Five months ago, NATO announced that a cyber-attack by a non-NATO entity would trigger the "collective defense" provision, enabling grounds for a 'kinetic' real war. And now, in what appears a pre-emptive move to dissuade any attempts at election disruption, US officials claims U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks, and the Kremlin's command systems - making them vulnerable to attack.
On June 14th we noted that:
NATO announced that if a NATO member country becomes the victim of a cyber attack by persons in a non-NATO country such as Russia or China, then NATO’s Article V “collective defense” provision requires each NATO member country to join that NATO member country if it decides to strike back against the attacking country. The preliminary decision for this was made two years ago after Crimea abandoned Ukraine and rejoined Russia, of which it had been a part until involuntarily transferred to Ukraine by the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. That NATO decision was made in anticipation of Ukraine’s ultimately becoming a NATO member country, which still hasn’t happened. However, only now is NATO declaring cyber war itself to be included as real “war” under the NATO Treaty’s “collective defense” provision.
NATO is now alleging that because Russian hackers had copied the emails on Hillary Clinton’s home computer, this action of someone in Russia taking advantage of her having privatized her U.S. State Department communications to her unsecured home computer and of such a Russian’s then snooping into the U.S. State Department business that was stored on it, might constitute a Russian attack against the United States of America, and would, if the U.S. President declares it to be a Russian invasion of the U.S., trigger NATO’s mutual-defense clause and so require all NATO nations to join with the U.S. government in going to war against Russia, if the U.S. government so decides.
Since then the non-stop drums of anti-Russia, Putin is the devil, propaganda has spewed forth from Democrats, Republicans, and the western mainstream media; headlined by the Obama administration literally threatening a cyber war with Russia in October over allegations it was behind the hacking of Clinton's emails.
According to an exclusive NBC report, the Obama administration "is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action" (though it's unclear how exactly it's covert if Biden is announcing it to the world via an interview with Chuck Todd) against Russia, 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."
So now the Obama administration is overtly leveraging the full power of the United States to intimidate foreign governments, and most likely Julian Assange, in order to maintain control of the Executive Branch of the government. Does anyone within the mainstream media see any problems with this? Certainly Chuck Todd and NBC do not. And notice that even the NBC article refers to "alleged" Russian interference because not a shred of evidence has been presented to prove that senior Russian officials were actually behind the hacking of Hillary's emails...but who needs facts when you have a complicit media eager to advance whatever propaganda is necessary to maintain power?
Former CIA officers interviewed by NBC said that there is a long history of the White House plotting potential cyber attacks against Russia. That said, none of them were ultimately carried out because "none of the options were particularly good, nor did we think that any of them would be particularly effective."
Which prompted a rapid and angry response from Russia...
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.
And then the Obama administration took another hit, this time from The FBI who stated they found no link between Donald Trump and Russia...
For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.
Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.
In other words, the FBI itself is telling the Democrat establishment to move on and find a different attack on Putin because the "Putin agent" is getting old.
However, as NBC News reports today, that has not stopped the Obama administration from implicitly declaring war on Russia...
U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin's command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.
American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, "preparing the battlefield," in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities.
It's been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.
U.S. officials continue to express concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week's presidential election. U.S. intelligence officials do not expect Russia to attack critical infrastructure — which many believe would be an act of war — but they do anticipate so-called cyber mischief, including the possible release of fake documents and the proliferation of bogus social media accounts designed to spread misinformation.
On Friday the hacker known as "Guccifer 2.0" — which U.S. officials say is a front for Russian intelligence — tweeted a threat to monitor the U.S. elections "from inside the system."
The senior U.S. intelligence official said that, if Russia initiated a significant cyber attack against critical infrastructure, the U.S. could take action to shut down some Russian systems — a sort of active defense.
So last week we had VP Joe Biden proclaiming publicly that "we are sending a message to Putin" and now NBC confirms the US military has undertaken cyberattacks on Russia's infrastructure.
One problem, officials say, is that the doctrine around cyber conflict - what is espionage, what is theft, what is war - is not well developed.
"Cyber war is undefined," Brown said. "There are norms of behavior that we try to encourage, but people violate those."
Well judging from where we started - with NATO's declaration that a cyberattack is equivalent to a kinetic attack and thus an act of war, one can only wonder how the Russians will view this admission of 'action' by the Americans.