As reported by the Associated Press, the U.S. Russia war of words regarding alleged Russian election hacking of the 2016 election process in the United States has escalated over the last 48 hours. The Obama administration has accused not only Russian intelligence – but indirectly Vladimir Putin himself – of being deeply involved in an effort to ensure Donald Trump’s election as president.
Hard truth: This Obama press conference has devolved into a man defeated by Putin who is trying to convince us (and himself) he didn't lose.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) December 16, 2016
According to the Associated Press, U.S. intelligence agencies – including but not limited to the CIA – have concluded that Russian hackers broke into the DNC emails – as well as John Podesta’s personal email – and released information via WikiLeaks in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. In an NPR interview, as well as in a later press conference, President Obama addressed this issue on Friday.
U.S. Russia War in Cyberspace
War is no longer something confined to the battlefield. Along with psychological warfare, propaganda warfare and proxy war, the U.S. now has to be concerned about attacks occurring in cyberspace. The current U.S.-Russia confrontation over the election is evidence of this.
President Obama spent 1hr 27ms at his press conference today waffling on about why he couldn't do or stop things. Excruciating.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 16, 2016
Even prior to his afternoon press conference, President Obama gave a hint as to his future actions with regard to Russia’s election hacking activities in the United States during a Friday morning interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action. And we will… at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized… some of it may not be… Mister Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it.”
Review of the U.S.-Russia Situation
In the press conference itself, President Obama further discussed the evolving situation between the U.S. and Russia regarding their efforts to carry out cyber war against the United States.
“What we’ve simply said are the facts. Which are that… based on uniform intelligence assessments…the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. And that, as a consequence, it is important for us to review all elements of that and make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber attacks in the future.”
President Obama then reviewed the sequence of events involved in the 2016 election hacking scandal while pointing out the steps the administration had taken.
“At the beginning of the summer, we’re alerted to the possibility that the DNC has been hacked. I immediately order law enforcement… as well as our intelligence teams… to find out everything about it, investigated thoroughly, to brief the potential victims of this hacking, to brief – on a bipartisan basis – the leaders of both the House and the Senate and the relevant intelligence committees. And once we had clarity and certainty around what in fact had happened, we publicly announced that in fact Russia had in fact hacked into the DNC.”
Potential for U.S.-Russia War in Cyberspace
President Obama went on to suggest in the NPR interview that the U.S. was attempting to formulate a response to the alleged Russian election hacking, saying, “We have been working hard to make sure that what we do is proportional… that what we do is meaningful. One of the things we’re going to have to do over the next decade is to ultimately arrive at some rules of what is a new game.”
The president in this interview also stated that after he warned President Putin directly about this ongoing interference and that there would be consequences if it continued, there was no further direct interference with the US election process by the Russians.
But Obama also pointed out in his press conference that the damage had already been done thanks to the WikiLeaks releases – which most in the intelligence communities believe came directly from Russian intelligence.
But while President Obama seemed to feel that the impact the Russians had on the 2016 election process was essentially a fait accompli, he did go on to point out that – as we move forward – it would be necessary to take a closer look at cyber security and our vulnerability to cyber war and cyber attacks.
At the press conference, he said, “With respect to response, my principal goal leading up to the election was making sure that the election itself went off without a hitch that it was not tarnished, and that it did not feed any sense in the public that – somehow – tampering had taken place with the actual process of voting… That does not mean that we are not going to respond… Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us, because we can do stuff do you.”
As reported by CNN, in both his NPR interview and his press conference, President Obama made it clear that while the U.S. should have a firm response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, that response must be measured and appropriate. Obviously, a U.S. Russia war in cyberspace must not be allowed to become a physical war.
[Featured Image by White House]