Killing a New Myth – Wikileaks and Russia

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Let’s put to rest a myth that has emerged late in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. Wikileaks is said to be the tool of Russia and Vladimir Putin, his evil effort to affect the US elections. Awful! Frightening! Never happened like this!

Perhaps, maybe, and wrong.

The Russians–including the Soviet Union down to 1991–have engaged in American elections for at least five decades and in American domestic affairs. Likely beginning in 1948, appearing again in 1960, 1968, 1976, and 1980 the Soviet Union has been actively involved in tilting the US election one way or the other. These have included funding opposition candidacies, underwriting rallies and protest events, and filtering information to candidates.

Perhaps the worst example of Soviet influence in an American election came in 1984–at the instigation of US Senator Ted Kennedy. Kennedy contacted Soviet officials, including the KGB, and sought to help them counteract President Ronald Reagan in bilateral talks in exchange for promoting opposition to Reagan in the election. That’s right–a sitting US Senator from Massachusetts was reaching out to the most visible international adversary of the United States and seeking to aid and abet their efforts to damage American national security.

Putin is following a long line of precedent.

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