The Russian hackers who marred the integrity of the 2016 U.S. presidential election through their activities did not only target the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential committee.
A new write up in the New York Times details that Democratic U.S. House candidates from across the nation were also in the sights of Kremlin-directed Russian hackers, as were sitting Democratic members of the U.S. House as well.
These hacking victims, all persons who may rarely or never cross paths with any significant foreign policy activities in the course of their career, seem bafflingly irrelevant to any foreign interests such as the Russians.
One key, tangible goal however, remains inherent the Russians’ endeavors against these sitting members of Congress and Congressional candidates — the subversion of American democracy.
The New York Times phrased the goal in the cyberattacks on interests far from the forefront of America’s national political conversation this way: “to make American democracy a less attractive model to his own citizens and to Russia’s neighbors.”
The long term effects of the cyberattacks, from those against Democratic U.S. House candidates to those against the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, remain to be seen.
The U.S. House centered cyberattack began with a leak of all of the personal information of sitting Democratic members of the House, a leak resulting in security being dispatched to all the homes of U.S. House Democrats along with the need for said Democrats to, for example, change all their phone numbers.
On the occasion of this leak of personal information, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in an email:
‘[T]he D.C.C.C. and other Democratic Party entities have been the target of cybersecurity intrusions — an electronic Watergate break-in… We take this troubling situation very seriously and have notified the appropriate authorities, including the F.B.I.’
Even though Pelosi says that they “notified the appropriate authorities,” such was not enough to keep the cyberattacks from continuing, and the next targets were the previously discussed U.S. House candidates.
Documents relating to House campaigns were stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and offered up to journalists by hackers operating under the moniker of “Guccifer 2.0” as if they were offering up a normal political scoop.
The documents detailed private assessments of various candidates’ campaigns, and were in many cases seized upon by the targeted candidates’ opponents to use as a treasure trove of information for what ended up being in some cases campaign sinking political attacks.
The chair of the DCCC attempted to have the usage of the hacked material in attack ads stopped, writing at one point to his Republican counterpart, saying:
‘The N.R.C.C.’s use of documents stolen by the Russians plays right into the hands of one of the United States’ most dangerous adversaries. Put simply, if this action continues, the N.R.C.C. will be complicit in aiding the Russian government in its effort to influence American elections.’
The material, however, remained in use in attack ads throughout the rest of the election season, eventually dooming candidacies ranging from that of Florida’s Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo to Pennsylvania’s Mike Parrish.
The “Guccifer 2.0” Twitter account, for what it’s worth, is still up on the social media platform.
The last post to the account is from over a month ago, when a message appeared reading, “I’ll be an independent observer at the U.S… I call on other hackers to monitor the elections from inside the system.” This post corresponds to the most recent post to the blog that the Twitter account links to, a post titled, “Info From the FEC: Democrats May Rig The Election.”
Featured Image via The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images.