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.
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.
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
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.