All Obama has wanted to do for the remaining days before leaving the White House was to play golf. But his Democrats comrade Hillary Clinton’s stunning losses is proving to be a bitter pill to swallow, even until today. The president is under tremendous pressure from his party to do something, anything so that somebody, anybody could be punished.
The supposedly most liberal and progressive party – Democratic Party – has proven that it isn’t that democratic after all. It doesn’t subscribe to democracy and couldn’t accept an election defeat. They blame alternate media’s fake news despite 99% mainstream media cooked polls and published fake news. They blame FBI Director James Comey for reopening Clinton’s email scandal.
They blame White Americans for not voting Clinton even after calling them “deplorables”. They blame the young millennial for supporting third party candidates instead of Clinton. They blame Electoral College for not betraying voters and vote for Clinton instead of Trump. Heck, they even blame White Women for voting a male-Trump and not a female-Clinton.
Running out of people to blame within America, the Democrats blame the Russia. Hillary Clinton has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally directed covert cyber attacks against the U.S. electoral system, against American democracy because apparently according to Clinton, Putin has a personal beef against her.
Obediently, the commander-in-chief agreed that the Kremlin had indeed launched cyber attacks on the United States. Without a shred of evidence, outgoing President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Thursday sanctioning Russian intelligence officials, individuals, and organizations. Essentially, Obama is expelling 35 Russian diplomats.
Besides kicking out 35 Russian officials, two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York are to be closed down. The new sanctions also include travel bans and asset freezes targeting four top officials in the G.R.U., Russia’s powerful military intelligence agency. In a tit-for-tat response, Moscow said that U.S. diplomats would be ordered to leave Russian soil too.
There’s more – Russian Embassy in UK responded at lighting speed to the sanctions with a tweet – “President Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, including American people will be glad to see the last of this hapless administration.” The tweet was accompanied with a picture of a duck, and a word “lame”.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, simply said – “Such steps of the U.S. administration that has three weeks left to work are aimed at two things: to further harm Russian-American ties, which are at a low point as it is, as well as, obviously, deal a blow on the foreign policy plans of the incoming administration of the president-elect,”
President Obama expels 35 🇷🇺 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl 🇺🇸 people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) 29 December 2016
If indeed the U.S. possesses the evidence, the question is why Obama administration hadn’t released it earlier but chose to sleep on them. Obama has claimed he knew about Russian hacking but decided not to issue sanctions earlier for fear of Russian retaliation ahead of Election Day. But why bother closing the stable door now after the horse has bolted – Clinton has lost.
The executive order gives the president the authority to issue travel bans and asset freezes on those who “tamper with, alter, or cause a misappropriation of information, with a purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.” But so far, President Obama has offered zero evidence that the Russian government was involved in any of those crimes.
What Obama has offered on Thursday was the released of a joint report – “Joint Analysis Report” – by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), detailing how federal investigators linked the Russian government to hacks of Democratic Party organizations. The report refers to the Russian hacking campaign as “Grizzly Steppe.”
The 13-page report provides semi-technical details regarding tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political, and private sector entities.”
The FSB, Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB (once headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin) is thought to be behind the hacking group known as APT29. Meanwhile, the GRU, Russia’s powerful military intelligence service, is thought to be behind the second group that infiltrated the DNC, known as APT28.
APT28 is thought to be the group responsible for “doxxing” the DNC and Podesta by allegedly providing the stolen emails to WikiLeaks to publish. Both FSB and GRU gained access to the DNC through targeted “spearphishing” campaigns, in which the hackers tricked targeted users into clicking bogus links that either deployed malware or directed them to a fake webmail domain.
At best, the JAR report shows how the U.S. government could have been hacked, NOT evidence that the Russia government has done the hacking. At worst, the report tells all and sundry that the U.S. government systems contain flaws and vulnerabilities everywhere that patching, network security, firewall, zoning, passwords and whatnot are badly needed.
One possible avenue by which Russian “hackers” could have influenced the vote was when the notorious Wikileaks released email archives from several Democratic National Committee (DNC) employees and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. CIA anonymously claimed Russia hacked both the DNC and RNC but selectively leaked emails from the DNC to Wikileaks.
However, Wikileaks has repeatedly denied that Russia was the source of those published emails, not to mention no one has produced concrete evidence to confirm the anonymous CIA claims. Trump and his aides have said that Democrats are pushing the Russian hack story as part of an effort to explain away the loss by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But even if the Russian could be proven as the badass behind the hacking, they could justify that they had merely acted like an ordinary whistleblower – exposing dirty secrets, not tampering or altering information. Wikileaks had exposed how Clinton and her team returned favours in exchange for funding from contributors to the Clinton Foundation.
Leaked emails also reflected tensions within the Democratic Party. The leaks to the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, after emails suggested party staff favoured Clinton over primary rival Bernie Sanders. John Podesta was revealed as having had given his blessing for illegal migrants to vote using driver license.
Get real, both Russian and American, and the Chinese for that matter, have been spying and launching cyber attacks on each other almost on daily basis. To cry over Russian hacking into American systems is an insult to the peoples’ intelligence. Is Obama admitting that the U.S. Intelligence was powerless, inferior and vulnerable to hackers – both domestic and foreign?
Obama’s latest, and probably final sanction on Russia, has done nothing but invites condemnation that the outgoing president has essentially wasted 8 years on “ineffective foreign policy”, especially against Russia. With less than 3 weeks before leaving for good, Obama’s sanction is seen as a symbolic rather than a preventive measure.
As stunning as President Barack Obama’s executive order, incoming President Donald Trump could, on his first day in Oval Office, reverse it using his own executive order and even allow Russian intelligence officials back into the United States. But Trump will most likely be advised not to because it would look too obvious that he’s putting Russian interest above American’s
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