7:20 PM 10/20/2017 – Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election?

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Russia’s Facebook Ads

21.10.2017 01:15
Sat, 21 Oct 2017 01:15:16 +0200

Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election?

New York Magazine3 hours ago
Part of the problem with assessing the effect of Russian ads is that Facebook itself sends mixed messages. According to the company, …
How Fiction Becomes Fact on Social Media
In-DepthNew York Times4 hours ago

Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election?

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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:

All told, the account was quoted dozens of times across conservative news outlets. Fox News quoted an @TEN_GOP tweet in at least three stories, including one syndicated by the Daily Caller. The Daily Caller itself quoted it in six stories. Breitbart mentioned it in seven; Infowars in four; RedState in eight.

The Gateway Pundit, another conservative outlet, cited the Russian account in 19 different stories, ranging from one about a motorcyclist who drove through an anti-Trump protest, for which he was arrested, to a story about how it was unfair that banks had stopped lending money to French nationalist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

The account’s tweets often derided African-Americans, Muslims, and immigrants.

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.

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Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election? – New York Magazine

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New York Times
Did Russia’s Facebook Ads Actually Swing the Election?
New York Magazine
“They have the data that will help us understand,” Benkler says. “They’re … 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 
How Fiction Becomes Fact on Social MediaNew York Timesall 22 news articles »

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White House: It’s ‘Highly Inappropriate’ For Journalists To Criticize A General

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“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

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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.

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Sessions, experts say US still unprepared for Russian interference in future elections – WJLA

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Sessions, experts say US still unprepared for Russian interference in future elections
WJLA
This type of disinformation and propaganda campaign has been “the bread and butter” ofRussian and Soviet intelligence operations for decades, according to Cohen. What is new is utilizing pretty much every social media service available—Facebook, … 

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Putin Trump – Google News: Putin says Americans don’t show Trump enough respect – CBS News

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Putin says Americans don’t show Trump enough respect
CBS News
“Mr. Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions,” Putin said at the Valdai International Discussion Club when asked what advice he  

 Putin Trump – Google News

AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrongly blames terror for UK crime jump – SFGate

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SFGate
AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrongly blames terror for UK crime jump
SFGate
LONDON (AP) — President Donald Trump has misinterpreted British crime statistics and wrongly blamed terrorism as the driving factor behind higher numbers. Terror attacks in Manchester and London that killed 35 people only account for 1/100th of a …and more »

California billionaire launches ads urging Trump impeachment – Washington Times

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Washington Times
California billionaire launches ads urging Trump impeachment
Washington Times
FILE – In this Oct. 7, 2015, file photo, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer discusses climate change at a symposium in Sacramento, Calif. Steyer is dumping at least $10 million into a national advertising campaign calling for President Donald and more »

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. 

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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

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The Epoch Times
Lawyer Looks to Disbar Former FBI Chief Comey For Lying Under Oath
The Epoch Times
The grievance states that Comey “gave materially false testimony to Congress,” and violated several of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, according to an Oct. 18 report from The Washington Times. It also requests renewed grievances against …
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Senate intelligence panel postpones hearing with Trump personal lawyer – Politico

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Politico
Senate intelligence panel postpones hearing with Trump personal lawyer
Politico
In his public statement, Cohen denied he had any involvement in Russia’s efforts to medde in the presidential election, an effort the intelligence community has concluded was meant to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and boost Trump’s. When he first 
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Senate panel postpones hearing with Trump lawyer Cohen in Russia probe – Reuters

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Reuters
Senate panel postpones hearing with Trump lawyer Cohen in Russia probe
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Intelligence Committee investigating U.S. allegations ofRussian interference in the 2016 election said on Friday it had postponed a public hearing with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, and it would be …
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One Month Since Maria Hit Puerto Rico, President Trump Must Commit To Long-Term Recovery

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Tweets cannot change the facts on the ground.

Report: House Republicans planning to begin impeachment once first Trump-Russia indictment lands 

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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, “We’re 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

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Download audio: https://play.podtrac.com/npr-500005/npr.mc.tritondigital.com/NPR_500005/media/anon.npr-mp3/npr/newscasts/2017/10/19/newscast110625.mp3?orgId=1&

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Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform – HuffPost

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HuffPost
Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform
HuffPost
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Roles and Responsibilities for Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack — FBI

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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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Roles and Responsibilities for Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)

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Roles and Responsibilities for Defending the Nation from Cyber Attack
Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
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  

1:41 PM 10/20/2017 – POSTS ON G+ | Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform

