Staffer allegedly changed the site without authorization amid heated tensions in Washington.
A staffer who had access to the US State Department website changed it on Monday to show that US President Donald Trump’s term in office had ended. This led to bewilderment, shock, mocking of the US, and amazement across social media. It has been a roller coaster ride in the US since Trump was accused of inciting a mob that ransacked the capital on January 6. Since then Trump has seen his social media accounts suspended and calls for a new impeachment. The country has gone through several crises all at the same time, including revelations about the lengths the president went to overturn an election.
Buzzfeed reported that a disgruntled employee had been responsible for changing the State Department website. The sabotaging or trolling of the State Department website by changing it to reflect the President was already out of office is part of civil disobedience that has played a role throughout the current administration. This has also included an “anonymous” op-ed by someone who claimed to be “resisting” the president’s policies, as well as various officials leaking information, and claims by the Trump team that a kind of “deep state” had sought to derail the administration from the beginning.
Tempers have flared and anger has grown particularly in the last week since the riot in DC. There are calls for the participants to be branded insurrectionists, traitors or even terrorists. The US has waged a twenty year global war on terror, and accusations of “terror” and “traitors” have become more common in US media. Not since the period of the Communist scare of the 1950s or the summer of 1968 have things appeared so heated.
Reactions to the change on the State Department website ranged from “holy crap” to bewilderment. Some noted that a staffer had allegedly changed the site to reflect the de-Trumpification of the presidency. Some appeared to celebrate the change and others from around the world commented on it. Trump supporters and others expressed concern at how the “hack” might have happened and why it stayed up for so long. There are concerns about foreign governments hacking US sites. In addition this is yet another embarrassment for the US administration, illustrating how easy it is to change key websites of the US government, days after protesters gained easy access to offices of US Senators and stole computers and other items. Some were also confused and wondered if it might be true that the US President had been removed from office. Others wondered if members of Vice-President Pence’s team had joined a “resistance,” even though Pence’s page was also changed to reflect his having left office on Monday. He is still Vice-President. Other wondered if US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was now president or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They were not president because the website change was merely a website change, not reality. However in the US questions of reality versus conspiracy have become part of the political landscape in recent months.