Russian cyber espionage against American political targets has dominated the news in recent months, intensifying last week with President Barack Obama’s announcement of sanctions against Russia.
Cyber espionage is, of course, nothing new. But using data collected in cyber espionage operations to interfere in the U.S. election process on behalf of one of the candidates — one who appears to be smitten with Russian President Vladimir Putin — is a brazen and unprecedented move that deserves a firm political response from the U.S. government on behalf of the public interest.
The expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, the shutting down of two Russian-owned estates the US claims were used for intelligence activities, and the targeted financial sanctions on Russian individuals and organizations all show the Obama administration understands at least part of what such a firm response should entail.
Unfortunately, the White House was unable to produce the most critical part for the credibility of their action: that to be politically effective in today’s Internet age, such a response also needs to be backed up with solid evidence. Here, the administration failed miserably, but also predictably. And it’s not necessarily because it doesn’t have the evidence. Instead, the U.S. government simply failed to present it.
My latest piece is an analysis of the DHS/FBI report on Russian cyber espionage, published in Just Security. Read the entire piece here: