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'The United States Is Under Attack': Russia Undermining US Elections as Cyber Threats Escalate

02-14-2018
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Leaders of the nation's intelligence agencies appeared on Capitol Hill to talk about the emerging global threats facing the US.

They say Russia continues to meddle in American politics, but they also warned about major international threats, including a cyber attack.

Appearing at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats issued a disturbing warning. 

"Frankly, the United States is under attack," Coats said.

He told the Associated Press that "cyber has been a game-changer in many, many ways."

US intelligence came to the conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and three of the intelligence officials said Tuesday the US has seen activity from Moscow with the goal of interfering in the upcoming midterm elections as well.

"We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," Coats testified.

"Have you seen Russian activity in the lead-up to the 2018 election cycle?" asked Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

"Yes. We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here," responded Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo. 

But it wasn't just about Russia. This year's global threat assessment also referenced the risk of a military battle, especially with North Korea.

"The risk of interstate conflict is higher than any time since the end of the Cold War," said Coats.

In addition to North Korea, the report also singled out Russia, China and Iran as posing the greatest cyber threats to the US.

And Coats warned that cyber threats are coming not only from governments, but terrorist groups, criminal organizations, students in dorms and people in their basements.

He said the US needs to come up with penalties for people who try to hack America's critical infrastructure, government or financial institutions, or they'll just keep doing it.

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