The myth that became Russiagate was seven years in the making. In this article we examine just how far back the real conspiracy stretches.
A Lie Too Big To Fail
The public has been led to believe that the 2016 election and the resulting Mueller Report is the definitive evidence that WikiLeaks was somehow in cahoots with Russia, reinforcing the premise that they were in a political alliance with, or favoured, Donald Trump and his Presidential election campaign.
Prominent Russiagate-skeptics have long pointed out the multitude of gaping holes inherent in those theories, including the advocacy group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) who have produced credible forensic work analysing the 2016 WikiLeaks releases, that resoundingly debunks officials claims.
In the course of researching this article, I stumbled across a major discovery that augments that: the false notion of WikiLeaks being a front for Russian intelligence isn’t new – it has been pushed by media since 2009.
It turns out the circulation of the WikiLeaks-Russia myth was a tried and true diversionary, smear tactic that was simply regurgitated in 2016.
Julian Assange believed that UK intelligence agencies were behind the pushing of that narrative, and he was publicly stating so at the end of last decade.
He wouldn’t make such claims lightly, and other emerging facts support his suspicion.
A Walk Down History Lane
Julian’s old stomping ground, the Chaos Communications Club in Germany, holds annual hacker conferences in late December, at which Julian had made several consecutive years of rousing appearances. You can see his 2008 appearance here. You can see his 2009 appearance here.
By December 2010, only the (fired) WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg appeared, ostensibly to promote IMMI, the Icelandic media initiative on which WikiLeaks had collaborated with then-Icelandic Pirate Party’s Birgitta Jonsdottir and others. However he used his appearance to make blithe disparagements of Julian, pushing the message that support for WikiLeaks and support for Julian shouldn’t be one and the same thing, and to promote his own WikiLeaks-competitor initiative OpenLeaks, (which spectacularly imploded, failing to ever get off the ground).
One of the most interesting pieces of viewing I stumbled across, was a short clip from the Q+A at the end of Julian’s 2009 CCC appearance. In it, he was asked about the WikiLeaks releases that spiralled into the famous UK scandal known as Climategate. His answer stunned me, and made concrete something I’ve known for years, but which is the opposite of the narrative advanced about WikiLeaks in media.
Russiagate started in 2009 and was cooked up by the same malignant intelligence agencies whose activities Julian has consistently exposed.
Trump, Climate Change and Russia Russia Russia
WikiLeaks’ November 21, 2009 release of the Climatic Research Unit’s emails, data and models, sourced from a database leaked on the internet containing a major UK university climate research project dating back to 1996, caused a huge stir.
Initial reporting on its contents contained claims of scientists manipulating research findings and methodologies, conspiring together to alter conclusions and generally behaving unethically.
While disputed by the scientists involved, who said their communications were being taken out of context, and by the findings of myriad official investigations into the matter, the release was largely viewed by the climate change skeptic community as validating their skepticism and their own existence. By critics, WikiLeaks was depicted as having taken an anti-climate change position by publishing the cache at all.
This is the earliest case in which I’m aware of the fact of WikiLeaks having published leaked documents, being extrapolated by observers into the assumption that WikiLeaks was taking a political position on one side or the other, of an issue.
In an attempt to quell what was becoming a global uproar, corporate media around the world, led by UK media, turned ClimateGate into an opportunity to advance their own geopolitical interests: in chorus, they depicted the WikiLeaks release as being both perpetrated by, and for the benefit of, Russia.
“The UK papers, which have close involvement with British intelligence – lots of journalists have come out and said that they have secret briefings from British intelligence and that they do each other favours etcetera etcetera – said that we received this stuff from the FSB. Just 3 days before the Copenhagen conference they said this – so my opinion is that probably, not certainly, maybe the papers did it by themselves, but probably UK intelligence tried to frame us as being a conduit for the FSB because they didn’t like the truth of what was in those emails.” – Julian Assange, 2009 [emphasis added]
The only ‘evidence’ cited by UK media to support the Russia-did-it theory was that the files had been uploaded to a Russian server in the city of Tomsk.
