It is almost as if US intelligence officials are daring themselves to do something that may turn out to be quite destructive for everybody, Jim Jatras, former GOP Senate foreign policy adviser, told RT.
Wikileaks has been publicly releasing daily batches of leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, yet Russia continues to grab US headlines as being somehow behind the scandal.
US officials have reportedly told NBC News that the CIA is preparing for a possible cyber-attack against Russia. The move, apparently, would be intended as retaliation for Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election, which is already being called the most scandal-filled contest in American political history.
Russia vehemently rejects the claims and says the US has produced absolutely no evidence to support the very serious charges. It is said the attack would also seek to “harass and embarrass” the Russian authorities.
RT spoke with Jim Jatras for his views on this latest ratcheting up of tensions between the two global nuclear powers.
RT: Would there be any justification for the CIA launching a cyber-attack on Russia in the absence of any good evidence Russia tried to interfere in the US presidential election?
Jim Jatras: This was given, it appears, as an exclusive to NBC; almost like a press-release that the government is giving out as a warning shot or really a threat against the Russians. And even though they are saying that this is connected to the election, there is no real evidence regarding the DNC and other things on WikiLeaks. What the statement says is that it is geared towards interference with the elections itself, with the voting. Anybody who is familiar with our system knows that that is next to impossible; we don’t have a single nation-wide voting system. We have 50 states and thousands of local, state and county systems, most of which are paper, most of which, even the electronic ones, not connected to the Internet. So the idea that Russia or anybody else could hack into those is just absurd. So, I don’t think that is what this is really about.
If the US "clandestine" pending cyberwar on Russia was serious:
1) it would not have been announced
2) it would be the NSA and not the CIA
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 15, 2016
RT: Some have condemned the preparations for an attack by branding it “direct aggression” against Russia. Could we be close to a cyber-war?
JJ: I think we could be. And let’s keep in mind that there are two things here that I think are really behind this – not interference with our election. As we know this whole “Russia, Russia, Russia theme” has been a constant of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And maybe the Obama administration is trying to help her out a bit by turning up the heat and pointing the finger. Also remember, as of tonight, according to the news reports, President Obama was supposed to think up some kind of response to what is going on in Syria. Maybe this is part of what is related to that.
RT: What would the US be trying to achieve by launching a cyber-attack against Russia? Is it a maneuver to redirect attention of the American public from the elections by playing this blame game with Russia?
JJ: It could be, and it really depends at this point whether they actually do something or they just threaten. I noticed one of the things they are talking about doing is hacking into the Russian financial system. And that is somewhat worrisome because for about two years now Russia has been complying with an American law called FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) which essentially mandates turning over a trove of financial information to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) from Russian banks, which includes a lot of metadata and the opportunity to insert spy ware and so forth. So, the Russians may have made this very easy for us.
RT: One former US intelligence official has stressed the importance of launching the cyber-attack in order “not to weaken the credible threat of the US response capability”. What are your thoughts on that statement?
JJ: I think it is kind of cyber-saber rattling. They are almost daring themselves to do something just to show that they can and then it becomes a matter of prestige. It is almost like they are daring themselves to do something that may turn out to be quite destructive for everybody (…) As the article said, there is some concern on the American side that if, for example, there was some attack on the Russian financial system many Russians would respond with an attack on our financial system, which would be much more disruptive globally given how central the American financial system is worldwide.