tv Senate Intelligence Panel Warned Russians Play All Sides CSPAN March 31, 2017 4:11am-6:37am EDT
convincing than any cyber evidence. broadcast, internet trolls, fake news and so on are an integral part of russian foreign policy today. we need to put this in the context of the quarter century since the end of the cold war. world war ii in europe or the great patriotic war as russians call it is integral to the experience of every living russian. the country's national narrative is impossible without it. in 1941, hitler's armies were stopped just outside the gates of moscow. in 1945, stalin's armies entered berlin. that was russia's greatest generation. generations of russians since then have been taught that their country was at its most secure then because it was protected by a buffer, the warsaw pact and the soviet empire. in 1991 russians lost that buffer. the legacy of their greatest
generation. with their country falling apart, russian leaders had no choice but to accept this loss. for as long as russia would remain weak. the 90s were a terrible decade for russia but a great decade for the west. for russian leaders, and many regular russians, the dominance of the west came at the expense of russia's loss in the cold war. russia would not remain weak indefinitely. its economic recovery led to a return doing much more assertive posture, on the world stage. we saw it in the crushing of georgia in 2008. in the annexation of crimea in 2014. and we see it to the present day in the ongoing war in eastern ukraine. for the west, russia's return to the world stage has been nothing more than pure advantagism. for russia it's restoring some balance with their relationship with the west.
the narrative of restoring the balance, correcting the injustice and the distortions of the 1990s has been the essential -- absolutely essential to the russian propaganda since the beginning of the putin era. those russians who disagree, are branded as foreign agents and enemies of the people. russia's capabilities should not be overestimated. its gdp is $1.3 trillion verses u.s. gdp $18 trillion. russian defense spending is $65 billion, that's a little more than president trump's proposed increase in u.s. defense spending. the russian military is stronger than its smaller and weaker neighbors. yet the balance does not favor russia when compared to nato. a nato/russia war would be an act of mutual suicide and the kremlin is not ready for it. russian leaders have embraced a different tool kit. information warfare,
intimidation, espionage, economic tools and so on. this toolkit is meant to make up for russia's conventional shortcomings, vis-a-vis the west. the kremlin has a number of advantages here. the circle of deciders is limited to a handful of putin associates with similar world views. they have considerably resources at their disposal, especially since most of their tools are quite cheap. a handful of cyber criminals, cost a lot less than an armored brigade but can do a lot of damage. russian meddling is viewed by the kremlin as an unqualified success. that payoffs include, one, a major distraction for the united states. damage to u.s. leadership in the world. and perhaps most importantly, the demonstration effect. the kremlin can do this to the world global superpower, imagine how other countries see it.
the differences between russia and the united states are profound and will not be resolved soon. this is not a crisis, not something that will pass soon. it's the new normal. we will see russia relying on this toolkit in the months and years to come. in the upcoming elections in france and germany this year and our own future political campaigns. deception and active measures have long been and will remain a staple of russian dealings with the outside world for the foreseeable future. thank you. >> dr. rumor, thank you. mr. watts? >> mr. chairman, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. in april 2014, andrew wisebering and i noticed a petition on the white house website. alaska back to russia. as a public campaign. satirical petitions appearing on the white house website are not out of the norm. this gained 39,000 online
signatures. our examination of those signing on the petition revealed an odd pattern. the accounts very considerably from other petitions and it appeared to be the work of bots. a closer look at the bots tied in closely with other social media campaigns we had observed pushing russian propaganda months before. hackers proliferated the networks and could be spotted amongst data breach and website defacements. closely sirkling them were honey pot accounts. attractive women, political partisans that were trying to social engineer other users. above all we observed hecklers, those synchronized troling accounts you see on twitter that would attack targets using similar talking points. those accounts promoted russian foreign policy positions targeting english speaking audiences. so it -- soviet active measure tactics have been reborn and updated for the modern russian regime. today, russia hopes to win the second cold war through the force of politics as opposed to the politics of force.
while russia certainly seeks to promote western candidates sympathetic to their world view, and foreign-policy objectives, winning a single election is not their end goal. russian active measures hope to topple democracies through the pursuits of five objectives. one, undermine citizen confidence in governmentance. two, exasperate political fissures. three, erode trust between citizens and their institutions. popularize russian jaends and create confusion by blurring the lines between fact and fiction. five, very pertinent issue today in our country. from these objectives the kremlin can crumble democracies from the inside out, achieving two key milestones, one, the dissolution of the european wo, the break up of
nato. this will allow russia to reassert its power globally and pursue its lines through democratic. in late 2014 and '15 we watched it on any u.s. audience, whether it be claims of the u.s. military declaring law or the standoff at the bundy ranch, russian news characterized as white outlets turned out false news stories and conspiracies. they lined up under a few things. one, political messages designed to tarnish democratic leaders and institutions. two, financial propaganda created to weaken confidence and financial markets and capitalist capitalist. three, social unrest crafted to amplify divisions among democratic populaces. four, global calamity such as nuclear war or catastrophic climate change. from these overt russian propaganda outlets a wide range of english speaking website
s which we refer to as gray outlets some of which mysteriously operate from eastern europe, senationalize -- sensationalize these conspiracy theories. what i described earlier, working aside automated bots amplify the russian propaganda. through the end of 2015, and start of 2016, the russian influence system began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome of the u.s. presidential election. russia's overt media outlets sought to sideline opponents on both sides of the political spectrum with views towards the kremlin. they were in full swing during the republican and democratic primary season. may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to russian interests long before the field narrowed. senator rubio, in my opinion, you suffered through these efforts. the final piece, has materials
were strategically leaked. the disclosures of week wikileaks. they demonstrated how the influence system is built in the previous two years. i'm example, on the evening of 30 july 2016, my colleagues and i watched as sputnik news simultaneously launched false stories of turkey being overrun by terrorists. within minutes automated bots amplified this false news story. more than 4,000 tweets in the first 78 minutes after launching this false story, linked back to the active measures accounts we tracked in the previous two years. these previously identified accounts almost simultaneously appearing from different geographic locations and communities amplified the fake news story in unison. the hash tags pushed by these accounts were nuclear, media, trump, benghazi. the most common words found in english-speaking twitter user profiles were god, military, trump, family, country, conservative, christian, america
and constitution. these accounts and their messages clearly sought to convince americans a u.s. military base was being overrun in a terrorist attack. in reality, a small protest gathered outside the gate and the increased security at the air base sought to secure the arrival of the chairman of the joint chiefs. many accounts we watched pushed the false story focused on the elections in europe, promoting fears of immigration or false claims of refugee criminality. they have not forgotten about the u.s. this past week, we observed social media accounts discrediting speaker of the house paul ryan hoping to foment unrest-- inside democratic institutions. the implications will be two-fold. the first is what the world is witnessing today. a russian challenge to democracies throughout the west. more importantly, over the horizon, russian provided hackers and disrespectful of civil liberties a playbook for information warfare. the u.s. in failing to respond to active measures will
surrender its position as the world's leader. forego its role as defender of democracy and give up on over 70 years to preserve civil liberties around the world. russia's strategic motto for america in the west is divided they stand and divided they will fall. it's time the united states reminds the world despite our day-to-day policy debates, some political squabbles, we stand united in defending our democratic system of government from oppressive authoritarians and suppressive humanity. i have many recommendations in my written testimony. i ask my full written statement, which includes these recommendations be submitted into the record and i hope that during the question and answer session we can further discuss how we might counter these active measures. thank you for inviting me. >> mr. watts, thank you for your testimony and all of written testimony will be included as part of the record. the chair and vice chairman are
going to exit and vote. i'm going to recognize senator risch for his questions and in our absence, he'll allow back and forth based on seniority. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, it always impresses me, the fact when we hear people talking about russian policy and what they want. first of all, how uniform it is. everybody seems to agree on where they're going, what they do and what they're doing to get there. but after processing that over a long period of time, one has got to come to the thought process of what happens in a post putin russia. because everyone -- everyone has got a shelf life. and his is -- his has been extended, it looks to me, well beyond what normally would happen under these circumstances.
