US 2018 elections 'under attack' by Russia: US intelligence chief
14 February, 2018, 19:23 | Author: Diane Mills
Three of the nation's top intelligence officials confirmed Tuesday that they have seen evidence of Russian meddling in the upcoming midterm elections - part of what they say is Moscow's escalating cyber assault on American and European democracies.
Beyond Russian election interference, the hearing detailed a series of serious threats to the United States, including North Korea's continued drive to develop a nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating the USA and the possibility that Pyongyang may conduct an atmospheric nuclear detonation over the Pacific after the Olympics, and the potential threat from Chinese technology embedded in US products.
The leaders from six top US intelligence agencies all testified that China, Russia and North Korea pose grave threats to the U.S.
"We expect Russian Federation to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople, and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States", it added.
The disconnect between Trump and his senior-most intelligence advisers has raised concerns that the US government will not be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the midterm election.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said it's been more than a year since the 2016 election, but the USA still has no plan to battle foreign interference in elections.
"This is not going to change or stop", replied National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
Government countermeasures likely include going public with concerns that Russian hackers will seek to influence the 2018 elections, said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis with the cyber security firm FireEye Inc.
The disconnect between Trump and his senior-most intelligence advisers has raised concerns that the USA government will not be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the upcoming midterm election.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed asked the officials whether Mr Trump had ordered them to take action. They took advantage, a sophisticated advantage of social media.
The assessment stands in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has mocked the very notion of Russian interference in the 2016 election and lashed out at those who have suggested otherwise.
"No single agency is, quote, in charge", he said. And if they don't think it's important yet, maybe they would heed the word of the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Terrorism continues to be a major global threat, Coats said, including within US borders. "The Russians have a strategy that goes well beyond what is happening in the United States".
So the next milestone in the inquiry into Russian election interference - at least in the Senate - could be the release of the intelligence committee's long-awaited report finally giving the full story about what happened in 2016.
The FBI informed the White House of these charges, which held up Mr Porter's application for a permanent security clearance. His comments come after White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned following reports that he abused his ex-wives.
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