Trump’s Nonexistent Cyberdeterrence

Michael Morell and Mike Rogers argue that the United States has failed to deter Russia from its attacks on our electoral system because those attacks continue. They rely on a model of deterrence that assumes that what Russia is doing is in some way equivalent to physical war. They feel that the Barack Obama administration and Congress did not administer heavy enough penalties. They want “policies that prevent adversaries from achieving their objectives while imposing significant costs on their regimes.” but do not say what those policies would be.

Deterrence in cyberspace is not completely analogous to deterrence in physical war. Physical deterrence relies on observable, measurable things: the military and its equipment and positioning. Attribution in cyberspace is murkier than in the physical world, which weakens deterrence. Countermeasures are likely to rely on surprise, so they cannot be fully revealed to bolster deterrence. Imposing sanctions or other measures after the fact is possible and may deter future hostile action. An essential part of deterrence is a statement of unacceptable actions and the planned response to those actions.

Two recent long articles in the Washington Post on Russian interference in the 2016 US election list the countermeasures the Obama administration decided on. They included expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds, economic sanctions against individuals, and planting of cyberweapons in Russia’s infrastructure that could be activated in the future. The last may or may not have been implemented; the articles are unclear.

Further, President Barack Obama, in a person-to-person conversation, told President Vladimir Putin to stop the interference. Diplomatic means were also used to convey this message.

Those actions contain the elements of deterrence: making clear that actions are unacceptable and responding with countermeasures. The Trump administration has diluted those elements.

When the Obama countermeasures were announced, Michael Flynn, who was influential in the Trump transition and who would become Trump’s National Security Advisor, contacted the Russians to tell them that those measures would be rolled back once Trump was in office, immediately undercutting deterrence. The sanctions and expulsions have not been rolled back, but Trump has been careful to avoid saying anything negative about Russia and has praised Russia and Putin. He continues to deny that there was any Russian involvement in the election and has attacked American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies for investigating that involvement.

Whatever the specifics of sanctions and expulsions, they must be backed up by a clear statement of intent. That statement can only come from the President. Trump has instead resisted and actively undermined the countermeasures.

Deterrence of Russian election interference requires a firm and unambiguous statement from the President that it is unacceptable and will be responded to. Then he would fully enforce the sanctions against Russia and likely retaliate in other ways, not all of them public.

Without that clarity, deterrence is weak or nonexistent.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

88 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Donald knows without Vlad’s meddling, he cannot be reelected. The GOP likewise is dependent on it to maintain their razor thin gerrymandered House majority.

  2. 2

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Eme says:

    Not only has Donny done nothing to deter Russia, let’s not forget that one of his early actions as “president” was personally to pass on code-level intelligence to actual Russians visiting him in the Oval Office, with no U.S. citizens allowed into the room.

    I really do wonder if Vlad receives the Presidential Daily Briefings. I really do.

  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    @Eme: Wasn’t there an article that talked about the version of the PDB that Trump gets including a lot of copies of articles saying how great he is or pictures taken of Fox News showing a chyron that talks about how he’s so great. He gets that “praise book” twice a day.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: Normally the WH has a news aggregation service that samples what the major outlets are saying about the President, good or bad. That way he gets a better feel for the mood of the media, at least. Donald’s feed is all praise, nothing negative. So Donald isn’t fully aware of how much he is hated outside his band of drooling cultists.

  7. 7
    Yutsano says:

    @Yarrow: I thought he used to but Kelly stopped it? We really have no idea what’s happening there and we won’t until the tell-alls come out.

  8. 8
    Eme says:

    @Yarrow:
    Yes, but it also said that the PDB was structured so as to show Trump only the nice stuff about him all at the beginning, with the idea that he wouldn’t read further than that. (And he probably doesn’t, because basically he doesn’t read.) However, the article also said that the intelligence pros continued to pass sensitive information to him because they felt that was their job. They just put all of that stuff at the bottom.

    Whether Trump reads it or not, he still could have a mechanism for passing it all on to the Kremlin. Kushner and Erik Prince both tried to set up secret lines to the Kremlin. Might they, or someone else, have succeeded?

  9. 9
    Mary G says:

    Has he even tried to enact the new sanctions a majority of Congress passed this year? I know the State Department closed their office that is in charge of that.