so give me your thoughts, briefly, each of you, if you would, as to what happens. do they stand the same track they're on, or do they come to the realization that there's bigger and better things in life to pursue than what they're doing right now. mr. godson? >> well, thank you for the question. as you know, a lot of variables here at work. one would be what we -- how we respond to putin and the behavior of the apparatus that they have. do we let them continue to do this, or do we start to develop some sort of a strategic response to them. that would be one of the variables. do they find that they can get away with views, active measures as they have in the past? and if so, then the elite that has taken power in russia would
be inclined to continue. they found that even when they sometimes have not been as effective as they expected, that active measure still is a -- a capability that enables them to use the example of being able to fight above their economic and political capabilities. so unless there was a dramatic change in the regime, there's little reason to believe that they would cease active measures, policy and strategy they have, barring that we don't actually cauterize it and limit its effects. if we do not, then they will have on incentive to continue. >> dr. gore? >> thank you, sir. well, mr. putin, i believe, is
62. a man in his prime. he's positioned to run in 2018 again for another term. i think what we see today is going to be with us for a long time. by the looks of it, for the next two presidential terms in this country. so we should base our policy accordingly. i think it would be incorrect and counter productive to tar all russians with the same brush. but there is something there in russian traditional security perceptions that transcends party lines, that extra sends -- that transcends regimes and russian doesn't change that much over time. so i think we should be thinking about the drivers of russian foreign insecurity policy in terms of continuity rather than radical change. after all, we already saw radical change in 1991 and things in the end really didn't change that much.
and as long as, you know, russians -- russian elites will see themselves as -- as long as they see themselves as being inferior and struggling against a more advanced and a more powerful western alliance, they will be relying on all tools in their tool kit. and information warfare -- this -- this information -- disinformation warfare will be part of it. we may hope that if some day someone like the corruption -- rises to the leadership of the country, having been a victim of information, he may be more restrained in it. but i would say that the basic parameters of russian policy are generally set in place. >> thank you, doctor. i've only got a short time left. i want to hear from mr. watts. >> yes. regarding mr. putin, i would look to these two gentlemen
primarily. but my thoughts are, one, he's not going away any time soon. two, he will definitely shape some sort of a successor in his place to continue on with what he's doing right now. i think the third big thing that we can't discount is the connection with criminality. there is -- between these elites and their predatory capitalist practices, what we see in cyberspace with cyber crime and how they have used hackers very well as part of their active measures, we can't discount that we'll see a predatory elite emerge that will be something we have to deal with. and i think the fourth thing, which goes to the first point, is i'm not sure what our policy or stance is with regards to russia at this point in the united states. i think that's the number one thing we have to figure out, because that will shape how they interface with us. having watched the end of the soviet union as a cadet at west point and then fast forwarding to today, i'm a little bit lost as to what our u.s. interests are, or how they're coalescing. i know what i would recommend. but i think that will have a major impact on how we will be
able to interface and maybe i see opportunity in putin's departure. >> thank you, mr. watts. senator feinstein. >> oh, thank you, senator risch. gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. and thank you for your testimony. i'm sorry, i was out to vote while i missed some of it. i've been on this committee for 16 years. and the intelligence community report, which is the report of all of our major intelligence agencies, which was released on january the 6th, is among the strongest i've read. it covers the motivation and the scope of russia's actions, regarding our elections. as well as the cyber tools and the media campaigns they use to influence public opinion. the report makes a key judgment and here it is. russian president vladimir putin ordered and influenced campaign in 2016, aimed at the united
states presidential election. the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the united states democratic process, denigrate secretary clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. it further assesses that -- and these are quotes -- putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump. here's two questions. do you believe the intelligence community assessment accurately characterized the goals of russian influence activities in the election? and i would like to go down the line with a yes or no answer, if you want to explain it, that would be fine. who would like to go first? >> well, thank you for that difficult question. the -- i personally don't sort of find myself at odds with the
ica study that you -- that you identified. however, the statement that this is was developed in 2016 needs to be parsed a bit. the russians could not do this if they started in 2016. they wouldn't have had the capability. and the active measures world , one can want to do many things, but one has to have the means to do this -- >> when would you estimate it was start, by your statement? >> well, it's not i have a specific date. but that one needs to have an infrastructure abroad to be able to do this. now, you can use some of the infrastructure in your own country, especially with cyber capabilities. but -- >> which they had.
>> which they had. but active measures usually involves people as well as machines. and it would be extraordinary that they hadn't prepared a lot of the ground to be able to do this. not only in the united states, but in other countries, as well. it's -- they have this apparatus, and this apparatus is well-staffed, well-trained. the training of the people who work in this apparatus is quite surprising to us. it's -- we have known about it, but we don't really take it very seriously. it's not three months or six months training or years training. they have much longer training periods, and they are -- some of them are pretty good. not ten feet tall, of course, but pretty good. >> ok, i got the point. next person? >> yes. >> thank you. appreciate it. >> yes. and i can give you the time line of their development, if you would like it. >> please. >> we have accounts dating back to 2009 that are tied to active measures. 2014 was their capability development, based on my assessment, where they started
working on their influence campaigns. 2015 was when they tied hacking and influence together for the first time, specifically during the dnc breaches. i was notified in november of 2015 that i had been targeted by a cyberattack. 2016 was the push into the u.s. audience landscape to build audience. august 2016 was when i witnessed them pushing towards the election. and that was in full -- or august of 2015, all the way through 2016. so one year buildup to the election. >> thank you. has russia ever -- i think i know the answer to this, but if you would elaborate on it, conducted other similar campaigns in other countries to this level of impact with the goal of tilting the playing field to increase one candidate's chance of winning?
mr. watt, if you would go first. >> yes. i believe you would need to look back at 2014 in both ukraine and another eastern european country that's escaping me. in 2015, '16, the brexit campaign should be examined. i can't prove it one way or another. and today all the european elections they're choosing to mettle in. france, germany, netherlands, czech republic. >> thank you. would you like to respond? >> yes. they have conducted such campaigns in ukraine in 2004 and 2014. in georgia. they have intervened heavily in domestic political campaigns in the baltic states, so there are ample examples of that. >> thank you. would you please respond, doctor? >> yes, they have a history of doing this well before this, and they find it a successful use of their resources. so it is not surprising. >> thank you, doctor. senator rubio. >> thank you. thank you all for being here. i'm concerned that in our inquiry, and i certainly think it's important for us to know
what happened. we are focusing so much on the tactics that we're not focusing on the broader strategy that's at play here. i want to briefly go through a number of instances and have the panel comment whether or not they believe these are indicative of the efforts being targeted against the united states and the rest of the world by vladimir putin. we all know that angela merkel has taken a tough line on ukraine against russia. we know there is a lot of controversy in germany around migrants. in early 2016, a 13-year-old known only as lisa f, a russian /german citizen whose family had moved to germany from russia in 2004 told police she had been kidnapped in east berlin by what appeared to be middle eastern migrants and raped for over 30 hours. there was outrage in germany and obviously protests against merkel. the russian foreign minister immediately jumped on the story talking about the need to defend our lisa, quote, unquote. and the story was spread far and wide by russian speaking entities and russian media outlets. subsequently, the prosecutors in berlin announced they had clear
evidence that during those 30 hours, she was missing, lisa f was actually, in fact, with people she knew, and a medical examination showed that she had not been the victim of rape. earlier this year, a little-known news outlet published on a website an article that claimed that the united states was deploying 3,600 tanks to eastern europe to prepare for war with russia. 3,600 tanks would represent about 40% of our entire tank force. within days, the story was republished by dozens of outlets in the united states and throughout europe. as it turns out, the truth is we deployed 87 tanks. there is in -- going all the way back to september 11th of 2015, residents in louisiana awoke to a message, many of them did, on their twitter feed, that said toxic fume hazard warning in this area until 1:30 p.m., take shelter, check local media and
columbiachemical.com. on twitter accounts, there were hundreds of accounts documenting a disaster right down the road from the people. one account said a powerful explosion heard from miles away happened at a chemical plant in centerville, louisiana. a man named john merit, tweeted. anna are you sela shared an -- anna shared an image of flames engulfing the plant. posted a video of surveillance footage from a local gas station capturing the explosion. another twitter account posted a screen shot of cnn's home page, showing the story had already made national news, claiming that isis had claimed credit for the attack, according to one youtube video. a woman named @zopak 9 -- anna mclaren is her name, i guess. is this really isis responsible for the hash tag column upon chemicals? tell obama we should bomb iraq. tell obama we should bomb iraq. had anyone taken the trouble to
check cnn as this article outlines, there was no such attack. it was a hoax. not some simple prank, as the article goes on to say, but a highly coordinated disinformation campaign involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. the perpetrators didn't just doctor screen shots from cnn and i'm reading from the "new york times" article. they also created functional clones of the a websites of the louisiana stations and the like. the list goes on and on and we should document to the american people. a false story spreading claiming a that germany's oldest church was burnt down by a thousand muslims. another story claiming the european union was planning your the european union was planning to ban snowmen as an racist. all of this, and on and on. and we should begin to and on and on. and we should begin to document them for the american people. isn't this one larger problem -- let me just rephrase that. aren't we in and the midst of a blitzkrieg, for lack of a better term, of and informational warfare conducted by russian trolls under the command of vladimir young as you putin designed to and sew instability, pit us
against each other as americans. they posted false stories of a police shooting in atlanta that never happened. in essence, are is we in danger here because we are focused on a very important tactical move that happened in the election of 2016 to miss the broader point, and that is that this is a coordinated effort across multiple spectrums to sow instability and to pit americans against each other, demographically and the like. >> so i think the two lines of effort you brought up there, that the russians use are social dynamics that they play on, ethnic divisions, and global calamity or inciting fear. these two lines haven't been discussed much. the third one is financial. they oftentimes put out fake stories about u.s. companies, which then cause stock dips. which allow all sorts of predatory trading and other things to happen. what's -- we have focused on
disinformation around the political scene. but misinformation across the board, particularly from the russia propaganda networks, has incited fear inside the united states on multiple occasions, as you noted. one last year was there was jfk terminal shut down about allegeded gunshots. we watched social media trols trolls pump fake stories out which ramped up that fear which caused mass panic. so they have created the ability by gaining audience in the united states to steer americans, unwittingly, and many different directions, that can cause all sorts of danger and even violence in certain cases. i think that pizza gate scandal we saw last fall is another such example of misinformation. maybe not attributed to russia. but we nformation sources. >> senator rubio -- >> i think you hit the nail on the head. i don't really have a lot to add to it. we are faced a
strategic attack. it's not a kinetic attack usually. it's a political attack. another question comes. what sort of strategic response are we going to be able to develop to that? we could elaborate on that. >>inanl witnesses for their testimony. doctor, i'm going to start with you. we have heard a lot recently about the role of the head of russia's largest aluminum company and the role he may have played in helping to support the goals of president putin. can you characterize the role in this area, and then more broadly, are there any of the oligarchs in russia, at least those not in exile, that aren't somehow caught up in the kremlin's foreign policy activities? or are there any truly independent?
>> thank you, senator warner. i can't add anything to the conversation beyond what's in the public domain. so i don't think i have any special incites here. and, you know, i feed off the same reporting that's appeared in the papers. i would be careful to describe all russian oligarchs and oligarch itself as a fairly ill defined term. there is a handful of some of the prominent ones, but it's a much bigger class of major russian businessmen. i would be reluctant to describe them all as, you know, tools of the kremlin, obviously. russian businessmen who would do business in russia have to be
mindful of kremlin political preferences and the kremlin has considerable influence over them. but i don't have -- i can't speak from concrete information about them being -- you know, directly instruments of the kremlin foreign policy. that that's not something that -- i have evidence to back up. so i think i'll -- i'll stop at that. >> okay. mr. watts, one of the things in your testimony -- i've been talking a lot about the use of the internet trolls and their ability to then exponentially gain more power through creating these botnets. i would love you to kind of comment about what we can do to preclude that on a -- on a going forward basis, and perhaps you can explain this technique better than i have in
my various public statements. >> sure. the first thing that i think we need to understand is it's not all automated and it's not all human. there is a combination of the two. so you have a series of humans that work in their psychological warfare groups that command both bots at the same time. and i like to -- as an aallege, you can look at it like artillery. so you have someone engaging with you as individual, and at the same time, they can launch a bot to amplify that story forward. when we -- >> obviously, the bot for those -- ability for a computer to take over other computers that are not being used and in effect magnify the number of hits they might hit to a particular social media site, correct? >> exactly. and you can create more personas in twitter, for example, which makes it look like there are more people than there really are. it's a strategy, essentially, that amplifies your appearance. so what they do is, they launch those simultaneously as they begin the engagement or push of false news stories. usually from
sputnik news. they do that in unison, which games the social media system, such that such a high volume of content being pushed at the same time raises that into the trends that you'll see, if you looked at facebook or twitter or whatever it might be. you see the top ten stories that are out right now. it pushes that up there. as soon as it pushes that into that top ten feed, mainstream media outlets then are watching that and they start to examine that content. so, for example, the attack i talked about, one of the key hash tags they pushed is media. the goal is to get that in the top of twitter stream so mainstream media has to respond to that story. when mainstream media responds to it or looks at it without commenting on it, it takes over organically and you'll see it move over the internet like a virus. >> one thing, i'm going to spend a lot of time on in this afternoon. there have been reports that their ability to target this information, some reports at least saying that in the last week of the campaign in
certain precincts in wisconsin, michigan, pennsylvania, there was so much misinformation coming, talking about hillary clinton's illnesses or hillary clinton stealing money from the state department or -- that completely blanked out any of the back and forth that was actually going on in the campaign. one of the things that seems curious, were the russians on their own, have that level of sophisticated knowledge about the american political system if they didn't at least get some advice from someone in america. >> yes. i know this from working on influence campaigns in the counterterrorism context. if you do appropriate target audience analysis on social media, you can actually identify an audience in a foreign country or in the united states, parse out all of their impressive were recognizes. part of the reason those bios had conservative christian, you know, america all those terms in it, those are the most common ones. if you inhale
