Russia Hack Info

In previous posts I have talked about the news that Russia actively worked to undermine our electoral process and get Donald Trump elected. Here are some things to know about the situation.

  • The assessment is based on intelligence suggesting that the Kremlin’s hacking efforts were disproportionately aimed at the Democratic Party.
  • Previously, the U.S. intelligence community only said Moscow’s goals were limited to disrupting the election, undermining faith the U.S. electoral system.
  • On Friday, the FBI backed the CIA’s assessment. Previously, the two agencies had differing opinions that some say can be attributed to their culture: The bureau seeks tangible evidence to prove something beyond all reasonable doubt, while the CIA is more comfortable drawing inferences from behavior.
  • In an interview with NPR, President Obama said the United States will retaliate against Russia over its election hacking.
  • President-elect Donald Trump has called the CIA’s findings “ridiculous” and said he doesn’t believe it. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it. . . . No, I don’t believe it at all,” Trump said on “Fox News Sunday” of the CIA assessment.
  • Russia has called the allegations “absolute nonsense.” In a TV interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman denied that the Kremlin interfered with the U.S. election and said that Moscow is looking forward to a new relationship with the Trump administration.
  • Officials say they think that, in addition to helping Trump, the Kremlin had a mix of goals, including undermining Americans’ confidence in the electoral system.
  • The CIA has briefed the administration that it thinks the Russians “breached” the Republican National Committee’s computer systems. Officials are less certain whether the hackers were able to extract information. The RNC denies it was hacked.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that a Senate intelligence panel plans to investigate Russia’s suspected election interference.
  • The Obama administration has ordered a “full review” of the Russian hacking during the campaign. The investigation is headed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. The administration promises to make the report public.

[Source]

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The FBI failed us on Russia

The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.”

[…]

I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision[…]

What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.

[…]

Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.

[…]

But the FBI’s role is particularly troubling because of its power and responsibility — and because this is part of a trend. The Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a damning report this summer about the FBI’s failure to prioritize cyberthreats more broadly.

[…]

Finally, Congress should more vigorously exercise its oversight to determine why the FBI responded overzealously in the Clinton case and insufficiently in the Russian case. The FBI should also clarify whether there is an ongoing investigation into Trump, his associates and their ties to Russia. If ever there were a case of “intense public interest,” this is it. What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly.

[John Podesta]

Climate Attack

In more disturbing news Trump’s team was actively looking for the names of people in the Department of Energy who have been involved with fighting climate change.

Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”

[Source]

 

“There is major concern amongst my members,” said Jeff Eagan, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) chapter at the department’s headquarters building in Washington. He’s also a 17-year Energy employee but was speaking in his union capacity. “I have received lots of calls, emails, messages expressing shock and dismay.”

[…]

On the question of providing names, Energy officials resolutely rejected the request, while reassuring workers.

[Source]

What the hack tells us

Beyond that we are ever so vulnerable to cyberattacks and hacking. See the quote below,

In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.

 

U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directed the illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Plenty of Americans obviously bought into the propaganda, even those on the left where people were quick to believe and hold onto the claim that the election was rigged against Bernie Sanders.

News stories on the DNC emails released in July served to disrupt the Democratic National Convention, instigate political infighting and suggest for some supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — without any real proof — that the Democratic primary had been “rigged” against their candidate.

 

Russian (and former communist) propaganda has traditionally worked exactly this way: The more you “report” something negatively, the more the negative is true. Trump and supportive media outlets adopted the technique and reveled in information gained from the illegal Russian hacking (as well as many “fake news” stories that evidence suggests were generated by Russian intelligence operations) to make exaggerated claims (“Hillary wants to open borders to 600 million people!”) or to accuse Clinton of illegality, corruption and, ironically, treasonous behavior.

[…]

The email operation increased negative stories about Clinton, fueled an immense propaganda attack and diminished coverage of actual issues. The large polling lead Clinton gained after the debates slipped significantly under this barrage of negativity

[Source]

North Carolina and the GOP Coup

The race for governor in North Carolina was only recently settled after mandated recounts and an incumbent that did not want to concede and made outrageous claims of widespread voter fraud.

This week, in the waning hours of their hold on North Carolina’s executive branch, Republicans unveiled and quickly pushed through a series of bills that would significantly curb Gov.-elect Roy Cooper’s (D) power.

Republicans were voting on measures Thursday that would, among other things, require the governor’s Cabinet appointments to be approved by the state Senate and effectively give Republicans control of the Board of Elections during election years. Other bills appeared designed to limit Democrats’ judicial influence by making North Carolina one of just a handful of states that holds partisan elections for its state Supreme Court justices.

[…]

But he said it is potentially concerning that lawmakers are powering through these changes in such a blatantly political way: A Republican legislature is convening a special session to pass bills that limit an incoming Democratic governor’s power.

[Source]

 

Pat McCrory, North Carolina’s outgoing Republican governor, has signed a law stripping executive powers from his successor, Democrat Roy Cooper.

The law removes the State Board of Elections from the governor’s control by reducing the number of members on the board from five — three of whom could be from the governor’s party — to four members, evenly split between the parties.

[…]

Three of North Carolina’s county election boards faced a legal challenge in November after they attempted to revoke the voting rights of thousands of registered voters shortly before Election Day. A federal judge blocked the move.

[…]

“They knew for weeks what they were going to do and they didn’t tell the public. That’s wrong. They need to put these issues out on the table so that the people know about them so that there’s time to debate them.”

[…]

On Friday, the Legislature also passed a second bill that would further curb the powers of the incoming administration. That bill, if McCrory signs it, would require Cooper’s cabinet secretaries to receive Senate confirmation, would significantly reduce the number of administrative positions in the executive branch, would strip the governor of his right to appoint trustees to the University of North Carolina and would take away some of the governor’s power to oversee schools in the state.

[Source]

 

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FBI & CIA agree on Russia

It seems that people were under the impression that the FBI did not agree with the CIA’s assessment on the Russian hacking of the election, but that is not the case. It was announced to day that both agencies are in agreement on the matter. Both the purpose and severity.

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the presidency, according to U.S. officials. [Source]

I will be continuing to remind you that Russia picked our next president and got him elected because it is true and horrifying.

Nightmare Cabinet