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Chomsky On Russia "Hacking" 2016 U.S. Elections

this is an excerpt of part of the transcript from Noam Chomsky's 27 July 2018 appearance on DemocracyNow! —

Amy Goodman's interview with Chomsky was broken in to four parts. The excerpt below is from 'Part 4: Noam Chomsky on Mass Media Obsession with Russia & the Stories Not Being Covered in the Trump Era'.

NOAM CHOMSKY: So, take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that's almost a joke. First of all, if you're interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president's policies—what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015. Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to—calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the president? And that's just a tiny bit of this overwhelming influence. So if you happen to be interested in influence of—foreign influence on elections, there are places to look. But even that is a joke.

I mean, one of the most elementary principles of a functioning democracy is that elected representatives should be responsive to those who elected them. There's nothing more elementary than that. But we know very well that that is simply not the case in the United States. There's ample literature in mainstream academic political science simply comparing voters' attitudes with the policies pursued by their representatives, and it shows that for a large majority of the population, they're basically disenfranchised. Their own representatives pay no attention to their voices. They listen to the voices of the famous 1 percent—the rich and the powerful, the corporate sector. The elections—Tom Ferguson's stellar work has demonstrated, very conclusively, that for a long period, way back, U.S. elections have been pretty much bought. You can predict the outcome of a presidential or congressional election with remarkable precision by simply looking at campaign spending. That's only one part of it. Lobbyists practically write legislation in congressional offices. In massive ways, the concentrated private capital, corporate sector, super wealth, intervene in our elections, massively, overwhelmingly, to the extent that the most elementary principles of democracy are undermined. Now, of course, all that is technically legal, but that tells you something about the way the society functions. So, if you're concerned with our elections and how they operate and how they relate to what would happen in a democratic society, taking a look at Russian hacking is absolutely the wrong place to look. Well, you see occasionally some attention to these matters in the media, but very minor as compared with the extremely marginal question of Russian hacking.

homepage: homepage: http://www.democracynow.org/2018/7/27/noam_chomsky_on_mass_media_obsession

(same ^transcript, continued) Chomsky on U.S.–Russia relations 03.Aug.2018 12:05


NOAM CHOMSKY: And I think we find this on issue after issue, also on issues on which what Trump says, for whatever reason, is not unreasonable. So, he's perfectly right when he says we should have better relations with Russia. Being dragged through the mud for that is outlandish, makes—Russia shouldn't refuse to deal with the United States because the U.S. carried out the worst crime of the century in the invasion of Iraq, much worse than anything Russia has done. But they shouldn't refuse to deal with us for that reason, and we shouldn't refuse to deal with them for whatever infractions they may have carried out, which certainly exist. This is just absurd. We have to move towards better—right at the Russian border, there are very extreme tensions, that could blow up anytime and lead to what would in fact be a terminal nuclear war, terminal for the species and life on Earth. We're very close to that. Now, we could ask why. First of all, we should do things to ameliorate it. Secondly, we should ask why. Well, it's because NATO expanded after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in violation of verbal promises to Mikhail Gorbachev, mostly under Clinton, partly under first Bush, then Clinton expanded right to the Russian border, expanded further under Obama. The U.S. has offered to bring Ukraine into NATO. That's the kind of a heartland of Russian geostrategic concerns. So, yes, there's tensions at the Russian border—and not, notice, at the Mexican border. Well, those are all issues that should be of primary concern. The fate of—the fate of organized human society, even of the survival of the species, depends on this. How much attention is given to these things as compared with, you know, whether Trump lied about something? I think those seem to me the fundamental criticisms of the media.

lazy 03.Aug.2018 12:20


Nice to see even Chomsky isn't immune to whataboutism

Chomsky Is An Idiot 04.Aug.2018 08:02


Chomsky has single-handedly ruined at least 50% of science, especially computer science, with his insane theories. Never go full Chomsky. And as everybody should know by now, Amy Goodman is CIA. Let's look at the reality: "Russian election hacking" is a pseudomeme.