all of the accounts of the people in wisconsin, you identify the most common terms in it, you just recreate accounts that look exactly like people from wisconsin. so that way whenever you're trying to socially engineer them and convince them that the information is true, it's much more simple, because you see somebody and they look exactly like you. even down to the pictures. when you look at the pictures, it looks like an american from the midwest or the south or wisconsin or whatever the location is. and they will change those. they can reprogram them. where they tend to show their hand is, the problem is once they build an audience, they don't want to get rid of it. so you'll see them build an audience of trying to influence one segment, let's say of the english-speaking media. and then they will reprogram it to try and influence a different story. it's the same problem any cable news outlet will have. once you build an audience and you change your content to some other topic, you still want to keep your old audience, otherwise you can't gain any traction. >> and, again, my time is up, but i want to know, this was used in 2016 towards one candidate. but obviously, russia's interests are russia's interests. >> it's used right now on people
on both sides of the aisle. they might go after a republican person in this room tomorrow, and then they'll switch. it's solely based on what they want to achieve in their own landscape. whatever the russian foreign policy objectives are. so if they want to achieve one candidate, but let's say president trump, for example, wins and now turns against, they will turn on president trump, as well. they'll play -- they win because they play both sides. and the audience will go with them once they have them. >> i do know that the vice chairman hates russia, just to make that public. senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. doctor godson, you make the point that the russians don't always win with their active measures, and you mentioned the period of the 1940s, and the 1950s. in your judgment, how successful have the russians been in the last year in achieving their goal of sowing
polarization, trying to disrupt and cast out on the validity of the election, putting aside the issue for the moment of the critical question of whether there was any chloelution between any campaign and the russian effort? >> well, from the information that we have in the public sector, and the private sector, i would say that they must be rather pleased with the results of their investment. whatever date they started to develop this campaign. i think, though, however, they -- and the fact is, they are seeming to prepare to do the same thing in other
campaigns. abroad. and so sort of looking at the way they have behaved over the long course of time, that they have used active measures, i think they will continue to -- to do this, and to reap some benefits from it. unless there is a -- a considerable response from the democratic societies. and at the moment, i would say that our response is too restrained, and that -- unless they see that there is a cost to this that makes this not a very attractive thing to do, i don't see why they won't continue it. i hope that's responsive. >> thank you. doctor rummer, mr. watts made the point that the russians will go after either side. that they're trying to
disrupt society, cast out on western democracies. and one largely overlooked part of the intelligence committee's -- or the intelligence community's report last fall was information in the annex that suggested that russia today, which most people view as an organ of the russian government, was instrumental in trying to advance the protests of occupy wall street. could you comment on that, and is that an example of russia working to promote the far left versus the far right that we hear so much about? >> yes, ma'am. it's a perfect example in that occupy wall street was a genuine movement on
the left. but it certainly serves the interests of russian propaganda to blade up as a major challenge as something representing a major fault line in our society. because, you know, it drives the message that the united states is in decline. the united states is in crisis. plays up to audiences at home in russia and abroad. that the united states is not the perfect society, something that they really like to emphasize. so that's -- that's -- that's an excellent example. and i think it deserves the attention that you -- the spotlight that you cast on it. mr. watts referred to the minor protests outside our base and in certify lick, in turkey. there is another example that there was a protest, but again, it's blown out of all proportions. and as you know, the best propaganda is that which has a grain of truth to it. that then gets played up and up and up.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator wyatt. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and let me say thank you to our witnesses. gentlemen, here's where we are now. the american people are worried about what's ahead with regard to russia. the public now gets most of its information from leaks, from daily press stories and apparently inaccurate tweets from the president. this feeds distrust and causes americans to question the legitimacy of our government. so i believe the committee needs to lift the fog of secrecy about what really happened to our democracy. that's why it's so important we have open hearings with the intelligence committee, the fbi, homeland security and treasury. and i believe a key to a successful investigation is following the money. yesterday i wrote a letter to the chairman and the vice chair, urging the committee look into any and all
financial relationships between russia and donald trump and his associates. i'm also taking this issue on as a ranking member of the finance committee of which senator burr and senator warner are also members. i and other members of the finance committee have already urged that the committee exercise its authority to obtain and review donald trump's tax returns. this review ought to include the trump organization and its partnerships. senate investigators should also look into any violations of the foreign corrupt practices act, which ensures that investors are not paying bribes overseas. the treasury department's responsible for other programs and investigations that may uncover suspicious financial activities by donald trump, and his associates. it is already a matter of public record that entities associated with donald trump have been the subject of millions of dollars of fines for willful repeated and long standing violations of anti money laundering laws.
information about donald trump's finances, his family, and his associates may lead to russia. we know that in 2008 the president's son said that suggss make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. since then, we've gotten mostly smoke and mirrors. the committee needs to follow the money wherever it leads. because if money laundering, corruption of any kind or fishy real estate deals point to the russian oligarch's criminal elements, then the russian government may only be a step or two away from us. so now my question. there is an extraordinary history of money laundering in russia. billions of dollars from corruption and other illegal activities have been moved out of the country. what that means is that russia's
corruption problem may also be our corruption problem. so here's my question for the three of you as experts on russia. i would like you three to tell us about corruption in russia so as to help us follow the money in our investigation. and here's my specific question. i'm going to start with you, mr. watts. how can the committee track this fuzzy line between the russian oligarchs, russian organized crime and the russian government? >> thanks, senator. i would first start off with i'm not the foremost russian expert. i came to this through the islamic state in isis. i'm really a counterterrorism expert. mostly active measures came off after me. the second part i would add
to this discussion, though, is there is a money trail to be searched for, and discovered. and we have focused very heavily on elites in our public discussion. what are elite people doing. but this influence action has both virtual component and a physical component that's happened. i would say that what i can't see, which i would want to know, is what is happening in eastern europe. there is a disproportionate number of fake news outlets, conspiratorial reb sites that are run from there that are english-speaking editors that are pro russian. trained in russia sometimes. how are they funded? that would be one component. i would -- i might guess or might estimate, my hypothesis, working in the intelligence field, is that there is some sort of russian intel asset that is funding them in one way or another through some sort of scheme. the other part that i think we should be looking at is follow the trail of dead russians. there has been more dead russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation who have
assets and banks all over the world. they are dropping dead, even in western countries. we have seen arrests in i believe it's spain and different computer security companies that are based in russia, which provide services to the united states. these are all huge openings to understand how they are funded by the russian government. i don't have the capability to do that from where i sit. but i think that's a huge angle. if you can prove that part of it, i have to say on the influence side, we can see it. the one thing that's been misconstrued in the public discussion about russian influence is that it's covert. you can hack stuff and be covert, but you can't influence and be covert. you have to ultimately show your hand. and that's why we have been able to discover it online. but the missing part is how did they conduct this influence. there are newspapers, there are media outlets, the balkins are littered right now with these sorts of outlets. that's where i would start to dig on the financial space.
>> i'm almost out of time. dr. rumor, same thing. this fuzzy line is what i'm particularly interested in. organized crime, oligarchs and the government. i heard you talk about one person, you couldn't comment on him. but just give me your analysis about this fuzzy line, because i keep coming back to that. >> well, sir, it is definitely a fuzzy line. and i think those relationships are probably best discussed not in an open session. because -- >> just saying they ought to be discussed. >> i believe they ought to be discussed. >> good. fair enough. >> but i do believe that it is something for our intelligence committee to take up, rather than for us -- >> probably ought to quit while i'm ahead. mr. chairman, can mr. godson just finish that question? >> dr. godson. quickly. turn your mike on.
