We’ve Been Hacking Elections For More Than a Century
January 15, 2017 By Stephen Kinzer
“Boston Globe” – Outrage is shaking Washington as members of Congress compete to demonize Russia for its alleged interference in America’s recent presidential election. “Any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has asserted. Russian actions, according to other legislators, are “attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy” that “should alarm every American” because they “cut to the heart of our free society.” This burst of righteous indignation would be easier to swallow if the United States had not itself made a chronic habit of interfering in foreign elections.
One of our first operations to shape the outcome of a foreign election came in Cuba. After the United States helped Cuban rebels overthrow Spanish rule in 1898, we organized a presidential election, recruited a pro-American candidate, and forbade others to run against him. Two years later, after the United States annexed Hawaii, we established an electoral system that denied suffrage to most native Hawaiians, assuring that only pro-American candidates would be elected to public office.
During the Cold War, influencing foreign elections was a top priority for the CIA. One of its first major operations was aimed at assuring that a party we favored won the 1948 election in Italy. This was a multipronged effort that included projects like encouraging Italian-Americans to write letters to their relatives warning that American aid to Italy would end if the wrong party won. Encouraged by its success in Italy, the CIA quickly moved to other countries.
In 1953, the United States found a former Vietnamese official who had lived at Catholic seminaries in the United States, and maneuvered him into the presidency of newly formed South Vietnam. He was supposed to stay on the job for two years until national elections could be held, but when it became clear that he would lose, he canceled the election. “I think we should support him on this,” the US secretary of state said. The CIA then stage-managed a plebiscite on our man’s rule. Campaigning against him was forbidden. A reported 98.2 percent of voters endorsed his rule. The American ambassador called this plebiscite a “resounding success.”
In 1955 the CIA gave $1 million to a pro-American party in Indonesia. Two years later the United States maneuvered a friendly politician into the presidency of Lebanon by financing his supporters’ campaigns for Parliament. “Throughout the elections, I traveled regularly to the presidential palace with a briefcase full of Lebanese pounds,” a CIA officer later wrote. “The president insisted that he handle each transaction by himself.”
Our intervention in Lebanon’s election provoked protests by those who believed that Lebanese voters alone should shape their country’s future. The United States sent troops to Lebanon to suppress that outburst of nationalism. Much the same happened in the Dominican Republic, which we invaded in 1965 after voters chose a president we deemed unacceptable. Our intervention in Chile’s 1964 election was more discreet, carried out by covertly financing favored candidates and paying newspapers and radio stations to skew reporting in ways that would favor them.
Condemning interference in foreign elections is eminently reasonable. The disingenuous howls of anti-Russian rage now echoing through Washington, however, ignore much history.
Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and author of the forthcoming book “The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.” Follow him on Twitter@stephenkinzer.
The Establishment Wants To Remain In Power & They Will Do Anything To Keep It:David Robertson – YouTube
RINO John McCain Caught Red Handed Planting Landmines in Georgia
As Veterans Today Bureau Chief in Georgia Jeffrey Silverman shared with me, “He is really a piece of shit in my book, and very much responsible for the 2008 Georgian Russian war, lots of blood on his hands.
“My main points about McCain are that he has an old cold war mindset and sees Russia as the real enemy of the US … that was why he spoke out against Trump recently, supposedly because of the so-called Russian hacking but in reality because good relations with Russia will cut into his profits from gun running.
“Another thing is his key role in installing the puppet regime in power in Kiev as part of a larger ploy to divvy up what is left of Ukraine and sell it off to the highest bidders. The story comes together, him being in Georgia, with the appointment of Saakashvili as the governor of Odessa, and the key role that this port town plays in the ratline of stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil and weapon transfers”.
If McCain visits Georgia, that well-known regional CIA dirty tricks capital, just at the time when one US President is leaving and another has not been inaugurated – in other words, when there is no one to supervise him – the locals have every reason to be suspicious. The CIA stays while politicians come and go. It will always protect its interests, regardless of what orders it is supposed to be following, and McCain has been the link man in so many dirty operations it is natural that the Georgian end of these operations should turn to him as it attempts to negotiate a new political wind.
Visiting friends who don’t recognise you
The official cover story for the trip is that U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona) and his minions visited the village of Khurvaleti, near the Administrative Boundary Line with the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.
This is the same ethnic region which former Georgian President Saakahvili attacked in August 2008 with cluster bombs aimed at civilians, an action many considered a ploy to help McCain in the US presidential race. The war was used to cover the disappearance of massive quantities of weapons delivered to Georgia for defensive purposes which had actually been sold on to terrorist groups in Turkey and Syria, amongst other places. This had always been the intention of purchasing these weapons, which were supplied under US military aid through companies based in McCain’s Arizona, who are major donors to his campaigns and need friends in the Senate to keep operating this way.
The two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, have been under the protection of Russian forces since the August 2008 war. This persuaded McCain to pose for journalists as he shook hands with a local man standing in Russian-controlled South Ossetia, in the same way he has previously posed for photos with ISIS and Al-Qaeda leaders on similar “diplomatic missions” which have led to him announcing that “we” (whoever that may be) support their cause, with Arizona-made and aid-supplied weapons soon following.
He and two other US Senators visited the Baltic States and Ukraine before Georgia (RFE/RL’s Georgian Service). But are we to believe that this was merely a fraternal gesture?
This interregnum period is the prime time to create problems for Donald Trump before he takes office on January 20. The more Trump sees things going on which he may not like, the more time he will have to devote to stopping them and the less opportunity he will have to do so when other issues arise which have to be given priority. The Senators visited the Russian border states to secure existing operations and also themselves, at least until they can retire with dignity if they find no other way out.
