Amer­ica should not let Rus­sia’s hack­ing cam­paign go unan­swered.

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s de­ci­sion to pun­ish Rus­sia for or­ches­trat­ing a hack­ing cam­paign meant to in­flu­ence the 2016 elec­tion is a wel­come move, and one that should be sup­ported by good pa­tri­ots ev­ery­where.

The world’s largest democ­racy should not let such a breach go unan­swered. The strength of our coun­try and the very cause for which we stand would be threat­ened should for­eign gov­ern­ments dis­rupt our abil­ity to con­duct fair and se­cure elec­tions. Given that U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies also fear that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in­tends to have his hack­ers med­dle with demo­cratic elec­tions in Europe, there is ex­tra good rea­son to act pub­licly in this way.

Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is eject­ing 35 Rus­sian diplo­mats from San Fran­cisco and Wash­ing­ton that it sus­pects are spies. It is block­ing ac­cess to sea­side com­pounds Rus­sian diplo­mats en­joy in New York and Mary­land (and may use to avoid de­tec­tion from U.S. spies). And the ad­min­is­tra­tion also is im­pos­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions on Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and op­er­a­tives and promis­ing fur­ther ac­tion.

In ret­ro­spect, such moves should have come sooner, back in the days they might have had the de­sir­able ef­fect of pre­vent­ing our long-time ad­ver­sary from mak­ing a mess of our elec­tion cy­cle and cre­at­ing the worry that the re­sults of that med­dling tipped the scales in the fa­vor of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump. But any sug­ges­tion that it is too late to act miss the point. Our na­tion must sig­nal strongly that we won’t ac­cept this kind of be­hav­ior in the fu­ture.

No, the pun­ish­ments listed so far don’t amount to much more than a pub­lic re­buke, so we hope go­ing for­ward the U.S. con­tin­ues to find ways to make Putin pay for his in­ex­cus­able in­ter­fer­ence.

We ad­mit that such hope­ful­ness, how­ever, ap­pears to be the stuff of make-be­lieve. So far Trump and his team seem bent on con­tin­u­ing to act like the Rus­sians are our friends and our in­tel­li­gence agents are noth­ing but po­lit­i­cal hacks en­gaged in smears against his vic­tory.

Not long after the blus­tery bil­lion­aire talked in­com­pre­hen­si­bly about life in the “age of com­puter,” his aide Kellyanne Con­way ar­gued that Obama’s ac­tions weren’t the stuff of a re­spon­si­ble pres­i­dent, but a po­lit­i­cal stunt meant to “box in” the next ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Trump sup­porter Rudy Gi­u­liani called the pun­ish­ments petty, too lit­tle too late, and said that the pres­i­dent-elect shouldn’t trust any­thing com­ing from the U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies while Obama re­mained in of­fice.

Thank­fully, con­gres­sional Repub­li­can lead­ers re­main ded­i­cated to in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Rus­sian hacks and even broad­en­ing sanc­tions and pun­ish­ments go­ing for­ward.

And Trump him­self said he would at least at­tend a meet­ing with U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials next week.

Crit­ics can howl at Obama on the sanc­tions if they want. And cer­tainly we could ar­gue that Obama has been too soft on Rus­sia for its harsh back­ing of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, so why take such um­brage at this blood­less in­cur­sion into our elec­toral process?

But Amer­ica must pro­tect its demo­cratic prin­ci­ples and its abil­ity to main­tain them. So no, Mr. Trump. It’s not time for our coun­try to “move on” from this in­sult.

It’s time to hold ac­count­able those who seek to harm us.

Pres­i­dent Obama meets with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin dur­ing the G8 sum­mit in North­ern Ire­land on June 17, 2013.

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