Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Russia's Unprecedented Election Tamper to Aid Trump

Personally, I find it frightening that most Republicans seem to care nothing about the fact that a hostile foreign government aided and abetted their party's presidential candidate.  Not that many years ago, members of the GOP would have been screaming the word "treason" about anyone who worked with or benefited from Russian espionage.  Sadly, that day is gone and it appears that both Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer, and GOP slime ball, Mitch McConnell will do all they can to block a meaningful investigation of Russia's election tampering and/or retaliation against Russia.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at the disturbing situation and the failures on various fronts to have addressed the treat - and possible treason - before the election last month.  Here are article highlights:
Well before the White House or U.S. intelligence agencies publicly blamed the Russian government for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, two members of Congress did. Back in September, Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement accusing Russian intelligence agencies of hacking Democratic Party institutions. “Americans will not stand for any foreign government trying to influence our election,” they declared. “We hope all Americans will stand together and reject the Russian effort.”
Ultimately, however, many Americans did just the opposite: They stood still and they stood apart. Over 40 percent of Americans now say they’re not especially bothered by reports of hackers working with the Russian government to influence the U.S. election; most Democrats say they’re bothered by the interference, while most Republicans say they aren’t. . . . . Not long after a foreign government’s attempt to alter American politics, America had seemingly moved on to other matters.
Schiff is refusing to move on. The future of liberal democracy in the United States and around the world is at stake, he told me, and the U.S. government is rapidly running out of time to respond to the threat (Schiff says he has no confidence that Trump will punish Russia over its role in the election). In Trump’s denial of Russian meddling, Schiff sees a “president-elect who cannot accept any facts that diminish any of his achievements, no matter how well-established the facts are.” But Schiff is also critical of Obama, whose “excess of caution” ended up “inviting too much Russian interference.” And he’s critical of his own party. “Democrats failed to persuade the American people why they should care” about Russia’s intervention, he said.
Adam Schiff: I do agree with the assessment that the combination of cyber hacking, dumping of information, dumping of potentially forged information in the future, the propagation of fake-news stories—all of these “active measures” by Russia to interfere in our elections, to interfere in European elections—is a game-changer. It is of phenomenal importance and it’s a grave danger to the country. It’s a grave danger to liberal democracy, period. We’ve seen a creeping authoritarianism around the world, and this has been enabled by the cyber revolution. What we saw the Russians do in our presidential election was just utterly unprecedented in its scope and in its impact.
What made this so unique was the Russian willingness to dump this information in a way to damage one of the candidates, Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, and in so doing help another candidate, Donald Trump. What made it so powerful was that we had the unusual specter of a major party and its nominee giving the Russians deniability. In any other election in modern U.S. history, had Russia been interfering in the political process in a way that benefitted one candidate, you would have had both candidates repudiating it. . . . But here you had, in Donald Trump, someone who was willing, on the one hand, to egg on the Russians to hack more, but on the other to give them deniability—a feat of both mental and rhetorical gymnastics that few could pull off. But he did.
[The cyber campaign] clearly had an impact [on the election]. Whether it was decisive or not we’ll never know. In a close election, any fact can be decisive. But there’s no refuting the Russian involvement in our elections. And that ought to be alarming to every American regardless of its impact.
In the context of the Russian cyber hacking, what it meant was that people’s party identity was so firmly entrenched that Republicans didn’t care enough about Russian hacking as long as it was helping their candidate. Even now you’ve seen Republican attitudes toward Russia change because of the expediency of who their new party leader is. And that’s largely, I think, influenced by core GOP hostility to Democrats.
The two most disturbing things I’ve seen since the election by the president-elect were, first, his claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted; otherwise he would have won the popular vote. That’s pure fiction. For someone who is about to be our president to publish that falsity is alarming. What followed close on the heels of that was the unwillingness to accept that the Russians had meddled in a way that helped him. And so he has to deny the underlying facts.
Both of those things tell me this is a president-elect who cannot accept any facts that diminish any of his achievements, no matter how well-established the facts are. That worries me a great deal for when he becomes president. Does that mean that he is going to ignore intelligence that contradicts his personal views because [it’s] less beneficial to him? That is a very dangerous trait to have in a commander in chief.
He’s doing long-term damage both to the intelligence community that risks its neck to provide a lot of these insights and analysis, but also to his own success as president and the country’s success, because there’ll be a national-security crisis at some point.
[I]t doesn’t take a rocket scientist or secret sources of information to recognize that in Secretary Clinton, [the Russians] had a candidate who they thought would be standing up to Russia, hostile to Russia, someone who’d been critical of their flawed elections in 2011. And in Donald Trump they had someone who was admiring of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, dismissive of NATO, and willing to potentially repeal sanctions [against Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine]. The Russians had every reason to prefer Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

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