Reports that Russians hackers
were been able to get into the White House's computer system and see non-classified emails show that Russia is "reassembling its evil empire," Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday.
"Ultimately, it's more than just sensitive," the California lawmaker told CNN
"Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer, pointing out that even though he serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he was only informed about the incident and "recently and from the same reports" that CNN presented Tuesday, reports The National Journal
"Who the president meets with, where, when, even if it's retrospectively, quite frankly, is material kept from Congress in many cases," Issa told Blitzer. "So this is very sensitive information and it's indicative of the fact that Russia is reassembling it is evil empire in many ways."
Further, Issa said, the United States and Russia are not on the "verge of a new Cold War," as Blitzer posed in a question, but are already there and have been since Russian President Vladimir Putin took office and President George W. Bush was in office.
"[Russia is] expanding, involved in espionage and, of course, it's backing countries [like Iran] that are destabilizing other countries," Issa said. "What is different now is Iran and other proxies are actively involved in wars. We're working with Turkey to a certain extent, [and] we're working with Saudi Arabia, we've put a lot of money into other countries, including Lebanon, to try to stabilize them. As we speak, with the limited resources Iran has, they are destabilizing the same countries."
And even with the revelations being made public about Russia's alleged involvement in the cyberattacks on the White House servers, Issa warned that the United States will continue to be vulnerable.
"Unfortunately, one of the challenges with cyber is, once you've opened a door and provided a port, the most insidious little things can get you," he said. "And the best way to look at it is, if I only took email from people I knew and places I knew and they only took email from people they knew and so on, you wouldn't have a problem."
"But as soon as you open the world up to web surfing, everybody is likely to pick something up," he continued. "And quite frankly — and this came out publicly so it's no longer classified, — the fact that you can imbed into a hard drive to read and send, means in some cases the real trick is to be involved in the equipment when it's delivered."
On Tuesday, the White House refused comment about who they believe was behind the attacks, but sources told CBS News
they originated in Russia.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes conceded at a press conference Tuesday that "there's always vulnerability," and that the breaches occurred on the White House's non-classified information server.
"The fact is that's why we have a classified system because there's less risk in the classified system and that is secure," Rhodes said. "On the unclassified system we take regular actions to prevent vulnerabilities and to enhance security."
The incident occurred while Putin and President Barack Obama were at opposite ends over Putin's actions in Ukraine last October, when officials confirmed suspicious activity was detected, reports CBS.
Federal officials are still investigating the breach, and National Security Council Spokesman Mark Stroh said the CNN report did not refer to a new incident, but rather the network is "speculating on the attribution of the activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network that the White House disclosed last year," reports The National Journal.
"Any such activity is something we take very seriously," Stroh said. "In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity. As has been our position, we are not going to comment on the referenced article's attribution to specific actors."
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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