CIA Director John Brennan stated on Sunday that Russia has “exceptionally capable and sophisticated” hacking abilities. Brennan also told CBS’s John Dickerson that, despite the threat of cyber attacks from Russia, “we need to find ways to cooperate” due to the shared goal of eliminating and dismantling terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
Brennan went on to warn that, despite having shared goals, we cannot entirely trust Russian President Vladimir Putin. Brennan described Putin as “very aggressive, very assertive,” and fears that the Russian leader’s KGB background gives him a “certain perspective”. He fears that Putin could use information gained from hacking or cyber attacks to to disrupt American military operations or influence American politics. When directly questioned about possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election he didn’t comment. He did, however, go on to state during CBS’s Face the Nation:
“I think that we have to be very, very wary of what the Russians might be trying to do in terms of collecting information in a cyber realm, as well as what they might want to do with it,”
He states that American intelligence officials are aware of Russian intelligence activities around the world. He claims that staying on guard from possible Russian cyber attacks or data gathering activities is of the utmost importance, but that is no excuse not to work with Russia when it comes to fighting ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He said:
“I think, in certain areas, they are adversaries, yes. But I think, also, in areas, we need to find ways to cooperate with them, because they do also have a vested interest in trying to bring stability and trying to dismantle these terrorist organizations.”
Brennan claims that the U.S. government is now “much better” at sharing information related to terrorist threats and activities. However, he also wanted to make it clear that making sure we preserve our system of government is the first priority when it comes to working with foreign nations to fight terrorism.