After Russia’s intervention in the 2016 presidential elections, the United States has been wary about another attempt to influence its elections. To this end, the Pentagon has allegedly been carrying out cyber attacks of its own against Russia, as reported in the revealing New York Times article published on Saturday.
But while the United States military branches are vigilant about any dangers posed by Russia, Donald Trump’s own denial of Russian involvement in the 2016 elections seems to have had a strange bearing on what gets shared with the president. As noted in the New York Times report, Pentagon officials are not keen on discussing the details of their cyber attacks with the president. The Pentagon has supposedly gone out of its way to keep Trump in the dark about the steps it has taken to counter cyber attacks, especially as it does not seem to place enough faith in him. The report suggested that Trump was not being spared the details because of “the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.”
Trump’s own history of discussing sensitive details with foreign leaders hasn’t impressed the Pentagon. In 2017, Trump reportedly discussed a sensitive operation in Syria with the Russian foreign minister, and the Pentagon doesn’t want a repeat especially as it is on its toes to protect the American Republic from unforeseen attacks by foreign adversaries.
“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid,” the report said.
“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.”
Last year, new laws introduced by Congress gave American military the go-ahead needed to carry out “clandestine military activity” against foreign powers seeking to intervene in future U.S. elections. Trump didn’t have to approve those plans, and it appears that he has little say in the Pentagon’s operations now. It is arguably not a reassuring feeling to know that the leader of the United States is not well-versed with its own military’s cyber operations, but the Pentagon allegedly appears intent on keeping the U.S. elections free of any influence, even if it comes at the cost of a president kept in the dark.