Intelligence Chief Sets High Expectations For Next Week’s Hacking Report

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to questions while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

Evan Vucci/AP

AA Font size + Print

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to questions while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

James Clapper promises more details of Russian influence operations aimed at U.S. election.

The debate over Russian influence operations in the U.S. presidential election will enter a dramatic new phase next week when the intelligence community releases a public version of its report on the matter. An unclassified version of the one delivered to the Obama administration, the report will touch not just on the now-famous stolen emails published by Wikileaks, but also on the broader role of Russian propaganda, fake news, and disinformation in the runup to the Nov. 8 election.

“This is actually part of a multi-faceted campaign that the Russians mounted,” James Clapper, the Director of the Office of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Clapper told lawmakers that Putin-backed actors were already carrying out similar activities in Europe in the runup to elections later this year.

The theme of fake news came up again and again at the hearing, which was Congress’ first public inquiry into the matter. When asked if Russia was continuing to use disinformation, masquerading as alternative journalism, Clapper answered matter-of-factly, “Yes.”

At the hearing, intelligence community professionals and senators of both parties all agreed that state-backed actors did indeed steal email from Hillary Clinton and John Podesta and that it was linked to a broad campaign to destabilize the election. This remarkable consensus set lawmakers and the IC against the President-elect, who has repeatedly said he does not believe that Russia meddled in the election he won. But Clapper and his cohorts dodged the opportunity to quantify what actual impact the published emails had on the election’s outcome. They emphasized that the efforts did not extend to actual vote changing or disenfranchisement.

Clapper said next week’s report will also touch on the “multiple” motivations of the Russian actors.

More importantly, he said that his confidence had grown in the intelligence community’s fall 2016 statement naming Putin-backed actors as the email thieves: “We stand actually more resolutely on the strength of that statement that we made on the 7th of October.”

Reuters later reported that members of the intelligence community had acquired new information after the election that had strengthened their certainty.

Panel members offered expressions of support and gratitude to Clapper and the intelligence community in general, hours after Donald Trump took to Twitter to make comments that many took as “disparaging” toward the IC. (He has since attempted to walk back the remarks.)

Clapper is set to retire later in January. On Thursday, multiple news outlets reported that he would be succeeded by retired U.S. senator and Army veteran Dan Coats. In 2014, Russia barred Coats from entering the country in retaliation for his support of sanctions for its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.