According To Declassified Report, Russians Hacked Local And State Election Boards
January 6, 2017

The intelligence community has now released the public version of the report they delivered to Donald Trump, President Obama, and Congressional leaders. While the public version of the report leaves many details out and is a general assessment of what they concluded, there are still a few disturbing details.

The agencies agree that Putin ordered an "influence campaign" for our elections, and as it progressed, there was a clear preference for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. They used state media, sock puppets on social media, and of course, Wikileaks to exert influence.

The goals, according to the report, were to "undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency." It also concludes that "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

There are other disturbing conclusions in the report, particularly with regard to the hacks on local and state election boards.

"The Kremlin's campaign aimed at the US election featured disclosures of data obtained through Russian cyber operations; intrusions into US state and local electoral boards; and overt propaganda," the report states.

Digging deeper into what they mean by intrusions into US state and local electoral boards leaves a somewhat vague conclusion. While the report says that the hacks did not affect vote tallies, the question of whether databases were tampered with or disclosed in some way to give Trump an advantage is overlooked.

The report instead says, "Russian intelligence accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards. Since early 2014, Russian intelligence has researched US electoral processes and related technology and equipment."

However, they also conclude that "DHS assesses that the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising were not involved in vote tallying."

That leaves a whole lot of other issues unsaid. Like, for example, whether any tampering with the databases could have dropped certain voters off the rolls ahead of election day. Or whether the voter information they obtained was used to build databases at a corporate operation like Cambridge Analytica, which was heavily involved in voter microtargeting activities.

It could even have ramped up the disinformation campaign, with social media accounts of names in targeted areas being influenced by the troll army unleashed out of St. Petersburg.

On these points, the report is silent. There is much left out, presumably because it is part of the classified version of the report and not available to the public. This report does not mention the names of the intermediaries who delivered the fruits of Russia's illegal hacks of the DNC to Wikileaks, leaving Julian Assange with the undeserved luxury of plausible deniability. It does not give much in the way of detail about the different online influence campaigns, the role trolls played, how many of them there were, or recommendations for how to prevent similar campaigns in the future.

But it does leave one conclusion: Russia played a role in the election of Donald J. Trump. Worse yet, Senator Mitch McConnell had an opportunity to level the playing field and chose his political party and power over the health of the United States electoral system.

Shame on all of them.

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