What is a "pseudomeme", you may ask? It's a meme that implies something ominous without ever actually saying it, because it's insane. In this instance the "Russian election hacking" implies that the evil Russians have actually hacked Americas absurdly vulnerable voting computers. Which of course I have been screaming against for many years. But while it directly implies this (cf. "computer hacking"), it cannot explicitly state it, since that would imply that "our" voting computers are vulnerable (duh). So what does this pseudomeme directly "say"?

Well, it directly states (via the CIA Media/CIAM) that the Captive American Stupids (CAS's) were in some dark manner manipulated ("hornswoggled") into voting against their own best interests by the evil Russians. This actual notion, of course, is direly insulting to the CAS's themselves, as it implies that they can be socially engineered by dark forces on the other side of the planet. So it certainly can't really mean that. So it must imply that the computers were "hacked". But of course it can't really mean that either. But since we are talking about Captive American Stupids, it must somehow mean both things.

hey 'blues' can you ever comment on the actual topic? 04.Aug.2018 11:45


( I mean I get it.... You think Goodman is CIA — check. Never go full Chomsky — check. And although I disagree with you, I can see what you are saying with both, there )

This topic, and Chomsky's remarks, are about the "Russia hacked 2016 U.S. election" hysteria propogated by U.S. corporate mass media, the Clintons, and the DNC. Which is technically wrong (the DNC leak occurred from within not from external 'hacks'), and also more broadly irrelevant (no amount of 'hacking' could have changed the vote outcome of Clinton-v-Trump on November 9th).

Yes 'Captive American Stupids'. Got it, 'blues' — we understand your hysterics (communicated in 'blues'-speak). What about Chomsky's remarks on overall U.S.-Russia relations?

dnc leak 04.Aug.2018 13:44


Where is the info coming from that the leak was internal? I haven't seen that.

Where is the info coming from that the DNC was hacked via external actor? 04.Aug.2018 14:56


I haven't seen that.

Where is the info coming from that votes in the 2016 U.S. presidential election where electronically altered, by external-actor "hackers"?

I haven't seen that.

DNC 04.Aug.2018 15:38


The info regarding the DNC being impacted by external actors was covered in the recent GRU indictments. I haven't seen anything to suggest any internal leaks, though, so it is quite likely that this is the source of the info that was later disseminated.

I also haven't seen anything about vote totals being altered. That is a different story entirely.

Clyde, are you illiterate / don't comprehend English language? 04.Aug.2018 15:58


There is ZERO evidence that 1) Russian online 'hackers' 2) Russian human-being 'spies' influenced the outcome of votes on 9 November 2016 in the United States.
[ **NO**, a 'Facebook-storm' of spampostings about Hillary does not constitute "Influencing The Election". And of course it did not.]

There is not enough substantial evidence yet available. to prove exactly how the DNC emails were brought to public view by WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange has repeatedly insisted, and his statement is backed up by others with knowledge and experience of US diplomatic communication channels, that the DNC emails were **DIRECTLY PROVIDED** in computer file form — not transmitted or 'hacked' over a network — to WikiLeaks for use in their release.

No, the emails were not "hacked" by Russians online. Someone within the DNC provided those as a direct download onto a portable drive and handed them over to WL.

What remains to be seen is precisely what the evidence is for, and identity of who was involved in, the transfer of computer files directly to WikiLeaks (who will not reveal their source on basis of journalistic confidentiality).

But as ^Chomsky and many others have pointed out, the 'Russia' hysterics are irrelevant. 'Russia' and/or 'Russians' did not "influence" the United States 2016 presidential election processes or outcome.

(as to any 2016 "hacking" which supposedly occurred, occurs all the time in every election cycle and can obviously be given no more weight or significance than any other form of online disinformation which, as we know from only the U.S. corporate mass media alone, occurs enough within our very own borders.)

We're talking about 'Russia Russia' here, Clyde — the 'Russia Russia' that has spurred a now two-year-long Federal "investigation" into supposed "collusion" of the Trump campaign with agents of another country. Which, as it turns out, has merely revealed a great deal about the *opposition* party and its candidate maneuvering, paying money and plotting to sabotage the Trump campaign via Russian (and U.K. intelligence) operatives. Because, for the existing Obama administration DoJ / FBI officials involved none of this was supposed to have been picked apart in such detail to begin with:

Hillary was _supposed_ to have won the 2016 election.

