Putin is the real winner of the 2016 election
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is the true winner of the U.S. 2016 presidential election. His interests have clearly been served infinitely more than those of the American people and those of either candidate.

While it can be said that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE will become the most powerful person in the world, Putin will be served even more than him.

To be clear, I personally condemn the attempted interference in the U.S. election by Russian intelligence services. There should have been some form of retaliation by President Obama when Russian intelligence activities were disclosed. Obama's recent retaliation from President Obama is well-deserved, though, and I expect further retaliation instigated by the Senate.

But as Putin knows well, Obama missed his opportunity, and even if Putin had admitted to Trump that he personally authorized hacking the U.S. election, Trump would never want to acknowledge it.

That being said, having previously worked with U.S. intelligence agencies, I can say that Putin's overall disinformation campaign and his efforts to undermine the election worked exceptionally well. Intelligence agencies from all over the world are going to study the hacks, the timing of the leaks, the creation of the fake news stories, the efforts to promote the fake news that Putin's people created, their promotion of fake news created by others and the promotion of any negative news about Clinton.

Putin's tactics will be dissected in every possible way to see how they can be prevented and replicated. Frankly, I think even Putin is surprised about how well his efforts worked, and his people will be analyzing the situation for months to figure out how to best exploit the resulting situation.

To be fair, the U.S. provided Putin with one of the most flawed candidates in history. But Trump didn't make it easier for him, though. His explicit comments about women, hesitance to disclaim white supremacists, insults of Gold Star families, 3 a.m. tweet storms — among other things — came very close to subverting Putin's best efforts.


Putin's perseverance, however, did pay off.

He clearly won from a foreign policy perspective. Despite the fact that Russia is actually a minor player on the world stage from an economic perspective, Trump is treating the country like a superpower again. Clearly, a President Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' MORE would have never lifted the economic sanctions against Russia that were put in place due to Putin's invasion of Ukraine (which Trump appeared not to be aware of).

Trump is clearly not disappointing Putin. He so far appears to believe the Russian president more than the U.S. intelligence community, and even people in his own supposed party. Even as Obama announces the sanctions that Republican leaders says are long overdue, Trump compliments Putin for not publicly retaliating.

This, as he apparently ignores the leaders of the United States' most longstanding and loyal allies. He even goes as far as insulting them on many occasions, and questioning the unbreakable NATO relationships that have kept Russia from invading Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Minimally, by questioning NATO, trivializing our allies and longstanding treaties, creating policies in opposition to his own party, hiring people to run major agencies they want to dismantle, etc., Trump will create so much confusion around the world that it will let Putin do many things that go unnoticed.

Putin did come close to taking full credit, during a press conference, for his efforts to get Trump elected, but instead ironically lectured the U.S. on accepting the results of a free election.

Trump, however, did not appreciate the irony of that statement, and tweeted it.

If I were a Russian citizen, I would be proud of Russian intelligence agencies for this success. It is clearly the first step in what will be a long campaign of complimenting Trump and playing to his weaknesses to achieve long-term goals.

Again, though, as a former member of the U.S. intelligence community, I admire the operation from a professional perspective, but condemn it as something that is against everything I have fought to create.

I'd like to ask one favor of Putin, though — one that will actually benefit him.

Can he please give us back Edward Snowden? He doen't really need Snowden anymore. Snowden already gave up everything he had and he knows, and Putin just kept him around as a thorn in the side of the U.S.

Trump will be a much more effective agent for Putin, and Snowden's return would appear to show Trump as a world-class negotiator. That would give the appearance of a thawing in U.S.-Russian relations.

Vladimir, you have to appear to give us a win.


Ira Winkler is president of Secure Mentem. He is one of the foremost experts in the human elements of cybersecurity and is known for the extensive espionage and social engineering simulations he has conducted for Fortune 500 companies globally. He is the author of several books, most recently "Advanced Persistent Security." He and his work have been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, among others. He has previously worked for the National Security Agency and as president of the Internet Security Advisors Group, chief security strategist at HP Consulting and director of Technology of the National Computer Security Association. He has also served on the graduate and undergraduate faculties of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.