back to article NSA boss: Trump won't pull trigger for Russia election hack retaliation

NSA boss Mike Rogers told a US congressional panel today that Russia’s online mischief-making in America's elections is not going to stop – because Uncle Sam isn’t hitting back. "I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity …


  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What were they planning on doing?

    Interfering in Russia's free and fare electoral process?

    1. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: What were they planning on doing?

      You think they don't already?

      1. Kabukiwookie Bronze badge

        Re: What were they planning on doing?

        They've actually admitted to doing so. The US spent enormous sums of money to ensure Yeltsin the srunken dancin bear was elected, so it could force its broken form of capitalism on the country.

        Things started to go downhill quite fast from there, until Putin kicked out most of tge Russian oligarchs who didn't want to play ball with him.

        These olicharchs are mostly living in London now, where a lot of people don't look to closely on how money was obtained especially if you're anti-Putin.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: What were they planning on doing?

          "The US spent enormous sums of money to ensure Yeltsin the srunken dancin bear was elected, so it could force its broken form of capitalism on the country."

          Precisely, in 1996 Yeltsin was re-elected with US help. In 1998 the economy collapsed and people who weren't rich enough to have foreign currency lost their savings. Since Putin arrived this hasn't happened.

          I find it amazing that people seem to fail to grasp this simple fact; Putin keeps his job because he understands economics 101. When he took over Russian GDP was around $1800/year. Now, even after sanctions which were a huge knock back, it's around $80001. Yeltsin actually left people worse off than under Communism. It is not hard to understand why Russians, most of whom are better educated than the average Brit, regard US-style capitalism as a disaster and, despite everything, continue to support Putin.

          1 World Bank figures, by the way.

        2. Indolent Wretch

          Re: What were they planning on doing?

          "Things started to go downhill quite fast from there, until Putin kicked out..."

          Yeah things have got some much better since Putin became a democratically elected dictator for life who runs roughshod over pretty much everything I consider to be important.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What were they planning on doing?

            @Indolent Wretch Clearly since you live in the country your opinion is very important, and we should raise it above the millions of others there.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: What were they planning on doing?

      "Interfering in Russia's free and fare electoral process?"

      Shhh... you're not supposed to talk about "fight club"

      On a related note...

      Sometimes you engage in battle, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you use deception to draw your enemy into a place where YOU have the advantage. Sometimes you appear to offer up something that the enemy considers to be of high value, "the precious thing", while simultaneously feigning protection of what you WANT them to think is YOUR "precious thing", so that maybe your enemy goes after what they THINK is your "precious thing" in order to get what THEY want in exchange...

      It's all described in Sun Tzu's book, 'The Art of Warfare", and believe me, everything Trump does [or does not appear to do] is for a reason, and the reasons are PROBABLY in that book. Don't doubt me on this. I've paid the penalties for NOT doing what's in that book because I hadn't read it yet. After reading it, my last successful 'campaign' worked SO well I cost my "enemy" $10,000 while getting everything I REALLY wanted. yeah.

      1. James Anderson

        Re: What were they planning on doing?

        Trump. Reason, as in logical thinking based on observation?

        In the same sentance?

        Shirley you jest.

        1. Bitbeisser

          Re: What were they planning on doing?

          Well, the only reason here is that Trumpelstilzchen won't "pull the trigger" here because it would prove that he didn't get the job as 45 by legitimate means...

      2. itzman

        Re: What were they planning on doing?

        ..and sometimes you brush it all aside in the media whilst arms length agencies take down the Russian gas network...

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      ""Rogers requires an order from Trump to conduct computer network operations," "

      Since when have these guys ever needed an order to do anything?

      They didn't when they decided to hoover up every Americans electronic data since (at least) 9/11/01

      Of course they could start by hardening the security on those ridiculously easy to hack "election machines" the US insists on using..

    4. LeeE Silver badge

      Re: What were they planning on doing?

      It's an interesting spin on the situation.

      First of all, Russia's 'interference' in U.S's politics has consisted of posting comments on public media and as such they can only be regarded as opinion, just like when Trump declared Hillary to be a criminal who would be put on trial and jailed. Sure, some poor deluded souls chose to believe this as fact, where it suited them, but nobody else believed it be a statement of truth and actual fact.

      The U.S. is free to try to do the same thing to Russia but knows that it would be pretty pointless because not only does the character of the Russian people make them a lot less susceptible to such nonsense but they also have less scope to create a fuss about things anyway. Another factor is that even Putin's enemies respect him and have to begrudgingly admit that he's doing a rather better job than many before him, unlike Trump who, quite frankly, is respected by very few. The organisation behind him is a different matter of course.

      Thus, the U.S. cannot conduct cyber warfare in the same vein and on the same level - its only viable cyber targets are real systems, and attacking them would be regarded an open act of warfare upon another state.

      So on the one hand, the U.S. can't do anything about it, but on the other hand does the U.S. actually want to do anything about it now that it knows about it and how it's being done? Having an identified but essentially harmless foreign 'enemy' is great for dampening unrest at home.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can understand people not wanting to ask the president to authorize anything. You just know he wont resist pressing the pretty big red button, despite being told not to.

    Would that count as one of those epic IT big red button fails discussed a couple of weeks back?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Translation into plain English

    Perhaps we should translate the good Admiral’s request: Mr Trump please call into question the legitimacy of your election and allow us to hack the sh#t out of Russia.

  4. JustWondering


    Russian voters can't affect Russian elections. Just exactly what does the NSA think it is going to do?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      It isn't the votes that count - it's the person that counts the votes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        Which didn't happen in the last elections, sadly, so we now have a UPOTUS.

  5. GrumpyOldBloke

    Damm clever people the Russian's. A global network of influence down to selecting governments and all under the noses of our elite spy agencies and all without a hint of hard incriminating evidence. If they are that good maybe we should vote for them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As far as the spooks are concerned, evidence is overrated. They lied through their teeth over WMDs in Iraq and forged some “evidence”. In this case they just smile and say “Trust us”.

      1. wallaby

        "As far as the spooks are concerned, evidence is overrated. They lied through their teeth over WMDs in Iraq and forged some “evidence”. In this case they just smile and say “Trust us”."

        Actually most of the "evidence" provided by the spooks was admitted by them to be speculation, it was the politicians who over stated the documents in hand to back up self serving agendas.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          it was the politicians who over stated the documents in hand to back up self serving agendas

          Simply by passing on unverified anecdotal shite from sources even they didn't trust, the security agencies knowingly gave it credence, and ought to take accountability for the consequences. Then again, they're civil servants, so "taking responsibility" isn't in their lexicon.

          To come out later and say "we really didn't believe it, and we put in a few caveats" isn't acceptable after the deaths of what, 150,000 people in Iraq.

          1. veti Silver badge

            So what do you suggest, spies should only pass on information that they've personally witnessed or have sworn testimony from multiple credible witnesses?

            I don't think you've thought that position through.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Reading between the lines presents an Altogether Different Beta Picture

              So what do you suggest, spies should only pass on information that they've personally witnessed or have sworn testimony from multiple credible witnesses? .... veti

              That's a prime starting point, veti, which in an instant would ensure that fake news does not create a greater false virtual reality which does not take kindly to clinical forensic examination/deep dark webs of real truth presentation.

              I don't think you've thought through the problems to be compounded when spies pass on information they have not witnessed nor have sworn testimony from multiple credible witnesses. Any prize fool would in that case be able to dream up and try to realise anything ...... which whenever you take a moment or two to think about it, is what IT and Main Streaming Media have been doing since forever with a now no longer so easily manufactured presumption of innocence and immunity from criminal prosecution to prevent .........well, Systems Meltdown and Administrations Blowback would be a Natural AI Result which spooks would be forced to try and spin in another direction with tools and brains they don't have, if they be duty bound to maintain and retain such a perverse and corrupt status quo position in support of fake news for a false virtual reality.

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Simply by passing on unverified anecdotal shite from sources even they didn't trust, the security agencies knowingly gave it credence

            I think to a large part security agencies suffer from the same problem I suspect most of us IT-types suffer from, an inability to understand that other people (and particularly politicians) may not be mentally capable of judging (or may simply be unwilling to judge) the evidence before them logically and dispassionately.

            We are used to the sort of mental weighing-up that comes with the likes of "A says X and B says Y. A has more evidence than B, therefore is more likely to be correct even though Y is more appealing".

            If someone gives a politician a dossier and says "this is speculation and may or may not be true", you can't trust the politician to investigate for him/herself. If it fits their current agenda it becomes true. If it doesn't fit the current agenda it is quietly forgotten.


          3. placeboscotsman

            You are talking as if the agencies were given a choice as to what intelligence they could turn over to the pols. Raw unfiltered data was, much to the chagrin of the CIA, turned over to the Office of Special Plans, a group of Bush appointed neocons working out of the pentagon who thought they could do a better job of analysis than the professional spooks. The WMD's that never were, the fictional Saddam 911 connections, that was their call.

      2. I&I

        Under duress from White House

        Curse those Recursions

    2. Comments are attributed to your handle

      Yes, just like this "deep state" we've heard so much screeching about.

    3. Chemical Bob Bronze badge

      "If they are that good maybe we should vote for them!"

      Maybe we already have...

