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Lawmakers in the US warn of shortcomings in preparations against election interference

2024-02-28 18:29:45, Kosova & Bota CNA
Lawmakers in the US warn of shortcomings in preparations against election
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner

The United States may not be prepared for the disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks expected to hit the country ahead of this year's presidential election, a senior US lawmaker said.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner told a cybersecurity conference in Washington that despite the efforts of various United States government agencies to protect against election interference, there are still gaps, especially when word on foreign influence campaigns.

"I am concerned that we are less prepared for foreign interference in our elections in 2024 than we were in 2020," he said at the Trellix Cyber ??Security Summit.

He added that the spread of artificial intelligence could also make Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election look "like child's play."

Senior law enforcement and cybersecurity officials in the United States have repeatedly expressed confidence in their ability to protect election infrastructure from attack by any hostile country.

"Americans can have confidence in our election system and our democracy," FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last month, backed by the heads of the US Cybersecurity Agency and the National Security Agency.

But officials have expressed concern about malicious influence operations, particularly by Russia, China and Iran, aimed at exploiting internal political divisions in the United States.

Senator Warner said Tuesday that he believes political divisions are where Washington's defenses are weakest, citing a court ruling that has barred social media companies from sharing information about potential foreign influence operations with the FBI and Cyber ??Security Agency.

"This should scare us all," he said, adding that the risk of voter fraud could be at an all-time high.

"Unfortunately, we have many more Americans in 2024 who are more willing to distrust or have less faith in our system," said Senator Warner.

Senator Warner's warning about Russian election meddling echoed comments from White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

"There are many reasons to be concerned," Mr. Sullivan said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "We have a history of interference in presidential elections by the Russian Federation, by its intelligence services."

Those concerns, however, have angered some conservative lawmakers and activists, who argue that the White House is trying to revive the theory, supported by many Democrats, that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help the former president. Donald Trump.

Senator Warner, speaking to reporters, rejected such arguments.

"I would like to ask those who do not think that the Russian intelligence services have not interfered and will not continue to interfere in our election, where they are getting this information," he said in response to a question from VOA .

In a declassified intelligence report on the 2022 U.S. election released late last year, the National Intelligence Council assessed with high confidence that Russia, along with China and Iran, ran operations aimed at influenced the results of the elections.

"The Russian government and its proxies sought to denigrate the Democratic Party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and undermine confidence in the election, most likely to undermine United States support for Ukraine." the report says.

China targeted "a number of congressional races involving candidates from both political parties in the United States," the report further states.

Russia and China have previously denied accusations of operations to influence the elections in the United States./ VOA

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