The Democrats have been saying that there’s proof that the Russians hacked into Democratic Party computers for the purpose of obtaining and planting information that would help elect Donald J. Trump as president. But the proof wasn’t provided when President Obama issued an executive order and announced the expulsions of Russians from the U.S., and sanctions against Russian officials.
Still, our media were almost unanimous in saying that President Obama has proved his case and that Trump was out-of-step with what the evidence clearly showed.
For his part, Trump seemed in no hurry to come to any rash conclusions, saying he would meet with “leaders of the intelligence community” next week in order to be “updated on the facts of this situation.”
The facts were certainly in short supply when the media jumped to conclusions about the “evidence” released by the Obama administration.
A big question was timing. Kevin D. Freeman, an expert on economic and financial warfare between nations, has commented that the evidence indicates that the Obama team disregarded the threat of Russian hacking in the past “because they were confident that Secretary Clinton would win.” He called that “stunning.”
According to this line of reasoning, the Obama administration decided to blame the Russians only after Trump won the election, perhaps for the purpose of complicating the foreign relations priorities of the President-elect.
Whatever the motivation, the Obama administration’s “Joint Analysis Report” on alleged “Russian malicious cyber activity” is very weak and vague in key respects.
It would have been nice if reporters had read the pathetically thin report before concluding that there was substance to it, and that Trump was somehow derelict in not accepting what Obama had to offer.
Only four-and-a-half pages of the 13-page report purport to examine alleged Russian hacking activities. The rest of the report gives advice on how to provide security for computer networks.
It looked like the report was padded in order to make it seem more authoritative than it really was.
A separate White House press release went into some more detail, alleging that “the disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks are consistent with the Russian-directed efforts.” But being “consistent with” is not proof.
WikiLeaks released the emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The website DCLeaks.com was responsible for the embarrassing disclosures from within the George Soros network of organizations.
The new Obama report, described as “the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),” includes a “DISCLAIMER” stating that it is “for informational purposes only,” and that the DHS “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”
It sounded like the kind of warning that comes with a possibly defective product.
There’s no question that the Russians engage in cyber warfare. But the “facts” in the Obama report seemed unusually vague. It states that “The U.S. Government confirms that two different RIS [Russian civilian and military intelligence Services] actors participated in the intrusion into a U.S. political party,” but doesn’t even mention the Democrats.
The term “confirms” sounds authoritative. But how the “facts” were confirmed and by whom was not explained. The report, however, does include some fancy color diagrams and a list of names under which the Russian hackers supposedly operated.
The report says this alleged Russian campaign, designated as “GRIZZLY STEPPE,” was an activity by Russian civilian and military intelligence services and was “part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and private sector entities.”
If it was ongoing, why did it take so long for Obama to take action?
The report refers to one alleged Russian campaign that had “compromised the same political party,” again without saying it was the Democrats, and “was able to gain access and steal content, likely leading to the exfiltration of information from multiple senior party members.” The fancy term “exfiltration” means the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer. “The U.S. Government assesses that information was leaked to the press and publicly disclosed,” the report states, without saying who in the press was given the information and who or what leaked it.
“This activity by RIS is part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens,” the report states. “These cyber operations have included spearphishing campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure entities, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations leading to the theft of information.”
The term “spearphishing” refers to emails that appear to be from individuals or businesses that a person knows, but which are actually from criminal hackers. The recipient is fooled into resetting a password on the account, enabling the hackers to extract credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, and other personal or financial information.
This appears to be what happened in the case of Clinton campaign chairman Podesta.
“Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government,” the White House claimed. “These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
But Obama’s “evidence” raises questions about the worth and value of the intelligence agencies that apparently provided it.
In a development that is alarming in more ways than one, Jeh Johnson and DHS are making noises that we should federalize states’ voting systems because of hacking by the Russians and others. That should send a very cold shiver down your spine. Not only have the feds pretty much taken over the mainstream media, they now want to control our elections. Let me see… where have I heard that before? Oh yeah! Every single dictator on the planet has done the very same thing, just not as slyly. If this happens, we are no longer a Constitutional Republic. We become an outright banana republic run by despots.
The bulletin does not identify the states in question, but sources familiar with the document say it refers to the targeting by suspected foreign hackers of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In the Illinois case, officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for 10 days in late July, after the hackers managed to download personal data on up to 200,000 state voters, Ken Menzel, the general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections, said in an interview. The Arizona attack was more limited, involving malicious software that was introduced into its voter registration system but no successful exfiltration of data, a state official said.
The FBI is now warning all states that they should start securing their voting systems to avoid hacking in the next election. Let me ask you this, shouldn’t the states have been doing that all along? Why now? DHS and the FBI are now referring to the election systems as critical infrastructure, like the power grid and Wall Street. First off, they’ve never done a thing about the power grid. They want to nationalize utilities so the government controls them too… but no one has done a thing to invest in modernizing and strengthening the power grid. As far as Wall Street goes, that is a reference to banking which they have pretty much already nationalized, but I guess they want to ‘further’ control it. Don’t you see the power grab here? Venezuela anyone? The feds now have control over our power grid, media, food and financial sectors. Now they want an iron grip on voting… exactly what do you think will happen? We don’t have a two party system anymore. They are basically in cahoots with one another, so voting has already been compromised. Now this.
