Last December, at the height of the "Russia hacked the election" scandal, we showed that between 1946 and 2000, the US had interfered in foreign presidential elections at least 81 times in the period from 1946 through 2000. And while millions of Americans were aware just how "innocent" the US government in general, and the CIA in particular, have been few dared to mention it in public.
Until today, when in an unexpected moment of honesty U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday the while idea of Russian involvement in U.S. election is bothersome, he added the United States doesn't "come to the table with clean hands", noting the CIA's involvement in an Italian election in the 1940s. Of course, there are many, many other examples of CIA intervention, but we'll settle for the admission of one to start.
Grassley said that intelligence community leaks of classified information should concern Americans just as much as foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also equated apparent Russian interference in the 2016 election with past operations by the United States to influence the outcomes of foreign political contests.
Grassley, who has made encouraging and protecting government whistleblowers part of his portfolio in Washington, expressed deep reservations about the leaks that have informed news stories in recent days and ultimately forced Flynn’s ouster. Such leaks by intelligence officials are illegal and are not protected by whistleblower laws, Grassley said. "We need to start considering that it’s not only dangerous and scary that some foreign power attempts to influence our elections, but it may be even scarier that intelligence officials in our own government might be trying to undermine our government,” he said.
Grassley was responding to questions about new revelations that the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian intelligence agents before Election Day. As reported last night, while the New York Times said that four Trump aides and associates had contacts with Russian agents, it admitted there was no evidence of collusion in order to affect the result of the election.
For months, Democrats have been raising concerns about Russian involvement in the election. Those concerns have amplified in recent days. In Iowa, the state's lone Democratic congressman, Rep. Dave Loebsack, said Wednesday that Americans are demanding accountability and a new investigation ought to be launched into the matter. "It has become clearer with each passing day of the Trump administration that there must be a full, independent investigation of his administration and campaign’s connection to Russia," Loebsack said.
Grassley responded: "If you want some history from an 83-year-old person, I can tell you I remember reading about our own CIA trying to influence the Italian voters not to go communist," Grassley said during a call with Iowa reporters. "We very much backed the Christian Democratic Party while the Russian communist party under Stalin was backing the communist party of Italy."
Grassley added later in the call that "Russian involvement in our elections ought to be very seriously considered, just like the French politicians are very nervous about the Russian involvement in their election. But I also said we don't come to this table hands-free. I told you about the 1948 CIA involvement in the Italian elections where the communists were trying to take over the country and Russia was behind that and our CIA got involved to make sure. None of this stuff should be going on."
He is right, of course, but in a world of realpolitik, cyberwarfare and, now, "fake news" not only will this stuff continue but it will only get worse.