FBI trying to build a case against Russian hackers

The FBI is trying to build a legal case against Russian hackers who are believed to be responsible for cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other groups. Reuters reports that could be difficult to do:

Building legal cases is difficult, largely because the best evidence against foreign hackers is often highly classified, they said. Still, some White House and State Department officials think legal action is the best way to respond to what they said are growing Russian attempts to disrupt and discredit the November elections, without sparking an open confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Doing nothing is not an option, because that would telegraph weakness and just encourage the Russians to do more meddling, but retaliating in kind carries substantial risks,” said one U.S. official involved in the administration’s deliberations.

It has been nearly two months since DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in the wake of the DNC hack. But the FBI was aware of the series of hacks months before the intruders were finally kicked out of the DNC’s system. In fact, the FBI met with the Clinton camp and warned them there had been an intrusion in March. The FBI apparently knew or suspected even then that Russia was responsible. So in the 6 months since then what has happened? The only hint that maybe there has been some unseen response comes from a statement by FBI Director Comey. From Reuters:

The United States could respond in other ways, FBI Director James Comey suggested on Wednesday, but did not elaborate.”Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean we’re not trying to change behavior,” Comey said at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, a Washington think tank.

An unnamed intelligence source tells Reuters, “Putin’s real objective here, the best we can tell at this point, is not simply to promote one candidate or another or to throw the election, but to discredit the very concept of Western democracy.”

Oh, is that all.

How much meddling does Russia have to do before someone in the Obama administration does more than try to put together a legal case that probably won’t go anywhere? It’s almost as if Russia is our number one geopolitical foe. If only we’d somehow seen that coming.

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