Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Elections and National Security

Today I listened intently to Jeh Johnson, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, testify on Capitol Hill related to his knowledge of alleged Russian cyber intrusion, and it's effect on the 2016 elections. As someone who has held a security clearance, I am appalled by what I heard. Here's why. From everything I was able to understand, the operation of our elections by private, political, non governmental organizations, has national security implications and therefore are a matter of national security.

Reports of a foreign and domestic election improprieties demand investigation. Yet these private organizations would deny access to a plethora of agencies whose job is to protect our national security detect. I am reminded of a TV commercial I'd recently seen about a security company that only provided security monitoring services to a bank so when the bank got robbed, they weren't actually able to do anything about it. Something is very wrong with this picture.

If we are in agreement that fair, free, open, elections are the life blood of democracy, they must remain untampered, free and safe from fraud and cyber manipulation. Our election are a matter of national security. How is it that these private, non governmental political organizations, entrusted with the election of the President of the United States, are allowed to deny access to their system by national security cyber specialists and are allowed to continue to operate when a reported 17 intelligence agencies insist our election system was compromised by person or persons who may be actors of foreign nations. Those agencies have provided public testimony that it was Russian interference. I'm guessing for matters of national security, we're going to have to take their word for it. My thing is, if we don't allow government officials to operate in a manner that would jeopardize national security, why would we allow political parties to do so?

If we are serious about the integrity of our election system, and we agree that our elections are a matter of national security, we can no longer continue to allow private, non governmental organizations, (political parties), the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of our election systems against cyber intrusion and/or manipulation. Normal civilian, nongovernmental protections and off the shelf software is inadequate. Our political parties have demonstrated that they do not have the requisite capabilities, nor the knowledge required to ensure the integrity of elections from a national security standpoint, and they should not get to do a do over in the same manner. It is after all, the election of the President of the United States and definitely a matter of national security.

The fact that the political parties were approached by national security agencies, and they were outright refused access after proof their IT network was compromised is unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue. The security of our elections is at stake. This is a monumental failure and one that Congress, the American people, and every alphabet agency tasked with national security should mandate a remedy to be immediately implemented to ensure these kind of activities cease and it's must be implemented before the next election. To allow this nonchalant approach to national security and election integrity to continue is tantamount to having a counter terrorist swat team surround a suspected terrorist strong hold, then pack up and leave because they heard a voice from inside say "there's nobody home".

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