It may be hard to identify a sillier time in human history than this one.
Consider the brouhaha over Donald Trump’s fabled links to Russia. You’ve heard of those links, because Everybody’s reporting on them. What they actually are is something of a mystery – at least to George F. Will and the Washington Post – but that doesn’t stop the MSM from flogging them.
Now, I’m not a Trump partisan. But I am endlessly fascinated by the attempts of the American establishment – politics, media – to indict him through innuendo. If Trump was set up by the Almighty to open the eyes of Americans to who we are and what we’ve become, well, it’s working.
George Will’s column at WaPo on Friday is a case in point. The column was given the portentous headline “How Entangled with Russia Is Trump?”
And in a technical sense, it can be said the column is “about” that. But what it actually consists of is an opening riff on Trump’s recent, offhand solecism about NATO (for which there was certainly no excuse), followed by nine paragraphs on why it sucks to be linked to Putin’s Russia – and then this:
Speculation about the nature and scale of Trump’s financial entanglements with Putin and his associates is justified by Trump’s refusal to release his personal and business tax information. Obviously he is hiding something, and probably more than merely embarrassing evidence that he has vastly exaggerated his net worth and charitableness.
In Wednesday’s news conference, Trump said, “I have nothing to do with Russia.” Donald Trump Jr. says, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Trump Sr. can end the speculation by providing information. If, however, he continues his tax information stonewall, it will be clear that he finds the speculation less damaging than the truth would be, which itself is important information.
There you have it. We don’t know what Trump’s entanglements with Putin may be. WaPo certainly doesn’t. But there’s bound to be at least one smoking gun with Cyrillic markings on it, if we’ll root around in Trump’s closet long enough.
I don’t have any problem with thoroughly vetting Trump in that regard. There are superb forensic investigators working for some of our think tanks and alternative-media outlets. That’s how all the work had to be done on Obama’s background, after all. That is did no good in either 2008 or 2012 is not the point, at the moment. I say, go to it! Nail Trump, if there are nailable bits dangling off him.
But here’s the silly part. You don’t hear a peep about Hillary Clinton as a security risk for America because of her links to Russia. And yet her links are extraordinarily well documented. And they aren’t about vague, speculative things like whether she has sympathy with the psychology of Putin’s despotic nationalism. They’re about selling out U.S. advantages in military-use technology – selling them out to Russia – in order to line her pockets through the Clinton Foundation.
For the full brief on the Clinton Foundation and Russia, you want to read Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash. (Or watch the documentary.) Those familiar with Schweizer’s work from earlier articles might expect me to take up the connection with the uranium trade, which has obvious implications for U.S. national security.
Hillary and Skolkovo
But, important as that is, I want to highlight instead a Schweizer article in the Wall Street Journal on 31 July. In it, he summarizes information you can find in greater detail in this monograph published by his Government Accountability Institute. The focus of the discussion is Russia’s Skolkovo Foundation, a Russian government enterprise to create a “Russian Silicon Valley” on the outskirts of Moscow.
The GAI monograph outlines in exhaustive detail how Hillary’s State Department, starting in 2009, interacted with U.S. and Russian companies to funnel money to the Skolkovo project. At each step of the way, Clinton cronies – including usual-suspect John Podesta – were centrally involved. And everyone directly involved had a connection to the Clinton Foundation: mostly through making donations to it.
As the monograph stresses, the Clinton State Department oversaw the signing of the memoranda between the U.S. and Russian “commercial” partners in the Skolkovo investment (who on the U.S. side included such companies as Google, Cisco, Intel, GE, Boeing, Honeywell, and Microsoft, among others). Clinton also facilitated the creation of Russian subsidiaries to invest in tech companies in the U.S., on the stipulation that the work, access of personnel, and product of the investment – the technology developed – be shared without limit with the Russian parent companies.
Schweizer recounts that concerned analysts in the FBI and the military think the Skolkovo connection poses a real danger to U.S. national security. A 2012 analysis published by the Army at Fort Leavenworth assessed the areas of technological vulnerability in these terms:
Research conducted in 2012 on Skolkovo by the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth declared that the purpose of Skolkovo was to serve as a “vehicle for world-wide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.”
And indeed, the Army report alluded to an Izvestia article announcing that the Skolkovo enterprise was at work on its initial weapons-related project:
Moreover, the report said: “the Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. . . . Not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature.”
