On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper hinted during an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations that the United States is guilty of tampering with elections. Clapper, the head of the American intelligence community, told interviewer Charlie Rose that while Russia is known to meddle in their own elections as well as other countries’, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and essentially alluded to the fact that the U.S. was guilty of the same.
“I will say that, you know, there’s a history here for the Soviet Union, Russia, now interfering in elections, both theirs and other people’s,” Clapper said. “And there’s a history of this where they’ve attempted to influence the outcome of our elections before.”
Rose chimed in and added that Putin “has said that he thinks we tried to interfere in his elections.”
“People live in glass houses, I guess,” Clapper responded. “It applies here.”
Though the U.S. Intelligence community, which is over seen by Clapper, released a vague statement back in September about Russia having some involvement in certain cyber attacks on the U.S., Clapper refused to offer more information on the matter.
“Many people seem to want me to parse the words, which were already very parsed and agonized over. So I think the statement will stand for itself,” he said.
When asked if he believes Russia will actually be able to meddle with voting machines, Clapper divided the two issues noting that cyber security was not the same as the security that goes around election machines.
“I don’t believe so, but that’s not an issue for the national-intelligence apparatus to decide,” he said. “I think the—a strength for us in this case is the highly decentralized nature of our voting apparatus, which is run by states and local jurisdictions, that make it very hard, I think, to, you know, affect the outcome. I don’t know of cases where voting machines are tied to the Internet.”
Clapper also noted that acting in retaliation was something to be carefully considered for there are plenty of risks involved.
“The risk is, given the tremendous dependence of this nation on the cyber domain to do everything, whether it’s personal, institutional, we have to think twice I think, and be very cautious, about retaliating in a cybercontext,” he continued. “The presumption that’s there’s going to be an exquisite and equally precise calculus may not be a valid one to make.”