Frankly, I fear the Russians hacking the system to mess with our elections. But that doesn’t mean that I want to hand over our voting process to the federal government any more than I want the Internet handed over to the UN and foreign countries, which Obama is making happen as well. Nationalizing the voting process is breathtakingly unconstitutional. If it happens, you will never be able to trust the results ever again. There was a reason our Founding Fathers wanted the states to have the power over elections and it was to prevent something like this. An arrogant move towards a despotic regime and it’s happening right before our eyes.
The talk of nationalizing the voting structure started before the Russian hacking of Arizona and Illinois’ election boards. This has been talked about for a while now. It should be all over the news, but as usual… crickets.
“We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
“There’s a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure,” he said at media conference earlier this month hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
DHS clarifies further on their website: “There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”
What happens when those in power control everything that defines out country and our survival? To let them control all this instead of putting it under the purview of the states and private entities is simply insane. It’s begging for a dictatorship.
A White House policy directive adds, “The federal government also has a responsibility to strengthen the security and resilience of its own critical infrastructure, for the continuity of national essential functions, and to organize itself to partner effectively with and add value to the security and resilience efforts of critical infrastructure owners and operators.”
Johnson also stated that the primary issue is that there isn’t a central election system since the states run elections. “There’s no one federal election system. There are some 9,000 jurisdictions involved in the election process,” Johnson said.
“There’s a national election for president, there are some 9,000 jurisdictions that participate, contribute to collecting votes, tallying votes and reporting votes,” he said. Yes and that runs so well. Not. It’s already corrupt and rigged and now they want that to apply to ALL ELECTIONS. They are using security and the fact that we are vulnerable as an excuse to seize power over voting. It doesn’t take a genius to see it.
Georgia’s top election official is flatly digging in his heels and saying no thank you to the fed’s so-called assistance. He’s correct in saying that the Obama Administration is ginning up a cybersecurity threat to intrude on states’ authority. That is exactly what is happening and I totally agree with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the DNC getting hacked — they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system,” Kemp, a Republican, told POLITICO in an interview. “And that’s just not — I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.” I think the Russians are a serious threat, but the power and the responsibility should still reside with the states. Somebody needs to actually, you know, read the Constitution.
In an earlier interview with NextGov, Kemp warned: “The question remains whether the federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Trust, me they will… Obama has nothing to lose and he’s setting the stage for Clinton. Kemp sees a “clear motivation from this White House” to expand federal control, citing Obama’s healthcare law, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation and the increased role of the Education Department in local schools.
Kemp is far from alone. Election officials in other states are now ringing the alarm bells as loudly as they can, but it is hard to be heard in a media vacuum that squelches your voice. Many election officials see the classification of their election systems as critical infrastructure as the first stage of a more intrusive plan. They are not wrong here.
“I think it’s kind of the nose under the tent,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is a Democrat. “What I think a lot of folks get concerned about [is] when the federal government says, ‘Well, look, we’re not really interested in doing that, but we just want to give you this,’ and then all of a sudden this leads to something else.” Oh, you bet it does.
“Elections have always been run and organized by the states,” said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, another Democrat. “And I think there has always been a fear that there would be federal intervention that would not recognize differences among the states.” Yes, there has and rightly so. Things are so whacked out, I’m now agreeing with Democrats. SMH. Merrill went on to say that having this kind of rhetoric this close to a major election is not helpful. That’s an understatement.
This kind of thing makes you paranoid. First you worry that the Russians are rigging the election for one of the candidates. Then you worry that the feds are just waiting to pounce on an excuse to make our elections utterly meaningless. This gives either candidate fodder to claim if they lose, that everything was rigged.
Bruce McConnell, a former DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity under Obama, outright rejected Kemp’s suggestion that states should fear greater federal involvement in elections. “I think it’s pretty clear today which is the greater risk to the republic: citizens losing complete confidence in our election system, or the states working carefully with Washington to prevent disaster while keeping the 10th Amendment well in mind,” said McConnell, now the global vice president at the EastWest Institute. He was referring to the Bill of Rights provision that declares limits on federal authority. Which is exactly what the feds are trying to nullify and subvert.
A number of lawmakers from both parties have urged the administration to improve cyber-protections for parties, political groups and election offices. So did a bipartisan group of security experts from the Aspen Institute, who said in July that “voting processes and results must receive security akin to that we expect for critical infrastructure.” Right, yes… the Aspen Institute, which is a Progressive Marxist front. Of course they would be for this.
Johnson said on Aug. 3rd that DHS “should carefully consider” the critical infrastructure question. Twelve days later, he held a conference call with state election officials in which he discussed a possible role for Washington. Kemp was not happy with this and again, I don’t blame him. He found it troubling. Agreed. He also pointed out that it all has to do with the definition of ‘critical infrastructure’. Again correct… they are controlling the language here, so it gives the feds a foot in the door.