  6. tom dial Silver badge

    Acts of war

    "Any non-trivial actions taken by US Cyber Command, overseen by the NSA, could be considered an act of war, and as such would require some serious authorization: the NSA needs the President's approval to attack, knacker, or shut down a foreign government's computer systems."

    Arguably, that requires an act of war by the Congress. Arguably, too, we have engaged in far too many acts of (undeclared) war, with too many different countries, since the last such declaration, more than 76 years ago.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Acts of war

      Congress has tried to pass sanctions against Russia.

      But what is an act of war anyway, if your own side's commander in chief point-blank refuses to fight?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Acts of war

      you know maybe everyone's been thinking about this 'retaliation' thing all wrong...

      here are some creative suggestions:

      a) Order takeout from every restaurant in Moscow, have it delivered to Putin's house/office, to be paid on delivery. Daily. Until they stop delivering. Then he won't be able to call for take-out, ever again!

      b) Make some kind of fake reports to local Moscow police such that the 'swat' guys (Russian equivalent) show up looking for a dangerous man posing himself as Putin

      c) Subscribe Putin's personal e-mail address to a whole bunch of mailing lists. Make sure you include his home and cell phone numbers, too. 'Available hours: midnight to 6 AM'

      d) Subscribe Putin to Playgirl magazine. Have the first edition FedEx'd directly to him.

      e) Have the paparazzi follow Putin around, everywhere. Pay a few of the photographers to fake up some nude photos of Putin and print 'em in the worldwide tabloid news.

      f) make up some story about Putin hiring hookers at Mar El Lago to pee on Trump's bed, and have it printed in Russian newspapers as if it were "fact".


  7. Palpy

    I see the apologists for --

    -- Vladimir Putin's campaign of destabilization are out in force.

    Tom Dial: "Arguably, too, we have engaged in far too many acts of (undeclared) war..." etc.

    So, Tom, you'd be OK with the Mexican army shelling San Diego? The US shelled Lebanon. Fair's fair, is what you're saying? Or, to put it more personally, since men have engaged in rape, you're OK with getting raped?

    Can you say "specious argument", Tom? Sure. I knew you could. You know national defense, not to mention self defense, doesn't work that way.

    AC: " They lied through their teeth over WMDs in Iraq..." etc.

    Yeah. So the Senate and House testimony from Facebook, Google, and Twitter about the number of Russian accounts and the money spent by Russians on influencing the election in the US is all fabricated? Not to mention the British and French corroboration of the Russian attacks?

    As much as I distrust Clowns In Action, the evidence here is much broader and deeper than anything involving the Iraq Attack, or, for that matter, the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Can you say "minimize and distract", AC? Can you say, "Russian useful idiot"?

    And not to leave you out, GrumpyOldBloke: "...all without a hint of hard incriminating evidence."

    If you can read the indictments, you know you're spouting wet stuff from a bullpizzle. I mean, come on: 13 criminal indictments with no evidence? That seems more of a stretch than size 8 Lycra tights on John Goodman, Grumpy. And anyway, see the above: plenty of third-party evidence here.

    There's an odd phrase used sometimes to describe those who aid a foreign nation's attacks against one's own country. It is, I believe, "collaborationism". Can be servile, or ideological; voluntary or involuntary. I would put most of the above posts in the "ideological" column. Trump is in the "involuntary servile" column.

    Queue the downvotes from ideologues, Russian stooges, and... well, collaborationalists. Meaning those who wish to cooperate in destroying the (ideally, I admit) free and fair elections in the US. OK, perhaps that should be "further degrading" said elections. But I digress. Queue the downvotes!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see the apologists for --

      So, Glenn Greenwald is also a “useful idiot”?

      1. Palpy

        Re: Glenn Greenwald --

        -- with regard to the Russian attempt to illegally influence the US election: "Who the fuck cares about that?"

        Useful idiot? Obviously. Needs to step back and think a bit, does Glenn Greenwald.

        The thing about smart people: they are not always smart about everything. The Snowden revelations: good. Cleverly done. But hatred of the US intelligence agencies -- who detest Snowden and Greenwald -- may well have skewed Greenwald's judgment. Or perhaps it's something else.

        But: Putin's useful idiot? Based on the comment quoted? Absolutely.

        Et tu, AC?

    2. Kabukiwookie Bronze badge

      Re: I see the apologists for --

      Sure mate everyone not agreeing with your point of view is a russian stooge.

    3. Sanguma

      Re: I see the apologists for --

      "So, Tom, you'd be OK with the Mexican army shelling San Diego? The US shelled Lebanon. Fair's fair, is what you're saying?"

      I believe the question troubling a lot of us at the present moment is rather: "How do we stop them doing it to us when we are no longer the top dog?"

