Thursday, June 22, 2017

NPR -- U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

“If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.”

Robert Reich points out some highlights:

1. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee: "In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple. Now, the key question for the President and Congress is: What are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?"

2. Witnesses before the Senate Intelligence Committee, from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, told lawmakers they expect the Russian cyber-threat against the U.S. to evolve into a larger threat in future elections. "I believe the Russians absolutely will continue to try to conduct influence operations in the U.S., which will include cyber operations," said Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.

3. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has inspected state elections systems, said “our highly computerized election infrastructure is vulnerable to sabotage, and even to cyberattacks that could change votes," and warned "these realities risk making our election results more difficult for the American people to trust. I know America's voting machines are vulnerable because my colleagues and I have hacked them."

4. Halderman and other experts urged states to replace "obsolete" paperless machines with optical-scan machines that count paper ballots; audit election results by examining paper ballots to "provide high assurance" that the election results are correct; and apply tougher cybersecurity safeguards to voting equipment and elections management.

But what are Trump and the White House doing about all this? Either ignoring Russia’s cyber-attack, denying it, or seeming to cover it up.

The president has a sworn duty to protect the United States and the Constitution. We have been attacked, folks. Trump is failing in his most fundamental responsibility.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary 
Jeh Johnson arrives to testify before the House Intelligence
Committee on Wednesday.

U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

By Brian Naylor