The Pentagon and intelligence officials are keeping some plans a secret from President Donald Trump when they believe Trump would disagree with them, according to The New York Times, which cited anonymous sources.
Officials did not give details to Trump of their plans to escalate U.S. cyberattacks on Russia, particularly the decision to put “implants” inside the Russian grid, The Times reported.
“Implants” are a type of software code that can be used for both surveillance and attacking.
“Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place implants — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid,” according to The Times.
“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.”
The decision not to include Trump in these plans is allegedly because of how he may react, and intelligence officials do not trust Trump to keep sensitive operations private, according to the anonymous sources speaking to The Times.
Multiple stories have been reported about intelligence officials avoiding Trump.
They have typically referred to the U.S. doing more to avoid Russian meddling by giving the credit to “the United States” rather than Trump himself.
Trump ordered a cyberattack on Russia in 2018 and media outlets such as The Times were reluctant to give him credit.
They reported that Trump had approved of the decision.
The cyberattack resulted in a well-known Russian troll farm being taken offline during midterm elections.
A classified document called the National Security Presidential Memoranda 13 issued by Trump last summer gives General Paul Nakasone, commander of the United States Cyber Command, more freedom to implement aggressive cyber operations without going through Trump to get approved.
The “implants” decision was acted under this part of a military authorization bill last summer, the NYT reported.
“But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill that Congress passed last summer.
The measure approved the routine conduct of “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States.
“Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval,” according to The Times.
Trump has been vocal about being hard on Russia, stating that “nobody’s been tougher to Russia than me” in a Fox News interview last year.
Even so, some intelligence officials appear to be avoiding Trump in certain cases of cyber operations, according to the NYT and their anonymous sources.
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