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Did Russia Hack US Presidential Election?

By Victor Thomson , Dec 17, 2016 06:08 AM EST
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Google warns that government-backed attackers are trying to steal password from journalists. (Photo : RT/YouTube)

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies such as CIA and FBI agree that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails with the intention of influencing the election in favor of President-elect Donald Trump.

Russia Interfering With US Presidential Election

The Huffington Post reports that the FBI was previously skeptical about CIA's allegations. However, after first telling lawmakers it could not be sure of the motive behind the Russian cyberattack, the federal agency has changed its standing and now agrees with the CIA assessment that Moscow intended to boost Trump's chance of winning, according to a report published by The Washington Post.

Russia was first accused by the intelligence community of orchestrating the attack in October, according of a press release by DNI. However, the intelligence community did not provide a motive at the time.

Democrats, frustrated by clear and negative effects the leaked emails were having on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign, started to press the Obama administration for a stronger response as the November election neared. On Friday, Dec. 16, President Barack Obama declined to confirm the Post's report, while defending his administration's handling of the Russian cyberattack.

President Obama's Response

Obama explained that his primary concern during the elections has been to ensure that the integrity of the election process was not damaged in any way in a hyper-partisan atmosphere. According to CNN, Obama also said that at the G20-Summit in September he personally confronted Putin about the election interference. Back at the time, he warned the Russian President about serious consequences of such interference.

Intelligence Community's Reactions

According to The Atlantic, the former acting director of the CIA, Michel Morell, was asked this weekend, about the intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in the presidential election. His answer stated was unequivocal. According to him, America is not yet grasping the magnitude of the story. Bur for him, "this is the political equivalent of 9/11."

Morell considers that that the Russian-directed cyberattacks can be considered as an unprecedented attack on American democracy. His comments are going even further than the claims of some members of Congress.

The data breaches that affected Democrats are just a modern example of routine cold war narrative of country-on-country spying, in spite of the distinctive flavor of the digital intrusions. However, one aspect sets them apart. Their target is unprecedented high profile, the American presidential election process itself.

The hackers' willingness to leak stolen information in order to influence voters' opinions is unprecedented. This is, perhaps, one of the most successful espionage operation in history.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr announced earlier on Friday that his panel will review the report of U.S. intelligence officials on the October accusation against Russia, according to a press release published on his official internet website. The committee under his leadership will interview government officials from both the incoming Trump administration and the outgoing Obama administration, according to Burr.

Burr's announcement comes just a week after the White House ordered the intelligence community to perform a full review into "malicious cyber activity" tied to U.S. elections. According to a report published by Politico, Republicans downplayed the need for additional investigations, following the lead of their president-elect, while Congressional Democrats pushed for separate probes into Russia's role.

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