    This seems like a blatant refusal to obey the Constitution and a basis for impeachment more solid than whether or not he had some Russian prostitutes pee on a bed/him.

  10. 10
    different-church-lady says:

    Michael Morell and Mike Rogers argue that the United States has failed to deter Russia from its attacks on our electoral system because those attacks continue.

    Feature, not bug, if you’re GOP. Besides, it’s all fake news anyway.

  11. 11
    Eme says:

    @Mary G: Not only has he not enacted them, Tillerson eliminated the office within the State Department that would have administered them.

    So there’s that.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    Deterrence of Russian election interference requires a firm and unambiguous statement from the President that it is unacceptable and will be responded to. Then he would fully enforce the sanctions against Russia and likely retaliate in other ways, not all of them public.

    But this is not simply a US v Russia thing. Occasionally I see stories about Russian interference in British or German elections, but little about their countermeasures or international cooperation.

    The focus on the US and Trump helps the GOP deflect concerns as mere poliitical jealousy and distracts the general public.

    On the other hand,some of the comments that I see about this from the tech community, or discussions about hacking, seems to downplay the effectiveness of any Russian efforts or those of any other actors.

  13. 13
    Yarrow says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes, but I thought, as Eme said they wrapped it up in the PDB. It’s been awhile since I read the article, so I could be misremembering.

    @Eme: Someone else could have succeeded, yes. I mean, Kushner is still there.

    Cheryl, I know you’re wary of Schindler but I saw this in his Twitter feed. It’s especially for schrodinger’s cat:

    FYI, I've given John Kelly a lot of benefit of doubt as a patriot. That's wearing very thin. We still have Mattis & I think HR as patriots.— John Schindler (@20committee) December 26, 2017

    Interesting to see him question Kelly’s patriotism.

  14. 14
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    FWIW, I think the tech community is very resistant to believing that they’ve been used or conned in any way. I think they also naively believe in an internationalism that doesn’t actually exist, so they assume that Russia or China must not have ulterior motives for what they do.

  15. 15
    AnonPhenom says:

    propaganda and psy-op campaigns are basically cons.
    yes they should be policed and as with con men and grifters a price should be paid for engaging in such behavior.
    but the ‘cure’ is a more intelligent, better informed public.
    of course that answer might not be in the interests of some domestic groups (see: Fox News, Republican Party, Madison Ave.)

  16. 16
    laura says:

    They feel that the Barack Obama administration and Congress did not administer heavy enough penalties. 

    Morrell and Rogers may be correct about the need for additional deterence. However, both are well aware of the Congress and it’s absolute unwillingness to act on behalf of anyone other than their owners and especially in assisting President Obama so both can eat a bag of salted dicks for conflating and bothsidering.

  17. 17
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Brachiator: I haven’t seen much about British or German countermeasures either. International cooperation would send a strong deterrence signal, but it’s hard to see how that will happen in the Age of Trump.

    There are at least three issues with Russian election interference, which is why I used that word. One is direct hacking of the voting system. Although voting systems were accessed in a number of states, none of that seems to have changed votes. The other is Russian disinformation distributed through Facebook, Twitter, and fringe websites like InfoWars and CounterPunch. That may have made a difference. The third is the hacking and release of Democratic emails and hacking of Republican emails. Given the willingness of the New York Times and others to focus on those emails, that certainly made a difference, very likely enough to swing the election.

  18. 18
    Yutsano says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Although voting systems were accessed in a number of states, none of that seems to have changed votes.

    I’m still not convinced this is the case. 80,000 votes in three counties in three states isn’t that hard to change. And that really was the margin of victory. Not to mention the Democrats cleaned house in Pennsylvania EXCEPT the Senate and President? Something there smells rotten. But no one wanted to chase that apple.

  19. 19
    matt says:

    It’s really a shame the shoddily decided Citizens United Not Timid decision made it unconstitutional to track campaign spending. Yes, this timeline is truly the worst.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    FWIW, I think the tech community is very resistant to believing that they’ve been used or conned in any way. I think they also naively believe in an internationalism that doesn’t actually exist, so they assume that Russia or China must not have ulterior motives for what they do.

    Disagree. Hackers, in particular, are very savvy and even cynical about grey areas and absolute criminality.

