Law suit

Hacking Through Partisanship in the U.S. Electoral Scandal……


DECEMBER 13, 2016 | 03:54 GMT

More than a month after the U.S. presidential election, the tumult shows no sign of dying down. In fact, the noise around the roles of hacking and cyber intrusions in the vote rose several decibels Monday, following a weekend of charges that Russia put its thumb on the scales in November’s election. But the resulting political debate, fueled by accusations that President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters and potential Cabinet members were complicit in the hacks or, alternatively, that the Democrats are sore losers trying to undermine the incoming administration, is obscuring the larger geopolitical issues at play. What’s more, it overlooks the fact that cyber intrusions are only the latest tool in a time-honored tradition of electoral meddling.

At issue in the current maelstrom is not the sanctity of the voting process itself, but rather the manipulation of voter sentiment by foreign powers. America’s voting method varies from state to state, or even county to county, and uses hundreds of systems to track millions of paper and digital ballots cast by different means at different times. By inadvertent virtue of this arcane system, U.S. ballot boxes are more resistant to direct hacking than perhaps any other voting platform in the world. But the American electorate is not tamper proof.

The U.S. electoral process, flawed though some claim it is, remains the backbone of the country’s political system. The system is designed to be resilient in its complexity, to avoid (or at least deter) the over-concentration of power, and to enable each to express his or her opinion. At the same time, it is also designed to ensure a level of continuity and stability. Trust in the political process, even when the results are dissatisfactory, is essential to preserving national unity and preempting extra-constitutional attempts to alter the political landscape. If the process is seen as faulty or manipulated, national cohesion and the perceived legitimacy of political power will suffer. Consequently, foreign manipulation of U.S. elections is a serious issue.

It is not unprecedented, however. Foreign powers have long used information campaigns, propaganda and political messaging to try to create doubt around one candidate or another and to shape the narrative ahead of elections. The Iranians may well have delayed the release of hostages in part to create an environment conducive to President Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, hoping for a better deal. In 1996, Chinese fundraising scandals surrounded the re-election of President Bill Clinton (who later paved the way for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization) and Democratic congressional candidates. In fact, there may even be precedent for a president’s complicity in electoral manipulation; Richard Nixon’s campaign tried to influence the collapse of Vietnamese peace talks to facilitate his own election. Russian disinformation campaigns have also been around for years, from rumors of U.S. chemical and biological weapons during the Korean War to stories, allegedly planted by Moscow, of the FBI’s role in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. One could even argue that European leaders, or at least media and interest groups, fetted Barack Obama during his first run for the presidency, highlighting his differences with his predecessor, with the clear intention of reshaping U.S. policy direction.

Furthermore, the United States is not always the victim of these tactics. Washington has frequently been accused of interfering, more and less overtly, in other countries’ elections, most recently after the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines made critical remarks about Rodrigo Duterte during his bid for office. From Radio Free Europe to the National Endowment for Democracy, America has an array of “soft power” tools at its disposal to shape not just foreign elections, but foreign political systems as well. Attempts to interfere in, or at least influence, elections are the norm in international politics rather than the exception. Though no one wants to admit that his or her victory may have been shaped in part by foreign powers, the world always seems to have its vote, particularly in U.S. elections.

In addition to trying to influence elections directly, foreign powers are always looking for internal information on candidates and parties that they can use to anticipate shifts in U.S. policy or adjust their language and behavior to shape policies. Compared with older techniques such as wiretapping, bugging, breaking into offices or devising ruses to ply information from insiders, cyber tools are far more expedient and less risky. They are also harder to trace, further adding to the confusion.

Despite the outcry over Russia’s hacking activities, we are not on the cusp of a new Cold War. In many ways, however, the world is far more complex than it was during the Cold War — though, on the plus side, the threat of thermonuclear war no longer looms quite as large. The United States and Russia are once again at odds with each other, divided along an array of geopolitical lines, and the former Soviet periphery is once again the scene of heavy competition between the two. But the ideological, political, economic and security dichotomy of the Cold War has since given way to a more diverse global landscape. Today, power is more diffuse, the lines between friend and foe are blurred, and economic integration often coexists with strategic competition. Each nation still has its own interests, but the global framework of “West” and “East” no longer provides an easy rubric.

There is little doubt that Russia, among other countries, tried to craft information campaigns with the intent to shape the U.S. presidential elections. Moscow may even be said to have actively interfered in the race if it did, in fact, selectively release emails. Still, it is hard to argue that its activities were enough to tip the balance, even in a close race. By politicizing the latest instance of foreign electoral meddling to the point where each side of the political spectrum is reduced to solely accusing the other of lying, we risk misplacing the focus on partisan instead of strategic issues.

