In a striking report released on Friday night by NBC, the Obama administration was reportedly "contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action" (it remains unclear how the action is covert if Biden announced it to the world via an interview with Chuck Todd), a "wide-ranging clandestine cyber operation designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership", in retaliation for alleged interference in the American presidential election, and has asked the CIA to draft plans for a "wide-ranging "clandestine" cyber operation designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership."
As we reported last night, Vice President Joe Biden said that Washington is ready to respond to hack attacks allegedly conducted by Russia and designed to interfere with the upcoming US elections.
"Why haven’t we sent a message yet to Putin,” Chuck Todd, host of the “Meet the Press” show on NBC, asked Joe Biden.
“We are sending a message [to Putin]… We have a capacity to do it, and…”
"He’ll known it?” Todd interfered.
“He’ll know it. It will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact,” the US vice president replied.
The NBC sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation. "Former intelligence officers told NBC News that the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin", NBC added.
To be sure, this "leak" of what effectively amount to a cyberwar warning was a calculated move meant to provoke further escalation in tensions between the two nations and a trial balloon to gauge Russia's response. The response came this morning Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "US aggressiveness is growing, and threats to carry out cyberattacks against Russia are unprecedented" adding that Russia will take “precautionary measures.”
“The fact is, US unpredictability and aggression keep growing, and such threats against Moscow and our country’s leadership are unprecedented, because the threat is being announced at the level of the US Vice President,” Peskov told RIA Novosti cited by AFP. “Of course, given such an aggressive, unpredictable line, we have to take measures to protect our interests, somehow hedge the risks,” he said, adding that “such unpredictability is dangerous for the whole world.”
Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov vowed Moscow would respond to any US cyber attacks, saying such threats were "borderline insolence", the news agency said.
Accusations against Russia have become louder in recent days with WikiLeaks releasing thousands of “Podesta emails,” exposing Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wall Street and controversial views on Syria, among other things. Numerous left-leaning mainstream media outlets have been quick to accuse the Kremlin of teaming up with WikiLeaks, allegedly providing it with massive amounts of inside scoops to post. The evidence-free allegations have been denied both by Moscow and by WikiLeaks.
Responding to accusations last week, the Russian presidential press secretary mentioned that “tens of thousands of hackers” try to break into the sites of Russian officials on a daily basis, but this never prompted Moscow to point a finger at Washington.