On January 6, 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its unclassified background report entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”.
The (U) background report makes it very clear that the Russian Federation government at the direction of President Vladimir Putin mounted an information campaign intended to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election in the United States.
That revelation has provided the breathless headlines for many skewspaper articles and broadcast skews blather which would have us conclude that this has never happened before and that the United States of America has never and would never engage in anything so nefarious as to try and influence who controls other nations’ governments. Both conclusions are wrong.
Long before the Soviet Union dissolved, it had been using influence campaigns to try and influence western elections. It hasn’t stopped. If the incoming cast of Republican clowns think that Putin and his intelligence services (SVR, FSB, GRU) haven’t been laying the groundwork to disrupt the Trump administration using similar and even more aggressive tactics, then those Republicans need to re-read the report and be drug tested regularly. (It’s not only the Russians. The People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and several of our allies have the ability and very probably the will to do much worse.)
What the Russians did in the 2016 election campaign was attack the vulnerabilities of several electronic storage media to gather information for their influence campaign. Those vulnerabilities were known or should have been known to the systems’ administrators. For the past eight years efforts by the Intelligence Community to beef up counterintelligence (CI), including offensive CI operations, were largely rebuffed by President Obama.
The report offers no evidence the Russians successfully manipulated votes via cyberattacks.
As for any misplaced belief that the United States would never do unto someone else what the Russians did unto us, ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the efforts by President Obama and his henchmen at State Department to get Netanyahu ousted in 2015. Go back even further to the 1973 support by President Richard Nixon for the Chilean coup ousting President Salvador Allende and to the numerous efforts under President John F. Kennedy to remove and even kill Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
The links in the first paragraph provide a pretty good primer for those wanting to know more about how the Intelligence Community assesses threats and how it provides information to decision makers. It also hints at what worked in preventing the Russians from doing what our skews media wish had happened: actually manipulating the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.