An academic paper by Dr Athina Karatgozianni for the University of Hull, UK entitled “Blame It On The Russians: tracking the portrayal of Russian hackers during cyber conflict incidents” is worth quoting from at length. It states:
“Russian hackers were blamed by dozens of outlets for the Climategate hack, because that was consistent with global media coverage of cyber crime incidents which portrayed Russians as highly powerful hackers responsible for many hacking incidents. This narrative also was congruent with the new Cold War rhetoric that consistently takes issue with Russia acting on its geopolitical interests… [Climategate] was consistently attributed to Russia by the global media. This attribution be- came particularly clear after several key figures, such as Professor Jean-Pascal Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, supported the Russian hackers scenario. Here are some typical examples of the narratives that followed: ‘Russian hackers illegally obtained 10 years of e-mails between the world’s top climate change scientists’ (Kolasinski 4 December 2009); ‘The British media and some U.N. scientists have suggested that the Russian secret service, the FSB, was complicit in the theft’ (Snapple 7 Janu- ary 2010); ‘The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services’ (Walker 7 December 2009); ‘Russia, a major oil exporter, may be trying to undermine calls to reduce carbon emissions’ (Telegraph 6 December 2009); ‘This is not the first time Russian hackers have created global Internet disarray’ (MacNicol 7 December 2009); ‘Russian computer hackers are suspected of being behind the stolen e-mails’ (McCarthy and Owen 6 December 2009). A typical coverage in the Times by Tony Halpin sums all the reasons why Russian hackers and Russia were immediately implicated: Russia’s desire to discredit the summit, poor talented but unemployed hackers, the RBN and the use of patriotic hackers by the FSB. All these were connected together, fitting the overall move to blame Russian hackers – a move already built up by the global media (Halpin 7 December 2009).” – Dr Athina Karatgozianni
According to Dr Karatgozianni, “In fact, the files were originally uploaded in Turkish and Saudi Arabian servers before Tomsk.”
Sure enough, Saudi Arabia came down on the side of the climate change skeptics, in the debate over the release, raising it as an issue at the Copenhagen climate science summit days after the publishing. Yet their interests often escaped the notice of UK and global media’s reporting on the issue. As far as media were concerned, it was Russia’s fault, and WikiLeaks had been used as the tool by which to advance Russian interests.
Dr Karatgozianni argues that the Tomsk server upload was not evidence of Russian involvement at all. In her paper, she writes:
“Since hackers used open proxies to mask their identities, they could have originated from anywhere in the world. And if Russian hackers where indeed involved, leaving the files at Tomsk would be too obvious… Even if there are indeed individuals from Russia or elsewhere in the post-Soviet space who are engaged in cyber crime, the assumption of Russian guilt in all cases reinforces the older Cold War portrayal of Russians in the Western world… There is a demonstrated tendency for the global media to look for a Russian hand and geopolitical implications in stories relating to former Soviet countries or countries under Soviet influence in the past.”
The obviousness of the ruse is reminiscent of my own debunking of the 2018 Dutch-Russia hacking scandal. I mercilessly dissected a mainstream story about American intelligence officials who had invoked the supposed existence of security operations by their counterparts from the Netherlands in order to claim slam-dunk evidence of Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC in the lead-up to the 2016 election.
The claims laundered by media were utterly preposterous – that the hacking of the DNC had occurred in a Moscow University building next door to the Kremlin; that the hackers had coordinated via cellphone text messages; that they had been filmed on security cameras. Proponents of the hoax (unnamed, anonymous intelligence officials cited in Western corporate media reporting) claimed to be in possession of pictures and video footage of the hacking – yet none of this evidence was ever released to the public.
My article went viral in the Netherlands and across Europe, outperforming mainstream media articles, drawing the attention of the ‘Alliance for Securing Democracy’ aka Hamilton68 (a Western intelligence-backed think tank). Predictably, they blamed the popularity of my article on ‘Russian trolls’.
Because blaming Russia appears to be the extent of their creativity, when their psyops are blown, and despite the best efforts of their censors, the public is accessing the truth.
My reporting was heavily contextualised by findings made from the Snowden files. It turns out that the Snowden files are also instructive regarding the issues of intelligence agencies’ monitoring of officials involved in climate change diplomacy and negotiations.
Including the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
Climate Change-focused news and opinion websites (yes, there is a bunch of them) such as the above, picked up straight away on the significance of the spying.
“Documents from whistleblower reveal extensive intelligence operation at 2009 COP15 meeting in Danish capital” read Climate Change News. Reporter Ed King quoted Meena Raman, “a negotiations expert from the Malaysian based Third World Network“: ““The UN climate talks are supposed to be about building trust – that’s been under threat for years because of the US’s backward position on climate action,” she said.”
As is so often the case with spying, it wasn’t just passive electronic surveillance – it included the use of human intelligence spies. The article references documents from WikiLeaks’ 2010 CableGate release:
“A few diplomats have told RTCC they believed most rooms at the 2010 Tianjin talks in China were bugged. Another talked of ‘honey traps’ laid for influential envoys, with one delegate reportedly losing their official phone as a consequence. The Snowden documents are not the first to identify UN climate summits as a bed of intrigue and dirty tricks. In 2010 US diplomatic cables released by the Wikileaks site detailed how the US launched a secret diplomatic offensive to ensure the Copenhagen Accord was agreed. This included financial assistance to developing countries in return for support, as well as threats to those who were pushing for a stronger and more comprehensive agreement.”
