Information Warfare · Russia

How Congress Sees Russian Active Measures

Members of the United States Congress most likely understand the real definition of Russian Active Measures, but in this highly polarized political minefield of early 2017, US domestic politics has managed to muck up meanings and descriptions. 

Most likely Russia intended to rally against the bigger threat in the US election, Hillary Clinton. Not necessarily because they supported Trump, but because Hillary was considered a definite threat to Russia and definitely hard-nosed. I believe the Democrat political party has invented and added another layer to this discussion, pretending there was collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian Putin government, whereas multiple leaders in both parties have already stated they see no evidence of collusion of any kind. It is a political investigatory sham, done to get airtime and attention; to add another impediment to the Trump administration. 

This article discusses most of what encompasses Russian Active Measures in a very simple, easy to digest format. It is one of many, many tools of Russian intelligence and Russian information warfare. 

 </end editorial>

These Two Words Describe What Russia Allegedly Did to Help Trump

By: Mike Rothschild

The intervention of Russian intelligence agencies in the elections of another country isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the Russians long ago coined a term for psychological and political warfare meant to influence global events: “active measures.”

Speaking to ATTN: in January, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the Russians ran “a very successful active measures campaign” intending to “tear down Secretary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”

 The history of active measures is the history of Cold War espionage. And in its current guise, these measures influenced the election that saw Donald Trump put in the White House.

What Are ‘Active Measures’?

It’s the English translation of “aktivinyye meropriatia,” the term the KGB used for activities not directly related to gathering intelligence. Author and international security historian Calder Walton sums up the goal of KGB active measures as “influencing the course of world events in favor of the Soviet Union, while discrediting and undermining the influence of the United States.”

 When the Soviet Union Collapsed, Did Active Measures Stop?

According to the New Yorker, “when Sergey Tretyakov, the station chief for Russian intelligence in New York, defected, in 2000, he revealed that Moscow’s active measures had never subsided. ‘Nothing has changed,’ he wrote, in 2008. ‘Russia is doing everything it can today to embarrass the United States.'”

What Are Some Examples of This? 

According to KGB archives, active measures have included spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories, bribery, blackmail, gathering compromising material on politicians (known as “kompromat”), media manipulation, forging documents and, in extreme cases, assassination.

 workout GIF

An exhaustive history of Russian espionage published in The New Yorkerlists some of the most alarming examples of KGB meddling in U.S. political and cultural affairs:

  • actively trying to disrupt Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984 through kompromat and inflammatory slogans
  • spreading rumors the U.S. government created AIDS at a biological warfare laboratory
  • forging letters and speeches by high-level diplomats impugning various countries
  • planting stories in news outlets accusing the government of assassinating John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other prominent figures

Doesn’t the United States Do This Too?

The Central Intelligence Agency has definitely used active measures, and it also overthrew governments. Calder Walton lists some U.S. active measures as interfering in elections in Italy, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Chile (and helping remove heads of state in these countries); funding the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953; and attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro.

 What Did Russia Do During the Election That Would Fall Under Active Measures?

The hacking of DNC emails and their dumping on Wikileaks, pushing false stories in Russian news outlets like RT and Sputnik, and using social media to spread disinformation — all are new twists on old KGB techniques that Russian President (and former KGB head) Vladimir Putin would be well-versed in.

 putin GIF

So Did Russia Put Trump in the White House?

As the New Yorker put it, “no reasonable analyst believes that Russia’s active measures in the United States… have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump.” Even Rep. Schiff admitted that it’s impossible to know decisively what impact Russia had on the American election.

But Russian active measures are still making themselves known, from legions of Trump-supporting bots on Twitter to the lingering specter of an alleged kompromat tape alluded to in the intelligence dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele. With upcoming elections in France and Germany, where far-right pro-Russia candidates are hoping to make big gains, active measures are — in Schiff’s words — “a threat to liberal democracy around the world.”