NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Obama administration strikes back at Putin regime for interfering in 2016 U.S. elections

It’s a start:

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma struck back at Rus­sia on Thurs­day for its efforts to influ­ence the 2016 elec­tion, eject­ing 35 sus­pect­ed Russ­ian intel­li­gence oper­a­tives from the Unit­ed States and impos­ing sanc­tions on Russia’s two lead­ing intel­li­gence ser­vices.

The admin­is­tra­tion also penal­ized four top offi­cers of one of those ser­vices, the pow­er­ful mil­i­tary intel­li­gence unit known as the G.R.U. Intel­li­gence agen­cies have con­clud­ed that the G.R.U. ordered the attacks on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and oth­er polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions, with the approval of the Krem­lin, and ulti­mate­ly enabled the pub­li­ca­tion of the emails it har­vest­ed.

We’re very glad to see Pres­i­dent Oba­ma tak­ing deci­sive action to hold Vladimir Putin’s cor­rupt regime account­able for its unprece­dent­ed, out­ra­geous pro-Trump med­dling in our recent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. We applaud these mea­sures and would like to see fur­ther non-covert steps tak­en as well.

Cour­tesy of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, here are some mate­ri­als that offer addi­tion­al con­text on the admin­is­tra­tion’s actions:

The orig­i­nal joint state­ment from the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and the Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence on U.S. elec­tion secu­ri­ty, from Octo­ber 7, 2016, is also avail­able here.

Putin’s regime, which has a stran­gle­hold on the gov­ern­ment of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, has respond­ed rather pre­dictably by vow­ing to retal­i­ate… although Putin’s mouth­pieces have hint­ed Putin will wait to decide how to respond until after Don­ald Trump is installed as Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s suc­ces­sor.

Trump is the man Putin and his regime want­ed in the White House, and now that they’re on the verge of get­ting what they want­ed, they’re reduced to hurl­ing insults at Barack Oba­ma until they can see what kind of for­eign pol­i­cy pos­ture the unpre­dictable and unpre­pared Trump will actu­al­ly adopt.

As The New York Times edi­to­r­i­al board says, these actions should have been ordered soon­er, but bet­ter late than nev­er. A fur­ther response is need­ed.

Mr. Oba­ma should have retal­i­at­ed against this treat­ment a long time ago; still, the expul­sion adds to the sever­i­ty of the Amer­i­can response and direct­ly affects Russ­ian cit­i­zens, where­as the trav­el bans and asset freezes imposed by the sanc­tions may not.

Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cials rarely trav­el to the Unit­ed States or stash their assets here. Sanc­tions imposed by the Unit­ed States and Europe over Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea and the war in Ukraine have been in place for two years, yet it is debat­able how much effect they have had on Mr. Putin. There is thus a legit­i­mate ques­tion about whether Mr. Obama’s penal­ties will be suf­fi­cient.

For­tu­nate­ly, sen­a­tors from both par­ties are already call­ing for fol­low-up sanc­tions.

“The exec­u­tive branch has act­ed, but it is imper­a­tive the leg­isla­tive branch now pick up the ball and move it for­ward. Con­gres­sion­al sanc­tions can com­ple­ment and strength­en these new exec­u­tive sanc­tions,” said Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin of Mary­land.

Repub­li­cans Lind­sey Gra­ham and John McCain, who are no friends of the Krem­lin, also said they will push for Con­gress to act once the 115th Con­gress con­venes.

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