(NationalSentinel) It wasÂ one of the most egregious (and under-reported) stories to come out of the November elections: Officials in Georgia accusedÂ the Obama administration of attempting to hack into the state’s electronic balloting system,Â either as political payback for refusing federal assistance, or for spite–or both.
Either way, we’re about to find out because the Trump administration has launched an investigation in the shenanigans,Â The Daily Caller is reporting exclusively.
The site noted:
Federal officials haveÂ launched anÂ investigation intoÂ why the Department of Homeland Security hacked into the Georgia state governmental network, including its election system, The Daily Caller News Foundationâ€™s Investigative Group has learned.
John Roth, inspector generalÂ for DHS, wantsÂ to know why the agency broke protocol on its way to 10 unprecedented attacks on the system overseen by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp â€”Â who is also one of the most vocal critics about the Obama administrationâ€™s attempt to designate local and state election machinery as part of federal â€œcritical infrastructure.â€
A Jan. 17Â letterÂ fromÂ Roth notified Kemp his office was officially â€œinvestigating a series of ten alleged scanning events of the Georgia Secretary of Stateâ€™s network that may have originated from DHS-affiliated IP addresses.â€ A firewall in Georgiaâ€™s system thwarted each attempt.
Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Kemp have clashed over a federal government designation of election systems as â€œcritical infrastructure.â€Â Kemp called it â€œpolitical power play to federalize elections.â€
Not so coincidentally, in August, DHS reached out to states offering “assistance” to help protect their electronic balloting systems from potential cyberattacks, but several states, including potential “swing states” (including Georgia) declined, telling the Obama administration, essentially, ‘We got this.’
The next thing you know, at least one of those states–Georgia–was sounding the alarm that its systems were indeed attacked (unsuccessfully)Â from DNS addresses that came from the Department of Homeland Security.
Less than two weeks before he left office, Johnson outraged both GOP and Democrat secretaries of state when he suddenly announced that federal balloting was “critical infrastructure” and, thus, now subject to federal oversight. Voting has traditionally been handled by the states.
The Daily Caller noted further the sinister nature of the DHS probes:
If Rothâ€™s investigation shows Johnson or his subordinates deliberately used federal cybersecurity resources to penetrate a state election system in order to pressure a state official over a policy dispute, it could represent a significant scandal for Johnson and for the outgoing Obama administration.
The â€œscansâ€ are attacks to test security weaknesses in a network. Itâ€™s called the electronic equivalent of â€œrattling doorknobsâ€ to see if theyâ€™re unlocked â€” or on a darker side, to send a message to a recipient.
Georgian IT specialists traced 10 such scans back to a DHS IP address. DHS officials confirmed the attacks came from an unnamed contractor attached to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, a part of DHS.
To be sure, this entire sordid episode is no doubt part of legitimizing the false narrative that “Russia hacked the election” to Donald J. Trump’s benefit and to harm Hillary ClintonÂ taken to the extreme.
Title 18Â of the federal code makes it a federal crime to â€œhaving knowingly accessed a computer without authorizationâ€ and to damage or impair the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information, The DC reported, adding thatÂ the penalty could be a fine and up to 20 years for each offense.
“Georgia also has several computer fraud and abuse statutes that could apply to the DHS contract employee and to other officials in Georgia who are implicated in the effort,” the site noted. “Four of the 10Â attacks against the Georgia network occurred as Kemp was about to talk to DHS officials, or coincided with his public testimony about his opposition to the critical infrastructure designation.”
Kemp has written the Trump administration and asked the president to instruct his new DHS secretary, John Kelly, to investigate further.