Before ‘Fake News,’ Trump Gloated About His Fake Renoir – Huff Post
He refuses to see phony staring him in the face, says biographer.
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Promoting Accountability and Transparency of Congressional Investigations into Russian Interference in 2016 Elections – People For the American Way (press release) (blog)|
|CIA corrects director’s Russian election meddling claim – CNN|
|Before ‘Fake News,’ Trump Gloated About His Fake Renoir|
He refuses to see phony staring him in the face, says biographer.
|Senator Warner: Tech Needs to ‘Come Clean’ about 2016|
If Congress regulates social networks in new ways following the 2016 election, no single person will have been more responsible than Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. In the aftermath of the election, it was Warner who pushed Silicon Valley executives to delve more deeply into their data, looking for signs of Russian electoral interference.
As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has hauled tech-company executives to Washington for questioning. The pressure he applied appears to have been a motivating factor in the companies eventually coming forth with evidence of Russian meddling.
How much the social networks have cooperated is still on Warner’s mind, however. He believes that there are far more ad purchases and more Russian-linked accounts than the companies have disclosed, and he’s pushing them to search more deeply.
“I said, ‘This doesn’t pass the smell test. You gotta go back and dig in. If this were a new market opportunity, I know the resources you could put into it,’” Warner told me.
The next step of Warner’s investigation will be in two weeks, when executives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The following Q&A details what Warner’s thinking about in the weeks leading up to the hearing.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Alexis Madrigal: So, as of today, what do we know about the Russian disinformation campaign on Facebook and other social-media platforms?
Mark Warner: First of all, let’s step back and put the Russian involvement in 2016 in the overall context. It was approved at the highest level. It was coordinated in ways that were unprecedented. It included the things that have been much reported on, like hacking into both political parties and releasing information harmful to one candidate, Clinton, and helpful to Trump.
We know that Russians and even Trump’s Department of Homeland Security have acknowledged that 21 states had their electoral systems probed, if not fully hacked into. We know that this is part of a pattern that has been going on and continues after the election. And it included interventions in the French election, where Facebook was much more active.
I think our government and the platform companies were more than a little bit caught off guard. I don’t think anyone had seen anything of this scale before.
Madrigal: When did you start investigating what happened?
Warner: Right around the time of the election a guy who works for me said, if you Google “election hacking,” you don’t get Fox or MSNBC or CNN. Four of the first five stories were from Russia Today and Sputnik. This was Google, not even Facebook and Twitter. And there were lots of reports of trolls on social media pushing stories. So, it was clear they were using these tools.
I’ve been a supporter of these tech companies from a policy standpoint. But when I started saying that it appears that there were these trolls trying to use these platform companies to interfere in the election, the companies’ initial reaction was that they blew it off. That disappointed me. There was the famous Zuckerberg comment. And into February and March, they were dismissive.
Yet at the same time, coincident with this, there were the Dutch elections and the Dutch ended up hand counting their ballots because they were concerned about potential foreign intervention.
Some of the senior Facebook and social-media companies’ executives came out in the spring and I really pressed them. They started to say they were acknowledging something. Facebook talked about the 30,000 to 50,000 accounts in France that they banned. They said, “We’ve woken up to this.” But it was still many months later, this summer, before any of the companies started to produce some of the content and acknowledge paid advertising and fake accounts. That was just Facebook.
We had experts come in who said, this could very well be targeted on a geographic basis, targeted on demographics. Having been in politics and in the tech business, you look at a 750 percent increase in digital advertising in politics between 2012 and 2016, and you say, if you’re going to try to disrupt an election, you would use digital tools. Because it is a lot easier to target it and it’s the Wild West, there’re no election-advertising rules.
And if you do it right the way, you leave few fingerprints.
Madrigal: In your mind, what are the key outstanding questions?
Warner: All these companies need to come fully clean about what happened in 2016. Don’t tell me they found 450 accounts linked to the American election when they found 50,000 in France. And don’t tell me they found all the ads.
The first pass from Twitter was worse. They took only things that were derivative of what Facebook found. And they found some stuff. But I said, you have to go back and dig in. So, we need to figure out, number one, what happened in 2016.
While I’m trying to not get into the whole editorial-content argument, this notion that we can’t curate at all just doesn’t hold water. They’ve had to do it every time there has been something that has created consequences. Child pornography for example, or terrorist activity, or information on how to create bombs.
A lot of that was forced by the European governments. Areas reach a tipping point, the [platform companies] step in and act. They have to, if you don’t want over-the-top regulation, or worse yet, we allow this to continue and we have some massive upheaval or loss of faith in the democratic process. Because people see how bad this was with relatively small amounts of dollars spent.
Madrigal: How might this translate into legislation?
Warner: Where we’re headed with legislation is the lightest touch possible. Keep some residual location where someone can go look at the [political-advertising] content. Basically apply some of the most basic rules that apply to print and broadcasting to digital media. It doesn’t get at the whole problem, but it gets at the question of tagging political advertising.
There is not a legislative proposal here, but I think there is going to be a growing interest in this topic. What I want to make sure is clear to the American people, this is not as simple as following the money on Russian ads. We need to look at the bots on Twitter and the pages on Facebook. Has this been done in collaboration with hate groups in the United States? Is it reinforcing the hate groups? How much responsibility do the companies have to sort through all that?
Madrigal: Facebook executives, publicly and privately, as well as pundits like Mark Penn, have argued that any Russian interference had a negligible effect because it was too small-time within the scale of Facebook. Are they right?
Warner: If this tiny tip of the iceberg is the extent of the activity, that might hold some water. But if there is, which I suspect, a much bigger piece of the iceberg below, then they are wrong. The numbers are much, much larger. The public press, so far, is really looking at what is still a limited universe.
You can target very discrete demographic locales. There still remains a question: How did they know where to target? I don’t have an answer yet. I don’t know if we’ve got the full evidence. Some people suspect this was very targeted in Wisconsin and Michigan where the Democrats were asleep at the switch. How were they smarter than the Democrats? That may not be a high hurdle to get over.
Madrigal: You represent a lot of non–Silicon Valley tech companies in Virginia. How have they reacted to the pressure you’ve been putting on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others?
Warner: I’ve been surprised that they have been so generally supportive of me driving the whole investigation to its conclusion. The fact that we’ve kept it bipartisan is extraordinarily important. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t get more worried about our vulnerabilities, in my work on this or the banking committee or looking at Equifax.
Since we’re a high-defense state, it’s not always the best thing to say, but if you take all the Russians spent in messing with our election, the French elections, Dutch elections, and all double it, you’re still less than the cost of one F-35.
As someone who comes from a pro-defense state, we have to ask: Do we have the best military money can buy, when we’re seeing the first attacks made in 21st-century digital conflict? I would not narrow it to just the Russian electoral interference. I would talk about the Chinese OPM breach, Chinese intellectual-property stealing around stealth. This is such an asymmetrical area. Our technology advantages end up being a disadvantage.
We have been reluctant as a nation to respond too much. You start a cyber conflict when we are so technology-dependent, who knows where it ends?
The one thing that is absolutely clear: We don’t have a whole-government approach to cyber. Yahoo has a 500 million user breach. How’s that not material enough to report it in your [Securities and Exchange Commission] filings? We have 49 different cyber-breach laws in 49 states. They didn’t need to disclose it.
Madrigal: You mentioned driving this investigation “to its conclusion.” What might that look like?
Warner: Let’s make sure we know entirely what happened. Let’s try to figure out specifically: Was there collaboration or collusion? And in terms of the social-media companies and platform companies, let’s get all the facts of how extensive this interference was. What happened in 2016 happened. We need to know the extent of it to protect our elections. And I don’t think there is any indication that what was happening during the election stopped on November 8.
Going forward, let’s have at least regulations on transparency on spending and the ability to look at the content of political advertisements. And in a way that’s not too heavy-handed and maintains the freedom of the internet, let’s at least start the discussion about information integrity, so that Americans know that if they see somewhere that Mark Warner is saying something bad about Donald Trump, you have some faith that it actually is real.
|russian institute for strategic studies – Google Search|
Observer–8 hours ago
In recent years, as Russian espionage against Warsaw has ticked upward … the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI in Russian) which, …
thenews.pl–Oct 17, 2017
A Russian who was recently expelled from Poland was not a spy but a … with the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), …
thenews.pl–Oct 13, 2017
Russian suspected of hostile activities expelled from Poland: official … of the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS)” used …
<a href=”http://StopFake.org” rel=”nofollow”>StopFake.org</a>–Oct 18, 2017
Usovsky tried to get money from the state-funded Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. He messaged Kremlin officials: Vladislav Surkov and …
|Internet Research Agency – Google Search|
Quartz–Oct 17, 2017
He was working for the “Internet Research Agency,” a company in St Petersburg, which is believed to have done work spreading political …
‘Our task was to set Americans against their own government’: New …
Business Insider–Oct 17, 2017
The Russian Troll Farm That Weaponized Facebook Had American …
Vanity Fair–Oct 18, 2017
Exclusive: Putin’s ‘chef,’ the man behind the troll factory
Highly Cited–CNN–Oct 17, 2017
Kremlin oligarch dubbed Putin’s ‘chef’ unmasked as the money …
In-Depth–Daily Mail–Oct 17, 2017
Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during …
Highly Cited–The Guardian–Oct 17, 2017
|Did Russias Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election?|
With pressure on Facebook mounting in anticipation of general counsel Colin Stretch’s testimony in front of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee, it can be helpful to step back and take stock of what we the public know, and what we don’t. We know, for example, that some institution linked to the Russian government — likely the infamous Internet Research Agency — bought ads on Facebook between 2015 and 2017, with the assumed intent of stoking anger and partisanship. We know that the ads concerned wedge issues like immigration, the Second Amendment, and police brutality; we even know what some of the Russian pages and accounts were. And we know that around 3,000 ads were purchased at a cost of around $100,000. Other platforms like Google and Outbrain are investigating Russian ad buys on their networks as well.
Here’s what we don’t know: whether or not, and to what extent, those ads were effective at swinging votes.
Digital advertising is a complicated business, and it can be a bit of a black box. Even with the absurd amount of data collected by Facebook and its various third-party partners, it can be hard to pin down the actual effects of a given campaign — and everyone is incentivized to play up or play down results. A fantastical theory recently floated by a marketing agency claimed that with just $42,800, a dedicated campaign could have swayed the 10,704 Michigan voters that won Trump the state. It’s a fun theory — but it’s a theory that represents an absolute edge-case scenario, in which Facebook ads are supernaturally effective and persuasive. People who’ve worked in digital advertising are more dismissive: Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook product manager and author of Chaos Monkeys, called theories like this “utter bullshit.”
Part of the problem with assessing the effect of Russian ads is that Facebook itself sends mixed messages. According to the company, 10 million people are estimated to have seen at least one of the ads (25 percent of them were never shown to any users). Facebook rarely makes raw data public, and its public metrics can be misleading. For instance, a video view is registered if someone watches the first 3 seconds with the sound off. So, 10 million people “saw” the ads — but the number that actually absorbed what they saw is totally unclear. (And that’s setting aside that on several occasions now, Facebook has admitted to accidentally misreporting its own metrics.)
At the same time, Facebook brags about its ability to influence voters. Its business section is full of case studies about political campaigns. According to Facebook, Republican governor Rick Scott, running for reelection in 2014, used Facebook to create a “22% increase in Hispanic support,” which the case study calls “a deciding factor” in his win.
Obviously, the ad platform’s effectiveness in political campaigns lies somewhere between all-powerful and house of cards. But so long as Facebook holds back its own data, the rest of us won’t be able to tell which side it falls on. “Facebook probably has the data that would help us understand whether or not there was an impact,” Yochai Benkler of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society said in a recent interview with Select All. If Facebook released, for example, precise data about which geographical and demographic groups were targeted by Russian ads, third-party researchers could compare that information to actual and expected turnout in last year’s election. “They have the data that will help us understand,” Benkler says. “They’re not releasing it in any significant way.”
Absent that data, the best we can do is make educated assessments based on past experience. And to anyone who’s worked in online advertising or social-media management, the $100,000 spent by the Russian government is laughably small, no matter how precisely targeted. In contrast, the official Trump campaign spent $90 million on digital ads — and, unlike the Russians, had assistance from Facebook employees to target and deploy them effectively. “There’s no way $100,000 in ad budget impacted the election. It’s ridiculous,” García Martínez said.
None of this means that Facebook doesn’t need regulation. The Russian government secretly paying for political advertisements aimed at influencing a domestic election is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty — a real problem that Facebook, and the government, must investigate and address. To their credit, both legislators and Facebook executives appear to understand the need to confront the issue. Days after Facebook disclosed its findings, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would now require full public disclosure of an ad’s sponsor and target audience. This week, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warren introduced the Honest Ads Act, a law that would bring digital political ads in line with the more stringent regulations that govern political ads on radio and television.
At the same time, the focus on Russian ads, no matter how well-intended, ignores the many other troubling aspects of Facebook’s influence on the election. For one — buying ads isn’t really what the Internet Research Agency does. Loosely referred to as a “troll operation,” the employees specialize in creating and performing as “sock puppets,” seemingly normal commenters and posters who are actually acting under ulterior motives.
Sock puppets, not nefariously developed and purchased political advertisements, are the IRA’s bread and butter, as recent reports out of Russia corroborate. According to former employees, “the Internet Research Agency targeted U.S. audiences in part by posting provocative ‘comments’ pretending to be from Americans on newspaper articles that appeared on the websites of the New York Times and Washington Post.”
Those comments and other reported elements of the IRA’s intelligence operation — Trump rallies organized by Russian sock puppets, for example — portray a secretive attempt to harness not the ad-buying tools of these companies, but their completely free-to-use network effects. In form and function, many of the things that the IRA is described as doing on social media and in comment sections is not all that different from what anyone else does. Russian trolls (and their profit-minded cousins in “fake news”) “didn’t make up stuff that wasn’t already part of the folklore of the right,” Benkler said. They just “circulated and cut and paste and created all sorts of remixes of all the same sets of stories that were already circulating widely, on the right anyway.” And that’s far more concerning.
At the peak of its influence campaign, the IRA had about 90 people focused on the United States, though that number has apparently now dropped to 50. When social-media companies cracked down on their sock-puppet accounts over the last two months, they suspended 118 communities that could reach an estimated 6 million users. Among the accounts was a Twitter account masquerading as the Tennessee GOP, @TEN_GOP, which had 136,000 followers — ten times as many as the actual Twitter account for the state’s Republican Party. The organization reported the fake account to Twitter three times since September 2016, and yet the company was unresponsive.
According to BuzzFeed:
This kind of free movement of misinformation between disingenuous and malevolent outside actors, passionate true believers, and the reading and voting public should be the real concern of anyone trying to assess the effects of social media on the political process — not a relatively small number of easy-to-identify (and easy-to-regulate) advertisements. A few weeks ago in a press conference, Senator Mark Warner, who is helping lead the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia inquiry, said that he was more concerned about sock puppets than ad buys. “It’s the organic posts masquerading as reality that nobody has to pay for, that, to me, is the bigger concern,” said García Martínez.
Put another way, what we should worry about isn’t what Facebook was paid to do, but what it did for free. Clinton outraised and outspent Trump substantially over the course of the campaign, but his earned media — the chatter he generated — was upwards of a billion dollars, according to García Martínez. “The ability for Facebook to amplify that sort of message? That’s the scary, high-value thing.”
And what’s dangerous isn’t just that false stories and conspiracy theories can travel up what Benkler calls the “attention backbone” of social media. In disclosing the Russian ads, Facebook stated plainly that it viewed the ability to communicate across borders as a strength of the system, not a liability. It’s the corrosive effect of these “inauthentic” accounts — which Facebook has no easy way of dealing with — and the attention economy that gives Trump a freebie campaign. There is a growing tendency for people to label anyone they don’t agree with online as a bot. A few months ago, an enterprising college student retweeted by Trump was accused of not existing simply because her profile picture was of a stock photo (raise your hand if you’ve ever used an avatar that wasn’t actually your own face). During the campaign, American trolls tried to suppress the vote by creating fake promotional images telling Clinton supporters that they could vote by text. They didn’t need to set up a Facebook campaign. They were able to spread them around the internet at no cost.
|Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election? – New York Magazine|
|Trump Puts America At Risk And Disrespects Those Who Serve|
Can You Believe? Can you believe our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico having to get their drinking water from toxic sites? Can
|White House: It’s ‘Highly Inappropriate’ For Journalists To Criticize A General|
“If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate.”
|Sessions, experts say U.S. still unprepared for Russian interference in future elections|
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) —Reports that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign shared content from a Twitter account linked to the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election have left experts disturbed by Russia’s apparent success in embedding itself in U.S. political discourse at the highest levels and concerned about what that means for future elections.
According to the Daily Beast, several senior Trump campaign officials and allies retweeted posts from @Ten_GOP, which claimed to be the “unofficial” account of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Instead, the account reportedly originated from the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked “troll farm” believed to be responsible for much of Russia’s election propaganda campaign.
Then-Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway retweeted the account two days before the election, suggesting opponent Hillary Clinton should be in prison.
“Mother of jailed sailor: ‘Hold Hillary to same standards as my son on Classified info’ #hillarysemail #WeinerGate” it said.
The account had extraordinary reach, particularly when compared with the actual Tennessee Republican Party, which spent months fruitlessly urging Twitter to suspend it. By the time it was shut down, it had 136,000 followers, about ten times as many as the real @TNGOP account.
President Trump’s son retweeted the account three times, including once on Election Day. He also shared a dubious allegation of voter fraud in Florida a week before the election.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn retweeted @Ten_GOP once, and his son retweeted it 34 times, according to the Daily Beast.
“The fact that Russian trolls were able not just to mimic but to spoon-feed the Trump campaign their fake messages testifies to their deep understanding of the campaign’s messaging strategy,” said Michael Carpenter, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.
In August 2017, the account tweeted a photo of the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 victory parade and claimed it was the crowd outside Trump’s rally in Phoenix.
According to John Cohen, former acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, the revelations about @Ten_GOP suggest the Russian influence operation is more sophisticated than initially believed. Their account operators figured out what to post and how to get presidential campaign officials to amplify their message.
“What this really illustrated is to protect this country we have to better understand how criminals, terrorists, foreign intelligence services are turning to social media and internet-based communication platforms to engage in illicit activities, and we can no longer think about these problems in the traditional way,” said Cohen, now a professor at Rutgers University.
Recent media reports have revealed how extensive Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. society have become, including an apparent attempt to weaponize Pokémon Go.
Experts warn these efforts did not cease after Election Day. According to Facebook, less than half of the 10 million Americans believed to have seen Russian ads on the site viewed them before the election.
Attempts to stoke racial tensions have reportedly gone as far as paying trainers to hold self-defense classes for African-Americans earlier this year. Russia-linked fake accounts also promoted Black Lives Matter messaging, which CNN reported may have been intended to encourage black Americans to protest and to make others view their activism as a threat.
“One part of the Russian plot is that they look at social media behavior within the community they want to target,” Cohen said.
Operatives study legitimate posts, analyze the areas where they want to influence voters, and then they target their content to influencers in that community in the hope they will share it, as happened repeatedly with the @Ten_GOP account.
Russians may have used similar tactics to infiltrate online communities of military personnel and veterans. Cohen cited research showing “significant and persistent interactions” in April 2017 between military personnel Twitter accounts and a network of Russia-focused and conspiracy theory accounts.
“These interactions are often mediated by pro-Trump users and accounts that identify with far-right political movements in the U.S.,” wrote researchers from the Project on Computational Propaganda.
In all of these cases, Cohen said the goals were similar, “influencing our election, undermining confidence in government, and exacerbating tensions that were already existing in our country on important social issues.”
People who have worked at these “troll farms” recently told a Russian media outlet that their content often aligned with Donald Trump’s message, but it was more about linking Clinton to the “ruling party” and defeating her.
“The Kremlin’s overarching aims are to divide Western societies internally by stoking discord and sowing chaos, discredit NATO and the EU, and delegitimize the liberal international order,” Carpenter said.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA agent and author of “The Interrogator: An Education,” said the latest reports provide “red-handed evidence” that Russia is engaged in “a multi-layer, sophisticated, sustained effort” to alter the opinions of American citizens and policymakers.
“Even if Trump did not exist, they would be doing things like this and have been doing things like this because they can foster discord in the American system and distrust for the American system,” he said.
This type of disinformation and propaganda campaign has been “the bread and butter” of Russian and Soviet intelligence operations for decades, according to Cohen. What is new is utilizing pretty much every social media service available—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and more—to spread the message.
“Other intelligence services conduct intel and propaganda campaigns, and its very likely that they are leveraging social media and other internet-based platforms as well,” he said.
Carpenter also suggested other adversaries are closely watching Russia’s machinations play out and noting the relatively muted U.S. response.
“The Russian government has turned information warfare into an art unlike any other nation-state,” he said. “But China, Iran, North Korea and other states are watching and learning and will soon be replicating Russia’s tactics, particularly if they perceive these operations as having achieved their goals at little cost.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., raised alarm about the extent of Russia’s ambitions at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
“Anybody who reads intelligence knows that we face a sophisticated long-term effort by a foreign adversary to undermine our foreign policy and our ability to lead in the world by trying to undermine confidence in American institutions,” he said.
Speaking to Attorney General Jeff Session, Sasse emphasized the danger these tactics pose.
“We live at a time when info ops and propaganda and misinformation are a far more cost-effective way for people to try to weaken the United States of America than by thinking they can outspend us at a military level,” he said.
Asked by Sasse whether the government is fully prepared to protect the 2018 and 2020 election from inevitable attempts to interfere again, Sessions responded bluntly, “Probably not. We’re not.”
That is Cohen’s fear, and he is not confident the Trump administration is taking that threat seriously enough.
“The sad thing is that the administration, for the most part, has seemed unwilling to acknowledge that this effort by the Russians has taken place and continues,” he said.
Despite the evidence of the scale and depth of the Russian operation, President Trump continues to publicly dismiss any discussion of it as a “hoax” intended to invalidate his victory. Other administration officials have also attempted to downplay it.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo claimed incorrectly Thursday that the intelligence community concluded Russia did not affect the outcome of the election. The CIA issued a statement afterward contradicting him and confirming that the intelligence community did not assess the political process or public opinion.
“The first thing we need to do is we need to get beyond the polarized nature of the public debate on this issue,” Cohen said.
The politicized rhetoric and reflexive responses on both sides obscure the goal of addressing what he views as America’s biggest national security priority.
“It’s imperative that we learn from what they were able to do and put in place the right measures to counteract it in the future,” he said.
Cohen warned that social media companies cannot be counted on to police this content themselves, as the 2016 campaign clearly demonstrated. Instead, the public needs to be educated about how to identify and combat it.
“We can’t just sit here passively and hope it will go away,” he said.
Carle said some kind of regulation of social media is needed, much like limits are placed on particularly incendiary speech in the real world.
“You and I cannot shout fire in a crowded room. You cannot own a piece of artillery and fire it at your neighbors,” he said.
Carpenter suggested looking to Finland and the Baltic states, societies that have largely inoculated themselves from Kremlin disinformation.
“This is because the media in these countries are very proficient at quickly exposing Russian propaganda for what it is, and societies have become accustomed to questioning sources and looking for possible Russian spin,” he said. “In short, the more Russian propaganda is exposed, the less effective it becomes.”
To similarly vaccinate the American electorate against Russian meddling, people must learn to ensure that information they rely on to make decisions and form opinions is accurate and comes from a trustworthy source.
“At the end of the day, the best way you can counteract this campaign is for people to be skeptical about what they see on social media,” Cohen said.
|Sessions, experts say US still unprepared for Russian interference in future elections – WJLA|
|Putin Trump – Google News: Putin says Americans don’t show Trump enough respect – CBS News|
Putin Trump – Google News
|AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrongly blames terror for UK crime jump – SFGate|
|California billionaire launches ads urging Trump impeachment – Washington Times|
|12:51 PM 10/20/2017 CIA Director Mike Pompeo distorted the intelligence communitys finding | A British lawmaker called for parliament to look into Russian interference in the Brexit campaign.|
Selected and Saved News Stories Trump Saved Stories – 1. Trump Today’s Headlines and Commentary Putin: Americans don’t give Trump enough respect – New York Post 11:53 AM 10/20/2017 Dont Forget to Adjust for Russian Trolls The Atlantic: According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other, Bush said. This … Continue reading“12:51 PM 10/20/2017 – CIA Director Mike Pompeo distorted the intelligence communitys finding… | A British lawmaker called for parliament to look into Russian interference in the Brexit campaign.”
|Lawyer Looks to Disbar Former FBI Chief Comey For Lying Under Oath – The Epoch Times|
|Senate intelligence panel postpones hearing with Trump personal lawyer – Politico|
|Senate panel postpones hearing with Trump lawyer Cohen in Russia probe – Reuters|
|One Month Since Maria Hit Puerto Rico, President Trump Must Commit To Long-Term Recovery|
Tweets cannot change the facts on the ground.
|Report: House Republicans planning to begin impeachment once first Trump-Russia indictment lands|
Everyone involved knows indictments are inevitable, if not imminent, in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is planning to indict and prosecute Trump’s underlings in order to pressure them into flipping on Trump. It’s been far less clear how the scandal will play out in parallel on the political side once the prosecutorial side reaches the indictment stage. But now one House insider has provided what may be a big piece to the puzzle.
Political insider Scott Dworkin is the co-founder of the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, and he’s also periodically a guest commentator on MSNBC. This morning he revealed that a senior staff member for a Republican Congressman told him, “Were bracing for an indictment, when first one hits we will impeach.” (link). With the current dysfunction in the GOP, it’s not a given that they’d all be on the same page with this. But it does offer a glimpse into how the GOP could try to preemptively oust Donald Trump ahead of the midterms, in the hope of avoiding getting wiped out themselves.
If Trump’s own Republican Party begins impeachment hearings against him, it would leave him without any remaining meaningful support in the federal government. It would also send a signal to average Republicans among the American public that it’s time to give up on Trump, which would send his approval rating hurtling even lower than it is now. The ongoing impeachment hearings and his collapsing support could leave him in a position where he’d have little choice but to resign.
The Republican Party would then try to quickly regroup behind President Mike Pence heading into the midterms, under the premise that they “fixed” the problem in their own house by ousting Donald Trump. But the Democrats would still be in a strong position to win a majority in the House and Senate. If Robert Mueller then unearths proof of Pence’s complicity in the Trump-Russia scandal or coverup, the Democrats could move forward with Pence impeachment hearings after the midterms.
The post Report: House Republicans planning to begin impeachment once first Trump-Russia indictment lands appeared first on Palmer Report.
|1:21 PM 10/20/2017 Fake Melania shows our real anxiety|
Selected and Saved News Stories Trump Fake Melania shows our real anxiety – Washington Post Saved Stories – 1. Trump Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump Takes a Psychological Fitness Test on ‘The President Show’ – Splitsider SitRep: FBI Steps in to Aid Niger Probe, Pompeo Breaks Ranks – Foreign Policy (blog) Number of US adults without … Continue reading“1:21 PM 10/20/2017 – Fake Melania shows our real anxiety”
|Trump Voters Believe Sex Allegations Against Weinstein, But Not Against Trump|
Trump’s base has no problem calling out Hollywood, but gives the president the benefit of the doubt.
|Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform – HuffPost|
|Roles and Responsibilities for Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack FBI|
Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reed, and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to provide remarks on the FBI’s role in defending the nation against cyber threats.
As the committee is well aware, the frequency and impact of cyber attacks on our nation’s private sector and government networks have increased dramatically in the past decade and are expected to continue to grow. We continue to see an increase in the scale and scope of reporting on malicious cyber activity that can be measured by the amount of corporate data stolen or deleted, personally identifiable information compromised, or remediation costs incurred by U.S. victims. Within the FBI, we are focused on the most dangerous malicious cyber activity: high-level intrusions by state-sponsored hackers and global organized crime syndicates, as well as other technically sophisticated attacks.
Cyber threats are not only increasing in scope and scale, they are also becoming increasingly difficult to investigate. Cyber criminals often operate through online forums, selling illicit goods and services, including tools that can be used to facilitate cyber attacks. These criminals have also increased the sophistication of their schemes, which are more difficult to detect and more resilient. Additionally, many cyber actors are based abroad or obfuscate their identities by using foreign infrastructure, making coordination with international law enforcement partners essential.
The FBI has worked with the rest of the intelligence and law enforcement community to address the unique set of challenges presented by the cyber threat. The information domain is an inherently different battle space, requiring government bureaucracies to shift and transform to eliminate duplicative efforts and stovepipes and move toward real-time coordination and collaboration to keep pace with the growing threat. Considerable progress has been made toward the shared goal of protecting the country from capable and unrelenting cyber adversaries, but there is still a lot to be done to ensure our government agencies have the proper resources, structure, and mission to seamlessly work together on the cyber threat. The FBI will continue to be a leader in this area, and we have taken a number of steps in the last several years to ensure we are adequately structured to respond to threats in an agile and efficient way.
The decentralized FBI field structure is intended to support the investigation of crimes across the nation. The FBI is made up of 56 field offices spanning all 50 states and U.S. territories, each with a multi-agency Cyber Task Force (CTF) modeled after the successful Joint Terrorism Task Force program. The task forces bring together cyber investigators, prosecutors, intelligence analysts, computer scientists, and digital forensic technicians from various federal, state, and local agencies present within the office’s territory. Our field-centric business model allows us to develop relationships with local companies and organizations, putting us in an ideal position to engage with potential victims of cyber attacks and crimes. Cyber-trained special agents are in each field office, providing locally available expertise to deploy to victim sites immediately upon notice of an incident. Computer scientists and intelligence analysts are also stationed in field offices to support incident response efforts and provide intelligence collection and analysis as well as technical assistance and capability.
In addition to the resources in the field, the FBI has the Cyber Action Team (CAT), Cyber Division’s elite rapid response force. On-call CAT members are prepared to deploy globally to bring their in-depth cyber intrusion expertise and specialized investigative skills to bear in response to significant cyber incidents. CAT’s management and core team are based at headquarters, supplemented by carefully selected and highly trained field personnel. CAT members are available to supplement the technical capabilities in the field, and they are typically deployed in support of significant cyber incidents that have the potential to impact public health or safety, national security, economic security, or public confidence.
Cybersecurity threats and incidents are occurring around the clock, which motivated Cyber Division in 2014 to establish a steady-state 24-hour watch capability called CyWatch. Housed at the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), CyWatch is responsible for coordinating domestic law enforcement response to criminal and national security cyber intrusions, tracking victim notification, and coordinating with the other federal cyber centers many times each day. CyWatch provides continuous connectivity to interagency partners to facilitate information sharing and real-time incident management and tracking as part of an effort to ensure all agencies are coordinating. CyWatch also manages FBI’s Cyber Guardian program, through which more than 5,000 victim notifications were logged and coordinated in FY 2016.
In addition to these cyber specific resources, the FBI has other technical assets that can be utilized as necessary to combat cyber threats. Our Operational Technology Division develops and maintains a wide range of sophisticated equipment, capabilities, and tools to support investigations and assist with technical operations. The FBI maintains a robust forensic capability through its Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory program, a national network of FBI-sponsored digital forensics laboratories and training centers devoted to the examination of digital evidence. The Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) provides crisis support and incident management assistance. These resources can be leveraged throughout the FBI’s response and investigative cycle to respond to cyber threats.
Given the international nature of cyber crime and the reality that the actors who seek to harm the U.S. through cyber means are often located abroad, the FBI relies on a robust international presence to supplement its domestic footprint. Through the Cyber Assistant Legal Attaché (Cyber ALAT) program, the FBI embeds cyber agents, who are trained both at FBI Headquarters and in the field, with our international counterparts in 18 key locations across the globe where they build relationships with our international partners. These relationships are essential to working cyber cases that often involve malicious actors using computer networks worldwide.
In order to be successful in the mission of bringing cyber criminals to justice and deterring future activity in the cyber realm, the FBI relies on partnerships with the private sector. As frequent targets of malicious cyber activity, the private sector is on the front lines of defending our nation’s critical information infrastructure, safeguarding its intellectual property, and preserving its economic prosperity. By building and maintaining partnerships with industry, the FBI is better able to share information about current and future threats, provide indicators of compromise for network defense, and provide context to help companies understand the intent behind the unnamed actors targeting their systems. These relationships also provide an optic into what kinds of nefarious activity they are observing on their systems, which helps the FBI better understand the threats.