The White House is now coming forward and claiming that Kemp and others who are concerned about the constitutional implications of this are wrong about the law. “The concern about … ‘we’ll be designated as critical infrastructure and then we’re going to be regulated’ is just based on a false premise,” said the former official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. The official instead argued the benefits of this fascist move.
Kemp was unmoved by these word games and argued that it was clear during Johnson’s conference call with state election officials that a regulatory push “was obviously something that had been in the works.” “Everybody that was on that call was in lockstep with Secretary Johnson,” he added. On that same call, state officials accepted the offer to create an election cybersecurity partnership committee. Careful folks… that looks a lot like political candy to me.
Say it with me… TOTALITARIANISM. That’s what this amounts to. To federalize voting is to strip the states and voting Americans of that power and hand it to the government.
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through an all-encompassing propaganda campaign, which is disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror. A distinctive feature of totalitarian governments is an “elaborate ideology, a set of ideas that gives meaning and direction to the whole society.”
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” His words are haunting us today and we had better stop the Marxists before they gain such a stranglehold that the Republic is throttled. Tyranny has returned to America… not on a horse this time, but via cybersecurity.
While the media spikes the football in the face of a Russia hobbled by U.S. sanctions, the decline of the ruble and collapse in oil prices, Vladimir Putin’s protectorate poses a direct threat to America and its interests that we ignore at our own peril.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West thought it had defeated the Soviet Union. But unlike in a hot war, the victor did not annihilate its enemy, nor did the enemy’s leaders ever face the gallows.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in fact resembled a corporate reorganization more than the fall of an empire, as heads rolled and the state spun off assets (many later to be “reclaimed”), but the company and its culture endured.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1991 signified the end of Communist rule in Russia.
In the face of difficult circumstances, Russia, understanding the mindset of its “former” foes, made the brilliant decision to join the West through economic and diplomatic “cooperation.”
Russia opened itself to trade to raise capital and procure technology that it could use to exploit its natural resources, rebuild its military and enrich Vladimir Putin and his cronies.
In so doing, Russia developed energy pipelines that not only provided it with wealth, but power over not just its “near abroad” — which could literally be made to freeze were it not compliant — but Western Europe. Stated differently, it brought America’s NATO allies into Russia’s orbit.
Perhaps most terrifying of all, Russia embedded itself in a world business and financial architecture that it could penetrate and exploit.
On the diplomatic front, Russia became a U.S. “partner” in the “War on Terror,” a curious position given that Russia was and is a key ally of Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terror. Vladimir Putin of course was the first world leader to call President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001. We do not know all the ramifications of U.S. and Russian intelligence collaboration.
This is in no small part due to the fact that during Putin’s reign, Russia has strengthened itself against a West it portrays as aggressive, which has actually remained largely asleep.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, poses to the press as he prepares for arm wrestling during his visits in the Seliger youth educational forum near Lake Seliger, some 450 kilometres (281 miles) northwest of Moscow, in the Tver region, Russia, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)
To wit, leaving aside foreign adventures in Ukraine and Georgia, under Putin:
Russia is allegedly funding anti-Islamization groups in Europe, several of which may be fascistic and anti-Semitic as well, which would fit the Middle East of strategy of backing those who sow the seeds of chaos to create a crisis to Russia’s benefit
Russian espionage, bent on “subverting and penetrating Western societies,” has metastasized to levels greater than during the Cold War. Russia takes a long-term approach to develop “shape-shifting” assets running what appear to be legitimate businesses or charitable organizations, while “Kremlin spies swim effortlessly and invisibly through suburbia, nightlife, think tanks, and consultancies in the West, exploiting the natural trust and collegiality of an open society.”
Layer these data points on top of Russia’s economic and diplomatic relations with other anti-American regimes around the world, and it is difficult to find any trouble spot for the West that you can scratch without finding a Russian apparatchik.
America deludes itself if she does not wake up to the multi-faceted Russian threat.
Russia’s strategic thinking, abundant natural resources and associated economic leverage, defense and intelligence capabilities pose a challenge that sanctions notwithstanding, the West is currently ill-equipped to handle.
Moreover, leaders in the West refuse to acknowledge either out of fear, ignorance, or political correctness (often a combination of the two), that Russian actions to back our enemies, end a dollar-based economy, terrorize those in its immediate orbit, while strengthening its control over Western Europe, all while flexing its muscle in U.S. airspace, indicate aspirations far beyond just rebuilding the Soviet Empire.
This file photo shows President Barack Obama with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Ireland in June 2014. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Recent struggles if anything portend even more dramatic actions by the Putin regime — all likely negative for the West and freedom more broadly — by a leader who is now even clamping down on allies, while seeking propaganda victories to rally his people.
In order to effectively deal with Russia, as with the Islamic world, America must understand the country’s goals, strategies and tactics.
Only then can we devise a coherent plan to deter the threat, and with it, preserve Western civilization.
This piece was written to accompany the three-part series “The Root: Red Storm” on The Glenn Beck Program airing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night at 5 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV.