WashPost: Obama WH 'Choked' on Response to Russian Hacking
WashPost: Obama WH 'Choked' on Response to Russian Hacking
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24 June, 2017, 01:25
A new report reveals that officials under former President Obama feel that the administration "choked" on handling Russian Federation because of overconfidence in a Hillary Clinton election victory. "It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability".
"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.
The Obama administration is under fresh scrutiny for its response to Russian meddling in the election after new details emerged this week about how the White House weighed its actions against the 2016 political environment.
The story said Obama and at least three officials were told not only of a plot backed by Putin, but one created to defeat or damage the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, in an effort to put President Donald Trump in the White House. The intelligence was as raw as it was compelling, and it took other US spy agencies months to reach consensus that Putin not only directed the interference but worked to defeat Clinton, a politician he disliked and suspected of fomenting internal Russian opposition.
Several Obama administration officials defended the president's decision not to retaliate sooner, citing that their priority had been to ensure the integrity of the vote on election day.
Denis McDonough, who served as Obama's chief of staff, said that the administration regarded Russia's interference as an attack on the "heart of our system".
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".
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Former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes also revealed that the Obama administration did not discover the extent of Russia's cyber campaign until December 2016. "In many ways that complete picture is still being filled in".
They included "cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could "crater" the Russian economy", the Post reported. "We weren't able to put all of those pieces together in real time".
"It is such a dilemma, because if he had acted aggressively, in a way that he had gone public and said, 'This is why we're doing this, ' it would have been seized upon as an attempt to bias the election", Merkley told CNN.
"Everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard". What we saw, or thought we saw, after that, it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Friday that he didn't find the Post report shocking.
"If we do not, our continued weakness will be further provocation to Vladimir Putin, and no one should be surprised when he continues to attack our interests, our values, and our allies", he said.
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