that matter, the other two rotten branches of government. And if our Elected Misrepresentatives are brought to the dock, the evidence of their heinous criminality will not be nearly as elusive and obscure as the long-sought Russian “smoking guns”.

Posted by: Ort | Feb 18, 2018 12:19:58 PM | 87

51;Trump.Who can you trust?dnc or the liberals?The msm?Or the gop?All garbage,all in the pockets of israel.

Posted by: dahoit | Feb 18, 2018 12:36:38 PM | 88

The questions is still imo, if the indictment accusations are correct, that is:
1. who are those russian people that alleged traveled to America?
2. do they represent anyone? where do their alleged millions of money coming from?
whats the purpose of their acts?

Posted by: test | Feb 18, 2018 12:46:16 PM | 89

@63 / 71 b… thanks for those additional insights and links… hopefully others check them out..

Posted by: james | Feb 18, 2018 1:10:10 PM | 90

Test 90
Read the indictment. People are named, and factual or fictitious money trails described.
That’s the good part of using an existing organisation that sort of fits as a foundation for the Russian meddling fictional narrative.
Russia may very well have pulled off something sharp with the US elections, but if they did, this is not it. (At the same time I don’t see any need for Russia to do anything. With the use of so many fictional narratives over the years, US has got itself into a hell of a mess all on its own)

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Feb 18, 2018 1:14:42 PM | 91

I say again. The motive for Mueller announcing the indictments when he did, was to have everyone talking about them, rather than having attention remain fixed on the FBI dropping the ball on stopping the Fla HS shooter.
Remember, on Fri when these Indictments were announced, the main narrative was blaming the FBI for not doing their job re: the Fla shooting. Even the Gov of Fla was calling for the Director to resign. It makes no difference to Mueller that his indictments are based on obvious bogus and junk evidence. All he wanted, was to switch attention away from the FBI being culpable in the Fla shooting deaths. And the more everyone tries to analyze his silly Indictments, the more he succeeds.
Remember too, Mueller was the past Director of FBI, he will do anything to protect it’s s reputation.

Posted by: Snow Belt Willie | Feb 18, 2018 1:29:03 PM | 92

“The problem as I see it is that most people are unlikely to directly engage in politics. Memberships in political parties (in Europe , at least) has generally declined. Except the “populist” parties, where the only qualification for engagement is hate. And hate is a strong and powerful emotion….”
Den Lille Abe@ 57
The exception to this rule is the Labour party in the UK whose membership has increased very steadily since Corbyn first ran for the leadership. There is no mystery in this he is putting forward a radical (mildly in historic terms) programme which is underpinned by the promise of restoring democracy both within the party and in the management of the economy.
The result has been to give people the hope of being able to take part in politics without the fear of being overwhelmed by block votes, money and media propaganda. The fact that Corbyn has succeeded in the face of unanimous and ruthless propaganda campaigns has strengthened not just his position but the strategy of building a mass party and developing policy without fear of elites.
These are early days yet but the trend, which began with the Die Linke, Podemos and Syriza phenomena which seem both to have succumbed to instant corruption, has been evident for some time: there is a massive constituency for radical change it simply requires mobilisation. Which may involve burning down the old institutions like the various social democratic parties and starting again.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 18, 2018 1:45:52 PM | 93

How do we start a movement to sponsor and defend one of the accused individuals to stand up to this indictment for the good of humanity?

Posted by: joe | Feb 18, 2018 2:00:30 PM | 94

Indeed, as members of the cabal seem to suggest, anybody who worked with Mueller knows his integrity. Thanks to the integrity of Mueller et al, the country is in 21 trillion debt with another 21 trillion unaccounted for in HUD and DOD.

Posted by: Dawn Garmon | Feb 18, 2018 2:22:26 PM | 95

Peter AU
I dont doubt that there is alot of disinformation in this idictment – it sounds like the Steele document – but thats the issue, to
debunk or verify that this or that russian travelled to America and for what reason. If not, the russian claim will live on forever and hurt US- EU – Russia relations.

Posted by: test | Feb 18, 2018 3:08:02 PM | 96

@89 test… one could just as easily ask about all the yanks going to russia as part of ngos, and other such organizations and what there purpose is in russia… so, instead of looking at this as one sided, consider reading the links @63/71 to see just how stupid and trashy this is… as for trash – facebook and twitter get my vote… stupid made in america psyc ops trash that belong in the gutter and they can take the cia/fbi and nsa who are all over it and join them in the gutter too..

Posted by: james | Feb 18, 2018 3:11:11 PM | 97

did mccarthyism hurt russia? no – it just made the usa look more stupid… same deal here..

Posted by: james | Feb 18, 2018 3:12:32 PM | 98

We also know that Trump had real estate ‘dealings’ with Russian oligarchs that likely involve money laundering and/or tax evasion.
Posted by: BRF | Feb 18, 2018 10:56:47 AM | 80
We do?
Where do we “know” that from?
I seem to have missed that completely. Maybe I blinked at the wrong moment.
You seem extraordinary well informed. Care to share, with the rest of us less-well-informed, where you “know” that from?

Posted by: Bobby Mueller | Feb 18, 2018 3:12:36 PM | 99

better call up mueller and get him to lay a charge, lol! they were messing with the usa election!!!
buzzfeed article from november 2016….
“”I started the site for a easy way to make money,” said a 17-year-old who runs a site with four other people. “In Macedonia the economy is very weak and teenagers are not allowed to work, so we need to find creative ways to make some money. I’m a musician but I can’t afford music gear. Here in Macedonia the revenue from a small site is enough to afford many things.”
Most of the posts on these sites are aggregated, or completely plagiarized, from fringe and right-wing sites in the US. The Macedonians see a story elsewhere, write a sensationalized headline, and quickly post it to their site. Then they share it on Facebook to try and generate traffic. The more people who click through from Facebook, the more money they earn from ads on their website.
Earlier in the year, some in Veles experimented with left-leaning or pro–Bernie Sanders content, but nothing performed as well on Facebook as Trump content.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *