The cyberwar that never happened: How Obama backed down from a counterstrike against Russia In the summer of 2016, as evidence mounted of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, a team in the White House began work on a far-reaching counterstrike against Russian media, the Kremlin oligarchy, and Putin personally — plans that were shelved when President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, ordered the staffers to “stand down.” The details of the project, and the debate within the administration of how aggressively to confront Moscow, are told in a new book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones.... ...The counteroffensive was the brainchild of Michael Daniel, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, and Celeste Wallander, the chief Russia expert in the National Security Council. One proposal was to unleash the NSA to mount its own series of far-reaching cyberattacks: to dismantle the Russian-created websites, Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, that had been leaking the emails and memos stolen from Democratic targets; to bombard Russian news sites with a wave of automated traffic in a denial-of-service attack that would shut them down; and to launch an attack on the Russian intelligence agencies themselves, seeking to disrupt their command and control nodes. “I wanted to send a signal that we would not tolerate disruptions to our electoral process,” Daniel told Isikoff and Corn. “The Russians are going to push as hard as they can until we start pushing back.” Wallander proposed leaking snippets of classified intelligence to reveal the secret bank accounts in Latvia held for Putin’s daughters — a direct slap at the Russian president that would be sure to infuriate him. Working with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, Wallander drafted other proposals: to dump dirt on Russian websites about Putin’s money, about the girlfriends of top Russian officials, about corruption in Putin’s United Russia Party. The idea was to give Putin a taste of his own medicine. “We wanted to raise the cost in a manner Putin recognized,” Nuland says. But the “signal” Daniel had intended was never sent; the plans were scrapped by Rice and Lisa Monaco, the president’s homeland security adviser, who worried that if news of the project leaked it would “box the president in” and create pressure for him to act. One day in late August, according to Isikoff and Corn, Rice called Daniel into her office and ordered him to “stand down” and “knock it off.” The White House was not prepared to endorse any of these ideas. “Don’t get ahead of us,” Rice warned. Daniel walked back to his office. “That was one pissed-off national security adviser,” he told one of his aides. At his morning staff meeting, Daniel matter-of-factly told his team to stop work on options to counter the Russian attack: “We’ve been told to stand down.” Daniel Prieto, one of Daniel’s top deputies, recalled being incredulous at the decision. As Prieto saw it, the president and his top aides didn’t get the stakes. “There was a disconnect between the urgency felt at the staff level” and the views of the president and his senior aides, Prieto later said. When senior officials argued that the issue could be revisited after Election Day, Daniel and his staff took strong exception. “No — the longer you wait, it diminishes your effectiveness. If you’re in a street fight, you have to hit back,” Prieto remarked.... Obama and company should be tried for treason and colluding with Russia.