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Obama orders review of Russian hacking during presidential campaign

Obama orders review of Russian hacking during presidential campaign

December 09
18:13 2016
President Barack Obama pix by Pablo Martinez Monsivais  AP Images

President Barack Obama pix by Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP Images

December 9 at 11:53 AM

President Obama has ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking during the November election, as pressure from Congress has grown for greater public understanding of exactly what Moscow did to interfere in the electoral process.

“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland-security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Obama wants the report before he leaves office on Jan. 20, Monaco said.

On Oct. 7, the intelligence community officially accused Moscow of seeking to interfere in the election through the hacking of “political organizations.” Though the statement never specified which party, it was clear officials were referring to cyber-intrusions into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party groups. Hacked emails that were damaging to the party and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, soon after appeared on websites such as WikiLeaks.

The intelligence-community statement said such leaks were “consistent” with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said.

Seven Democratic senators last week asked Obama to declassify more details about the intrusions and why officials believe the Kremlin was behind the operation. And this week, top Democratic lawmakers in the House sent a letter to Obama urging briefings on Russian interference in the election.

Leading Senate Republicans say they are preparing to launch a wide-ranging probe into Russia’s meddling in the election and into potential cyberthreats to the military.

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies had already been probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation to sow distrust in the presidential election process. It was their briefings of senior lawmakers that led a number of them to press for more information to be made public.

Monaco said Obama has directed the intelligence community to capture “lessons learned and report to a range of stakeholders,” including lawmakers. She did not commit to making the report public.

She noted the increase in malicious cyber-activity in recent years. Russia has overtaken China as the country of primary concern in the cyberthreat space, intelligence officials have said.

Did Russia interfere with the 2016 election? This GOP senator thinks so

Play Video1:56
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he wants to investigate whether Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. election, amongst claims that Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Russia and Vladimir Putin is too soft.(Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Though Russia has long conducted cyberspying on U.S. agencies, companies and organizations, this presidential campaign marks the first time Russia has attempted through cyber means to interfere in, if not actively influence, the outcome of an election, the officials said.

The review comes as President-elect Donald Trump has again dismissed the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking and meddling. “I don’t believe they interfered” in the election, he told Time magazine this week. The hacking, he said, “could be Russia. It could be China. And it could be some guy in New Jersey.”

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