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Our Take

Americans can get ahead of information operations by following the three Ps: preempting, prebunking, and predicting, Director Laura Thornton said on an ASD at GMF, McCain Institute, and Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations panel in Arizona on Tuesday. 

Arizona was the second most mentioned state by national media outlets on Instagram and Facebook over the past month. Its candidates for secretary of state took the top two spots as the most retweeted secretary of state candidates nationally, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer finds in the latest Midterm Monitor report. 

Two prominent British news pundits are promoting pro-Russian conspiracy theories about Ukraine on their Iranian state-sponsored news program, Research Assistant Nathan Kohlenberg finds in a new investigation. Foreign Policy featured the report.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media  

  • Energy crisis: Russian propagandists highlighted energy-related unrest in Germany, played up EU divisions over a potential price cap of Russian gas, and accused the United States of profiting off Europe’s energy woes.
  • Protests: On Rumble (now monitored on ASD’s Midterm Monitor), more than 17 percent of all videos posted to RT’s channel last week highlighted global protests, with over 70 percent of those videos focused on anti-government protests in the West.
  • Ukraine: Russian messengers signaled a wiliness to negotiate with Ukraine while continuing to paint its government as a Nazi regime; highlighted US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez being confronted over her support for Ukraine; and falsely claimed that Ukraine put Elon Musk on a “kill list.”

Chinese diplomats and state media 

  • National Congress: The ten most used key phrases by monitored Chinese accounts were linked to the 20th National Congress, with diplomats amplifying  Xi Jinping’s speech, state media featuring China’s success over the past ten years, and a popular tweet contrasting the Chinese system with the “fake representation” of the US system. 
  • Russia and Ukraine: Chinese diplomats and state media accused the United States of orchestrating an energy crisis in Europe, echoed Russia’s optimistic assessment of the war in Ukraine, and critiqued NATO. 

Read the full report here.

News and Commentary

Russia, China take steps to interfere in US midterms: Last week, the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future warned that the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency resurrected dormant social media networks to covertly sow discontent ahead of the US midterm elections, while the FBI announced that Chinese government hackers scanned more than 100 US state-level political party domains to find vulnerabilities to exploit in future hacking operations. Deputy Director David Salvo told the Dispatch,When Americans think about current challenges in elections integrity, we often concentrate on homegrown, domestic issues like polarization and election denialism. And understandably so. But those domestic issues present opportunities for our foreign adversaries, particularly Russia and China, to exploit. We’ve already seen how information manipulation on social media platforms and the cyber penetration of political campaigns and elections infrastructure can wreak havoc on an election environment. It’s unsurprising that Russian and Chinese state-sponsored actors would use these tactics again.”  

China’s Xi calls for self-reliance in tech: China’s President Xi Jinping called for greater self-reliance in technology and supply chains during his opening address for the 20th National Congress of China’s Communist Party, as Western suppliers start to cut ties with Chinese chipmakers in response to new US export regulations. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “China has long sought technological self-reliance as it expands its capacities in critical and emerging technologies. With the recent semiconductor export controls, we’re entering a new phase of US-China tech competition defined by increasing urgency. China will now have to scramble to indigenize with fewer access to foreign resources. The key for the US will be getting allies and partners to buy in to these efforts.”

In case you missed it

  • A new hacking group presumably linked to Russia attacked transportation and logistics companies in Ukraine and Poland with a novel encryption ransomware, according to Microsoft.  
  • Chinese military research groups are purchasing American defense technology to bolster China’s hypersonics and missile programs, a Washington Post investigation found.
  • A record number of governments limited access to foreign information sources to control domestic information this year, according to a Freedom House report.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged Big Tech to play a greater role in US national security challenges during a visit to Silicon Valley this week. 
  • Germany removed the head of its cybersecurity agency following allegations that he may have ties to Russian intelligence.
  • Iranian authorities have started to use digital surveillance and drones to target protesters, marking a new phase in the government’s harsh response.

ASD in the News

January 6 House Select Committee Votes to Subpoena Former President Donald Trump. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine interviewed on Newsy 

The voting machine hacking threat you probably haven’t heard about. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in Politico

Podcast: Balance of Power: Xi Doubles Down on US Tech Competition. Senior Fellow Lindsay Gorman interviewed on Bloomberg 

Election deniers looking to work at polling places, new report warns. David Levine quoted in WITF

Why Do Elon Musk, JD Vance, Tucker Carlson and Fox News Support Putin? Director Laura Thornton interviewed on Background Briefing with Ian Masters

US national security strategy aims to outcompete China, constrain Russia. Co-Director Zack Cooper quoted in The Straits Times

Europe at the Crossroads: Backsliding Democracies and Rising Autocracies. Director Laura Thornton on a National Committee on American Foreign Policy panel

Why the U.S. Is Listening Carefully to China This Weekend. China Affairs Analyst Bryce Barros quoted in Newsweek

U.K. on Alert as China Taps British Pilots to Help Train for War With West. China Affairs Analyst Bryce Barros quoted in Newsweek 

Maryland ‘voter integrity’ group aligned with Dan Cox campaign wants to ‘double check’ ballots immediately after Election Day. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in The Baltimore Sun

Tisch College, IGL student groups host panel on journalism and misinformation. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer quoted in The Tufts Daily 

Ucraina, esperto greco: “Attivismo Erdogan tra ambizioni personali e crisi Turchia” (Ukraine, Greek expert: “Erdogan activism between personal ambitions and crisis Turkey”). Head of European Operations Vassilis Ntousas quoted in ADNKronos

Quote of the Week

“If we do not defend democracy, we could be the last generation to live it. Its defense is the main task of our generation of political leaders.”

  • Czech President Zuzana Čaputova said in an address to the European Parliament on October 19, 2022.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.