[Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns]
● Let me first speak to the methodologies used. * * * * * to explaining why we assess that the Russian government was likely behind this activity. * * * * * with the combined efforts of both governments and the private sector, diplomatic engagement with Russia and other nations to restrict harmful cyber activity would be enforceable.
● Russia’s state sponsored outlets of RT and Sputnik News, characterized as “white” influence efforts in information warfare, churned out manipulated truths, false news stories and conspiracies. * * * a wide range of English language conspiratorial websites (“gray” outlets) . . . sensationalize conspiracies and fake news published by white outlets further amplifying their reach in American audiences. American looking social media accounts, the hecklers, honeypots and hackers described above, working alongside automated bots further amplify and disseminate Russian propaganda amongst unwitting Westerners.
● The attentive U.S. public and elected officials really ought not to be surprised again – strategically or tactically. To help understand future Russian thinking and capabilities the following initiatives are offered. . . . 1. Identifying in Real Time and Anticipating Russian Active Measures. 2. Reducing Russian Effectiveness. 3. Developing a strategic approach to countering Russian Active Measures.
● I am convinced that Russian intelligence services, their proxies, and other related actors directly intervened in our election in 2016. * * * That Russian effort is before us in plain sight—in state-sponsored propaganda broadcasts on RT (Russia Today), in countless internet trolls, fake or distorted news spread by fake news services, in the recent Kremlin get together of Russian president Vladimir Putin with the French far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. The list can go on.
● This digital forensic evidence can only adequately be assessed by looking at the wider picture of the 2016 influence campaign against the US election. . . . in the past 60 years, active measures became the norm. * * * in past 20 years, aggressive Russian digital espionage campaigns became the norm. * * * in past 2 years, Russian intelligence operators began to combine the two, hacking and leaking—or digital espionage and active measures.
● . . . thank you for inviting me to discuss “Disinformation: A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns” with you today, and specifically, how the ongoing revolution on how we create and communicate information, particularly in cyberspace, makes it easier for nations like Russia to undertake successful active measures campaigns, particularly in the realm of information operations, including overt and covert propaganda and disinformation efforts, in furtherance of national political goals.
[Senate Select Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism: The Modus Operandi and Toolbox of Russia and Other Autocracies for Undermining Democracies Throughout the World]
● Thankfully, there’s no evidence that voting machines in the United States were tampered with by any foreign power in our recent elections. Still, the Intelligence Community has assessed that Russia attempted to influence the election to undermine faith in our democratic process. We need to take this threat seriously.
● It is my hope that we will not be late in responding to the threat to our democracy that is brewing today. The Russian interference in our 2016 presidential campaign was a wake-up call for all of us, and it is incumbent on both the Executive and Legislative Branches to respond to that call with a coherent strategy to protect our democratic processes.
● . . . there is a damaging perception that it is impossible to understand who is responsible for which activities in cyberspace. This is sometimes called the attribution problem, and it is not nearly the impassable roadblock that it is sometimes made out to be.
● I often say that when it comes to cyber offense, the United States has the nicest rocks, but when it comes to cyber defense, we live in the glassiest house. It is important for us to increase the baseline standard of cyber defense in order to better guard against intrusions.
● Ironically, the legal attaches in U.S. embassies overseas have perhaps a more important role to play today in defending the United States than do our defense attaches. Our national security, and the security of America’s most important allies, rests on our ability to resist Russia’s strategy of influence. Thus far, we have unfortunately failed.
● Sam Colt said about his Colt 45 revolver in the 19th Century that it was the great equalizer; weaker and smaller didn’t matter if the smaller had his weapon. Today IT is thegreat equalizer. Small nations such as my own can be powerhouses in providing digital services to citizens,developing quickly and leaving large, far richer countries way behind. Unfortunately, the equalizing nature of IT holds true as well for countries and entities whose purposes and goals are nefarious.
● … “control of information has become as contested as control of the battlefield…[and] democratic states seem to be frightened or confused by the democratization of war reporting.” But this should have a positive impact on a profession that protects a democratic nation.
● The ability to communicate with the population will also become a requirement. The tactical use of social media, internet, and co-opted local networks (like emergency alert systems) will be needed, but equally important will be the skills to develop the right message—language, culture, narrative. Military Information Support Operations units have historically not been a component of maneuver units but should be made organic, instead of a requested enabler.
● Many experts fear uncivil and manipulative behaviors on the internet will persist -- and may get worse. This will lead to a splintering of social media into AI-patrolled and regulated 'safe spaces' separated from free-for-all zones. Some worry this will hurt the open exchange of ideas and compromise privacy
Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Jonathan Albright, Pew Research Center, March 29, 2017
● U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd urged social media and technology companies to do more to identify and eliminate terrorist content from the internet, after a meeting in London . . . . “We focused on the issue of access to terrorist propaganda online and the very real and evolving threat it poses,” Rudd said . . . . “I said I wanted to see this tackled head-on.”
● One of the most promising results of this westward push has been the establishment of a class called Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) at Stanford University, brought to life by two U.S. Army Colonels [who] . . . help translate the experiences and needs of the defense community to Silicon Valley. * * * In 2016, [they]also helped create “Hacking 4 Diplomacy,” a course aimed at building technology solutions for the State Department.
● Google’s commodification of content knowingly, willfully undermined provenance for profit. That was followed by the Facebook stream, with its journalistic jetsam and fake flotsam. Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive.
Robert Thomson, The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2017
● The spread of misinformation, as well as deliberate, fabricated news content online, has many heads, and no single weapon exists to defend against it. At MisinfoCon, a summit . . . the focus was on an immediate and executable range of actions: checklists, educational campaigns, tech solutions, community engagement projects, diversity efforts, and improving business models. After all, “fake news” has evolved to mean many things (apparently, including “stories one personally dislikes“).
● They came from around the country. They came from around the world, Journalists. Professors. Librarians. Software Developers. Activists, and Data Scientists. * * * The location was the MIT Media Lab. And the hundred who convened - curated from hundreds of applications - met to take on an issue fueled by the President of the United States. The topic was Fake News, and just the mention of the claims and counter claims now roiling journalism made for a frothy three days in Cambridge, Mass.
● …Russia is almost certain to repeat its efforts to undermine American voters’ faith in their electoral system…. Countering this unprecedented attempt at influence may require an equally unprecedented whole-government American response. According to experts, that could involve everything from better cyberdefense and more public exposure of hacking to a US-run debunking website . . .
● [Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon:] So far as enhanced forward presence is concerned, we want to see that presence as persistent as the threat that it is designed to deal with, to reassure those allies on our eastern flank, and to deter the kind of Russian aggression that we've seen recently: military build-up, use of hybrid techniques, and indeed, interference in -- in -- through cyber and -- and other techniques. We need to stand up that presence for as long as needed.
● Unlike in the conventional warfare realm, the lack of physical and geographic boundaries in cyberspace test modern warfighting doctrine, panelists offered during a discussion on how to define and carry out information warfare.
● Though it is vital to reiterate that for the vast majority of converts to Islam the motives are rarely political, converts have, time and time again, been found to go through a rapid process of radicalisation when it comes to committing violent terrorist attacks and tend to be the most vicious when doing so. I believe that there are three main reasons why converts are particularly vulnerable to radicalisation.
● The evolution in official Russian treatment of Stalin continues. He is no longer a tyrant nor is he an effective manager who may have occasionally exceeded the bounds of the acceptable. Now, the late Soviet dictator is being refashioned into a great leader without modification who is unjustly attacked by the opponents of Russia.
● The theme of PA propaganda is that the only way ultimately for the Palestinian people to maintain their honor and achieve justice is to drive the Jews violently off the land. Hence the praise of terrorists as heroes and martyrs, the naming of streets and public squares after Palestinians who have murdered Israelis in pizzerias and at bus stops, the school pageants at which small children are praised for saying they want to grow up to be killers of the Jewish “occupiers,” the laws promising large financial rewards for terrorism, and the ministries and other institutions that exist to pay terrorists.
The bipartisan legislation makes clear that combating anti-Semitism is in the U.S. national interest. The bill also requires increased reporting on anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, collaborative efforts between U.S. and European law enforcement, and efforts to improve security for Jewish communities.
● In 1943 [Theodor Geisel, "Dr. Seuss"] joined the Army and worked for the Information and Education Division where he created the character Private Snafu--who taught by negative example. He also wrote “Your job in Germany,” a propaganda film about peace in Germany and “Design for Death,” a movie study of Japanese culture.
This short overview of several psychological warfare operations conducted in the early Cold War period was submitted as an annex to a British Defence Coordination Committee (Far East) meeting to discuss the requirements of psychological warfare equipment for Cold and Limited War in the Far East. The paper was submitted in the autumn of 1958.
● . . . rampant conspiracy theories, fake news, and pseudoscience like homeopathy show that the world could use a bit more of the organized skepticism that provides the foundation of science. . . . But a study done with undergrads at North Carolina State University suggests that a class on scientific research methods doesn't do much good. Instead, a class dedicated to critical analysis of nonsense in archeology was far more effective . . . .
