“Follow the trail of dead Russians”: Senate hears testimony on “cyber invasion”

WASHINGTON — Under the great dome where Congress has debated matters of war and peace, the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony Thursday about a 21st-century cyber invasion by Russia that is still under way.

Senators opened the first day of hearings on Russian meddling in the U.S. election by an army of hackers, and delved deeper into what the Russians have been hiding.

Former FBI special agent Clint Watts was part of the committee’s investigation. He told the committee that the Russians may now be trying to cover their tracks.

“Follow the trail of dead Russians,” Watts said. “There’s been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation who have assets in banks all over the world.”

There have been a series of arrests of Russian cyber security officials and a number of mysterious deaths of Russian dissidents around the world, including the recent murder of exiled Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov outside a hotel in Kiev.

“This Russian propaganda on steroids was designed to poison the national conversation in America,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday. 

Warner and his colleagues heard details about Russia’s vast information warfare campaign, which involves at least 15,000 operatives worldwide writing and spreading false news stories and conspiracy theories online. Witnesses said the effort goes back years and often starts with Russian-backed media.

The campaign has targeted President Trump himself.

“I can tell you right now, accounts tweet at President Trump during high volumes when they know he’s online and they push conspiracy theories,” Watts, the former FBI agent, told CBS News.

Many of the fake…

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