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Barack Obama, in the fading days of his tenure as head of the world’s indispensable nation, has, in effect, called into question the legitimacy of America’s bitterly contested elections.
He’s alleging foreign interference by none other than his nemesis, the man who thwarted his „red lines“ in Syria and caught him back footed in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin.
It was a claim also put forward repeatedly and forcefully by his former heir apparent, HRC. „The Woman the World Thought Would Rule,“ Hilary Rodham Clinton, began making the charge once a Trump victory seemed possible.
You don’t have to be a Republican to raise the possibility that Obama’s charges against Moscow are politically motivated.
New Hope for the Restoration
Even after Green candidate Jill Stein’s failed recount, millions of Democrats continue to hope for a deus ex machina to put their choice in the White House. Half the nation, vengeful and sullen after an acrimonious election that handed them a defeat, want a Restoration.
The new charges against Moscow coming from the White House give hope to those who believed a recount could, in the end, nudge Clinton into the Oval Office.
Clinton, after all, did win the popular vote.
There are questions about counting irregularities in some districts.
And some electors to the Electoral College have indicated they may change sides.
Could the sum of these parts, together with the new claims by Obama, keep Donald Trump from claiming the office of the president ?
The possibility is not as outlandish as it sounds.
Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware
Until you closely examine the latest documents and individuals that soon to be Citizen Obama has quoted that call the election into question.
They do not hold up to scrutiny.
The source is Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning bastion of liberal press freedom. There According to Politifact: “Based on the evidence, it seems highly unlikely that actions by the Russian government contributed in any decisive way to Trump’s win over Clinton.” There’s also a word of caution, though. Researchers point out that “policymakers should still be concerned about the possibility that a foreign government might have attempted to meddle in a domestic election.” So the conclusion is, we need more evidence and more openness before we can make a decision.
„A First, a First! My Kingdom for a First! „
Here in Berlin, where we enjoy neither the shield of the 1st Amendment nor the Anglo-American tradition of a fair and free press rooted in the toppling of an empire two centuries ago, „unnamed sources“ are viewed with less suspicion. Not just in Germany, but across the Continent at large, which has lurched from one Empire to the next, an American-style free press remains a distant dream. Let me fill you in on France’s new speech law regarding pro-life sentiment. Unthinkable for Americans.
And so the German press, led by what has been a reliable source for many, the FAZ, gave the front page of ist digital edition this weekend to unnamed sources in Berlin claiming the Russians „could“ influence the German elections in September 2017. The release of this story coincided with the statements from the White House. It was a strong tailwind from the German capital, which is home to a Chancellor Brack Obama has referred to as „my closest friend and ally.“
Here’s the original link in German and one in English. It cites „unnamed sources in the Chancellery, the Interior Ministry, and intelligence community“, They claim Russia is planning „a disinformation campaign“ and possible „cyber attacks on computer infrastructure.“
Timing is Everything
Was the timing of the Berlin announcement coordinated to bolster and corroborate the unnamed sources in the US intelligence community ? The German report certainly gives added weight to the idea that Russia is committed to undermining US elections, and western elections in general.
It’s a question that a vigorous and skeptical press must ask.
And does it not, ironically, amount to the German government or its intelligence arms, stepping in and trying to influence the outcome, if not the aftermath, of the US election ?
Either intentionally, or unintentionally ?
As Obama claims Russia sought to influence the election itself, we find Germany in effect weighing in on the side of Obama and the Democrats in this still very messy affair.
It would have served German interests better for these „unnamed sources“ to have remained silent or to have laid out an iron cast proof for their claims.
Otherwise, they are nothing but rumors seeking to serve one of two parties in what is for them, a foreign affair.
The Stakes are too High
If Obama can prove Russia influenced the vote, or simply call the validity of the vote into question, could that tip the scales in the final weeks before Trump’s inauguration for a second vote ? Could the election even be deemed null and void ? The prospect is daunting and horrific. America would be ripped apart by a second election.
So where is Barack Obama going with his charges ?
The stakes are too high not to name the sources.
Do so Mr.President – or remain silent. The same applies to German intelligence officials.
A free people can not see a smooth transition of power jeopardized by statements that in a court of law would be tossed out as baseless rumors.
And so we must view them.
It’s not a matter of believing the Russians more than our own intelligence services.
It is about demanding a high standard of transparency befitting a country that calls itself „free“.
The Road Ahead : Ari Please Phone Home
Are Obama’s comments paving the way for the smooth transfer of power and an atmosphere of reconciliation?
And as to intelligence reports being used, misused or commissioned to achieve political ends, we have only to recall American journalism’s catastrophic failure in confronting the false claims of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
Years after the error or deception as you see it, then Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleisher, mockingly called American journalists covering the administration’s outrageous claims, „complicit enablers“ of the unjustified war on Iraq. Their shame hangs heavy upon them still.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis paid for that free pass by the press with their lives. The effects of that ignominious conflict are still being felt today in the form of Islamic State and the migration crisis.
Looking at the evidence on hand at the moment, my response is the same as when German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fisher confronted US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld just before the Iraq War. The issue in 2003 as now was CIA intelligence reports. My assessment :
„Excuse me, I am not convinced.“