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Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform Friday October 20th, 2017 at 1:37 PM Donald Trump 1 Share The Trump administration’s views on “law and order” are designed to protect only a few. Donald Trump’s handpicked CIA Director Mike Pompeo is looking guilty as hell in the Russia scandalby Bill Palmer Friday October 20th, … Continue reading “1:41 PM 10/20/2017 – POSTS ON G+ | Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform”

Criminal Justice Reform – Google Search

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Story image for Criminal Justice Reform from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner

Criminal Justice Reform bill will hit Senate floor next week

MetroWest Daily News16 hours ago
Legislation calling for sweeping changes to the criminal justice system – including eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for many drug …
Push for criminal justice reform grows in Senate
Washington Examiner19 hours ago

Hypocrite-In-Chief : President Trump’s Crusade Against Criminal Justice Reform

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The Trump administration’s views on “law and order” are designed to protect only a few.

Donald Trump’s handpicked CIA Director Mike Pompeo is looking guilty as hell in the Russia scandal 

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Since he’s taken office, we’ve seen Donald Trump consistently try to backstop key positions in his administration with people who were willing to protect him in his Russia scandal – because they were in on it themselves. He’s done it with everyone from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on down. Based on the increasingly suspicious behavior of Trump’s hand picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo, it’s time to ask if he was guilty in the Russia scandal as well.

Back in June, it was revealed that Pompeo kept giving classified briefings to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, even after he definitively learned that Flynn was a traitor on the payroll of multiple foreign nations including Russia (link). Now Pompeo is at it again, falsely claiming that it’s been proven Russian meddling didn’t influence the outcome of the election (link), even though his own intelligence community is telling him the opposite.

The tricky part is that Trump has surrounded himself with a number of fellow traitors who are guilty in the Russia scandal, as well as a number of mere sycophants who were not involved in the scandal but are willing to destroy their own reputations by covering for him. Mike Pompeo was a U.S. Congressman from Kansas during the 2016 election, and it’s difficult to pin down any potential role he might have played in the Trump campaign’s coordination with Russia to rig the election. Yet he just keeps finding ways to make himself look more guilty.

It needs be pointed out that making oneself look guilty is not the same as being guilty. While we have proof that Jeff Sessions was knee deep in that coordination, and strong evidence that plenty of other Trump White House advisers were co-conspirators, there is no specific evidence linking Mike Pompeo to the treasonous scandal. But it does raise the question: if Pompeo isn’t guilty, why is he throwing his career, reputation, and future away by bending over backward to make himself look guilty?

The post Donald Trump’s handpicked CIA Director Mike Pompeo is looking guilty as hell in the Russia scandal appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Donald Trump’s low-road presidency – CNN

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CNN
Donald Trump’s low-road presidency
CNN
Washington (CNN) On Thursday night, following a day of back-and-forth over who said what in a phone call between the President of the United States and a military widow, President DonaldTrump tweeted this: “The Fake News is going crazy with wacky …
Why Trump Can’t Handle the Cost of WarThe Atlantic
Trump makes himself, John Kelly and everyone around them look rotten yet againWashington Post
Grief and GrievanceSlate Magazine
Fox News –NPR –BBC News –Local 10
all 963 news articles »

9:49 AM 10/20/2017 – Russia, the Blizzard of Lies – New York Times | Russia Is a Bigger Threat to US Than North Korea or ISIS: Ex-NATO Commander 

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Selected and Saved News Stories – Trump  Saved Stories – 1. Trump Russia Is a Bigger Threat to US Than North Korea or ISIS: Ex-NATO Commander – Newsweek CIA director gets fact-checked on his assessment of Russia’s 2016 election meddling – The Week Magazine Wake Up Call: Paul Weiss Partner is Trump Pick to Head … Continue reading “9:49 AM 10/20/2017 – Russia, the Blizzard of Lies – New York Times | Russia Is a Bigger Threat to US Than North Korea or ISIS: Ex-NATO Commander”

Does the House Intel Committee Have Enough Staff to Investigate the Trump-Russia Scandal? – Mother Jones

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Mother Jones
Does the House Intel Committee Have Enough Staff to Investigate the Trump-Russia Scandal?
Mother Jones
And committee Democrats say that the Republicans were eager to interview Paul Manafort,Trump’s campaign chief who had ties to a Russian oligarch and a former Ukrainian president allied with Vladimir Putin, before Manafort had turned over all the …
Senate Investigators Want To Meet With A Trump Adviser Who Reportedly Tried To Set Up A Meeting With RussiaBuzzFeed News
Congress is spending millions on Russia investigations — but you’ll probably never know exactly how muchUSA TODAYall 61 news articles »

