Russia Is Meddling Again, And The U.S. Is Making It Easy


My Name is Paul Butler I'm a law professor at Georgetown and the author of chokehold polic- black men, and let's get free a hip hop fury of justice. I've known Diane, Ream for at least twenty, five years. I've been a guest program what I appreciate about the podcast is she is still up today and she still keeps her listeners up to date with what's in the news right now I'm really glad that she still has this forum that we still have this opportunity to process the US. I think a lot of flying Diane's voice our conflict. That's why she's so good at what she does. Diane. On my mind what we know about Russia attempts to header appear in twenty twenty election. Through the spread is him formation online? Easier reports that tap into the deep divisions in America. Russians are added again. But they're not the only one. while. Those human intelligence and American public have better understanding at the tactics stopping these efforts coming from domestic or is it is as well is still proved a challenge. Like, four years ago the president continues to deny it's happening. For that Russia's actions are a threat to US democracy. I asked Shane Harris intelligent national security reporter at the Washington Post to explain what we know. Shane. As stand two months away from the presidential election. What do we know about ways in which Russia may be trying to enter tear? I think we actually know a good amount right now and I would kind of put it into two separate buckets. One being what I would call sort of trying to influence opinion in social media space and the second a little bit more targeted and I think more troubling. On the first, we see Russia doing some of the same things that it didn't twenty sixteen creating bots or might call trolls that operate on social media that posts things that might be incendiary or divisive or in favor of one candidate against another, and then we've also seen them taking stories that really did occur events the did occur and then amplifying them to essentially make a much bigger deal about them so. There was a very notable case for instance, during the some of the protests in Portland, which, of course, many which you know turn quite violent and chaotic. In some instances there was video captured of a protester burning a Bible while we know from reporting by the New York Times and the work of some researchers if that video got picked up in Russian media and then shared in social media in the US. So, in that case, where this real event did occur, it got amplified and turn it from a story of and individual protests are burning able into story that protesters plural were burning lots of bibles and this kind of gets picked up and amplified and shared in various social media circles. I have family members who sought and asking questions about it. Of starts to fulfil a narrative at some people might have that these protesters are out of control and the hate America make God what whatever. So the Russians kind of play a bit of amplification role in that, which is also not unusual. We saw instances that in twenty sixteen in this kind of second bucket of more targeted information what we know from the Director of National Intelligence Office where they do all the election security monitoring and reporting we've done at the post and elsewhere there is a a Ukrainian lawmaker friendly to the Kremlin who himself has ties to the KGB who has been. Circulating misinformation about Joe, Biden and allegations about Joe Biden's son at corruption in Ukraine. This will all sound familiar because of course, this was the subject area that got trump trouble alternately impeached and has been trying to get that information out in the public, and in one case we believe even filtering over to a US senator to try and get him to Jonathan investigation into the Biden's which, of course was something Donald Trump wanted. So they're more much more precise kind of targeted disinformation misinformation and that has been flagged by the Director of National Intelligence as Russia's attempt to interfere in the election. What held emails hacking the emails releasing them is evidence of that. We have no evidence of that yet, which I think is reassuring or should be. I think most experts I've talked to people in the intelligence community feel that in two thousand, sixteen, those theft in the leaking to wikileaks. DNC emails. Clinton campaign emails was probably the most serious and aggressive operation. They saw by Russia maybe had the most. To interfere in the election may even change people's minds. We have not seen that yet. Important to remember though organizations often when they are hacked may not know they've been hacked until the information has been disclosed. So we only know what we know. We don't know what we don't, but so far we have not seen the Russians running that play that they had twenty sixteen. WHAT AT OUT Site Call. -rupt lay our PD L. Y., which is owned by the Russian backed media network or D-. What are they doing? What we've seen from this site kind of goes to earlier example that I was discussing about how a story will get picked up and amplified. We see sites like roughly also I mean another I would point to as a site called sputnik that has been linked to to to Russia. The Russian government links is sometimes kind of little seedbeds were stories will start and then get amplified in picked up by a larger network maybe RT and then hopefully into possibly into the. into the Western media stream. So when we think about kind of the way that these stories developed sometimes, they'll start on smaller sites like that and then kind of get attraction enough eyeballs or seeing it online and then grow into something that looks more like a legitimate story because it might have been reported now by a number of different outlets. So we kind of kind of see like a little bit of a of a factory progression maybe even through sites like that. So, how believable are these kinds of sites? How realistic do they look? I think