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The Russians will meddle in our elections again

The Russians meddled in the 2016 election. We haven't held them to account for it. They will do it again.If yo...

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 10:44 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 10:44 AM

The Russians meddled in the 2016 election. We haven't held them to account for it. They will do it again.

If you happen to be one of those few Americans who still don't believe any of that (hello, Mr. President), you need to take a look at what Navy Admiral Mike Rogers told lawmakers Tuesday.

"The Intelligence Community concluded last year that Russian actors, with the knowledge of senior decision-makers, employed influence operations to interfere with the US presidential election in 2016," said Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command.

He said the Kremlin did this by employing hackers who stole personal communications, which were then leaked to new outlets. They also created both fake social media personas and news items on all sides of the issues to sew discord and confusion.

"This," he warned, "threatens the foundations of democracy, making it difficult ... to craft common measures for countering Russia's aggressive actions in its near-abroad and its repression at home."

When pressed by senators about what the administration was doing to craft those "common measures," Adm. Rogers was forced to admit ... not a whole lot.

"They haven't paid a price, at least, that's sufficient to get them to change their behavior."

It reminds one of what Lord Palmerston, the great 19th century British diplomat, once said about the Russians:

"It has always been the policy and practice of the Russian government to expand its frontiers as rapidly as the apathy or timidity of neighboring states would permit, but usually to halt or frequently recoil when confronted by determined opposition; then to await the next favorable opportunity to spring upon its next victim."

Palmerston was referring, of course, to Moscow's geographic ambitions during the Victorian age. We can certainly see afresh his wisdom in Russia's modern-day violations of Ukrainian sovereignty. But the essential truth of Palmerston's warning applies as well to Russia's orchestrated and aggressive ambitions in cyber space.

Mr. Putin will only stop this malicious meddling when confronted by a "determined opposition" to it. And thus far, as the admiral testified, Putin's felt nothing of that.

President Trump still cannot bring himself to openly acknowledge, much less criticize, Russia for its cyber crimes. He has not ordered his intelligence or law enforcement chiefs to combat those crimes. And he has not implemented the punitive bipartisan sanctions against Russian entities that he himself -- albeit reluctantly -- signed into law.

Adm. Rogers assured lawmakers today that "we're taking steps, but we're probably not doing enough."

One reason for that, he confessed, is that he hasn't been given the necessary authorities -- legal and direct orders, as it were -- to more aggressively target the threat at its source ... in Russia.

"I need a policy decision that indicates there is specific direction to do that," Rogers said. "The President ultimately would make this decision in accordance with a recommendation from the Secretary of Defense."

Right he is. Neither the new National Security Strategy nor National Defense Strategy say much about so-called offensive cyber capabilities. But the NSS makes clear that the United States "will impose swift and costly consequences on foreign governments, criminals, and other actors who undertake significant malicious cyber activities."

Those consequences have to be the result of a policy decision. And Adm. Rogers doesn't make policy.

To be sure, the administration can -- and should -- have the debate as to the advisability of more aggressive cyber options. There are also other, noncyber-related ways to retaliate against state and nonstate actors -- such as those pesky sanctions the President won't implement. All options should be fairly heard.

But that's the problem right now. Nothing is being heard, much less discussed, regarding this looming threat to our democracy. So convinced is he that evidence of Russian meddling taints his legitimacy, Trump refuses in nearly every way to face the issue squarely and dispassionately -- the way any good commander in chief would face a national security threat.

Best we can tell, the President hasn't even convened a single National Security Council meeting to address the matter.

For his part, Adm. Rogers said he hasn't asked for additional authorities. He no doubt has good reason for that, reasons the public are probably not meant to know. Given the admiral's long record of service and his reputation for candor, we should not leap to the conclusion that one of his reasons is the President's intransigence.