Trump’s war on leakers has neutered the intelligence community’s whistleblower program, which diverts leakers – Boing Boing

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Boing Boing
Trump’s war on leakers has neutered the intelligence community’s whistleblower program, which diverts leakers
Boing Boing
The Intelligence Community Inspector General office is the place where spies and spook contractors who discover wrongdoing are supposed to be able to confidentially report their suspicions and know that they’ll be investigated and acted upon. Dan Meyer …
Seeking To Root Out Leakers, The Intelligence Community Is Destroying Official Routes For WhistleblowersTechdirtall 2 news articles »

Anger over Donald Trump’s UK crime tweet – BBC News

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BBC News
Anger over Donald Trump’s UK crime tweet
BBC News
The US President, Donald Trump, has been accused of fuelling hate crime with a tweet linking a rise in the UK crime rate to “radical Islamic terror”. He said: “Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.
The UK agency that compiled the data in Trump’s terrorism tweet disagrees with his assessmentWashington Post
Trump weighs in on UK crime rates and gets it all wrongUSA TODAY
Brits Tell Trump to Mind His Own Business After Crime TweetBloomberg
Politico –The Guardian –The Independent (blog)
all 74 news articles »

10:01 AM 10/20/2017 – TRUMP-RUSSIA: “When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said yesterday 

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TRUMP-RUSSIA “The intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the assessment,” C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo said yesterday, his comments distorting the findings of a report compiled by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies and released in January saying that Moscow sought to undermine public faith in … Continue reading “10:01 AM 10/20/2017 – TRUMP-RUSSIA: “When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said yesterday”
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Trump turns George W. Bush into Cicero – WHYY

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WHYY
Trump turns George W. Bush into Cicero
WHYY
Think about what just happened: A former president took it upon himself to warn Americans of a clear and present danger to our national security, at a time when a successor from his own party steadfastly refuses to do it. Bush publicly rebuked Trump 
Russia, the Blizzard of LiesNew York Timesall 288 news articles »

Americans Agree That Trump Is a Liar. Do They Realize He Is also a Sociopath? – The American Prospect

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The American Prospect
Americans Agree That Trump Is a Liar. Do They Realize He Is also a Sociopath?
The American Prospect
Unlike the word “moron” (which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called Trump), the words “lie” and “liar” are statements of fact, not opinion. Some argue that stating a falsehood is only a “lie” if you know that what you’re saying is untrue and more »

Grassley won’t force Sessions to answer Trump-Comey questions – Politico

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Politico
Grassley won’t force Sessions to answer Trump-Comey questions
Politico
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) does not plan to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to answer questions about his private conversations with President Donald Trump concerning the firing of FBI Director James Comey, …
Sessions defends Comey firing, dodges questions on TrumpYahoo Newsall 34 news articles »

10:48 AM 10/20/2017 – Thoughts as Tweets: Donald, it is not the “Radical Islamic terror”, but Germany, Russia, China, and Israel behind this convenient front and false flag. Kapish?! | ALL POSTS ON G+ 

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Donald, it is not the “Radical Islamic terror”, but Germany, Russia, China, and Israel behind this convenient front and false flag. Kapish?! pic.twitter.com/P6KlFYnHPc — Mike Nova (@mikenov) October 20, 2017 Trump Blames ‘Radical Islam’ for Uptick in Crime in Britain U.S. News & World Report WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is misrepresenting a report on British crime statistics … Continue reading “10:48 AM 10/20/2017 – Thoughts as Tweets: Donald, it is not the “Radical Islamic terror”, but Germany, Russia, China, and Israel behind this convenient front and false flag. Kapish?! | ALL POSTS ON G+”

Download audio: https://play.podtrac.com/npr-500005/npr.mc.tritondigital.com/NPR_500005/media/anon.npr-mp3/npr/newscasts/2017/10/19/newscast110625.mp3?orgId=1&

Today’s Headlines and Commentary 

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The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) raised the banner of a Kurdish revolutionary leader in the captured city of Raqqa, the Wall Street Journal reported. Kurdish-led SDF members held a press conference where they hoisted a banner showing Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish separatist leader Turkey has jailed as a terrorist. The move provoked condemnation from the mostly Arab residents of the city. The SDF pledged to incorporate Raqqa into a planned autonomous region under a decentralized Syrian federal system, Reuters reported. The militia said it would include Raqqa in the autonomous zones it is setting up in northern Syria, outside of the control of Bashar Assad’s Syrian government. Elsewhere in Syria, Russian-backed forces moved to capture strategic towns before U.S. proxies could seize them from the retreating Islamic State, according to the Washington Post. Russian airstrikes, which apparently violated a U.S.-Russia deconfliction line, aided the swift fall of the town of Mayadeen to the Syrian government.

