While President Obama is eagerly awaiting National Security Director James Clapper’s full investigative report on the ‘Russian hacking’ fiasco to hit his desk in the Oval Office, the administration retaliated against Russia Thursday by imposing new sanctions and expelling 35 intelligence operative from US soil.
However, as it stands now, the White House is in somewhat of a catch-22 and is finding it difficult to legally retaliate against the purported Russian hacks in the digital realm over specifics listed in a 2015 executive order which indirectly excludes counteroffensive measures to be taken against foreign cyber-actions aimed at influencing the U.S. electoral system. But despite formalities, after making adjustments, the White House plans to make it burdensome not only for the Russians but also plans to make it challenging for a newly-elect President Trump to reverse any actions taken by the current Administration once in office.
According to the Washington Post:
Obama issued the executive order in April 2015, creating the sanctions tool as a way to hold accountable people who harm computer systems related to critical functions such as electricity generation or transportation, or who gain a competitive advantage through the cybertheft of commercial secrets.
States of people overseas who have engaged in cyber-acts that have threatened U.S. national security or financial stability. The sanctions would also block commercial transactions with the designated individuals and bar their entry into the country.
This is all quite unusual for the times and sets a dangerous precedent considering the fact that warmongers and Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham just announced a plan, a push, that would likely cause yet even more friction between the U.S. and Russia.
[…] inciting the push, Sen. Graham told CNN, “There are a hundred U.S. senators [and] ninety-nine of us believe the Russians did this and we’re going to do something about it, along with Senator McCain.”
“We’re going to put sanctions together and hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election,” said Sen. Graham before carrying on to insinuate that the Russians are “doing it all over the world.”
Sen. Graham told CNN that has intel that the Russians are conducting a “massive military buildup […] in the western district of Russia along the Balkans border and Poland” and that the Russians “are absolutely increasing their military capability in this region.”
Graham also said that he and Sen. McCain will “advise the President-elect, when he becomes president, to continually keep U.S. troops in the region — partnering with, training, advising, assisting, exercising, with our Balkan partners to reassure them of our commitment.”
You can see how the not so dynamic duo, McCain and Graham, along with the White House, are firmly pressing for conflict with Russia, which president-elect Donald Trump has been thoroughly trying to avoid at all costs.
According to the Washington Post piece, the quagmire faced by the White House does not fit into terms written into the executive order “which require harm to critical infrastructure or the theft of commercial secrets” for action to be taken.
According to the order, the Washington Posts concludes:
“You would (a) have to be able to say that the actual electoral infrastructure, such as state databases, was critical infrastructure, and (b) that what the Russians did actually harmed it,” said the administration official. “Those are two high bars.”
Although Russian government hackers are believed to have penetrated at least one state voter-registration database, they did not tamper with the data, officials said.
But wait a minute, if this rings true, why wouldn’t the Department of Homeland Security face the same anticipated wrath that the Russians face, based on the department’s attempted hacking breach of the U.S.-based State of Georgia voter system database leading up to the general election as pointed out by Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp?
Kemp stated in a letter addressed to President-elect Donald Trump, “There are still many questions regarding the origin and intent of this attack that remain unanswered.”
And after all, to quote the Washington Post, “Some analysts believe that state election systems would fit under “government facilities,” which is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors designated by the Department of Homeland Security.”
Is there a double standard here? Why prosecute the Russians if the DHS is involved in the same illicit activity? But even worse yet, the DHS engaged its own country.
Just some food for thought.
Shepard Ambellas is an opinion journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief of Intellihub News & Politics ( Intellihub.com ). Shepard is also known for producing Shade: The Motion Picture (2013) and appearing on Travel Channel’s America Declassified (2013). Read more from Shep’s World. Get the Podcast. Follow Shep on Facebook and Twitter.
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