    Some of these people may be apolitical or think that politics is just “meatsack BS,” but I don’t get any sense that they naively believe in internationalism. At worst, they may distrust supposed democracies as much as they distrust autocratic regimes.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @laura:

    both can eat a bag of salted dicks for conflating and bothsidering

    Seconded. President Obama definitely made mistakes with his handling of this, but the guy ain’t Superman, and the Republicans were actively conspiring with a foreign government. That’s way worse than not effectively responding to the fact that members of Congress were actively colluding with a foreign government.

  22. 22
    Chris T. says:

    Trump insists there’s no collusion.

    Maybe that’s true! Is it collusion if Trump is merely obeying orders from Putin?

  23. 23
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: This is not directed at you at all, but I’m growing to hate the word collusion. The proper legal term is conspiracy. They conspired with a foreign government to alter a US election. I feel like “collusion” just waters that down.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Some of these people may be apolitical or think that politics is just “meatsack BS,” but I don’t get any sense that they naively believe in internationalism. At worst, they may distrust supposed democracies as much as they distrust autocratic regimes.

    We may disagree on our definition of “naïve.” I think the “cynicism” you describe is actually very naïve. Americans who think there’s no difference between Russia and the US are hugely naïve.

  25. 25
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Yutsano: I agree. You’ll notice I said “seem”.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Yutsano:

    Hey, sometimes a girl needs a synonym so she doesn’t become repetitive. 😄

  27. 27

    @matt: IIRC, Citizen’s United Not Timid(Roger Stone) is a different group than the Citizen’s United that brought suit.

  28. 28
    Yutsano says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Oh I noticed. I guess I’m a bit more evangelistic about it. I also think there are too few footprints left to prove much of anything at this point.

    BTW I’ll try to e-mail you when I get home. I have a dear friend who’s pursuing his doctorate at the University of Virginia and he’s wavering a bit in academia. I was hoping I could name drop you as a possible mentor/shoulder from someone who’s been there. He’s also adorable.

    @Mnemosyne: Ha! Duly noted.

  29. 29
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Yutsano: I agree, IANAL but I believe “collusion” is a legally meaningless term, and I also think conspiracy carries a pretty high bar of proof (again, IANAL), which technically works to the Beast’s advantage. I wonder if the canny demagogue in him understands that saying “there was no conspiracy” might backfire on him by putting the word in the political conversation, and the public opinion threshold is much lower than the legal one

  30. 30
    Yarrow says:

    @Yutsano: You are absolutely correct. “Collusion” isn’t something you can charge someone with. We need to be using ‘conspiracy’ and ‘conspired with a hostile government.’ Get people used to hearing the actual charge.

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The other is Russian disinformation distributed through Facebook, Twitter, and fringe websites like InfoWars and CounterPunch. That may have made a difference.

    This is the area that some in the tech community feels is overblown. But there may be a kind of blindness at play here. Some tech folk just don’t care about poliitical messaging, or see it all as nothing but noise, no matter where it comes from.

    I couldn’t find the link, but one tech story tried to look at the number of identifiably sourced Russian messages on Twitter and Facebook, and found the amount to be trivial. They also challenged whether anyone could demonstrate any real influence.

    The third is the hacking and release of Democratic emails and hacking of Republican emails. Given the willingness of the New York Times and others to focus on those emails, that certainly made a difference, very likely enough to swing the election.

    Some of these emails were accurate and newsworthy. I don’t think that Democrats could really complain. It’s like the Sony emails. People could rightly complain about private material being released, but you could not make people forget what they read about this stuff.

    I seem to recall that GOP emails may have been hacked, but not released. Dirty tricks, to the advantage of the Republicans.

    Also, I am among those who think that the influence of the NYT is overrated. That is, had the NYT never published anything about the hacked emails, Fox and the conservative propaganda network would still have hammered the message home, and the net effect would have been the same.

    Also, maybe a FOURTH ISSUE was the Snowden and Assange effect, and the material they leaked.

  32. 32

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    It’s amazing to say this, but you’re likely right. The Republican Party has sold out wholesale to Russia. I think Reagan was a lousy president, but I can’t think he’d be too thrilled to see this happening. I’d give anything to see him come back to life for a week to ream these assholes out. For that matter, I can’t think Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, Dick Cheney or Bob Dole could be too happy about all this. Why aren’t they saying something? Unlike Reagan, they’re quit alive.

