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US Investigating Potential Covert Russian Plan To Disrupt November Elections

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions, intelligence and congressional officials said. The aim is to understand the scope and intent of the Russian campaign, which incorporates cyber-tools to hack systems used in the political process, enhancing Russia’s ability to spread disinformation. The effort to better understand Russia’s covert influence operations is being coordinated by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence. The Kremlin’s intent may not be to sway the election in one direction or another, officials said, but to cause chaos and provide propaganda fodder to attack U.S. democracy-building policies around the world, particularly in the countries of the former Soviet Union. U.S. intelligence officials described the covert influence campaign here as “ambitious” and said it is also designed to counter U.S. leadership and influence in international affairs. One congressional official, who has been briefed recently on the matter, said “Russian ‘active measures’ or covert influence or manipulation efforts, whether it’s in Eastern Europe or in the United States” are worrisome. It “seems to be a global campaign,” the aide said. As a result, the issue has “moved up as a priority” for the intelligence agencies, which include the FBI and Department of Homeland Security as well as the CIA and the National Security Agency. Their comments came just before President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked privately about cyberspying and other matters on the sidelines of the Group of 20 talks in China.


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