Here’s another quote playlist from the Putin Files that resonates with what’s going on today. The Putin Files are the interactive source interviews from the PBS FRONTLINE documentary Putin’s Revenge, which aired in October 2017.
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017:
As we documented it in our intelligence community assessment that we published on the 6th of January , this was the most aggressive and most direct and most assertive campaign that the Russians ever mounted in the history of our elections to interfere and to somehow influence the outcome.
For me, when the light bulb came on, or when I reacted viscerally, physically, when I understood the magnitude of what they were doing, and that it was in fact directed at the highest levels, orchestrated at the highest levels of the Russian government, meaning Putin himself—I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in my 50-plus years in intelligence—that really shook me, because of what this represented as an attempt to undermine the very pillars of our democracy.
I will just say that for me, the evidence was overwhelming, and that’s why the intelligence community assessment had such high confidence levels with the team that we put together. There are two dozen or so expert analysts from the three agencies and my office who were involved in this, all of whom came with lots of experience and understanding of Russia, and they were unanimous in their view on what had transpired.
John Brennan, Director of the CIA from March 2013 to January 2017:
The Russians and the Soviets before them were very proficient, let me put it that way, in the use of active measures on the propaganda front. For many, many years they would try to put into the Western media circles stories that advanced Russian interests and tried to harm U.S. and Western interests.
As 2015 and 2016 rolled on, we did have clear indications that the Russians were going to try to maybe reprise, in a much more intense and pervasive manner, some of their earlier efforts to interfere in elections.
Mr. Putin is, I think, a very cunning individual, and he really takes the measure of his adversaries and opponents https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/interview/john-brennan/#349
Michael McFaul, US Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014:
You just have to look at what candidate Trump was saying to understand why Putin would prefer him as the president of the United States compared to Secretary Clinton. He talked about, for instance, “I would look into recognizing Crimea as being part of Russia.” If you’re Putin, that sounds pretty good. He talked about NATO being obsolete, another thing that Putin agrees with…
The Russians violated the sovereignty of the United States of America. They violated our sovereignty over one of the most sacred things we do. We choose our leaders. That’s the most sacred thing you do as a democracy. And they meddled in that.
This has never happened before in our country. We’ve never done that in their country. Even though we have the capability to do that, we’ve never done that. And in particular, the stealing of the data and then publishing of the data, that’s a qualitatively new style… he upped the ante with that.
I fear that our president is mixing up politics with national security and that he somehow believes, by acknowledging the Russian interference in our election, that will lead to people claiming that he was illegitimately elected.
I mentioned this one before, but given recent events, it bears repeating.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian opposition leader:
I think it’s important to recall that the first victim of Vladimir Putin’s regime was independent media.