Foreign-influence activities, Russia, hacking, 2016 campaign | Homeland Security Newswire

Foreign-influence operationsDOJ’s new initiative: Alerting public to foreign-influence activities targeting U.S. democracy

Published 20 July 2018

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that DOJ will begin to alert the public about foreign operations targeting U.S. democracy. The new DOJ initiative is aims to counter hacking and disinformation campaigns such as the one Russia undertook in 2016. The government will inform American companies, private organizations, and individuals that they are being covertly attacked by foreign actors attempting to affect elections or the political process. “Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda,” he said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, on Thursday announced that the Justice Department will begin to alert the public about foreign operations targeting U.S. democracy.

The new DOJ initiative aims to counter hacking and disinformation campaigns such as the one Russia undertook in 2016 to help Donald Trump win the presidential election.

The Washington Post reports that the government will inform American companies, private organizations, and individuals that they are being covertly attacked by foreign actors attempting to affect elections or the political process.

“Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them,” said Rosenstein. “The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda,” he said.

Obama administration officials said President Obama, in the run-up to the November 2016 election, struggled with the question of whether or not to disclose the information about the Russian effort to help Trump, fearing it would be viewed as an attempt to tarnish the Trump campaign in order to help Hillary Clinton.

“If this disclosure requirement had been around in 2016, I firmly believe that it would have served as a meaningful deterrent after Russia’s interference was first discovered, and it would have informed voters more quickly and more forcefully that a foreign government was trying to affect their vote,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) told the Post. Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, two years ago pressed the Obama administration to call out Russia’s activities.

Rosenstein told the Aspen audience that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election “is just one tree in a growing forest. Focusing merely on a single election misses the point.”

Rosenstein, referring to the warning issued last Friday by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (see “U.S. intel chief on Russia’s unrelenting cyberattacks: ‘The warning lights are blinking red’,” HSNW, 16 July 2018), said: “As Director Coats made clear, these actions are persistent, they are pervasive, and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy on a daily basis, regardless of whether it is election time or not.’