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US senators call for hacking probe

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They send letter asking for special bipartisan panel to investigate alleged cyber attacks

WASHINGTON: Some US Republican and Democratic senators have called for a special bipartisan panel to investigate cyber attacks by foreign countries, with a focus on Russia's alleged efforts to influence the presidential election.

Mr Charles Schumer, who will be Senate Democratic leader in the new Congress in January, and Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said separately on Sunday that a select committee was needed to ensure effective congressional focus on the hacking of Democratic Party e-mails during the campaign.

"The fact that they're hacking our political system and trying to influence the outcome, as it seems to be, that is serious, serious stuff," New York's Mr Schumer said.

He said the panel should examine hacking by other countries, including China and Iran.

Two other senators, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island, joined Mr Schumer and Mr McCain of Arizona in sending a letter to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell requesting the panel.

By having one dedicated committee on the subject, they said, the investigation could be targeted, while avoiding the jurisdictional overlap that would occur if multiple panels started conducting their own reviews.

"Former US Secretary of State and elder statesman Henry Kissinger gave an interview on US TV network CBS' Face The Nation programme on Sunday. Here's what he said...


"Donald Trump is a phenomenon that foreign countries haven't seen. It is a shocking experience to them that he came into office, at the same time, an extraordinary opportunity."


"I don't doubt that the Russians are hacking us, and I hope we're doing some hacking there."

"Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American," they wrote.

"Cybersecurity is the ultimate cross-jurisdictional challenge, and we must take a comprehensive approach to meet this challenge effectively."

A spokesman for Mr McConnell's office said on Sunday that he would review the letter.

Last week, Mr McConnell said he would support efforts to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia tried to influence the Nov 8 election by hacking individuals and institutions, including Democratic Party bodies.

This has angered Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who says he won the vote fairly.

Russian officials have denied accusations of interfering.


The Electoral College is expected to officially vote this morning (Singapore time) for Mr Trump as the country's next president.

At meetings scheduled in every state and District of Columbia, the 538 electors - generally chosen by state parties - will cast official ballots for president and vice-president.

Mr Trump won a majority of Electoral College votes, while the popular vote went to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

US President Barack Obama suggested on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorised the e-mail hacks.

Mr McCain told CNN's State of the Union programme that the US response to the Russian attacks had been "totally paralysed" and said cyber warfare "is perhaps the only area where our adversaries have an advantage over us". - REUTERS

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