Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

The U.S. Special Counsel Indictments

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

I differ with the anonymous expert’s opinion that Russia focused on the US, only the majority of the media coverage is on the US. Over the past four years I have seen Russia focus its Information Warfare machine on Ukraine, Syria, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Czechia, France, and every country that is not Russia – with very few exceptions. Every country has felt pressure from Russia in different ways, from military to economic to informational, even legal, and diplomatic. 

When one peels back the layers of pressure that Russia applies against other countries, I am often surprised at the multiplicity and complexity of routes, way, and means of said pressure. I have yet to find a single tidbit of Russian information warfare that is not wicked, mean, vicious, insidious, unethical, and morally bankrupt. This stench, this foul odor is the only commonality.  If I were a Russian, I would be ashamed, but now it is what it is and Russia must live with the consequences. It is now a part of Russia’s history. 

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By indicting the Russian entities that executed the campaign to destabilise the US 2016 Presidential election, and describing this in the public media briefing as the conduct of “Information Warfare” against the US, the Justice Department has cut through the foolish media and political partisanship and put the focus where it truly belongs, on Russia and its use of IW as a weapon to destabilise a perceived nation state opponent.

We should not underestimate the significance of these two points.

  1. Russia is waging war on the West, with a focus on the US, with its primary motives being maintenance of Russia’s domestic cohesion, and profit from the deleterious effects upon Western nations’ domestic and Alliance cohesion.
  2. Information Warfare is now producing the effects and impacts that academic scholars of the area predicted two decades ago, when they were ridiculed as overstating the problem and its potential damage effects.

The public debate in the US over the impact and agendas of the Russian campaign is almost wholly focussed on the notion that the campaign was intended to see DJT elected over HRC, and this is primarily about the partisan agenda of the Left in delegitimising the election outcome. This line of argument entirely ignores the work of Prof Christopher Lasch two decades ago, who identified the root causes of the internal divisions in US society and culture, and their potential for immense political upheavals downstream. The political upheaval that saw DJT win the election was inevitable, and which election and which Presidential candidate would win as a result of this upheaval was simply a matter of circumstance.

The election outcome of DJT, with his hardline nationalist MAGA agenda, is strategically catastrophic for Russia, further exacerbated by the deep alienation of the US political Left toward Russia, their historical tolerance of Russian misconduct is now likely gone forever.

Russian commentators have repeatedly compared the DJT presidency to that of Reagan, with his uncompromising stance toward the Soviets, that eventually broke the Soviet Empire. The current US posture towards Russia will very likely produce a similar outcome, as Russia is internally both fragile and brittle, and in every respect Russia is much weaker than the Soviet Empire was.

The Russians displayed an immense lack of foresight when they launched their IW campaign against the US, likely as their understanding of internal tensions and dischord in US society and culture was centred in broken Marxist models, rather than Lasch’s empirical model. Put differently, Russia’s game was determined by the Dunning-Kruger effect rather than considered and reasoned thought about what outcome in the US would best serve Russia’s national interest in the long term. This is a pattern previously observed, in the sense that the Putin regime appears to see its short term self-interest agendas as Russia’s long term national interest agendas. Dumb and dumber.

We have yet to see the consequences of the Justice Department’s indictments play out.

By positioning the Russian IW campaign in the US as criminal actions, the Justice Department have set a de facto precedent. Future actions that aim to destabilise the US will be treated as criminal, and this may also eventually encompass proxy delivery of destabilisation means, such as propaganda and fake news, with all of the potentially far reaching consequences that flow from that. As the US builds mechanisms to increase its immunity to such attacks, many other Western democracies will follow, eventually rendering this style of IW  ineffective.

Russia’s IW campaign against the US 2016 election was a foolish mistake and has produced blowback on a scale that exceeds expectations. Yet another major catastrophic failure of the Putin regime.

