How Russian Cyberhackers May Have Gained Access to the Election

Plus, President Barack Obama has gently coaxed the president-elect to stop blowing off daily briefings from our nation's intelligence agencies, saying that if he's not getting their detailed perspective, then he is "flying blind.”

by William Goldschlag and Dan Janison, Newsday / December 14, 2016

(TNS) --  “The political equivalent of 9/11” is what former CIA Director Michael Morell called the spy agency’s conclusion that Russia’s cyberhackers deliberately meddled in the election to help Donald Trump.

Now another parallel is emerging: As with 9/11, warning signs were there, according to a New York Times investigation. But lackadaisical responses and mistakes left the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign vulnerable.

When an FBI agent warned the DNC in September 2015 that one of its systems was compromised, his call was routed to a “help desk.” The technician took little action, in part because he suspected the caller might be an impostor. The agent’s subsequent calls weren’t returned. He never visited in person.

When Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta got a message, supposedly from Google, warning that he needed to change his Gmail password, a campaign tech aide advised via email that it was “legitimate,” so Podesta did so — unwittingly giving the hackers access to his account.

The aide told the Times he had meant to type “illegitimate.”


‘Flying blind’

President Barack Obama has tried to keep it positive when talking about his successor. But in an interview aired on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” he defended the work of intelligence agencies, which Trump has derided, and gently coaxed the president-elect to stop blowing off their daily briefings.

The agencies are “not perfect,” Obama said, “but they are full of extraordinarily hardworking, patriotic and knowledgeable experts. And if you’re not getting their perspective, their detailed perspective, then you are flying blind.”

To protect the nation’s security, Obama said, “You have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible.” (Video here.) Late Tuesday, Trump aide Sean Spicer said Trump was now sitting in on briefings three days a week. It was previously reported he was listening only once a week.

©2016 Newsday Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.