In 2014, the FBI’s Boston office published a warning to tech companies in the Massachusetts area about one of the Russian venture companies sponsored by Hillary Clinton – Rusnano, a nanotech company – because of the likelihood that the U.S. firms would be drawn into industrial espionage by working with it.
Schweizer summarizes the documented Skolkovo connections to specific military-use technologies at the end of his WSJ article (emphasis added):
What is known is that the State Department recruited and facilitated the commitment of billions of American dollars in the creation of a Russian “Silicon Valley” whose technological innovations include Russian hypersonic cruise-missile engines, radar surveillance equipment, and vehicles capable of delivering airborne Russian troops.
But we can pluck out a couple of other likely connections as well – one of which is profoundly ironic.
But wait! There’s more
The first connection is starting to matter just now, in particular, because it’s just now bearing fruit. One of the Skolkovo technology projects has been to develop engine combustion technology that facilitates hypersonic flight. The application of this to hypersonic cruise missiles is obvious; it may not be so obvious to the casual reader that a key military use is hypersonic vehicles deployed by ballistic missiles, including ICBMs, which would be able to penetrate and easily overwhelm U.S. and NATO missile defenses. The reentry vehicles in question have reportedly entered the live testing phase this year.
A major partner in developing this technology has been EADS, the Airbus maker (which also competes for U.S. defense contracts, like the other Skolkovo partners). The partnership with EADS, officially focused on civilian applications, was inaugurated in March 2011. In the case of the collaboration on hypersonic propulsion technology, it quite probably involved funneling some of the loot Skolkovo was raking in from U.S. companies to EADS. (The EADS link above announces that Skolkovo shelled out 1.7 million pounds to EADS as part of the joint project.)
That’s a small irony; we’ll get to the bigger one in a minute. But if contemplating the game-change of hypersonic reentry vehicles for strategic missiles is a little abstract for you, consider the game-change of hypersonic fighter aircraft and UAVs. That’s what Russian designers announced in June 2016: that their 6th-generation fighters would be capable of hypersonic flight – and that they were looking for initial operational capability within a decade.
If military aircraft designers gained this confidence without any link to the work being done by government-sponsored civilian researchers at Skolkovo, it would be a first in Russian history. We’d be right to simply assume that the Skolkovo project was related to the military fighter development.
But we can also take as a clue the fact that in May 2012, with multiple projects underway at Skolkovo leveraging U.S. and European money and technology, Russia decided to set up a “military Skolkovo” at another location in the Moscow suburbs. The infrastructure was thus put in place to smoothly translate achievements from Skolkovo projects to military uses.
Not only did Hillary Clinton facilitate technological advances for Russia; she got U.S. companies to pay for them, leaving Russian capital free to invest in the military applications enabled by those advances. (Basically, the exact opposite of Ronald Reagan’s strategy in the 1980s – something Peter Schweizer would readily recognize, having written seminal works on that topic.)
The big irony
The other interesting connection is suggested by a brief passage relating to cyber warfare in the GAI monograph, on page 39:
Cybersecurity experts also expressed deep reservations as early as 2010 that U.S. companies working at Skolkovo “may…inadvertently be harming global cybersecurity.” And indeed, Skolkovo happens to be the site of the Russian Security Service (FSB)’s security centers 16 and 18, which are in charge of information warfare for the Russian government. According to Newsweek, it is here that the Russian government runs information warfare operations against the Ukrainian government. As Vitaliy Naida, head of the Internal Security (SBU) department for the Ukrainian government told Newsweek, “It starts with the FSB’s security centres 16 and 18, operating out of Skolkovo, Russia. These centres are in charge of information warfare. They send out propaganda, false information via social media.”
So it’s downright fascinating that cyber-tech analysts have detected the patterns of Russian cyber warfare in the infamous hacks of the DNC, Hillary Clinton campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And as the Newsweek article referenced above points out, the government hackers aren’t just interested in gathering information. They want to affect their targets by injecting information – something Hillary’s campaign has actually brought up as a possibility.
But Hillary wants to implicate Trump in the indictment of Russia. Whereas, in a supreme irony, she herself would be the chief suspect in arranging for American companies to fund the Russian cyber war activities that many assess are behind the colossal hack of her and the Democrats’ IT infrastructure. What the Russians could do with that capability against other targets in the U.S. has…well, already been proven.
And it all seems to have been for money: for donations to the Clinton Foundation. If you want to probe “the nature and scale of someone’s financial entanglements with Putin and his associates” – start with that.