Hillary Clinton appeared to suggest in comments this week that she would bring the United States to the brink of war over the sort of cyber-attacks perpetrated against her campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Speaking at a campaign event in Ohio, Clinton said as president she would retaliate against cyber-attacks “like any other attack” — using, in part, “military responses.”
“Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee … We have got to step up our game. Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us.”
“We are going to invest in protecting our governmental networks and our national infrastructure,” she said. “I want us to lead the world in setting the rules in cyberspace. If America doesn’t, others will,” she told the crowd, which was largely composed of veterans and their supporters.
Discussing what she called a “spike” in cyber-crime, Clinton called out nations she believes threaten U.S. cyber security, citing a desire to even the score.
“You’ve seen reports. Russia’s hacked into a lot of things, China has hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee, maybe even some state election systems,” Clinton said, “So we have got to step up our game. Make sure we are well-defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us.”
This marks a sharp change from Clinton’s once-friendly tone towards Russia. In 2009, she supported the Russian reset, which sought to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Russia, touting the cooling of relations as “a brilliant stroke.”
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Clinton is now attempting an expression of strength on an international stage.
“We need to respond to evolving threats from states like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea,” Clinton said. “We need a military that is ready and agile so it can meet the full range of threats and operate on short notice across every domain — not just land, sea, air, and space but also cyberspace.”
Despite the tough rhetoric, Clinton has been hammered by lawmakers and FBI officials for her reckless of handling of classified information, allowing bad actors and foreign adversaries to potentially hack sensitive U.S. government secrets.