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Hullabaloo


Saturday, July 28, 2018

 
They are accomplices

by digby



There seems to be a growing awareness that the Trump administration (and, needless to say, the GOP congress) have done nothing about election interference. Oops:

After nearly two years of calling Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt, President Donald Trump on Friday presided over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation.

"The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors," the White House said in a statement afterward.

But current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge.

In the statement, the White House took issue with that, saying a strategy was put in motion when Trump took office. No such strategy has been made public — or even mentioned before.
[...]
To be sure, individual government agencies have responded in various ways. The Department of Homeland Security is working with states to improve cyber security in voting systems. The FBI created a "foreign influence task force," and the Justice Department announced a new policy his month to inform the public about bots and trolls on social media. The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command are coordinating to counter Russian influence in cyberspace, the general in charge of those agencies has said.

But even members of Trump's national security cabinet have acknowledged the need for a central, unifying effort — one that experts say is missing. Senior officials have also admitted that the government has failed to take steps necessary to give the Russians second thoughts about intervening in American politics. Trump hasn't done so, and neither did Barack Obama, whose response to election meddling — expelling diplomats and closing Russian compounds in December 2016 — has been described by some of his own former aides as tepid.

If any evidence was needed that the Russians haven't been deterred, a Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said Thursday she was the target of an unsuccessful Russian hacking attempt. A Microsoft official says that company has also observed attempted Russian hacks against two other unnamed candidates.

"I do think we need to do more as a government. It requires a whole of government, because it's not just the elections," Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary, told NBC's Peter Alexander at the Aspen Security Forum earlier this month.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said in a speech this month that "the system is blinking red" on Russia cyber threats but "we have to do better in what we deliver to our customers."

In April, a top National Security Agency official said the U.S. doesn't "yet have the political fortitude to say how we'll strike back" against Russian misbehavior in cyberspace. No additional fortitude has been on display in the months since. NSA director Paul Nakasone, asked about those comments last week, said he wasn't aware of them.

"We have to as a nation bring all of the elements of our power against our adversaries," he said.

In February, his predecessor, Adm. Mike Rogers, told Congress the Russians "haven't paid a price at least that's sufficient to get them to change their behavior," adding later that "we're taking steps, but we're probably not doing enough."

Last week, House Republicans voted down a proposal by Democrats to increase election funding to states by $380 million — the cost of about four F-35 fighter jets.

"In a normal White House, there would be a point person on the National Security Council, to coordinate all the different agencies and to work with the states and the social media companies to make sure our electoral systems aren't so vulnerable to attack," Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who is helping lead an investigation into Russian interference as ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC News.

"But President Trump's inability to acknowledge that the Russians interfered in 2016 and that they will be back in 2018 is really hampering the government's response to this threat. We just don't have a whole-of-government strategy for dealing with this problem, and it leaves us incredibly vulnerable to continued interference by the Russians or, for that matter, any other adversary who might try to steal their playbook."

The GOP benefits. And, as Trump telegraphed earlier this week, if Democrats win they are planning to use the "Russia interfered" meme against them.

Win-win for them.

Lose for the rest of the planet.

.