Obama ordered cyber 'implants' for Russian network in response to hacking

After the Central Intelligence Agency said it discovered previous year that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to harm Hillary Clinton and help then-candidate Trump, the Obama administration and congressional leaders were reluctant to take action before November's election.

A new Washington Post report offers an in-depth look at how Obama dealt with Russia's efforts to help Donald Trump get elected president, and one former Obama administration official says that he is haunted by the administration's failure to do more.

That report "captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation's audacious objectives - defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton". Their mission is to deploy "implants" in key Russian systems, which may be "triggered remotely as part of retaliatory cyber-strike in the face of Russian aggression", the Post reports. Trump made claims at the time that the election was "rigged".

The paper adds: "Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorised planting cyber weapons in Russia's infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow".

A broader USA intelligence report released in early January went further, identifying Putin by name and concluding that one of the operation's aims was to help elect Donald Trump.

The intelligence shocked the White House and put USA security chiefs on a top-secret crisis footing to figure out how to react. The media's attention focused elsewhere.

A month before the letter arrived, the FBI began investigating any ties between Russian Federation and people associated with Trump.

Obama advisers reportedly feared that if they attempted to confront Russian Federation too much at the start of the allegations emerging "things could get far worse", including Russian Federation attempting a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on the day of the election. "We set out from a first-order principle that required us to defend the integrity of the vote", he told the Post. "It's also important to establish what happened and what they attempted to do so as to ensure that we take the steps necessary to stop it from happening again". "I feel like we sort of choked".

Elsewhere, the Post described how Obama's team regretted his "modest" response to the Russian Federation allegations, including confronting Putin to tell him "we knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else", during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China.

  • Leroy Wright