Obama DHS Illegally Attempted to Penetrate Georgia Election Website in 2016

DHS
WASHINGTON (April 10, 2019) Department of Homeland Security’s new headquarters is ceremoniously opened during at ceremony at the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Washingon. (DHS photo by Tara Molle/Released)

According to Judicial Watch the Obama DHS illegally attempted to penetrate the Georgia Election website in 2016 without the prior knowledge or approval of the (then) Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. In a letter to Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Kemp accused the DHS of

“an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall.”

Kemp wrote:

“On November 15, 2016, an IP address associated with the Department of Homeland Security made an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall. I am writing you to ask whether DHS was aware of this attempt and, if so, why DHS was attempting to breach our firewall.

Why was the DHS Scan an issue?

Secretary Kemp stated in the letter to DHS Secretary Johnson that the attempted penetration was not requested by the State of Georgia as they had already scanned their system and was therefore, illegal.

Georgia was one of the only few states that did not seek DHS assistance with cyber hygiene scans or penetration testing before this year’s election. We declined this assistance due to having already implemented the security measures suggested by DHS. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, attempting to gain access or exceeding authorized access to protected computer systems is illegal.

This report was based on a 243 page record dump from the Department of Homeland Security, which Judicial watch acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) of all records related to cyber-attacks against the Georgia Secretary of State’s network involving the DHS from October 2016-February 2017.

Internal emails show an attempt by the Acting Principal Deputy Chief Information Officer, Jeanne Etzel to control the narrative and potentially mask a lack of record-keeping.  Those records which would have revealed why this “scanning’ was done. An email to Etzel states, ““At this time, we cannot validate users with ease for these past timestamps due to DHCP and the lack of Authentication logs.” Etzel responded,

When this gets published in the 4:00, don’t say ‘lack of logs’ say something about logs are maintained for xx days and the events in question occurred xx days ago therefore our logs are overwritten per our standard retention policy.”

Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch wrote: “The Obama DHS was caught scanning the Georgia Secretary of State’s website in 2016 and these documents show that details about the controversy may have been ‘overwritten,’”

With the massive irregularities in the 2020 Elections, DHS’ illegal attempts to penetrate the election system in a pivotal state is highly disturbing. The further investigation revealing a lack of record keeping and efforts to disguise the lapse does even more damage to Americans’ confidence in our elections.

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