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Is the U.S. Prepared for Russian Cyberweapon and Nuclear Threats?

by Countable | 3.6.18

What’s the story?

  • Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country had produced an "invincible" nuclear weapon designed to evade American missile defense systems.

  • At the same time, President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, said during a confirmation hearing that American cyberspace adversaries "don’t fear us."

  • This was summarized in an article by the New York Times titled, "A Russian Threat on Two Fronts Meets an American Strategic Void."

Why does it matter?

  • Nakason said plans were in place to strike back at Moscow for its election hacking, but those actions would require Trump’s approval.

  • The general added that the Russians aren’t impressed. "I would say right now they do not think much will happen to them. They don’t fear us."

  • As the Times explained, "The Russian muscle-flexing and the American hand-wringing captured a strategic vacuum that now envelops Washington as…Putin pursues what he views as a complementary new-generation nuclear arsenal, as well as cyberweapons."

What is the U.S. doing on the cyberweapon front?

  • According to the Times, the U.S. "is still uncertain how to make use of its cyberweapons after spending billions of dollars to build an arsenal."

  • At Gen. Nakasone’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said that given America’s impressive cyberarsenal, "the problem is not technical" but political: “We are not responding in any way that’s adequate to the challenge we face.”

  • In recent weeks, intelligence officials have testified that the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to thwart future Russian election interference.

What about the nuclear sphere?

  • "The Trump administration has yet to offer a strategy to contain or deter Russia beyond simply matching the weapons buildup," the Times wrote.

  • Last month, the administration released a 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which called for a significant increase to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

  • Lisbeth Gronlund, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times that Putin’s announcement "further ratchets up what is clearly a new arms race, making the world a more dangerous place."

What do you think?

Is the Trump administration doing enough to combat Russian cyberweapon and nuclear threats? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: BeeBright / iStock)

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(73)
  • Deborah
    03/07/2018
    ···

    It is clear that the President and his administration lack the ability and the will to stand up to the increasing threat posed by Russia. I urge you to do all you can to restrain and counter the Russian attempts to compromise our cyber security and our physical security. Americans are counting on you to do what is best for the country

    Like (36)
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  • Suzi
    03/06/2018
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    The trump administration has ignored every threat from Russia. Our country is under Russian attack and the president has done nothing to protect us. He has failed to perform the duties he swore to under oath. Impeach him now.

    Like (23)
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  • Mark
    03/07/2018
    ···

    When Donald J Trump, Mitch McConnell and the entire GOP refuse to act we as a nation are put at immense risk. This is not fake news or politics as usual. This was a concerted and deliberate attack on the foundation of American Democracy. The Russian effort to employ psyops against our people to divide and enrage the populace and influence our electoral process is an act of war as grave as that of Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The United States was founded on the principles of a democracy, Russia’s covert attempt and success at undermining that process should be met with severe, swift and aggressive retaliation with entirety of the economic and military might of the United States and her NATO allies. Trump and the GOP have prove they are willing to be weak on national defense and national security when it wins them elections. This cannot be tolerated, it is dereliction of duty at best, and in my minds eye is frankly treasonous.

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  • Tracy
    03/07/2018
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    Trump has failed to enforce the sanctions that 99% of Congress already approved. This tells me where his allegiance lies! He is beholden to Russia and we need to address this now! The trump administration has ignored every threat from Russia. Our country is under Russian attack and the president has done nothing to protect us. He has failed to perform the duties he swore to under oath and you do nothing!

    Like (14)
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  • Countryfirst
    03/07/2018
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    NO! WE AREN'T PREPARED AND WE HAVE A TREASONOUS ORANGE HAIRED BUFFOON WHO WANTS A DICTATORSHIP IN THIS COUNTRY..I DIDN'T SERVE IN THE NAVY TO SEE MY COUNTRY DESTROYED BY A MORON IN CHARGE AND COWARDS IN GOVERNMENT WHO WON'T DO ANYTHING TO STOP HIM.

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  • SirRobert
    03/06/2018
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    No the US is not safe from cyber attacks and the president refuses to initiate the Russian sanctions that 99.9% of congress voted to implement. I’m pretty sure Russia has something really incriminating on Trump.

