Russian Election Hacking Called 'Political Equivalent Of 9/11'

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.

12 comments about "Russian Election Hacking Called 'Political Equivalent Of 9/11'".
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  1. Micah Touchet from NewBirth Creative Design Agency, December 13, 2016 at 1:22 p.m.

    And now, the truthers and birthers are here to spread their conspiracy theories about why Donald Trump lost the elec--- OH WAIT.

  2. Tom Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, December 13, 2016 at 1:39 p.m.

    Holy shit. Hypberbole much?

    Alleged Russian hacks got Trump elected how, exactly? By showcasing the corruption of the DNC?

    C'mon, Phil...."overwhelming evidence"? You mean those anonymous CIA souces? Can you share what's so "overwhelming" about the evidence? 

  3. Steve Schiedermayer from Schiedermayer & Associates, Inc., December 13, 2016 at 2:21 p.m.

    May I agree with Tom Siebert? My understanding is that there isn't agreement between CIA, ODNI and FBI especially on the actual purpose/intent. Indeed, please tell us what is so overwhelming.

  4. Philip Rosenstein from Law360 replied, December 13, 2016 at 2:53 p.m.

    Thanks for the comment, Tom - there's a lot here, but since Steve also noted his issue with "overwhelming evidence" I'll address that.

    I concede that the CIA sources quoted in the WaPo article are anonymous, so let's look at what people are saying on the record. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said in an interview with NPR:

    "I think the evidence is overwhelming that the Russians hacked into our political institutions with a design to meddle in our elections ... And it's also very clear that the Russians had a preferred candidate here." - He has a lot more to say here -

    And as I'm sure you guys appreciate the details of the briefings he and his colleagues get are not public.

    In the column I don't say that the hacks got Trump elected, I am completely aware that there is much more to it. But the hacks certainly hurt Clinton, and ~10,000 votes in Michigan, ~20,000 votes in Wisconsin and ~70,000 votes in Pennsylvania are tiny margins.

    The bigger issue, which Mike Morell concisely explains, is that the evidence of meddling in our supposedly uniquely independent election process is a deeply worrying sign of what may be coming in a Trump presidency - particularly in light of his unwillingness to even entertain the evidence.

    Both parties are in agreement that they need to go forward with a Congressional investigation.

    I appreciate the comments, guys - this is an important conversation to have. I'm curious to read how you respond.

  5. Keith Huntoon from LiftEngine, December 13, 2016 at 5:39 p.m.

    Let's assume there will never be agreement on purpose/intent of the meddling-take that component off the table.

    Does anyone disagree with the security agencies and FBI that meddling occured?

    If we agree meddling occured and this is a serious problem, don't we want a President who also accepts the facts and DEMANDS we dig deep to determine the extent of the meddling, potential intent and how best to respond?

    I'm not sure why anyone would argue this is a significant problem.

  6. Gina Roach from ArcheMedia, December 13, 2016 at 6:01 p.m.

    Your story reads like an op-ed piece, not one from a staff writer.  Our country should not take lightly any hacking from another country which is my concern, the ability to hack.  The facts that were leaked from DNC just confirmed more of what is already known about a candidate and didi not affect the outcome of the election.  I would safely say that very intelligent voters made decisions that were not based on leaks from emails.  Obama continues to insult the intelligence of American voters by implying leaks lost the election for HRC.  The fact the Morrell was CIA Director under Obama confirms he is helping a President that needs the public to believe the outcome was not a reflection of his Presidency.  I have also read articles similar to Steve Schiedermayer that different agencies find it inconclusive that Russians were involved.  Nowhere have I seen that electors are demanding the report, only that Podesta is demanding the electors see the report.  The media needs to stop creating anxiety for the public including your article that is not clear on facts.  I'm not sure why MediaPost is even commenting on this as I'd prefer that your content remains relevant for why I subscribe.  National secuirty was one of three important deciding factors for my vote but a conversation for the public, not in MediaPost.  If your editor believes it to be so then I would like you to discuss the attempt by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and other media that attempted to hack into public minds to sway the election.  That happened from inside our country and we know who did it.  Thank you Phillip.

  7. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, December 13, 2016 at 6:48 p.m.

    Perfect logic Gina.  I totally agree, we have NO problem with all the let me be nice.. the half truths our media have dished out over the last 8 years.  Our LEGACY media are all in for President Obama and Hillary Clinton. (watching ABC this AM... not one anchor nor contributor was a conservative.  Dowd even referenced when he worked for the DNC.)   Notice how they put up with Bernie, but made it clear every newscast/talk show that he had no chance to beat Hillary?  And of course they told us the same with Trump.  No Chance.  I for one say it is not desirable for outside forces to HACK the truth.  But our NEWS MEDIA will not seek the truth. AND I also believe if other political movements were as corrupt as our former Secretary of State and her foundation, the libs would be hacking to beat the band.  I'm sure they currently are. Watch your emails Rush.  So show us the dirt... What if the Hacks had said Hillary was a saint, the DNC was spotless.. then the hacks would have been given great credibility.  Oh Well, enjoy the ride folks.. at least we have 4 years to straighten out the mess we're in.

  8. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 13, 2016 at 7:44 p.m.

    Fascism knows no bounds and no shame. Nostrovya !

  9. Chuck Lantz from, network, December 14, 2016 at 12:54 a.m.

    "Our candidate prevailed" is no excuse for igorance.

  10. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, December 14, 2016 at 1:23 a.m.

    "Hyperbole: noun
    ... exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
    synonyms: exaggeration, overstatement, magnification, embroidery, embellishment, excess, overkill, rhetoric"

    Which candidate best fits that definition? Try to be honest.

  11. Tom Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA replied, December 14, 2016 at 11:09 a.m.

    Thanks for your courteous reply, Phil. My intital response was too long for this forum and I have sent you an email as well. Here is a much truncated version of my response:

    1- "The equivalent of 9/11," means an act of war. IMHO at this point in time in America's history, the very worst possible thing would be war with Russia.

    2- You can cite one guy who says "overwhelming evidence" (an elected Democrat and Clinton fan), and I bet you could find a few others, but I can cite just as many who say otherwise. To use the term as you have suggests the "Consensus Reality" has come to that conclusion, which it most certainly has not.

    3- Not only is there no consensus on Russia, there's not even a consensus whether this is a LEAK or a hack. Wikilieaks' Assange said it was a leak (the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, he implied), British Ambassador Craig Murray has said he MET the leaker, and it was no hack. Reputable whistleblowers from the intelligence community like Snowden and William Binney have both said they believe it was a leak, not a hack. The only thing obvious about this is that everybody's got an agenda. We just don't know whose is the Truth.

    4- That said, we should be concerned that the Russians have all Clinton's stuff. As do, almost certainly, the Chinese. And that loudmouth guy in the Philippines, Mossad, every leader of the EU, the Saudis and maybe even a few drug and sex cartels. Clinton's cyber-security at State was a sieve. Read the FBI report. Anybody could've leaked this, but the Russians are a handy scapegoat because of the election. One should consider what it might have meant for a Clinton presidency if half the planet could blackmail her because they've got her emails.

    5- Bring on an investigation. Let's just make sure it's not a witch hunt or scapegoat chase. Since it involves the intelligence community, good luck with that.

  12. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, December 15, 2016 at 5:37 p.m.

    "Logic? ... Logic?! ... I don't got to show you no stinkin" logic!!"

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