Honey pots. For climate scientists and tariff negotiators. Takes the shine off the whole James Bond image doesn’t it.
But back in 2009, other factions ostensibly of the climate change debate community, but less favourable to WikiLeaks, were putting their two cents in.
Their version of events can be summarised as follows:
- That WikiLeaks release wasn’t an exclusive, as the documents had already been available on the web for 4 days prior
- That WikiLeaks downplayed the UK media Russia-Russia-Russia plot: “there was brief interest by the UK tabloids in the Russian angle, and an article appeared in the Daily Mail speculating that Russian intelligence officials had hacked the UEA and stolen the emails. But nobody took that line seriously and the story died within 48 hours.”
- WikiLeaks had political motivations: “They evidently like leaks that embarrass their political opponents, but in this case they found themselves tagged with a leak that had damaged the side they like; and since it seems to be more about political warfare against governments they dislike than some impartial ideal of transparency and freedom of information, they were stuck scrambling to make up a story about how it really served some nobler purpose.”
WikiLeaks had never claimed the Climategate files were an exclusive (nor were they packaged on its website as an exclusive release, as their exclusives are) and that the files had been available on the web prior was widely reflected in Climategate reporting.
As for it being politically motivated by being on one side or the other – a claim that is consistently and baselessly made against WikiLeaks – well the proof is in the pudding isn’t it.
Well, Well, Well, What Do We Have Here
Examining what WikiLeaks does is so much more telling than examining what people say that it does.
Five days after the inauguration of President Trump, guess what WikiLeaks was doing?
Soliciting leaks of data from the Trump administration, in an attempt to preserve endangered information about climate change.
This act was a strong indication that far from sucking up to the Trump administration, WikiLeaks was already agitating it. It also lays waste to those who ten years earlier, had been trying to posture WikiLeaks as being in the climate change-denier camp, publishing documents with an agenda to bolster that narrative.
In fact, what WikiLeaks was doing in 2009 was preserving documents it deemed to be important to the public record. In 2017, it was likewise trying to procure and preserve documents it believed were important for the public record. Even though the document sets were on opposing sides of the same debate.
WikiLeaks’ ClimateGate publication wasn’t about politics: it was about providing a digital safe haven to documents of historical importance.
Outlets recently hostile to WikiLeaks, such as Mother Jones, inadvertently printed some truth:
“[WikiLeaks] founder, Julian Assange, told PBS [in 2009] that the university had been trying “to suppress information from the Freedom of Information Act.”
Unfortunately, the rest of that Mother Jones article tries to paint the ClimateGate publication as being a precursor to Russiagate, but for the wrong reasons. It quotes a former NSA analyst: “If you were a Russian operative [and] pitching influence ops for the DNC, and somebody’s like, ‘Eh, I don’t know about that,’ literally you just turn around and go, ‘Look at how well it worked [with Climategate],’” says Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert and former analyst at the National Security Agency. “I wouldn’t necessarily say one influenced the other, but certainly it’s good proof that that’s a technique that works.”
It then goes on to repeat an oft-made claim that WikiLeaks had tailored its publication schedule of the Podesta emails, to run interference for bad publicity faced by the Trump campaign: “And when the Trump campaign was thrown into chaos after the Washington Post unearthed a 2005 video of Trump boasting about grabbing women “by the pussy,” WikiLeaks began publishing the Podesta emails less than an hour later. WikiLeaks then rolled out new batches of emails on a near-daily basis in the month leading up to the election. Once again, the timing was clearly designed for maximum impact.”
Yet we know from WikiLeaks’ media partner, Stefania Maurizi, that the WikiLeaks team’s internal notification of the pending Podesta publication was made prior to the emergence of the infamous Access Hollywood tape.
The timing wasn’t a scheme to help Trump at all; it was coincidental.
Maurizi writes: “Many media outlets continue to report that the Podesta emails were released only minutes after the Access Hollywood video aired, hinting at some sort of coordination between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign… As I worked on the Podesta emails, I do know that their publication was not a last-second decision. I had been alerted the day before, and their staggered release was a choice WikiLeaks made after the organization was harshly criticized by mainstream media for publishing the DNC documents all at once. This time the emails would trickle out to make them easier for the public to digest. But that was criticized too by the U.S. media and the Democrats as an attempt to leave Clinton bleeding a few weeks before the elections.”
