The letter signed by Senator Dick Durbin appeared to substantiate all of the conspiratorial allegations from the pro-Russian eastern Ukrainians — that the US was secretly running the government in Kyiv. Durbin tells Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk that he must work to keep two dismissed ministers in office against the wishes of President Petro Poroshenko, but that several others are unacceptable to the US. If that sounds fishy to anyone in the US even slightly familiar with American civics and the power of a minority caucus on Capitol Hill, it’s probably because they arent the target audience for this amateurish forgery. Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox reports that the CIA and FBI have opened investigations into the weak propaganda attempt:

The discovery of the letter appeared to be a huge propaganda coup for Moscow and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, who have argued that the government in Kiev is Washington’s puppet.

“By the time the East Coast was awake, we had messages from State and our embassies flagging the issue for us as well,” a Durbin aide told Yahoo News.

But the letter was a hoax. And not even a particularly well-executed one. Sure, Durbin’s signature was capably duplicated, but everything else, from the stationery to Durbin’s title, wasn’t quite right. His leadership post in Congress isn’t “assistant minority leader,” it’s “assistant Democratic leader.”

A Durbin aide ridiculed the forgery and the obvious motivation behind it:

“Read the letter in a Russian accent for the full effect,” one Durbin aide quipped.

The forgery is a curiosity from top to bottom — literally, in this case. First, why use Dick Durbin? He’s not even the highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, although he has been an outspoken critic of Russia’s empire-building in eastern Ukraine. He’s the second-ranking member of leadership in a minority caucus in one chamber of a legislature that has nothing to do with conducting foreign policy. Durbin doesn’t sit on the Foreign Relations or Armed Services committees, either. Moreover, how difficult would it have been to have simply copied Durbin’s actual letterhead with the correct name of his caucus office at the top?

The list of ministerial positions supposedly under Durbin’s scrutiny doesn’t pass the laugh test. He’s supposedly concerned over the agriculture, internal affairs, energy, and coal production, as well as the executive leadership at a nuclear-energy firm. What exactly would be the point of US interest in dictating those positions? Literally none of those have anything to do with Durbin’s areas of expertise in the Senate, which primarily are budgetary and parliamentary.

Beside the kinds of influence suggested in this letter would have to come from the executive branch anyway, not Congress, and certainly not from the party out of power on Capitol Hill. Even an American public undereducated on its civic structure would know that much. Well, we hope, anyway.

The Russians used to be a lot better at this kind of propaganda disinformation. They didn’t learn much about research after September 2014’s “pidgin English” forgery of an IMF letter, one that supposedly raised concerns about “premature emission of extra money.” If the Russians want to concoct forgeries, they’d better start working on emissions of more money and mental candlepower.