Sen. Lankford: Instead of a 16-Item Do-Not-Touch List, Biden Should Have Laid Out a U.S. Map

By Susan Jones | June 17, 2021 | 8:01am EDT
The presidents of Russia and the United States met in Geneva on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
The presidents of Russia and the United States met in Geneva on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

( - Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) called it "stunning" that President Joe Biden would hand Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of 16 "critical infrastructures" that should be "off limits to attack," as Biden put it at his post-summit news conference.

"The stunning moment for me was actually a cybersecurity moment where Biden said I brought him a list of 16 areas in the United States that he can't attack with cybersecurity," Lankford said on Thursday morning.

It's jarring to me. I think he should have brought a map of the United States and just laid that out and said, here is everything you can't attack.

I don't know what's not on the list because he didn't release the list at this point. But he said there are certain areas that Russia shouldn't attack -- I guess, saying certain areas they can.

At the end of the day we need to be able to push back very clearly to Russia and to say to Putin no, we're off limits and yes, we're going to hold you accountable and be able to push back not give them a do-not-touch list but a wink-wink, nod-nod, you can attack these other areas.

Host Maria Bartiromo said she's "stumped" by the fact that Biden would list 16 vulnerable areas in the United States and treat Putin as though he is "our friend" who will say, okay, we won't hack your nuclear facilities. She asked Lankford why Biden would share such information:

"I don't know," Lankford said. "Basically he laid out and said, here's where we're most vulnerable, don't attack these spots, and then said to him, okay, we're going to work together in our countries to be able to isolate this.

Of course, Putin's response was, we don't do cyber-hacking, no, this is not happening in our country. The United States does more cyber-hacking. And so while Biden is in one spot saying, we're working together on this, we talked it all out and we're going to have this joint cooperation on it, Putin's saying, not even us, it's all them.

'I gave them a list of...16 specific entities'

At a news conference following his summit with Vladimir Putin, President Biden told reporters:

Another area we spent a great deal of time on was cyber, and cyber security.

I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructures should be off limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, of, if I'm not mistaken, I don't have it in front of me, 16 specific entities, 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.

Of course, principle is one thing. It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory.

So, we agreed to task experts in both our--both our countries to work on specific understandings about what's off limits, and to follow-up on specific cases that originate in other countries, in their--either of our countries.

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