Amazing what happens when government employees turn on their former bosses and testify in open congressional sessions.
This week, former cybersecurity coordinator from the Obama years, Michael Daniel testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice gave the order to “stand down” when it came to stopping Russian cyber interference in the 2016 election cycle. This testimony was a confirmation, actually, of the order as described in the March 2018 book Russian Roulette:
In the book, authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn reported that Daniel was developing strategies to respond to Russian cyber attacks on U.S. companies and political campaigns. He proposed using what’s known as denial of service attacks to take down Russian propaganda news sites and to attack Russian intelligence agencies.
Another idea was to announce a bogus “cyber exercise” against a Eurasian country. The goal was to put the Kremlin on notice that its infrastructure could easily be targeted by the U.S.
Rice opposed the proposals, according to “Russian Roulette.”
“Don’t get ahead of us,” she told Daniel in a meeting in August 2016, according to the book.
Daniel informed his staff of the order, much to their frustration.
“I was incredulous and in disbelief,” Daniel Prieto, who worked under Daniel, is quoted saying in “Russian Roulette.”
“Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand?” Prieto asked.
Daniel confirmed the exchange on Wednesday, during a round of questions from Idaho Sen. Jim Risch.
“That is an accurate rendering of the conversation at the staff meeting,” he testified.
“You were told to stand down, is that correct?” Risch, a Republican, asked Daniel.
“Those actions were put on the back burner, yes. That was not the focus of our activity during that time period,” Daniel replied.
Still, stunning all the same.