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Lindsey Graham Calls Out Biden on Colonial Pipeline Hack Response: 'Weak'

Newsweek logo Newsweek 5/16/2021 Jason Lemon
Lindsey Graham wearing a suit and tie: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) criticized President Joe Biden's response the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack on Saturday, calling it "weak." In this photo, Graham holds a news conference outside the court's building on April 22 in Washington, D.C. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) criticized President Joe Biden's response the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack on Saturday, calling it "weak." In this photo, Graham holds a news conference outside the court's building on April 22 in Washington, D.C.

Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham took aim at President Joe Biden over the latter's response to the Colonial Pipeline hack and other crises since he took office.

A recent cyberattack forced the Colonial Pipeline to shutdown operations, resulting in widespread fuel shortages in several states. As of this weekend, the pipeline has resumed normal operations but Colonial reportedly paid millions of dollars in ransom to the cyber criminal group DarkSide.

"Ineffective, weak," Graham said Saturday evening during an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, sharing his reaction to Biden's response to the crisis. "The one thing we haven't seen from Joe Biden is a deterrent approach. Is anybody in Russia afraid of hitting us again? The idea of graduating people to go into cybersecurity is not what I was looking for. I was looking for putting the Kremlin on notice," the GOP lawmaker said.

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Biden said on Thursday that the FBI does not believe the Russian government is involved with the cyberattack. However, he said that investigators do believe the hackers are based in Russia.

"We do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia," the president said.

Biden declined to comment on whether Colonial paid a ransom in order to restore service.

The president also signed an executive order on cybersecurity last week, citing the recent SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange hacks in addition to the Colonial Pipeline attack.

Biden's order established a Cybersecurity Safety Review Board, which will analyze hacks and cyberattacks. The order also requires companies and organizations to report particular information on breaches of their cybersecurity, while additionally updating standards and protocols for government networks. Furthermore, the order will create a playbook or guidelines for federal agencies to follow when they face cyber-incidents.

"I think we have to make a greater investment in education as it relates to being able to train and graduate more people proficient in cyber security," Biden told reporters on Wednesday, a comment Graham referenced in his remarks to Pirro.

Graham argued that Biden should have responded more aggressively to Russia and worked to update U.S. laws about cyberattacks. He said the U.S. should designate "cyberattacks like this as cyber-terrorism." The Republican senator said this would allow the perpetrators to get the "death penalty or life in jail."

"Is anybody afraid of Joe Biden? Is anyone being deterred by the policies of President Joe Biden? The answer is no. This is a dangerous time in the world right now," Graham argued.

The South Carolina senator has repeatedly criticized Biden over his response to various incidents and crises that have arisen since he took office. Back in April, Graham said that Biden's policies were creating "instability."

"Joe Biden has created a lot of instability in a very short period of time, and if he doesn't change his policies on the border, the worst is yet to come... I'm really worried about the world under the Biden administration. They're clueless, in my view, in terms of the threats we face at the border and abroad," Graham said.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

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