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Mueller's Bombshell Russia Indictments May Mark A New Era For American Democracy
The indictment on Friday by Robert Mueller of thirteen Russians for interference operations marks a dramatic escalation in the U.S. government’s willingness to detail and respond to the steady barrage of digital attacks against the United States.
Importantly, the indictment is not focused on asserting any kind of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Instead, the indictment is a tactical maneuver not only to publicly attribute Russian interference activity but also to prepare the American population for these same kinds of tactics in upcoming elections and help preserve our electoral integrity.
The indictment is remarkable for at least four major reasons:
- First, an indictment for electoral interference has been anticipated for months, but most assumed it would focus on the DNC data breach and dump. The recent indictment makes no mention whatsoever of the DNC breach. Instead, it focuses on Russia’s Internet Research Agency and its vast range of social media manipulation, bank and wire fraud, and identity theft.
- Second, the level of detail in the indictment is just stunning. It clearly signals the depth of access gained in conducting the investigation and a willingness to make that accessibility public knowledge.
- Third, the manipulation of the various social media platforms exceeds that which has so far been acknowledged. It will be exceedingly difficult for social media platforms to feign ignorance or turn a blind eye to the social and political impact of their platforms.
- Finally, Russia’s integration of old and new influence methods illustrates the resources and willingness of the Russian government to interfere by any means possible. The indictment specifies the human and technological presence in the United States with on-the-ground spies who organized protests and conducted political reconnaissance and U.S.-based servers with VPNs accessed from Russia to obfuscate identities. This is in addition to the highly-organized team of potentially hundreds of trolls in Russia who purchased ads, joined or started online groups and crafted fake personas all as part of the interference operation.
Of course, given that the thirteen people indicted are likely located in Russia, there is a low probability of arrest. Nevertheless, indictments for various forms of digital attacks have at times led to arrests, especially when the defendant travels abroad.
The indictment also establishes a global precedent and takes a step toward shaping global norms around what digital activity is and is not off limits. In addition, even if the thirteen defendants are never arrested, the indictment is an essential step in educating the American public about the degree of foreign interference and the various ways social media platforms can be manipulated. In some ways, the indictment is not so much about 2016, but rather should shed a spotlight on similar, ongoing interference operations. For instance, on the same day the indictment was announced, there was a spike in bots pushing forth various gun hashtags following the Parkland massacre. This is entirely consistent with the activity depicted in the indictment.
Technology continues to rapidly advance, and with that foreign interference by a range of actors is expanding into new platforms, and from written content into videos and images. The indictment should further empower the U.S. government to publicly attribute and respond to future foreign interference operations and preserve the electoral integrity which serves as a key foundation of our democracy. While the indictment ideally helps disrupt Russian interference activities, it also should be the first of many steps in preparing the American public for what to expect in the 2018 midterms and beyond.
Andrea Little Limbago is chief social scientist at Endgame, a cybersecurity software company. She previously taught in academia before joining the Joint Warfare Analysis Center as a computational social scientist. While at JWAC, she earned the command’s top award for technical excellence for her analytic support across the Department of Defense. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Boyfriends can sometimes do some really weird shit. Much of it is well-meaning: A boy I liked in high school once sang me a screamo song that he wrote over the phone. He thought it would be sweet, and while I appreciated that he wanted to share it with me, I also had no idea what he was saying. Ah, young love.
Sure, this sounds cringeworthy. But then there's 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, who appears to be, dare I say, the best boyfriend?
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.
The Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol that John Browning dreamed up more than a century ago remains on of the most beloved sidearms in U.S. military history. Hell, there's a reason why Army Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, still rocks an M1911A1 on his hip despite the fact that the Army no longer issues them to soldiers.
But if scoring one of the Army's remaining M1911s through the Civilian Marksmanship Program isn't enough to satisfy your adoration for the classic sidearm, then Colt has something right up your alley: the Colt Model 1911 'Black Army' pistol.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.
‘I’m the Meryl Streep of generals’ — Mattis hits back at Trump for calling him the 'world's most overrated general'
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis decided to take on President Donald Trump's reported assertion that he is "overrated" at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City on Thursday.
"I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest — the world's most — overrated," Mattis said at the event, which raises money for charity.
"I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress," Mattis said. "So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals ... and frankly that sounds pretty good to me. And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories."