• EU to Take Action against Fake News and Foreign Electoral Interference

    Russian government-backed cyber aggression against democratic societies is heightening concerns in the West following a series of high-profile incidents. Russia’s electoral interference seriously threatens European democratic societies by promoting anti-EU, populist, far-right, ethnonationalist, xenophobic, and anti-American extremist forces.

  • Can American Values Survive in a Chinese World?

    The People’s Republic of China bounds from strength to strength. Every year sees increases in its wealth and power relative to the world. But what do its leaders hope to achieve with their newfound clout? Jonathan D. T. Ward’s book China’s Vision of Victory traces the Chinese desire to shape the future of all mankind (not just the East Asian part of it) to a national myth taught to schoolchildren across China. According to this narrative, China was once the center of the world; China was the mother of invention, the seat of global wealth, and the beacon of civilization. This is China’s natural role in the world order—a role disrupted by the “century of humiliation” between the Opium Wars and World War II, when China suffered at the hands of foreign powers. But now that age of suffering is over. China’s destiny, according to its leaders, is to reclaim its natural perch as the leading force of human civilization. Tanner Greer writes that these global ambitions raises serious questions for the United States – questions which go beyond whether Americans will be willing to live in a world where China is the supreme economic and military power. The “hardest question may be whether we are willing to live in a world where dominant economic and military power is wielded by an insecure regime whose leaders believe that the same authoritarian techniques used to control enemies within their society must be used to surveil, coerce, and corrupt those enemies outside it.”

  • A Healthy Fear of China

    “I have seen the future, and it works,” the left-wing journalist Lincoln Steffens famously declared, after observing Bolshevik Russia in its infancy. What was intended as a utopian boast soon read as a dystopian prediction — but then eventually, as Stalinist ambition gave way to Brezhnevian decay, it curdled into a sour sort of joke. Today, though, there is a palpable fear in the liberal West that Beijing is succeeding where Moscow failed, and that the peculiar blend of Maoist dogmatics, nationalist fervor, one-party meritocracy and surveillance-state capitalism practiced in the People’s Republic of China really is a working alternative to liberal democracy — with cruelty sustained by efficiency, and a resilience that might outstrip our own.

  • Campaign Finance Enforcement Is an Essential Component of National Security

    Russia is at it again, so this week’s campaign finance enforcement action – in which two Russian-born associates of Rudy Giuliani have been indicted and arrested for violating campaign finance laws, including allegedly funneling Russian money into the main pro-Trump political action committee (PAC) — could not have come at a more important time for defending American democracy from foreign interference. The 2016 presidential election was subject to “sweeping and systematic” interference, and the next presidential election is just a year away with the FBI warning that “the Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.”

  • Western Security Officials Believe Secret Russian Unit Responsible for Attacks in Europe: NYT

    Western security officials have identified a secret Russian intelligence unit that has tried to carry out assassinations and destabilization operations in foreign countries, according to a detailed New York Times report. Senior intelligence officials told the newspaper that the secret unit has only been identified in recent months, but that it has operated covertly for at least a decade. The unit, No. 29155, is based in Moscow and is part of the Defense Ministry’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU. The GRU orchestrated the Kremlin’s successful campaign to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

  • Senate Intel Committee: Russia Is Already Trying to Influence the 2020 Election

    In recent months, President Donald Trump has intensified his efforts to advance the lies spread by the Kremlin and undermine the U.S. intelligence community consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. On July 25, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to help push a Russian and far-right conspiracy theory that the U.S. cybersecurity company Crowdstrike worked with Ukranians and Democrats to frame Russia for election meddling. Patrick Tucker writes in Defense One that one important contribution of the second report on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, issued by the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is that the committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), is decisively refuting Trump and his conspiracy theory.

  • Senate Intel Committee: Russia Used Social Media to support Donald Trump “at the direction of the Kremlin”

    On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a new report, titled Russia’s Use of Social Media. It is the second volume released in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The new report examines Russia’s efforts to use social media to sow societal discord and influence the outcome of the 2016 election, led by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA). The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.  The Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign. 

  • Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say

    First came a destabilization campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia’s intelligence services, the authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks. Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.

  • Iranian Government Hackers Target U.S. Presidential Campaign: Microsoft

    Microsoft announced on Friday that a hacking group linked to the Iranian government has carried out a campaign against a U.S. presidential candidate. The group, which the tech giant named Phosphorous, made more than 2,700 attempts during a 30-day period between August and September to identify customer e-mail accounts. The hackers managed to hack into 241 of them. On Thursday, DHS and the FBI circulated a memo to state election officials warning that Russia will likely seek to interfere in the 2020 elections by discouraging voters or utilizing voter suppression tactics.

  • Democrats Must Act Now to Deter Foreign Interference in the 2020 Election

    Parts of the U.S. government, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as state authorities, are working to prevent foreign interference in American elections, “but even with a Herculean effort, the country’s defenses against political warfare, especially in the cyber domain, are weak and porous. Such attacks are easy to execute, but difficult and expensive to thwart. The threat is evolving and will be different than it was in 2016. There are many targets,” Thomas Wright writes. “When defense is difficult, deterrence becomes important. One way to deal with election interference is to convince foreign adversaries that the cost might outweigh the gains, thus persuading them not to attack. This is where Trump’s position is so damaging, seeking to punish interference against him, but openly welcoming interference on his behalf.”

  • U.S. Officials Taking Putin Election Comments Seriously

    U.S. security officials are not laughing at the latest comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections. Putin, speaking at an economic forum in Moscow Wednesday, dismissed U.S. allegations that Russia meddled in both the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2018 mid-term election as “ridiculous.” Despite Putin’s comments, U.S. security and intelligence officials have said, consistently, that they have seen indications Russia will try to interfere with the upcoming 2020 presidential elections.

  • A Bipartisan Step Toward Securing Our Election Infrastructure

    Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $250 million in funds to support state and local government efforts to strengthen election security ahead of the 2020 elections. The Committee’s action is an acknowledgment that securing elections from foreign interference is a bipartisan priority that requires more funding and continuous vigilance.

  • What’s at Stake in Trump’s War on Huawei: Control of the Global Computer-Chip Industry

    Silicon Valley may now be more popularly associated with software companies such as Google and Facebook but it takes its name from the material most used to make semiconductors. Semiconductors – or computer chips – power everything from mobile phones to military systems. The semiconductor industry sits at the center of the modern world. This point is key to appreciating what’s going on in the US government’s battle with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

  • A Wildly Irresponsible Cover-Blowing Article on a Whistleblower, Brought to You by the New York Times

    “The New York Times did itself, free speech, and the country no favors by running an article entitled, ‘Whistleblower is a CIA Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House,’” Aki Pertiz writes. “It basically outs a member of CIA in all but name as the whistleblower responsible for impeachment hearings that might bring down a president.” Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, adds: “This is terrible for the intelligence community, the media, and the country. But it is not terrible for the president of the United States. Remember, this is a man who mused that the U.S. government should ‘handle’ employees who talked to the whistleblower ‘like in the old days.’” Perhaps it’s just the standard bluff and bluster, but “The whistleblower is already living under federal protection because he fears for his safety. I hope he told his whole extended family to lock down all their social media immediately, because the trolls are coming. Lord help him if he is an ethnic or religious minority. Lord help us all if someone eventually shows up at his door. It’s not hard to imagine there are other Cesar Sayocs out there.”

  • Researchers Trying to Prevent a Repeat of 2016's Election Misinformation in 2020 Are Struggling Thanks to a Lack of Data from Facebook

    Facebook’s promises of sharing detailed amounts of data with researchers and academics to enable them to study and flag disinformation on the site ahead of the 2020 campaign seem to have fallen short, according to a new report from The New York Times. In October 2017, Facebook admitted that 126 million Americans had likely seen Russian misinformation over a two-year period up till August 2017. “Disinformation is still rife on the platform and is continuing to grow,” Mary Hanbury writes. “Last week, research from the University of Oxford showed Facebook was the number one global platform of choice for political parties and governments to spread fake news.”