Russian Federation targeting 2018 elections, U.S. intelligence chiefs say

FBI Director Wray says he shares Rubio's concern with Chinese-run Confucius Institute

North Korea's nuclear program poses a potential "existential threat" to the United States, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned on Tuesday.

Coats said will be among the most volatile and confrontational weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats to the USA over the next year.

Coats said that Russian Federation will continue using propaganda, false personas and social media to undermine the upcoming election.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVEC)- The nation's intelligence agency chiefs said Tuesday there's no doubt the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections with sophisticated cyber operations and false information social media campaigns, and there's no doubt they will keep trying.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said it's been more than a year since the 2016 election, but the us still has no plan to battle foreign interference in elections.

His assessment was echoed by all five other intelligence agency heads present at the hearing, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who two weeks ago stated publicly that he had "every expectation" that Russian Federation will try to influence the coming election.

"In the next year, Russian intelligence and security services will continue to probe USA and allied critical infrastructures, as well as target the United States, Nato, and allies for insights into U.S. policy", the report said.

"But we're talking about a major attack on our democracy that's ongoing, that's going to continue", he said.

"The Russians have a strategy that goes well beyond what is happening in the United States".

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He also said social media companies, whose platforms have been fertile turf for Russian bots seeking to stoke divisions among Americans, have been "slow to recognize the threat" and that "they've still got more work to do".

The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting one of the three main congressional investigations into the Russian Federation issue.

None of the other agency heads could say that the president had directed them to counter Russian meddling, and while senators probed for a detailed plan on how to counter Russian active measures, the witnesses made clear that there is no comprehensive plan in place or being developed.

They stridently deny the Trump campaign might have conspired with the Russian attack - and have gone on offense against their own Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department in charging them with bias and abuse of power. "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. He hasn't even tweeted a single concern.

"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.

Many experts, meanwhile, believe that Russian meddling in the presidential race was but a foretaste of what is to come - not just from the Kremlin, but also from other hostile states and private actors.

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

Terrorism. The threat of terrorist attacks "is pronounced", Coats said, including from the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Iran-sponsored activities.

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