Home » Budget Industry » DNI Clapper Blames Russia for Hacking, Pushing Fake News During U.S. Presidential Campaign


DNI Clapper Blames Russia for Hacking, Pushing Fake News During U.S. Presidential Campaign

Defense Intelligence Agency Director James Clapper in 2014.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director James Clapper in 2014.

The Director of National Intelligence said his confidence is even stronger now than it was in October when he and the Secretary of Homeland Security said the highest levels of the Russian government was behind the hacking, fake news and propaganda intrusions in the presidential campaign.

President-elect Donald Trump has been dismissive of earlier intelligence community’s findings of Kremlin involvement in the election.

Testifying Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Clapper said, “We will supply a motive” on why Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the moves when the report is released publicly next week. He said he wanted to “push the envelope” to ensure the public understands what the Kremlin was doing and why it was doing it.

President Barack Obama — who called for the report — is to be briefed on the findings Thursday and Trump Friday, so he and other witnesses at the hearing did not go into specifics of its content. Clapper and other intelligence community leaders will meet later with Congress.

Although Clapper said several times in answers to questions that all the activity did not change the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, he added even in the Cold War “I don’t think we have ever encountered” such a disinformation campaign. The campaign now includes cyber hacking, fake news and social media. Clapper did say that the intelligence community had no way of measuring the impact of all these Russian efforts on individual voters.

“This was a multi-faceted campaign. The hacking [of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton campaign director John Podesta’s e-mails] was only one part of this.” Later Clapper added in answer to another question, RT — a Russian broadcast outlet available in the United States to the disinformation and propaganda campaign.
“They used all that,” he said.
“It is a grave concern.”

Whether these constitute an act of war, Clapper said it was “a very heavy call” to be made by policy makers, not the intelligence community.

As the hearing was ending, Marcel Lettre, under secretary of defense for intelligence, said what is different now is “a true intent to use propaganda” and “match that up with social media” to achieve a desired end, such as disrupting an election, undermining confidence in institutions or recruiting members for terrorist organizations.

As one counter to this kind of campaign, “we could use a USIA [United States Information Agency] on steroids,” Clapper said.

When asked whether Putin would know of these intrusions, Clapper said it was clear that “certainly none that is politically sensitive in another country” would have been attempted without his knowledge. “Russia has clearly assumed a more aggressive cyber posture,” he told the panel as the hearing began.

In his opening statement, Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), said, “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference.”

Calling Moscow a “peer competitor” in this domain, Adm. Mike Rogers, head of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, said, “Russia cyber groups have a history of hacking” into commercial and political activities in other nations, as it has done in the Baltic nations, Ukraine and may be doing in Germany and France which hold elections later this year.

An undated photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian Presidential Press and Information Office Photo

An undated photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian Presidential Press and Information Office Photo

He added that like Russia China, Iran, North Korea and international terrorist organizations are “not in any way backing away” from employing cyber in their operations.

Clapper emphasized the report does not call for specific actions to counter Russian cyber activities. He also distinguished between this kind of active effort to influence events and espionage which is passive collection of intelligence, something the United States does.

He warned against using cyber to counter cyber because the second and third order of effects of such an action would be unknown. Sanctions and other forms of response are options for policy makers to employ.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), said he was prepared to throw “a rock” at nations carrying out these kind of activities in the political process rather than “a pebble,” as he characterized the Obama’s administration’s response to Russia moves.

Adm. Mike Rogers before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 5, 2016. CSPAN Photo

Adm. Mike Rogers before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 5, 2016. CSPAN Photo

Clapper and Rogers said they gave no credibility to the work of Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who first published the Democratic National Committee e-mail traffic. Assange denied receiving information of the Democratic National Committee from Russian governmental sources in an interview this week with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

When asked by a number of senators from both parties about Trump’s comments about the intelligence community, Clapper said the there is a difference between “healthy skepticism” and “disparagement.” “The intelligence community is not perfect,” he said acknowledging that he was one of the authors of the 2003 report on Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. “We are prone to make errors” because its members are human. “I don’t think it gets credit” for the unheralded work it does in thwarting terrorist plots.

He also mentioned the wall of stars commemorating the dead at the CIA and a similar memorial at NSA as demonstrations of the lengths to which members of the intelligence community will take in defense of the nation.

“Public trust and confidence in the intelligence community [in providing apolitical analysis] is crucial” both in the United States and with its allies and partners. The intelligence community “is a learning organization.”

Rogers added, “I don’t want a situation where our workforce walks” because they believe their labors are not valued.

Clapper said he was prepared for any criticism of the report coming from the incoming administration. He added that he has not been consulted on any possible changes planned in the intelligence community, including the possible elimination of his position. His is a political appointment, subject to Senate confirmation. After working in intelligence as a military officer and political appointee for more than 50 years, he will leave office Jan. 20.

McCain has said he plans to hold additional hearings on cyber activities and Russia. Other Senate committee, including intelligence, are expected to take up the Russian role in the election.

  • Ed L

    que?

  • publius_maximus_III

    “Public trust and confidence in the intelligence community [in providing apolitical analysis] is crucial” both in the United States and with its allies and partners. The intelligence community “is a learning organization.”

    I’d say that same statement holds true for the FBI, too (domestic as opposed to foreign intelligence.) Who here would argue that the higher eschelons of that organization have been apolitical in light of recent events? It is foolish to assume Comey, Clapper, Rogers, and others are somehow above the fray and unaffected by the political winds blowing within the beltway. It used not to be that way, and We the People placed implicit and unexamined trust in such folk. Not anymore. They put on their trousers the same as any other man, one leg at a time.

    Our eyes are open now.

  • RobM1981

    RT was broadcasting Russian Propaganda?!?

    Wow.

    Did the 19 viewers realize they were being brainwashed?

    Next thing you know, we’ll be told that Radio Free Europe was pro-American. Crazy talk, I know…

    Hey, Intelligence Community… if this is such a big deal, if the DNC was such a hot-bed of intrigue and laden with top secrets…

    Why didn’t you try to stop this?

    Why didn’t you detect it as it was happening, and block it?

    Isn’t that your job?

    Why didn’t someone meet John Podesta, face to face, and say “Dude, ‘password’ cannot be your password – you know that, right?”

    Aside from showing us a very seedy (but totally predicted) underside of a very corrupt party, and proving that Bernie Sanders was targeted just like we all thought, what secret launch codes were revealed here, again?

    If it’s important enough to get all worked up about, then it was important enough to block. SecState, just picking a random example, should have faced charges for flaunting this – right?

    You can’t have it both ways. When everyone says “Jail her – this is a critical lapse!” and then we find out that she was hacked, and the DNC was hacked, and the security was so lax that a kid could (and likely did) hack it, the proper response isn’t “ATTACK RUSSIA!”

    It is: “We told you so.”

    Go back to sleep, “Intelligence Community.”

    • publius_maximus_III

      I guess it’s OK for Assange to come out of hiding in the embassy, now that we know da Russkies done it?

  • sferrin

    Let’s see the actual evidence. Oh right, there isn’t any.

    • publius_maximus_III

      They found borscht stains on Leon’s laptop.

      • publius_maximus_III

        BTW, the combination to his locker at the gym is 0-0-0…

    • Secundius

      Right?/! There are Those of the “Uber Right” that claim that the “Holocaust” EVER took place. But PLENTY of Supportive Evidence That It Did…

  • incredulous1

    McCaskill is an amazing tool. What a waste of time her partisan hack questions have been. And then after asking him about serving Kennedy she starts politically hacking Trump since he has only asked for the evidence rather than hearsay tribal knowledge. Why is this McCaskill so pugilistic and repugnant?
    Donald is not putting Assange on any kind of pedestal. How absurd!

    She would appear to be merely a sore loser, and an angry scorned woman.

  • omegatalon

    How does someone push ‘fake’ news to mainstream news organizations unless the news agencies are CNN and MSNBC who were already corrupted and thought they were getting the stories from Hillary Clinton or the DNC.

  • Jerry Burke

    If you believe Admiral Rogers you have to believe Clapper.

  • old guy

    Clapper has already been proven a LIAR for previous testimony. Why should we believe him now?
    CIA-Completely Incompetent Agency
    FBI- For B.S. Information
    EPA- Extraordinary Potential for Attorneys

  • The Engineer

    Project Excalibur dating from the 1960’s was a United States government project to use social sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology) to ensure that governments elected Central & South American are pro US national interests. So you see, the US is not used to encountering such things, the US is used to DOING such things. Needless to say, when the states of Central & South America found out, they were furious…

    But the methods & techniques of Project Excalibur are not dead. As Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton deliberately & willing used them to influence the elections of the Ukraine. When those democratic elections did not go her way, she had no compunction with having the US assist in staging a coup of the duly elected government of the Ukraine.

    If this whole mess is not a case of the pot calling the kettle black, what is?

    • Secundius

      Which Project “Excalibur”?/! The Gun Projectile or the Laser Defense System. Let’s not Forget Project “Sidewinder” of 1956, DEADER Still…

  • On Dre

    If they can do it to the DNC they can do it to the RNC. The blade that you so eagerly cheer to cut down your domestic political enemies can just as easily be turned to cut your side down. Of course, it should matter that Americans are being infowared but I see we are beyond that.

    • Secundius

      They DID Do it to the “RNC”, but ONLY made available those on the “DNC”. I wonder if “Future” Possible “Black Mailings’ are Pending…

  • Donald Carey

    While some hacking is bound to have happened, “events” like this could well be part of a larger program to delegitimize the incoming administration. “Hillary didn’t really lose, the Russians did it to her.” It will be the Democrat version of the Birther issue.

    • Secundius

      Not Really! Because it was NEVER a Democratic “Birth Issue”, but a Republican “Birther Issues that Started in 2004. By Andy Martin (aka Anthony Robert Martin-Trigona) in 14 October 2004, when he Ran Against Barack Obama for the Illinois US Senate Race…

      • Donald Carey

        I see your reading comprehension classes haven’t done their work yet – I said it would be the Democrat version of the birther issue.

        • Secundius

          And WHAT Was the “Republican” Version going around at the time?/!

          • Donald Carey

            Comprehension still evades you – let me explain it as if to a child: The Russian hack will be the Democrat mantra used to in an attempt to delegitimize the Trump presidency just as some Republicans tried to use the birther issue to delegitimize the Obama presidency. Capisce?

          • Secundius

            Russia ALSO Hacked into the RNC’s Computer Servers. And if you Bothered to watched the News Today, Putin threatening to Reveal Personal information about Donald Trump himself. Including HIS Tax Records, TRUMP Personally and ALL of his “Shenanigans” to date…

          • Donald Carey

            So what else is new? (I do keep up, with both fake and real news.)
            Many countries, organizations and individuals launch cyper attacks on the U.S. – at both government and private targets. Russia, China, even Nigeria and North Korea, they all do it.
            The U.S. government and the military do the same thing back.
            And then there are attacks made by criminals right here in the U.S.). I have no doubt that both the DNC and RNC participate, as well. (Yes, I lumped them in with common criminals, you should not need to ask me why.)
            Again, thank you, Captian Obvioius.

          • Secundius

            Your Very Welcome “Admiral Kadavergehorsam”…

  • Kim Chul Soo

    I still say Clapper is full of crap. He can run down Assange all he wants but this will not change the truth.
    Can’t wait for Oshitbag and his boys to get out of town.