Spain’s government plans to dissolve Catalonia’s parliament and hold new elections to thwart the autonomous region’s push for independence, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy secured opposition support for the measures heading into an emergency Cabinet meeting on Saturday. Catalonia’s president has refused to renounce independence. The emergency measures could take advantage of an unused clause in the Spanish constitution that would allow the government to assume direct control of Catalonia’s administration, according to the New York Times.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo distorted the intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the Post reported. At the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Pompeo said the intelligence assessment concluded that interference did not have an effect on the result of the election. In January, the intelligence community released an assessment that concluded Russia had interfered in the election but made no determination whether it had influenced the outcome. A CIA spokesperson said the assessment’s conclusions remained unchanged.

The FBI is involved in an investigation into the deaths of four U.S. special forces in Niger as criticism of the military’s handling of the incident mounted, the Journal reported. The FBI will gather information about the militants that ambushed the U.S. soldiers accompanying a detachment of Nigerien forces. Senator John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed frustration at the Department of Defense’s reluctance to provide details about the incident. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the possibility of an ambush “was considered unlikely” and pledged to get answers about the attack, Politico reported. Mattis added, “but there’s a reason we have U.S. Army soldiers there and not the Peace Corps.”

A British lawmaker called for parliament to look into Russian interference in the Brexit campaign, the New York Times reported. Ben Bradshaw, a member of the Labor Party, drew attention to possible links between financial support for the “Leave” campaign and Russian entities. Open Democracy, a civil-society organization, recently published a detailed report on the finances of one of the chief backers of Brexit and his Russian connections.

A Taliban attack completely destroyed an Afghan army unit, killing 43 soldiers, the Times reported. Using car-bombs and assault rifles, Taliban fighters wiped out nearly all the soldiers in an Afghan base in Kandahar province. The attack is the third large-scale loss for Afghan forces this week.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. would not block European trade with Iran as part of the new strategy to counter the regime, the Journal reported. Renewed European business ties with Iran were a key facet of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. European leaders have pledged to keep sanctions suspended as long as they determine Iran complies with the agreement. Tillerson specifically declined to address whether a multi-billion dollar deal by Boeing to sell airplanes to Tehran would be allowed under the new U.S. policy.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) pledged to accelerate their missile program in the face of U.S. and European opposition, Reuters reported. Last week, President Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization. The IRGC’s commander said that the Trump administration’s policy shift on Iran would begin an “era of failure” for the U.S.

Foreign Policy’s Emily Tamkin wrote about a point of stability for foreign diplomats trying to connect to the White House: Mike Pence.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Daniel Byman predicted how the Islamic State will respond to the fall of Raqqa.

Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean argued that the Senate should clarify its oversight authority over the Department of Homeland Security by passing an authorization bill for the department.

Elsa Kania analyzed the policy choices involved in developing advanced artificial intelligence.

Michael Bahar, David Cook, Varun Shingari and Curtis Arnold discussed how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carpenter v. U.S. and the FISA Amendments Act reauthorization could affect the future of third party doctrine.

Peter Swire and Richard Clarke argued that FISA Amendments Act Section 702 should be reformed to protect Fourth Amendment principles.

Benjamin Wittes shared the “Decertified” edition of Rational Security.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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11:53 AM 10/20/2017 – Don’t 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 effort is broad, systematic, and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social-media platforms.” 

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Reuters Former President George W. Bush’s speech this week in New York City flagged a malign force in the world: the “sustained attempt by a hostile power” to feed and exploit America’s divisions.“According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other,” Bush said. “This effort is broad, systematic, … Continue reading “11:53 AM 10/20/2017 – Don’t 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 effort is broad, systematic, and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social-media platforms.””
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Trump blindsides advisers with promised opioid plan – Politico

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Politico
Trump blindsides advisers with promised opioid plan
Politico
President Donald Trump overrode his own advisers when he promised to deliver an emergency declaration next week to combat the nation’s worsening opioid crisis. “That is a very, very big statement,” he said Monday. “It’s a very important step. … We’re 
Trump sends family $25000 after claim of broken promiseBBC News
Trump offered a grieving military father $25000 in a phone callWashington Post
Trump sends $25000 check to fallen soldier’s family on same day as Washington Post reportCNN
ABC News
all 207 news articles »