>> i'm very pleased that you're having this open session. i think it's very useful but i do think that this is a sensitive subject, and so that -- >> fine. >> it will require skill and care on the part of our society. so we don't overreact, which in our history, we sometimes have to being surprised. and so i do think it's -- there was more time to discuss. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> dr. godson, let's just start right there. why do you think we -- i've got about four questions so they don't need to be exhaustive, and i can follow up with more written questions later. and mr. watts, i'm going to come to you next. why do you think there was this element of surprise? i mean, this is not new russian activity in other places in the world. i think mr. watts said it had to start before 2016, but it does seem that the intel community, the u.s. government, the media, is surprised that they have this
level of involvement. you just said we shouldn't have been surprised. why do you think we were surprised? >> well, i do think it has something to do with our culture, that we don't expect people to behave in this particular way. we have been surprised many times in our history. so i don't think it's -- we expect it to do it everywhere else, but not here? >> we're sort of surprised when somebody takes a concerted effort to be involved in our affairs. we know that sometimes this happens abroad, but we don't really sort of think this is a major tool or instrument that people use. and so we found ourselves surprised in the '40s and the '70s and the '80s and so on. so i'm not too surprised we are surprised. >> mr. watts, why do you think we seem to have been so unready for this? >> one, our intelligence community has been overfocused on terrorism, and the islamic state. and there wasn't much
resources to begin with to focus on it. the second is our traditional methods for detecting counter intelligence, things like active measures are based on humans. we run spies versus counter spies. most of this influence came online. they essentially duplicated the old active measure system without setting food inside the united states. i think the third part of it is the intel community in the united states is very biased against open source information. and they have been -- they have been surprised repeatedly. isis, the arab spring, you can go back over the past six to seven years. we worry a lot about security clearances and badges and who gets access to doors and does the break room have a shredder. but when it comes to the open source, we miss what's right in front of our nose. my two colleagues and i use three laptops and we do this at our house. but for some reason, the
entire intel apparatus with billions of dollars will miss a tweet or a facebook post that's right in front of them. but will be highly focused on this security system and these closed sources which are super useful. but we have not changed that orientation in our intel community. >> in europe, do you think the interventions there were so obviously different that we wouldn't have caught on? or how do you see the difference in what the russians have done, particularly in the last 15 years in europe and what they did here? >> well, there was an element of unpreparedness on our part. i agree with my colleagues. i would say that -- well, i can speak from personal experience. and that is, i just didn't believe that any one intervention, any one agent, can swing our election across 50 states. i think -- i thought nobody in their right mind would try to take on the challenge of such expense and complexity. but then when you think about it
more carefully, as we have now with the benefit of hindsight, if you look at the election of 2000, when the florida vote was decided by a very small number of votes when we now know some of the votes were decided in some states were decided by a very small margin, you realized that, you know, a more sophisticated actor that has, as my colleagues have pointed out, years and decades experience of playing in this field can actually aspire to make a meaningful difference. >> let me ask another question about that. i know the vice chairman mentioned hand-counting the ballots and the recent elections in one european country. you said that the russian intelligence services directly intervened. we don't have any reason to believe -- anybody can answer this -- that they intervened in any election-counting system this time. i think we should be concerned that that never be
allowed to happen. and one of our -- one of our goals here should be to be sure we're protecting that part of the process. but when you said directly intervened in the elections, no indication, mr. rummer, of directly intervening anywhere in the counting of votes on election day? >> right. they're public statements from our intelligence community and law enforcement and dhs. that our counting systems have not been affected. i can only go on the strength of that, and i fully believe that statement. but we certainly should be aware of that and concerned about it. >> absolutely. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator heinrich. >> thank you, chairman. and i want to start out by just thanking the chairman and the vice chairman for their willingness to work so closely together on leading this investigation. i certainly think that today's hearing is helpful in setting a baseline for the intentions and the techniques of
russia's active measures campaigns. but i also look forward to public hearings in which we can dig even deeper into the substance of what happens specifically in the 2016 election. similarly, i believe it's critical that we dig into the financial aspects involved. and that we follow the money to determine whether and how the russians have used financial leverage to achieve their strategic goals. i think we need to do everything possible to get to the truth, the american people certainly deserve no less, and i think if we do not take this seriously, it is -- it is not hyperbolic to say that our fundamental democratic institutions are at risk. dr. godson said something in a statement for the record about the history of relying on agents of influence. in other words, recruiting and co opting sympathic groups or individuals in the u.s. and in the west to advance the russian agenda. do
you all agree that financing is one of the methods often used by russia to recruit sympathetic agents? >> yes. >> yes. there is publicly available evidence of a moscow base paying financing. one of the presidential candidates in france. >> so when they use financial resources to recruit agents of influence, like the example you just made, is it -- is it always a simple of exchange of money for assistance, or do -- does russian sometimes attempt to buy influence more subtly through access to lucrative business deals through contracts and those kinds of arrangements? >> yes. i think all of the above. we can show examples of -- in the past.
>> yes. they have used their considerable financial business leverage in eastern europe to cut favorable energy deals. to offer lucrative deals to local companies and governments. >> i think the key point and this is comparing it to soviet active measures to today is, we didn't do business transactions with soviet union. so they have so many more access points to compromise people financially, or to influence them on the financial space that they couldn't have done during the cold war. >> this next question is for any of you. i'm curious if you see money in politics as an opening for russia to be able to potentially manipulate our elections, especially given their expertise at moving financial resources through networks and the change in our own environment in which there's now a lack of transparency in the current u.s. campaign finance environment, where oftentimes you have elections
where a majority of the dollars spent are not even originating from the individual candidates themselves. have any of you given that some thought? >> so i think it's a little bit overstated, based on the public part of it. the russians aren't stupid. they know that if they are ever caught directly putting money into what looks like a manchurian candidate kind of scenario, this could be provocation for war, or it could be sanctions. it could be a host of different things. at the same point, i would also offer you from an intelligence perspective why not look at it as a way to compromise somebody. so if you have a candidate that's doing well, and you have very open campaign finance, why not slip them some money where they don't know the original source of it, such that if it's revealed later, they're discredited. so it can go both ways. it's not just promotion, it can also be used as a tool and a weapon. >> you, mr. watts, i think did a really good job of laying out
for us how these influence operations actually have the impact of sort of organically changing the trends on media, and end up being sort of a self-reinforcing mechanism. are there analytical or digital tools that can discount the impact of those bots and of that manufactured forcing mechanism within the way that information travels on the web today? and impacts the media? >> so i think all the social media companies are starting to realize that their ad revenue mechanisms can be manipulated for this. there are more than just russian fake news out there. you've got profit ears. you've got political groups that do that. and you've got, you know, satire, which is thrown in the mix of it. you're seeing the social media companies try and regulate this now, or deem
things as fake news. but that's going to fail. ultimately, any attempt to deem things as fake or not fake is going to lead to freedom of speech violations, freedom of the press violations. because how do you do that? how do you determine who is being fair or not? i think a better way to do it, and what we propose, is to create the version of information consumer reports. which is an independent agency, which is funded by the social media companies, has no government involvement, no government funding, that provides a rating in terms of the news that shows up on your feed. such that much like nutrition labels on food, you know what you're consuming. right now part of the reason this is so effective is the fake news outlet can pop up one day, out storiespump that are sensational and fall and that are sensational and fall down the next. the consumer and the american on their facebook feed, which is curated to the things that they like to click on, and even in the google searches, which is curated to things other people like to click on like them, end up
clicking on these things, because they're popular. if they had a score or a rating, some sort of symbol there that said you're more than welcome to click on this, but this is the "national enquirer." you know, you can evaluate how much of this is truth and how much is manipulated truth and how much is false. just like we saw with "consumer reports" when i was growing up, it had 15 variables, rated over time and a trusted integer you can go to. i think that's a better way to do it. we're not restricting americans' freedom of speech. and at the same time if they want to look at fake news, they can look at it, but they know what they're getting into. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> it's hard to believe we're discussing this topic, since putin cleared this up earlier today. he came out with a public statement just hours ago saying, "watch my lips. no." and then followed up with all of these things are fictional. provocations, lies, used for domestic american political agendas. the anti russian card is played by different political forces inside the united states
to trade on and consolidate their positions inside. well, he certainly consolidated us. it is painful to watch the russian people trapped in a regime that is doing this worldwide. they would like to be able to watch the olympics and know their athletes weren't doped ahead of time. they would like to believe their own news when the russians proclaim we're not in ukraine. and we're not in syria. and they are. and it would be nice if we could -- as he said, watch my lips. and know that he's not trying to did he receive our audiences. my question is, first, why did he think he could get away with it this time? this is not new for the russians. they have done this for a long time across europe. but it was much more engaging this time in our election. why now? mr. watts?
