Russia IS our cyber adversary … but not the only one

Democrats keep reminding us that the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not only about the question of collusion by President Trump and his campaign with Russia.

There is the more legitimate issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election. They seem to think – or at least try to make us believe – that Trump and the Republicans do not care about that issue of Russian interference.

They peddle this bogus narrative through the overly friendly news media despite the MANY times Republicans – and even Trump – has made a distinction between the probe into broad range of Russian activities and the bogus collusion issue.

Though he has not made the point often enough or strong enough, Trump has stated, on occasion, that his “witch hunt” characterization only applied to the collusion portion of the investigation.

Now that it is over, despite the desperate efforts of Democrats to keep that dead horse in the race, we can more rationally focus on the issue of Russian meddling in America’s internal affairs.

It is important to preface that conversation with the fact that whatever the Russians did, they did NOT change any votes cast in the election and their social media mischief did not change the outcome of the election.

Largely obscured by the flak of their subsequent specious claims, that was the post-election consensus – affirmatively stated by President Obama and others.

We have to remember that while much of the Russian trolling was against Putin’s nemesis, Hillary Clinton, some of the output was directed against Trump – and some was merely to sow the seeds of public hostility and division, especially involving race relations.

It is also important to understand that Russian interference in America’s domestic and foreign affairs is not new. It has been the mainstay of Moscow’s international activities since the days of Stalin – with a brief period of glasnost and perestroika between the disintegration of the old

Soviet Union and the rise of Vladimir Putin.

Russian interference is not limited to our elections. It is an ongoing activity. They have attempted to hack into our energy grid, our military operations, and our banking systems. And they are not alone.

China has employed hacking to steal corporate secrets and proprietary information. Iran, North Korea, and just about every American adversary are engaging in cyber warfare against the United States. Organized terrorist groups are doing likewise.

And then there are all those freelance hackers operating around the world based on their own personal disdain for America. There are a lot of what Trump described as “fat guys on a couch with a computer.”

The only crime that Mueller uncovered dealing with Russian interference in the election was the criminal use of social media — and that resulted in the indictment of 13 Russian nationals – including oligarchs close to Putin – and three Russian companies. That was to the point and a good thing.

In terms of Trump campaign collusion or collusion by other individuals, no one … repeat, no one … was indicted on the central charge. They were mostly indicted for personal financial and regulatory crimes that had nothing to do with Trump campaign or on what is known as “process crimes” – lying to investigators even though they, themselves, were never found to be criminally colluding with Russians on behalf of the campaign.

It was that rather creative prosecution of not cooperating with an investigation that found no underlying crime. Polls have indicated that most Americans do not embrace that kind of prosecution.

Much is made of the number of people who had meetings with Russians for various reasons – some of whom lied about the meetings or the subject matter.

In examining each of those meetings individually, it become clear that they were never connected to a grand conspiracy – or even the campaign, in many cases. The Senator Jeff Sessions had a meeting with the Russian ambassador in his office that had nothing to do with the campaign.

He also had a brief encounter with the same ambassador at the Republican National Convention. Michael Flynn spoke with Russians in his capacity as incoming National Security Advisor.

He never lied about the meeting but only the content because he proposed possible policy changes that were not authorized by President-elect Trump. He lied to the Vice President about it.

George Papadopoulos never even met with a Russian operative. There was no secret about the Trump Tower meeting, although they tried to peddle a cover story. Most of the meetings were the normal course of business in Washington – and that seems to be borne out by the Mueller conclusions.

Virtually everyone concedes that Russian meddling in recent years has been among their most successful – even beyond Putin’s wildest dreams. They were not responsible for electing a President despite the Democrat’s self-serving claims. They did create political chaos, however – and are still doing so.

Their greatest success may be in promoting the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement – with Democrats and the media as their unwitting allies – their useful idiots, to be more precise.

The unprecedented attacks on the President as being a foreign asset and mentally ill – now discredited – played a major role in exacerbating public discord and undermining public confidence.

It has been our own American media that spread slander about Trump to the peoples of the world – undermining our foreign policies – and then publicizing the negative reactions they promulgated.

The investigation of Russian intelligence operations directed at the United States – and the countermeasures to combat it – are ongoing. Those investigations and actions are a permanent part of our own intelligence operations. Spy versus spy is standard operating procedure among the nations of the world. Propaganda is the primary tool.

Truth be known, we all meddle in the internal affairs of other nations. Obama folks went to Israel to try to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Republican operatives traveled to Great Britain to support Conservative Party candidates. We have both defensive and offensive operations dealing with foreign nations – friendly and hostile — on a 24/7 basis.

While Democrats are obsessed with Russia, our intelligence operations are focusing on the big picture. We will never stop our enemies from trying to undermine us by meddling in our affairs.

We just have to be better at the game – and we have to stop helping them.

So, there ‘tis.