‘CIA provides info to media but not Congress’ – Homeland Security Committee on Russia hacking claims

‘CIA provides info to media but not Congress’ – Homeland Security Committee on Russia hacking claims
The chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has slammed the CIA’s refusal to brief Congress on allegations of Russian hacking.

"It is disappointing that the CIA would provide information on this issue to the Washington Post and NBC but will not provide information to elected members of Congress," Homeland Security Chairman Senator Ron Johnson said on Friday.

Citing concerns over a "growing threat to our security" said to be posed by "the cyberattack capabilities of America's rivals and adversaries," Johnson said he arrived to Washington this week and requested that the intelligence agency provide a briefing on Russia's alleged involvement in the recent US presidential elections.

"The CIA refused this request," Johnson's statement read, with the senator expressing his "disappointment" over who the CIA decides to share its information with first of all.

On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee had planned a meeting with the agency on the issue, but the CIA failed to participate. Its director, John Brennan, declined to provide a briefing, saying he was occupied with a review ordered by the president, according to Fox News.

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The US Intelligence Community had claimed it was busy working on a review on the topic of ‘foreign influence on US elections’ requested by President Barack Obama. The Director of National Intelligence said his community would brief senators and "make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods" after it finishes the Obama-ordered review. "We will not offer any comment until the review is complete," the statement said.

Earlier this week, NBC reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "personally involved" in the alleged hack that damaged Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Back in October, the same news outlet released a report suggesting that the CIA was planning a "clandestine" cyberattack on Russia, to "embarrass" its leadership for its alleged efforts to influence the US presidential elections.

US Vice President Joe Biden also announced on NBC that Washington would respond to alleged hack attacks with countermeasures, saying "revenge" would come "at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact."

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President Obama echoed his vice president's threats on Friday. Speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), the US leader once again accused Moscow of compromising the "integrity" of the US elections through the Democratic National Committee (DNC) email hacks. Washington would take retaliatory action "at a time and place of our own choosing," Obama said.

The statement was made without a "final report" from US intelligence agencies. Yet the allegations of Moscow's involvement appear to be of no doubt to the president, as he expects the report to shed light on the "motivations" behind the alleged cyberattack. "When I receive a final report, you know, we'll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations," he said.