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A “nation-state” used Wikileaks to influence the US election, the head of the NSA says

Admiral Michael Rogers, director of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), takes part in a conference on national security titled "The Ethos and Profession of Intelligence" in Washington
Reuters/Yuri Gripas
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind.”
By Joon Ian Wong
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The head of the US’s National Security Agency said Nov. 15 that a “nation-state” consciously targeted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to affect the US election.

In response to a question, Michael S. Rogers, a Naval officer and NSA director since 2014, said on stage at a Wall Street Journal conference that Wikileaks was furthering a nation-state’s goals by publishing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s presidential campaign weeks ahead of the election.

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s minds, this was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect,” he said.

Rogers did not name the nation-state in question, nor elaborate on the effect it sought, but he didn’t have to. In October US intelligence agencies, including the NSA, issued a statement (paywall) accusing Russia’s “senior-most officials” of authorizing the hacks in order to interfere with the US presidential election. Wikileaks, DCleaks, and the hacker who goes by Guccifer 2.0 were named as being part of a “Russia-directed” effort.

Rogers went on to say that the NSA was trying to “make life harder” for hackers. Part of that effort involved “dealing directly” with a “host” of countries and telling them what the US considered acceptable behavior when it comes to online activities. Vice president Joe Biden said last month that the US would covertly retaliate against Russian attacks.

Rogers told NPR previously that there was no clear set of rules of engagement among countries when it came to cyberwarfare. “We are not in a world of clear definitions right now,” he said.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange denied his organization was being directed by Russia in a statement published before polling day. “Wikileaks must publish,” he wrote. “It must publish and be damned.”

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