if you go to them, I mean they will often look like real websites. Right? They have a tabloid quality. I think a lot of times. More, discerning reader will recognized incendiary or tendentious headlines. things that we might say look like Click Bait. You know but I think if you were just sort of a user on the Internet and you're seeing a story, go through your stream and you're not necessarily looking at where it came from. But maybe you're just looking at how many times it's been shared. You know the the authenticity factor kind of. A little bit you're seeing friends of yours share, the story that might make you more likely to believe that in frankly there their American websites that you go to that. Have screaming headlines looks sort of misleading to write. Russian websites in general that we've seen that are trafficking in misinformation and outright this information, they look more sophisticated they. They have a more kind of Westerns feel if you look at by contrast Iranian websites, for instance that have been put up in recent years to try and mirror sites sort of black lives matter movement you know they have obvious grammatical errors. They don't look like what we think of websites looking like the Russians have gotten better at making ones I think just have. A. More sophisticated look or sophisticated enough. So, she ain't pressed tin trump has talked a great deal lightly about. The hazards of mail in voting. Benton the other day he suggested to people that they actually vote twice. You know go ahead and by mail and then show up at your polling place. We recently learned Russia's efforts to undermine confidence in mail in voting. First of all, what do we know second of all who started this president trump. Russia. Second, one's a great question to the first one. So what we know so far comes largely from a bulletin that was put together recently by the Homeland Security Department, and they have a role election security as well and what this said was Russian media and they didn't identify them precisely but were spreading stories trying to. Lend credence to the idea that Mayland of voting is not secure and it's rife with fraud. Now, of course, this is an idea that donald trump has been talking about for quite some time which then gives to the question of is Donald Trump amplifying what he's reading in Russian sources or a Russian sources amplifying with Donald Trump is already saying and regardless of who started it. And I don't know that we know exactly who may have. There is a feedback loop here that now appears to be generated, and if you read that Homeland Security Bulletin, which was only together a few days ago and you kind of read between the lines, they're not saying the Russians rambled find Donald Trump, they are saying the Russians are trying to amplify claims, allegations and suspicions that. Are Now being discussed in the United States and of course, you know the the major spokesperson for that has been the president it really to me underscores you know the luck that the Russians must feel in some of these operations where they can extend all of this time energy perhaps trying to get an idea or a a false claim perpetuated online, but the man with the biggest. Microphone on the planet is kind of doing their work for them. In some cases you know if there's if there's if people are believing right now in America, that mail in voting is not safe. My suspicion is that because either they've heard it from the president or he is kind of stoked in underlying concern that they had not because they read an article on rt or sputnik. Are you as in instigative agencies looking into the stuff that the Russians are doing and what are they finding? Well. What we know right now is that intelligence agencies in the Homeland Security Department certainly are monitoring it in so far as they can go online the way you and I can look at these stories and try to figure out what they add up to. Now, I'm not aware that the FBI is precisely investigating any particular actions by Russia. They are certainly always on the lookout for that and the US intelligence community as just as a matter of course, is always looking into in for information campaigns by the Russians particularly more now in two thousand, sixteen than. They were before the Director of National Intelligence Office has been criticized by particular for not sharing enough of what it is that they are learning Democratic lawmakers said look you've put out some statements they're kind of broader general. There's a lot more detail that story that we are getting classified setting. So what I think that tells you is that in the intelligence community, they are investigating this they're looking more closely into it and I think they're coming up with more details when I talked to sources you know what they will say is that yes, there is More that we have not revealed, but they say it's more that there are additional details that we don't want to talk about. It might away our acquiring that information that maybe they're getting it from a human source in Russia or maybe they have some kind of special electronic access. But what they have said to me is that it's not like the Russians are up to something on a totally different tracks that were not aware of that kind of what we see in terms of the social media manipulation, the attempts to launder this information through members of Congress. People to Donald Trump about the biden's that does sort of capture the universe of what's happening. Now again, we only know what we know but so far it does seem like we're at a thirty thousand foot level members of Congress may have a little bit more detail and it does feel like we've got a sense of what the Russians are up to any intelligence community is I think taking it quite seriously but is there any indication that the intelligence community is sharing information with certain Republicans but not sharing it with Democrats in other words has even sharing? Intelligence information become political. I think the bigger concern now is