Following the United States’ formal accusation of Russia for its part in the hack on the Democratic National Convention this summer, new reports now claim that the Obama administration is considering what would be “an unprecedented covert cyber action against Russia.” Tensions between the two nations have continued to rise over the last several months in light of the already contentious American presidential election, and with recent reports of voter registration system hacks, it now appears that the CIA is weighing its options when it comes to retaliation against Russia.
Officials from the agency told NBC News that the CIA has given the White House a number of options, each of which would comprise a “wide-ranging ‘clandestine’ cyber operation designed to harass and ’embarrass’ the Kremlin leadership.” While the details of any such operation have yet to be revealed, the intelligence agency has already reportedly begun its preparations and is gathering information on Russia, and in particular, President Vladimir Putin. We leave for the reader to decide why the CIA is publicizing its plans to conduct a “covert” operation.
On Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appeared on “Meet the Press,” and told moderator Chuck Todd, “We’re sending a message [that] will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.”
Ultimately, of course, it will be up to President Obama to decide whether to take any sort of action against Russia, and officials told NBC News that there is dissent within the administration as to how best to proceed. The outlet reports that “there is a long history of the White House asking the CIA to come up with options for covert action against Russia, including cyber options — only to abandon the idea.”
And some experts are skeptical that anything will happen this time, either. “Physical attacks on networks is not something the U.S. wants to do because we don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to do it as well, including against us,” said former CIA deputy director Michael Morell. “My own view is that our response shouldn’t be covert — it should be overt, for everybody to see.”