In a statement regarding recent coverage by NBC news on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying, “NBC News continues to falsely report" an official's comments. Jeanette Manfra of DHS denounced NBC and its “irresponsible reporting” for deterring DHS. Manfra said in a statement about her agency’s efforts to address election hacking, “Recent NBC reporting has misrepresented facts and confused the public with regard to Department of Homeland Security and state and local government efforts to combat election hacking.”
Manfra said that there is no evidence that any votes were swayed by Russian inteference even while NBC reports false “breaking” news. “First off, let me be clear: we have no evidence – old or new - that any votes in the 2016 elections were manipulated by Russian hackers.
“NBC News continues to falsely report my recent comments on attempted election hacking – which clearly mirror my testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last summer – as some kind of ‘breaking news,’ incorrectly claiming a shift in the administration’s position on cyber threats.
“As I said eight months ago, a number of states were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure. In the majority of cases, only preparatory activity like scanning was observed, while in a small number of cases, actors were able to access the system but we have no evidence votes were changed or otherwise impacted.”
Manfra said that NBC is “undermines the ability” of her agency and the Election Assistance Commission to “do our incredibly important jobs,” she says:
"NBC’s irresponsible reporting, which is being roundly criticized elsewhere in the media and by security experts alike, undermines the ability of the Department of Homeland Security, our partners at the Election Assistance Commission, and state and local officials across the nation to do our incredibly important jobs. While we’ll continue our part to educate NBC and others on the threat, more importantly, the Department of Homeland Security and our state and local partners will continue our mission to secure the nation’s election systems."
Manfra said, however, that DHS will continue to keep NBC up to date on the department’s efforts to protect the electoral system. "To our state and local partners in the election community: there’s no question we’re making real and meaningful progress together. States will do their part in how they responsibly manage and implement secure voting processes. For our part, we’re going to continue to support with risk and vulnerability assessments, offer cyber hygiene scans, provide real-time threat intel feeds, issue security clearances to state officials, partner on incident response planning, and deliver cybersecurity training. The list goes on of how we’re leaning forward and helping our partners in the election community. We will not stop, and will stand by our partners to protect our nation’s election infrastructure and ensure that all Americans can have confidence in our democratic elections.”
Manfra serves as Assistant Secretary of Cyber-security and Communications of the Department of Homeland Security.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.