Rosenstein: No Role For Politics In Response To Foreign Threats

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general overseeing Russia investigation, at Aspen Security Forum

The report from the department's Cyber-Digital Task Force is meant to serve as a framework that establishes principles for how to respond to an attack like the one launched by Russian Federation during the 2016 US election, Rosenstein said.

"So what can we do to defend our values in the face of foreign efforts to influence elections, weaken the social fabric, and turn Americans against each other?", Rosenstein said at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado as he released the report.

The Obama administration struggled in 2016 to decide whether and when to disclose the existence of the Russian intervention, fearing that without Republicans' participation it would be portrayed as a partisan move.

"Heated debates and passionate disagreements about public policy and political leadership are essential to democracy", but "foreign governments should not be secret participants, covertly spreading propaganda and fanning the flames of division", Rosenstein said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the DOJ's indictment of foreign nationals who will never see the inside of an American court Friday, saying the charges were necessary to "expose schemes" against the United States.

Rosenstein made it a point to emphasize foreign meddling in American politics was not a partisan issue but rather something that should trouble everyone. Finally, foreign governments that use media outlets they control and paid lobbyists to influence elections in the U.S. fall under the fifth type.

The report also says the Justice Department should consider "whether legislation to address encryption (and all related service provider access) challenges should be pursued". The Soviet Union used them against the United States throughout the 20th century, including in 1963, paying an American to distribute a book claiming that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The DOJ will presumably inform the public if they're affected by these foreign influence methods going forward.

"Public attribution of foreign influence operations can help to counter and mitigate the harm caused by foreign-government-sponsored disinformation", Rosenstein said.

Foreign governments "should not be secret participants" in US elections, "covertly spreading propaganda and fanning the flames of division", he said. The Justice Department task force is broader but includes as a key component foreign influence activities.

The report, which was part of an effort set up by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February, focuses on the different types of cyberthreats and what the Justice Department and intelligence agencies are doing to counter these efforts, along with what it could be doing better.



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