Yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee released the first volume of its bipartisan report on Russian election interference. Most of it was redacted, I understand. But in between the solid black boxes some information did come to light.
The key part of the report shows that it’s very likely all 50 states were targeted by Russian hackers. That doesn’t meant Moscow got into all of the states’ systems, just that it infiltrated at least one system in that state. The report did not find any evidence that hackers were able to change votes.
But because there was no discernible pattern, intelligence professionals and other US officials believe Russia likely aimed to gain access to any systems it could to better understand what it all looks like.
“What it mostly looked like to us was reconnaissance,” Michael Daniel, a top cybersecurity official at the White House during the Obama administration, told the committee in 2017. “I would have characterized it at the time as sort of conducting the reconnaissance to do the network mapping, to do the topology mapping so that you could actually understand the network, establish a presence so you could come back later and actually execute an operation.”
In other words, 2016 was just a test run. But Charles Pierce has questions:
Remember when we were all told that it was only a couple of precincts, then a couple of cities, then a couple of states? Remember when it was just data? Now, as far as we can read between the blacked-out lines, we are being asked to believe that the Russian ratfckers could have deleted “voter data,” that they “were in a position” to jack around with it, but, having achieved this monumental intelligence triumph, they didn’t do anything with it? Does that dog even look like it’s hunting any more?
Oh, who knows? What I do know is that this Russian election interference thing really is a big bleeping deal, and I’ve been saying that since 2016. And, of course, Republicans are shutting down any attempt to add protections to the voting systems. The most recent bills that Mitch McConnell killed in the Senate would have mandated the use of backup paper ballots and other technical sageguards to election systems; required campaigns to report any hacking or other foreign interference to federal authorities; and provided for protecting personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers from hacking.
These seem fairly benign to me. But Mitch was having none of it, because fair elections are partisan.
But McConnell said Democrats were just trying to make political hay on the heels of the Mueller testimony in their attempt to bring up a House bill that would mandate the use of paper ballots in states’ election systems and provide additional funding to the federal, nonpartisan Election Assistance Commission.
“This is partisan legislation from the Democratic House of Representatives,” McConnell said, noting that the bill garnered just one GOP vote in that chamber and was designed to give Democrats the political upper-hand.
“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity and security of our elections in our country,” the GOP leader said, but he added, “any Washington involvement in that task needs to be undertaken with extreme care, extreme care and on a thoroughly bipartisan basis. Obviously this legislation is not that. It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia.”
Obviously, paper has a well-known liberal bias. Meanwhile, the Right Wing Noise Machine is hyping up a conspiracy theory that it was Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russians, apparently so … that she would lose?
Ahead of his interview with Trump, Hannity is out here trying to convince people that the Kremlin tried to help Clinton & hurt Trump during the 2016 election — as though we all didn’t live through WikiLeaks destroying Clinton with stolen emails while Trump cheered it on. pic.twitter.com/HT92qJqMrN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 26, 2019
Put briefly, Hannity’s theory is that the Steele dossier — an unverified document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele (whose work on behalf of Fusion GPS was funded in part by the Clinton campaign) that makes a number of salacious, unproven claims about the Trump campaign’s dealings with people in the sphere of the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign — contains kernels of misinformation that were intentionally fed to Steele by Russians. Per Hannity’s telling, these bits of misinformation were intended to serve as land mines to take out Trump, and were exploited by anti-Trump officials in the FBI and intelligence agencies to pursue an investigation of the Trump campaign that eventually became the Mueller investigation. Hence, Hannity views the Mueller investigation as the result of collusion between Russians and the “deep state.”
This is worthy of Glenn Beck. Does working for Fox News make one nuts, or do you have to be nuts to begin with? See also Republicans Are Doing a Good Job Blocking Efforts to Fight Russian Meddling in 2020 in Rolling Stone and Surely It’s a Coincidence That a Firm Tied to a Russian Oligarch Is Pouring Millions Into Kentucky by Charles Pierce.
Even if votes weren’t/aren’t changed, just knowing how easily our elections could be hacked sets up a way for Trump and McConnell to void election results they don’t like in 2020.