  33. 33

    @Brachiator:

    I am among those who think that the influence of the NYT is overrated.

    I disagree, they act as a conduit into the mainstream media, as does CNN and MSNBC. They set the agenda that other media outlets will follow and give stories legitimacy.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Yarrow says:

    @Brachiator:

    I couldn’t find the link, but one tech story tried to look at the number of identifiably sourced Russian messages on Twitter and Facebook, and found the amount to be trivial. They also challenged whether anyone could demonstrate any real influence.

    The tech companies do not want anyone looking at their companies too closely. If Twitter actually admitted how many trolls and bots use Twitter, and especially if they cut them off, the company would tank. They’re selling ads based on usage. They need those bots and trolls.

    They also are not taking this issue seriously at all. They sent their lawyers to the congressional hearing. The CEOs couldn’t be bothered to show up. DiFi wasn’t amused and told them if they can’t police themselves then Congress will do it for them.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    one tech story tried to look at the number of identifiably sourced Russian messages on Twitter and Facebook, and found the amount to be trivial

    Wow, did they miss the point. The point was ads that were paid for by Russian sources that were not easily identifiable as such. That’s why Facebook and Twitter are being subpoenaed to figure out who paid for the ads.

  37. 37
    different-church-lady says:

    @AnonPhenom:

    but the ‘cure’ is a more intelligent, better informed public.

    Welp… we’re doomed.

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    We may disagree on our definition of “naïve.” I think the “cynicism” you describe is actually very naïve. Americans who think there’s no difference between Russia and the US are hugely naïve.

    The tech and hacker community is international. Some of them have lived in, and been persecuted by harsh regimes. When they look at some of the demands by the US and the UK for encryption back door keys, or how easily some tech companies capitulate to Chinese demands for tools that let them control Internet access, they might reasonably ask who is really being naive about these things.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yes, that’s sounds like were’s Snowden ended up; if the US is the same as the Russia Federation, so what’s treason beyond a finical transaction? And sure, hackers may not be internationalist like the Communists, but Russia is big on the brotherhood of white dude bros.

  41. 41
    Yarrow says:

    @raven: Very cool. When do you leave on your trip?

  42. 42
    Another Scott says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I think there’s a 1(b) that is the most important sign of hacking – not the changing of the votes, but messing with the rolls (and maybe messing with what precinct people were assigned to vote at). Make it difficult or impossible for certain voters to cast their ballot for their chosen candidate is just as good as changing the final numbers when it comes to the outcome.

    E.g. Time (from June):

    In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

    The fact that private data was stolen from states is separately providing investigators a previously unreported line of inquiry in the probes into Russian attempts to influence the election. In Illinois, more than 90% of the nearly 90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers, and a quarter contained the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the State Board of Elections.

    Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

    “If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?” the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. “That is a crux of the investigation.”

    That’s the part that worries me most.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:

    On the other hand,some of the comments that I see about this from the tech community, or discussions about hacking, seems to downplay the effectiveness of any Russian efforts or those of any other actors.

    The best response to that is to point out that Trump was repeating stuff from Russian troll accounts. No matter how you spin that, it doesn’t look good. If you want to believe the Russian trolls weren’t convincing anyone, you have to believe Trump was cooperating with Russia. If you want to believe Trump wasn’t cooperating with Russia, you have to believe that the Russian trolls were convincing people. If you don’t want to believe either of those things, you have to believe that Trump was personally unusually susceptible to Russian propaganda efforts.

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @Yarrow: Friday at O dark hundred. Actually it shouldn’t be bad, I watched the traffic reports from the ATL this morning and it was wide open from here to the airport, about 70 miles. We’ll leave at 5 and have 9am flight.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @raven: Way to go, Rusty!

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Wow, did they miss the point. The point was ads that were paid for by Russian sources that were not easily identifiable as such. That’s why Facebook and Twitter are being subpoenaed to figure out who paid for the ads.

    Actually, the systems Facebook and Twitter used didn’t care about the source of the ads. In other cases, these companies might have known, but didn’t care.

