The FBI warned the Clinton campaign and dozens of lawmakers in recent months that they were being targeted by hackers. The warning came weeks before the Washington Post reported that Russian hackers had twice broken into computers at the Democratic National Committee, underscoring concerns that foreign adversaries might be trying to influence the presidential election. Those fears burst onto the public stage this week as Democrats gathered in Philadelphia for their national convention after Friday’s release of thousands of damaging emails on the website WikiLeaks. The embarrassing emails spurred the resignation of the party chairwoman and marred a carefully orchestrated opening of the Democrats’ convention, the Post reports. Activists and campaign officials, anxious about what leaks may be yet to come, also worried about the alleged involvement of the Russian government, with campaign officials suggesting that the Kremlin was releasing the documents to damage Clinton’s candidacy.
National security experts, while cautious about leaping to premature conclusions, warned of the possibility of a significant escalation in an ongoing information war. If the Russians were behind the leaks, said former CIA director Michael Hayden, “they’re clearly taking their game to another level. It would be weaponizing information.” He added: “You don’t want a foreign power affecting your election. We have laws against that.” Yesterday, the FBI formally acknowledged that it is looking into the DNC hack. The agency has been probing the matter for months and says now that it will “investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.” The FBI announcement followed the stunning allegation by the Clinton campaign that the Russian government was behind the release of damaging documents on the WikiLeaks website as part of a ploy to help Republican nominee Donald Trump. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, called the suggestions “absurd” and suggested that Democrats were looking to shift attention away from damaging information about the party’s conduct during the primary campaign. WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange says the release of hacked DNC email is the first in a series.