Russian Hacks, Political Hacks

Once again the Russians are getting active and helping the Trump campaign. The news this morning about the release of comments made by Ms. Clinton about Sander’s supporters is causing some political waves, but much more concern among the national security community because it comes as the result of an illegal cyber break in. The FBI has clearly zeroed in on Russian intelligence agencies as the source of the computer hacks. Although careful in their public comments (so to avoid escalating the issue into a major confrontation), FBI and NSA investigators have no doubts as to the involvement of Russian intelligence in trying to influence the election. “Information warfare” is the term used by Putin to describe his use of media to influence elections in countries formerly part of the Soviet empire. Now he seems to have sensed a real opportunity with Trump.

Some people speculate that Trump is overleveraged in Russian businesses as the reason why Trump refuses to criticize any Russian actions. That may be true (we would know if we had his tax returns), but just as likely is the idea that Trump is an ideal target to flip. His personality is ideal for trained intelligence agents to exploit. Two of Trump’s campaign advisers have had to resign after their connections with Russian intelligence were being investigated by the FBI (his former campaign chairman and a leading economic adviser).

Trump’s response to Russian espionage (illegal breaking into computer files with the intent to influence political outcomes is espionage) is to encourage the Russians to continue to conduct illegal operations. Trump was even briefed on the Russian intelligence hacks of government and political organizations just a few days before the debate when he denied any Russian involvement, suggesting that his ignorance is intentional. The irony is that many Trump supporters were formerly anti-Soviet cold warriors, now see no problem with their former enemy attempting to control an election of the President. Like most Trump supporters, they are untroubled by anything he says or does.

 

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