The CIA determined that Putin had authorized the Russian attacks on the US election system. Putin was determined to punish Hillary Clinton. Hacking into critical email accounts and leaking information that was harmful to her campaign was useful to the Trump campaign. Trump praised the leaks and even asked for more leaks during the election campaign. The Russians also used the social media and fake news sites to spread information that was harmful to the Clinton campaign.
That is the first part of this story. It is now clear that Putin authorized the attacks on our election system. The rest of the story is about how the Obama administration responded to the Russian attacks. For a variety of reasons, Obama acted with caution. Among other reasons, he did not want to give the appearance that his administration was attempting to influence the election. Key members of Congress were informed about the Russian attacks but Republicans and Democrats responded to the information in predictable fashion. The US election system is highly decentralized. States control the voting systems and it is further decentralized into local voting systems. That provided some degree of protection from efforts to attack the voting system but it also made it more difficult to protect the system. Many states resisted federal warnings about attacks because they were jealous of state authority and feared federal intervention.
The information in this article helps us to understand the risks that nations face in the era of cybersecurity threats. It also reveals a lot about our vulnerabilities. Trump still denies that the Russians interfered in the election despite having been fully briefed by US intelligence agencies. Moreover, we learn that Michael Flynn, who Trump appointed as his Director Of Intelligence, had to fired because he had discussed ending US sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the transition period. It was not because he lied about this to to Vice President Spence; his conversations were captured by US intelligence.
Its hard to determine with precision how the Russian attacks contributed to the election returns. It will also be hard to determine how our political system will respond to the investigations that are still underway.
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