Social media’s role in Russian meddling: Focus turns to election laws – UPI.com

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UPI.com
Social media’s role in Russian meddling: Focus turns to election laws
UPI.com
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., (L) and ranking member Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., deliver an update on the committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections on October 4. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI.and more »

This Russian general fought the mob. Why does he own $38 million of Florida real estate? – Miami Herald

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Miami Herald
This Russian general fought the mob. Why does he own $38 million of Florida real estate?
Miami Herald
A former cop with the Midas touch hardly shocks Russian insiders. “It’s typical for an anti-corruption official,” said Andrei Kozyrev, Russia’s foreign minister from 1990 to 1996 and a frequent critic of President Vladimir Putin who now lives in South  

Seeking To Root Out Leakers, The Intelligence Community Is Destroying Official Routes For Whistleblowers – Techdirt

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Seeking To Root Out Leakers, The Intelligence Community Is Destroying Official Routes For Whistleblowers
Techdirt
The Trump Administration is continuing its war on leakers. It’s probably meant to keep whistleblowers at bay as well. This isn’t necessarily a trait unique to Trump’s White House. … But it’s going to come to a head at the national security level. The  

Trump Rips ‘Wacky’ Congresswoman For Criticizing His Phone Call To Combat Widow

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And he claims Rep. Frederica Wilson “secretly” listened to a call she heard on speakerphone.

Don’t Forget to Adjust for Russian Trolls

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  • So fixated are we now on the divisions between the two major parties that we forget how often internal divisions within one party or the other shape political outcomes. A rich history could be written of the conflicts that have sundered presidents and congressional leaders of the same party, in some cases friends who turned into bitter foes. The Texan Lyndon B. Johnson, who probably had closer ties with the Senate than any other president before or since, tangled with Dixiecrats on civil rights and then with northern liberals, including his former ally Eugene McCarthy, on Vietnam. In 1990, House Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, attacked George H. W. Bush for cutting a budget deal with Democrats and helped doom his reelection bid in 1992. It was Republican legislators who stopped George W. Bush’s attempt to reform immigration, helping wreck his second term.David A. Nichols’s Ike and McCarthy is a well-researched and sturdily written account of what may be the most important such conflict in modern history: the two years, 1953 and 1954, when Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first Republican president elected since Herbert Hoover, found himself under assault from the demagogic senator who perfected the politics of ideological slander. Joseph McCarthy had begun his rampage against “subversives” in the federal government, some real but most of them imagined, during the Truman years, amid the high anxieties of the Cold War. Hostilities had broken out in Korea, and threatened to draw in “Red China” (which had been “lost” to the Communists in 1949) or escalate into a doomsday showdown with the Soviets, newly armed with the atomic bomb. Meanwhile, billions were being doled out in foreign aid to left-wing governments in Western Europe, and homegrown spies like Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg had been uncovered and exposed.McCarthy was dangerous—“no bolder seditionist ever moved among us,” Richard H. Rovere wrote in his classic Senator Joe McCarthy—but much of the country was with him because he embodied, however boorishly, the forces of change. The Democrats had won every presidential election since 1932, and for much of that time had also enjoyed lopsided majorities in Congress. One party alone seemed responsible for the new postwar order, its failures as well as its successes, at a time of grand transformation for the country—from hemispheric giant to global superpower with commitments on every continent, and from land of rugged individualists to welfare state. For the new regime to flourish, Republicans had to make at least part of the agenda their own. Thus emerged the hope for a lasting bipartisan consensus.Eisenhower seemed a savior from central casting. He had guided 5 million Allied troops to victory in World War II and transcended grubby partisanship. He could have run on either party’s ticket and won; in fact, the Democrats courted him in 1948. But he was a Republican, and his victory in 1952 was smashing: 55 percent of the popular vote and 442 electoral votes. The trouble was his coattails. They were just wide enough to give the Republicans a one-vote advantage in the Senate—their second majority since the Herbert Hoover years, but not really a majority at all, Nichols explains, “because the conservative wing of the party numbered eight to twelve senators.” They were the aboriginal right—Old Guard isolationists and enemies of the New Deal. Many of them remained loyal to the incoming Senate majority leader, Robert Taft, who had lost the nomination to Eisenhower in a brutal contest, complete with allegations of delegate-stealing.At first McCarthy, who had cleverly sidestepped Taft’s plea for an endorsement, said he was finished with his hunt for Communists in the government. In Eisenhower, “we now have a President who doesn’t want party-line thinkers or fellow travelers,” he told reporters. Henceforth his mission would be to root out “graft and corruption.” But this cause didn’t promise the attention he craved, the excitement and headlines that came with Red-hunting, the “permanent floating press conference,” as one writer has put it. Soon after Eisenhower took office, McCarthy reverted to his true self and began holding up high-profile foreign appointments—including Eisenhower’s choice for ambassador to Moscow, the Soviet expert Charles Bohlen. The delay was dangerous. Stalin died in early March, and no one knew who was in charge or where things would lead. The previous ambassador, George Kennan, had been recalled in October 1952, at the Soviets’ demand, leaving no one in his place to interpret Kremlin moves from the same close-up position. After a month-long delay, in late March Bohlen was confirmed.It seemed to be reckless lone-wolfing, McCarthy defying his Senate masters. In fact, 10 other Senate Republicans had backed him. Eisenhower’s tight circle of advisers got the message. “The crowd that supported Senator Taft at the convention in 1952 are all now revolving around Joe,” said one of them, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. Taft was quick to praise McCarthy’s “very helpful and constructive” attack on the Voice of America; soon McCarthy’s snarling adjutant, Roy Cohn, and Cohn’s sidekick, G. David Schine, went on a madcap European junket. The mission involved, among other things, inspecting America’s overseas libraries for subversive material, and the triumphant yield included work by Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville. Visits to countries on their route typically culminated in a Marx Brothers–style press conference, the babbling pair’s literary and cultural ignorance on display. And then, when Taft died, in July 1953, McCarthy was on his own. In February 1954, he announced a major speaking tour, paid for by the Republican National Committee. The party looked as if it was his as much as Eisenhower’s.McCarthy had a second constituency—the media. To Eisenhower it seemed that the press, at once credulous and cynical, was building up McCarthy. In a speech to newspaper publishers, he accused journalists of cheap sensationalism, of presenting “clichés and slogans” instead of facts. Walter Lippmann, the most respected columnist of the time, was indignant: How could a responsible press not report what McCarthy said? The same quandary attends the media today, as they figure out how to handle “fake news” and the president’s intemperate tweets. Now, as then, no good solution exists. Implying that actual news is synonymous with truth is bound to be erroneous: In reality, journalism is the first, not final, draft of history—provisional, revisable, susceptible to mistakes and at times falsehoods, despite the efforts of even the most scrupulous reporters. The problems don’t end there. Those who covered McCarthy’s every move inevitably became his “co-conspirators,” as one of them, Murray Kempton, later said. “In the end, I did not feel any cleaner than he was … I pretended once again now and then that McCarthy was not a serious man; but I always knew that the devil in me and the larger devil in him were very consequential figures indeed.” It is a mistake journalists repeated in 2016.

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  • “Being a refugee … is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being.” So says an interviewee in the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s new documentary, Human Flow, bringing to life the stakes of a crisis that has displaced more than 65 million people worldwide.A displaced person himself who is living in exile in Berlin, Ai involves viewers in these stakes, implicating them by virtue of collective passivity. He also suggests that the crisis is by no means a contemporary phenomenon, and that it is endemic to the human condition: As if by osmosis, often forced by war and persecution, people have fled their homes and sought refuge across the globe since time immemorial.The film evokes this sense of perpetual migration with lyrical imagery and a discursive approach to storytelling. Children run in circles around their cramped shack in a refugee camp in Malaysia; trash swirls across another camp in Lebanon; rings of fire burn in the oil fields of Mosul. Spanning more than 23 countries and 40 of the world’s largest refugee camps, Human Flow captures victims of conflict in the difficult holding patterns that have come to define their lives. The documentary is at once an intimate, on-the-ground travelogue and a sweeping cinematic experience.

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  • You can marry for love, you can marry for money, or, in Beijing, you can marry for a license plate.As authorities try to cap the number of vehicles in China’s car-choked capital, they’ve taken to doling out new license plates via a six-time-a-year lottery. The odds are daunting. This June alone, more than 2.8 million people entered the drawing, and officials handed plates out at the lowest rate ever: one per 843 entries.Since any driver who has resided in Beijing for more than a year can register, the drawing is fair in principle. But the license-plate system has a big loophole. While private sales of license plates are banned, the rules allow transfers between spouses.Thus one solution: sham marriages. In crowded forums and chat rooms, plate owners offer to tie the knot—for the right price.“All we need is a marriage registration, and we can get you a license plate,” one middleman boasts in an online ad. “No need for the lottery—pay once and get the benefit for life!”

