“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.” — Former special counsel Robert Mueller
There’s a reason that when former special counsel Robert Mueller spoke to the nation last week, he began and ended by talking about the corruption of the 2016 presidential election by a foreign power. He’s telling us we must act to save our democracy.
What are we doing about this? Nothing! We’re lying around like an old dog on the front porch in the heat of summer as if nothing at all was happening. Meanwhile, there are bears looming in the woods and closing in on our house.
If Congress can’t get this done of its own volition, the people must demand action. We haven’t got much time left to save the next election, but what we do have is the sharpest tech minds in the world — patriotic people who are nonpartisan, too.
We need a #MoonShot2020 to save our democracy.
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I know what it’s like to fight the Russians in cyberspace. I was the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee after we discovered we were being hacked by the Russians. As the 2016 election neared, I was so worried. The Russians were still active in the DNC system. I had a big calendar on the wall of my office where I marked off each day we detected them, more than once a week. What were they doing in there and what were they planning to do in October?
'Hacker House' patriots cared about a fair fight
We recruited an elite team of cybersecurity whiz kids from Silicon Valley who flew to Washington to battle the Russians — Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear — lurking inside our servers. They spent two months eradicating the various types of malware the Russians had planted, sleuthing them out and disabling them while working on building better walls to protect our data.
This was a patriotic, bipartisan campaign. My friends from "Hacker House," the nickname for the five-bedroom house we had rented for them in Northwest Washington, mostly didn’t care about politics. What kept them up late into the night coding at the dining room table was not that they wanted one candidate or the other to win. They cared about a fair fight.
Most of us still do.
That search for fairness is a quintessential American value. We are many. We are diverse and we often disagree. It’s healthy to have a contest of ideas, but it’s got to be fair. That’s the only way the best one wins. People are more energized to participate if they think the competition is fair.
Now the bears are out of the woods. They have broken into the basement. As we at the DNC did with the fine men and women working out of the Hacker House, we must recruit an elite team of security experts to help us get them out of the basement. They’re up to no good down there, and they must go. And we need very skilled exterminators to clean house.
Saving 2020 election requires another moonshot
When President John F. Kennedy in 1961 set a goal of getting a man to the moon before the end of the decade, the country rose up and joined the cause.The Russians had embarrassed us a month earlier by orbiting the first man around the Earth. We threw everything we had at this challenge, investing in science programs in the schools, hiring experts, training hundreds of thousands whose energy and creativity and collaboration made huge advances in science for the world.
Our efforts and the resulting success embodied the best values and can-do spirit of our great country. When we put the small things aside and focus on the larger principles we value, together we can do great things.
This is a moment for another moonshot.
This time we don't need hundreds of thousands of people. We just need the ones with the “right stuff.”
Over the two months Hacker House was in existence, we had about 25 volunteers. Some would only stay for a few days, sleeping on the sofa in the living room so they could tackle a particular part of the problem. I remember it was just a week before the election when we found the Russian hackers in our voter data file, the central repository of data for all our candidates. Lord knows how long they had been there or how much information they had stolen along the way.
Mueller is begging us to protect democracy
We also worried that they might have corrupted our data. Were we sending our nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to the wrong places? Were we sending fundraising letters to the wrong people? We had to think long and hard about taking the whole system down just days before the election.
Ultimately, the residents of Hacker House saved our bacon. They figured out a way to extract the malware while the system was up and running, which is like performing surgery on a patient who is still awake.
Our Hacker House heroes amazed me daily with their genius and their love of country. Americans do great things regularly, and saving the 2020 election should be the next one.
Fairness is at the heart of our democracy and the people’s right to choose their leaders. Our intelligence agencies, our military and now Robert Mueller are all begging us to exert our political will to ensure fairness. Our politicians will not lead unless we force them to do so.
Donna Brazile, a Fox News contributor and an at-large automatic delegate to the 2020 Democratic convention, is the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and author of "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House." Follow her on Twitter: @donnabrazile
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: We need a 2020 moonshot to beat Russian hackers and protect our elections: Donna Brazile