But absent more context and an adequate explanation for why the administration has failed to enact "swift and costly consequences" on Russia, the American people could be forgiven for believing that we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. They might be forgiven for worrying that we will fall prey to the same ill-confidence in our electoral process, the same crassness in our public discourse, and the same distrust in our public institutions that Russia's attacks have heretofore engendered. Indeed, six in ten of those Americans surveyed in a new CNN poll said they lacked confidence the President is doing enough to stop outside meddling in US elections.

It is way past time for Trump to reassure the citizens of this country that he takes this matter seriously, and that he will do all that is required to defend our constitution, as his oath stipulates, "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Palmerston had it right all those years ago. Even when effectively confronted, Russia will await the "next favorable opportunity to spring upon its next victim."

Russia has not been effectively confronted. And if we don't start doing something soon to protect our democratic system, we must content ourselves with the dubious distinction of being both Putin's last -- and next -- victim.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 486434

Reported Deaths: 6575
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1009131586
Ramsey43165803
Dakota36375392
Anoka33335388
Washington22121258
Stearns18752201
St. Louis14822263
Scott13308107
Wright12538116
Olmsted1181788
Sherburne874172
Carver775640
Clay692387
Rice670791
Blue Earth596635
Kandiyohi579674
Crow Wing521282
Chisago499545
Otter Tail483270
Benton447790
Winona418549
Mower405731
Douglas393368
Nobles387247
Goodhue386269
Polk343763
McLeod340049
Beltrami338651
Morrison324747
Itasca313646
Lyon313644
Becker312542
Isanti306756
Steele301511
Carlton300149
Freeborn282623
Pine282016
Nicollet259241
Todd248330
Brown245537
Le Sueur235720
Mille Lacs227947
Cass220424
Waseca209317
Meeker207434
Martin189928
Wabasha18673
Roseau180317
Hubbard160740
Houston157414
Dodge15294
Renville150340
Redwood147027
Fillmore13768
Chippewa136735
Pennington136316
Cottonwood135020
Wadena131020
Faribault123417
Aitkin119033
Watonwan11758
Sibley117310
Rock115914
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101624
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9488
Jackson93610
Swift87918
Pope8075
Marshall78015
Lake74218
Stevens7418
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68516
Wilkin67411
Koochiching61911
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5092
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3075
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 335218

Reported Deaths: 5443
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51785551
Linn19463313
Scott17080210
Black Hawk14924292
Woodbury13778212
Johnson1312174
Dubuque12416194
Dallas1019092
Pottawattamie9828143
Story959345
Warren511674
Clinton500784
Cerro Gordo498882
Webster494487
Sioux479169
Marshall463072
Des Moines427161
Muscatine424191
Buena Vista412237
Wapello4025108
Jasper386266
Plymouth367478
Lee354252
Marion339869
Jones284654
Henry279637
Bremer268754
Carroll266349
Crawford252235
Boone242830
Benton240354
Washington239047
Mahaska215246
Jackson209738
Dickinson202440
Tama202365
Kossuth198055
Delaware185540
Clay183825
Winneshiek182827
Fayette178635
Page177819
Buchanan176929
Wright173831
Hamilton173742
Cedar171523
Hardin169439
Harrison167169
Clayton159854
Butler158831
Mills147920
Floyd147741
Poweshiek147730
Lyon145541
Cherokee145336
Allamakee142347
Madison141918
Iowa139423
Hancock137630
Grundy132030
Winnebago130231
Calhoun129311
Cass128751
Jefferson128334
Appanoose123147
Louisa122341
Mitchell120440
Chickasaw119615
Union118731
Sac118318
Shelby116433
Emmet115040
Humboldt113525
Franklin109019
Guthrie108928
Palo Alto100921
Howard99021
Montgomery96736
Clarke94720
Keokuk92029
Monroe89428
Adair81028
Ida81032
Pocahontas80919
Davis76323
Monona76327
Greene72910
Lucas71421
Osceola68215
Worth6667
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50520
Audubon4739
Wayne45821
Adams3184
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