“I am not prepared, based on what I know to date, to conclude that the Russians are trying to delegitimize the election. I think they’re just playing with our heads,” Michael Hayden, former CIA Director said at a conference in Salt Lake City Wednesday.
Hayden told his opinion on the Russian computer hacking situation, the Presidential candidates, and the reported death of a top Islamic State group leader. Hayden agreed, as he counted himself among those who believe that Russia is behind the recent voter registration data hacks in Illinois and Arizona. The hackers stole over 200,000 voter records in Illinois alone.
He said the hacks were honorable espionage, and that if he could steal that kind of information from an adversary as powerful as the U.S. he would have done it, too.
“In regard to the theft of the data, shame on us. We’re supposed to keep our secrets a secret, not shame on the Russians,” he said.
He further stated that it all boils down to how the hackers use the information. If the data was stolen to learn, or if it’s used to affect processes in another government.
“We would call that in American Parlance, a covert influence campaign,” he commented.
During his speech, Hayden pointed out that he believes it to be part of Vladimir Putin’s overall campaign to re-establish the Russian Federation globally, and just using the hacks to poke at America. Putin believes that the U.S. does it to Russia on a regular basis. So, since Putin believes the U.S. is doing it to Russia, this is his way of telling the us he can play the same game.
“The American government is reluctant to blame Russia, because it’s not ready to say what it would do about it,” Hayden said.
A Republican Rep. from Utah, Chris Stewart went to Russia to gather facts, and it raised a concerns about Russian hackers having an impact on the upcoming election. Stewart described Russia as being incredibly active with cyber-attacks. Stewart is also one who believes the cyber-attacks are just to cause uncertainty in the election. He even agreed with Hayden, saying that he doesn’t believe Russia favors one candidate over the other.
“It’s one thing to play with our heads, even to put doubt with regad to our political processes, but even they, I think, are smart enough to realize they can’t predict the outcomes of certain things they might choose to do in terms of how the American people respond to them and who they ultimately vote for,” he said.
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