The Obama administration is considering a major retaliatory cyber attack against Russia, NBC News reports. The move is in response to allegations of the country’s involvement in recent hacks against the Democratic National Committee earlier this summer.
The operation is designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin
NBC reported on Friday that the CIA is preparing for an operation "designed to harass and ‘embarrass’" the country’s leadership, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the network's sources, the agency has "reams of documents that could expose [Putin’s] unsavory tactics."
Last week, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper issued a statement that pointed the finger at Russia for attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The leaks, he said, are "consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process." Russia's suspected involvement in the leaks have prompted new calls for action in advance of the November election. President Putin has dismissed the threats as a political ploy.
Two former intelligence officials told NBC that "there is a long history of the White House asking the CIA to come up with options for covert action against Russia, including cyber options — only to abandon the idea." Despite the planning, the prospect of attacking Russia has left the Obama administration divided. While some officials believe that the country must respond to Russia’s actions, others worry of the precedent that could create in the future, or that there could be further retaliatory strikes.