Obama or­ders com­plete re­view of elec­tion-re­lated cy­ber­at­tacks.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NOBLE

Be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama leaves of­fice next month, U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have been tasked with com­plet­ing a full re­view of all cy­ber­at­tacks that have tar­geted the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion process since 2008.

Such a wide-rang­ing re­view is ex­pected to es­tab­lish a pub­lic record of at­tempts to med­dle in the demo­cratic process be­fore Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is sworn into of­fice. The real es­tate mogul has ex­pressed skep­ti­cism over the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s con­clu­sion that Rus­sia was in­volved in this year’s elec­tion hacks.

White House of­fi­cials an­nounced the re­view Fri­day, call­ing it “a ma­jor pri­or­ity” for the pres­i­dent but in­sist­ing the ef­fort is not in­tended to chal­lenge the out­come of this year’s elec­tions.

“We are not call­ing into ques­tion the elec­tion results,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

The an­nounce­ment comes af­ter top U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials blamed the Krem­lin for di­rect­ing a series of hacks amid the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and as Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can law­mak­ers have stepped up calls for a fed­eral probe into the de­gree to which Rus­sian hack­ers sought to in­ter­fere in the elec­tion.

Lisa Monaco, a White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism and homeland se­cu­rity ad­viser, ini­tially an­nounced at an event Fri­day that the re­view would look at “what hap­pened dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion process.”

But Mr. Schultz later said the re­view would en­com­pass pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cy­cles span­ning back to 2008 — when Mr. Obama was first elected to of­fice. U.S. of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously have at­trib­uted to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment elec­tion-re­lated cy­ber­at­tacks on the 2008 cam­paigns of Mr. Obama and Sen. John McCain.

“What the pres­i­dent asked for is a re­view to look at ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­ity timed to our pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cy­cle,” Mr. Schultz said. “It will be broader than just look­ing at this past elec­tion.”

The pres­i­dent di­rected the re­view to be com­plete be­fore he leaves of­fice on Jan. 20. The short dead­line en­sures that the re­view will be com­pleted be­fore the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Mr. Trump — who has re­peated his doubts that Rus­sia was be­hind this year’s prom­i­nent hacks.

“I don’t be­lieve they in­ter­fered. That be­came a laugh­ing point, not a talk­ing point, a laugh­ing point. Any time I do some­thing, they say, ‘Oh, Rus­sia in­ter­fered,’” Mr. Trump told Time mag­a­zine. “It could be Rus­sia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

For some Democrats, Mr. Trump’s skep­ti­cism un­der­scores the need to com­plete a re­view be­fore his ad­min­is­tra­tion takes over.

“Given Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s dis­turb­ing re­fusal to lis­ten to our in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and ac­cept that the hack­ing was or­ches­trated by the Krem­lin, there is an added ur­gency to the need for a thor­ough re­view be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama leaves of­fice next month,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of Washington, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

Top U.S. in­tel­li­gence and homeland se­cu­rity of­fi­cials ac­cused the Krem­lin in Oc­to­ber of di­rect­ing the hack of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, which re­sulted in the em­bar­rass­ing pub­li­ca­tion of in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions among top Democrats on Wik­iLeaks.

In­terim DNC chair Donna Brazile praised the de­ci­sion to launch the re­view, say­ing it would help with un­der­stand­ing how the hack hap­pened and ef­forts to pre­vent it from re­cur­ring. Re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, all Amer­i­cans should be con­cerned by the Rus­sian’s med­dling, she said.

“Na­tional se­cu­rity should not and must not be a par­ti­san is­sue,” Ms. Brazile said.

Once com­plete, it’s un­clear how much of the re­view will be made pub­lic.

Mr. Schultz noted that the re­view will likely in­clude clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion that can­not be dis­closed pub­licly, but added that of­fi­cials hope to be able to brief mem­bers of Congress and other stake­hold­ers, such as lo­cal elec­tions of­fi­cials, on the find­ings and in­tend to re­lease as much to the pub­lic as pos­si­ble.

“We are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing the in­tegrity of our elec­tions,” Mr. Schultz said. “This re­port will dig into this pat­tern of ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­ity timed to our elec­tions, take stock of our de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and cap­ture lessons learned to make sure we brief mem­bers of Congress and stake holders as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Though ma­li­cious cy­ber­at­tacks dur­ing an elec­tion cy­cle are not new, Ms. Monaco said “a new thresh­old” may have been crossed this year.

“It is in­cum­bent upon us to take stock of that, to re­view, to con­duct some af­ter-ac­tion, to un­der­stand what has hap­pened and to im­part those lessons learned,” she said at an event hosted by the Chris­tian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor.

Since in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials first laid blame on Rus­sia for this year’s hack­ing ef­forts, law­mak­ers have pushed for more in­for­ma­tion about the hacks to be made pub­lic.

House Democrats on Wed­nes­day in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would es­tab­lish a 12-mem­ber bi­par­ti­san, in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate at­tempts by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment “to use elec­tronic means to in­flu­ence, in­ter­fere with, or sow dis­trust in this year’s U.S. elec­tions.” Sen. Lindsey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, has said he plans to lead an in­quiry into Rus­sia’s hack­ing ef­forts through his lead­er­ship role on two sub­com­mit­tees.

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