Lavrov Calls U.S. Meddling Indictments ‘Claptrap’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he has no reaction to U.S. indictments on alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections, calling the accusations nothing but “claptrap” until Moscow see…

Lavrov says report on Russia “interference” in 2016 US election is “blather” – To Inform is to Influence

Lavrov’s denial is a confirmation for me. </end editorial> 19:20, 17.02.2018 Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that Moscow has not seen facts that attest to Russia’s “interference” in the last US presidential election, reported RBC news agency of Russia. “So until we see the facts, everything else is…

Russian Indictment: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responds to election meddling charges – live updates – CBS News

&quot;In the U.S., if there was any [small] fire there, the smoke would be immediately visible,&quot; Russia's foreign minister says

How Russia exported “political technology” to America.

Supporting candidates as well as their opponents is nothing new for the Kremlin’s spin-doctors.

Internet Research Agency indictment: What the Russians did and how they did it – Feb. 16, 2018

An indictment against 13 Russian nationals provides new insight into how the Internet Research Agency worked to wreak havoc on the U.S. political system.

U.S. Special Counsel Indicts 13 Russians, Three Firms For Vote Meddling

A U.S. grand jury has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies, including one known informally as the “Troll Factory,” for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other charges.

Special counsel issues indictment against 13 Russian nationals over 2016 election interference – To Inform is to Influence

Everything I’ve been saying about Russia and what they are doing has been validated as of today.  The full text of the indictment can be read here or here. The Internet Research Agency, now known as Glavset, is specifically named.  Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin aka “Putin’s chef”, is specifically named, as is Concord-Catering, his company. Prigozhin allegedly finances…

Inside a 3-Year Russian Campaign to Influence U.S. Voters – The New York Times

Using American bank accounts, drivers’ licenses and disposable phones, about 80 Russians worked to disparage Hillary Clinton, promote Donald Trump and sow discord.

Russian Trolls Were Sloppy, but Indictment Still ‘Points at the Kremlin’ – The New York Times

When Russian trolling techniques were exported to the United States, it seems to have been done with a lack of discipline and secrecy. But that does not mean the operation lacked high-level support.

Russian Influence Operation Allegedly Ran Like a Propaganda Startup – To Inform is to Influence

A federal indictment describes the Internet Research Agency as having a deep understanding how to use Silicon Valley technology to sow discord By Robert McMillan, Deepa Seetharaman and Georgia Wells Feb. 17, 2018 8:00 a.m. ET The alleged Russian campaign to manipulate the U.S. presidential election was orchestrated by what amounted to a propaganda startup, with finance and…

Russia’s troll identities were more sophisticated than anyone thought – To Inform is to Influence

How do you stop a troll with an entire fake identity? By Russell Brandom@russellbrandom  Feb 16, 2018, 4:54pm EST The Russian troll farm has been hit with its first major indictment. Today, special counsel Robert Mueller laid out his criminal case against Russia’s Internet Research Agency, charging that the agency engaged in a sustained campaign to influence the 2016…

Who is the California man who just pleaded guilty to unwittingly aiding Russian interference in the 2016 election – To Inform is to Influence

Richard Pinedo, 28, of Santa Paula, CA, is supposedly an “unwitting” participant in selling online identity data to the Russian intelligence operation named as part of yesterday’s indictment.  If Pinedo pled guilty earlier this month as part of the Mueller investigation, this means the investigation is further advanced/mature than we are being lead to believe. …

What are the immediate consequences of the Russia indictment? – CBS News

CBS News senior national security analyst Fran Townsend and CBS News justice reporter Paula Reid break down the Russian indictment

Mueller: Russians entered U.S. to plot election meddling – POLITICO

Democrats say the indictment proves Russian meddling is no ‘hoax,’ while Trump allies say charges of Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin remain baseless.

The Russia Investigations: Mueller Indicts The ‘Internet Research Agency’ : NPR

Here are five takeaways from the indictment unveiled on Friday that charged a St. Petersburg troll farm and a number of individual Russians with waging “information warfare” against the United States.

What Mueller’s Indictment Reveals – The Atlantic

The special counsel detailed how a Russian effort to widen divisions in American society launched in 2014 morphed into active support for the candidacy of Donald Trump.

