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Election Cyber-Attacks Result of Russia

| published October 4, 2016 |

By Keith H. Roberts, Thursday Review contributor

The highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says that thousands of cyber-attacks on voter registration systems across the United States are definitely the work of hackers with direct connections to Russia.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) says that the White House should point the finger of blame squarely at Moscow, and hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for the hacking—a concerted and apparently deliberate attempt, according to the FBI, to meddle or interfere with the upcoming presidential elections.

Schiff made the comments during an appearance on Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week, telling reporters that there is conclusive evidence of Russian involvement in the repeated cyber-attacks— attempts to breach voter registration systems and voting machine security vendors in nearly all 50 states.

Officials in Moscow have repeatedly denied any attempt to hack elections offices or election systems in the U.S.

Some intelligence analysts and some law enforcement officials say that the cyber-attacks may be an attempt by Moscow to wage a sort of psychological war on the U.S., casting uncertainty and doubt on the outcome of the 2016 elections and destabilizing the American political system. Top officials with both the FBI and Homeland Security say that despite the frequency and tenacity of the breaches, there is no evidence that there has been any genuine effort to alter the outcome of any election, nor any evidence that the hackers have tinkered with the voting machines or computers. Jeh Johnson, chief of Homeland Security, said this past weekend that he and his staff find no evidence that the hackers are seeking to skew election outcomes, but echoed the general belief that the Russian cyber-intruders may be seeking to merely disrupt confidence in the system.

The Obama administration has indicated that it has suspicions of Russian backing in the hacking attacks, though the White House has not officially declared its belief that Moscow is to definitely blame. Schiff says it is time to stop offering carefully qualified statements and instead call out Putin for his brazen attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.

Officials with the FBI, the NSA, and Homeland Security have concluded that several previous hacks of major American political organizations—including the Democratic National Committee—have been the result of intrusions by groups with direct links to Moscow.

Schiff also disputed Republican candidate Donald Trump’s claim that there is no direct evidence of Russian involvement. During the debate televised in late September, Trump said that the cyber- attacks on U.S. election offices could be the result of Russia or China, or simply individual hackers acting alone or in small groups.

In the past two years, officials in the U.S. have concluded that Russian hacking groups have breached the networks of the Pentagon, The White House, and several other major government entities in an effort by Moscow to gain intelligence and data. Russian hackers have also been linked to major cyber-attacks on several U.S. banks.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Russian Hackers Stealing U.S. Voter Data; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review; August 30, 2016.

Russians Linked to Democratic Party Cyber Breach; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; June 18, 2016.