Washington, D.C. – After the federal indictment of 13 Russian citizens accused of conspiracy to defraud the US, former Bill Clinton-era CIA director James Woolsey took to the media to criticize Russia and frame the narrative surrounding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election— but in the process, he ended up admitting that the United States meddles in foreign elections “only for good cause and in the interest of democracy.”
After Woolsey declared the dangers of an “expansionist Russia” and saying that the nation “has a larger cyber-army than its standing army,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked the former CIA chief:
“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?”
The response by the former head of the CIA was surprisingly candid:
It's well, well worth watching all of this exchange between Laura Ingraham and former CIA director James Woolsey. Woolsey acknowledges that the US has meddled in other countries' elections in the past and is doing so now, and both he and Ingraham find this laudable and funny. pic.twitter.com/TR3X7VM7Np
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) February 17, 2018
“Oh probably, but it was for the good of the system…” said Woolsey, bringing up examples of US interference in Europe during the late 40’s to “stop the communists from taking over.”
Ingraham then questioned whether the U.S. still interferes in foreign elections, asking, “We don’t do that now though? We don’t mess around in other people’s elections?”
The response by Woolsey clearly intimated that the U.S. continues to interfere in the elections of other sovereign countries:
“Well… mmm.. only for a very good cause… only for a very good cause and in the interests of democracy.”
The Russian embassy in the UK highlighted the commentary by Woolsey, responding: “Says it all.”
Former CIA director James Woolsey: "US meddles in foreign elections – but only for a very good cause". Says it all. pic.twitter.com/ib51oA1rC8
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) February 17, 2018
In fact, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an organ of the US State Department, was kicked out of Russia in 2012 amid accusations that the organization was engaged in more than humanitarian work in Russia, and had sought to “influence the political process, including elections at various levels and civil society,” according to a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
At the time, President Vladimir Putin blamed then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for attempting to interfere in the Russian political system through USAID and fomenting protests in Russia. Putin said Clinton “gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work.”
Russia is not alone in their suspicions about USAID being used as a tool to manipulate the internal political process of sovereign states, according to a report in The LA Times:
USAID “threatens our sovereignty and stability,” the eight-nation Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas fumed in June in a resolution that accused the United States of political interference, conspiracy and “looting our natural resources.”
The problem is USAID doesn’t just try to boost economies, healthcare and education in poor countries. It also spends about $2.8 billion a year teaching campaign skills to political groups, encouraging independent media, organizing fair elections and funding other grass-roots activities intended to promote democracy and human rights.
Some foreign leaders view those American efforts as thinly veiled attempts to weaken the status quo or even engineer a change of governments.
As the mainstream media vilifies Russia for election interference, which reportedly amounted to highlighting and amplifying preexisting divisions within the social structure of the United States, Woolsey’s words indicate that the United States engages in meddling in other countries’ elections as well.