Senators support intel findings on Russia, call for deterrence policy

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed support for the intelligence community and its assessment that Russia hacked Democratic Party servers to influence the election and called for more defined cyber deterrence policy.

McCain at Heritage today.
 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) took a hard line on Russia's alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political targets at a Jan. 5 Senate hearing.

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to express doubts about the intelligence community's assertion that Russia hacked Democratic Party servers to influence the 2016 election, intelligence officials are standing by their findings.

At a Jan. 5 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing focused on foreign cyber threats to the United States, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told senators he stands "more resolutely" on his Oct. 7 joint statement with the secretary of Homeland Security that said Russia hacked Democratic Party servers and emails.

Clapper is finalizing a comprehensive report on efforts by foreign actors to interfere with or undermine U.S. elections in 2016, 2012 and 2008. That report will be presented to President Obama on Jan. 6, and a declassified version will be released next week.

The DNI said that he did not want to preempt the report in his testimony, and many of the findings are classified, but he said President Putin had "more than one motive" behind what Clapper characterized as a "multifaceted" information operations campaign to influence the election.

During the hearing, senators did not challenge the IC's assessment that Russia conducted an operation that went well beyond the bounds of traditional espionage and crossed into what some argued could be considered an act of war against the U.S.

Many senators also took the opportunity to express support for the IC and indirectly or, in the case of Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), directly chastise President-elect Trump for disparaging the IC.

"Mr. President-elect, when you listen to these people, you can be skeptical, but understand they're the best among us, and they are trying to protect us," Graham said after warning that Trump will need to rely on the IC when making decisions about dealing with threats from China, North Korea and other adversaries.

In addition to expressing solidarity with the IC and its findings on Russia's attempts to influence the election, senators also hammered the points that the U.S. still lacks a clear cyber deterrence policy and that the country faces a growing risk of cyber attacks because it has not imposed a significant cost on cyber criminals.

"What seems clear is that our adversaries have reached a common conclusion: that the reward for attacking America in cyberspace outweighs the risk," said SASC Chairman John McCain (R-Az.). "For years, cyberattacks on our nation have been met with indecision and inaction. Our nation has had no policy, and thus no strategy, for cyber deterrence."

He and other senators argued that the U.S. must define what constitutes a cyber act of war, what responses are appropriate and what the nation’s deterrence policy is. It must also determine whether the government – including Congress – is properly aligned and organized to address cyber threats. After the hearing, McCain told reporters that he was taking steps to form his planned cybersecurity-focused subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee and that Graham would lead the panel.

At the hearing, Graham argued that the U.S. sanctions against Russia amounted to "throwing pebbles," when instead the U.S. needs to "throw rocks" at Russia with a more forceful response.

"We have a chance as a nation to lay down a marker for all would-be adversaries," he added, "and we should take that opportunity before it is too late."

"We have a lot more work to do to put the right deterrence and response framework in place on cyber," said Marcel Lettre, under secretary of defense for intelligence. "In my personal opinion, the next administration would be well served to focus very early on those questions."

"The biggest frustration to me is speed, speed, speed," said Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command. "We have got to get faster, we have got to get more agile."

Throughout the hearing, the panelists reiterated that Russia is the No. 1 cyber threat to the U.S. and is a "peer competitor" with extensive offensive capabilities. China, Iran, North Korea and terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaida were also identified as serious and growing threats.

The panelists cautioned, however, that coming up with a clear policy of deterrence in the cyber domain is difficult because adversaries do not use the same rational calculus that the Soviet Union did during the Cold War when nuclear weapons were a tangible threat.

Clapper warned that retaliating to cyber attacks with a cyber response could trigger a cycle of escalation and counter response that could be more damaging to the U.S. "It's in my view best to consider all instruments of national power," in responding to cyber attacks, he said.

Regarding the forthcoming intelligence report on Russia's campaign to influence the election, Clapper said he intends to "push the envelope" in terms of what can be declassified in order to provide the public with clear details and evidence. But, he said, there are limits because of the need to protect sources.

"We have invested billions and we have put people's lives at risk to glean such information, and so if we were to fulsomely expose it in such a way that would be completely persuasive to everyone, then we can just kiss that off because we'll lose it," he said.

NEXT STORY: Top NSA defender departs agency

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.