George Washington warned in his Farewell Address of the dangers posed to our country by political partisanship.
He feared that parties would promote their own fortunes over those of the country. As he put it, they might “put in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of the party.” We may well be witnessing that very danger today.
The United States was the target of cyber aggression at the hands of Russia’s Putin regime last year. Russian hackers attacked the very heart of our democracy, trying to disrupt and influence our electoral process. Whether they were successful is beside the point. All Americans should be outraged by this intrusion into our domestic affairs. We should demand a thorough investigation into everything the Russians did, how they did it, what we can do to protect against further cyber attacks, and what additional punitive measures should be taken against the Putin regime.
Congressional investigations might ordinarily suffice to explore these issues, but this is not an ordinary situation because partisanship has become entwined in the imbroglio. Intelligence officials have found there were numbers of contacts between the Russians and past and present members of the Trump entities. This has resulted in somewhat of a circle-the-wagons attitude on the part of some in Congress, particularly those in positions to oversee such a vitally important undertaking.
A partisan inquiry simply won’t suffice to get all of the facts on the table and its conclusions would likely not be accepted by a majority of Americans. It is essential that we find out who was involved on the Russian side, whether they had help of any nature from Americans, and the channels through which information was passed. The Russian government under Putin is the major global threat to our country. The Russians cannot match our military capabilities but they have substantial cyber capabilities and the capacity to wreak great havoc on our technology-dependent nation. We can’t let that happen again.
In order to do a credible investigation of the Russian attack on America, it is essential to place the responsibility in the hands of an independent, bipartisan group of respected Americans. We have many people of this stripe in our country. A half-hearted inquiry conducted by many who have a partisan dog in the fight won’t produce honest answers to the critical questions facing us, nor will it give the American public confidence in the findings.
We must demand that our Congressional representatives stand up for America and support a thorough and independent investigation into Russia’s attack on the U.S. political system. Tell them in no uncertain terms that the interests of their country always take priority over the narrow interests of any political party.
Jim Jones is a former Idaho attorney general and chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court