Unless you are a hermit hiding out in an undiscovered cave, you
are well aware that we have been in the thick of an acrimonious and
difficult election cycle for the highest office in the land —
the Presidency of the United States. Presidential campaigns and
campaigns for other elected offices have been a struggle in prior
years — given all the competing interests, priorities and
strategies that constantly have to be juggled. If that were not
enough, now candidates have to deal with the new reality of cyber warfare.
This report indicates that the targets specifically have
included Hillary Clinton's associates from her time at the
State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and most recently her
presidential campaign. The report goes on to state that U.S.
authorities believe that the Russian hacking campaign came from
direct orders from the Kremlin and "is an attempt to influence
the presidential election and advance the broader strategic
objectives of the [Vladimir] Putin regime."
While Donald Trump at times has offered praise for Putin, the Clinton camp has
been deeply concerned, because the Russian political hacking
efforts surrounding the presidential election appear primarily to
have targeted Clinton and her colleagues. Indeed, a recent release
of hacked emails of Clinton campaign chair, John Podesta, provide
information relating to Ms. Clinton's speeches to Goldman
Sachs, and there is concern that there will be more email dumps
that seek to impugn Ms. Clinton's reputation. At the last
Presidential debate, Clinton expressed worry about Russian hacks,
and in response, Mr. Trump argued that there was no proof that
Russia was behind the hacks. He made the same argument at the first
In the wake of the foregoing, the Obama administration now is
considering an "unprecedented cyber covert action against
Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the
American presidential election," according to an even more
recent NBC News article, citing an unnamed U.S. intelligence
officials. Indeed, according to the article, "the CIA has been
asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging
'clandestine' cyber operation designed to harass and
'embarrass' the Kremlin leadership."
The CIA reportedly has "gathered reams of documents that
could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir
Putin." Some of this information reportedly documents the
financial dealings of Putin and his associates when it comes to
moving money offshore and away from Russia for their own advantage.
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell is quoted in the article
as stating skepticism that the US actually would attack Russian
networks, for fear that this could cause a similar attack back in
Plainly, the US cannot tolerate having its elections disrupted
by outside state or other actors. We will see whether the facts
prove up that Russia actually has been behind hack attacks that
already have occurred and that may happen going forward.
If the US takes cyber action against Russia, one would like to
think that the Obama administration would do so whether the hacks
suffered here had been perpetrated primarily against a candidate
from either major party. It is the integrity of our electoral
process that must be insured — not just the protection of one
particular candidate or party.
Of course, it is troubling that one specific
candidate appears to have been targeted more than the other, while
that other candidate has offered praise for Putin and disclaims
suggestions that Russia has been behind the hack attacks.
The presidential election coming up belongs
only to Americans entitled to vote. Hopefully, we can keep it that
way and we can keep it fair. And when the result comes down,
hopefully we all will be able to live with a fair result, without
some claiming that the result has been "rigged."
Disclaimer:This Alert has been
prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not
offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more
information, please see the firm's
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