The administration of President Barack Obama last year, alarmed by Russian intelligence agencies’ attempts to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election, authored a secret, 15-page plan to stop the Russian cyber-attacks — a plan that included deployment of armed federal agents and even the military, according to an explosive new report by Time Magazine published on Wednesday.
The previously secret plan was obtained by Time as part of reporting for its cover story on the Russian hacking operation and Obama’s attempts to stop it and may be read in its entirety below on this page. The Time cover story, “Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot,” may be read in its entirety by visiting this link.
According to the report, the more dramatic elements of the plan were never implemented partly because there appeared to be no direct Russian attack against the U.S. voting system on election day itself, November 8. But also, Time reported, Obama was “paralyzed” by a poisoned political atmosphere in which Republican candidate Donald Trump repeatedly declared that the election would be “rigged” in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton — with resistance to the plan also coming from state election officials who feared federal intervention in local election procedures more than they feared Russia hacking attacks.
Read the entire text of the secret Obama administration plan to safeguard the 2016 American election, below.
Realizing that his efforts to stop the Russian attacks at home would be thwarted by partisan politics, Obama took the fight directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is suspected of personally ordering the intelligence operation to disrupt the election. In September of 2016, at a face-to-face meeting with Putin in Hangzhou, China — a tense confrontation memorialized in the widely circulated photo seen at the top of this page — Obama reportedly told Putin to “cut it out,” or face retaliatory measures from the United States.
Following the Obama-Putin showdown, the Russian attacks subsided for the remainder of September, according to Time, only to step up again in October leading up to the November election.
While Trump has wrongly accused Obama of doing “nothing” to stop the Russian election hacking operation, Trump has not yet implemented any measures of his own either to punish Russia or prevent ongoing and future Russian cyber attacks on the U.S. election infrastructure.
Polling showed that the Russian operation to undermine American confidence in the U.S. elections coupled with Trump’s public insistence that the election would be “rigged” against him achieved its objective. By election day, a Gallup poll revealed that only 30 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. election would be conducted honestly, while 69 percent said it would not.
However, even before Trump began his claims of a “rigged” election, supporters of Clinton’s defeated Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders also declared the process “rigged” against their candidate. While Sanders himself has said that he does not believe the Democratic primary was “rigged,” he has also said, “I’m not quite impressed with the process that exists,” to elect Democratic leaders.
Sanders on Wednesday acknowledged that he and his campaign were aware Russian intelligence operations were attempting to cause divisiveness within the Democratic Party.
U.S. intelligence agencies have said that in their assessment, the Russian operation to undermine faith in the American electoral process ultimately became a direct effort to ensure that Trump would defeat Clinton and win the presidency. Ultimately, though Clinton won almost three million more votes than Trump, a slim margin of fewer than 80,000 votes in three states gave Trump an Electoral College majority.
The 15-page secret Obama plan largely gave state and local election officials responsibility for countering the Russian hacking operation, which extended as far back as 2014, but in the case of an “extraordinary incident,” the plan called for National Guard and even military units to respond and safeguard the voting process.
[Featured Image By Kremlin Pool/AP Images]