- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2018

Federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies issued a rare joint-statement Friday acknowledging active foreign influence campaigns being waged by multiple nations against the U.S. with only a few weeks remaining until the midterm elections.

“We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security said in the statement.

“These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections,” the statement said.

The agencies’ warning was issued around the same time the Justice Department announced criminal charges Friday against Elena Khusyaynova, a Russian national accused of participating in a foreign influence campaign allegedly waged with the goal of meddling in in next month’s U.S. Senate and House elections.

Ms. Khusyaynova, according to prosecutors, allegedly used social media and other internet platform to sow discord in the U.S. leading up to Nov. 6 midterms, imitating tactics witnessed deployed during two years earlier as part of the Russian campaign targeting the 2016 presidential race.

Active campaigns being waged by Russia and other adversaries may involve elements including using social media to amplify divisive issues, as well as using English-language media and “sympathetic spokespersons” to seed disinformation and disseminate foreign propaganda, the agencies said in the joint-statement.

Federal officials previously determined that Russia used social media, propaganda outlets and other conduits to meddle in the 2016 race, in addition to deploying state-sponsored computer hackers against targets including the Democratic National Committee, and the chairman of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta, as well as election-related systems in several states, among other victims.

The Trump administration has not seen “any evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections,” the ODNI, FBI, DOJ and DHS said in Friday’s statement.

An unspecified number of state and local governments have reported attempted network intrusions using tactics that are available to both state and non-state cyber actors, but authorities were to prevent access or quickly mitigate those attempts in every instance, the agencies added.

“We’re not seeing anything remotely close to 2016,” Christopher Krebs, undersecretary of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, said Friday.

“I’m kind of paranoid by my disposition anyway. When I’m not seeing a lot of activity, that gets me thinking through some worst-case scenarios,” said Mr. Krebs, USA Today reported. “What might they be doing? Might they be waiting for 2020? Or might they have other plans that they could trigger in the intervening two and a half weeks?”


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