NSA boss: Trump won't pull trigger for Russia election hack retaliation

And Uncle Sam's limp-cock response means Putin will keep on meddling with our affairs

By Iain Thomson


NSA boss Mike Rogers told a US congressional panel today that Russia’s online mischief-making in America's elections is not going to stop – because Uncle Sam isn’t hitting back.

"I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity," Admiral Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Everything, both as the [NSA] director and what I see on the US Cyber Command side, leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here, this is going to continue, and [the 2016 elections] won’t be viewed as something isolated. This is something that will be sustained over time."

Despite repeated testimony from US intelligence officials stating that Russia has waged a years-long campaign to destabilize the US by spreading disinformation, discourse and divisive messaging online, very little action has been taken as President Trump maintains the issue is overblown. Congress voted for a serious crackdown on Russia with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, but so far the White House has chosen not to follow through and take punitive action.

Admiral Rogers said his cyber-warriors had taken some steps to "begin some specific work" on tackling the Kremlin's interference, but that more offensive action would need a direct order from the President or the Secretary of Defense. He said, so far, there have been no such orders.

Rogers has a point. Any non-trivial actions taken by US Cyber Command, overseen by the NSA, could be considered an act of war, and as such would require some serious authorization. The agency needs the President's approval to attack, knacker, or shut down a foreign government's computer systems.

There are other measures that could be taken against Russia, besides going on the cyber-offensive, the NSA boss pointed out, such as putting in place fresh economic sanctions. However, as mentioned above, those have not been forthcoming, either.

"Rogers requires an order from Trump to conduct computer network operations," explained New York Times cybersecurity guru Nicole Perlroth. "Without that order, NSA cannot proactively address Russian cyber threats."


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disagreed with Admiral Rogers’ views. In a briefing, Sanders claimed Rogers had all the authority he needed.

"Nobody is denying him the authority" to take action, the spinner suggested. "We are focused on looking at a variety of different ways. Department of Homeland Security [Secretary] Kirstjen Nielsen met with a number of state, local and federal officials on all the ways we can best prevent things. We are looking at a number of different options."

And, of course, it must be said: it's not like America has ever interfered with other nations' elections, cough. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Nope, the NSA isn't sitting in front of a supercomputer hooked up to a terrorist’s hard drive

Analysis They wish. Backdooring, encryption, and governments

Google, AWS IPs blocked by Russia in Telegram crackdown

Two million addresses down, 4.2 billion to go - oh, plus the IPv6 address space

Ruskie boffins blasted for using nuke bomb lab's supercomputer to mine crypto-rubles

Kremlin goes nuclear on sly digi-cash-crafting eggheads

Russia to Apple: Kill Telegram crypto-chat – or the App Store gets it

We know you’re busy, Mr Cook, but please reply before we become … unpleasant

US regains supercomputer crown from Chinese, for now

America! FLOP yeah!

Soyuz later! Russia may exit satellite launch biz

Is it worth competing with SpaceX prices?

Trump wants to work with Russia on infosec. Security experts: lol no

Thanks for Putin that out there

Pentagon 'do not buy' list says нет to Russia, 不要 to Chinese code

Protect and survive, or old-fashioned protectionism – we'll let you decide

Former NSA top hacker names the filthy four of nation-state hacking

DEF CON Carefully omits to mention the Land of the Free

HPE supercomputer is still crunching numbers in space after 340 days

No rad hardening so even HPE is 'pleasantly surprised'