By Patrick Murphy
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I have made our nation’s response to cyberwarfare a primary focus. I authored a provision in the recently-passed 2017 intelligence authorization bill strengthening cybersecurity at America’s ports, and called for the urgent establishment of international norms for online engagement.
But the increasingly alarming election-hacking allegations against Russia – and now Vladimir Putin himself – are nothing short of disturbing. The American people deserve a full understanding of these breaches that threatened to undermine our basic principles of free and fair elections – and a specific plan forward.
Floridians should feel confident in the result of November’s election, which, while not the outcome I had hoped for, is not in dispute. But it has now come to light that Russian agents were very likely behind clear and specific security breaches during the race that had a tangible impact, such as the DNC email hack that resulted in the release of a number of elected officials’ personal information, including my own, as well as hacking attempts at local election offices right here in Florida, as the FBI reported in October.
Instead of dismissing our intelligence community’s reports as sour grapes or a conspiracy theory, President-elect Donald Trump should consider the information with the full seriousness and credibility it deserves. Having advisers like Paul Manafort and cabinet picks like Rex Tillerson nearby – who have clear financial entanglements with Russia – does nothing to allay the legitimate concerns Americans have.
Furthermore, criticizing the brave men and women of the intelligence community not only disparages their service, it harms our national security by helping adversaries breed distrust of our government, which divides the country even more. It leaves the United States at a disadvantage on the global stage.
No matter which party is in the White House, doubt in America’s democratic institutions rattles our nation to its core. This should not be a partisan issue for any reason, as any candidate or party could be on the receiving end of a hack at any time.
I applaud members of both parties who called for a bipartisan and bicameral Congressional inquiry into Russia’s actions. But let us not stop there. I believe we also need a completely independent and nonpartisan investigation similar to the 9/11 Commission – which should include private-sector experts outside of elected office – to get to the bottom of this cyberattack. And its findings should be made public for all to see.
Protecting our democratic institutions from foreign interference, and the American people from an escalation of cyberattacks, must be a priority for the Trump Administration and the incoming Congress. The threat to our democracy posed by malicious meddling in our electoral process merits nothing less.
U.S. Rep. Patrick E. Murphy represents the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast in Congress, where he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate this past November.
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