>> i think this answer is very simple and it is what no one is really saying in this room. which is part of the reason active measures oh have worked in this u.s. election is because the commander-in-chief has used russian active measures at times against his opponents. on 14 august 2016, his campaign chairman, after a debunked -- >> when you say "his," who is "his?" >> paul manafort cited the story as a terrorist attack on cnn. and he used it as a talking point. on 11 october, president trump stood on a stage and cited a -- what appears to be a fake news story from sputnik news that disappeared from the internet. he denies the intel from the united states about russia. he claimed that the election could be rigged. that was the number one theme pushed by rt sputnik news, outlets, all the way up until the election. he's made claims of voter fraud that president obama is not a citizen, that, you know, congressman cruz is not a citizen. so part of the reason active measures works and it does today in terms of trump
tower being wire tapped is because they parrot the same lines. so putin is correct. he can say that he's not influencing anything, because he's just putting out a stance. but until we get a firm basis on fact and fiction in our own country, get some agreement about the facts, whether it be do i support the intelligence community or a story i read on my twitter feed, we're going to have a big problem. i can tell you right now today, gray outlets that are soviet-pushing accounts, tweet at president trump during high volumes when they know he's online and they push conspiracy theories. so if he is to click on one of those or criteria one of those, it just proves putin correct, that we can use this as a lever against the americans. >> so this started in 2008, '09 time period as you cited before with your previous time line. even before this rose up, even when there were 16 republican candidates on the stage, this was a long time coming and it seemed to be very well-organized this time. part of my question is, i get that completely. why
this time? they look to be more prepared. pro being evaluated -- probing evaluated states, trying to get into voter records, trying to be more active in the process. >> they had plausible deniability. if you wanted to run this during the cold war, you would have had to put agents inside the united states. they would have been stalked by counter intelligence professionals. they have would have been run down. you couldn't gain an audience on a newspaper, for example. today you can gain the audience, build the bots, pick out the election and even the voters that are valued most in swing states and insert the right content in a period. they me planned it. they were based a year-and-a-half out. they're doing it today on the european elections. here's the other thing that needs to come up. they try all messages. we have been very focused on our presidential election. the republicans, you know, tend to come up. but the democrats, they were there too. they were --
with bernie sanders supporters, trying to influence them in different directions. so they play all sides. much like i learn in infantry school about how they use artillery. they fire artillery everywhere, and once they get a break in the wall, that's where they swarm in and focus. and they do that very well today. you'll see them in europe supporting people on the left or right, whichever will dismantle the democratic function that they're after. so i think the important point in moving forward is we have to educate our public, and even our institutions, and the mainstream media is right to be taking some on the chin right now. they have fallen for a lot of these fake news stories. they have amplified it and not gone back and done good fact checking. the media needs to improve. our u.s. government institutions needs to improve and we have got to help americans understand what the facts are. if we don't, we are lost. we will become two separate, maybe three separate worlds in the united states. just because of this little bitty pinprick that was put in by a foreign country. >> which is their goal on that. mr. chairman. >> senator manchin.
>> mr. chairman, thank you very much. i want to thank senator keen for allowing me. i have another meeting i've got to attend. i wanted to ask this question. i've been around long enough to remember that my school desk at home protected me if i jumped underneath of it, held my head during the nuclear attack from russia. i'm not sure that my united states senate desk, if i jump underneath of it and hold my head, will protect me this time. and that's putting it mildly. with that being said, much has been written about the russians recently in georgia, crime i can't and ukraine. to be brief, russia believes the lines between war and peace are blurred. wars are no longer declared and no longer fought in a traditional manner. and the power of nonmilitary means exceeds the power of weapons ineffectiveness. some label it the doctrine, a combination of political, military economic, social media means to achieve russian strategic objectives. in the united states. we would call
this a whole of government approach. so my question could be to any of you, and i'll start with you, mr. watts, if possible. is russia's meddling in our 2016 elections proof the united states is dealing with a nation that is acting in its own war-like manner? >> yes. would you like me to comment on some of the things we can do? yeah. so there are seven or eight things we can do immediately that are not >> my desk is not going to save me this time, right? >> no. and i'll tell you right now, i'm going to walk out of here today, i'm going to be cyber attacked, disyetted by -- discredited by trolls. my biggest fear is a psychological warfare targeting. my biggest concern right now, i don't know what the american stance is on russia and who is going to take care of me. i mean, after years in the army and the fbi, working in the intel communities today, i'm going to walk out of here and aim -- nobody is going to be covering my back. i'm going to
be on my own. and so that's very disconcerting. i can that speaks to what we need to do. one, in terms of falsehoods, we need to do two things. we need a state department and a dhs website that immediately refutes when falsehoods are put out. these seem silly when they come out. the terrorist attack, incirlik terrorist attack for example, the quicker refuted the faster they die in social media. we caught the incirlik attack. when they fake it, it gets exposed. it runs out of control. the other part is the fbi. they're doing a great job in terms of investigating hacking but the hacking powers influence. whenever there's a hack, we should look at what was stolen and figure out what is the anticipated smear campaign, how is this going to be wep pannized. the next one is educating u.s. businesses. treasury and commerce right now need to be doing awareness campaigns. their companies suffer smear campaigns from foreign countries right now which change their stock pries. their employees are in social media and being picked off
through social engineering and hacked at. the other part is in the private sector and the public sector. mainstream media companies can we need to work with them. what if they boycotted wikileaks collectively and didn't race to publish too quickly? if those damaging, stolen information that is misconstrued oftentimes doesn't get into the mainstream media, if all of them block it out, russia's influence dies on the vine. the last thing i think is the social media companies whether we like it or not, social media has become the news provider for almost all americans. our preference is shape what we see and our friends share stuff with us and it reinforces our views. i think that for them, they're worried about these state sponsored groups in their systems and how it's going to erode their company. >> doctor, when the iron curtain fell and russia fell out of the
world power status, super power status i might say, how long was that hiatus and when it came back, did it.could back with a vengeance because of putin's leadership and determination not to be shelved? turn your mike on, sir. >> i wish we knew had more information about this. some areas we know a lot and some areas. >> do you all see basically a drop-off of their going the '90s. >> we do a bit of a drop-off, yes. however, the training and the development of cadre continues. the hierarchy wasn't well established in terms of controlling all the various assets. >> was it under putin all had came back? can anybody say that? >> yes. >> yes, sir, in the 1990s, russia was flat on its back and didn't have the resources and an a lot of the capital in this area it accumulated basically fell part. we're very, very frustrated during the balkan
wars when they will couldn't counter what they saw as our information domination of the airwaves. so in the early towels when their economy came back, the apparatus came back with it, too. could i. >> could i ask one thing? under putin, do you believe it's impossible to build a relationship to basically bring this back into some kind of civility or order? he's totally committed the direction he's been going and will continue to go no matter what? >> can i just add in answer to that quickly, it depends on what the costs are. in other words what, are we going to do in response. >> he only reacts out back out of strength if we have the strength. >> well, most of us react to power and strength, too. but in this case, we don't yet have enough information. i mean the committee and the study that you're doing is very important for us not just as scholars and
studying this subject. it's very important because we can't really answer the question about what -- why this time and why it's successful. we're not even sure what happened here. we have the ica statement of january. but i just sort of want to put in a note of caution here. we sometimes in the united states think we know things and we have a sort of group think and we all express certain views. then we find out that later on maybe sources of our evidence, the way we put the evidence together didn't make really make as much sense as we thought at the time. we've had that in our recent experience in the '90s and 2002 and '3. so i would say we need a little bit of caution here to be able to know exactly what happened. there's so much information out in the real and false and mixture. >> i want to thank you so much.
