A provision in intelligence legislation that is going through Congress would create a new high-level body aimed at thwarting covert Russian political interference around the world, potentially placing it at odds with the incoming Donald Trump administration.
The measure, tucked into the fiscal 2017 House and Senate bills authorizing US intelligence operations, would create a powerful new committee across the security services to oppose Russian destabilization measures and propaganda domestically and worldwide.
Its mission – defined broadly and without geographic limitation – is to “counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments”, according to the texts of both the House and the Senate bills, both of which have won the approval of their intelligence committees.
It was first published in June – long before Trump’s election, and his tilt toward Moscow, seemed likely. Such a broad brief could in theory lead to a probe into allegations of ties between Trump’s circle and Moscow, and of Russian attempts to skew the outcome of the presidential vote by hacking Democratic party headquarters and leaking emails, and helping spread fake news.
“If indeed there are ties between the Russian government – and in particular intelligence agents – and people who have worked for Trump or continue to work for Trump, an investigation of this breadth could conceivably pick up information regarding Russia’s attempts or success in influencing American citizens working for Donald Trump,” said Evelyn Farkas, who from 2012 to 2015 was US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
H.R.6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, passed in the House of Representatives on November 30.
The legislation deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda.
Section 501 calls for the government to counter “measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”
Definitions include media manipulation, covert broadcasting, disinformation and forgeries, and “funding agents of influence.”
On November 30, one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against “Russian propaganda fake news“, with 390 votes for, the House quietly passed “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017“, sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes (whose third largest donor in 2016 is Google parent Alphabet, Inc), a bill which deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda, and hints at a potential crackdown on “offenders.”
A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”, whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”
The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:
- Establishment or funding of a front group.
- Covert broadcasting.
- Media manipulation.
- Disinformation and forgeries.
- Funding agents of influence.
- Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
- Terrorist acts.
As ActivistPost correctly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration.
A group of top senators is asking President Obama to release more information about Russia’s involvement in the election, hinting that important details are being kept secret.
Washington (CNN)Democratic senators are pressing the Obama administration to more forthrightly state, based in part on new intelligence information, that Russia’s meddling in the US election was intended to help Donald Trump, multiple sources tell CNN.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation into Russia’s hacking say the US intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian meddling in the US election was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine or in other ways disrupt the political process. The sources say there is some new information but would not specify due to the classified nature of the intelligence.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who will succeed the retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as the Senate minority leader in the Congress that convenes in January, has signed on to the demand for a congressional inquiry into the Russian hacking of political targets—including the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign—during the 2016 campaign. “Foreign interference in our elections is a serious issue, and deserves a vigorous investigation,” Schumer tells Mother Jones.
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.