John Carlin ran the national security division at the Justice Department
Former Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who ran the national security division at the Justice Department and oversaw the pursuit of cyber criminals, said the United States did not do enough to deter the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
"What we did was too late," Assistant Attorney General Carlin said during a panel discussion on election hacking at the RSA cybersecurity conference.
"We weren't bringing deterrence at all to the table."
Pre-election, it's vital that not just the United States but partners like Germany, like France make it clear what the red line is
The US intelligence community claimed that hacks were carried out by Russia in order to disrupt the election and eventually help Republican Donald Trump win but has provided no substantive evidence to back up their claims.
Russia has repeatedly denied the hacking charges.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, announced in late December he was ordering the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies.
Carlin said the US did not do enough to deter the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails
The measures came nearly two after the election, where President Trump won an upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin said countries with upcoming elections should be prepared to offer forceful and timely responses to cyber attacks.
"Pre-election, it's vital that not just the United States but partners like Germany, like France make it clear what the red line is, that there's going to be strong deterrence and that in terms of deterrence, our policy has got to be we are going to take action until the action stops," Assistant Attorney General Carlin said.
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Barack Obama announced he was ordering the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies
"So there is no ceiling on the level we will ratchet up the deterrence when you are undermining a core value."
Elections are set this year in European countries including France, Germany and Holland.
Democrats and Obama administration officials have criticised the US response to election hacking
Several Democrats and former Obama administration officials have criticised the US response to the election hacking as insufficient. The restrained response was due partly to concerns about escalating a cyber war with Russia over an election Secretary Clinton was expected to win, U.S. officials have said.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin stepped down from his Justice Department post last October and recently took a position as global chair of risk and crisis management at law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP.