It’s mildly amusing that the most sophisticated weapon the suddenly super-macho United States is developing to thwart a cyberattack is called an “implant,” but the real joke is that cyber spies named “Fancy Bears,” along with 400-pound guys on mattresses, stole the 2016 U.S. election while prurient Americans were glued to their devices watching a salacious video for a change of pace from the daily dump of Hillary Clinton email nonsense.

The “Access Hollywood” story was first reported at 4 p.m. Oct. 7, 2016. Then-candidate Donald Trump was caught on a hot microphone, bragging to Billy Bush “in vulgar terms” in 2005 about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” Days later the headlines read, “The 2016 electoral map is rapidly slipping away from Donald Trump,” attributing his diminishing chances of winning in part to the “Access Hollywood” tapes. Even the most cynical person would not think for a minute that the story of a presidential candidate caught in flagrante delicto would boost his chances of winning, but it did. Sex sells and the story eclipsed everything else.

It turns out other very interesting things were happening during the election besides smut and email. According to a riveting story about the “crime of the century” published Friday in The Washington Post, it was around this time in June of last year that “a CIA operative returning by taxi to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was tackled and thrown to the ground by a uniformed FSB guard. In a video aired on Russian television, the U.S. operative can be seen struggling to drag himself across the embassy threshold and onto U.S. sovereign territory. He sustained a broken shoulder in the attack.”

Did CNN, MSNBC or Fox News show this video? Are there no “Fancy Eagles”?

About a month after our CIA hero got his shoulder broken by Russian thugs, “a Russian military helicopter dropped from the sky to make multiple passes just feet over the hood of a vehicle being driven by the U.S. defense attaché, who was accompanied by colleagues, on a stretch of road between Murmansk and Pechenga in northern Russia. The attempt at intimidation was captured on photos the Americans took through the windshield.”

Many people would have been interested to see those photos last summer. Russians bullying Americans by helicopter is interesting and a bipartisan concern, one would think, but last summer, while we were drowning in email, “the FBI was tracking a flurry of hacking activity against U.S. political parties, think tanks and other targets” and “the Russians were playing this much bigger game, which included elements like released hacked materials, political propaganda and propagating fake news.”


It took until Oct. 7 for the Obama administration to release a public statement about the growing intelligence that Vladimir Putin was aggressively trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, in part because “getting appointments with certain Republicans proved difficult” and many, like Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, simply do not believe Russians ran a campaign to undermine our democracy, instead accusing U.S. intelligence of a “politically calculated move.”

The first public comments about Russian interference were reported on Oct. 7 at 3:30 p.m., just 30 minutes before the “Access Hollywood” story blew up, and thanks to the willful ignorance of people charged with protecting us, it wasn’t until Dec. 29 that 35 Russian officials were finally sanctioned and expelled from America and two Russian-owned compounds in Maryland and New York they called “recreational facilities” were seized.

“The administration gave Russia 24 hours to evacuate the sites, and FBI agents watched as fleets of trucks loaded with cargo passed through the compounds,” the story recounts. “When FBI agents entered the sites, they found them stripped of antennas, electronics, computers, file cabinets and other gear, officials said, their hasty removal leaving visible markings on floors, tables and walls.”

Our distraction from credible reports of Russian meddling during the presidential campaign last year actually helped to elect President Trump.

If Americans and especially Congress had the focus and determination to get at the truth instead of score political points we might have learned then what we know now. Russia wanted Donald Trump to win and used the power and resources of its government to elect him.

Now that we desperately need a distraction from his embattled and chaotic White House, the Russians once again do not disappoint.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: @dillesquire

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