Well, now that the “Russia hacked the election” story has faded away and the media obsesses over these white supremacists clowns in Virginia, the truth starts to trickle out. Somehow we get the impression we won’t see the media badgering the former president about his inaction after being warned about Russia over three years ago.
The Obama administration received multiple warnings from national security officials between 2014 and 2016 that the Kremlin was ramping up its intelligence operations and building disinformation networks it could use to disrupt the U.S. political system, according to more than half a dozen current and former officials.
As early as 2014, the administration received a report that quoted a well-connected Russian source as saying that the Kremlin was building a disinformation arm that could be used to interfere in Western democracies. The report, according to an official familiar with it, included a quote from the Russian source telling U.S. officials in Moscow, “You have no idea how extensive these networks are in Europe … and in the U.S., Russia has penetrated media organizations, lobbying firms, political parties, governments and militaries in all of these places.”
That report was circulated among the National Security Council, intelligence agencies, and the State Department via secure email and cable in the spring of 2014 as part of a larger assessment of Russian intentions in Ukraine, the official said.
There was no explicit warning of a threat to U.S. elections, but the official said some diplomats and national-security officials in Moscow felt the administration was too quick to dismiss the possibility that the Kremlin incursions could reach the United States.
Yet eight months after President Trump won the 2016 election we been treated to a daily diet of conspiracy theories, but Obama gets zero scrutiny.
“Even if the Russians and [Russian president Vladimir] Putin had these ambitions, they were doubtful of their capacity to execute them,” the official said of the Obama administration.
Former White House officials, requesting anonymity to discuss intelligence reporting, confirmed that the administration began receiving increased traffic in 2014 about Russian disinformation and covert influence in campaigns, but said they did not recall receiving that specific warning about Russian inroads in the United States.
Ned Price, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council, rejected the idea that the administration failed to heed warnings about Russian interference in the U.S. political system or Russian cyberespionage in general.
“The Obama administration was nothing but proactive in responding to Russian aggression in all of its forms, especially as Moscow became more brazen with and following its military moves against Ukraine beginning in 2014,” Price said, citing sanctions and increased American support to NATO as evidence of the former administration’s seriousness.
But subsequent events — including Russia’s interference in the American election through hacks of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, among other intrusions identified by U.S. intelligence — have left many in the former administration wondering if they could have done more.
“People have criticized us … for not coming out more forcefully and saying it,” former CIA Director John Brennan said at the Aspen National Forum in July. “There was no playbook for this.”
On Oct. 7, 2016, about a month before the election, the administration revealed, through a statement from the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, that the U.S. government believed Russia was behind the hacks and was seeking to interfere with the election. The revelation, which many in the White House expected to be bombshell news, was largely overshadowed by the revelation that same day of Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape in which he made crude and sexist comments to anchor Billy Bush.
That story was more important to the lamestream media that Russian meddling up and until Trump won. Then the narrative quickly changed.