more that they're not sharing enough with either side and so the Democrats feel. That it's not so much. The Republicans are getting special view into this they're not but that the intelligence agencies in the leadership in general have been withholding. Notably. The director of National Intelligence. Has said in recent days that he's not going to be giving any in person briefings anymore to members of Congress about election threats and the state concern for this is that information can leak in things have come out from classified briefings in the press that deny doesn't want out now it's a little strange that they're doing this. And offering what they see are going to be written briefings presumably written material can leak. Than rebel material that has led I think to a lot of concern justifiably. So particularly, among Democrats that what the denies is really doing here is is at least in part perhaps holding back because if the truth continues to come out that Russia is intriguing in the election that Russia's trying to denigrate Joe Biden as the denies offices that publicly that's going to enrage the president everyone in the intelligence community understands the fastest way to set him off is to talk about Russia and election interference because for the president that goes back to twenty sixteen and raises concerns for him that his victory was not legitimate. There is some kind of asterisk. Win that only one because Russia intervene. Now, there's no evidence of that but in the president's mind, that's what Russia hoax is really all about. So people just kind of tried to avoid that subject and I think they're avoiding talking about it to Congress partly for that reason as well. So to whom is the DNA responsible to the American people to the Congress or simply to the president, I, mean, this is outrages. Deny reports directly to the presence and that's his boss. But to your point about who he's accountable to Congress and yes ultimately to the public and why what's been the real concern I think for. Lawmakers in particular here is that they can't really exercise their oversight authority over the intelligence agencies, but also over election security when you even more important arguably Desmond Oversight Mission if the DNA is not going to play ball with them if there are things that office. That it's not going to reveal what's the congress supposed to do subpoena people make it a court fight generally for for for for years the oversight process of the Intelligence Agency says dependent on some element of good faith between the Congress and the executive, and of course, many people in Congress don't expect executive is always telling you everything but you know intelligence. Community professionals I've talked to about this. Say you know in general the intelligence? Agency. Is Welcome that level of oversight, right? If you can kind of bring Congress in and show them what you're doing and even some cases can get their blessing rather acquiescence to it it helps provide more legitimacy and even some more political support for that. So a lot of. Career Intelligence People I've talked to who are not partisans say this is not a smart idea because eight deprives obviously the American public of this information but it doesn't put the intelligence agencies in a strong footing either it makes them very defensive and it makes it look like they're hiding something. If makes them look as they're protecting themselves the wrath of the president rather than protecting American people from what to Russians, who are actually doing. I think that's right. That's right and leaves open. The allegations that they're really trying to do is politically helps the president now, I, don't think that's. The case for career intelligence. People who are trying to job, but we should know that director of national intelligence a former congressman ratcliffe from Texas was a vocal supporter of the president during the impeachment hearings He was leading the charge or calling these illegitimate hearings something to them. He is a political ally of the president and we can't disregard that fact that there is a. A political ally in this position with the ability to withhold information from. Congress. So is there any indication that the director the DNA I has instructed? His employees to hold tight to that information there. Any indication that oh? Yes. I mean he is said publicly that they're going to discontinue these briefings. There's a career official whose beneath deny who's subordinate him named William Ebony Anna, who's career person who is the one in charge of the election security issue and gives those briefings. But now it's his boss John Ratcliffe that says, we're not going to do this anymore. So yeah, I mean he's been pretty explicit about it. Now, the stated concerns about this are. Leaking the security of the information and it's true. Information has leaked information does Lee, but it you know it's not as though career intelligence officials don't know how to give briefings in such a way that they assume some of it's going to lead in that they're careful about how they do it. So I think that excuse for a lot of people I've talked to. Shane Arrows. Back. Hi. COGIL here I. Hope you're enjoying on my mind and I also hope you're checking out the COGIL NNAMDI show we connect the dots between events happening in Washington Maryland, and Virginia through conversations with politicians, artists, chefs the list goes on you can listen to our podcast on demand by subscribing on your favorite podcast APP. So you never miss an episode. Here the rest of my conversation wit Shane Harris Intelligence and national security reporter at the Washington Post. Shane, let's talk about the attempts to denigrate Mr Biden's health. and. The kind of. Information. Is Information that's been coming out about him. So we know that President Trump took a coin this nickname sleepy joe, some lamb ago during the primaries in this was. I think both reflecting some anxiety that did exist among voters but also fan the flames