13 Russians charged over Trump election ‘plot’ | News | The Times

US prosecutors charged 13 Russian citizens yesterday with carrying out an audacious plot to influence the 2016 election in favour of President Trump.An indictm

To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook – The New York Times

The special counsel’s indictment detailed how crucial Facebook and Instagram were to the Russian campaign to disrupt the presidential election.

Facebook’s VP of ads says Russian meddling aimed to divide US

Russia’s intent in meddling in U.S. politics was to sow fear and hatred among Americans, according to Robert Goldman.

Mark Zuckerberg colludes with Russia

Zuckerberg created one of the world’s largest and most important platforms for spreading news, even when it’s fake.

This Is What $1.25 Million Dollars a Month Bought the Russians – Foreign Policy

On Friday, the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Special counsel Robert Mueller accused the 13 — plus three Russian entities, including the infamous Internet Research Agency “troll farm” — of carrying out a wide-ranging disinformation campaign that involved stolen identities, fake social media accounts, and even a bizarre White House birthday subterfuge. The operation, according to the indictment, was backed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, otherwise known as “the chef,” a Kremlin associate who once served caviar and truffles to former President George W. Bush — and dished out trouble to U.S. domestic politics. Prigozhin is accused of using his companies, including Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering, to fund the operation. The endeavor, at one point, had a budget of $1.25 million a month, allowing it to pay hundreds of operatives to engage in a surreal campaign meant to interfere in American democracy that appears to have been financed in part through a catering company (one that reportedly treats workers poorly, at that). What did these undercover operatives do with the money? The special counsel alleges their operations were intended to meddle in U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential election, and to disrupt people’s faith in politicians and their own institutions. In practice, that meant creating false U.S. personas to operate social media pages and groups. Some allegedly stole real Americans’ identities in order to create PayPal accounts, with which they paid for political advertisements with taglines such as, “You know, a great number of black people support us saying that #HillaryClintonIsNotMyPresident” and “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies have proved just how evil she is.” They also created and managed social media accounts that were made to appear to be operated by real U.S. citizens. One, @TEN_GOP, was apparently retweeted by now-President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., as well as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and onetime deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka. The account had over 100,000 followers.

Meet Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Oligarch Indicted in U.S. Election Interference – The New York Times

A secretive oligarch often called “Putin’s cook,” he is one of 13 Russians the special counsel charged on Friday for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Indictment: Russia also helped Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein in election

Robert Mueller’s investigation shows President Trump wasn’t the only candidate the Russians allegedly tried to boost during the 2016 campaign.

Did Russia Affect the 2016 Election? It’s Now Undeniable | WIRED

In the wake of the Mueller indictment of a Russian troll farm, any attempt to claim that the 2016 election wasn’t affected by Russian meddling is laughable.

U.S. Lawmakers Express Alarm At Alleged Russian Influence Efforts

U.S. lawmakers and luminaries expressed alarm at the extensive efforts allegedly made by a ring of Russian operatives to influence the 2016 presidential election, as outlined in a surprise indictme…

McMaster Says Evidence of Russia Interference ‘Incontrovertible’ : The Two-Way : NPR

The national security adviser broke with what has been President Trump’s script about the F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Trump’s National Security Chief Calls Russian Interference ‘Incontrovertible’ – The New York Times

Lt. General H.R. McMaster accused Moscow of engaging in “disinformation, subversion and espionage.” The comments highlighted a sharp division in the White House on how to talk about Russia’s actions.

McDaniel: Indictments show Obama admin lost sight of Russia | Fox News

Russians indicted for 2016 election meddling; RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel reacts on ‘Your World.’

Russian Twitter Accounts Pivot To Florida School Shooting : The Two-Way : NPR

On Twitter, Russian trolls, bots and influencers are seeking to deepen divides after the latest school shooting.

Russia is at war with our democracy. When will we finally start defending it? – The Washington Post

The indictments confirm that Russians are targeting our political system.

The Thriller That Predicted the Russia Scandal – POLITICO Magazine

David Pepper’s 2016 novel is eerily similar to recent real-world political events. But wait until you read the sequel.

Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections – Office of the Director of National Intelligence

“Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment that has been provided to the President and to recipients approved by the President. · The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future. · Thus, while the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.

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