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  • A well-regarded Hollywood insider recently suggested that sequels can represent “a sort of creative bankruptcy.” He was discussing Pixar, the legendary animation studio, and its avowed distaste for cheap spin-offs. More pointedly, he argued that if Pixar were only to make sequels, it would “wither and die.” Now, all kinds of industry experts say all kinds of things. But it is surely relevant that these observations were made by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, in his best-selling 2014 business-leadership book.Yet here comes Cars 3, rolling into a theater near you this month. You may recall that the original Cars, released back in 2006, was widely judged to be the studio’s worst film to date. Cars 2, which followed five years later, was panned as even worse. And if Cars 3 isn’t disheartening enough, two of the three Pixar films in line after it are also sequels: The Incredibles 2 and (say it isn’t so!) Toy Story 4.

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  • The rate of death from opioid overdoses in the United States has more than doubled over the past decade. Amid a deluge of reports on the national crisis, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in much of the world many people die in preventable pain, without access to morphine for end-of-life care.This is the finding of a global commission published in The Lancet, which includes analysis of the global distribution of narcotics. The above map shows a relative distribution of how much of the need for opioids is met in various places.The focus of the report is addressing a relatively new target in global health, “serious health-related suffering” as a measure of the need for care. Palliative care, specifically, “should be focused on relieving the serious health-related suffering that is associated with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions or the end of life,” the authors write.The idea is that suffering isn’t always preventable, but a few cents’ worth of morphine can make an enormous difference. Some 45 percent of the 56.2 million people who died in 2015 experienced serious suffering, the authors found. That included 2.5 million children. More than 80 percent of the people were from developing regions, and the vast majority had no access to palliative care and pain relief.

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  • Public schools have always occupied prime space in the excitable American imagination. For decades, if not centuries, politicians have made hay of their supposed failures and extortions. In 2004, Rod Paige, then George W. Bush’s secretary of education, called the country’s leading teachers union a “terrorist organization.” In his first education speech as president, in 2009, Barack Obama lamented the fact that “despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us.”President Donald Trump used the occasion of his inaugural address to bemoan the way “beautiful” students had been “deprived of all knowledge” by our nation’s cash-guzzling schools. Educators have since recoiled at the Trump administration’s budget proposal detailing more than $9 billion in education cuts, including to after-school programs that serve mostly poor children. These cuts came along with increased funding for school-privatization efforts such as vouchers. Our secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has repeatedly signaled her support for school choice and privatization, as well as her scorn for public schools, describing them as a “dead end” and claiming that unionized teachers “care more about a system, one that was created in the 1800s, than they care about individual students.”Few people care more about individual students than public-school teachers do, but what’s really missing in this dystopian narrative is a hearty helping of reality: 21st-century public schools, with their record numbers of graduates and expanded missions, are nothing close to the cesspools portrayed by political hyperbole. This hyperbole was not invented by Trump or DeVos, but their words and proposals have brought to a boil something that’s been simmering for a while—the denigration of our public schools, and a growing neglect of their role as an incubator of citizens.

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  • Like many people, I’ve lately been preoccupied by the mayhem-makers of the radical right, and by those in power who abet their work. But even as Nazis were invading Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, I found myself worrying about a more subtle, but still substantially pernicious, manifestation of democratic decay. This is the apparently deathless attempt by certain rightist Republicans to bring Hillary Clinton to “justice,” a cause rationalized this way by one such Republican, a freshman congressman from Florida named Matt Gaetz: “Just because Hillary Clinton lost the election doesn’t mean we should forget or forgive conduct that is likely criminal.”Let us lay aside the question of whether the charges of criminality leveled against Clinton are specious (they certainly seem to be) and focus instead on the novelty of Gaetz’s mission. The idea he is endorsing—if not on behalf of Donald Trump, then in the spirit of Donald Trump—is that the political party that wins power is duty-bound to hound to the point of actual prosecution the losing party.This is un-American, and I mean that in a very specific way. I’ve spent much of my reporting career covering countries that are not ruled by law, and that do not venerate the democratic norms of restraint, moderation, forgiveness, and compromise. It is common for autocratic rulers, even those who took office through ostensibly democratic elections, to persecute the individuals and parties that they have vanquished, for reasons ranging from paranoia to simple vindictiveness. America, though, has been different. It is not uncommon in the U.S. for the losers to challenge the victories of the winners, and this is as it should be. But it is a dangerous innovation to use the instruments of state power to harass powerless, defeated political foes. The fractures that this sort of behavior causes are not easily healed.

