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Alice Donovan, Russiagate and the Rabbit Hole of Sanctimony

Alice Donovan. We’ve tried to forget that name. Yet somehow, like a recurring bad dream, the alleged intruder that catfished our pages continues to appear and then disappear again into the cyber-ether. It’s as if Alice is a mirage. We’ve certainly concluded that’s the case anyway.

Robert Mueller’s latest indictment accuses Donovan of what we have long suspected; that this plagiarist is a pesky troll and not the intrepid reporter she said she was. Mueller’s indictment states that Donovan, constructed by Russian intel, was the first fictitious persona to promote and spread the DCLeaks project around Facebook and other social media outlets. Facebook concurred.

We have opted to reserve judgment about Mueller’s Russia interference accusations until his investigation is completed. We believe in due process of law and realize the intelligence “community” has gotten issues like this entirely wrong in the past (WMDs anyone?). Yet, we also aren’t about to call Mueller’s inquiry a bullshit which-hunt, either, as many of Trump’s defenders claim (and a few on the left). Even so, here’s a fact: nothing in our own investigation contradicts Mueller’s allegation about our dear Alice, but that doesn’t mean “she” was very good at her job.

Donovan regularly ripped off other writer’s prose, grew a meager following on Twitter and only wrote a handful of articles over her most active months, most of which were not even about Trump, Hillary or the elections. In fact, here at CounterPunch we only published one piece by Donovan during election season and it was, coincidentally, about cyber-warfare. We have found nothing to indicate that Donovan and the Russians had any tangible impact on the outcome of the election and Mueller hasn’t provided that evidence, either. Of course, this does not imply Russia didn’t attempt to meddle, it only means there’s no evidence their meddling was all that effective. Running against Hillary’s uninspired campaign, Trump didn’t need much help.

We know that Alice Donovan’s online presence had been monitored for some time, probably since “she” first developed her fictitious identity sometime late in 2015.  On September 7, 2017 the New York Times, reported that Donovan was being tracked by the FBI.  Many of the social media accounts that allegedly had connections to Russia were erased shortly thereafter. Following our own report, which dropped on December 25, 2017, Donovan was still alive on Twitter, but barely breathing, only posting a couple of tweets — one, oddly enough, about the death of Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. Yet, for some odd reason, Donovan’s Twitter account survived the great Russian Twitter purge up until Mueller’s latest indictment when her account was subsequently suspended.

If Mueller’s allegations and our own investigation are accurate, it still appears that Donovan was only a minor character in this meddling melodrama. Certain elements of the conspiratorial left have claimed the FBI was likely involved in creating Donovan in an attempt to discredit publications like CounterPunch. If this theory holds water (it doesn’t), then we must believe the FBI was in fact behind the DCLeaks shenanigans to begin with, or in the very least believe every single accusation is a lie and that all evidence which supports Mueller’s inquiry is totally fabricated (including our own report).

Must we then also buy the conspiracy that the Deep State thugs who are working overtime to take down Trump, were also attempting to help him by promoting DCLeaks around the web? That’s a real Shakespearean tragedy for you. And what about that cruelly cynical “theory” that Seth Rich was shot down for the DNC leak by the Clinton cartel? How does that fit into this bogus theory? Maybe Alice killed Rich? WTF? So much of the internet left is a rabbit hole filled with sanctimony, most of which is nearly impossible to comprehend. The madness is reminiscent of the 9/11 Truth disorder.

Russiagate fever has not only infected MSDNC and liberal blowhards like Rachel Maddow, it’s also warped the minds of a few on the left who believe the whole thing is an elaborate charade concocted by the Deep State that’s forcing Trump into a new Cold War, despite his gracious “peace” offerings toward Russia. Well, as Eric Draitser rightly points out in his essay this weekend, Trump hasn’t been all that friendly with Russia, despite some cranky claims to the contrary. There is the case of arms shipments to Ukrainian fascists, a plea for a more robust NATO, which is knocking on Russia’s door and that little strangulation tactic called sanctions. Together these don’t add up to a very Putin-friendly policy. On the contrary, it makes Trump look like the warmongering narcissist that he is. It’s just too bad some lefties don’t see it.

One can rightly oppose US and NATO aggression toward Russia and also accept that perhaps the Russians attempted to exploit the fractures in our so-called democracy in favor of Putin’s favorite candidate, Donald Trump. We can admit that the US intel has gotten it wildly wrong in the past, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong in this case. Mueller’s no saint. We’ve written extensively about his unscrupulous tactics supervising the FBI’s infiltration of the environmental movement (See our forthcoming book, The Big Heat.) It could well be that Mueller’s team is way the fuck off the reservation in the Russia investigation or maybe he’s just scratching the surface of how deep this shit really goes, especially with regard to the trace evidence left from Trump’s increasingly desperate financial dealings over the last two decades. Mueller hasn’t showed much of his hand yet (if he has one), though Trump seems increasingly unhinged with each passing week.

But let’s also hope this is the last we see and hear about our old fling Alice Donovan. The heartache is simply too much to bear.

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

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