of this idea that the vice president was too old to run maybe he's lost to step. Notably, a lot of these. Concerns were being pushed by the President before the former vice president actually came out and said that he's lifelong dealt with a stutter which actually helps explain sometimes maybe the way that his speech seems kind of clipped and truncated that was interesting. That was offering some. An to to that but you know look the vice president would be the oldest person ever serving if he were elected. So the presence played on obviously now, he kind of backed away from that for a while in his try to favor other labels Joe Biden is sort of a Trojan horse the laughed in this Kinda thing, but it was very interesting to me last week we saw the president's. White House Social Media Director Dansk Gavino tweet out a video that reported to be from an interview that Joe Biden was giving with the local television news station a few years back and the correspondent is on one side of the screen and she says, okay now it's time for our interview in they cut to Joe by on the other side of the screen and he appears to be sleeping. And the correspondent is saying up, wake up, come on your on air we're live on TV while the White House social media director points this out as if to say look, we've found evidence of Joe Biden Asleep during a television interview. Well, one of the people who the CO anchors during that broadcast quickly came out and said, this video isn't real the way that I know that is because I was here for this interview. First of all, it wasn't with Joe Biden it was with Harry. Belafonte. Who is edited out of the video and replaced with a clip of Joe Biden that appears to be anyway not of him sleeping but just kind of aloof where his eyes are closed to make it look like he's sleeping. So, this is I pointed this as an example of that is an altered video right that is that is disinformation that is showing something that simply did not happen at least not in the in the way that it's being portrayed in this instance, and that's being pushed by the White House Social Media Director. This is all out in the open now and when he's called on, it essentially says, what's wrong can't you take a joke? Well, this isn't a joking matter. This is the presidential campaign. The White House is not the only one to say, this is a joke what about Congressman Steve Scalise and what he's done to alter segments video about Joe Biden is this again copying Russia or giving something to Russia to copy you know I think in some sense it is like he's copying Russia's playbook in. So far as congressman lease has also been pushing out these doctored videos or speeches or statements by the vice president in which he is. Accused of saying things that he didn't actually say what's notable to me. Two things about that one is that the congressman may actually be violating house rules that have been set up to prevent this kind of use of social media to spread things just simply aren't true or have been altered but if you go back a year or so or even a year and a half or so ago when intelligence and security officials were starting to get ready, you know warning more about what we were going to face the twenty twenty election including in a set of hearings. Were had more than a year ago about global threats that we face this annual hearing or intelligence officials before Congress and the people give a big kind of tour of the world of what they're worried about this issue of deep fakes and of altered video and deliberate editing of statements was something that officials reflagging then and have been flagging all along as what they were afraid Russia was. Going to do or what a foreign country was going to do. Now we're phasing is you know is the White House is doing it Republican members of Congress are doing it. Know they started the call is coming from inside the House to borrow from the horror movie cliche I don't know if that's something that intelligence officials really reckoned. Way S I, think there was more of a fear. That Russia might drop something into the media stream and others. Amplify step is originating from US officials or at least insofar as they are pushing it out on their own, where where it may be appearing originally is an open question. This is a real conundrum, right? Because I mean on the one hand, we understand that in political campaigns, people sometimes say exaggerated or even outrageous things that becomes. Kind of part of the feature of campaign. But this seems strikes me as is quite different in. So far as you're talking about pushing out video and words attributed to someone those things stick they look real. They are engineered to look real not as an opinion that the congressman or the White House is expressing Ola here is actual video actual statement that you should believe that's different than spin. And give me an example of the videos that Steve scalise has pushed. Tony Poland upshur as I'm talking to an so good sins taken this on but. Congressman scalise tweeted a video in which there are the scenes of chaos and destruction from various protests in it includes a clip of a question and a response by Vice, President Biden edited in a way that takes out context and words that he said to make it appear as though. Joe. Biden is in favor of pulling funding from police. So he's asked a question video. Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for the police and Biden response? Yes absolutely. But if you look at the original published version of the video, it shows that the question did not say the words for police. Of the question and at Biden's response is not really what he said and of course. Joe. Publicly and said, he doesn't support defunding police. So this is. Taking, both the interviewer and the interviewee in selectively editing the words into a conversation that just didn't happen at least not in didn't happen the way that it's being portrayed now whether the congressman knew that or not, and I think he said essentially, he didn't really know that you kind of push out the damage is done and in voters will see that particularly if supporters are constituents of the congressman and say Oh yeah, I've heard that Joe Biden wants defend the police message now six and again we're used to kind of I think surrogates making those arguments or certainly kind of spin even coming from elected officials. But here is somebody in a position of authority pushing out information that has been manipulated. So to what extent does see authority of the DNA I get into actions on the part of members of Congress or should they? Well, they don't really have any power to stop them from saying what they want to say the doesn't certainly can't investigate members of Congress but what they have done in this very interesting statement that came out a month or so ago is they actually did point to in the list of things that Russia was doing and it was a short list they pointed to this disinformation being peddled by this lawmaker in Ukraine, that I mentioned the one who is trying to. Japan investigation into Joe. Biden. What are the things that he's actually done has to release sounds familiar a selectively edited audiotapes of conversations that Joe Biden had with Ukrainian official when he was serving in office talking about removing a prosecutor Ukraine who is widely viewed as corrupt, and of course, this is this. This is what? Trump supporters have taken as the story of will. This is Joe Biden. Trying to get rid of a prosecutor who is investing son. So now these tapes didn't really reveal anything new they did appear to be selectively edited and what the denied did was called out the peddling of this material by this individual lawmaker and it didn't say and he's trying to give it to congressional staff which we believe. Yes road reporting. But if you kind of read between the lines a little bit I think that was the deny saying to Congress like we all know who this man is talking to, and we all know that he is trying to launch this information through Republican lawmakers and get them to talk about it or to start investigation of Senator Ron Johnson has actually been dead most notable recipient of this. Although he has kind of claim that he's not really getting information from this lawmaker. It's a bit of a convoluted explanation on his part, but the point is the DNA is in a position where they can at least GonNa call these things out the problem has been I think in the eyes of love. Democratic. Lawmakers experts, and I think this is a fair criticism. Is that when the DNA talks About Russia, it also talks about to other countries China in Iran and in the minds of a lot of people just creates kind of a sense that there's some sort of equivalence or a continuity among all of these countries are doing, and that's just not the case but Russia is doing is much more aggressive. It's targeted one candidate Joe Biden it's convert in many cases it it's clandestine and others. It's simply not the same category of what China's doing or what Iran is doing. What about facebook and twitter is Russia using those the same way they did in two thousand sixteen. Broadly speaking they are I mean we see still accounts popping up posing as quote, unquote real users, legitimate users that are being linked back to Russia and to places in Russia known to manufacture these fake accounts or bots interestingly in some cases. Some of these accounts appeared to be not so much automated but have real people behind them and trying to cultivate a following to have more authenticity. So that's happening on twitter, and certainly on facebook we're seeing you know place into ads mean sharing of information sharing of misleading stories that sort of fits into the categories that we saw in two thousand sixteen accompanies I think are trying more. Aggressively to get a handle on that I, think twitter has probably been doing a more aggressive job of that them. facebook twitter is actually I. Think has limited political advertising entirely and is much more willing to flag accounts. Now that have false or misleading information including tweets by the president, he's been in a red flag number of times. FACEBOOK has now said they're going to ban political advertising in. The week before the election which some people experts will say, okay, that's that's a Steph navy in the right direction. But overall facebook has taken a more hands off approach to this. I think than twitter, which is not say the twitter has not really engaged and gotten very aggressive about policing continents. I either for both of these companies are very worried about the perception that they are taking aside. And a political debate because ultimately, they don't want to alienate their users, make it seem like they have a dog in the fight and then I think you know some of them also have principal concerns about freedom of speech and don't want to be seen as you know suppressing that on their platforms even though we be clear, these are private communications platforms. The First Amendment doesn't apply to them. Are they both better equipped to deal with the kinds of things that Russia wants to push I. Think they're better equipped. Now than they were in two thousand sixteen, they have more people working on the problem they have better algorithms. Technology can be tuned to filter some of this stuff out but you know, honestly, Diane if foreign governments want to flood the information's space with misleading content, it can happen. Fairly easily I think that you know what we have to kind of come to grips with as a society is that these companies are probably never going to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and what was really called for here is for citizens to become more educated and more discerning about what they're seeing. Right I mean whether that's through news literacy education programs for children in Grade School. Whether, it's public service announcements I, don't know. But I think that if we're hoping for twitter and facebook to help us understand what's legitimate information and what's not