Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial: Task Force Sentry

RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, ROBIN BERES

In the years before her election to Congress, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., served as a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer from 2006 to 2014. During her time with the CIA, Spanberger lived abroad, managing assets and gathering information on nuclear proliferation and terrorism. Her background in national security and foreign interference is strong. So, we’re happy to learn that she is using that knowledge to help preserve the integrity of the 2020 elections. The congresswoman is serving as a co-chair of Task Force Sentry — a group of seven freshman representatives who believe that senior members of Congress haven’t been doing enough to address election fraud.

The bipartisan group, six Democrats and one Republican, revealed on Friday that they have been quietly meeting with subject experts behind closed doors over the past two months to craft legislation to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections. “We believe that protecting our country from foreign adversaries should never be partisan,” Task Force Sentry members said in a joint statement.

Speaking with The Associated Press on Thursday, task force member U.S. Rep Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., said, “There was a national security aspect of (election security) that I don’t think any of us thought was really being addressed. Part of that comes from our backgrounds watching, for example, the Russians attempt to influence democratic elections across the globe and then to see those same tactics being used here.”

The members of the task force come from a variety of fields and have plenty of national security exposure. Their backgrounds include the CIA, Department of Defense and even a Russian policy officer. While the group is still drafting legislation, they already have identified five key areas of vulnerabilities that they say need to be addressed:

  • Deterring foreign aggression;
  • Mandating disclosure of receiving foreign funds;

  • Keeping foreign money from funding campaigns;

  • Defining the roles and responsibilities of social media; and

  • Establishing monitoring mechanisms to deter and prevent disinformation campaigns.

In describing the task force’s purpose, Spanberger said, “We’re drawing a line in the sand. We’re standing watch, we’ve been attacked, and a sentry stands watch to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” We applaud the seven freshmen for their foresight and their bipartisan efforts to prevent any further foreign mischief in our election process.

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