01:36 GMT +320 October 2018
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    US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accepts the nomination on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Federal Probe into 'Russia's Influence' in US Election Aims to Smear Trump

    © AFP 2018 / Jim WATSON
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    The investigation is to be spearheaded by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to examine the means, motives and impacts of Russian "propaganda" and "disinformation" efforts at the urging of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and US Senator Harry Reid.

    The Washington Post reports that "US intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election" after revelations last week that voter file systems in Arizona and Illinois had been accessed by hackers although the origins of those breach and motives remain unknown.

    In the wake of the reports, US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), a proponent of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, demanded that federal officials immediately begin an investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in American elections saying that he believed Vladimir Putin planned on "tampering with this election."

    "I have recently become concerned that the threat of the Russian government tampering in our presidential election is more extensive than widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results,” said Reid’s letter to FBI Director James Comey. "The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount and had led Michael Morrell, the former Acting CIA Director, to call Trump an 'unwitting agent' of Russia and the Kremlin."

    The Obama administration has taken up Harry Reid’s call to investigate which now begs the question whether the White House has jumped the shark deploying federal taxpayer funded resources in a tacit form of electioneering geared towards sullying the candidacy of Donald Trump with allegations that he is either in league with or the beneficiary of foreign interference in stark contravention with campaign laws banning the government from sticking its thumb on the scales to tilt the outcome in favor of one party of another.

    The investigation by intelligence and law enforcement agencies also appears to be predicated on patently incorrect statements and attempts to conjure up mass hysteria. Russia’s purported connection to the hacking of the Arizona and Illinois voter files is based on an unconfirmed suspicion by FBI authorities at the time of the breach according to hearsay comments by an employee at the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

    Furthermore, these allegedly Russian hackers "exfiltrated" (copied and pasted) 200,000 voter records from the Illinois database that consist of names, phone numbers, addresses and party affiliation. The use of this information for a state actor is unfathomable unless Kremlin officials are secretly seeking out American pen pals and the use for a political campaign is equally inexplicable because all candidates have access to a much more advanced listing of voters through their respective political parties.

    Evermore confusing is why the information would be pulled from either Illinois or Arizona, neither of which are swing states, rather than a state like Ohio. Yet it turns out, there is a complete listing of identical information publicly available on the internet for all 8 million registered Ohio voters as well as for many state again begging the question of the veracity of this claim.

    In Arizona, the situation is a fair bit more complex with hackers allegedly gaining the login credentials for an election official from the Gila County Recorder’s Office. Authorities say that the hacker did not modify, delete or erase any records from the system, but even if they had separate redundant lists are managed by the Arizona Secretary of State, each county’s Recorder’s Office, and the Arizona Department of Transportation – all three of which entities handle voter registration in some form. Thus, if something were deleted it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

    Despite there being neither smoke nor fire here, the Washington Post reports that Senator Harry Reid was "deeply shaken" after learning about the alleged hacks in Arizona and Illinois before rushing to write a letter that accused Trump of being a Russian agent in three of five paragraphs and calling for what is tantamount to a witch hunt.

    In addition to honing in on the voter file hacks in Arizona and Illinois as well as the release of 20,000 DNC emails through WikiLeaks exposing the Clinton campaign’s coordination with the DNC and mainstream media outlets to spin false narratives about Bernie Sanders – with neither of these breaches actually attributable to Russia – the Washington Post reports that federal officials will probe Russia’s spreading of "disinformation" and "propaganda" which could potentially be construed as a veiled threat again journalists for news agencies funded by Russia or that do not take an overtly anti-Russian or pro-Hillary line.

    The road that this use of official resources leads down is all but certain, but a 1950s-style scenario becomes more and more possible as political operatives get caught up in winning an election at all costs.

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    Tags:
    Russian hackers, DNC Leak, Trump, Illinois Secretary of State, Arizona Secretary of State, DNC, WikiLeaks, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Republicans, US Senate, White House, Democrats, RNC, Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, James Clapper, Donald Trump, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, United States
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