White House will respond soon to 'Russian hacking' – Kerry
“President Obama made it very clear that he was reserving the right to respond to Russia at the place and time and manner of his choosing. Believe me, it will be his choosing,” Secretary of State John Kerry told MSNBC.
Kerry on Trump: “I’m not going to debate with the president-elect on Twitter.” pic.twitter.com/zlwsDGckp0— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 28, 2016
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration was close to announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, “including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure,” and “expected to include cover action that will probably involve cyber-operations.”
A US official told the news outlet that the response could come as early as this week.
Asked if the response could be sanctions, Kerry said he didn’t want to speculate about what Obama may or may not do.
“It’s up to him,” said Kerry but said it would be before Obama left office. “It’s all the time he has left.”
What the response will be is unclear for now.
In his final 2016 news conference, Obama said Russia "in fact" had "hacked into the DNC," but that the actual voting process was not compromised.
"Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us, because we can do stuff to you," he said, adding that Washington's response to Moscow's alleged interference is being done "in a thoughtful, methodical way."
"Some of it we do publicly, some of it we will do in a way that they know but not everybody will," Obama told the media, adding that "the message will be directly received by the Russians and not publicized."
Obama blames Russia for hacking, says response won't be public https://t.co/9OHbheO0KR— Mike Owen (@m_owen99) December 17, 2016
In April 2015, Obama signed an executive order that allows for the US to levy economic sanctions directly in response to cyberattacks, but that authority has never been used.
In July, the White House issued the government’s first emergency response manual for a major cyberattack, though officials acknowledged it lacked clear guidance on possible retaliation against hacker adversaries. The manual included a policy directive that includes a five-level grading system.
No hack attack so far has hit level five which would be reserved for a threat to infrastructure, government stability or American lives.
Kerry told MSNBC that cyberattacks are not just happening in the US, but are taking place in Europe and other parts of the world.
“I think other countries are deeply concerned,” said Kerry. “But it also raises larger questions of cyber conflict. I don’t want to use the term warfare but that’s obviously in the background, and in many people’s thinking about the dangers we face.”
“It is a new form of political engagement that we all need to be extremely wary of, and we need to find new methods of protection and new ways of fighting back against.”