Remember Operation Jade Helm?
Jade Helm was a routine, multi-state training exercise conducted by the military in 2015, but some residents of Texas believed it was a secret plot usurp control of Texas by tunneling under local Wal-Marts. Really.
Those conspiracy theories were later granted legitimacy by Texas Governor Greg Abbott who ordered the National Guard to "monitor" the exercise. You know, to stop any funny business.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden now says foreign actors and the alt-right here at home both used Jade Helm as a testbed for future actions and that Abbott's order showed them they could interfere directly with the government.
A former director of the CIA and NSA said Wednesday that hysteria in Texas over a 2015 U.S. military training exercise called Jade Helm was fueled by Russians wanting to dominate “the information space,” and that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to send the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation gave them proof of the power of such misinformation campaigns.
Michael Hayden, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe podcast, chalked up peoples’ fear over Jade Helm 15 to “Russian bots and the American alt-right media [that] convinced many Texans [Jade Helm] was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents.”
It's not clear if Hayden was referring to specific evidence that Russian actors helped spread Jade Helm conspiracy theories, but there's little reason to doubt that they did.
There's also little reason to doubt that Russians and other malicious actors will try to interfere in every future election including this year's midterms, but the good news, if there is any, is that we know what to look for now.