we're GONNA be waiting a very long time for assistance to come I find myself wondering how many people are getting their news and information from facebook and twitter verses. How many are getting it from legitimate sources like the Washington Post like the new. York Times how can we know? Well, we can measure these things now through surveys and we track what comes to our website based on referrals from social media site somebody clicks on a link in their facebook feed or clicks on a tweet versus lands on our page on their own or find us through Google news search, which increasingly happens. So I think what what the evidence seems to show is that. A sizable number of people are in fact, just staying on facebook or on twitter to see what's there and maybe aren't clicking through to go to those individuals sites or perhaps aren't starting their day simply by going to the New York Times website or to NPR's website or to the Washington Post's website and this information gets shared within their social groups I mean I think it's somewhat anecdotal at this. Point but you know talking to members of my own family. I've had conversations where someone will see a story that is so to me obviously not true or misleading, and I'll say, well, where did you see that those will I saw facebook and in others among education they're really his second is thing that you're seeing you're associating facebook with a publisher and making an assumption that facebook is verified the information. That, they're putting on their website and you know you can forgive people who didn't grow up with this stuff the way maybe younger people did for you know for making that mistake but at some point, don't y'all kind of understand now that social media is distinct from news organizations and for me as a journalist, it's really it's become quite frustrating because I don't have a great answer for how to combat. That because people see something they read it, they want to believe that it reflects back them a set of beliefs they already have. It's very hard to break through that just by saying well, you know you saw it on facebook therefore, don't trust that I mean I post my own stories to facebook. You know I want people to believe those. So we been talking far about what's happening before the election. Talk, out what could happen in terms of Russian interference after the election if there is a delay in results, what are your concerns? My big concern are that Russia or for that matter, the president will rush to judgment as the returns are coming in and preemptively declare perhaps a victory in one scenario that's being discussed by a lot of analysts now, is that given that the polls indicate that Democrats seem to be overwhelmingly favor of voting by mail Democratic voters would you might see is as the election is unfolding the in person votes being counted in it. Looks like there's a lead for Donald Trump as the absentee ballots voted in the days after the vote actually shifts more to Biden. So there's a possibility of that happening. It's those two or three days of counting. That are these extremely vulnerable times. When you know the president might want to claim a victory or might come out and say while I have reports that ballots are being counted late or are being stolen or suddenly ballots are showing up where there shouldn't be innings you can imagine a sort of opportunity for misleading information disinformation or frankly a well. Reporting, it just turns out to be wrong I mean think back to two thousand when the networks were flipping back and forth over calling Florida for Al. Gore. George W Bush in an environment like that where information is flying around the Internet and people are tuning into twitter or looking at websites trying to figure out what is the ground truth that is just a huge opportunity for mischief that you could imagine the Russian government inserting and selfish and. Talk about the Russian government and but we are still hearing about attorney general bar making references to those one, hundred, eighty, five, thousand missing votes or verbose or illegal votes, and then that story being totally discounted that's right and that's something else that we'd is really worth underscoring in this conversation because the attorney general, any attorney general is supposed to operate in an apolitical fashion to ensure that the laws are enforced and what we've actually seen with bill bar is that he's picked. Up and really tried to support this idea president trump pushes that there is something inherently flawed about Maalim ballot fraud is rampant and it it's just simply is not true and even when he makes these claims and they're proven not to be true, you know his aides, we'll try to backtrack forum instead all he was given maybe you know not complete information bill bar knows that there's no rampant voter fraud in the United States and if there was if you prosecuting it so this. This also becomes a real problem. If you have not just the president who people expect sometimes to kind of exaggerate in exercising hyperbole not just in Russian streams of information. But what if the Attorney General of the United States comes out and says, you know I believe we have evidence that absentee ballots were miscast were investigating potential over counts for Joe Biden. These four five states when you can just imagine I mean you know ways in which people in positions of authority can. Start to make people believe that a conclusion has been reached when it hasn't and given the hair trigger that we're all on right now I don't think it's that unrealistic to things that you could see protests art on either side about that and and I think that's that's genuinely worries me that we're at a point now where people are going to start taking it to the streets to settle these disputes that they have with each other and and not leaving at the ballot box. What could or should the US government be doing right now to protect that vote in November ending chewier it's trustworthy. Well the number one thing they