Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy by Jeff PeguesKompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy by Jeff Pegues

Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy

byJeff Pegues

Hardcover | July 10, 2018

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A timely and essential book from the CBS correspondent who has led their coverage of Russia election interference and the FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russians.In this compelling account of how the Russians hacked the 2016 election, CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent Jeff Pegues reveals how far the Kremlin poked into voter databases and why it happened. He also investigates the steps taken to shore up election systems in states across the country ahead of the 2018 midterm and indeed the 2020 Presidential election.Based on exclusive interviews with officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and cybersecurity experts, Pegues takes readers behind the scenes and into the minds of investigators following the case. He delves into the shadowy world of Russian spies, unraveling the complicated web of contacts between Russian operatives and Trump representatives during the campaign. In one chapter, he focuses on Valeri Gerasimov, widely believed to be the mastermind behind a Russian cyber strategy designed to influence and disrupt democracies. Evidence is presented showing that the Russians infiltrated not only Democratic Party computer networks in the US, but networks in the Ukraine and Europe as well. Consulting with representatives of top cyber security firms, the author discusses what states are doing to protect voting systems in the next midterm elections and beyond.Fascinating and chilling at the same time, Kompromat opens a window into the murky world of espionage, digital warfare, and a newly aggressive Russia brazenly inserting itself into U.S. politics.
Jeff Pegues is the author of Black and Blue: Inside the Divide between the Police and Black America and Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy. He is the justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News. In this capacity he has participated in closed-door interviews with former FBI Director James Comey, CIA Directo...
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Title:Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American DemocracyFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:287 pages, 9.24 × 6.35 × 1 inShipping dimensions:9.24 × 6.35 × 1 inPublished:July 10, 2018Publisher:PrometheusLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1633884295

ISBN - 13:9781633884298

Reviews

Read from the Book

PrefaceIn late December 2017, I began to watch old Watergate movies. I was enjoying the holiday break with my family and finally had a modicum of free time to settle into my favorite blue chair in my basement, looking straight at my seventy-inch television. My back pressed against the small pillow that my oldest daughter, Jordyn, had made for me, in 2012, when she was eleven years old.I picked up the remote and scanned the movies I could stream to my television and settled on All the President’s Men. I’d seen the film before, but watching it in December was different, since I’d spent a year and a half witnessing remarkable things while working on the Russian espionage story for CBS News. By the end of 2017, there were eerie parallels between Watergate and the Russia investigation.All the President’s Men tells the story of Washington Post investigative reporters Bob Woodward (played by Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (played by Dustin Hoffman) who were instrumental in exposing the Watergate scandal that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974. It is a film that might be viewed as a journalism cult classic.I watched, mesmerized, as the team sat in the gritty newsroom bullpen, sweating in their suits as they pecked away at onion skin and carbon paper on antiquated typewriters. They ran around DC discovering colorful forms of “ratf—ing,” a slang term for political sabotage that began when five men who were CREEPs (working for the Committee to Re-elect the President) broke into the Watergate Hotel, the headquarters of the Democratic Party, and were found trying to bug the place and rifling through files. Gradually, Woodward and Bernstein uncovered the Nixon reelection committee’s “dirty tricks” campaign against Democrats, which included wiretapping phones of people who had been critical of Nixon (like journalists), enlisting spies, stuffing ballot boxes, and creating propaganda-like fake campaign literature. The Post reporters were digging deeper into the scandal when Nixon turned over tapes of phone calls he recorded that alluded to his involvement in these tactics.It was interesting to view the team’s mysterious source “Deep Throat” and the way they protected both him and his identity.The film was anchored in the reporters’ collective integrity in uncovering and sharing the truth—that there were members of the Nixon administration who were dirty, including Nixon himself. Woodward and Bernstein had an unflinching belief that the administration committed a moral wrong by deceiving the American people for its own selfish reasons and essentially seeking to undermine democracy.The world would later learn in 2005 that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, the FBI’s number two in the early 1970s. In 2017, Felt would be the subject of another eponymously named Watergate movie, which I also watched that late December. Part of the movie’s plot covered Felt’s effort to push back against an administration that he believed was breaking laws and trying to short-circuit the FBI investigation. I had an appetite for the issue. Watergate was a domestic crisis. The Russia investigation is a domestic crisis involving a foreign adversary—a Russia controlled by former KGB agent Vladimir Putin.Many Americans (including government officials) were distracted when Russian-backed hackers weaseled into federal and state databases. Cyberattacks are a new kind of warfare—the type average Americans don’t notice until it’s too late. After the attack is over you’re still left wondering what happened, who invaded the local voter database, or who planted propaganda on Facebook or Twitter for you to follow and to sway you toward a candidate or political camp. In that way, it was personal. The information manipulated you through your personal computer or phone. Perhaps worse, you may sense that foreign entities could have contributed toward stirring up dormant feelings in you to become prejudiced toward blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, or to have hatred for Democrats or Republicans.The power of the Russian intelligence operation was its covert nature. More than three years after it began, we—as Americans—still don’t know the extent of what really hit us. It was a multipronged attack, the most potent aspect of which was its influence campaign. The Russian propaganda machine seeped into the fabric of our democracy by poisoning our free speech. Over and over, US investigators and government officials insisted that the Russian intelligence operation did not alter votes. But the Russian plan may not have been to change actual votes, which would have been harder to do because the election system is dispersed and—to borrow a word from former FBI director James Comey—“clunky.” Their bar was likely lower and an easier target to hit. What if you pervert the information American voters hear and read? Doesn’t that ultimately change how they vote? Furthermore, what would happen if it was determined that votes were changed? Then what? How would the country solve that?

Editorial Reviews

“A must-read. Kompromat reads like a fast-paced thriller. Only in this case, it is real. Jeff Pegues sheds much-needed light upon Russia’s campaign to undermine American democracy through a combination of high-tech cyber means and ‘old-school’ deceptive KGB tactics.”   —Frank Cilluffo, associate vice president and director at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, and former special assistant to the president for Homeland Security"Incredible! Excellent research and detail.”   —Erroll Southers, former FBI agent and former California deputy director of Homeland Security   “Provides an insider’s look into the mind of an investigative journalist and takes the reader down dark corridors of compromising information to assemble the facts behind the Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Highly recommended for anyone trying to understand a very dark period of our recent history.”   —Eric O’Neill, former FBI counterintelligence operative   “Both a great read and an unmatched account of Russia’s brazen attack on American democracy. The range and the depth of insights from an expert like Jeff Pegues provide unrivaled detail for understanding this painful chapter in America’s history.”   —James Lewis, senior vice president, Center for Strategic and International Studies  “Chilling… [the] interviews create a vibrant atmosphere that gives the book the feel of an espionage thriller…. Accessible.”—Foreword Reviews