A well-respected author who has been called the “premier futurist in the national security environment” thinks we won’t have to wait too much longer for an “October Surprise” that could have major implications for the presidential election.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to wait until October,” Dr. Peter Singer, a strategist at New America and author of “Ghost Fleet,” told Business Insider. “There’s clearly more to come.”
Singer spoke with Business Insider about the ongoing leaks from the massive hack into the Democratic National Committee by two different Russia-linked hacker groups. A hacker calling himself “Guccifer 2.0” initially posted an opposition research file on Donald Trump before moving on to embarrassing emails within the DNC, and personal contact information for House Democrats.
Many in the Democratic Party are fearing the release of documents that could be much worse.
Whether more released documents changes the election or not, Singer contended that we’ve seen this type of thing play out in the past — Russia meddling in an election — with the intended goal not always being to change who wins, but instead, to sow doubt in the electorate.
In 2014, Russia-linked hackers attacked the computers of Ukraine’s central election as votes were being cast. In one incident, they used a virus that would declare the far-right (and pro Russian) candidate the victor, even though he only got 1% of the vote. Russian state TV almost immediately declared him the winner.
So perhaps the election won’t be hacked, but the information surrounding it will seem tainted and untrustworthy to people.
“That’s where this latest Trump track of ‘the polls are false, if I lose it’s been stolen’ — It’s laying the groundwork for a narrative that we can see coming,” Singer said. “The idea is to cast illegitimacy on an election.”
Singer said that it’s in Trump’s interest to tell supporters not to believe the polls, or cast doubt on the election in November, but it also plays right into Russia’s goals.
“It’s the idea of sowing dissension, sowing doubt, and delegitimizing,” he said. “This is classic information warfare operations that date back to the Stalin era. It feels new to Americans but it actually fits a prior pattern.”
As Singer explained, our voting system has had its problems since the “hanging chad” days, but now, he said, “we’ve got a direct threat to it.”
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