Just over a month ago, we expressed amazement at just how sophisticated, efficient and pervasive the 'Russian hacking' community had become after CNN reported - citing unnamed government officials of course - that they had managed to hack into a Qatari News Agency and post a 'fake' news story all in an attempt to drive a wedge between the U.S., Qatar and some of it's Gulf Arab neighbors, one which culminated - at least according to the CNN narrative - with the Qatari crisis in which an alliance of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia isolated and blockaded the nat gas rich nation.
The CNN headline made it quite clear: ignore the Arab conflict and please focus on the only thing that matters these days: Russia. Just in case it is somehow lost, we will have it here for posterity.
Think about that for a minute: set aside the logistics of the actual hacking event itself and consider just how good the Russians had to be to know exactly what news story needed to be planted inside the Qatari news agency to provoke an immediate severing of diplomatic ties by numerous Arab neighboring states: it truly was amazing how it all played out exactly the way the Russians planned. The conclusion: those wily 'Russian hackers' are certainly not a bunch of amateurs, would come in useful as the Russian hacking narrative just refused to go away.
And while that may sound like a joke, at least to CNN it wasn't. Here are the details, as they were previously reported by CNN:
The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.
Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region.
The alleged involvement of Russian hackers intensifies concerns by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia continues to try some of the same cyber-hacking measures on US allies that intelligence agencies believe it used to meddle in the 2016 elections.
The Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.
As it turns out, it's somewhat ironic that CNN accused Russia of spreading "fake news stories" that "have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries" because, as CNN's ideological twins over at the WaPo blasted moments ago, it wasn't Russia at all (now that the hacking narrative has found a renewed vigor in the US, courtesy of the leaked Trump Jr. emails) but - wait for it - the UAE, i.e. not Russia. Compare the CNN headline above from June 6 with what the WaPo has just published:
Here is the "latest" official narrative, at least according to the "U.S. intelligence and other officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter" quoted by WaPo, who may or may not be the same ones who planted the original fake news at CNN:
The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.
But... wait: didn't US intelligence agencies just one month ago say it was all Russia's fault? Looks like it took just one month for the CIA to change its mind. We wonder if and when it will the same to its "conclusion" confirmed by 17 4 intelligence agencies that Russia also hacked the DNC and John Podesta (although we won't be holding our breath for that particular narrative shift). Back to the WaPo:
The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified. Citing the emir’s reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media. They then broke relations with Qatar and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott, sending the region into a political and diplomatic tailspin that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned could undermine U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State.
Then again, this may be just another fishing expedition (or better yet, clickbait) by the WaPo. Naturally, the Emirates denied everything:
In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post story was “false.” “The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” the statement said. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”
Maybe he meant to say Saudi Arabia, but there's just too many fake news in one place at this point to even keep track. Meanwhile, according to the WaPo even more subsequent hacks provided the detail needed to get to the bottom of the original hack:
The revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington thinkers and policymakers to its side on the issues at the center of its dispute with Qatar.
This confirms what we reported last month, when we said that Qatar - which has repeatedly charged that its sites were hacked, but has yet to release the results of its own investigation - accused the Arab states behind the embargo for also being behind the hack. Today's WaPo report appears to confirm this:
Intelligence officials said their working theory since the Qatar hacks has been that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, or some combination of those countries were involved. It remains unclear whether the others also participated in the plan.
Meanwhile, nobody is willing to say anything on the record, of course: "The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, as did the CIA. The FBI, which Qatar has said was helping in its investigation, also declined to comment." Which is understandable: they are all busy going through any and all Trump emails intercepted by the NSA, looking for a smoking gun.
CNN's fake news aside, what the WaPo report confirms, assuming it is accurate of course, is that the Arab states engaged in a "false flag" operation against Qatar, to provide them the justification for escalating the confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to its current crisis level, and potentially beyond: to war, considering Rex Tillerson's attempts to mediate a resolution in his "shuttle diplomacy" tour in the Gulf over the past week proved to be a disaster.
That said, authenticity of the latest WaPo "report" is itself suspect. We look forward to another denial in several months which confirms what most likely actually happened: the NSA and CIA were those responsible for the Qatar "hacking", an event which has launched a destabilizing sequence of events in the middle east, and which according to many may culminate with war in the region, the ideal outcome for both the "Deep State" and the Military-Industrial/Neocon complex.
As for CNN, we are "confident" they will be issuing a retraction to their original "fake news" report any... minute... now...