Former US Vice President and the man whose image appears in the dictionary by the word “neocon”, Dick Cheney criticized Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, saying it could be considered an “act of war” against the U.S.
“There’s no question there was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic processes,” Cheney said Monday during a speech at the Economic Times’ Global Business Summit 2017 in New Delhi, even though not only are there questions, the US still has to present any proof this actually happened.
Nonetheless, Cheney continued and said that “in some quarters, that would be considered an act of war. I think it’s a kind of conduct and activity we will see going forward. We know he’s attempted it previously in other states in the Baltics,” Cheney said, according to the following video of his remarks.
Cheney’s accusation comes at a time when both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees are investigating possible Russian interference in the election that brought President Donald Trump to power.
“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,” Rep. Jackie Speier said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election interference last Monday, echoing Cheney’s sentiment. Another consummate neocon, John McCain also said back in December that Russia’s actions amounted to an act of war. Experts, however, have cautioned against making such accusations. The U.S. government does not currently have a definition of what actions in cyberspace would necessitate a military response.
Cheney on Monday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having “designs” on the Baltic states. NATO has recently deployed forces to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in the wake of Moscow’s aggressive activity in Ukraine.
“Another aspect of Mr. Putin’s conduct is the issue that is now very much in the headlines at home, and that has to do with cyber warfare, cyberattack on the United States — the fact that he took his capabilities in the cyber area and used it to try to influence our election,” Cheney said.
Of course, the breakdown always happens when one tries to define what exactly was “hacked” and how Russian “interference” impaired the elections, and Cheney was no exception. While the former vice president emphasized that there is no argument that President Trump’s election was “not legitimate,” he said Americans should be mindful of Putin’s actions.
So which is it: did he do something bad, or should America be “mindful” of Putin doing something bad in the future? Alas, like with every witch hunt, the answer won’t be forthcoming, and instead we will get such blanket generalization as the following: “I would not underestimate the weight that we Americans assign to the Russian attempts to interfere with our internal political processes,” Cheney said.
The FBI has been investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the election, including looking at any possible coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow, FBI Director James Comey revealed last week.