The FBI has the capability to quickly respond to cyber incidents across the country and scale its response to the specific circumstances of the incident by utilizing all resources at its disposal throughout the field, at FBI headquarters, and abroad. Utilizing dual authorities as a domestic law enforcement organization and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC), the FBI works closely with interagency partners in a whole-of-government approach to countering cyber threats. Presidential Policy Directive 41, signed by President Obama in July 2016, designates the Department of Justice, through the FBI and NCIJTF, as the lead federal agency for threat response. Threat response is defined as activities related to the investigation of an incident and the pursuit, disruption, and attribution of the threat actor. Through evidence collection, technical analysis, disruption efforts, and related investigative tools, the FBI works to quickly identify the source of a breach, connect it with related incidents, and determine attribution, while developing courses of action.
The FBI is able to collect domestic intelligence on cyber threats, consistent with our authorities, to help us understand and prioritize identified threats, reveal intelligence gaps, and fill those gaps. By combining this intelligence with information from our interagency partners, the FBI contributes to painting a collective picture of cyber threats facing the nation. This threat intelligence is critical to getting ahead of the threat and providing potential victims with information to assist them in better protecting their networks from compromise. The FBI liaises with the other intelligence community components through standing coordination calls among the various watch centers; participation in standing interagency groups as well as incident- and threat-based working groups; through embeds and liaison officers at other agencies and within the FBI; and through memoranda of understanding allowing close coordination on topics of high importance.
The FBI along with the rest of the intelligence community understands the need to share information both within and outside the government with the potential victims of cyber attacks. The FBI disseminates information regarding specific threats to the private sector through various methods, including Private Industry Notifications (PINs) and FBI Liaison Alert System (FLASH) reports. PINs provide unclassified information that will enhance the private sector’s awareness of a threat, and FLASH reports contain unclassified technical information collected by the FBI for use by specific private sector partners. These communication methods facilitate the sharing of information with a broad audience or specific sector. The FBI also works with industry partners in forums such as InfraGard and industry-based Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) to relay critical information. The FBI also works closely with its government partners to put out joint notifications and reports to help the private sector guard against potential cyber threats.
In some cases, the FBI receives indicators of potential compromise from various sources, including USIC partners and foreign governments, that are used in notification to victims of cyber attacks. Victim notification is critical in preventing continued cyber intrusion activity and mitigating the damages associated with the theft of sensitive data, intellectual property, and proprietary information. The goal of notification is to provide timely and meaningful notification to the victim while protecting sensitive sources and methods and balancing investigative and operational equities of the FBI and other USIC agencies. FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have well defined policies and procedures which guide how victims are identified and how notification should be made; typically, the FBI, in coordination with DHS, will notify the individuals responsible for handling network security for the victim organization to discuss the necessary information related to the intrusion. The FBI will also provide open source information that may assist in the detection and identification of the intrusion. After the initial notification, some victims will contact the FBI to provide an update regarding the compromise of their network, while others will not. Typically, any post-notification engagement between the FBI and the victim is voluntary and its scope is determined by the company.
The FBI conducts its cyber mission with the goal of imposing costs on the adversary, and though we would like to arrest every cyber criminal who commits an offense against a U.S. person, company, or organization, we recognize indictments are just one tool in a suite of options available to the U.S. government when deciding how best to approach complex cyber threats. Working with the rest of the USIC, the FBI is able to share intelligence, better understand the threat picture, identify additional victims or potential victims of cyber intrusions, and help inform U.S. policymakers. The FBI and the intelligence community must work closely on cyber threats to provide leaders with the information necessary to decide what tools are appropriate to respond to, mitigate, and counter cyber attacks, as well as deter cyber actors and reinforce peacetime norms of state behavior in cyberspace.
Using unique resources, capabilities, and authorities, the FBI is able to impose costs on adversaries, deter illicit cyber activity, and help prevent future cyber attacks. While much progress has been made toward leveraging the FBI’s unique authorities and resources in real-time coordination with the interagency to combat cyber threats, there is still work to be done, specifically in ensuring agile and efficient incident response, seamless information sharing, and elimination of duplicative efforts. Although the resources of the FBI and of the federal government are not growing in proportion to the rapidly evolving threat, we remain steadfast in our resolve to finds ways to work together better as a government, so that we may respond to cyber threats with agility, efficiency, persistence, and ferocity.
The FBI recognizes other agencies have technical expertise, tools, and capabilities to leverage as we work together against cyber adversaries, and is committed to working through challenges associated with sharing sensitive law enforcement information and intelligence with interagency partners. The FBI understands the importance of whole-of-government collaboration, and will continue to find ways to work with the interagency in responding to cyber incidents in a coordinated manner. Given the recent developments in structuring the Department of Defense to defend the nation against cyber adversaries, the FBI is committed to finding ways to partner more closely with U.S. Cyber Command in its newly elevated role as a Unified Combatant Command and its Cyber Mission Force teams.
We at the FBI appreciate this committee’s efforts in making cyber threats a focus and committing to improving how we can work together to better defend our nation against our increasingly capable and persistent adversaries. We look forward to discussing these issues in greater detail and answering any questions you may have.
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