The New York Times has reported that a cyber "event" recently acknowledged in Washington was more serious than first suggested, saying that Russian hackers gained access to President Obama's mail, and other systems.
According to a report in Saturday's edition of the New York Times, computer hackers from Russia gained access to President Barack Obama's email account last year in a breach of classified systems in Washington DC. A cyber "event" had already been acknowledged by the government late in 2014.
Citing senior American officials briefed on the investigation, but without naming them, the paper reported that this breach was "far more intrusive and worrisome" than was publicly acknowledged.
The hackers were said to have accessed the State Department's classified system, thus gaining access to the email archives of people inside the White House, including the president's sent and received emails. However, the report said that they had not breached servers controlling Obama's cell phone.
"It's the Russian angle to this that's particularly worrisome," read one of comparatively few direct quotes in the article, from an senior official speaking on condition of anonymity owing to the delicacy of the issue. The paper reported that the hackers were presumed to be connected with or employed by the Russian government.
Already a target, emails restricted
Most of Obama's classified briefings are conducted either orally or on paper, rather than via email correspondence. Past attempts to read over his shoulder had also prompted stricter protocols, NYT said, on the list of people he can communicate with via email. Nor did Obama's email account appear to have been directly hacked.
Still, the paper reported that the State Department system breached contained more sensitive information than previously acknowledged, such as "schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation and, inevitably, some debate about policy."
The report was on newsstands around the US as President Obama gathered for the White House correspondent's dinner, calling the gathering "a night when Washington celebrates itself." The annual event features a comedic speech from the president, usually allowing him to take some satirical potshots at political friends, foes, and reporters alike.
Tough times, aging leader
Clinton's supposedly under-the-radar trip's part of her campaign to be a 'champion' for 'everyday Americans'
Obama snuck in one sly dig at Hillary Clinton, his defeated rival in the 2008 primaries turned his first-term Secretary of State, who is now running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Obama said that some Americans were currently living in uncertain times: "For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and now she's living out of a van in Iowa."
Clinton used a van for a deliberately low-key trip to Iowa - one of the first states on the primary tour, and one she lost to Obama eight years ago - this month.
His eight-year term limit fast approaching, Obama also disguised a barb at the opposition Republicans in the guise of a joke that office had taken its toll: "I look so old," he said, "that Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral."
House Speaker John Boehner caused a furor in Washington this year by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about plans for a nuclear accord with Iran. The White House argued that this was a breach of protocol, especially with Netanyahu weeks away from an - ultimately successful - re-election campaign.
msh/jil (AFP, Reuters)