● Values underpin every aspect of society, including its culture, politics, economy, industry, attitudes, consumption, and even the development of technology. Thus, values provide a basis by which to understand the context within which people live and operate in a society. They provide us with a deep understanding of people—as employees, consumers, and other stakeholders—and enable us to communicate with them much more effectively than through any other means.
● The world before us is manifestly one in which America can no longer get by on its muscle. It must live by its wits. It may well be that the Department of State and related agencies, as well as the United States Foreign Service, are poorly adapted to meeting the challenges of the emerging world and Asian regional orders. It does not follow that the answer is to dismiss the diplomats, ignore the spies, shut the door, stock up on weaponry, and look for military solutions to non-military problems. That is the opposite of statecraft. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars as well as international opportunities for America. And it is dangerous.
● Norman Pearlstine (Vice Chairman of Time, Inc.) delivered a keynote in which he offered a perspective on the way in which journalists get, vet, and develop their reporting, a matter of some interest given the recent prominence information operations have assumed in attempts to influence public opinion.
● This semester I'm teaching media and foreign policy, which is quite exciting. And I'm teaching the national security policy course, which is a writing-intensive course, and it asks one question: Why did the United States invade Iraq in 2003? Last year I taught diplomacy and international relations, and I taught a course I call the globalization debate. So I have been rotating my courses.
● Every objective Russia-watcher knows that Russia lies – frequently, shamelessly, with abandon. Previous collections of debunked Russian fakes have documented numerous examples of willful, methodic manipulation of public opinion across the globe in a way that suits the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda.
● Across the continent the hand of the Russian state has been perceived in an array of cyber attacks on government and state institutions, in the phenomenon of "fake news" and disinformation, and in the targeted funding of opposition groups.
So how real is the threat and what form does it take?
● Russian interference in democratic elections is neither new nor unusual. On the contrary, it’s ubiquitous, it plays a role in just about every Western democracy, it often follows the same patterns as it did in the United States, and it often leads to the same disarray.
Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, March 31, 2017
● Our favourite Russian cartoonist . . . comments on the central role of television, with its powerful entertainment potential, in spreading disinformation and other kinds of propaganda. But maybe things are changing? After Sunday's protests in Russia against corruption, where mainly teenagers and young people in their early twenties took to the streets, many commentators noted that while this is a generation that only remembers one Russian president in office, it is also the first modern generation not to have television as its main source of information.
EU East StratCom Task Force, Disinformation Review, March 30, 2017
● Yes, the Wicked West has returned as Russian television’s bogeyman, and the country’s very sovereignty is again at stake. In particular, one guest on Solovyov’s show warned that the U.S. is using corruption “as a ruse” to foment unrest in Moscow — just as Washington did in Kiev.
● The SMS messages were part of a psychological operation against Ukrainian troops, not too different in its intent from dropping propaganda leaflets from airplanes, a psychological warfare technique that dates back to World War I as a way to demoralize troops.
● As part of Re:Baltica’s ongoing investigation into propaganda sites . . . reporters found documents that link Baltnews to the Russian-state multimedia conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya. This fact is obscured by a chain of owners, seemingly designed to make it appear as though Baltnews arose from local organizations.
Inga Springe and Sanita Jemberga, re:baltica, April 6, 2017
● Americans and Western Europeans have only just begun to wake up to Russia’s use of information as a tool of mischief. But it’s nothing new to the three Baltic countries . . . . For the past quarter of a century they’ve been doing their best to respond to the inflow of destabilizing innuendo from their huge neighbor to the east. Interference with elections? Check. Cyberattacks? Check. Prominent politicians with murky links to the Kremlin? Check. Fake news and skillfully targeted rumors? Double check.
● . . . one of the Islamic State’s media officials—was shown casting his eyes over a pocket-sized booklet titled Media Operative, You Are a Mujahid, Too. It was the self-proclaimed caliphate’s field guide for information warfare, a document that I’d heard rumours about, but never actually seen.
● . . . the basic WordPress site claims to offer "Everything about the Islamic State; News Updates; Media Releases, Fatawa and Articles about the Khilafah," and includes apparent copies of official articles and announcements from the so-called Islamic State.
● The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said Thursday that it had killed a propaganda chief and associates in an air strike in the western Iraqi town of Al-Qaim. Ibrahim Al-Ansari was . . . . The propaganda official was a leader in propoganda efforts to recruit foreign fighters and encourage "terror attacks" in western countries, Scrocca told reporters.
● Examining these publications for the first time offers a number of lessons for the policy community in how to confront the Islamic State in the Iraq-Syria theater, as well as on the thorny issue of how individuals self-radicalize to its cause.