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  • KansasTamale
    03/06/2018
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    This is ALL ON TRUMP. He was warned by Pres Obama before he left office that Russia was up to no good and even set up sanctions against Russia, BUT TRUMP NEVER ENACTED THOSE OR THD SANCTIONS VOTED FOR BY CONGRESS AND TRUMP HAS NOT DIRECTED ANY INTERRUPTION OF RUSSIAN MEDDLING. HE IS AT FAULT HERE.

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  • Dale
    03/07/2018
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    We might be in better shape if Putin had not chosen our Secretary of State.

    Like (10)
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  • Donald
    03/07/2018
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    Congress gave the State Department 120 MILLION; they have spent NADA ON THIS. What do you think?

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  • TexasProgressive210
    03/06/2018
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    No and with the masterpiece article authored by Jane Mayer yesterday for the New Yorker this only buttress the argument we are not thwarting the Russian disinformationist! This is not “fake news” or alarmism. The Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states recently that Russia probed or successfully attacked their electoral systems. The threat is bipartisan, since the disruption of elections can be used against both major political parties. All of the political arguments, tactics, and significant investments that progressives employ to win elections will amount to nothing if votes can be overturned by a hacker in Moscow or China or North Korea or Iran or anywhere else in the world. The ultimate form of voter suppression is for the voter finally to cast his or her ballot, only to have that ballot ignored or changed without the voter’s knowledge. This is categorical and without exception regardless of political ideology. Almost all votes in the United States are counted by computer. Even keeping those machines off the internet (known as air gapping) doesn’t make the process hack-proof. A voting machine is programmed for each new election, with new candidate names and locations on the ballot, using a computer that typically is connected to the internet at some time. If that computer is infected with election-rigging malware, it can infect the voting machine, just as the Stuxnet Virus successfully attacked and infected air-gapped Iranian centrifuges. Pre-election testing of voting systems is not adequate – a sophisticated attack could have malware lie dormant during all pre-election tests, and then change votes on Election Day. An example of such software is the well-known Volkswagen diesel emissions software, which was designed to differentiate test mode from normal driving. Finally, the secrecy of individual ballots – a core principle of our democratic system – makes it very difficult to detect computer-based fraud, since it is essentially impossible for a voter to determine if his or her ballot was correctly tabulated. (There are some crypto-based systems that provide ballot verification, but none is commercially available). We must do more but unfortunately with the Kremlin deciding so much of our domestic policy, we must ultimately demand for fair elections and turn out in droves! This is democracy at stake! It can not be taken for granted! Vote!

    Like (9)
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  • Tyler
    03/06/2018
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    This Administration is preparing this country for a Russian takeover it seems

    Like (9)
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  • Clint
    03/06/2018
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    Not only are we unprepared for anything Russia does to us. The entire administration and Republican Party has decided to ignore the issue and do absolutely nothing about it. We know what Russia has done. We know what they will do. We know damn well, weather willingly or otherwise trump and everyone around him has in some way worked with Russia. So no. We are not prepared and it doesn’t seem like the people in control of every level of government give a shit. But then, there’s always November.

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  • Brent
    03/07/2018
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    Hey Countable, the 1980's called and they want their foreign policy back.

    Like (7)
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  • Cindy
    03/07/2018
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    At this point in time it doesn’t matter if we are ready or not since Trump refuses to enact anything to protect us.

    Like (7)
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  • MichaelWitthaus
    03/07/2018
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    With a Russian puppet in the White House, not at all.

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  • Kathryn
    03/06/2018
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    No

    Like (6)
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  • Tambi
    03/07/2018
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    Until we get this administration and its sheep followers to believe Russia is a threat, there is little that we can do. If our lawmakers keep their heads buried in the sand, we will all be buried right along with them. Stop this madness!

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  • Mike
    03/07/2018
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    We the people should be more concerned about our own government taking over! There already trying to abolish the second amendment, that’s the first step to communist control!

    Like (4)
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  • Donna
    03/06/2018
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    We are unprepared for just about anything! It is over 5 months since the hurricanes hit the islands and they are STILL in crisis. DJT has no idea how to keep us safe, but he definitely has more than a few to keep the money flowing into his pockets. Remember, HE alone can fix it! HE alone is responsible. That should give all of us nightmares.

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  • TracyEckels
    03/07/2018
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    Truly Vladimir Putin has no fear of the American threat of retaliation for either their election meddling, or the threat of a nuclear war between the US and Russia. The question is, should we give them something to worry about? Or do we just deny them the game? I think that some good old fashion brinkmanship could actually win the day here.

    Like (3)
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