United States says Pakistan-backed militants will continue attacks inside India

FBI Director Christopher Wray CIA Director Mike Pompeo DNI Dan Coats and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley

REUTERS Leah Millis

"Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

King: Releasing memo would be "reckless, ' 'could expose sources" The Hill's 12:30 Report Azar sworn in as HHS chief MORE (I-Maine) said Wednesday that Russia's effort to interfere in the US election is "one of the most serious attacks" on the nation since September 11, 2001.

"We expect Russian Federation to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States".

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional committee that Russian Federation and other foreign entities were likely to attack United States and European elections this year and beyond, adding that Moscow believes similar efforts successfully undermined USA democracy two years ago.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and Chris Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, both said there were significant, specific efforts under way.

Government countermeasures likely include going public with concerns that Russian hackers will seek to influence the 2018 elections, said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis with the cyber security firm FireEye Inc.

USA intelligence agencies concluded past year that Moscow sought to influence the 2016 presidential campaign in favor of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

"Persistent and disruptive cyber operations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy", he told an annual Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats. And last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that the U.S.is seeing "certain behaviors" of Russian meddling in elections in the Northern Hemisphere, including "in the U.S." this year. Bot armies promoted partisan causes on social media, including the recent push to release a Republican congressional memo critical of law enforcement officials.The bots have also sought to portray the F.B.I. and Justice Department as infected by partisan bias, said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee.

Terrorism continues to be a major global threat, Coats said, including within US borders.

Trump has steadfastly denied any collusion took place.

"It is my personal view and shared by many people - that they are carrying out a well-orchestrated, well-executed, very patient long-term strategy to replace the United States as the most powerful and influential nation on Earth", Rubio said.

"The decision time is becoming ever closer in terms of how we respond to this", Coats said in remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee, quoted by AFP.

"No single agency is, quote, in charge", he said. "In particular, I'm anxious about the close relationship between the Chinese government and Chinese technology firms, particularly in the area of commercialisation of our surveillance technology and efforts to shape telecommunication equipment markets", he said.

"This threat did not begin in 2016, and it certainly didn't end with the election".

Pompeo said the sanctions decision had to be viewed in a broader context: The United States is checking and deterring Russian Federation across the globe, he said, from sanctions on Moscow's ally Venezuela to military action in Syria and beyond.

At the end of the hearing, Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said that the panel hoped to release publicly the findings of its Russian Federation investigation "before the primaries begin" in March.

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