    There is a slightly more complex issue here that tech companies don’t care about and don’t see themselves as guided by laws or even informal rules about foreign poliitical influence. I’m not even clear that any laws were violated here.

    The weird thing is that it is not clear that either company made much money on these ads.

    But if you want to look at the nefarious side, which is reasonable, Facebook and Twitter seemed to be intent on protecting the methods they used to target the ads to people who used their products.

    This is why the tech news community noted that the companies sent lawyers to the Congressional investigation, not any engineers who could explain what was done or how the ads were disseminated.

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    @Roger Moore:

    If you don’t want to believe either of those things, you have to believe that Trump was personally unusually susceptible to Russian propaganda efforts.

    What’s so hard to believe about that?

  48. 48

    @raven: I guess “Break a Leg” wouldn’t be the best way to wish luck in this case.

  49. 49
    different-church-lady says:

    @Brachiator: Their excuse is always, “Hey the algorithms do it all, we have no control over anything.” It’s bullshit.

  50. 50
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: aw, you had to get me with a horse story, didn’t you?

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: D’oh!

  51. 51
    Yarrow says:

    @raven: Sounds good. I hope you have a great time! Will you tell us what shirts or jackets or hats you’re wearing so we can look for you in the stands?

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yarrow:

    The tech companies do not want anyone looking at their companies too closely.

    This. The entire market value of companies like Facebook and Twitter is built around their use as marketing platforms, i.e. that you can use them to change people’s minds, but they’re trying to deny that political marketing using their services could possibly have affected the election. It doesn’t add up.

  53. 53
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Brachiator: Well, the tech community can’t claim both that advertising on their platforms is a great way to get your message out AND that Russian advertising (or other forms of messaging) didn’t make a difference.

    I think there is an element of blindness to social repercussions generally in the tech community. Not all of us are coders, and our world is evidently much more complex than theirs. It’s going to be very hard to quantify the effects of any disinformation campaign. But it’s one more factor in the electoral equation, and this election was close enough that any one factor could have made a difference. It’s clear that there was a disinformation campaign and that it was wide-ranging.

    Some of the leaked Democratic emails were through Assange. Snowden had little obvious to do with those leaks, so I think your fourth category is pretty much my third.

    People could rightly complain about private material being released, but you could not make people forget what they read about this stuff.

    That was the point of releasing them. None were really newsworthy. The Democrats wanted to win, and they had some interoffice sniping. It looks bad, especially when multiple news sources pound on it day after day. The Republicans didn’t have that problem. So a differential effect on the electoral results.

    However, the fact that the Republican material is still being held by the Russians is a different problem, called blackmail. Why did Mitch McConnell tell Obama that he’d better not release information about Russian interference before the election? It could be the normal Republican desire to win at all costs, or it could be something worse. We don’t know. Hopefully Mueller will uncover something about that.

  54. 54
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    If you don’t want to believe either of those things, you have to believe that Trump was personally unusually susceptible to Russian propaganda efforts.

    Hell, Trump is owned by the Russians. The Republican leadership are unindicted co-conspirators.

  55. 55
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Another Scott: Good point. Some of that does seem to have happened.

  56. 56
    Ruckus says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):
    Perhaps they aren’t as unhappy as one might assume

  57. 57
    MomSense says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I don’t know why people are so fixated on whether vote tallies were changed. First, there is no way to actually determine if that was done or not. Saying there’s no evidence of changing votes is meaningless.

    But if they changed registrations and people showed up to the polls and couldn’t vote – that vote was prevented which is comparable to being changed. We know of examples in NC where they had problems with the election software such that poll workers couldn’t tell whether or not people had voted. This created looooong lines and wait times while they tried to figure it out. Long wait times cause people to leave their polling place without voting. That is comparable to changing votes.
    I don’t mean to pick on you it’s just that this is one of my flash points.

  58. 58
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I think there is an element of blindness to social repercussions generally in the tech community.

    Their value system amount to “All digital technology is good, and the more there is the better.” That’s it. It’s not blindness so much as disconnection. They are all Daffy Duck loading up Elmer Fudd’s house with destructive, unnecessary gadgets, except that instead of kicking Daffy out at the end of the cartoon, we ask him to bring us more.

