Politics

Stand Down — or Get Out of the Way?

Obama's national security advisor gave a "stand down" order to efforts countering Russian hacks.

Arnold Ahlert · Jun. 25, 2018

Ever since the 2016 election, the hysterical Left and its media lapdogs have been determined to convince Americans the primary reason Donald Trump won was due to Russian “meddling.” Thus if logic holds, it would stand to reason that the Obama administration would have made every effort to prevent that meddling from taking place. Last Wednesday, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Michael Daniel, who served as White House “cyber security coordinator” between 2012 and January 2017, confirmed he and his investigative team were ordered to “stand down” from investigating — and preventing — that meddling by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The revelation was his first public substantiation of allegations published in the book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, co-written by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. During the hearing, Sen. James Risch (R-ID) asked Daniel about a passage contained in the book. It referred to investigative team staffer Daniel Prieto who was quoted as saying, “We’ve been told to stand down.”

“I was incredulous and in disbelief,” Prieto continued. “It took me a moment to process. In my head, I was like, did I hear that correctly?” Prieto told the authors he then spoke up, asking Daniel: “Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand?”

Daniel made it clear the passage was correct. “That is an accurate rendering of the conversation at the staff meeting but the larger context is something that we can discuss in the classified session,” he responded. “But I can say there were many concerns about how many people were involved in the development of the options so the decision at that point was to neck down the number of people that were involved in our ongoing response options. It’s not accurate to say all activities ceased at that point.”

What response operations? In the book, Corn and Isikoff reported that Daniels has been [developing]http://dailycaller.com/2018/06/20/susan-rice-stand-down-russian-meddling/) a series of strategies to thwart Russian cyberattacks targeting American companies and political campaign. They included employing denial of service tactics to take down Russian-created news sites and attack Russian intel agencies, and announcing a phony “cyber exercise” against a Eurasian country aimed at sending a message to Vladimir Putin and company that Russian infrastructure could be easily targeted.

Daniel declined to discuss the details of those options during the open hearing other than describing them as “the full range of potential actions” that the U.S. government could use in the cyber arena “to impose costs on the Russians — both openly to demonstrate that we could do it as a deterrent and also clandestinely to disrupt their operations as well.” He promised to share the details with the Committee in a classified setting.

After “necking down” the operation, Daniels and his staff “shifted our focus” to assisting state governments in their efforts to protect against state and local election systems for Russian cyberattacks.

At the hearing, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, said in an opening statement, “We were caught flat-footed at the outset and our collective response was inadequate to meet Russia’s escalation.”

Flat-footed? Conspicuously disinterested is more like it. At the same meeting, Victoria Nuland, who served as the Obama administration’s assistant secretary of state for Europe, insisted she had been briefed as early as December 2015 about the hacking of the DNC’s computers. That was “long before senior DNC officials were aware of it — and that the intrusion had all the hallmarks of a Russian operation,” Isikoff explains in his own column on the hearing.

The hallmarks of a Russian operation according to whom? The FBI never examined the DNC’s computers. “The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” an FBI agent told Wired in 2017. Thus they were forced to rely on an analysis provided by tech security company CrowdStrike, “a contractor retained by the DNC’s and the Clinton campaign’s lawyers at Perkins Coie,” as National Review’s Andrew McCarthy revealed last October.

Moreover, in August 2017, a group of ex-CIA and NSA officials calling itself the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity insisted the hacking of the DNC’s servers was an inside hob. Other experts insist their analysis is “probably wrong.” Yet the bottom line is inescapable: The FBI never saw first-hand evidence, one way or the other.

In addition to the stand down order, columnist Ed Morrissey illuminates two other efforts undertaken by the Obama administration that “seemed determined to leave the U.S. defenseless in a cyberwar.” Yet more important, he includes in his column an extremely damning revelation contained in the book:

One day in late August [2016], national security adviser Susan Rice called Daniel into her office and demanded he cease and desist from working on the cyber options he was developing. “Don’t get ahead of us,” she warned him.

At the Committee meeting, Rice is also quoted as saying the stand-down order was given because she feared the strategies used to thwart Russian intrusion would leak and “box the president in.”

The timing of Rice’s meeting Daniel is critical — because it occurred after the July 31 initiation of operation Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s “counterintelligence investigation” seeking to determine whether the Trump campaign was involved in collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election’s outcome.

Was Daniel aware of the operation? Incredibly, no one on the Committee asked the question. But if he wasn’t, “stand down” looks damnably more like “get out of the way” so we can cobble together a way to get Trump — without hindering Russian efforts to do so. Efforts that might “box Obama in.”

How? While America remains in limbo regarding what appears to be a political witch hunt by Robert Mueller — one aided and abetted by stonewalling, spying, bias, bribery and lying at the highest levels of the FBI and the DOJ, in felonious coordination with the Leftmedia — one inarguable reality stands out above all the rest:

The Trump administration was kept completely in the dark about any and all possible Russian machinations during the entire election campaign.

That silence is incredibly revealing. The Obama administration chose to weaponize the nation’s intelligence apparatus and use it against fellow Americans in the opposition political party rather than warn it about possible Russian intrusion. Intrusion, assuming it took place at all, that may have been largely, if not completely thwarted by Daniel and his series of strategies designed to do so. Strategies that might have “boxed in” — as in completely undermined — the Obama administration’s entire Russian meddling Narrative in the process.

It doesn’t get more “flexible” — or despicable — than that.

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