Perhaps a more productive way to assess the accusations is to ask a few different questions: Is hacking significantly different from a disgruntled staff member’s leak, from loose talk at a bar, or from stolen or misplaced documents? Is a campaign or political party staff member’s email a national security issue or a matter of basic information management? Is U.S. government information better protected than private information? How quickly and effectively is the U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence community adapting to the changing information landscape? How does one balance privacy, freedom and security (a perennial question in the United States)?

And, maybe most important, are U.S. elections at significant risk of true foreign manipulation, or are they simply vulnerable to attempts at information-shaping? The latter we know how to deal with. The former is a fundamental threat that merits dispassionate investigation.

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Categories: CIA, Congress, Democrats, Government Secrets, Law suit, Middle East, Obama, One Government, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FBI director: Clinton broke the law March 21, 2016 …


Could this finally be the beginning of the end for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

hillaryFBI-280x175

Anonymous internal sources told the New York Post that FBI Director James Comey and leading investigators into the Clinton email set-up have become “increasingly certain that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton violated laws in handling classified government information through her private email server” and that investigators are now in possession of “compelling evidence” proving her guilt.

And sources told the Post that the probe is nearing its end.

Clinton has long faced criticism for using a private, home-brew email system during her tenure as secretary of state. While Clinton has repeatedly denied handling classified information through her private email, several emails had to be held back from public release because information contained in them was deemed classified or too sensitive.

With the FBI reportedly convinced that Clinton mishandled classified information, it’s next task is to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to indict Clinton and prosecute. While that was once considered an unenviable — if not impossible — task, there could be enough political pressure to force the DOJ’s hands, according to former U.S. ambassador John Bolton.

“I think that the pressure is definitely building,” Bolton said Sunday.

Bolton, speaking to radio host Aaron Klein, went on to say that “there’s a real risk for Obama and for the attorney general that the FBI will explode” if an indictment doesn’t occur.

“It may not be the same thing as firing Archibald Cox [the discharged Special Prosecutor] in the Watergate investigation, but if this potential prosecution is tanked for political reasons, it will be a very loud explosion.  And it will stain Obama’s legacy forever. It will damage [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch’s professional reputation and I think it will have a profound impact on the presidential election, as well,” Bolton said.

Clinton currently enjoys a lead of more than 300 delegates over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, but Sanders supporters remain hopeful an indictment would help them rally for a historic comeback. With Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii set to hold votes on Saturday and thousands of delegates still at stake, an indictment could ultimately cost Clinton the White House she’s long coveted.

Categories: Democrats, Government Secrets, Law suit, Obama, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Republicans just won a major, unexpected victory in a battle with Obama……


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Barack Obama John Boehner

(AP)
US Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), speaker of the House (right), and US President Barack Obama (center) at a White House ceremony June 24, 2014.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives have standing to proceed with a lawsuit against US President Barack Obama’s administration over his signature healthcare law, a federal judge said Wednesday, handing them a significant and somewhat unexpected victory in the ongoing legal battle.

US District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled Wednesday against the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss the case. Collyer said House Republicans do have the standing to pursue their challenge, which argues that the Obama administration violated the US Constitution by spending money on the law that had not been appropriated by Congress.

That was a key question in the lawsuit, which the White House and House Democrats have continually dismissed as a “political stunt.”

In her ruling, Collyer rejected that argument, calling the House’s challenge valid.

“Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter,” she wrote.

The case centers on the more than $175 billion the administration will spend over the next decade under a cost-sharing program with health-insurance companies. The Obama administration has said it’s spending previously allocated money.

The attorney for the House, Jonathan Turley, called Collyer’s decision “historic and profound.”

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President Barack Obama at American University in Washington August 5, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Thomson Reuters)
Obama delivers remarks on a nuclear deal with Iran at American University in Washington.

“The ruling today means that the United States House of Representatives now will be heard on an issue that drives to the very heart of our constitutional system: the control of the legislative branch over the power of the purse,” he wrote in a statement posted to his website. “We are eager to present the House’s merits arguments to the Court and remain confident that our position will ultimately prevail in establishing the unconstitutional conduct alleged in this lawsuit.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who’s leading the lawsuit against the president, said he was “grateful” for the court’s ruling.

“The president’s unilateral change to Obamacare was unprecedented and outside the powers granted to his office under our Constitution,” Boehner said in a statement. “I am grateful to the court for ruling that this historic overreach can be challenged by the coequal branch of government with the sole power to create or change the law. The House will continue our effort to ensure the separation of powers in our democratic system remains clear, as the Framers intended.”

Categories: 2nd Amendment, Congress, Law suit, Obamacare, Unlawfull | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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