The Embarrass Mitch McConnell Provision of the Intel Authorization

I’ve got a piece coming out on all the Russian-related provisions in the Intelligence Authorization bill for next year, which are for the most part really laudable policy proposals. But I wanted to look more closely at this one.

(a) Report Required.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis shall submit to congressional leadership and the congressional intelligence committees a report on cyber attacks and attempted cyber attacks by foreign governments on United States election infrastructure in States and localities in connection with the 2016 presidential election in the United States and such cyber attacks or attempted cyber attacks as the Under Secretary anticipates against such infrastructure. Such report shall identify the States and localities affected and shall include cyber attacks and attempted cyber attacks against voter registration databases, voting machines, voting-related computer networks, and the networks of secretaries of State and other election officials.

(b) Form.—The report submitted under subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

(c) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP.—The term “congressional leadership” includes the following:

(A) The majority leader of the Senate.

(B) The minority leader of the Senate.

(C) The Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(D) The minority leader of the House of Representatives.

(2) STATE.—The term “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States.

It requires the Department of Homeland Security to submit an unclassified report on all the hacking attempts on election infrastructure last year. It will involve declassifying information that Reality Winner is facing prison time for liberating, which seems like a concession that such information has public value. 

But I’m particularly interested in the emphasis on the distribution of this report: both to the intelligence committees and to Congressional leadership, spelled out by job title. Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan, and Nancy Pelosi.

That’s interesting because — as part of their investigation into last year’s hack — the Senate Intelligence Committee has already been briefed on this information. Indeed, the day after that testimony, Bloomberg reported — relying on three sources briefed on the investigation — that the hacks were much more severe than publicly known.

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

So ultimately, if this bill becomes law, it will require an unclassified report on stuff SSCI has been getting briefing on to be submitted to both SSCI and Congressional leadership.

The move comes in the wake of complaints from Democrats that Mitch McConnell refused to back a stronger statement about such attempted attacks in fall 2016. Now, I think some of the complaints about McConnell’s inaction last year are overblown, a demand that McConnell get ahead of where the Intelligence Community was willing to go publicly. And I think they largely obscure the more pressing question of what Trump advisors Devin Nunes and Richard Burr did. 

But I am cognizant of the fact that in a matter of months, we may get a better sense of the kinds of threats to our voting system that McConnell fought against publicizing.

10 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    I think in the interest of self-preservation that McYertle will find a way to keep this under wraps if this makes it into law as it is written now.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    Speaking of privacy: NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that individual privacy is a fundamental right, a verdict that will impact everything from the way companies handle personal data to the roll-out of the world’s largest biometric ID card programme.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    OT, but vomit inducing: SHS read a letter and teared up about a MSGT in Afghanistan for his second tour, waxed lugubriously poetic about how Caesar Disgustus cared about the troops and the VA changes, but not a single word in the presser today about the missing and dead sailors in the Straits of Malacca.  The search has been called off so ten families will lose hope to see their loved ones again.

    SHS says acting directors of FEMA and DHS are just as good as real directors in response to Hurricane Harvey.

    SHS also says C.D. wants his wall and is committed to making it happen and totally brushed off the threat to shut down the government and the campaign promise. SHS won’t say it’s a concession to Mexico.

    A million jobs created, low unemployment, and stock market highs are all C.D.’s doing.  Of course they are.

    The question regarding Cuba and the US embassy is about the sonic devices found in Havana:

    Afghanistan will never be used for another attack, but SHS will not be cornered into a timeline (conditions-based) or the details of what will be different this time.

    The rest is on Raw Story…

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Spy vs Spy, just google it

    ExpressLane, CIA, CrossMatch, FBI, DHS, MOD

    You may spot a possible front company.

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: MWT, some notes from tweets

    Marcus is bored, stuck in a gated community complex. Can only get out 4 hours per week.
    Yet he was also told he coud go anywhere within US. He can not accept deliveries directly. He wanted to get a good gaming pc via amazon, but his account was suspended.
    Amazon wants proof-of-address via fax. He may not have access to one at this time.
    He has no valid id, nor car.
    He can not retweet memes without approval from his legal team. In other words, he must be careful. Obviously he will not discuss the case. But some things could be construed to be related to the case by naysayers.

    He was thinking about a 6 month lease but not sure.

    Well, since his legal team and DOJ have agreed that this is a ‘complex case’, maybe he may want to do that, now that DOJ has agreed to the defense request that they will have 45 to 60 days to review discovery.

    At this point, it seems like move to wisconsin is on hold. May as well wait as long as possible. He will probably enjoy a good snowstorm at some point.

    Interestingly, a 3rd party is/was involved.

  6. J R in WV says:

    All interesting. New here. Who is Marcus? Who is SHS? C.D. obviously Trump.

    Unless you want to be an echo chamber talking to yourselves, don’t use opaque nicknames and abbreviations, be clear who you are talking about.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi, and welcome. Marcus is Marcus Hutchins of the MalwareTech blog and dubious arrest. There are several posts here about it, and you will find even more on Google.

      This is not an echo chamber, thank you, but rather a place for informed people. If you want to be one, read here more regularly, and you will be more informed.

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