Russian Federation still targeting USA political system, spies say
14 February, 2018, 19:26 | Author: Kim Reid
A top United States intelligence official has expressed caution, saying that Russian Federation views USA mid-term elections slated for November as a potential target for its influence operations, including cyber attacks.
In a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the most urgent threats facing the country, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and two other spy agencies were unanimous in saying that Moscow's efforts to disrupt U.S. politics are as intense now as they were in the 2016 presidential election.
The leaders from six top US intelligence agencies all testified that China, Russia and North Korea pose grave threats to the U.S.
Coats said that Russian Federation will continue using propaganda, false personas and social media to undermine the upcoming election.
The commander-in-chief remains unconvinced that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 presidential election - putting him at odds with the entire US intelligence community, according to a report.
USA spy agencies said previous year they had determined Russian Federation used hacking and propaganda in an effort to tilt the 2016 presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
"This is not going to change or stop", said National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
"We are pulling all of our elements of intelligence gathering together to provide a very, very deep dive into what China's plan - is doing now and what their plans are for the future and how it would - impact on the USA", he said.
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Despite Trump's confusion, the former issue is actively being investigated by special prosecutor Robert Mueller and multiple congressional committees, while the latter has been affirmed and put to bed by the entire USA intelligence apparatus.
But more than a year after Russian interference became widely known, the intelligence community (IC) chiefs were unable to detail how the United States was countering it or punishing Moscow. And last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that the U.S.is seeing "certain behaviors" of Russian meddling in elections in the Northern Hemisphere, including "in the U.S." this year.
Coats' assessment runs counter to statements from Trump, who has cast doubt on the notion of Russian meddling and denied any collusion by his associates with Russia ahead of his surprise November 2016 defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Coats was joined by the heads of the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency.
Earlier in the hearing, Pompeo said that the intelligence community has offensive "capabilities" to "raise the costs to adversaries" seeking to hack into election systems to disrupt voting. "The Russians have a strategy that goes well beyond what is happening in the United States".
Regardless, U.S. intelligence officials testifying at the Senate hearing said Kim Jong Un still views nuclear weapons as key to his own survival in power.
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"Frankly, the United States is under attack", he said.
The Russian also said he was holding on to the NSA cyberweapons "at the orders of senior Russian intelligence officials". The man initially asked for $10 million in exchange for the information, but later changed it to $1 million.
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