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International Affairs Academy, Document of the Day - Free Professional Development

The best way to review this document is to go to the source as it is redacted and it is important to see where information may be covered as you digest the material.


(U) The Russian government's attack on the 2016 election was the product of a deliberate, sustained, and sophisticated campaign to undermine American democracy. Russian military intelligence carried out a hacking operation targeting American political figures and institutions. The Internet Research Agency—an entity with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin—^used social media to sow disinformation and discord among the American electorate, And, as this report makes clear, individuals affiliated with the Russian government launched cyber operations that attempted to access our nation's election infrastructure, in some cases succeeding.

(U) The Russian objectives were clear: deepen distrust in our political leaders; exploit and widen divisions within American society; undermine confidence in the integrity of our elections; and, ultimately, weaken America's democratic institutions and damage our nation's standing in the world. The Committee did not discover evidence that Russia changed or manipulated vote tallies or voter registration information, however Russian operatives undoubtedly gained familiarity with our election systems and voter registration infrastructure— valuable intelligence that it may seek to exploit in the future.

(U) The Committee's report does not merely document the wide reach of the Russian operation; the report reveals vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure that we must collectively address. We do not endorse every recommendation in the Committee's report, and we share some of our colleagues' concems about the vulnerability that we face, particularly at the state level, where counties with limited resources must defend themselves against sophisticated nation-state adversaries. Nevertheless, the report as a whole makes an important contribution to the public's understanding of how Russia interfered in 2016, and underscores the importance of working together to defend against the threat going forward.

(U) It is critical that state and local policymakers study the report's findings and work to secure election systems by prioritizing cybersecurity, replacing outdated systems and machines, and implementing audits to identify and limit risk. The Intelligence Community and other federal agencies must improve efforts to detect cyberattacks, enhance coordination wi& state and local officials, and develop strategies to mitigate threats. And, critically. Congress must take up and pass legislation to secure our elections. We must provide states the funding necessary to modernize and maintain election infrastructure, and we must take commonsense steps to safeguard the integrity of the vote, such as requiring paper ballots in all federal elections.

(U) Our adversaries will persist in their efforts to undermine our shared democratic values. In order to ensure that our democracy endures, it is imperative that we recognize the threat and make the investments necessary to withstand the next attack.


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