Congress Must Investigate After NSA Chief Confirms Russians Hacked Democracy

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

It is a literal crying shame that the mainstream media failed to scream bloody murder over a national security story this week that deserves the highest priority: confirmed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Little, if anything, was reported that on Tuesday last, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Admiral Michael Rogers, was queried about the release of hacked information during the American general election and Donald Trump’s campaign. Admiral Rogers said;

“This was a conscious effort by a nation-state [Russia] to attempt to achieve a specific effect. This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily.”

It is nearly impossible to imagine a more stunning statement and damning indictment coming from the head of the primary United States security agency. Of course, it should not be a revelation; Admiral Rogers’ statement echoed similar remarks from many other senior American officials that are not connected to the newest arm of the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What Admiral Rogers said on the most fundamental level was that an adversarial foreign government, Russia, “directly intervened in the US election to obtain a desired end:” to undermine Americans’ confidence in the American electoral process or to install the Russian oligarchs’ candidate Donald Trump. It was likely to achieve both of Vladimir Putin’s “desired ends.” In fact, it is no exaggeration to claim with confidence that Admiral Rogers clearly accused Vladimir Putin of meddling in the election to achieve another desired end; abolish America’s democracy with an authoritarian fascist committed to furthering Russia’s worldview.

As no small number of political observers and commentators would agree, Admiral Rogers’ statement should be the kind of news worthy of “bold and large front-page headlines” over the course of several days and lead to a robust investigation that denies the Federal Bureau of Investigation any input or participation whatsoever. It is likely that some of the nation’s federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies are already, or have been, probing the cyber-attack of several Democratic political targets attributed to Donald Trump’s close allies in Russia, but that is not going to produce any results; Donald Trump will soon have ultimate authority over those federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

However, there is one agency that is not answerable, at least not yet, to a president and has the ability to launch an unrelentingly and extensive investigation that is necessary for the existence of democracy and to protect national security; if the agency is concerned about national security. There must be a full-fledged and comprehensive congressional investigation replete with televised public hearings and full release of all its findings to the American public; exactly like the phony investigations into the Benghazi attack and phony State Department email server controversy.

As one of the campaign arms of the Republican Party revealed during the election, it, the FBI cannot be trusted to investigate anything; especially when it is probably still “too close to the election,” or too close to the Republican candidate the idiot voters elected, or too close to his inauguration. The real problem is that there is really no guarantee that the FBI, the CIA or other intelligence agencies that investigate the Russian effort to affect American politics will ever release the truth to the public. Intelligence investigations often and should remain secret for the obvious reasons; they either involve classified information or it is the purview of the Justice Department to discuss details of the investigation in public.

Any law enforcement investigation to determine whether or not a crime was committed is supposed to remain secret until they produce indictments from a prosecutor. In fact, any investigative activity, particularly federal security-conscious “spy” type law enforcement agencies “are not designed for public enlightenment or assurance.” In 2016 one would add that those “investigative activities” are also not designed for aiding the political campaigns of Republican candidates, but for the past four years that has been the only reason Republicans in Congress have shown up to “work.”

The American people deserve to know as much about the Trump-Russia connection as they did the Benghazi or email investigation; probably about four years’ worth of House investigations should suffice. This is particularly true because the public is already aware of “alleged” Russian hacking of The Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and “reportedly state election systems in Arizona and Illinois.” Then there is also the issue of Russian deputy foreign minister who admitted after Putin’s puppet won the election that “Russian government officials had conferred with members of Trump’s campaign.”

If that is not enough damned reason for Congress to launch an investigation, it is reported that a former senior counterintelligence officer for a Western service sent memos to the FBI claiming to have discovered evidence of “a Russian intelligence operation to co-opt and cultivate Trump.” Add to all of that, this column reported that the DNC had to hire a security surveillance firm to sweep its offices and discovered evidence that its Washington headquarters had been bugged with listening devices. The DNC sent all relevant technical details and a report to the FBI; but it was too close to the election for James Comey to alert the public or Republicans in Congress despite there was no clear evidence the Russians were involved. However, according to national security expert Malcolm Nance’s recent book, The Plot to Hack America, it is more than reasonable to believe the Russians should be considered prime suspects. Mr. Nance wrote that:

Russia has perfected political warfare by using cyber assets to personally attack and neutralize political opponents. At some point Russia apparently decided to apply these tactics against the United States and so American democracy itself was hacked.”

House Democrats, victims of the hacking of democracy have appealed to the FBI to investigate links between Trump’s team and Russia, and they were joined on the Senate side by Minority Leader Harry Reid. Unbelievably, a couple of news outlets reported that there are FBI Russia-related probes targeting Trump campaign associates including adviser Carter Page and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Both Page and Manafort naturally denied any wrongdoing and Manafort confidently assured anyone asking that there is no investigation.

It is hard to know for sure if Manafort is lying, but with the Trump campaign’s apparent “special relationship” with FBI Director Comey, not investigating anyone connected to his campaign and the Russians is believable. It may even have been a directive from the GOP establishment, Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin; no scenario should be ignored. It is why a transparent congressional investigation is necessary.

There is actually one member of Congress who is publicly calling for a “full-blown” congressional investigation with open hearings and a comprehensive report to the public. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for such an inquiry on Tuesday past. Senator Graham proposed congressional hearings on “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world,” including the DNC “hack.” Mr. Graham said the inquiry is necessary to learn “Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?” Senator Graham said it is Congress’ job to find out and he is willing to push the Legislative Branch of government to do its job; at least to the same extent they investigated phony issues involving Hillary Clinton.

It is beyond comprehension that there is not a deafening public outcry and outrage over the increasing certainty that an adversarial foreign nation “covertly interfered” with an American presidential election to get “their man” elected. It doesn’t matter which political party one identifies with, the idea that foreigners are influencing elections should raise “the most profound concerns” about who is actually governing America going forward. The FBI and CIA may do a diligent job of getting to the facts, but they also will do just as diligent a job of keeping those facts from the public; especially on the FBI side because it is certainly too close to something related to the Republican candidate.

America is devolving into a corrupt banana republic with the election of Trump, and now the public deserves to know if Vladimir Putin helped corrupt the nation’s political mechanisms to install Trump as president. There are plenty of Americans who are already suspicious of their government, and although they are all racists who voted for Trump, the rest of the nation deserves a thorough investigation and reporting of the facts. If nothing else, it may prevent the entire population from doing exactly what Vladimir Putin and Trump hopes come to pass; doubt America’s democracy and completely fall victim to a dictator.