Republican Senator John McCain opened an Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday on the topic of “foreign cyber threats to the United States” by calling for the nation to move forward after the presidential election, but with “full knowledge of the fact” that Russia played a large part in trying to influence it.
“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attack on our nation,” McCain said in his opening statement. “For years cyberattacks on our nation have been met with indecision and inaction.”
The hearing offered testimony from Marcel J. Lettre II, the undersecretary for defense for intelligence, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command.
According to Clapper’s testimony, a report on Russian interference in the presidential election will be made public some time next week, which is being put together mainly by the CIA, NSA, and FBI.
Clapper and Rogers said the Russian government hacked into the email accounts of Democratic officials with the intent to interfere in the election – a view from the intelligence community that was first made public in October.
“We stand actually more resolutely on the statement that we made on the 7th of October,” Clapper said.
Though McCain referred to Russian hacking efforts as an “attack,” when asked whether Clapper would agree with that point, he said, “whether or not that constitutes an act of war, that represents a very heavy policy call” that the intelligence community couldn’t really make.
The public report, Clapper said, would ascribe Russian President Vladimir Putin as playing a part in the election interference, and would also include recommendations on best practices for defending from such attacks in the future.
“But we must acknowledge that,” Rogers said. “Despite our best efforts, there is still a probability that they are going to get in.”