Before the 2017 German election, Angela Merkel issued a loud call to build an election firewall. Everyone listened. By contrast, Eric Rosenbach, in charge of cybersecurity for the Defense Department from 2011 to 2017, told the Financial Times, “They [the states] are just not equipped to be fighting the pointy end of the spear of the Russian [intelligence agency] GRU.” He got that right. Are people listening? To some extent, they cannot hear through the constant distractions. It’s time to issue a loud call to protect our upcoming midterm elections from foreign interference. Where are we now? In April, 38 states took part in an election “cybersecurity bootcamp” conceived and directed by Rosenbach. A few weeks later on May 4, the White House issued a readout of President Trump’s meeting on election security: “The president received an update about current federal election security-related efforts, including…best practices like using paper ballots, issuing security clearances, and conducting security assessments.”
However, the meeting was absent a clarion call to action. Instead, it seems that the president is more interested in assembling a team of political snipers to take aim at the ongoing investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the Justice Department than genuinely focusing on strengthening our election security.
Sadly it’s almost too late to embrace legislation introduced on May 7 by House Armed Services Chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). Rep Thornberry introduced the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that would create a federally coordinated effort against “malign foreign influence.”