Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

New details of Russian Federation election hacking raise questions about Obama's response

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny Navalny has already started opening campaign offices across Russia to register supporters
Kelvin Reese | 24 June, 2017, 01:28

The Obama White House discussed many options for a response over the following months.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the USA election were increasingly apparent.

One former senior Obama administration official, speaking on background, expressed remorse over how the government handled the Russian problem, saying, "I feel we sort of choked". Only in the administration's final weeks in office did it tell the public, in a declassified report, what officials had learned from Brennan in August - that Putin was working to elect Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly - and often tauntingly - denied that his government interfered in the 2016 USA presidential race.

The Obama administration's "assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency", the Post reported.

A former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russian Federation said: "It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend, I feel like we sort of choked".

The implants, developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), are created to hit Russian networks deemed "important to the adversary and that would cause them pain and discomfort if they were disrupted", a former U.S. official told the Post.

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But President Barack Obama ultimately approved only modest measures: the expulsion of a few dozen diplomats, the closure of two Russian compounds, and narrowly targeted economic sanctions that some who designed them described as largely symbolic, the Post said. But just an hour later, revelations broke a video tape in which Trump boasted about groping women, quickly followed by a WikiLeaks dump of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

US President Donald Trump has consistently called allegations of Russian hacking "fake news".

Tony Blinken, Obama's former deputy national security adviser, said Friday that the administration took significant action to prevent Russian Federation from interfering with the electoral system itself.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Wednesday that the US move wasn't constructive and warned of possible retaliation.

On 7 October, meanwhile, the White House issued a delicately worded statement saying that the U.S. intelligence community was "confident" that the Russian government was behind the hack of the DNC. "Importantly, we did that".

"As the Post story also makes clear, the Obama administration failed to impose any meaningful costs on Russian Federation for its attack on American democracy a year ago - a failure, sadly, that has not been rectified yet by the current administration or by the Congress", he said. A former senior official involved in White House deliberations on Russian Federation, who was not named by the Post, is quoted as saying: "It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend".

"The punishment did not fit the crime", former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said of the United States sanctions.

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