Russia, which tumbled back out of the Soviet Union in 1991 as a fledgling “democracy” is not collecting a good record for supporting democracy or staying out of other country’s democratic processes. U.S. Intelligence Agencies have confirmed, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate recently issued another dire warning confirming that Russia is at it again; attempting both to cause general chaos and outright interference in the 2020 election.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S election has been investigated and verified by multiple sources: from the CIA, the NAS, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Report, and the Mueller Report. If you think this is normal, or legal, think again. It is illegal for a foreign entity, whether a person or a government, to interfere in a U.S. election.
Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, a man with storied credentials in the Intelligence services including leading the FBI, warned us in Volume I of the Mueller report: that not only did they interfere in 2016, but that Russia would do it again.
Why? Russia sees itself against the rest of the western world. Their goal is to cause chaos and destabilize the countries and the alliances that have held the world in peace and relative security since World War II.
According to U.S. Intelligence, the Russians have mounted a multi-pronged approach of “active measures” the intelligence term for action steps already in process to accomplish their objectives. Lest you think this doesn’t affect us here in the Central Colorado Rockies, think again. Active measures include:
- Hacker and Bot attacks on email addresses of officials and influencers.
- Extensive social media interference, creating fake identities, to amplify fake messages at the right time.
- Gaining access to thousands of social media groups that represent message targets; many of them, such as Chaffee Patriots, are making themselves targets.
- Using group access to launch concerted campaigns to influencing social media trending topics, spread division, hate, and bigotry.
- Placing extensive online advertising of their falsehoods, focusing on media that don’t require claims substantiation.
- Planting fake news stories that neither the U.S. election process nor the U.S. Postal Service are safe.
- Encouraging Q-Anon conspiracy theories about Democratic candidates, about social issues and even the wearing of facemasks.
- Placing and encouraging rumors that stoke social division: that COVID-19 is a hoax, anti-Black Lives Matter messaging, false stories about anti-fascists, expanding stories that Antifa is an organized force, that they are violent, “invading ” the suburbs, and starting fires in Oregon and California (none of which is true).
- Placing positive stories of right-wing militias, while down-playing their extensive network of organization and expansion into America’s law enforcement agencies.
- Inflaming differences; placing stories on both sides of the social justice issue.
- Planting disinformation about Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
- Outright hacking into most states U.S. election process, including databases. While in 2016 it was noted that perhaps 10 state’s voter rolls were accessed by Russian hackers, it is now known that the voter rolls of all 50 states have been accessed. The danger appears to be them actually deleting voter registration.
The disinformation campaign and the active measures being taken against the people of the United States is malicious; it is intended to divide us and weaken the country’s standing in the world. A divided country and divided western alliances work to strengthen Russia’s hand as well as the power of Vladimir Putin, a practicing totalitarianist who has gotten himself declared Russian President for more than another decade.
There is a pervasive pattern of contact with top agents of the Russian government by members of the Trump campaign, and the Trump White House. Russia appears to have had a willing object for its work; a president who has attracted an audience of more than 38 percent of the electorate willing to believe whatever he says. How you might ask? A recent article in The Atlantic offers at least a partial answer:
The political theorist Hannah Arendt once wrote that the most successful totalitarian leaders of the 20th century instilled in their followers “a mixture of gullibility and cynicism.” When they were lied to, they chose to believe it. When a lie was debunked, they claimed they’d known all along—and would then “admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” Over time, Arendt wrote, the onslaught of propaganda conditioned people to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”
The article’s author said that one woman told her that, given the president’s accomplishments, she didn’t care if he “fabricates a little bit.”
“Another man responded to my questions about Trump’s dishonest attacks on the press with a shrug and a suggestion that the media “ought to try telling the truth once in a while,” wrote Arendt. She added that Tony Willnow, a 34-year-old maintenance worker who had an American flag wrapped around his head, told her that Trump had won because he said things no other politician would say. “When I asked him if it mattered whether those things were true, he thought for a moment before answering. “He tells you what you want to hear,” Willnow said. “And I don’t know if it’s true or not—but it sounds good, so f**k it.”
Russia knows this. Its chaos plan to disrupt the 2020 election is counting on this. We are 50 days from Nov. 3