● The very notion of Islamism often elicits fear and confusion in the West. Used to describe political action where Islam and Islamic law plays a prominent public role, it includes everyone from the European-educated “progressives” of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party to the fanatics of the Islamic State. Not surprisingly, then, “Islamism” can confuse more than it reveals.
Shadi Hamid and Rashid Dar, Brookings, April 2, 2017
● …if radical Islam is the problem, then moderate Islam is the solution. The government, law enforcement, and civic society need to work with moderate Muslims to identify and challenge Islamism that has taken root in so many Muslim communities around the world.
● The Chinese government’s recent steps to more severely restrict (and in some cases block) US think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, media outlets, and Internet companies from operating freely in China, while their Chinese counterpart organizations and firms operate with complete freedom and in growing numbers in the United States, has created an increasingly imbalanced situation. * * * Such an imbalanced situation also allows China to exert an inequitable influence over US public opinion through an unfettered flow of its propaganda.
Orville Schell and Susan L. Shirk, Asia Society, February 2017
● [Q] The killers were all young. You wrote that most were in their twenties. Were they brainwashed by the Maoist propaganda? [A] Yes. The young people kept talking about exploitation . . . . [by the same four landlords . . . . whose alleged crimes were constantly repeated by Communist Party propaganda across the nation in movies, posters, and textbooks.] And it turned out that their crimes were all fake. But this is all they knew and they thought that anyone who owned any land in China was a horrible landlord who deserved to die.
● In September 2016, the World Nomad Games were held in the Kyrgyz Republic. . . . The State Department sponsored several cultural ambassadors, including U.S. wrestlers and the first-ever kokboru team. The United States team ended the games with four medals . . .
Brook Larmer, 1843 Magazine, accessed April 10, 2017
● In 2016, China had more than one million millionaires. According to one survey, an estimated 83 percent of them plan to send their children to school abroad at an average age of 16. These youngsters will join an overwhelming outbound flow of students of all ages from China, in many cases to the U.S. or Canada. The stats on this mobility are both well-known and worth repeating
Mini Gu, World Education News & Reviews, April 4, 2017
● Nigerian trend watchers report that families in northern Nigeria remain closely aligned with old colonial ties, and often prefer study in the U.K., while families in southern Nigeria prefer the U.S. and Canada. The United States continues to be attractive, in large part because of the opportunities for partial or full scholarships that bring costs in line with those of other countries where higher education tends to be more affordable.
Nancy Keteku, World Education News and Reviews, March 7, 2017
● With a population of almost 1.4 billion and a burgeoning middle class, China sends more students abroad than any other country in the world. Around 460,000 Chinese nationals were enrolled at foreign educational institutions in 2014, a rise of 11 percent over the previous year. The U.S. is a major destination for these students, with fully two-thirds (304,040) enrolled in U.S. institutions in the 2014/2015 school year.
Rachel Michael, World Education News and Reviews, March 7, 2016
● …the number of Chinese students enrolled in fine and applied arts programs has more than tripled — a much faster rate of growth compared to the traditional leading fields of studies, such as engineering, business and management, and math and computer science.
Zhengrong Lu, World Education News and Reviews, March 7, 2016
● With all the cultural and financial benefits that international students bring with them to U.S. campuses, there is also a steep learning curve for those admitting, hosting and teaching them, especially when they arrive in such large and immediate numbers. With this current wave of Chinese students, there appear to be a specific set of issues that administrators and academics are beginning to come to terms with … fraud in the application process . . . an uncertainty about the quality of undergraduates that schools are admitting …. once on campus, Chinese students tend to struggle more than other nationalities with English-language fluency and comprehension, while their large numbers often lead to something of a ghetto mentality and a general lack of cultural interchange …
WES Staff, World Education News and Reviews, November 1, 2016
This is a compilation of news, articles, essays, and reports on strategic communications, Public Diplomacy, public affairs, U.S. government international broadcasting, and information operations. The editorial intent is to:
● share with busy practitioners the academic and policy ferment in Public Diplomacy and related fields
● from long speeches, testimonies, and articles, flag the portions that bear on Public Diplomacy
● provide a window on armed forces thinking on the fields that neighbor Public Diplomacy such as military public affairs, information operations, inform-influence-engage, and cultural learning, and
● introduce the long history of Public Diplomacy by citing some of the older books, articles, reports, and documents that are not available on the internet.
Public Diplomacy professionals always need a 360-degree view of how ideas are expressed, flow, and gain influence. Many points of view cited here are contentious, partisan, and/or biased; inclusion does not imply endorsement.
Donald M. Bishop, Bren Chair of Strategic Communications, Marine Corps University
Jeffery W. Taylor, University of Mary Washington, Assistant
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."