Have you ever heard of the International Republican Institute? Probably not.
But your tax dollars fund it and its counterpart, the International Democratic Institute. Money is appropriated by the Congress and given to the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, which then make grants to those two groups.
The stated purpose of these organizations is to help build democratic institutions in countries all over the world. They do so by, among other activities, providing help to political parties during campaigns. That help may include media manipulation and opposition candidate research. Oftentimes the effort opposes the ruling party and has therefore resulted in the expulsion, and even arrest, of Americans working as IRI and IDI operatives.
Now, don’t get me wrong: this “foreign intervention” is not a program that is uniquely American. The Russian and Chinese play in the same elections but do so in a much more practical manner. They build homes and buy cars for their favored candidates. The point is, contrary to President Obama’s recent temper tantrum, political involvement in other nations’ elections is a game played by major powers and it has been going on for decades.
Russian hacking of American business and government operations has also been going on for decades, and has been widely reported. So has the hacking by the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, Cubans and others.
It is not news that foreign governments – including American “allies” including Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel– also fund organizations and publications to influence American public opinion— even in election years. Anyone surprised that the Russians do it must have been living in another galaxy the last fifty years.
This is old news, but unlike today’s headlines, it is real news, not fake news.
Obama’s hypocrisy on this matter is surprisingly well documented. In the months leading up to the March 2015 Israeli parliamentary elections, the Obama administration made little secret of its hope for a defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the Labor Party candidate. Obama’s interest in the Israeli election went beyond hoping for a change. Obama’s 2012 campaign national field director, Jeremy Bird, was hired by the pro-Labor “VI-5” group to advise and assist the anti-Netanyahu effort.
- Indeed, funding for much of the Labor Party campaign came from wealthy United States activists closely associated with the Democratic Party.
- Yes, both sides in that 2015 Israeli election complained of the “undue influence of foreign money,” but no one challenged the legitimacy of the election results.
So, pardon me if I consider President Obama’s moral outrage over alleged Russian interference in 2016 the height of political hypocrisy. Sadly, the only surprising thing about this manufactured ruckus is how many Republicans in Congress have joined the charade. Obama has his political axe to grind, and so do Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, political losers who have not let up on their criticism of Donald Trump since November 8.
United States government sponsorship and funding of interventions in foreign elections has been official government policy for at least 50 years since the Cold War began in the 1950s, and it has had bipartisan Congressional support. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent ANNUALLY on such activities.
Hacking into computers to steal sensitive data, email messages and other information is simply the use of new technologies to pursue traditional foreign policy goals. It is not news that the Russians do it, and Obama has known it for eight years since the day he walked into the Oval Office. He also knows his own government is doing it on a massive scale.
So, I must ask: What is so different or so shocking if Russia was somehow involved in assisting the WikiLeaks theft and subsequent publication of the highly embarrassing DNC emails that damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign? The New York Times and Washington Post showed no moral scruples when publishing other WikiLeaks-obtained information embarrassing to American politicians and national security interests. Why are the DNC emails more sacrosanct than Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails?
The brazen dishonesty and hypocrisy of the allegations of “Russian hacking of the 2016 election” is made even more grotesque by the sophomoric media bait and switch: While Russian hacking of both industrial secrets and government agency data is widespread, as is hacking by Chinese and North Koreans and others, there is no evidence of hacking into election machines or any attempted compromise of 2016 election tabulations.
Simply put, there is yet to be any evidence of Russian “hacking” of the 2016 election. And yet, the White House and the media establishment is intent on planting that idea in the American political conversation as if it were a proven fact. Trying to influence American public opinion is not the same as manipulating the election results and the attempt to confuse and confound the two is an insult to the American people.
The whole fabric of this fake news story is a fiction intended to mislead the public and cast a shadow of illegitimacy over the electoral victory of Donald Trump. Yet, when we look beyond the screaming headlines and examine the facts of the matter, we find there is no evidence the Russians have done anything that the US government isn’t doing TODAY in a dozen places around the globe. But somehow, we are supposed to believe they have engaged in impermissible interference in our politics.
The stench of this fake news hogwash is overpowering.