The US government publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations of the Democratic Party.
Late Friday afternoon, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified version of its report on Russia’s interference in the US presidential election. The report, which draws on intelligence gathered by the FBI, CIA, and NSA, concludes with “high confidence” that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” that included hacking the personal email accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures.
According to the report, Putin’s aim was to impugn Hillary Clinton’s credibility and boost Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election, and more broadly to make the US electoral system look shady and untrustworthy. The intelligence report provided an accounting of Russian behavior during the election; the intelligence agencies were not tasked to assess whether Russian actions swayed the election.
On Monday, the 9th of January, Reuters reported that President-elect Donald Trump accepted the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia engaged in cyber attacks during the U.S. presidential election and may take action in response, his incoming chief of staff said on Sunday.
Reince Priebus said Trump believed Russia was behind the intrusions into the Democratic Party organizations, although Priebus did not clarify whether the president-elect agreed that the hacks were directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”
It was the first acknowledgment from a senior member of the Republican president-elect’s team that Trump had accepted that Russia directed the hacking and subsequent disclosure of Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement, Donald Trump, he acknowledged that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat(ic) National Committee.”
The ODNI report states conclusively that Putin personally ordered the email hacks of Democratic Party officials as part of a broader campaign to influence the US election in Trump’s favor. This seems to have sprung, in part, from Putin’s paranoia concerning perceived US attempts to undermine his government. Surprisingly, the report explains that Putin was incensed about a series of scandals that embarrassed his government, such as the Panama Papers leak, which revealed (among other things) a secret $2 billion account held by Putin personally.
The ODNI report focuses, to an almost surprising degree, on RT — the Kremlin’s international, English-language propaganda media outlet. The report contains several striking observations about RT’s reach, message, and proximity to the Russian government.For instance, RT videos get more YouTube views than many other prominent, mainstream media outlets.
However, according to the NYTimes.com, the absence of any concrete evidence in the report of meddling by the Kremlin was met with a storm of mockery on Saturday by Russian politicians and commentators, who took to social media to ridicule the report as a potpourri of baseless conjecture.
- “The public report did not include evidence on the sources and methods used to collect the information about Mr. Putin and his associates that intelligence officials said was in a classified version.” JAN. 7, 2017. New York Times.
In a message posted on Twitter, Alexey Pushkov, a member of the defense and security committee of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, ridiculed the American report as akin to C.I.A. assertions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: “Mountain gave birth to a mouse: all accusations against Russia are based on ‘confidence’ and assumptions. US was sure about Hussein possessing WMD in the same way.”
The ODNI report provides no new evidence to support assertions that Moscow meddled covertly through hacking and other actions to boost the electoral chances of Donald J. Trump and undermine his rival, Hillary Clinton, but rests instead on what it describes as Moscow’s long record of trying to influence America’s political system. The election attack was personal, the report concludes: Mr. Putin thought Mrs. Clinton had insulted him and encouraged demonstrations against him in Russia.
For World Socialist Web Site, the continuing media offensive, presenting as indisputable truth allegations the government has been unable to substantiate, testifies to the fact that the campaign is driven by unstated (and unpopular) political aims, not by any foreign attack on America’s “democratic process.” Since the charges of Russian hacking directed against the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton were first made over five months ago, the aim has been to whip up public support for an increasingly confrontational posture toward Russia, particularly with regard to the civil war in Syria.
” For nearly six years, the CIA has been engaged in a campaign for regime-change, funding and arming Islamist militias with the aim of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s only Arab ally in the Middle East. In 2013, fabricated claims that the Syrian government had carried out chemical weapons attacks were used as a pretext for launching a full-scale air war against Assad. President Obama, facing popular opposition at home, divisions within the military establishment, and flagging support among the Washington’s NATO allies, called off the air assault at the last minute.”
On December the 31st, however, a similar and apparently benign event led to a report that Russian hackers may have penetrated the US electrical grid through a Vermont utility. The report, said Burlington Electric Department had found code associated with Russian hackers on an employee’s computer. Initially the Post reported the hackers had penetrated the grid, but then said the code was isolated to a single employee laptop.
The US Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation released an analysisof Grizzly Steppe the 29th of Dec, the same day the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia for its role in hacks on US political organizations during the 2016 national election.
According to a follow-up story in the Post, unnamed federal authorities leaked news of the investigation “without having all the facts and before law enforcement officials were able to investigate further.”
Investigators did find some malicious code on the Vermont utility’s computer, though it was unrelated to Grizzly Steppe. Rather, it was a set of software tools called Neutrino that are “commonly used by cybercriminals to deliver malware,” the Post said.
*Article based on Sources: