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US intel chiefs say Russia meddling threatens 2018 vote

AFP  |  Washington 

chiefs said today that Russian attempts to meddle in US are continuing unabated -- and pose a threat to mid-term in November.

They also said North Korea's nuclear program poses a potential "existential threat" to the United States, and that the time is nearing for to respond to that danger.

In a Intelligence Committee hearing on the most urgent threats facing the country, Coats and the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and two other agencies were unanimous in saying that Moscow's efforts to disrupt US are as intense now as they were in the 2016

"Throughout the entire community, we have not seen any evidence of any significant change" in Russian behavior, said of

"There should be no doubt that perceived its past efforts as successful and sees the 2018 US midterms elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations," he said.

"We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here," said.

"This is not going to change or stop," added

America's leading intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russian had directed a broad intelligence effort to influence the 2016 to undermine the campaign of Democrat and boost Donald Trump's chances.

That effort included hacking and releasing emails and documents from the Clinton campaign, filling with posts and "news" items aimed at discrediting her, as well as targeting voter-registration operations and election databases.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the idea that helped him -- and all allegations of collusion -- as "fake news," and criticized the intelligence agencies for repeating it.

But a large volume of information has surfaced on Russian use of to influence public opinion in US public policy debates.

"The Russians utilize this tool because it's relatively cheap, it's low risk, it offers what they perceive as plausible deniability, and it is proven to be effective at sowing division," Coats told the panel.

"We expect to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 14 2018. 01:25 IST