Policy? What policy?
Trump took a lot of positions during his campaign which caused alarm around the world. But he also said that the US should stop getting involved in expensive foreign wars and interventions.
This comment, unlike many others, did not provoke international outrage – no one said “our US allies are going to protect us anymore, we must oppose this”. But it has provoked concern in one predictable quarter – the US military-industrial complex, which remains impervious to the damage done to the US, not to mention other countries, by all these wars, which it largely created to use up the weapons it has obtained funding for, and wants to continue obtaining funding for.
McCain has a track record of being the point man for such destruction-peddling operations. Observers have long noted that US activities in Georgia, which do not all seem to be authorised, are attempts to use its strategic location to spoil relations with Turkey, Russia and Iran (over Syria) and provoke a conflict situation which what could turn into WW3. We also know that McCain met with Al Nusra in Syria on an ongoing basis, a strange action for a man committed by his country and office to fighting terrorism.
But this trip was designed to spoil relations between Russia and the US. The stories about “Russian hacking” of the US election, which now appear to be based purely on government sources who won’t release the information they have, were part of the same campaign – frighten the neighbouring countries into accepting more US assistance to stop Russia, with strings attached, and you have enough interested parties to keep a corrupt scheme going. If Congress starts to object, all these countries can be wheeled in and scream about why Russia needs to be stopped, and no one in the US will dare stand up to such manipulation in public.
Much is involved in these extra-Constitutional US schemes. As one example, we might mention the Kirkuk pipeline in Iraq, allegedly blown up, which has actually been delivering for ISIS, and the oil stolen from Baghdad by the Kurds. These deals use the same people, the same banking, the same buyers and the same ships, whoever is in the White House and whatever the official policy may be.
Talking to yourself
During their visit to Georgia the three Senators, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, Lindsey Graham (Republican – South Carolina) and Amy Klobuchar (Democrat – Minnesota) held talks with the country’s leadership and opposition representatives, who were mostly members of the former Saakashvili government.
These meetings are customary but formed an important part of the Senators’ visit. Some of the UNM people they spoke to, such as Davit Bakradze and Giga Bokeria, represent the more sensible elements of the party. But they are now enemies in the eyes of Saakashvili, whose remaining slaves continue to spout everything he tells them to. As Mischa won’t give up the party chairmanship despite not even being in the country, his party is on the verge of splitting in two, with each faction trying to obtain all the UNM’s ill-gotten assets, name and affiliation with various Euroloons such as the European People’s Party for themselves.
The present Georgian government still accommodates the US more than is decent or beneficial, as we see with its kicking of the Zhvania investigation into the long grass and its refusal to admit that the Tbilisi biolab is just that, and not a peaceful scientific institute. It has however tried to address the worst of the US abuses. With Saakashvili now an embarrassment to all, the US may still be able to bring back its old stooges if the man himself can be got rid of. As the US has propped up and then kicked out every other Georgian government, it makes a lot of sense to conduct a fact-finding mission with this purpose.
An article in The Guardian reveals another aspect of the mission.The title says enough: John McCain in Georgia: US ‘must stand up to Vladimir Putin’. McCain is apparently telling his own government what to do, when it is refusing to pass immediate judgment on whether action needs to be taken over the supposed Russian hacking. This is not a fraternal gesture but an aggressive one, designed to enlist those friends to support the schemes promoted by the Senators before a new Administration, which may not be able to tolerate them, is able to do anything about it.
Both McCain and Lindsey Graham are still committed to Cold War rhetoric about standing up to Russia, and trying to keep the rest of the world stuck in the days when that actually meant something. Graham told the Georgian media that the Senators hoped to make 2017 the year of offence: “We [believe] that Putin has hacked into our elections in America, that he is trying to undermine democracy all over the world, and it is time for new sanctions to hit him hard as an individual, his energy sector, his banking sector. It is time to push back against Putin, but be a better friend to our allies over here including Georgia – to be more helpful,” he said.
So the Senators argue that a leopard can’t change its spots. Are we therefore to accept that they have changed theirs? If the US wanted to help Georgia and its other allies it would introduce and support the values Americans profess to hold most dear – democracy, rule of law and human rights. They have always done exactly the opposite in Georgia and many other countries, but having been found out still hope that rhetoric will triumph over hypocrisy, as people allowed it to do for so long due to their genuine longing for those very same values and whoever else said they wanted them.
Both these Senators have personal track records of using Georgia and Georgians in Ukraine as part of their agenda; these links are well established. We know the Georgian links with Bel Trading and Consulting and KNM World Services based at 3917 40th Street Ocala, FL 34480. Bel is whence many of the weapons for the “misunderstood freedom fighters” in Syria come from, via documents bearing the same signatures as other shipments investigated years ago – the Georgian Minister of Defence and his Deputy, Mamuka Muriri and Almendieiev Arkadii (Bel Trading and Consulting). Some of this can be found on US Embassy Cable 09STATE79547.
The Senators’ allegiance to the System Behind The System, not the people they are supposed to represent, may be more personally beneficial to them than furthering policy, as they are obliged to do when representing their country officially, as they did on this trip. But the actions these extra-Constitutional interventions provoke elsewhere, by other actors, are also beyond oversight even by the US president, who can no longer say, as Harry Truman famously did, that “The Buck Stops Here”. None of this should be tolerated in elected officials of the United States, of all places – and if Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”, here is exactly where he should start.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.