From Rus­sia — again

Boston Herald - - NEWS -

The na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence chiefs had some sober­ing news for Amer­i­can vot­ers — the Russians aren’t fin­ished med­dling in our elec­tions. Not by a long shot.

And even if the pres­i­dent of the United States re­mains in de­nial, state and lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials — and cer­tainly vot­ers — can’t af­ford to fol­low his lead.

“There should be no doubt that Rus­sia per­ceives its past ef­forts as suc­cess­ful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elec­tions as a po­ten­tial tar­get for Rus­sian in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions,” Dan Coats, di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence, told the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Tues­day.

“Through­out the en­tire [in­tel­li­gence] com­mu­nity we have not seen any ev­i­dence of any sig­nif­i­cant change from last year,” he added.

Vot­ers can cer­tainly ex­pect an uptick in Rus­sian pro­pa­ganda ef­forts, es­pe­cially on so­cial me­dia and of­ten using au­to­mated bots, aimed at sow­ing dis­cord and fur­ther in­flam­ing in­ter­nal di­vi­sions.

“We ex­pect Rus­sia to con­tinue using pro­pa­ganda, so­cial me­dia, false-flag per­sonas, sym­pa­thetic spokes­peo­ple and other means of in­flu­ence to try to ex­ac­er­bate so­cial and po­lit­i­cal fis­sures in the United States,” Coats said.

Mean­while Rus­sian hack­ers are tar­get­ing elec­toral sys­tems — some­thing the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence chiefs promised to de­tail in closed door brief­ings on Capi­tol Hill and share with state elec­tion of­fi­cials.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son last week also al­luded to “cer­tain be­hav­iors” as­so­ci­ated with Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling al­ready quite ob­vi­ous to those who know what to look for.

That was a thought con­firmed by CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pompeo, who added, “We do have some ca­pa­bil­i­ties of­fen­sively to raise the cost for those who would dare chal­lenge the United States elec­tions.”

Fore­warned is pre­sum­ably fore­armed. But there is no longer any doubt that the threat is real — only the oc­cu­pant of the Oval Of­fice seems not to com­pre­hend that.

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