Saturday, December 31, 2016

President Obama Issues Sweeping Sanctions Against Russia Over US Election Hack

President Barack Obama has officially sanctioned the Russian's and related entities in direct response to their hacking of our U.S. presidential election.

President Obama said in a statement...

All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions." Adding, “We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,

The Obama administration believes that if Russia is not reprimanded and ultimately deterred now they would continue to interfere in future U.S. elections, as well as elections in other allied countries.

To deter the Russians the President has done the following...

• Ejected 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States who the administration said were spies posing as diplomats and other officials

• Imposed sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services

• Penalized four top officers of the powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. that ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, with the approval of the Kremlin

• Revoked Russian access to this estate in Maryland’s Eastern Shore

• Announced the closing of two waterfront estates — one in Upper Brookville, N.Y., and another on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — that it said were used for Russian intelligence activities

• Barred U.S. business with two Russians accused of cyber-theft of money and data.

Obama also left the door open for further action, including a potential cyberattack on Russia.

Taken together, the sweeping actions announced by the White House, the Treasury, the State Department and intelligence agencies on Thursday amount to the strongest American response yet to a state-sponsored cyberattack.

President Obama's sanctions come on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI releasing a 13-page joint report providing some details of what the agencies know about the Russian actions. The report cites “technical indicators” that the hacking was tied to Russian civilian and military intelligence services. It adds that in some cases, the Russian actors masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack.

Senior U.S. officials said there was “no debate” within the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the election to help president-elect Donald Trump's campaign.

Unsurprisingly Trump is still casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence communities declaration that Russia was responsible hacking and releasing Democratic National Committee communications that damaged Hillary Clinton and ultimately helped his candidacy.

This despite intelligence officials ― including the leaders of the FBI and the CIA ― stating on the record that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the hacks to aid Trump, who has constantly praised the Russian leader.

Trump has declared from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that he believes “It’s time for our country to move on" and repeated that it was impossible to know who targeted Clinton.

The problem with Trump's gas-lighting tactics and his lackadaisical attitude toward the Russian's hacking is that many on Capitol Hill, including Republicans, are in lock step with President Obama on his retaliatory actions against Moscow.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) issued a statement commending Obama’s plan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the move as well. Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), also lauded Obama’s actions even saying that they were looking at further punishments for Moscow.

Officials said they plan to release another public report with more details on the findings before Obama leaves office.

Obama appears committed to proving Russia’s responsibility despite the denials from Trump and the Kremlin. His administration wants Congress to receive intelligence reports that lay out the evidence before Trump enters office and is able to call off such investigations.

As for Russia's response a Putin’s spokespeople attacked the Obama team by calling them “losers”, a "lame" duck and promising swift retaliation.

Sure sounds like someone is taking a page out of Trump's playbook, nyet?

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