Opinion

Obama’s silence about Russian cyberattacks is a disservice to his countrymen

Here’s the news bulletin from President Barack Obama in 2016 that you never saw: “Beware a national security threat! Russian cyberattacks trying to hack into America’s national elections systems.”

You should have seen such an announcement, but you never did. Because Obama never sent it, even though the CIA told him about the recurrent attacks months before the presidential election. The Russians made efforts to hack into the electronic elections systems in 21 states, and to wage internet misinformation campaigns during election season.

Obama knew about the Russian interventions, but he said nothing to the American people about it until late fall.  And, Obama’s administration failed to stop Russia’s meddling in our elections. Instead, later on, Obama and his political party promoted and supported the idea that Trump or his election team were colluding with the Russians during the campaign.

Why was there little action from Obama against the Russians? Because his administration expected Hillary Clinton to win the election, so he didn’t begin to make a big deal out of the Russian interference until after Clinton lost. Last Friday, looking back, an Obama administration official admitted “I feel like we sort of choked”, and said, “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend.” Then he wondered, “They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?” Only after Trump’s election win did Obama take more serious retaliatory measures against Russia.

The problem here is not only the fact that Obama kept the American people in the dark so that political opportunities could be allowed to flourish. The Obama administration disgracefully lacked the honest judgment to provide sufficient information to elections officials in 21 states and hundreds of U.S. counties that their systems were being attacked and may, in fact, have already been compromised. It was inexcusable to keep those officials in the dark. The Homeland Security Department still has not informed Congress about the identities of 19 states “that were hacked into or attempted to be hacked into”, according to Sen. Mark Warner. State elections officials have complained in their testimony before the Senate that the “hacking” information they received from Homeland Security in late 2016 was not timely, not detailed enough, and that they were informed that “no credible threats” to their systems existed.

These statements contradict the Congressional testimony of Jeh Johnson, the head of Homeland Security under Obama, who testified he “was very concerned about the meddling in state election systems”.

Apparently, Johnson and his boss were not concerned enough to inform the American public. Seems like they have some explaining to do.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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