What may soon become a more "regular currency of war": cyberattacks, per the Center for Public Integrity, and it notes that the US Department of Defense may start cashing in as early as next week. Current and former senior US officials reveal to the investigative journalism nonprofit that the Pentagon has in place the blueprint to push back on Russia if it dares to interfere in the 2018 midterms, including giving the thumbs-up to US military hackers to preemptively access Russian cyber networks. That way, if retribution is necessary, the US is ahead of the game. This move is part of a larger executive order signed by President Trump in August that gives Defense Secretary James Mattis and DNI chief Dan Coats the authority to make certain retaliatory moves on their own.
The previous order dealing with this under President Obama had a "much more protracted process for the premeditated deployment of cyber weapons," per the CPI. Understandably, the details of what the initiative would entail if Russia meddled in next week's elections aren't being spilled. But a senior administration official told reporters it couldn't simply be bad-faith actors with "malign influence" (meaning someone trying to sway people's votes). That's "something that has happened since the dawn of the Republic," the official said. Instead, "swift and severe" action would only come in the wake of direct interference, such as messing with voter registration or recording how ballots were cast—tactics that would "fundamentally [wreck] the natural process that we have established in this country." Much more here. (We've been warned Russians may try to attack our energy grid.)