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  • In the coming decades, artificial intelligence will replace a lot of human jobs, from driving trucks to analyzing X-rays. But it will also work with us, taking over mundane personal tasks and enhancing our cognitive capabilities. As AI continues to improve, digital assistants—often in the form of disembodied voices—will become our helpers and collaborators, managing our schedules, guiding us through decisions, and making us better at our jobs. We’ll have something akin to Samantha from the movie Her or Jarvis from Iron Man: AI “agents” that know our likes and dislikes, and that free us up to focus on what humans do best, or what we most enjoy. Here’s what to expect.Anyone who’s used Siri (on Apple products) or Alexa (on Amazon Echo) has already spoken with a digital assistant. In the future, such “conversational platforms” will be our primary means of interacting with AI, according to Kun Jing, who oversees a digital assistant called Duer for the Chinese search engine Baidu. The big tech companies are racing to create the one agent to rule them all: In addition to Siri, Alexa, and Duer, there’s Microsoft’s Cortana, Facebook’s M, and Google Assistant. Even Mattel is getting in on the action: It recently announced Aristotle, a voice-controlled AI device that can soothe babies, read bedtime stories, and tutor older kids.

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  • MERCED, California—Seccora Jaimes knows that she is not living in the land of opportunity. Her hometown has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, at 9.1 percent. Jaimes, 34, recently got laid off from the beauty school where she taught cosmetology, and hasn’t yet found another job. Her daughter, 17, wants the family to move to Los Angeles, so that she can attend one of the nation’s top police academies. Jaimes’s husband, who works in warehousing, would make much more money in Los Angeles, she told me. But one thing is stopping them: The cost of housing. “I don’t know if we could find a place out there that’s reasonable for us, that we could start any job and be okay,” she told me. Indeed, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Merced, in California’s Central Valley, is $750. In Los Angeles, it’s $2,710.America used to be a place where moving one’s family and one’s life in search of greater opportunities was common. During the Gold Rush, the Depression, and the postwar expansion West millions of Americans left their hometowns for places where they could earn more and provide a better life for their children. But mobility has fallen in recent years. While 3.6 percent of the population moved to a different state between 1952 and 1953, that number had fallen to 2.7 percent between 1992 and 1993, and to 1.5 percent between 2015 and 2016. (The share of people who move at all, even within the same county, has fallen too, from 20 percent in 1947 to 11.2 percent today.)

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  • Being a liberal in the Donald Trump era is tricky. On the one hand, you’re grateful for any conservative who denounces the president’s authoritarian lies. On the other, you can’t help but notice that many of the conservatives who condemn Trump most passionately—Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, Michael Gerson, Jennifer Rubin—remain wedded to the foreign policy legacy of George W. Bush. And in criticizing Trump’s amoral “isolationism,” they backhandedly defend the disastrous interventionism that helped produce his presidency in the first place.The godfather of this brand of hawkish, anti-Trump conservatism is John McCain. Sure, McCain—being a Republican Senator—doesn’t condemn Trump as forthrightly as his “neoconservative” allies in the press. But the terms of his critique are similar.Look at his speech on Tuesday after being awarded the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal. In a clear swipe at Trump, McCain warned that, “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad.”As a man, McCain is as honorable as Trump is dishonorable. But this narrative is false. The last seventy-five years of American foreign policy are not the story of a country consistently pursuing democratic ideals, only to see them undermined now by a fearful “blood and soil” isolationism.

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Don’t Forget to Adjust for Russian Trolls – The Atlantic

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The Atlantic
Don’t 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 effort is broad, systematic, and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social-media platforms.” He urged  

The Daily 202: Obama and Bush deliver calls to action against Trumpism – Washington Post

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Dallas News (blog)
The Daily 202: Obama and Bush deliver calls to action against Trumpism
Washington Post
‘This significantly undermines the intelligence community’s credibility.’” — Trump has personally interviewed at least two U.S. attorney candidates in New York — a move that critics say raises questions about their independence should either be 
George W. Bush condemns bullying, bigotry, nativism in age of TrumpDallas News (blog)
George W. Bush Slaps Trump in SpeechUSA Herald
George W. Bush jabs at Trump’s America: “Bigotry or white-supremacy in any form” is un-AmericanAOLall 285 news articles »

Russian Americans divided over Trump, fear another Cold War – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Russian Americans divided over Trump, fear another Cold War
Washington Post
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Anastasia Kurteeva worries about a new Cold War. She’s afraid that escalating tensions between the United States and Russia will make it harder for people to travel freely between the countries, harder for her parents in …and more »

The Early Edition: October 20, 2017 

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