We are pleased to join the German Marshall Fund of the United States in announcing that Heather A. Conley, currently senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, will serve as GMF’s next president.

Our Take

States conducting elections this week face an insidious threat: the weaponization of real vulnerabilities in election systems to falsely cast doubt on the integrity of elections overall, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine writes in the Fulcrum

Europe’s energy crisis is self-inflicted. Instead of learning from previous crises, the EU adjusted its rules and made member states feel they could increase reliance on Russian gas, Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina writes for Carnegie Europe.

It is incumbent on the United States to send a bold and unequivocal message that targeting and disrupting critical infrastructure sectors will no longer be tolerated, Cybersecurity Fellow Maurice Turner said during a live Q&A.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media last week focused on three main topics:

  • G20: Russian diplomats amplified President Putin’s G20 video address, while state media tracked Biden’s Europe trip and highlighted climate-related protests outside the summit.
  • COP26: Kremlin-linked outlets doubted COP26 would result in meaningful climate action and criticized the environmental impact of the event itself.
  • Facebook: The Facebook Papers and the platform’s rebranding made headlines in Russian state-controlled media, with RT asking, “Is Facebook evil?” 

Chinese diplomats and state media covered the following subjects:

  • UN seat: Chinese officials and state-funded outlets celebrated the 50th anniversary of a UN resolution that recognized the People’s Republic of China as the “only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations.” 
  • Beijing Olympics: Chinese diplomats and state media promoted the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which are less than 100 days away, while ignoring or dismissing calls to boycott the Olympics because of China’s human rights abuses.   

Iranian diplomats and state media covered three main topics:

  • Gas attack: Tehran-linked messengers blamed the United States and Israel for a cyberattack that shut down gas stations across Iran.  
  • Nuclear deal: Press TV aired interviews with individuals that accused the United States of lacking “goodwill” and acting in bad faith in negotiations around Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Mocking Biden: Press TV used out-of-context videos and images to mock President Biden. They also used a meme to criticize the Biden administration’s new sanctions on drone technology. 

Read the full report here.

News and Commentary

Information manipulation could mar Virginia’s gubernatorial election: High-profile political and media figures are sowing doubts about the integrity of Virginia’s tightly contested gubernatorial race as the state’s election administrators face heightened scrutiny from GOP poll watchers who have been trained to see themselves as bulwarks against election fraud. ASD Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said, “Following the 2020 presidential election, we’ve seen an increasing number of prominent figures put political interests before the interests of conducting free and fair elections. Today’s elections could perhaps shed further light on whether such a strategy is a recipe for political success. For the sake of our democracy, let’s hope not.”

Twitter trolls amplify Russian ransomware group’s claims: A recently created network of Twitter bot accounts is amplifying a suspected Russian ransomware group’s claim that it hacked the National Rifle Association. The troll network has circulated other boasts of hacking successes by the collective, known as Grief, and has also commented on U.S. political issues. ASD Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, “This case once again highlights the need for greater integration between cyber and information security professionals. Too often these threats are studied in isolation, but from ransomware to hack and leaks, we have repeatedly witnessed the symbiotic relationship between malign cyber activity and online information operations.” 

In Case You Missed It 

  • The Federal Election Commission ruled that foreign donors can finance U.S. referendum campaigns, which may allow foreigners to directly influence U.S. voters on high-profile policy issues.
  • Facebook plans to shut down its facial recognition system this month, citing societal concerns over facial recognition technology. 
  • The European Parliament adopted a new cybersecurity law aimed at securing Europe’s critical services against cyberattacks. 
  • Moldova signed a new gas deal with Russia, ending the country’s state of emergency, after the EU and Moldova accused Russia of using gas talks for political gain.
  • Yahoo announced its withdrawal from the Chinese market in response to China’s new data protection law that requires companies to hand over data if requested by authorities. 
  • Deutsche Welle and other media outlets were blocked in Belarus over accusations they were spreading “extremist” content. 

ASD in the News

Should Biden be pro-democracy or anti-autocracy?, War on the Rocks. Hosted by Co-Director Zack Cooper

Is China Succeeding at Shaping Global Narratives about Covid-19?, China Power. Cites Hamilton 2.0 data and ASD’s piece “Deep in the Data Void”

Quote of the Week

“Democracy is not a dying cause; in fact, it is poised for a comeback.” 

  • Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright wrote in Foreign Affairs.
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.