Obama orders review of election-related hacking by Russia

obamaWashington, (IANS) US President Barack Obama has ordered a review into hacking aimed at influencing US elections, the White House has said.

“The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during this year’s election process. It is to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders,” White House Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco said on Friday.

According to CNN, White House Spokesman Eric Schultz said the review would encompass malicious cyber activity related to US elections going back to 2008.

Monaco said the administration would be mindful of the consequences of revealing the results of their review publicly, and Schultz said they will make public “as much as we can”.

All of the Democratic senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee have called on Obama to declassify intelligence on Russia’s actions during the November 8 election, CNN reported.

“You want to do so very attentive to not disclosing sources and methods that would impede our ability to identify and attribute malicious actors in the future,” Monaco said of disclosure.

The review is intended to be done before Trump’s inauguration on January 20. “He expects to get a report prior to him leaving office,” Monaco said.

In response to the news, the Russian government called for evidence of its involvement, denying claims made by the US.

“We are also very interested in understanding what they accused Russia of,” said Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“Many times Foreign Minister Lavrov have asked Americans to provide full information. But never had any response.”

The US government even before the election publicly blamed the Russian government for cyberattacks designed to influence the outcome, including hacks of Democratic groups like the Democratic National Committee.

A steady stream of documents and internal emails from Democratic groups and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman were released in the weeks and months leading up to the election, with damaging consequences for Democrats.

There was also concern about attempted attacks on voter registration systems at the state and local level, though the intelligence community never said there was strong evidence that was tied to the Russian government.

While the Intelligence Community has not suggested the attacks were designed to bolster Trump, the impact of the hacks were much more damaging to Democrats and to Clinton.

Trump has denied a Russian role in the hacking, despite the overwhelming consensus from private sector cybersecurity firms that investigated the hacks and from the various US government intelligence agencies.

Members of his own party have strongly pointed the finger at Russia, and Republican Seniors John McCain and Lindsey Graham are reportedly leading the charge among Republicans to investigate the hacking.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Russian interference was real, but dinged the administration for being slow to react.

“It appears, however, that after eight years the administration has suddenly awoken to the threat.”

Democrats were quick to praise Obama on Friday. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, called on the White House to declassify as much as it could.

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