Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election, but the old adversary has been trying to intervene in America’s elections since the Cold War — when it was known as the Soviet Union (USSR) — according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released Friday.
The hack of the Democratic National Committee was most definitely not the first instance of Russia digging around for information about candidates, office-holders and U.S. elections in general.
“For decades, Russian and Soviet intelligence services have sought to collect insider information from US political parties that could help Russian leaders understand a new US administration’s plans and priorities,” the official assessment reads.
In fact, several officers for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service were arrested in the U.S. in 2010 after conducting reconnaissance and relaying information about the 2008 election to Moscow, according to the DNI report, which also provides another example.
“In the 1970s, the KGB recruited a Democratic Party activist who reported information about then-presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter’s campaign and foreign policy plans, according to a former KGB archivist.”
There are even reports about unearthed documents showing now-deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy conspiring with the Soviet Union and the KGB in order to prevent President Ronald Reagan winning re-election in the 1984 election.
Kennedy, according to the terms of the proposal, would help USSR General Secretary Yuri Andropov to derail Reagan’s more hard-line foreign policy — which aimed to defeat the Soviets, rather than contain or coexist. In return, Andropov would help the Democratic Party defeat Reagan and the Republican Party, which theoretically would make a successful presidential run possible for Kennedy in 1988.
“The document has stood the test of time,” Historian Paul Kengor told Forbes. “I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery. Kennedy’s office did not deny it.”
The Kremlin’s electoral interference is not just unique to the U.S. “Russia has sought to influence elections across Europe,” the report reads.
Even though the declassified DNI evaluation notes that Russian efforts to meddle in America’s 2016 election were more intense compared to previous operations, the historical record is clear: Russian intervention in U.S. elections is not unique or recent in nature. (RELATED: Global Bureaucrats Invited By Obama To Inspect US Elections)
And while American anger and discomfort over Russian electoral disruption is certainly understandable, current hype may be disproportionate, considering the historical record.
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