Election Hacking: President Obama Orders Actions Against Russia

President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy: White House
President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy: White House

With a subtle advice to President-elect Donald Trump, Barack Obama said all Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.

By Rakesh Raman

The U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized a number of actions in response to the alleged interference of Russia in the U.S. presidential election that took place on November 8.

Although Russia has rejected the U.S. allegations, the Obama Administration believes that significant information was hacked by Russia in order to influence the outcome of the election.

According to an official communique, President Obama has ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election.

“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” the official statement added.

With a subtle advice to President-elect Donald Trump, Obama said all Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.

“In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process. These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” Obama stated.

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Moreover, he said, American diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year. Such activities have consequences. Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response, he said.

Obama has issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine the U.S. election processes and institutions, or those of its allies or partners.

Using this new authority, Obama sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.

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In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.

The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives.

Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.

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“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,” Obama said.

In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the Obama Administration urged its friends and allies around the world to work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.

To that end, according to the White House statement, Obama Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to the election cycle in previous elections.

Meanwhile, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who had warned that the November election may be rigged, is spearheading a campaign to highlight the flaws in the U.S. election system.

Last week, she had approached the U.S. Department of Justice through her attorney demanding a probe in the election process. Stein’s attorney has written a letter to the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking for an investigation into the integrity of the U.S. election system generally, and the voting machines specifically.

Stein will hold a rally Tuesday (January 3rd, 2017) and launch the Count My Vote Campaign.

Besides the hacking of Democratic Party’s emails, the Stein campaign alleges that the touchscreen voting machines were also hacked and voters’ databases were stolen to facilitate Trump’s win.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government award-winning journalist and runs free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

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