  59. 59
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The point was ads that were paid for by Russian sources that were not easily identifiable as such.

    And it wasn’t just ads. A big part of the whole Russian troll business is that they’re creating dummy accounts that are designed to look just like regular users but who spread the messages the Russians are trying to spread. That isn’t going to show up in ad buying statistics, and estimating just how much material they spread depends on our ability to figure out which are the fake accounts.

    I swear that more than half of what the tech companies are trying to hide is that it’s more effective to create fake accounts to spread your message than it is to pay the company to place your ads. They’re way more afraid of a threat to their bottom lines than they are about a threat to democracy.

  60. 60
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @MomSense: Another Scott made that point, and it’s a good one. I should have included it in the post.

  61. 61
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:

    Hell, Trump is owned by the Russians.

    That would fall into my case 1, Trump is cooperating with the Russian propaganda efforts.

  62. 62
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Yutsano:

    Oh I noticed. I guess I’m a bit more evangelistic about it. I also think there are too few footprints left to prove much of anything at this point.

    Dunno. Was any additional network traffic recording done election day (and lead-up to it) 2016? It would have been malpractice not to do so, IMO.
    edit: Another Scott’s point at 42 is also important.

  63. 63
    raven says:

    @Yarrow: We’ll be in the section next to the Georgia Band at the game. I don’t think they show much of the parade route save the start. We’re on the bridge over the freeway at Colorado and Pasadena Way but I doubt we’ll be on the tube.

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:

    @Roger Moore:
    If you own the company your worry isn’t democracy, it’s access and growth. IE more money in your pocket. It’s a bottom line issue, nothing more. To think otherwise in a global economy is to miss the entire point.

  65. 65
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I swear that more than half of what the tech companies are trying to hide is that it’s more effective to create fake accounts to spread your message than it is to pay the company to place your ads.

    I don’t think that tech companies try to hide this. They know that people try to game the system, and constantly try to adjust for this.

  66. 66

    @Roger Moore:

    They’re way more afraid of a threat to their bottom lines than they are about a threat to democracy.

    The absence of democracy is a threat to their bottom lines, long term. But like most other businesses they live in a short term world.

  67. 67
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: @Yutsano:

    Although voting systems were accessed in a number of states, none of that seems to have changed votes.

    Yeah, “seems” is doing a lot of work there….

  68. 68
    piratedan says:

    well, I guess at what point, should we manage to ferret the Russian influence out of political edifice do we strike back? Is this one of those long standing grudges that until we leave Vlad penniless and destitute that we finally call this off? Is Putin constructing an edifice that will perpetuate itself post his removal?

  69. 69
    rikyrah says:

    you have to admit that we have a problem, before you tackle it.

    NOBODY in Dolt45’s Administration or the GOP will admit to there being a problem.

    THAT is the root of our problem.

  70. 70
    JPL says:

    @Steve in the ATL: If memory serves me, Comey testified that they didn’t look at the states voting machines.

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    @raven:
    RE. We’re on the bridge over the freeway at Colorado and Pasadena Way

    Good location, I think. The weather should be very accommodating this year. Hope you have a great time.

  72. 72
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And it wasn’t just ads. A big part of the whole Russian troll business is that they’re creating dummy accounts that are designed to look just like regular users but who spread the messages the Russians are trying to spread.

    I was shocked to learn that many people I know IRL who are intelligent and educated as well as real, were actually Russian trolls. Very disappointing. Also cut my Facebook feed by about 80%.

  73. 73
    Roger Moore says:

    @piratedan:

    well, I guess at what point, should we manage to ferret the Russian influence out of political edifice do we strike back?

    Fuck yes we strike back. Our democracy is at risk as long as there are people like Putin who think they can manipulate it. As far as I’m concerned, interfering in our elections that way is an act of war, and we need to treat it like one.

  74. 74
    Roger Moore says:

    @rikyrah:

    NOBODY in Dolt45’s Administration or the GOP will admit to there being a problem.

    They don’t see somebody helping them get elected as a problem.

  75. 75
    matt says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: oh Jesus, there are two of them. thanks for pointing that out.

  76. 76
    Kristine says:

    @raven: Yea–some good news as the year winds down.

