Friday, June 23, 2017

Governing America

"[The Russians] used fake news and propaganda and they also used online amplifiers to spread the information to as many people as possible."
"[The Internet] has allowed Russia to do so much more [than previously, but the] scale and aggressiveness [differed]." 
"I believe the Russians will absolutely try to continue to conduct influence operations in the U.S. [including cyberattacks]."
Bill Priestap, counterintelligence, FBI

"In 2015 the Russian government, at the direction of [President] Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election -- plain and simple."
"Prior to election Day, I also personally reviewed with the CEO of The Associated Press its longstanding election-day reporting process, including the redundancies and safeguards in its systems."
"[Russia did not] through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results. [I am] not in a position to know whether the successful Russian government-directed hacks of the DNC [Democratic National Convention] and elsewhere did in fact alter public opinion and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election."
"The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion, and the DNC did not feel it needed [Homeland Security assistance]."
Jeh Johnson (former) Homeland Security Secretary
Do they appear thrilled with the company they're in? Apple's Tim Cook, President Donald Trump, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
CREDIT: Getty Images

These two officials of American Intelligence were testifying before the Senate Intelligence committee in Washington, informing Congress of Moscow's purported involvement in the 2015 presidential election campaign for the purpose of undermining America's politics. The Russians, stated the FBI's top counterintelligence official, had on previous occasions attempted to interfere with elections. This time, stressed Bill Priestap, it was with the intention of advantaging the Republican candidate.

That being said, they also stated that though the intention of the Russian interference was to sow discord among the Democrats and give a leg-up to the eventual winner, Donald Trump, those actions had no real impact on the final results of the election. However, they warn, the effort that Moscow extended on this latest occasion is likely to be ongoing.

It is all rather precious; portraying the United States of America as a helpless pawn of Russian malevolence. As though it is not standard practise for the U.S.A. to interfere, sometimes obviously and more often covertly, in the outcome of other countries' elections. Including, needless to say, that of Russia's. The United States, like all other countries on the world stage, is interested only in manipulating events so that they will reflect favourably upon U.S. interests.

Russia has on this occasion of the 2016 presidential election, acted no differently than on any other occasion. Where the difference lays is that on this occasion the Republican candidate enthused about warmer relations with Russia, speaking with admiration about the Russian President. This U.S. President is one the history books will have an engaging time with; a shallow, misinformed, vain and supremely hubristic man of uncouth cloth. One driven to admire other heads of government with the same credentials as his own.

But this man was elected by the American public. The election campaign, raucous and nastily partisan did represent the democratic order. The misfortune was that both political parties ran unpalatable candidates and the electorate simply chose the one they could best stomach. Neither party is content with the outcome, but the Democrats have indulged in the sour grapes of inciting their supporters to defy the election outcome while they themselves are indulging their penchant for mischief.

The effort to paint Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin as partners in a scheme to defraud the electorate and diminish the status of the United States, sending it into a state of chaotic misgovernance does no credit to the Democrats, and even less to those civil servants at every rank who are desperately attempting to criminally discredit an administration that is in its infancy and which may not survive not only as a result of its own obvious incompetence but because of a real conspiracy to unseat it.

The former Homeland Security Secretary spoke of his discussions with state election officials to ensure voting integrity and while 33 states and 36 cities and counties made use of his department's scanning tools to detect potential vulnerabilities, none were found. The Democratic National Committee had chosen to set aside Jeh Johnson's recommendations for security, resulting in their computer systems being hacked.

Voters in America cast ballots in some 185,000 precincts among 9,000 jurisdictions where elections were subject to rigorous and elaborate rules governing what equipment is used and the manner in which they are used. The decentralized system has served the country well over its long history. But this may be the first and only time throughout its history when one political party has balked at accepting the outcome of a presidential election and continues to do its utmost to overturn its legitimacy.

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