- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2018

The top U.S. general in Europe has become the latest high-ranking official to acknowledge weaknesses in the country’s ability to effectively counter Russian cyber threats.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told lawmakers Thursday that the U.S. needs a better approach for dealing with cyberattacks and other electronic threats attributed to Russia, adding his name to a growing list of of government officials still wary of the risks posed by state-sponsored operatives in the aftermath of Moscow allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential race.

“I don’t believe there is an effective unification across the interagency, with the energy and the focus that we could attain,” testified Gen. Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

The general’s comments about responding to Russia came on the heels of other U.S. military and intelligence officials recently raising concerns involving Moscow’s potential to interfere in the 2018 midterms this November, signaling a potential repeat of the alleged election meddling that infamously marred the 2016 race.

“We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said last month during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual worldwide-threats hearing.

“They haven’t paid a price, at least that’s sufficient to get them to change their behavior,” Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of both the U.S. National Security Agency and Cyber Command, said during a separate hearing last month before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In addition to conducting cyberattacks targeting U.S. infrastructure, Gen. Scaparrotti warned Thursday that Russia has utilized the internet in other means to meddle in American affairs.

“Typically, when you look at their (Russia’s) disinformation, their social media, it is generally targeted at the undermining of Western values, confidence in that government, confidence in their governmental leaders, almost always subtly just hedging away at that,” Gen. Scaparrotti testified.

“Because of today’s capabilities and information, where they can use multiple platforms and generate great volume, it can really undermine a nation,” he told the lawmakers, “because all they have to do is just sow some confusion primarily, sow enough confusion so there is distrust in the government.”

Indeed, the Department of Justice indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies last month in connection with using social media to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during the course of an alleged state-sponsored interference campaign waged against the White House race and particularly Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, is separately considering criminal hacking charges against Russian accused of breaching U.S. computer networks and stealing and subsequently leaking sensitive data during the 2016 race, NBC News reported recently.

Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 race.

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