  77. 77
    Mike in DC says:

    @Roger Moore:
    The number one thing to go after is money. All the money oligarchs hold outside Russia. Blocking business deals, denying access to SWIFT banking, uncovering the assets held by Russian government officials, etc.
    Then a diplomatic freezeout.

  78. 78
    Brachiator says:

    @Mike in DC:

    The number one thing to go after is money. All the money oligarchs hold outside Russia. Blocking business deals, denying access to SWIFT banking, uncovering the assets held by Russian government officials, etc.

    Russia has enormous amounts of natural gas and other natural resources needed by the rest of Europe. Accordingly, the West will not be too heavy handed in dealing with the oligarchs.

  79. 79
    Mike in DC says:

    @Brachiator:
    That in itself suggests an effective long term approach: accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, here and in Western Europe.

  80. 80
    Brachiator says:

    @Mike in DC:

    That in itself suggests an effective long term approach: accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, here and in Western Europe

    Too much gas. It’s relatively cheap and cleaner than coal.

  81. 81
    StringOnAStick says:

    Did anyone see the articles yesterday about how Russian subs have been aggressive about their actions and proximity to undersea communication cables? Or that somehow for an hour twice now all international internet traffic was mysteriously routed through Russia, then was sent right back to normal? I heard a radio report yesterday that the British escorted a Russian ship that had gotten provocatively close to British waters and the comms cables. Interesting, no? Putin might be looking to test out some of his insurance policies, and I’m sure the European IC is taking a very hard look but likely keeping their findings to themselves since POTUS is an idiot and information sieve.

    No doubt what keeps the spooks and military planners stomachs in knots is just what capabilities do the Russians really have? If we retaliate, are they capable of cutting the transatlantic cables that western commerce and communication depend on? Odds are the answer is yes. What other parts of our systems of commerce and government could they then destroy and do they currently have that capability in place? Do we have the same for them? Did Donnie and company give the Russians all the information and confirmation they need to be in the superior position by exposing our level of knowledge and capability? Raise your hand if you think Donnie and his cabal are that venal. I’m raising both of mine.

  82. 82
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @StringOnAStick: Yes, I’ve seen the articles. Vladimir Putin loves to troll, and the ships near cables is his latest. Yes, the cables are vulnerable, and there is some international law on the subject. I suspect that the world is so interconnected via the internet that Russia would also be hurt by cable-cutting, perhaps not as much as the rest of us.

    The extent of cyber capabilities on both sides is hard to know because all the motivations are to keep it secret. I’m not sure that it would matter if Donnie knew anything about this. He wouldn’t understand enough to keep it in his little head long enough to blab it. I’m not convinced that his entourage is shipping classified information wholesale to the Russians, but I’ve been wrong before.

  83. 83
    Calouste says:

    @Mike in DC: Western Europe is already moving away from fossil fuels fairly rapidly, or at least far faster than the US. Norway will ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars in 2025 for example.

  84. 84
    Gravenstone says:

    @Roger Moore: I’ve long thought this doesn’t end, short of someone shoving a Hellfire in Vlad’s left ear. Sadly, that solution ends badly for everyone. Now, if some enterprising soul could electronically make all his ill gotten gains disappear, that would also be acceptable as a means of getting his attention.

  85. 85
    Tehanu says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    FWIW, I think the tech community is very resistant to believing that they’ve been used or conned in any way.

    In my experience, techies believe that they are smarter than everybody else — much too smart to be conned. Which is why they are probably easier marks than almost anybody.

    @different-church-lady:

    They are all Daffy Duck loading up Elmer Fudd’s house with destructive, unnecessary gadgets, except that instead of kicking Daffy out at the end of the cartoon, we ask him to bring us more.

    What you said!

  86. 86
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Tehanu:

    In my experience, techies believe that they are smarter than everybody else — much too smart to be conned. Which is why they are probably easier marks than almost anybody.

    Techies are the new doctors

  87. 87
    J R in WV says:

    @Yutsano:

    Yes! Those guilty of treasonous conspiracy are compelled to use the word collusion, as collusion is not specifically against the law, as conspiracy is.

    I refuse. Conspiracy is the proper word to describe what was going on during the campaign, and is going on now.

  88. 88
    Mike G says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    There have been incidents of Russians mapping communications cables in California

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/.....es-moscow/

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