CIA’s Ex-Deputy Director: Russian Election Meddling Is The ‘Political Equivalent Of 9/11’
Russian Actions Are ‘An Existential Threat To Our Way Of Life’
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell gave an in-depth interview to The Cipher Brief this weekend and discussed the gravity of alleged Russian election interference in no uncertain terms. A foreign government manipulating a free and open US election is completely unacceptable. Morrell argues, furthermore, that a United States response must be “significant”, and must cause Russian President Vladimir Putin “pain”. When asked about the severity of the allegations, Morrell somberly replied:
We need to see this for what it is. It is an attack on our very democracy. It’s an attack on who we are as a people. A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.
He then admitted disbelief that the government and media appear to be downplaying the implications:
It is huge and the fact that it hasn’t gotten more attention from the Obama Administration, Congress, and the mainstream media, is just shocking to me.
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Morrell — who twice served as Acting Director of the CIA — joined the growing chorus of officials calling for a full accounting of the interference:
We need a bi-partisan commission to look into exactly what the Russians did and what we can do here at home to make sure that no foreign government can ever do this again to us. That’s why that commission is so important. The commission shouldn’t look into what is an unknowable thing – which is: did they affect the outcome or not – we’ll never know that. We’ll never know what the Russians did, whether it affected a single vote or not. But what we can do is figure out exactly what they did and make changes here at home as to how information is handled, how we protect information, and make sure they never do this again.
And how should America respond? Morrell has some rather strong opinions:
The third implication is we need to respond to the Russian attack. We need to deter the Russians and anyone else who is watching this—and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians are all watching. We need to deter all of those folks from even thinking about doing something like this in the future.
I think that our response needs to have two key pieces to it. One is it’s got to be overt. It needs to be seen. A covert response would significantly limit the deterrence effect. If you can’t see it, its not going to deter the Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians and others, so it’s got to be seen.
The second, is that it’s got to be significant from Putin’s perspective. He has to feel some pain…
Trump Supporters Should Want A Full Investigation As Well
We can set aside political perspectives that have dominated our landscape for most of this century and examine the bigger picture. A Trump voter should be the first person demanding an inquiry. Consider the President-Elect’s opinion that he doesn’t “believe it“. Let’s assume that’s true for argument’s sake. Wouldn’t Trump clearly want to know what the CIA agenda is behind these assertions? Donald Trump is the incoming Commander-In-Chief. The American people deserve to know if any animus between the Executive Branch and the Intelligence community exists — and what it’s genesis may be. It’s time for Trump to finally back up his claims that he wants to be President to all Americans. If he’s half the brilliant leader he believes he is, he would call for a full and open bipartisan investigation. Yet he’d rather scapegoat the CIA than accept the very distinct possibility that the election was manipulated.
This is, after all, a man who thinks the 46th closest election in history was a “landslide”.
We are obviously a safer and stronger union when we have transparent knowledge of external threats. Likewise, we are a nation that has struggled with unity in the past fifteen years. This investigation could bolster not only our security, but our fabric as a people. We may find out that a foreign threat has tainted our electoral process. Or we may discover the intelligence community has an agenda against the incoming administration. In either case, we will be better prepared to react accordingly. And in unison.
A demand to do anything less would be an affront to patriotism and civic duty.
Featured photos by Darren McCollester and Matthias Hangst/Getty Images