An exclusive report from Reuters reveals that congressional leaders were warned about Russian hackers targeting the Democratic National Committee (DNC) a year ago, but the information in the briefing was so sensitive that DNC officials could not be warned.
That is especially uncomfortable news given that four of the eight congressional leaders who received the intel briefing in a secure facility were Democrats: Senators Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein, and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff.
The four Republicans were Senators Mitch McConnell and Richard Burr, and Representatives John Boehner and Devin Nunes.
The Reuters report is based on three unidentified sources who explained that the congressional leaders could not pass along the warning they were given because the intel community wanted to continue monitoring the hacker activity and were concerned that warning the DNC would tip off the hackers and expose sensitive U.S. intelligence sources.
DNC officials said they did not learn about the hacker threat until months after the top-secret briefing of congressional leaders, and even then, the warning came from an FBI cybersecurity team that was either unaware of, or refrained from, mentioning the suspicions of the intelligence community.
Reuters notes there have been previous occasions of intelligence agencies holding off on warning the targets of foreign intelligence operations, for similar reasons.
The material was marked with additional restrictions and assigned a unique codeword, limiting access to a small number of officials who needed to know that U.S. spy agencies had concluded that two Russian intelligence agencies or their proxies were targeting the Democratic National Committee, the central organizing body of the Democratic Party.
The latest in a cascade of “DNC hack was even worse than we thought” headlines came from Wired on Saturday.
On top of breaching the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, investigators say that Russian hackers targeted and compromised personal email accounts and the accounts of other organizations related to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The evidence is strong enough that officials have been notifying people associated with the Clinton campaign that their email data may have been compromised.
The report mentions there are suspicions the Democratic Governors Association was also breached, but “so far, the group says it doesn’t see evidence that its networks were affected.”