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Democratic Leaders of Science Committee Call on Chairmen to Address Election Cybersecurity Concerns and Foreign Influence Operations

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Washington, January 17, 2018 | comments

Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA) sent a formal request to Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) to hold a hearing on election security issues. Similar requests were made by Ms. Johnson and Mr. Beyer last year at two cybersecurity focused hearings in October and November.

This request follows last Wednesday’s release of a minority staff report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee titled, “Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security.” The staff report focused on Russian influence operations outside of the United States. However, it did not examine Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted, “Furthermore, U.S. election infrastructure, electrical grids, and information systems are outside the jurisdiction of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and therefore beyond the scope of the recommendations in this report, but certainly warrant further study.” Those issues, however, are squarely within the jurisdiction of the Science Committee.

“We believe it is our obligation as Members of the Science Committee to examine concerns regarding the cybersecurity of our election infrastructure as well as efforts to identify foreign covert influence operations against U.S. citizens and our democratic institutions that are likely to reemerge as a major issue in the 2018 and 2020 elections.” wrote Ms. Johnson and Mr. Beyer in the letter to the Chairmen. They continued, “We hope you will honor our request so that our Committee can fulfill its duty to examine this critical issue in a bipartisan manner.”

The Minority staff of the Science Committee released a report last November that explored some of these issues. The staff report, “Old Tactics, New Tools: A Review of Russia’s Soft Cyber Influence Operations,” detailed the Soviet-era propaganda tactics and information warfare strategy Russia uses today, explored how Russian military strategists have foreshadowed the use of information as a weapon for decades, and examined new efforts to identify and confront these evolving and expanding threats. 

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Tags: Defense