A response to Russia necessary

November 3, 2016 GMT

American intelligence officials believe, with “high confidence,” that the Russian government is behind hacking that represents nothing less than interference by a foreign government in a U.S. election.

This is easy to forget as email woes continue to engulf the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The FBI has let Congress know that it has obtained more emails related to Clinton — though these were uncovered as part of an investigation into the sexting by ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of close Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

But on a separate track, a steady drip-drip of emails from WikiLeaks continues, thanks to Russia, clearly designed to disadvantage one candidate, Clinton, thereby bolstering another, Donald Trump.

But the nation mustn’t forget where these documents likely come from. Apart from the Weiner emails, U.S. intelligence officials say Russia engineered much of the hacking that has produced some of the biggest headlines this election.

Nothing by way of “proportional response” should be off the table — including diplomacy to bring cyberwarfare-capable nations to the table to limit these intrusions and set some rules.

Until that day, however, the response must send a signal that meddling in U.S. elections is unacceptable. In a sense, Russia has declared war, albeit a cyber one. Before Russia did, it was China.

The response to Russia should be more than the “name and shame” tactic employed against the Chinese with a 2014 indictment of five Chinese military officers thought to be responsible for a cyberattack.

The problem is that, unlike conventional warfare, there is little sense of how to control cyber conflict — where tit for tat should end. We understand that a U.S. response might not necessarily be public. Still, there must be proportional response until the day comes when nations can arrive at a rules-of-the-road agreement.