should be doing is ensuring the postal service obviously as capacity that it needs to deliver the ballots I think that there's you know there are certainly instances where we've seen where the postal service has about alerting state saying look you know make sure people know get those ballots in early, there may be a crush of them coming. That you heard mail carrier unions come out and say look we can handle the volume of the pieces of mail that are gonNA come in. We don't make sure that we try and distribute that out a long time as much as possible. So we don't have one hundred, million pieces of mail just dropped in today's, but they can deliver it. The question is how quick will get there. Then the other thing you know that needs to happen and this is happening to their credit, his homeland security the Department of Homeland Security does talk to state and local governments to ensure that their voter rolls their electronic voting systems have not been tampered with that they know the kinds. Of things foreign governments are trying to do to interfere with elections and I think that that kind of public information is helpful and it would be good too I. Think for us in the press to be listening to these conversations, these warnings that are having and and and knowing that on election night, we just need to be very patient and not rush to conclude that one candidate won or lost in. This is GonNa be really difficult because it's in the nature of journalists to report the information quickly. But we've got to listen to these officials from the intelligence office from the postal service saying this just going to take longer and we're talking about days not one day. As a journalist, do you have faith that postmaster general do joy is going to do everything? He can to sure those ballot get in on time I think I have faith that the pressure has been placed on him. That he now is going to have to do everything, he can to make sure that they get in on time in and he is under investigation. Now, we understand for campaign contributions that he solicited when he was in private industry. So this is presuming US mastered joy is still postmaster general in two months. Assume. Anything. Anything right out exactly. But you know there's been so much scrutiny applied to this. Now to be fair, you know some of the things like removal of mailboxes or sorting machines some things that were in the works before he became postmaster general. But in the current context, of course, there has to be heightened scrutiny applied to anything involving this postal service mechanism that. is now going to effectively be the ballot box for a majority of Americans. So I think that he knows he's under a microscope and probably will certainly not take any efforts to try to impede timely delivery of those ballots. It's also State Secretaries of state who are in charge of elections in the various states territories as well to ensure that they have kind of. Prepared themselves for this day-lewis, it's going to come manual in Pennsylvania. It's very interesting. We've seen the legislature they're trying to push a change in the law that would allow them to at least start examining the ballots three days ahead of the election day when counting is to make sure there are no errors. So if there are that can get back in touch with. The voter and ask them to do it's cheering the ballot so that they can get it counted. Not have to delay that in some states can count earlier than others for those places where they can only start looking at the balance when they come in on election day and I think you're seeing those officials get prepared for just a highly unusual experience this time. Considering. The is concerns we have about what local state and national officials in this country are doing seems that Russia should be perhaps the least are where it's what we're doing to ourselves. That's so true and I think my cynical self looks at this and things that you know Vladimir Putin, his batting himself on the back and can't believe is good luck. And that he says, okay, my work is done here. You guys are handling it for me. Put your finger on it there. This is part of the the Russian ambition is to make people in this country. Believe that our system is not special that it's just as corrupt as everyone else's that it's just as flawed as everyone else's a healthy dose of you know US recognizing our own flaws. Sure. That's a good thing. But what they are trying to foment is something that has actively happening now, which is distrust mistrust. The belief that your political opponent is your enemy. In. This kind of heightening of tensions and Putin didn't caused that that has been brewing for a host of reasons for a long time in this country but it is it is reaching a fever pitch right now and again. When we see protests spilling into violence as they have in some cases, it just greatly worries me that people will lose faith in the political system to solve their problems and will decide that the only way to settle them by force against each other. This is I just I don't think that it's unreasonable to think that were sitting on a nice edge right now and that particularly during the ten. Days in weeks of counting these ballots that you could see, you know significant violence in the streets. Shane. Q.? Sound much. Welcome it's always good to talk to you. That was Shane Harris Intelligence. National Security, reporter at the Washington Post. And that's all for today. Thanks to those of you who out to let me know what you'd like me to cover during this very difficult time. Please continue tell edits know what's on your mountain. You can find us on facebook and twitter or send them send email Dr Podcast at WMU Dot Org. Our theme music is composed by Jim Brandenburg and Ben, spur. Wonderland. His show is produced by Rebecca Kaufman Alison. And Sandra Baker. Thanks for listening all don't forget to wear those masks to keep yourself and to love and everyone around you say. I'm Diane.

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