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How “Confident” are Intelligence Agencies that Russia Interfered with the Election?

How “Confident” are Intelligence Agencies that Russia Interfered with the Election?

    Remember when all seventeen intelligence agencies agreed that Russia interfered with our elections?

    Turns out it was only four.

    Do you know how you get four agencies to agree on something of this nature? It’s easy. One publishes an opinion and the other three loyal agencies assume it is credible, so they support it. Do they all do independent investigations?

    I kinda doubt it.

    Based on my experience on this planet, probably one intelligence agency out of seventeen investigated and told the others they did a great job of it. Still, you can’t ignore even one intelligence agency that did an investigation and is totally positive Russia interfered with the election. That’s still credible information.

    Wait, did I say “totally positive”? Here’s a quote from CIA Director Mike Pompeo from this past week: "I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community.“ 

    Is confident the same as totally positive? And are “the Russians” the same as Putin?

    Personally, I use the word “confident” when I’m not 100% sure, when I think the evidence all points one way. Coincidentally, that is exactly what confirmation bias looks like too – all the signs point in the same direction. They just happen to be false signs. And it seems to me that a good non-Russian hacker could make a hack look like it came from anywhere.

    A related thought is that real Russian government hackers wouldn’t have gotten caught. But that might underestimate our capacity to track this sort of thing.

    But wait, if we can track this sort of thing and know who did it, using our secret methods, doesn’t that mean we are 100% positive? That’s different than being confident.

    A few months ago, seventeen intelligence agencies knew for sure that the Russian government interfered in the election. Today, I’m guessing just one of them looked at the information in any detail. And we don’t know how well they can identify this sort of thing. They won’t tell us. For good reasons.

    The intel agencies (or agency) didn’t convince the President of the United States that Russia interfered with the election, and the president would have access to all of the secret spy methods to convince himself they really know what they know. 

    It is entirely possible that our intelligence agencies know Russia interfered with our elections. But they packaged it exactly like a bunch of lying weasels who are simply hoping they are right. I hope that’s just bad brand management and nothing worse.

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