      It's easy for President Chump to blowhard when the US is still one of the greatest of the Great Powers; what happens when it subsides into second-rate Great power status? And then, because it can't break its addiction to sucking up to the One%ers, it subsides further into Failed State status? And begins to look even more like a copy of 70s Brazil, with police death squads a protected part of society, just for an unpleasant example?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: I see the apologists for --

        "So, Tom, you'd be OK with the Mexican army shelling San Diego"

        /me looks outside, doesn't see any shelling going on. must be fake news.

  8. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    I assume that

    "We aren't allowed to attack" is code for "We think they haven't noticed yet.".

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: I assume that

      Admiral Rogers & that photo must be the inspiration for the trollface.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't bother Mr President

    It's bath night and he plans to sink the entire Russian fleet.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Ergo is the Problem a Lack of Advanced Intelligence.

    When too many myriad major components of an economy/exclusive executive SCADA administration system are based upon military spending and the training of serfs who follow destructive orders blindly in order to give the impression of strengthen and security in a land flirting with an excess of madness, is there always an enemy and phantom foe to be invented in foreign lands and alien spaces to keep the gravy train beast from crashing and immediately exposing systemic fundamental weaknesses which home intelligence services are not equipped to protect systems against being attacked/questioned.

    Power without Intelligence Leading IT and Media Programs is not an Energy Current, it is as a Deadly Toxin.

    The problem is easily solved though, with the simple purchase of that which is missing and causing the Intellectual Property Deficit.

    It aint rocket science, is it? And it is not as if it expensive or difficult to buy in whenever all that is needed is pretty fiat paper which can be virtually lodged in an instant to an accommodating account no matter where it might be.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm much more concerned about the propaganda coming out of our own media,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MSM

      Do what I do, assume its all 100% lies and try and see who is trying to sell you what product on the back of it, and dont buy it.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: MSM

      Then you haven't thought it through.

      Every media organ has its biases, certainly. But those that are based in your own country have at least this much in common with you: that they want to see your country successful, its people richer and healthier and happier, because those people will spend more money. You can certainly disagree - strongly - with their ideas of how this future should be brought about, but if you don't understand why they share many of your goals, you're being wilfully dumb.

      And those organs are all operating independently, more or less. Journalists have a pack mentality, yes, but the bottom line is they're competing, not actively collaborating to spin you some mutually agreed narrative. The 24 hour cycle has damaged the media enormously - indeed, I once argued that if Trump won the presidency, it would prove that the US news media wasn't fit for purpose - but there's still useful information to be got there, if you can take the time to parse it.

      The Russians on the other hand: they are both actively malevolent and well coordinated. They are attacking the soft underbelly of democracy. And Trump responds by taking off its shirt and telling it to close its eyes.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What will the final outcome of all this be?

    Government approved news sources.

    I can't help but think that's not the road we want to go down at all but maybe that's the point of all this.

    1. itzman

      Government approved news sources?

      That is the Left's solution.

      The Right's solution is to say 'man up and start to think for yourselves about what you read...'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Government approved news sources?

        "The Right's solution is to say 'man up and start to think for yourselves about what you read"

        Breitbart, the Telegraph, the Times, the Sun, the Mail, the Express....

        you're funny.

      2. Androgynous Cow Herd

        Re: Government approved news sources?

        A thinking man’s solution is to not divide the entire world into a binary spectrum of left to right.

        If you turn that axis on it’s side, Left and right are nothing more than two shades of the same color

  13. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Of course he won't 'pull the trigger'

    He wants to get re-elected in 2020. Which may well have the same effect on the world but 'old comb-over' won't see it like that.

    Putin does not play Golf. That's why El Trumpo won't deal with him. Taking Putin to Mar-el-Lago is a waste of his precious tee time.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Who says they will support him in 2020?

      Or support republicans in 2018? What Trump and those of his supporters who don't see a problem with him playing grab ass with Putin so long as Russian interference was for "our side" don't seem to realize is that Putin went for Trump because he didn't want Hillary. That's why Russians tried to help Bernie over Hillary in the democratic primary. It isn't certain by any means that had Bernie won the nomination that Putin would have supported Trump. He may well have supported Bernie.

      After all, liberals in the US have traditionally been less hostile toward Russia and the conservatives were the ones taking a hard line. It is amazing to me how many conservatives are fine with Trump's hands off policy on Russia - had Bernie won with the help of Russians and then refused to act on congressionally approved sanctions like Trump has republicans in the House would have already impeached him for treason and the trial in the Senate would be all over the news right now.

      Based on Trump's actions I think it is likely he's been compromised by Putin, so maybe they would have supported him over Bernie since they owned him. But their overall goal is for chaos in the US, and that goal would be better served by having democrats take over the House and begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Republicans who supported Trump's inaction may wish for a do-over if next year at this time evidence is coming to light that Russians interfered with or tried to interfere with congressional elections to help democrats win.


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