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Americans would do well to remain skeptical

Russia and other foreign foes continue to probe election mechanisms and the political network in this country in attempts to find ways to commit mischief electronically, it is being reported. With the presidential election three months away, that comes as no surprise.

The vast majority of digital election systems in the U.S. appear to be secure. But candidates and political organizations’ communications may be at risk.

Let us not permit worry about the security of elections and sabotage of candidates to distract us from the primary digital danger, however. It is our own gullibility and willingness to believe the worst of those with whom we disagree politically.

Much was made of electronic tampering with the 2016 elections. But Moscow and other foreign actors achieved little success in attempting to infiltrate mechanisms by which we cast ballots and count votes. But the success our enemies had in pitting Americans against one another continues to be evident every day. Planting false stories on social media and setting up networks — even to the extent of funding two public protests with opposite goals ­– are among tactics that, sad to say, have worked well for those seeking to cripple or even destroy the United States.

As if on schedule just months before the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic has given Russian operatives an excellent opportunity to foster divisiveness, mistrust and hate among us. Russia’s GRU military intelligence service has been identified as the source of one major disinformation campaign using English-language websites.

That is where we, the American people, come in, of course. So eager have some become to believe the worst about those who disagree with us socially or politically that we have become easy prey for online disinformation offensives. Good old American skepticism ­– about all things — is our best defense.

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