The Truth Is One Keyword Search Away
Lies depend on laziness in order to thrive. Think of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of posts written about WikiLeaks, Trump and Russia since 2016. How many of them told you that WikiLeaks had published 14,531 documents about Donald Trump? Or told you that WikiLeaks have published 660,179 documents about Russia? Not many, if any. Instead you were told “WikiLeaks never published anything about Trump! WikiLeaks never publishes anything about Russia!”
Members of the public are only one keyword search away on wikileaks.org from finding the truth for themselves: that not only have they been actively deceived, but they’ve been deceived by journalists who didn’t bother to do even the most rudimentary fact-checking on their own claims.
What people often forget in all the Russiagate reporting, is that the DNC leaks contained all the opposition research on Trump. That included mountains of information detrimental to his campaign. Far from being spared – he was actually quite exposed by the releases – it’s just that too few, especially mainstream reporters, cared to look.
Thanks to WikiLeaks, I was able to study Trump’s SuperPAC donors in 2016 – his campaign donations were included in the publications. Thanks to WikiLeaks, I know that ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi rented land in NYC from Donald Trump. I also know from WikiLeaks #GIFiles release that Trump University had a Stratfor Global Intelligence account and was advertising through their private intelligence list.
That’s just a few of the tasty morsels in WikiLeaks files about Donald Trump, and I’ve previously written extensively about the damning information on Russia contained within WikiLeaks publications. WikiLeaks repeatedly cited my work on the topic, so did other great journalists like Caitlin Johnstone, but it has been completely ignored by the mainstream. Why?
Because they don’t actually want to investigate Russia. Russia is just a scapegoat. They don’t actually want to investigate Trump either. He is just a means of distraction, a spectacle – by which they divide and conquer the American public, and increasingly the global public.
Their real agenda has been to smear WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, the only publication to meaningfully challenge the supremacy of the intelligence agencies. The powers that be see not Trump, or Russia, but WikiLeaks as their real enemy, and their ultimate target.
Because it is the education of the public and the public’s access to true, verified, unvarnished information about the misdeeds and criminal enterprises of the powerful, that scares the elite more than any 8-year Presidential term or foreign adversary, ever will.
Getting Back To The Roots
“All Russiagate Roads Lead Back To London As Evidence Emerges Of Joseph Mifsud’s Links To UK Intelligence” wrote Elizabeth Lea Vos in a groundbreaking April 2018 scoop that exposed more wholly the involvement of UK intelligence operatives in Russiagate.
“Did the entire narrative originate with UK intelligence groups in an effort to create the appearance of Russian collusion with the Trump Presidential campaign, much as the Guccifer 2.0 persona was used in the US to discredit WikiLeaks’ publication of the DNC emails?” Vos asked, going on to lay out a multitude of reasons why that appears to be the case.
But it was one line in her reporting that really made my jaw drop. One compelling line, that ties Russiagate to Climategate, and the agenda to depict WikiLeaks as being a Russian front, spanning 2009 to 2016.
Because if Assange was correct as he is wont to be, that UK intelligence was behind the 2009 frame-up of Russia for Climategate, and if Vos is correct as she is now widely accepted to be, that UK intelligence was behind the frame-up of Russia in 2016, there is one name that connects both those events.
Guess who was head of the Russia desk for MI6, the United Kingdom’s foreign intelligence service, in 2009?
It was Christopher Steele.
To Be Continued…
There will be one more part to this article. In the third, I’m going to talk about the movement to free Julian past, present and future, and provide my very own survival guide for activists and organisers jumping into the fray on this; the most important emancipation movement of our generation.
At the end of the first part of this series, I disclosed what appeared to have been an effort to interfere with my journalism. After the article was published, I was again approached. I was told that their pre-publication regurgitation of whole lines in my article was sourced from “my document” – a PDF – and suggested that it was leaked by someone from WL. Except no such PDF existed. I hadn’t saved my article in a document. And I have since confirmed that no, it wasn’t leaked by someone from WL. This entire week I have been subjected to continued technical interference which seemed to be aimed at slowing me down in the release of this second part of my series. No amount of sabotage is going to stop me publishing. Just as I stated previously, no matter what is thrown at me, I will continue to speak and I will continue to write.
Written by Suzie Dawson
Official Website: Suzi3d.com
Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via donation. To support the incredible work that WikiLeaks does please donate to WikiLeaks here. To contribute to Julian Assange’s legal defence fund click here. Or donate to help the Courage Foundation save the lives of whistleblowers. Thank you!