The US bluntly accused Russia on Friday of hacking American political sites and email accounts in an effort to interfere with the upcoming presidential election, the AP reports. Moscow dismissed the accusations, which significantly worsen US-Russia relations that already had deteriorated to the lowest point in years. The White House declined to say whether the hacking accusation would trigger sanctions against Russia. A senior Obama administration official said the US would respond "at a time and place of our choosing." The official said the public wouldn't necessarily know what actions the US has already taken or will take against Russia involving cyberspace.
"This is a huge deal," said Michael Morell, the former deputy and acting director of the CIA. "I can't think of any time in our history where we have blamed another government for trying to interfere with our elections." Late Friday, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused Russia of hacking American political sites. "These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process," a statement by the two agencies said. "The Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia...We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities." A Kremlin spokesperson dismissed the US statement but didn't deny Russia's involvement. (Read more Russia stories.)