Across the country, people are increasingly anxious about election meddling. On July 13, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, announced that special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted 12 members of Russia’s military-intelligence agency for their roles in the alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee. While indictments are not evidence, it’s clear that the United States has much work to do in order to make its election system free, fair, and secure.
Addressing the issue of cyber interference would be a good place to start. In both 2009 and 2011, the Obama administration rejected Russian and Chinese-led efforts to forge a cyber-security treaty that would have, among other things, prohibited states from using “information and communications technologies, including networks, to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression, pose threats to international peace and security or proliferate information weapons or related technologies.”
But to fortify our elections at home, we must consider how our own government’s interference in the domestic affairs of other nations has contributed to the problem.
Nearly alone among his colleagues in the House, California Democrat Ro Khanna is willing to engage with these underlying issues. He recently, albeit unsuccessfully, introduced an amendment to this year’s Intelligence Authorization Act that would prohibit funds appropriated by the act to be used “to interfere in a democratic election of a foreign country, including by engaging in the hacking of foreign political parties; engaging in the hacking or manipulation of foreign electoral systems; or sponsoring or promoting media outside the United States that favors one candidate or party over another.”
I recently spoke with Congressman Khanna about his proposed legislation and what he hoped it might achieve.
James Carden: The topic of election meddling has been on many minds for the past two years and no more so than after President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. What prompted you to introduce this amendment? How do you think it might work to address the issue of foreign interference?
Rep. Ro Khanna: The amendment—which I offered to make to this year’s, as well as last year’s, Intelligence Authorization bill—is a clear statement against election meddling. Of course, we are deeply offended that Russia interfered in our election, and we should make it clear to the Russians that we will not tolerate it in the future. There will be consequences if they try something like that again.