Skip to comments.Ex-CIA Director Hayden: Russia election meddling was 'most successful covert operation in history'
Posted on 07/22/2017 2:34:00 PM PDT by Jyotishi
Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and the CIA, on Friday called Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election the "most successful covert influence operation in history."
"Frankly, [the Russian meddling] is the most successful covert operation in history," Hayden told a national security panel in response to a question from moderator Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff. Hayden said the original cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee was not that surprising -- and even from an intelligence perspective, impressive.
"I just have to admit as a former director of NSA, [Russia's hack and theft of email] is honorable state espionage," Hayden said to audience laughter, speaking at the Aspen Security Conference.
Isikoff interjected, asking if the Russian dissemination of the emails through WikiLeaks should still be considered "honorable state espionage."
"If we as NSA could have an insight into Russia through the same techniques, game on," Hayden said. "But now you make the great distinction: What the Russians then did with the information. And then that turned [it] into what we call a covert influence operation."
Hayden argued that the release of stolen Democratic emails on WikiLeaks was the Kremlin's egregious act, not the hacks to obtain the information.
"This is, at its heart, not a cyber issue. At its heart, this is a Russia issue," Hayden said. "The cyber-thing was a preliminary action in order to get some raw materials, but that's not what made this different. That's not what made this egregious."
Isikoff asked why the U.S. government has yet to clearly delineate a "red line" when it comes to cybersecurity violations from other countries even though the cyberthreat has existed for years.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, also on the panel, responded that the Defense Department had issued a guideline which said attacks warrant a response if they result in loss of life or serious economic damage.
"The truth is the technology and the techniques that can be used have actually evolved more rapidly than our thinking about it," Chertoff said. "The value of norms would be it would start to create a basis for law-abiding countries to know when they can respond to a cyber act as if it were an act of war."
The U.S. lacks a standard of proof, which makes it difficult to prove who's responsible for a cyber attack, Chertoff said.
"If we confront the Russians, their response is, Well, you don't have 100 percent proof, so we reject it,'" Chertoff said. "We have to establish a consensus about how much is enough."
Isikoff then pivoted to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis, which he said has resulted in 4.9 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, noting that former FBI agent Ali Soufan called it "the greatest humanitarian disaster of our lifetime."
National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen, another panel participant, said he wouldn't want to draw "a straight line" connection between someone being displaced by the Syrian civil war and that person becoming a potential recruit for terrorists.
But Rasmussen said that Soufan's description still holds. "First and foremost, it's a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, but it does have a long-term security piece to it that we're going to be managing for a number of years," he said.
The counterterrorism expert also said the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah poses a threat to the U.S. The Iranian-backed organization is recognized by the intelligence community as one of the most capable terrorist groups in the world, with access to technology and state sponsorship, he said.
But FBI arrests of individuals with ties to Hezbollah in the U.S. suggests that there's a presence of Hezbollah operatives in the homeland, Rasmussen said.
"We've known they look to lay infrastructure in all parts of the world to give itself options, to develop a playbook," Rasmussen said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation in the House and Senate on Thursday that would increase sanctions on Hezbollah for its actions in Syria and near the Israeli border.
Oh please...US has been meddling in elections for decades. Russians are better at it than cia??????
How does he know that? If it was the Russians, then why did the Democrats deny access to the FBI?
How covert could it be since odumbo and his 17 stasi intelligence deep state organizations knew about it since at least 2015 ? odumbo wasn’t smart enough to make his election meddling covert sending his campaign staff and millions of buyoff bucks to Israel to toredo Netanyahus election.
I have to throw the B.S. Flag on this one.
By definition a covert operation is one that remains untalked about and hence, undiscovered. Successful covert operations are secrets that are carried to one’s grave and never disclosed to any media source.
So how can the supposed Russian activity be the most successful covert operation in history if everyone is yelling about it from multiple directions?
sp sick of this crap about Russia,and the talking heads which keep talking to the media about this crap.
We have meddled in their elections, we have meddled in the UK , Israel and other countries having elections.
This is all about deflecting attention away from the crimes of Clinton, obama, Jarrett, Rice , IRS targeting conservative groups, and the obama admin eavesdropping on private people.
DNC Operative and Pathological Liar Spews More “Muh Russia!” Bullcrap.
What will be there excuse in 2020?
He didn't even give honorable mention to the space alien dead ringer who replaced obama for those 18 months in the middle of the last 8 years. That was the 18 months when obama's handicap dropped so far.
I guess you can't trust ex CIA directors as far as you can throw a piano.
Actually, I interpret Hayden’s description of the hacking as “honorable state espionage” to mean that this is the sort of thing nations (including the US) engage in routinely.
Lying sack of s*it.
The COMPLETE FABRICATION of a FAKE NEWS story.
So covert it didn’t even happen.
So covert that it is all that 95% of all ‘news organizations’ can talk about.
Pretty disheartening that a man as stupid and illogical as Hayden could be a CIA agent, much less CIA Director.
> Hayden told a national security panel in response to a question from moderator Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff... <
Anything Yahoo is involved in is probably Fake News.
I will start paying attention to this sort of crap when they (the Greater They) decide to release the definitive proof that it was the Russians that did the hacking and the Wikileaks dump and not some equally capable teen kid from Bell Gardens.
I’m waiting. ..... patiently.
But not forever.
Can someone just tell me what EXACTLY the Russians did that affected the election?
Exactly. They don’t call this alleged operation “covert” because it really was a secret operation. They call it “covert” so they have a ready-made excuse for why they can’t find any evidence to support their claim that it ever happened at all.
If Russia had hacked the emails, they would have held them; not given them to Wikileaks. Russia could then use the email info as leverage.