In­tel chief: U.S. ‘is un­der at­tack’

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Kevin John­son

WASH­ING­TON – The na­tion’s top in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said Tues­day that Rus­sia is tar­get­ing the 2018 elec­tions, seek­ing to un­der­mine Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal process and sow par­ti­san divi­sion with cy­ber­at­tacks and other dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion.

“Frankly, the United States is un­der at­tack,” Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Dan Coats told the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. Rus­sia is at­tempt­ing to “de­grade our demo­cratic val­ues and weaken our al­liances,” he said.

Coats said Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was em­bold­ened by Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past ef­fort as suc­cess­ful,” said Coats, who was joined by CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Di­rec­tor Mike Rogers and FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray.

The na­tional in­tel­li­gence di­rec­tor’s com­ments came against the back­drop of con­gres­sional and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sia’s al­leged in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and whether the Krem­lin co­or­di­nated its ac­tiv­i­ties with Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign.

Coats and the of­fi­cials each af­firmed an as­sess­ment by the en­tire in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity in 2016 that con­cluded that Rus­sia in­ter­fered in the elec­tion and has not re­lented in a strat­egy to un­der­mine elec­tions.

“This is not go­ing to change or stop,” Rogers said.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chair­man of the Se­nate panel, which is in the midst of Congress’ most far-reach­ing in­quiry into Rus­sia’s ac­tiv­i­ties, said the coun­try re­mains vul­ner­a­ble more than a year later.

“We still don’t have a com­pre­hen­sive plan,” Warner said, re­fer­ring to a strat­egy to guard the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal process from in­tru­sions. “We’re no bet­ter pre­pared than we were in 2016.

“This threat, I be­lieve, de­mands a whole-of-govern­ment re­sponse,” he said.

Dan Coats

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