Susan Rice Reportedly Told Officials to ‘Stand Down’ When They Tried to Fight Against Russian Meddling
“That was one pissed-off national security adviser.”
An excerpt from Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump reveals an explosive claim against former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
She supposedly told the White House cyber team, who planned to fight back against Russian meddling when the evidence mounted, to stand down.
In the summer of 2016, officials knew that Russia was trying to interfere with our presidential election. They didn’t know why, whether it was just to sow discord or to make sure one of the candidates won.
No matter what, they wanted to protect the integrity of the election. CIA Director John Brennan and others issued numerous warnings to Russia about meddling in with our election.
The meddling did not stop. Therefore, President Barack Obama’s team had to figure out a way to make Russia stop. As the team deliberated, White House Cybersecurity Director Michael Daniel received updates from an NSC staffer about hackers with Russian ties “probing the computers of state election systems, particularly voter registration databases.”
To top it off, they heard that Russian President Vladimir Putin actually had a hand in all of this, which shocked them because they didn’t think he’d want to have dirty hands.
So what do they do? Sanctions? Call out Russia publicly? The officials worried that any “high-profile U.S. government reaction” would actually “amplify the psychological effects of the Russian attack and help Moscow achieve its end.”
They also had to think of a way that wouldn’t be too partisan since Obama campaigned for failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Daniel and Celeste Wallander, NSC’s top Russia analyst knew they had to hit Russia hard:
Daniel and Wallander began drafting options for more aggressive responses beyond anything the Obama administration or the US government had ever before contemplated in response to a cyberattack. One proposal was to unleash the NSA to mount a series of far-reaching cyberattacks: to dismantle the Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks websites that had been leaking the emails and memos stolen from Democratic targets, to bombard Russian news sites with a wave of automated traffic in a denial-of-service attack that would shut the news sites down, and to launch an attack on the Russian intelligence agencies themselves, seeking to disrupt their command and control modes.
Knowing that Putin was notoriously protective of any information about his family, Wallander suggested targeting Putin himself. She proposed leaking snippets of classified intelligence to reveal the secret bank accounts in Latvia held for Putin’s daughters—a direct poke at the Russian president that would be sure to infuriate him. Wallander also brainstormed ideas with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a fellow hard-liner. They drafted other proposals: to dump dirt on Russian websites about Putin’s money, about the girlfriends of top Russian officials, about corruption in Putin’s United Russia party—essentially to give Putin a taste of his own medicine. “We wanted to raise the cost in a manner Putin recognized,” Nuland recalled.
One idea Daniel proposed was unusual: The United States and NATO should publicly announce a giant “cyber exercise” against a mythical Eurasian country, demonstrating that Western nations had it within their power to shut down Russia’s entire civil infrastructure and cripple its economy.
Hitting those close to Putin, especially his family, may have worked. But Rice said no way:
One day in late August, national security adviser Susan Rice called Daniel into her office and demanded he cease and desist from working on the cyber options he was developing. “Don’t get ahead of us,” she warned him. The White House was not prepared to endorse any of these ideas. Daniel and his team in the White House cyber response group were given strict orders: “Stand down.” She told Daniel to “knock it off,” he recalled.
Daniel walked back to his office. “That was one pissed-off national security adviser,” he told one of his aides.
Rice and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security adviser, worried the options would “box the president in” and force him to act.
Oh, it gets so much better. The officials eventually agreed that Obama would warn Putin privately to stop meddling. They thought “[A]n unspecified threat would be far more potent than Putin knowing what we would do.”
DO YOU NOT KNOW PUTIN? Putin doesn’t care about threats. If he did then Russia would have backed off of Ukraine and not send veiled threats to former Soviet republics.
It wasn’t until October that the officials and Obama decided to go hard after Russia by letting the world know what they were doing to our election.
It was all too little, too late. Officials have acknowledged that they missed the boat and should have done more. Hindsight is 20/20 after all:
In the end, some Obama officials thought they had played a bad hand the best they could and had succeeded in preventing a Russian disruption of Election Day. Others would ruefully conclude that they may have blown it and not done enough. Nearly two months after the election, Obama did impose sanctions on Moscow for its meddling in the election—shutting down two Russian facilities in the United States suspected of being used for intelligence operations and booting out 35 Russian diplomats and spies. The impact of these moves was questionable. Rice would come to believe it was reasonable to think that the administration should have gone further. As one senior official lamented, “Maybe we should have whacked them more.”
Look, you have a country run by an ex-KGB guy who still mourns the fall of the USSR. He heads a country that has FOURTEEN dead exiled Russians in Britain the past two decades. Another may die after someone attacked him with a nerve agent last weekend.
You cannot, absolutely CANNOT, remain passive against Putin or his cronies.DONATE
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