On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. military may be used to defend against or prevent Russia’s election meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections — but did not elaborate as to specifically how the armed forces would be deployed.
The Military Times reported that Mattis also said he agrees that the order to meddle in the 2016 presidential election came from the top levels of the Russian government itself.
Although he wasn’t specific, Mattis did talk in broad terms about the steps the U.S. military is currently taking and will take this fall to protect the 2018 midterms.
The Defense Secretary indicated that there would be two distinct ways that the U.S. military would play an important role in election protection.
- He said that military forces and resources would be used to defend against further meddling by Russia and other foreign hostile powers, and
- He said they would make sure that troops are not ensnared by foreign information campaigns.
“U.S. troops are part of protecting the Constitution, protecting the integrity of the elections and protecting what we stand for,” the Defense Secretary said at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
“We are focused on protecting the elections themselves,” he added, “so we’re looking at both this influence peddling and the corrupting, the violating the integrity of the elections, and those activities are in direct support of law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security.”
“We all saw what happened in 2016 when the Russians, and possibly others, but the Russians for certain tried to do both influence operations and actually get in and corrupt some of the election process,” Mattis told reporters. He was speaking after a Pentagon ceremony for British Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson.
In agreeing with official assessments of the U.S. intelligence community concerning the role of foreign governments, Mattis then added:
“I believe it is official Russian support for meddling. However, that is not exclusive. There’s also other activities that went on that perhaps are not directly ascribed to the official Russia. But we watch for all of it and we can trace at least parts of it back to the Russian government.”
“U.S. troops, like all Americans, we have to be alert to the people who try to manipulate an election in the information age when there’s so many feeds coming into everybody and everybody has access.”
It is heartening to see the head of the entire U.S. military agree with other intelligence agencies that Russia in effect has been and is waging a cyber war against our country. He recognizes how vital it is for the country’s leaders to take immediate, broad and very strict measures to protect against foreign meddling and to retaliate and punish our enemies.
President Donald Trump, however, has repeatedly said he believes it when Russian President Vladimir Putin told him Russia did not meddle in U.S. elections. Putin, like Trump, is an habitual liar and has used dishonesty to obtain and keep his dictatorial powers. Both of these presidents always lie, and they have always lied to the American people about Russia’s direct involvement in making Trump President of the United States.
Luckily the American people are being protected and served by people of courage and integrity like James Mathis, and it is upon their shoulders that the fate of American democracy now rests.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.