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John Schindler @20committee
, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Time for a tweetstorm on the realities of covert action and influence ops in elections. Since Trumpers are now citing the "Everybody does it" line regarding what Russia and its friends did to the USA in 2016 to help put Trump in the WH. So, here's some espionage #realtalk.../1
First, everybody who can, which means all developed countries, does SIGINT, which today means much cyber collection. So, NSA has collected ("hacked" in amateur parlance) emails and whatnot from foreign dignitaries and VIPs. Yes, it's illegal, but, really, everyone does it. /2
Western countries do this for intelligence purposes, ie informing statecraft, broadly. While small bits of SIGINT may be used for narrowly defined covert action, USG/IC does NOT use this intel to broad-brush shift elections and subvert governments, as Russia did in 2016... /3
RIS in 2016 executed an incredibly aggressive clandestine destabilization campaign against the US election encompassing #deza, Active Measures, moles/agents placed all over DC, and classic Chekist spy methods. One truly for the record books, an epic Kremlin SpyWar success..../4
NOBODY else does that. Probably only a matter of time before PRC does (they've gotten awfully far in Australia), but the Russians are in an intel class by themselves. Yes, US IC tries to covertly influence foreign governments; we do NOT do anything like what RIS did in 2016.../5
People who try to equate US IC with RIS inevitably bring up Italy 1947, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954. Examples not just from the Cold War, but from its early years. IC got out of this seamy business in the 1970s, when the IC got raked over Congressional coals post-Watergate ... /6
For the last 40 years, IC covert action requires a POTUS "finding" + there's Congressional (HPSCI/SSCI) oversight. This prevents one-offs and kooky ideas from getting executed. Sorry, it's nothing like the movies, folks. It's a bureaucratic process like everything else in DC.../7
So, if you think Lajes Boy as HPSCI chair -- or Trump as POTUS -- signed off on aggressive IC CA against Putin just like the Russians did (and keep doing) to us....there's a really nice bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Special price, today only -- just for you! ... /8
USG does try to influence, especially the peaceful booting-out of repulsive dictators through democratic means, but since the 1970s it's really pretty overt. The IC assists, but point is walked by DoS and related NGOs. "Color revolutions" as the Kremlin calls them venomously.../9
It's not hiding in plain sight, because it's not even hidden. That the USG, often led by Congress, supports democracy abroad isn't a secret. That's stated US policy. We fund NGOs that push democracy, press freedom, etc. Putin naturally hates this, especially in Russia .../10
This was where some of Putin's venom against Hillary came from, that as SECSTATE she supported pro-democracy efforts in Russia. Nothing secret there. So Vova retaliated with the Chekist toolkit he knows and loves, which is very secret & very nasty. Not equivalent to US MO ... /11
Bottom line, folks, is that there's NO equivalency between Western and Russian CA methods. Everybody spies, everybody "hacks" -- but US/NATO do NOT strategically weaponize intel to overthrow governments like Putin does. Saying we do is simply a lie which needs to be exposed. /12X
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