Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas attempted to liken Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to 9/11, a domestic attack that took the lives of over 2,700 American civilians, firefighters and law enforcement officials.
Castro wrote an op-ed Monday that argued that the attempts of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election were as much a threat to “national security” as an attack on American civilians carried out by a terrorist organization in September 2001.
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced indictment charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for illegally influencing the 2016 presidential elections. But these indictments paint a picture of something much broader, akin to the first layer of an onion being peeled back on Russia’s broad, multi-year information operation to defraud the United States and boost Donald Trump’s candidacy,” Castro wrote.
Castro went on to say that Mueller’s indictments are proof of a “new generation of warfare on American national security,” one that, while not marked by “catastrophic bloodshed,” is still as big a threat to the American way of live as the 9/11 attacks.
The representative details how the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks targeted the vulnerabilities of our government, infrastructure and private businesses, like airlines. He said that, although the attacks had some far-reaching consequences, it was met with a period of “political unity across America,” a point he then uses to show dereliction of duty by our current president and leaders in Congress.
“But this time, our democracy is under a different kind of attack. A state actor—Russia—employing cognitive and information warfare to target our free speech and unregulated social media platforms. This isn’t the first time our democracy has been under attack. But this time, we have a president who is pouring acid into every wound of American politics instead of rising above party politics to defend our democracy,” Castro wrote.
Mueller’s indictment shows that Russia spent a total of $100,000 on Facebook advertising. Furthermore, there is no evidence the advertisements had a direct effect on voting behaviors or the outcome of the election, but that doesn’t stop Castro from claiming it was effective in helping President Donald Trump secure the presidency.
“Russia began its psychological warfare campaign against America’s democracy as early as 2014, culminating in the influence of our 2016 elections to get Donald Trump to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The enemy—now a state adversary—attacked our private sector’s lack of regulation by exploiting social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to shape public perception and shift political opinion,” Castro wrote.
“But now what? We have a playbook on protecting our democracy after 9/11, so why aren’t we shifting to meet the enemy and counter this new threat?” he added.
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