Interest Group Hounds Feds for Russian-Hacking Info

WASHINGTON (CN) – With the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election still a mystery, a nonpartisan public-interest group brought a federal complaint to uncover the full intelligence report.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, already released an assessment earlier this month, but the Jan. 26 lawsuit by Electronic Privacy Information Center calls those revelations insufficient.

“While the report notes that ‘Russian actors’ had been ‘targeting or compromising’ democratic institutions including ‘state or local election boards’ since ‘early 2014,’ the report provides no further detail on these intrusions or the extent of the damage or future threats involved,” the 7-page complaint states.

Lacking in concrete details, the assessment states broadly that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign intended to hurt Hillary Clinton in the presidential campaign, help now-President Donald Trump and undermine faith in the democratic process.

Among other problems, according to the complaint, “the declassified ODNI assessment also did not identify which systems in the United States were attacked, whether voter records of Americans were obtained, the ongoing risks to U.S. political parties and other democratic institutions, or whether similar activities could impact democratic institutions in other countries.”

EPIC, as the Electronic Privacy Information Center is known, filed its request for the full report on Jan. 9 under the Freedom of Information Act.

Four days later Sen. Richard Burr announced that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, would look at possible ties between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the election.

Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee chairman, announced a parallel investigation on Jan. 25 with ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff.

The House’s investigation will also explore links between political campaigns and Russian officials.

Wednesday’s lawsuit claims that the clearing the air on Russian meddling is “critical” for the American public, suggesting that the alleged Russian cyberattack compromised personal information.

EPIC also contends that the full report, titled “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” may offer details helpful for state and federal lawmakers in their efforts to thwart future attacks on democratic institutions.

Indeed upcoming elections in France and Germany are also at risk, according to the complaint.

The ODNI assessment’s says that “Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes.”

EPIC’s senior counsel Alan Butler filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit alleges that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence failed to respond to EPIC’s request for expedited processing of its request for the assessment.

In addition to expedited processing, the public-interest group seeks immediate disclosure of the full ODNI report.

A representative at the ODNI declined to comment on pending litigation.

“EPIC has filed this lawsuit because the public has the right to know the full extent of the Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election,” EPIC president Marc Rotenberg said in a statement.

“The public and the Congress have the right to know the full extent of the attack on the democratic institutions of the United States,” Rotenberg added.

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