Just a week after Obama held a press conference announcing that he sent a stern warning to Vladamir Putin regarding his alleged “election hacking” efforts (see “Obama Told Putin To “Cut It Out” On Hacking“), the Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration is close to announcing a series of economic sanctions and other measures to punish Russia for its “interference” in the 2016 presidential election. Quoting “U.S. officials,” WaPo said that an announcement from the Obama administration could come as early as this week and would likely include “covert cyber operations.”
According to WaPo’s “sources”, the delay in sanctions against Russia have come from Obama’s inability to take unilateral actions under current laws. While Obama previously signed an executive order that would allow him to freeze the assets in the United States of people overseas who have engaged in cyber acts, it only applies to actions that have threatened U.S. national security or financial stability. Further, per a “senior administration official,” use of the existing law would require (1) actual election infrastructure to be designated as ‘critical infrastructure’ and (2) the administration to prove that such infrastructure was actually “harmed,” conditions which the National Security Council say have not been met.