In an interview published by the Cipher Brief on Sunday, former acting CIA director Michael Morell made a stunning statement about the overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election:
“It’s an attack on who we are as a people,” said Morell.
“A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.”
Morell was with George W. Bush on September 11, 2001, lending weight to his words. He also served as acting CIA director under Barack Obama.
He went on to question why the administration, Congress and media have not spent more time shedding light on the gravity of the situation.
Anxiety about the serious issue of Russian interference in the election is growing. Many in Congress have shown support for a Congressional investigation into election-related hacking.
Electors of the electoral college have demanded a security briefing before they finalize their vote for president of the United States next week. The Washington Post reported Friday that the CIA concluded Russia intervened in the election to help Trump.
While the Obama Administration said back in October the DNC hacks were likely perpetrated by Russia, the desire for a smooth transition to president Donald Trump is primary. Nevertheless, President Obama has ordered a full review of election-related hacking, which is expected to be completed before he leaves office, January 20, 2017.
How should the media approach what Morell termed a “political 9/11?”
Trump has already been pried by Chris Wallace on Fox News about the revelations in The Washington Post. The president-elect’s response was to reject the notion: “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.”
With a dearth of interviews with other mainstream new outlets, it is difficult to imagine how we will learn more about his plans as president — particularly how he will approach our relationship with Russia.
Beyond the apparent defense of Russia, Trump’s claim that “they have no idea,” is dangerous.
He has refused daily security briefings; further, Trump appears to have no confidence in our country’s national security agencies, a position that pits him against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Monday he is confident in the CIA's assessments about Russia's election hacking. Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, said on Nov. 15 that he believes the Russians had a specific aim.
Most alarming, Trump is rejecting the recommendations and conclusions of security professionals the closer he gets to his inauguration.
The consequences are severe: It erodes trust in political coverage and polarizes the nation as truth and spin become muddied in a Trump presidency.