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Why Russiagate Is Nothing Like Watergate

In response to the crumbling Russiagate narrative which has seen CNN plunged into disgrace, the New York Times forced to admit that a longstanding claim in the establishment’s Russian hacking narrative has never been true, and even the most ardent establishment stalwarts admitting that the Russia hysteria has been crippling the Democratic party, I have seen many establishment loyalists who cannot bring themselves to relinquish this debunked conspiracy theory comparing it to Watergate.

The claim these loyalists have been advancing is that just because there is precisely zero evidence that Trump colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election doesn’t mean we won’t dig some up eventually. It was years, after all, between five men being caught burglarizing the DNC office at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC and Nixon’s eventual resignation. The Nixon administration denied any involvement with the burglary just like the Trump administration is denying any collusion with Russia, and Republicans were dismissing the allegations as ridiculous distractions back then just like they are now.

Right. Exactly the same. Except for the extremely glaring difference that Watergate began with an investigation of an actual crime, while Russiagate is the investigation of a person.

I should clarify at this time for new readers unfamiliar with my work that not only am I not a Trump supporter, but that I deeply hate the man. His behavior inside Syria alone, which I have been consistently and repeatedly denouncing, is absolutely unforgivable, and at best I will regard his administration with the same vitriolic disdain as I hold for George W. Bush. I don’t attack the Russiagate narrative to defend Trump, I attack the Russiagate narrative because it has been used by the US political establishment to stagnate real discourse in America, to manufacture support for escalations with a nuclear superpower, and to take us to the brink of a new World War.

Watergate began with a criminal investigation of an actual crime. Five concrete, tangible men were caught illegally breaking in to an actual, physical office, and real, demonstrably unlawful listening devices were found on DNC phones. The American people were shown mug shots of these burglars. They were told their names. They were shown pictures of the espionage equipment. They were told what specific crimes were alleged to have been committed. The investigation began there, and eventually culminated in the implication and resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Is any of this even a tiny bit remotely similar to what we’re seeing in the Russiagate investigation? The only concrete crime these accusations contain is an extremely flimsy allegation that Russians hacked Democratic party emails and gave them to WikiLeaks with the intention of hurting the Clinton campaign, but we’re not allowed to see even a single shred of any hard data proving this, because national security blah blah whatever. This supposed crime, already riddled with more plot holes than an Ed Wood film festival, is then extrapolated into this weird, vague mist of deliberately vague insinuations and innuendo trying to suggest that Donald Trump could have been involved in some unspecified way. Try asking a Russiagater what the specific nature of Trump’s involvement was and you’ll get a vague word salad about smoke and fire every time; they’ll be unable to detail exactly what this treasonous Trump-Russia collusion to steal the 2016 election actually looked like, just that some people talked to Russian diplomats and something about business ties. They will then cite the complete absence of any concrete crime as a reason to go digging around for a concrete crime in the various investigations which have been launched into this vague word-salad-smoke-fire-mist-nothing-thing.

That isn’t how criminal investigations work. A criminal investigation begins with an actual crime: a dead body, a stolen vehicle, a victim reporting a sexual assault. It doesn’t begin with a bunch of detectives looking at someone saying “They seem kinda weird in a vague way I can’t quite describe; I bet if we investigate them we’ll find something!” Nobody would think it’s acceptable for a police department to single out a private citizen and go digging through every part of their lives until they find something incriminating that they can be prosecuted for; that would be fascism. You’re supposed to investigate crimes, not people. Last week when the cops were found to have tried to find dirt on the girlfriend of a guy they killed, there was public outcry. As there should be. The cops shouldn’t be using their power to investigate people in order to smear them to cover up for their crimes. That is fascism and it’s wrong.

With Watergate, there was a concrete crime with a specific investigation that followed a logical line of inquiry. With Russiagate there is no specific crime, just a dislike for a president who very few people expected to win the election coupled with an irrational fear of Russia. The “investigation” continues only because people in power have an agenda, and because people without power believe what their TV tells them.

Russiagate is nothing like Watergate. This Russia collusion nonsense is completely unprecedented, and the corporate media, the intelligence community and the US government have been behaving in an extremely weird and unusual way. At this point the adamant insistence on pure opacity with all evidence combined with the erratic behaviors of these establishment bodies tells us a lot more than anything the talking heads on TV are saying with their words. We have been given an innumerable number of reasons to distrust the corporate media, the intelligence community and the US government, and right now they’re behaving in an extremely untrustworthy way.

Something nasty is brewing. Keep your eyes open.


Caitlin Johnstone
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