There seems to be little doubt that the US is and has been under cyber attack by certain foreign powers. This seems to be one of the few issues upon which Dems and the GOP can agree. Recently, concerns and calls for action have been issued from such varied sources as Republican Senators Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, and John McCain, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed, the FBI, the CIA and DHS. I agree that the US has been victimized by cyber attacks for several years, and the danger is potentially existential. Among the primary perpetrators have been China, Russia and North Korea, a rogues’ gallery if there ever was.
What I find particularly disturbing is that these cyber attacks are just becoming publicized as a major issue now. Why has there not been any significant attention to this matter before? In particular, why has the Obama Administration not been more proactive? The overwhelming evidence is it has been downplaying the matter significantly, much as it has done regarding ISIS. The question is, why? An oversight? Incompetence? A desire not to ruffle feathers? Your guess is as good as mine.
A variety of news outlets, such as the NY Times, the World Tribune and the Free Beacon, to name a few, have been denoting that the President underestimated the extent and effect of these attacks. For example, they report that he has rejected numerous recommendations from various military, intelligence and security advisors to respond aggressively. Rather than consider one of a wide variety of actions ranging from diplomatic initiatives to economic sanctions he has delayed taking any action or even speaking out until now. Moreover, they add that he has even steadfastly refused to characterize them as “attacks,” preferring to employ softer descriptions, such “vandalism,” or “penetrations.”
The Times and the Tribune have both reported that Obama, responding to the suspicions regarding the election and under pressure from Congress, has finally authorized a full and complete investigation into the possible Russian involvement of the 2016 election. That’s fine, but as I said the problem is far more broad and has been going on for years.
I agree with the various congressmen and security and intelligence agencies who have been calling for a thorough investigation of the rash of cyber attacks. I do not, however, think the focus of this investigation should be aimed at the 2016 Presidential election, as some have suggested. The problem is considerably more pervasive and significant than that. As I said, the US has been victimized by cyber attacks repeatedly in the last several years. For example, China’s attack on the Federal Office of Personnel Management and North Korea’s attack on SONY have been well documented. News outlets, such as the Beacon have reported that China’s attack affected some 22 million personal records of federal employees, much of it of a highly sensitive nature.
Democrats’ attempts to concentrate on Russia’s possibly influencing the election through cyber attack smacks of political opportunism. Once again, they are coming across as sore losers trying every which way to overturn the will of the people in a free and fair election. First, it was alleged there were unspecified “irregularities” in the voting. When that vague assertion failed to “stick,” they demanded recounts in various states. The recounts, which have cost significant time and money, have not come close to changing the results in any state. If anything, they have resulted in slightly more votes for Trump (e.g. some 100 votes in Wisconsin). Next, they blamed FBI Director Comey and his email investigation. Now that those have failed to bear fruit they are claiming that Russia influenced the election because it wanted Trump to win.
That theory is illogical and preposterous on its face, and no reliable evidence supporting it has come to light. Why would Putin want Trump to win? Based upon Clinton’s record as Secretary of State and her avowed determination to continue Obama’s soft foreign policies, it is logical to conclude that, if anything, Trump would be more aggressive toward Russia. Don’t be fooled by his criticism of NATO and its members. I view that as merely a “negotiation” to get them to pay their fair share of expenses. That’s how Trump operates. Everything is a negotiation.
In my view, it is more likely that Russia’s motive in releasing emails damaging to the Dems was (1) Putin’s antipathy toward Obama/Clinton, (2) it was able to “hack” them, and/or (3) it couldn’t pass up an opportunity to disrupt the election. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has supported this last supposition, opining that Putin’s objective was “to create doubt about the validity of the …election results, and make us seem hypocritical when we question the conduct of elections in other countries.”
Incidentally, isn’t it curious how the only emails released were those involving Clinton, Podesta and the DNC. Could it be because they were connected to Clinton’s inadequately secured server and therefore, easily “hackable?” Hmm. You decide. Makes one wonder, though, who else could have been “hacking” into Clinton’s server and what information they could have obtained..
As I said, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. We are losing the most critical cyber war. If we don’t take prompt and decisive action these attacks will continue and intensify. What’s next? Our financial markets, our power grids? We are exposed, and it is long past time to act.