White House officials addressed U.S. cyber insecurity issues and the response being taken on Russian diplomats in retaliation for what has been called Russian interference in the recent American elections.
“It is a fact that Russia interfered in our democratic election,” according to a senior Obama administration official during a conference call with the press on Thursday as many in the public debate the issue.
The White House press call regarding the cybersecurity issues and Russian hacking concerns makes very clear the position of the Obama administration on this matter.
“There’s no debate in the U.S. administration about the fact — and it is a fact — that Russia interfered in our democratic election. We’ve established that clearly to our satisfaction. I would never expect Russia to come out with their hands up and acknowledge what they did. They don’t do that.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald appeared on a segment of the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight recently to dialog on the White House and its cyber insecurities. Greenwald is portrayed in NY Magazine as being a tad dubious of the developing news. Instead, according to the article, the journalist believes that “Democrats ginned up hostility to Russia” for entirely political purposes.
Greenwald told host Carlson that the Russian threat was “an election-year political” tale made up by the Dems. Greenwald recalled the 2012 presidential election year when Mitt Romney went against Barack Obama on the issue of Russia being a threat. Obama mocked Romney, the journalist recalled for viewers.
“One of the really interesting things is, in 2012, when Mitt Romney ran against Barack Obama, the Democrats mocked Romney mercilessly for depicting Russia as the number one geopolitical threat ….”
Furthermore, recalled Greenwald, throughout Obama’s presidency, much effort was made to try “accommodating Putin.” The journalist then listed off the points that President Obama “didn’t arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine” or even the fact that President Obama “tried cooperating” with Putin in Syria.
But the White House stance on the Russians has apparently changed since 2012 when the Obama-Clinton strategy seemed to be desiring to “reset” relations. According to the NPR transcript of a speechifying Obama at the Democratic National Convention, regarding Romney’s belief that there was a Russian threat in 2012, the president stated this about his rival, “You don’t call Russia our number-one enemy — not Al Qaeda, Russia… unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.”
Others who heard the Obama White House cyber insecurity discussion between Greenwald and Carlson chimed in on Twitter.
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) December 29, 2016
A media question came up during the conference call from the White House. A question arose regarding the official steps being taken by President Obama on booting Russians out of “compounds” and what that meant exactly.
“The compounds are not part — are not contiguous with the embassy,” answered another senior official unnamed in the transcript. “One is in Maryland and one is in New York. They are compounds that the Russian government owns and that they use for multiple purposes — as described by my colleague, intelligence, but also recreational, as well. And under the Foreign Missions Act, we have the authority to restrict their access to these properties based on their pattern of behavior.”
How many Russian diplomats were being denied was the next bit of information given. “And just to be absolutely clear, there are 35 Russian diplomats — actually intelligence officers — who were PNGed by State. The denial of access to the two compounds is all Russian personnel. The Russian missions in Washington, in New York — all Russian personnel will be denied access to those two compounds beginning at noon tomorrow, or December 30th. And those who were PNGed have 72 hours from the moment of having been informed to leave. So they should be gone, by my calculation, that would be Sunday — by noon on Sunday.”
Regarding president-elect’s statement that everyone should “get on” now with their lives, would a Trump administration be allowed to decide further matters against the Russians as he has already signaled that “he does not believe that [the election matter by itself] is a matter that should be pursued”?
“[O]ur approach is that there’s one President at a time,” said the White House official, “and that President Obama is going to execute the duties of his office until January 20th. And he is acting in what he believes to be the best interest of the United States.”
Further on, the unnamed official also added this:
“When the new administration takes office, it’s entirely their judgment as to whether or not they continue down the course that we have set in a number of different areas. I guess what I’d suggest is that the Russian actions have been sustained over an extended period of time, and by any definition are against the national interests of the United States, not the interests of President Obama.”
White House cyber insecurity issues may not be the talk in every home tonight as the world bids adieu to an old year and lots of misery, but perhaps citizens of planet earth may keep their eyes and ears opened in 2017 as Donald Trump becomes the new American president.
[Featured Image by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP Images]