Washington – Three U.S. high intelligence officials said that Russia was engaged in cyber operations during the White House elections and launched cyber-attacks to affect the American people’s opinion.
While the officials stressed that Russia’s operations have served political goals of the Russian Army, they doubted the ability of those attacks to have changed the path of the elections.
During a three-hour hearing on Thursday at the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said he had a very high level of confidence that Russia hacked Democratic Party and campaign staff email, and disseminated propaganda and fake news aimed at the Nov. 8 election.
“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was” on Oct. 7 when the government first publicly accused Russia, Clapper said. He added that motives for the attack would be made public next week.
Last week, President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies he said were involved in hacking U.S. political groups such as the Democratic National Committee.
Intelligence agency chiefs will brief president-elect Donald Trump on Friday on the outcome of their report. Obama received a report on the matter on Thursday. An unclassified version will be made public early next week.
Clapper highlighted an increase in cyber-attacks from Russia, against a decline in those attacks from China since September 2015.
He also warned against Iran’s direction to increase its capacities in this area and ISIS’ use of the Internet to raise money, recruit fighters and spread its terrorist ideologies.
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain slammed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for putting “lives in danger” with his continued document leaking.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has identified Russian officials who fed material hacked from the DNC and Democratic Party leaders to WikiLeaks at Putin’s direction through third parties, according to a new U.S. intelligence report, U.S. officials said.
In remarks during Thursday’s hearing, McCain said: “I believe Julian Assange published names of individuals who work for us who put their lives in danger”.
When McCain asked Clapper if Assange had any “credibility,” Clapper responded: “Not in my view.”