China, FBI, Russia discussed on Stay Tuned with Preet

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Before we leave the intelligence issue generally, we've got another kind of piece of more breaking news in the intelligence world, and that's this most recent assessment articulated by Bill Evans of the national counterintelligence. Center and about foreign election interference and far from kind of promoting a unified view and summoning kind of unified purpose against foreign election interference it's really throwing a bit of a hand grenade into the into the environment here and kicked up quite a quite a load of dust. It was interesting Ability Nina is the head of the NC SC, which is the national counterintelligence security center. And he Issued A. Sort of a threat assessment about election interference for the upcoming election in he says that they're primarily concerned with China Russia on Iran anything goes through what each of them. The interest of China Interest Russian interest, Ron, and trying to possibly disrupt our election in various ways in it's interesting. One of the things that has cut cut some criticism before is that it sort of puts Russia on a par with these other two, and of course, Russian interference is been controversial issues is twenty sixteen. and. So some of seen in the way Russia's put on a parody with China and Iran. As an effort to sort of the emphasize that risk Andy emphasize the role of Russia and attacking our elections but you know look the no question to China and Iran have every intention of China damage our elections in China for example I, remember when I was homeland. Security. Adviser during the campaign between McCain and President Obama. Came to our attention to China. was, hacking into the. databases and the computers both McCain and the Obama. Campaign's and the decision was made to to brief oath campaigns. Do a defensive briefing. Yeah. I remember that you don't hire umbrella I was chief of staff the FBI at the time and I called a guy by the name of Dennis McDonough. I'll be darn. Yeah. At the time he was the kind of chief national security aide to then Senator Obama who's obviously the Democratic nominee and I called up Dennis had never met him before. I said listen you don't know me but I'm Bob Muller Chief of staff and I WANNA. Tell you. You're going to get a call from from a nice. Guy By the name of Shawn Henry who has an FBI agent head of the Cyber Division at the FBI and he wants to come and talk to about how China's trying to infiltrate the campaign and that was my first introduction to Dennis and she and I have chuckled over that introduction many many times over the years. But of course that was China infiltrating for Intelligence Collection Right? Right. It was It was them trying to just get Intel on understand what you know on the campaigns and on the candidates and their platforms, etc.. And interesting I hadn't realized that you were on the other end of this. Because I was in the Oval Office when the President and his Josh Bolten talked about that intelligence and said, absolutely got a brief campaigns. And, then you got the word though knowing the FBI maybe already done before. Getting. Anyway. US I wouldn't be unprecedented. But. It's A. It was looking at, you know in hindsight. It was kind of quaint. It was just good old intelligence gathering, and of course, in two thousand eight, it went from foreign governments gathering intelligence to know full on disruption efforts and. Efforts to influence The American people and that is one of the reasons why people are concerned about the seventy-nine statement because the concern is that it really doesn't educate the American people about the threat were facing. And while in the context of the China intelligence operations in two thousand eighteen that can be addressed by telling the campaigns. Hey, they're trying to hack into your systems you know, and then you just build your defenses. When when the malign efforts by a foreign government are not just that but actually go to trying to spread misinformation to the American people. The way to build defences to that is with the American people, and you can only do that only bill does depends if you tell the American people to be wary of misinformation and influence efforts. and. The concern is that we that this statement and any other efforts that we've seen today haven't of been the clarion call that that is needed to tell the American people watch out. Be careful when you read things be careful. They might the actually source to the Russians or two Iranians of the Chinese and might not actually be true and that's the only way the about that and I am concerned that there's not enough public. We're not since ties in the public to that threat enough, and we might now have a rerun at twenty sixteen if we're not careful well, and you know it's just a replay of. Having this be waged on partisan grounds, right so Avenida has issued this intelligence assessment Democratic leaders have criticized it as being. So generic as to be you know not helpful. Now unfortunately, that criticism is coming only from one side of the political aisle. So immediately puts all of this into a political Maelstrom, right but there can be good reasons for not sharing everything that the government knows about what the efforts of these countries in these militias actors. Are. Right, you don't want to disclose perhaps how much you know and how you know it. Right. But to your point I, think we really do need to lean forward in describing what it is. We know about these efforts so that the American people can make. Decisions about the types of information they're seeing in their twitter feed in their facebook feed. And really going into this kind of is Eyes Wide Open. and that's that's the danger of either not. Sharing Information, and having this all be discussed solely through a partisan lens. It's worth going back and thinking about how you and your colleagues handled this situation back in two thousand, sixteen were you faced a very difficult choice? Which, I've had had occasion to learn about both. Reading the papers and also through some of my representations of former officials where you all had to wrestle with the dawning realization of this, really comprehensive effort on the part of the Russians to spread information, influence the American voters but do so in the run-up to an election. Aware obviously, you had a democratic nominee up against Republican nominee in anything that you said publicly would be seen through the prism of the politics of the election. An interpreted by some not as an effort just to protect the integrity election but maybe as an effort to sway the election. I know that was a tough spot to be in. You know look I. think There's been a lot that's been written and said about how the Obama Administration we in the Obama Administration responded to the Russian efforts to influence the election in two thousand sixteen and to sow discord in the electoral process. You know I come away from that with a number of things that I think are lessons we should have learned one that. You'd need a unified bipartisan response to the Russian effort to sow discord amongst us. Right they were. They did then and I think we'll continue to do and are continuing to do so now to trying to sow discord and use our divisions and play up our divisions and use them against us and the best antidote to that is a unity right and bipartisan being we unfortunately. We're not able to get that in two, thousand, sixteen, I fear we're not better poised now to have a bipartisan unified approach to foreign influence and the other thing is to your point, give more information to the American people and do so in as apolitical away as possible we struggled in two thousand sixteen was when and how to articulate what we saw the Russians doing. We ended up issuing a a kind of very unusual statement by the then director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Homeland Security on October seventh of two thousand sixteen that laid out that The Russians were trying to sow discord and probe state election systems and It was a very unusual unprecedented statement at the time but it quickly got drowned out and we said in that statement that it was being directed by the. Highest levels of the Russian government right? We didn't say the words, Vladimir Putin, but we might as well have right because of the way that.

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