I don't think so 04.Aug.2018 16:19


I don't know what your tech background is, but mine is decent, and while I don't work in infosec, I work in an "adjacent" industry with a lot of contacts in security. I have a pretty good grasp of most security concepts, in theory and in practice. The indictments give a pretty good rundown of how the compromise took place, how it was maintained, and that remains the most plausible explanation of the origin of the compromised info. How it was eventually transmitted to Wikileaks is a different matter, but I trust Assange's word about as much as I trust Trump. He has no incentive to be honest about the sources of the info he eventually ends up leaking. So the claim that there isn't enough substantial info about the source doesn't hold up in my opinion. The info in the indictments is pretty substantial.

If you are interested in more technical analysis of the malware that was involved in at least part of the DNC intrusion, you can read some more in-depth reporting on that here:


The crowdstrike analysis is particularly good and their reputation in the industry is very good.

Any discussion of actual vote totals being modified is completely unfounded as of this point. While it has been demonstrated that electronic voting machines are vulnerable to compromise, I don't know of any digital forensic work that shows such a thing took place, yet.

"I trust Assange's word about as much as I trust Trump" 04.Aug.2018 16:35


I have already extensively studied (via the links above and others) the forensics of the DNC emails over the past 2 years. Have you studied the electronic forensics of all of the Terabytes of other, non-DNC information which WikiLeaks has provided to the public over the past decade? That vast quantity of data and information must also be taken in context. Anyway WikiLeaks discusses this in detail and also provides all of the files for you to download and analyze yourself so, there is no point rehashing any of that here.

No amount of "trust" matters. What matters is that the journalistic entity which released the DNC emails has officially stated, that the DNC data was provided to them directly.

Also, the method by which the email content was released is immaterial, because the result of them being released for public view was that the DNC fired their top official at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign upon nomination of the Democrat candidate.

That is, in the end, all that matters about the DNC emails: their actual content. And that a journalistic entity (WikiLeaks) provided them to the public. For consideration and analysis. Which shows, that the Democratic Party is absolutely corrupt at the highest level.

RE: corruption in the GOP / RNC: We know, documented fact that many top Republicans spent millions of dollars to prevent nomination of Donald Trump as the presidential candidate, even after millions had been spent during the primaries (early 2016) to sabotage Trump's campaign. Much of this effort and monetary funding to sabotage Trump's campaign came not only from top Republicans, but also from corporate sources and top Democrats and Hillary supporters.

After Trump became the official nominee, then all effort at sabotaging Trump became focused at the national U.S. corporate mass media level; the rumored "secret tapes" from old outtake episodes of his television program 'The Apprentice' never surfaced. In the end, none of the tens of millions of dollars in deliberate sabotage operations towards the Trump presidential campaign worked, either during the primaries early in 2016, or later into the fall after the conventions were already over.

"Russian hacking"? Moot. who the ***K cares.

p.s. Clyde — 04.Aug.2018 16:45


I know this is going to be tough for you, son.

Just to give you a heads up. All of the cool-sounding "Russia" intrigue stuff: "collusion" , "meddling" , "hacking" , "intrusion" "cyberattacks" .....

that is all going to end up as a Nothingburger.

try reading this  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2018/07/436420.shtml for starters.

Yep it's tough. Painful. I know, man. You gotta buck up though. Trump *hasn't* been a Russian agent since 1987.  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2018/07/436412.shtml

You've simply got to face the reality. In a couple years this will all be behind us, and you'll be Ok again. But for now you just gotta deal with it.

Ok little buddy?

I'm ok with that 04.Aug.2018 16:55


I'm not particularly attached to the idea, aside from addressing parts that don't make sense or are based on erroneous assumptions (like the info coming from a DNC insider when there is a much more likely explanation).

That, and the fact that I enjoy the technical side of security matters. But I'd say the impact of nation-state backed intrusion into a political party to undermine its chances is pretty much the opposite of a nothingburger.

We'll see about the nothingburger I guess. The excitement is in the wait you know? Doesn't really impact me one way or the other.