i've exceeded my time. they've been so kind to me but thank you. >> senator cotton. >> thank you, gentlemen, for your appearance this morning. i want to return to the topic senator lankford broached which is why vladimir putin and russia's leads thought they could get away with such a brazen set of actions last year and doing so in a? noisy fashion" as director comey testified last week. dr. godson, i'd like to hear your point of view on this and specifically your thoughts about the context in which vladimir putin did this in 2015 and 2016 and the previous eight years russian had invaded georgia. it had invaded and seized crimea, it's rebels had been supported and backed in eastern ukraine to occupy the done bus. they've been provided missiles and shot a civilian
aircraft out of the sky. russia had repeatedly vi lighted the imf treaty and the obama administration had come into office proclaiming a reset and then in 2012, barack obama mocked his opponent for claiming that russia was our number one foe and promiseddy medvedev that more could be done after the election when had he more flexibility. would that series of events emboldened vladimir putin that he might be able to get away with such a noisy intrusion into our political system? >> i would suggest that you're right. i think this does not help in restraining run jaric -- russian interests in expanding in the near broad and as far as abroad as they can. so that the train of actions that you described there didn't exactly persuade him that we would take his intervening in other matters such as elections seriously. and so that it's going to take i think some time and some activity by the united
states, some important activity to be able to establish our reputation in this arena. and i know it's beyond the sort of just the remit of the intelligence committee but intelligence can play a major role in this, but i think this is -- this is a whole of government business, a policy issue. and it's going to be more than intelligence but i would hope though that we are in fact gaining the kinds of information we need to have an informed judgment about that you are asking about. in other words, was he tempted by our lack of action. i hope, i presume that the intelligence community has a tasking that identifies the soviet responses and their perceptions. and that if we don't have such a tasking on this subject, then we won't be in a very good position to ask
it. but i think generally yes, i agree with the point you're making. i think the evidence is strong but we need stronger information too to keep us -- to give us a better judgment on this kind of issue. >> dr. roomer, i don't think you'd had a chance to opine on this question. >> i believe that the biggest factor in putin's decision to pursue this aggressive line of intervention in our domestic politics has been the realization on their part as mr. watts suggested that this is a very lucrative environment in which they can achieve a lot with even a remotely plausible claim of deniability. i think they just took advantage of the environment here. >> mr. watts. >> i'd like to add two things to what i said before. i don't think they thought their hand would be as exposed as much as it is today and i think they thought they could do it in a
more subtle fashion. my belief in russia how do i managing this situation where i overextended myself. the overriding issue why russia does it to the united states and to europe is we are weak. we do not respond. we have no organized response as a country or even policy towards russia right now. until we will set the boundaries about how we are going to either push/pull with them, they're going to move as far as they can pushing. when we set our policy positions which we don't have right now, they'll move in kind. based on whatever that is. >> i have one final question about active measures. dr. godson you talked in your opening statement about some of the history of russian active measures. bob gates, former director of the cia wrote in his first memoirs about russia's campaign against the deployment of forces in europe in 19 3. "during the period the soviets
mounted a massive operation aim the at thwarting imf deployments by nato. we at the c cia devoted tremendous resources at the time to uncovering this soviet covert campaign." the united states is currently undergoing a long delayed deeply needed nuclear modernization campaign of grading our bombers, our dual capable aircraft, our ground-based missiles, long-range standoff cruise missile and our submarine capability, as well. but do you believe there is any chance that russia is not currently engaged in an active measure campaign to try to thwart that modernization effort in the united states? >> i think you're right. i do believe almost certainly that they are if not already engaged in it, they will be. >> because that is simply what russia does in. >> that is simply what this particular leadership, the
successor to the previous generations, yes, i believe and do. i don't think it's inevitable russians will do this but i think these fellows will do it. >> i apologize, gentlemen. my time has expired. >> senator king. >> thank you. just 0 sum up what -- just to sum up i've heard this morning, number one, it appears we're engaged in a new form of aggression. if not war. that the soviet union and now russia has been utilizing for many years but is now taking it to a much higher level. it strikes me that vladimir putin is playing a weak hand very well. a couple of questions to try to very, very short. i would say that what we've seen and what you've told us this morning is thatting what we saw in the 2016 election is absolutely consistent, prior russian practice and current russian practice in other parts of europe and the world. is that correct, mr. watts? >> yes, it's still going on today.
>> secondly, is it your opinion that this is going to continue? in other words it, 2016 is not a one off? >> no, i mean, they're going to continue until something meets their challenge and right now there's nothing meeting their challenge. any european effort i've seen is very small in comparison. >> mr. rumor, would you say that dr. rumor, that putin is a democrat or a republican or attunist? >> i think it's -- he's attuneist and even if we counter this or when we counter his efforts, he will continue anyway. it's going to be a dynamic, not a sort of static situation where we deplow counter measures and it will stop. >> it's important we realize he is neither a democrat or republican because it means and that is everybody on this dais and everybody in political life in america is at risk regardless of their party. in 2016, it happened to tilt toward the
presidential candidate of the republican party. it could be opposite in 2020 or 2022. mr. watts you're nodding. i can't record that. >> yes, they will shift to whichever one supports or is most amenable to their foreign policy position or who they think is weak for manipulation. they will go with wherever one it is. >> and one thing that was mentioned today somewhat briefly but it came up in some of the questions is not only did they hack the democratic national committee and misinformation and disinformation and all of that, but they also pushed and probed into our state election systems in a number of states. apparently the information we have thus far didn't work. but they tried. and mr. watts, would you agree that they weren't trying for fun? this wasn't entertainment. they were looking for a place to make changes in election results. >> no one's talking about the information nukes that russia sits on right now because they
hacked three to 4,000 people. i think this afternoon, you're going to hear on the cyber more technical side this hacking was pervasive. we focused on the dnc. i've been targeted. some other people have been targeted that i know. they have our information. so anytime anyone rises up that they choose against, whether it's republican or democrat, congress or executive branch or a state official, they've got the ability to do the same thing they just did over the past year. >> they could. >> that's what they tried this time. >> i don't think it's about breaking into the election machines. goal is to create the perception that the vote may not be authentic so that's why it's smart to target voter rolls because just the act of hitting a voter roll doesn't change the votes but you can run an influence story that says there's voter fraud in the united states that the election is rigged, that the count wasn't
accurate and you can gain traction with it. it's a pinprick perception that they're trying to create. >> you mentioned several times and i think the russian term is kompromat. it's interesting they have a term which is compromising information and this is active in the sense not only can they take things off your computer, they can put things on your computer. >> yes. >> that will compromise you. that should send a shudder through all americans that this isn't only taking -- you can be very careful in your e-mails but something can show up on your computer that's fake and you could be in a lot of the trouble. this is one of their techniques, is it not. >> yes, america should look to europe where this happened more frequently. >> finally, you talked a bit about defenses. i think this is something that our committee in its report has to look at. cyber strategy is one. we have no cyber strategy in this country. there's no knowledge around the world how we will react to a cyber attack. digital literacy, that is people understanding the limitations of what they have on the internet. my wife has a sign in our kitchen ta says the
problem with quotes on internet is you can't determine whether authentic, abraham lincoln. we have to educate our people that they can't believe everything that they read on the internet and part of that is i think your very creative suggestion of a kind of snows expanded snoeps to check the validity so people at least know, okay, there's some likelihood that that is untrue and finally public awareness which is what this hearing is all about. thank you mr. chairman, i appreciate it. >> thank you. senator cornyn. >> mr. chairman, let me start by complementing you and vice chairman again for your leadership. it's important. i saw senator lankford, senator king, thank you. i had a blank
on tv this morning talking about why this is so important to our country and why it's so important we have a bipartisan investigation and follow the facts wherever they may lead. but mr. watts, let me follow up on some of what senator king was alluding to. i remember of course, it wasn't that long ago where the office of personnel management was hacked and 21 million records personnel records were stolen of u.s. government workers. of that about 5 million plus fingerprints included. i'm also remembering that a few years ago, there was a story, i there it was in 2016, a story about the tactics that putin and uses to discredit political opponents in russia and elsewhere. "the new york times" story i pulled up said foes of russia say child pornography is planted to ruin them. the sort of tactics that
are being used both domestically and internationally against foes of the putin administration. the sort of hacks, the cyber attacks and access to personnel records, the computer, the computers of all of us, all of these render us susceptible to this sort of -- this sort of influence influence campaign, correct? >> yes. americans need to understand that anything they do on the computer can develop at some point. and just because it appears on computer doesn't necessarily mean it's true. >> correct. fact and fiction have been wildly blurred over the past few years. >> regarding the last election and putin's active measures effort, is it reasonable to conclude that any efforts made to weaken the candidacy of hillary clinton by doing damage to her reputation, credibility,
and political standing, would have been a desirable outcome for russia even if she were elected president? >> yes, the goal was either to get your candidate elected that you approve of or to totally discredit and undermine the mandate of whoever does win should it be your opponent. , >> mr. rumer. dr. rumer: yes, sir, i agree. >> so do we have any reason to believe that putin knew more than the pundits and pollsters did here in america about the outcome of the election before it occurred? >> no. >> the electoral result is what i'm referring to. i didn't think so. dr. godson, you mentioned earlier and i believe several of you alluded to this about a stra tegic approach to counter
measures. would you briefly describe what some of those might be? and i would like to have a more extended conversation at some point about what each of you would recommend for the united states government to do to engage in a strategic approach of counter measures to this sort of campaign. dr. godson? dr. godson: well, we have had a historical precedent for developing that strategic approach. this is actually what happened in the reagan years that we decided that we had to -- it was a major active measures offensive much higher than , people had expected and we had to respond. and so there were a couple of things that were done then which seemed to be quite effective and i would recommend we take those things that worked and put them into our strategic approach. >> could you give us a few examples? dr. godson one is what we're : sort of starting to do now and what you're starting to do is educating the american and other populations about the threat of
active measures and the price one can pay for successful active measures. so that when they know and hear about it, they don't -- they're not taken by it. it doesn't influence. so one is education. a second capability that we would need would be then ways of reducing the effectiveness of the active measures. first is a warning. anticipating, education, and then what can be done to reduce the effectiveness of the active measures. one of the things that worked in the past was exposing the perpetrators of the active measures, preferably in realtime -- but anyway, exposure. >> as mr. watts pointed out the use of social media to move fake stories around the internet and to get mainstream media to pay attention to them and without authenticating the source of the information, then repeating it
, successfully amplifying that message, strikes me as a huge challenge. all of us have run for elections and had to deal with the changes in the way we communicate with each other and it is a huge challenge. i don't know how we get to the bottom of this and find some site, some trusted site, government or otherwise that says this is the truth this is , not the truth. don't believe what you're being told. dr. godson we did, senator. : we did have some good experience with it. we didn't have the machines. they didn't have those capabilities. the mechanical capabilities but , we still were able to discredit a lot of their active measures and so it was effective for a while. the third part of this though is the hard part, is what kind of whole of government responses are we going to develop to actually deal with the problem. we sort of have to come to grips with this, and as i said, this may not be the only committee that has to deal with this. but we have to say, what are we willing to tolerate?
