U.S. must counter Russia’s threat to national security

To the Editor:

Every branch of our intelligence services, including the military, has presented evidence of Russian interference in our 2016 elections through manipulation of social media, including planting bots spreading fake and distracting news, as well as hacking personal and institution data bases. This is a violation of our national sovereignty and a huge threat to our national security.

What is being done to safeguard us against these highly sophisticated Russian cyber attacks? Congress has held hearings for over a year yet the only action it has taken has been to ask the FBI to investigate the person who wrote one of the first reports about Russian meddling.

The President’s response to this national threat has been to ask Putin if the Russians meddled and to accept Putin’s denial rather than accepting the evidence gathered by our own intelligence agencies. Really? He really expected Putin to acknowledge cyber attacks?

Imagine what would happen if Russia chose to hack our power grid, financial institutions, health services or communications grid. Chaos, America on her knees, without a shot fired. Yet the President and Congress are focusing their attention on spending billions of dollars on a silly wall that even the border security guards say will only succeed in slowing illegal immigrants by a few minutes and can be tunneled under or a ladder thrown over.

Possible Russian cyber attacks are an imminent national security threat. This is not a partisan issue. Now is the time for Congress and the president to establish safeguards and stop the dilly dallying.

Ellen Beck


Do you feel safe?

To the Editor:

Every sane person fears the impulsive actions of North Korea’s crazed leader Kim Jong-un, yet our own Donald Trump has proven himself even crazier. How comfortable does that make you feel? The sooner this “genius” is put out of stable, the better.

Gary Linehan


Public lands

To the Editor:

If you have spent any time in a remote spot in the American Southwest, where no sound or sign of man’s presence intrudes upon your perceptions of the workings of nature and from horizon to horizon, the vastness and beauty of the land and sky suggest infinity, then you will understand the anxiety people are feeling upon learning about Trump’s plan for “energy dominance” that will reduce regulation in order to exploit sensitive public lands for short-term profit.

Increasing our natural gas and oil production in order to sell it on the world market to make a quick buck now, when prices are low, is a foolhardy scheme that harms our economy and national security in the long run. It uses up resources that, in the future, could give an advantage to American industries, allow more policy options, and provide strategic reserves in case of a global conflict.

Also, destroying the unspoiled beauty of our public lands squanders their economic value. Tourism is a vital industry in many rural areas, including here in Tuolumne County. Our National Parks are already so popular that they are overcrowded. As American life becomes more urban and technological, a getaway in the mountains, or to the desert, or at the shore will be more in demand. Our wild and scenic areas are precious and unique treasures that should be cherished. Every American should be able to experience the beauty of a pristine setting and enjoy the serenity and insights to be found there.

Rep. Tom McClintock advocates legislation to reduce environmental protections and open more public lands to achieve “energy dominance.” He has received more than $210,000 in campaign donations from oil and gas industries. We need a representative that works for us, not for them.

John Watson