US Briefed NATO Allies on Foreign Hacking of the DNC

US Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute, December 5, 2016Ambassador Lute: [B]efore we were asked, we briefed the [North Atlantic] Council. So we brought experts from Washington and briefed on our national experience with regard to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee which is the organizational structure of one of our big political parties, right? And we have declared publicly that we think there was external influence in that hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

So this actually illustrates a pattern in NATO. When an ally, in this case the United States, has a national experience that we think could relate to the experiences of the others, the North Atlantic Council, where I sit, becomes a forum where those national experiences can be shared. Right? Because we argue that hey, if this could happen to the United States, then arguably it could happen elsewhere across the alliance.

Other allies do the same. We have received briefings recently with regard to disinformation campaigns; to unhelpful, maligned attempts to influence political processes, political campaigns, and so forth. And so the Council becomes not only NATO sort of deciding policy and watching the execution, right? But it also becomes a forum for information sharing across the 28, and we’ve done this recently with regard to this cyber attack on the DNC.

Media: Just to be clear on the final point you made where you received briefings on this disinformation campaign, you say unhelpful, maligned attempts to influence the political process. From whom have those briefings been given at the level of the NATO Council? And are those briefings [inaudible] in the area of covert financing of [inaudible] and populist parties?

Ambassador Lute: I don’t want to go into too much detail because these were briefings given by national experts, right? And they come to the Council as guest presenters. And they present a national perspective. So I don’t want to go from that experience, which we think is a very healthy, mature way for the alliance to deal with these challenges. I don’t want to ascribe particular briefings to particular allies beyond my national experience which is the DNC hacking episode.

But it’s a pretty healthy, I think it’s a healthy responsible way to deal with what are perceived to be problems in one country that others could also be experiencing.

Media: How deep are these concerns and how widespread are they amongst other NATO governments?

Ambassador Lute: I’d only say that the U.S. is not alone in expressing, in describing our experience, our recent experience. There are other allies as well. I won’t give you some number out of 28, but it’s not the U.S. alone.

Excerpt from Pre-Ministerial Press Briefing by U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute, December 5, 2016.

Image: US Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute, December 5, 2016