In preparation for potential Russian election hacking in October 2016, the Obama White House prepared a response plan that included aggressive measures, such as deploying troops to polling places and launching a counter propaganda campaign in the days following the election.
The 15-page plan, obtained by Time and released Thursday, granted White House officials the authority to intercede in hacking attempts to local and state authorities, but stipulated that the federal government should remain prepared to implement several “enhanced procedures” in the event of a “significant incident.”
Authorities were prepared to deploy “armed federal law enforcement agents” to polling places if hackers succeeded in halting the voting process. In addition to the military response, the plan laid out counter propaganda efforts that would have been implemented in the days following a compromised election.
Specifically, the plan detailed the necessity of a FBI and Department of Justice joint effort to address “any post-election cyber incidents,” including “planted stories calling into question the results.” The plan provided for inter-agency cooperation between the communications divisions of the various intelligence agencies for three days, at which point the task force would be dissolved.
Russian propaganda efforts were compounded by then-candidate Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that the election would be, in some way, fraudulent. The success of Russian efforts to undermine U.S. democracy is evidenced by Gallup polling results, which revealed that only 30 percent of Americans had faith in the honesty of the election.