The Washington Post reports: The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign. [Continue reading…]
Aaron Blake writes: The report highlights and exacerbates the increasingly fraught situation in which congressional Republicans find themselves with regard to Russia and Trump. By acknowledging and digging into the increasing evidence that Russia helped — or at least attempted to help — tip the scales in Trump’s favor, they risk raising questions about whether Trump would have won without Russian intervention.
Trump, after all, won by a margin of about 80,000 votes cast across three states, winning each of the decisive states by less than one percentage point. So even a slight influence could have plausibly made the difference, though we’ll never be able to prove it one way or another.
While saying that Russia clearly tried to help Trump doesn’t inherently call into question the legitimacy of Trump’s win —earlier Friday, the White House made sure to emphasize that it’s not making that case — it’s not hard to connect the dots. And Trump and his party know it. [Continue reading…]
It’s a curious fact that cyber attacks are regarded so laxly. Suppose miscreants had backed a truck up against the door of DNC headquarters, bashed their way in, and made off with every file cabinet in the place, with the result that the contents of those cabinets were all over the news for an extended period of time.
I believe that this would be taken rather more seriously as an assault on the electoral process, regardless of whether it could tagged as determining the outcome.
@hquain: I think that has been true of a lot of cyber security breaches over the years, and I suspect it’s for a couple of reasons. The first being essentially embarrassment that ‘the enemy’ has one over on us, and not really wanting to advertise or magnify that fact.
The second I think is that almost nobody who’s doing the talking has any technical knowledge about how these things are done. Talking about a truck and doors and a break-in is one thing, talking about how hackers get into government (or any) networks and steal or corrupt data is another. I imagine politicians and others feel that if they’re going to open their mouths about these things, they better be able to back it up with some explanation, and they can’t. Without evidence they appear to be making baseless accusations and risk looking ignorant. I remember this seemed to me blatantly obvious at the time the CIA was found to be hacking the Senate Intelligence Committee, and nobody (the senators) was saying anything about how they thought it might have been done. It was equally obvious that almost nobody in the media had a clue either. So the accusations fly, but there’s this strange elephant in the room with coverage of these cases – the ‘how’.
This I think is a problem with where we have come to with technology. All of our institutions and businesses depend on it, but only a relatively small group of faceless engineers in the basement have any idea how any of it works! (I know – I’m one of them!)