- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 20, 2021

The House intelligence committee’s Democratic chairman prodded the Biden administration to get more aggressive and hold countries accountable for criminal cyberattacks originating on their soil, even as Republicans criticized President Biden’s team as weak on cybersecurity.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, said Sunday that the U.S. needs to go on offense and that the existing approach has not worked amid a flood of cyberattacks hitting critical infrastructure and numerous hackers compromising federal networks.

“I think we need to develop an international rule of the road where if a nation doesn’t take action against cyber groups operating on its soil, we hold that nation responsible, which means we sanction that nation, which means we use that nation’s resources to indemnify against any losses,” said Mr. Schiff on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan defended the president’s approach to cybersecurity against claims that it was not forceful enough and argued that Mr. Biden “pulled no punches” at last week’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Privately in the room, President Biden communicated to President Putin that there would be costs and consequences if harmful activities against the United States continued,” Mr. Sullivan said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Publicly, in his press conference, he not only spoke out about that quite directly, mincing no words, but he also spoke about American values, something the last president never talked about,” he said.

When Mr. Biden met with the Russian leader last week, Mr. Biden gave Mr. Putin a list of 16 U.S. critical infrastructure sectors that should be off-limits to cyberattacks.

Republicans have countered that Mr. Biden’s approach showed weakness in his willingness to identify a set number of specific targets as off-limits.

“I mean, it’s not even complicated, the weakness that projects,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program last week. “What do you think Putin thinks as, you know, Biden totters over there to hand him that list? Any new president is tested. And he’s tested by our enemies, and even to some extent, he’s tested by our friends. And right now … Biden is failing those tests over and over again.”

Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who served under former President Trump, said Sunday that he “could make an argument that the first five months of the Biden administration have been the best of Vladimir Putin’s political life.”

“Just from an economic standpoint, folks know that Vladimir Putin was 3-0 when it comes to pipelines,” Mr. Ratcliffe said on the Fox News Channel program “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Joe Biden shut down the Keystone Pipeline, that was a win for Putin; criminal networks in Russia shut down one of our major pipelines, the Colonial Pipeline, that was a win for Putin; and, of course, Joe Biden responded by giving Vladimir Putin the one thing that he wanted most, which was the Nord Stream II pipeline, the ability to finish that, and, by doing so, to control the flow of energy into Western Europe,” he explained.

Mr. Sullivan portrayed Mr. Biden’s difference with Mr. Trump as a contrast that revealed the Democratic president to be a more effective leader on the world stage than his Republican predecessor.

“He entered and exited this summit in Geneva as the leader of the free world, a mantle that Donald Trump had given away and that Joe Biden reclaimed on behalf of this country, flanked by allies, supported by democratic partners, and then willing to push back hard on Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Sullivan said on Fox.

Mr. Sullivan also told ABC that Mr. Biden wants to have a space to “engage directly, privately, [and] candidly with President Putin” and determine whether Russia’s actions match the discussions held in Geneva last week. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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