Foreign Intelligence Services Targeted 2008 Campaign, Officials Were Warned

“Foreign intelligence services have been tracking this election cycle like no other,” warned the briefing from the intelligence community.

Photo: Don Ryan/AP

The intelligence community evidently gave some incoming members of the Obama administration a star-spangled welcome briefing — complete with a stern warning.

In a newly disclosed document titled “Unlocking the Secrets: How to Use the Intelligence Community,” intelligence officials told incoming officials that foreign intelligence services had been extensively spying on the 2008 political campaigns.

“Foreign intelligence services have been tracking this election cycle like no other,” the authors from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence wrote.

On the campaign trail, the ODNI authors wrote, foreign spooks met with campaign staff and other sources, hacked into campaign data, and engaged in “perception management” more aggressive than traditional lobbying — though the lack of specifics makes it unclear what any of that really entails.

The world is a different place, and spies overseas are more skilled nowadays, they wrote — leading to a new level of digital and physical monitoring in order to try to find secrets and influence policy.

The authors also warned that foreign agents would continue to try to ask invasive questions, influence key decision makers, invite them abroad, or give them compromised electronic devices laced with malware, like USB drives.

They should “be mindful of electronic interception” and not use wireless devices for sensitive conversations, the authors advised. There was no mention of encryption.

And if members of the administration go abroad, they were told, their hotel rooms were almost certainly vulnerable to bugs.

The document was one of several posted to the “IC On the Record” blog on Thursday.

Read the full orientation document here:

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