White House spokesman Josh Earnest is promising a “proportional” response but won’t say what that might entail. From Politico:
In addition to pledging that the U.S. “will ensure that our response is proportional,” Earnest told reporters flying on Air Force One that “it is unlikely that our response would be announced in advance.”
“The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries,” he said as the press corps traveled with the president to a Hillary Clinton campaign event in North Carolina. “So there are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional.”
Earnest’s language seems a bit vague under the circumstances. He says Obama “will consider” a response which suggests he hasn’t done so yet. When exactly is Obama planning to get to work on that?
Consider that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz resigned her position in the wake of the release of emails taken from the DNC on July 24th. Word that FBI strongly suspected Russia was responsible came a day later. But there is reason to think the administration had some idea what was going on much earlier than that. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was suggesting foreign hackers were targeting political targets in mid-May. The FBI apparently warned the Clinton campaign it may have been compromised be a foreign entity back in March.
Depending how you score all of this, the Obama administration has known about this for 3-7 months at a minimum and probably a bit longer than that. Now, with about three months left in office the President is finally going to start thinking about a response? What has he been waiting for exactly?
Also, the fact that Earnest is promising a “proportional” response also doesn’t inspire confidence. Sources within the intelligence community told Reuters last month that Putin is trying to impact our election not just to hand the election to Trump (as the Clinton campaign contends) but to “discredit the very concept of Western democracy.” That seems like a fairly big deal.
Question: What exactly is the proportional response to someone like Putin trying to bring down your entire system of government? I guess we’ll find out how highly President Obama values democracy when word of his “proportional” response leaks out.