This just in: Another Trump administration official has been fired for committing truth.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has joined the ranks of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, two FBI directors (Comey and McCabe) and enough diplomatic and intelligence officials to add a new wing onto Guantanamo.
The thing is, Maguire was fired for sharing with Congress something we already knew: Russia has not retracted its oily tentacles from our elections in its bid to help Donald Trump.
Yes, we already knew this. Or at least Robert Mueller knew it.
“They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller told the House Intelligence Committee last July of Russia’s attack on our democracy. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
“It” includes hack-fishing for dirt about Trump’s critics and political foes, efforts to infiltrate state voting systems, and a whole lot of disinformation to benefit Trump and Republicans through social media.
It’s interesting that Trump fired Maguire reportedly because the information shared by intelligence would be “weaponized” by Democrats.
Interesting because the word “weaponization” is in the title of an important book about what Russia is doing: P.W. Singer’s and Emerson Brooking’s “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”
Singer and Brooking describe Russia’s exploiting a virtual world where “credibility doesn’t matter” when people glom onto to information, and how Russian propagandists “drown their opponents in a firehose of falsehoods.”
These efforts are the fruits of the 1,000-employee Internet Research Agency operating out of the Kremlin.
Don’t assume that’s the extent of Vladimir Putin’s psy-ops army, for it contracts with people around the globe to click away just like any old Joe stirring the pot on social media.
Those are the trolls employed by the agency. Then there are the internet bots, not people but auto-tweeters and Facebook auto-posters churning out messages micro-targeted at audiences deemed susceptible to 24-hour fakery.
One target in 2016: black voters, the objective being to promote distrust in Hillary Clinton and stir the ambivalence to keep them away from the polls.
Another device is so-called sock puppets, Russian-constructed Twitter accounts that look like just any old legitimate presence on social media.
One such Russian sock puppet, a site called @Ten_GOP, identified itself as the “unofficial Twitter account of Tennessee Republicans.” It featured 3,107 messages which, thanks largely to sharing by Trump, were retweeted 1,213,506 times during the 2016 campaign.
Yes, well, they’re back — the Russian bots and puppets, trundling like tanks outside of Prague. They are back to help rescue the presidency of America’s chief troll.
Trump says this is all just Hoax City.
Considering how conclusive the evidence is, it is just one more example of what criminologists call consciousness of guilt – when a suspect refuses to acknowledge stuff clearly affirmed by evidence and which points in his or her direction.
Ah, but Trump knows how to change the subject, and will do so adroitly by the time you read these words.
Since first taking to Twitter to tout “The Apprentice” and delighting at the attention-getting potential of social media trolling, Trump has issued more than 40,000 tweets, wedging his way into the public conscience as the Great Distractor.
Take it from a Republican media strategist, Kevin Madden, quoted in “LikeWar”:
“Trump understands one important dynamic: In a world where there is a wealth of information, there is always a poverty of attention, and he has this ability to generate four of five storylines a day. He’s always in control.”
Voters must take control back in November.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.