Foreign cyber interference in US elections a concern, top defense officials say

Foreign cyber interference in US elections a concern, top defense officials say
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Russian interference in upcoming U.S. state elections is a concern, top U.S. defense officials said Tuesday. 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn McCainSenate healthcare bill appears headed for failure Trump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Manchin bashes GOP candidate for pushing McCain to resign MORE (R-Ariz.), up for reelection in Arizona, asked officials at a hearing whether Russia could disrupt voting results in states across the U.S. 

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"I think there are scenarios where you could see capability applied in particular areas," testified Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and chief of the National Security Agency. 

Rogers said, however, that voting systems are very different across the country and can't all be infiltrated the same way.  

"One advantage I do see from a defensive standpoint is that the structure is so disparate with some elements being still very manually focused, others being more electronically and interconnected — because it's not just one nationwide, single, integrated structure. That tends to help us I think defensively here," Rogers said. 

"But it is a concern?" asked McCain. 

"Oh, yes, sir," Rogers replied. 

Rogers declined to confirm reports that Russia had already infiltrated state voting systems, but he said "this continues to be an issue of great focus both for the foreign intelligence community, attempting to generate insights as to what foreign nations are doing in this area.” 

When asked by McCain whether this was the first time a foreign nation had interfered in U.S. elections, Rogers said: "We continue to see activity of concern. Again, I'm not going to characterize, is it a foreign nation state or not?" 

McCain also asked Rogers and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre whether the U.S. had a policy to deal with Russian interference in U.S. elections. 

"The government is intending to rely on the results of the investigation being led by the [FBI] to inform its policy," said Lettre. 

"I'm asking if we have a policy — and the answer is 'no,' " McCain said.