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Pentagon Keeps Trump in the Dark About its Cyber Attacks on Russia

Peter Wade

On Saturday, the New York Times published an important story about how the United States military branches are attempting to thwart and combat Russian cyber attacks on American utility networks and interference in elections. But deeper into the article, an interesting and disturbing nugget has drawn attention: The Pentagon has gone out of its way to keep President Donald Trump ignorant of certain details about the operation because of “the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.”

After giving an in-depth account about the “deployment of American computer code” into Russia’s electric power grid, to work as both a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a more offensive posture in the cyber warfare realm, the Times then wrote:

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“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.

“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.”

New laws, enacted by Congress last year, allow such “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace to go ahead without the president’s approval. So, in this case, those new laws are protecting American interests… by keeping the sitting president out of the loop. What a (scary) time to be alive.


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