U.S. not doing enough to defend against Russian meddling, former officials say

American intelligence officials say Russian cyberattacks could threaten the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections. Now an op-ed in the Washington Post warns that Russia has never stopped its online interference, and the U.S. government has not done much to stop them.

"We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation," write former CIA deputy director Michael Morell and former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers.

"There are many things we can do about this. We're just not doing them," Morell said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." 

Asked whether Russian influence is inevitable, Morell responded, "It's not inevitable."  

Morell, who is also CBS News' senior national security contributor and host of the "Intelligence Matters" podcast, gave one example of deterrence against what he calls "information operations tactics."

"We can pass the legislation that's been proposed that puts the same rules on political messaging on social media that we have on TV, radio, and print. And we can do a better job imposing costs on Vladimir Putin and Russia to make Putin think twice about continuing to do this," Morell said.

Morell, who said he has "no doubt" Putin is "fully involved" and has approved the cyberattacks, broke down the Russian president's motivations.

"One is, he is trying to weaken the United States, weaken our influence overseas. So if he can create discord here at home for us, he will weaken us overseas," Morell said. "The second thing he's doing, which may be the most important thing from his perspective, is – the greatest threat for him is the democracy in Russia. And if he can undermine it in the United States, if he can undermine it in western Europe, he can raise questions in his own country about the value of democracy. That's very important to him." 

In the op-ed, Morell and Rogers wrote the Obama administration and Congress' sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election meddling "were not significant enough" to deter Putin's Russia.

Meanwhile, President Trump went back and forth on the issue in November, saying he believes the U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded Russia meddled in the elections, but then telling reporters another time that he believes Putin when the Russian president says, "I didn't do that."  

Morell said the U.S.' failure to deter Russia has led other countries to see the methods as a tool they could employ as well.

"We see the Chinese doing this already, you see the Turks doing this in western Europe. We see the Chinese doing it in Taiwan, and so I think more countries are going to start doing this unless we deter them from doing so, and they're going to start doing it against us here at home. The Chinese have not done it here yet, but you can rest assured that they will unless we deter Russia, China, and the other countries that are going down this road," Morell said.