Quick Takes: When a Nation State Intervenes In a U.S. Election

* In a discussion about cyber security at a WSJ forum, National Security Agency Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command issued a warning.

[Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rebecca] Blumenstein also asked Rogers about WikiLeaks, and the slow and steady leak of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s gmail account. “There shouldn’t be any doubts in anybody’s mind: This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” Rogers said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

* On a story that I’ve been following for years now, it’s not surprising to hear that civil servants in the DOJ Civil Rights Division are facing a difficult decision.

Lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division ― a branch President Barack Obama rejuvenated after the Bush administration neglected many of its key duties ― are worried that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration might dismantle the work they’ve done over the past eight years.

Under Obama, the Civil Rights Division has fought Republican-backed voting restrictions, prosecuted anti-gay hate crimes for the first time, and mounted major investigations of police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri.

Trump ― who once suggested he’d instruct his attorney general to investigate the Black Lives Matter movement but has called himself “the least racist person” around ― has different priorities. He subscribes to the notion that there’s a “war on police,” has called police “the most mistreated people in America” and spoke about the need to “give power back” to law enforcement.

Now the government’s top civil rights attorneys face a choice: Fight for what they believe in under an administration that shows every indication of being hostile to their division’s mission, or quit.

* Nikole Hannah-Jones writes about the end of the postracial myth. I recommend reading the whole article, but she makes a great point about those who try to dismiss the role that racism played in the election of Donald Trump.

…this analysis reveals less about the electorate than it does about the consistent inability of many white Americans to think about and understand the complex and often contradictory workings of race in this country, and to discuss and elucidate race in a sophisticated, nuanced way.

While we tend to talk about racism in absolute terms — you’re either racist or you’re not — racism and racial anxiety have always existed on a spectrum. For historians who have studied race in the United States, the change from blue to red in heavily white areas is not surprising. In fact, it was entirely predictable. “There are times when working-class whites, whether rural or urban, will join an interracial alliance to get the short-term gains they want,” Robin Kelley, a history professor at U.C.L.A., told me. “They don’t ever do it without kicking and screaming.”

* If you want to keep fake news sites out of your newsfeed, Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, put together a publicly available Google doc cataloging “False, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources.”

* Today there was some encouraging news from my community.

In a move some are calling historic, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi filed charges Wednesday against a St. Anthony police officer in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, whose death was broadcast live on Facebook.

Choi said he concluded that the “use of deadly force by Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez was not justified.” Yanez was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm for shooting seven times into Castile’s vehicle during a traffic stop…

“To those of you may say this incident was Philando Castile’s fault, I would submit that no reasonable officer — knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time — would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” Choi said at a morning news conference announcing the charges. “I have given officer Yanez every benefit of the doubt on his use of deadly force, but I cannot allow the death of a motorist who was lawfully carrying a firearm under these facts and circumstances to go unaccounted for.”

I’ve known Ramsey County Attorney John Choi personally for many years now. It doesn’t surprise me that he is taking this historic stand for justice.

* Finally, the day before the election, Donald Trump stopped in Minnesota to make a closing argument based on hate. His target was the Somali community in this state. The next day Ilhan Oma won election as the first Somali-American to serve in a state legislature. Last night she was a guest on Rachel Maddow’s show. I hope you’ll find her words as inspiring as I did.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.