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‘The Largest Espionage Attack in History’: Bush Cyber Czar Richard Clarke Sounds Alarm on Suspected Russian Attack

Richard Clarke worked under three administrations and served as special advisor to President George W. Bush. Appearing on The Lead with Jake Tapper Thursday, he offered terrifying insight into reports of a massive cyber-attack carried out on the U.S. government.

“This is the largest espionage attack in history,” Clarke flatly opened to host Jake Tapper. “This is as though the Russians got a passkey, a skeleton key for about half the locks in the country. Think about it that way. It’s 18,000 companies and government institutions scattered around the U.S. And the world. This is an espionage attack.”

It is not confirmed that Russians are behind the attack, but reports say the U.S. government suspects Russia is responsible.

Former Trump Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert first raised alarms about the hack in a Thursday New York Times op-ed.

“The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate,” he warned. “President Trump is on the verge of leaving behind a federal government, and perhaps a large number of major industries, compromised by the Russian government.” Since then reports have surfaced that the U.S. agencies that maintain its nuclear warhead stockpile may have also been compromised.

Clarke explained how widespread this cyberattack is, saying that many American companies have been compromised as well.

Tapper asked “So, what can the Russians, assuming that it was they who are, in fact, behind this, what can they do with the information they have? What’s the risk here?”

“Well, they did not get into classified, secret, or top-secret networks yet, as far as we know,” Clarke replied. “So they found whatever you can find on an unclassified network in the federal department. Some of that is interesting and some of that, combined with classified information, will tell you something.”

The real vulnerability, in Clarke’s esteem, is how they can use access to networks in a future crisis, and potentially blackmail the U.S. to influence foreign policy.

“They can put a knife to our throat say, ‘You want to retaliate? You want to do something in Syria? You want to do something in Ukraine? How would you like 18,000 of your companies wiped out, all of their networks wiped out?'” Clarke explained.

As for how best to handle it, Clarke offered the following reaction. “But what we really need to do now is to say to the Russians, this is out of bounds. This is is too much. This is indiscriminate. You don’t get to do it that way.” Before that gets dismissed as naive, Clarke added “The only way they’ll take that seriously, Jake, is if we hurt them.”

Watch above via CNN.

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