are there any red lines for us that if they go over this line, then there will be these kinds of responses. we developed this kind of deterrence and deterrence policy. we have rules of the road in deterrence. both sides don't get too close to each other on nuclear weapons issues. but we're going to have to start to figure out what it is we're going to do and what we're going to accept and tolerate and what kinds of responses we're going to have, not just once in awhile but consistently in this arena. and i thank you though for the question. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator harris. ris: harris: -- sen. har thank you. i want to thank the chairman and vice chairman for this open hearing. as this committee conducts its investigation into the russia's interference with our 2016 united states election, the american people need to fully understand the threat that we face and what we must do to protect ourselves in the future. and let's all be clear about
what happened. we know as has already been determined by the cia, fbi and the nsa, a foreign country, russia, attacked the heart of our democracy. an american election for the president of the united states. and they can and will do so again if we do not act urgently. we must get to the bottom of this. we must be thorough, we must proceed with urgency and we must be transparent. that is vital to protect the public's trust in us and it's what the american people deserve. and i know we can do so while protecting classified sources and material. items that must remain classified in order to protect our national security, the sources of our intelligence and the sensitive methods by which we collect it. this hearing is a first step to understand russia's interference but it cannot end here. we must build on today's hearing with future open hearings as much as possible and i strongly believe an informed public is
one of our best weapons against future attacks. that being said, i have a question for all of you and i'll start with mr. watts. earlier this week, former vice president cheney said russia's interference in our election should be considered an act of war. assuming this was an act of war, russia is investing in cyber weapons and cyber so woulds -- soldiers, which we call trolls. while we continue to invest in traditional weapons. as we invest in fighter jets and aircraft carriers, russia is investing in state run media from which it can push out fake news. as we consider investing more than $600 billion in our defense budget, russia has approximately 1/10 of that amount in their budget and is developing its cyber warfare capabilities. i strongly believe cyber may be the new frontier of war and so
my question for you is, was this an act of war? and are we prepared for this new form of work very ipo -- warfare? and equally important, given the everyday challenges of americans and their everyday lives, why should they be concerned about this? mr. watts: on the first part an act of war, on scale of warfare, it's not kinetic but definitely part of the cold war system that we knew 20, 30 years ago. americans should be concerned because right now, a foreign country, whether they realize it or not, is pitting them against their neighbor, other political parties, ramping up divisions based on things that aren't true. they're trying to break down the trust they have in you as a senator, the congress, the legislature, the court system. they're trying to break down all faith in those institutions. and if they can do that, if americans don't believe that their vote counts, they're not going to show up to participate in democracy. if they don't believe what they're doing is part of a government system that
represents them, they're not going to going to jury duty. if they don't believe in those institutions, everything breaks down. when that breakdown occurs, we are focused internally and russia is focused externalally achieving their goals. in terms of investments part of the reason we don't invest well in cyber and don't invest in information is because we're not buying big pieces of equipment. if you can't buy a big piece of equipment, it's hard to invest your dollars. we need to invest in people. the reason russians win in cyber and information space is they have great propagandists and the best hackers out there that they either enlist because they're criminals and sort of bring them under the umbrella or train themselves. we, on the other hand worry who , we're going to bring into the cyber field because they might have smoked weed one day or can't pass a security clearance or, you know they didn't get a , score on their asvab but there's millions of talented americans out there that can support these roles inside our
government. we need to invest in humans moving forward in this space. it's hard to get americans to understand that or even the department of defense because you're talking about cyber and computers. so you think of tech but the truth is, that tech only works if you've got the smartest brains behind it. we do but don't put them against our fight. >> thank you. dr. rumer. dr. rumer: we should be careful using terms such as an act of war. it's definitely a continuation of warfare by other means, but you know, when you declare something to be an act of war, it calls for spern responses we may not be ready to take on. i do agree with mr. watts on the need to be much more creative and much more resourceful in the way we approach the question of , call it cyber warfare. , you knowith caution russians have a very different standard here in using their offensive tools than we use in using our cyber tools with a
great deal of responsibility. and i think we should be very careful not to cross certain lines. we should, however, be using tools that are available to us in platforms that are available to us, just from a somewhat different domain. i think that our own spokesman, our own information projected , deliver it from our platforms should be the gold standard of , accuracy and on the activity. -- objectivity. from that standpoint, let me just say that you know, we're not using, for example, the platform of the state department effectively, the practice of not sustaining our regular briefings for the media for the world is something that only hurts our interests. >> thank you. dr. godson: i agree with my repeatues, so i will not the same conclusions they
reached. but i would look to reduce the cyberduce the idea that was not quite so important. there are other technologies coming on board now. there are a whole number of technologies that are not internet dependent, and as we look at active measures now and into the future, i would think that would be on the agenda. just one example. virtual reality. anyone who can set up the reality is going to have a very decided advantage in politics and other areas. and so as we are looking at cyber and you are going to have a hearing and other studies of this, i would say just that we should broaden the concept of technologies that are going to
technologies that are going to , andailable, coming online it would be extremely unlikely that the russians would employ those technologies. so that would maybe be something to add to the already of busy agenda that you have. thank you. thank you, senator. thank you to all our witnesses. all the questions have been asked except for mine. -- >> so let me, if i could, stend -- spend just a couple of incidents. and i agree with you, dr. godson. the ability to impersonate online is the next phase that we will go through, and i think it's safe to say we don't have our best and brightest yet focused on that. we're still trying to triage what happened to us versus to be creative and look forward and what could happen. mr. watts, i heard you talk
about intent. specifically the intent of the , russians and their effectiveness and how preplanning played a large part of the '16 effort. here is my disconnect. surface, lookhe at the emails that were captured either out of the dnc or the that has to -- podesta account that were then the source of russia's effort through to publicly lay this out. an average,to be ordinary, russian fishing expedition that we captured maybe 3,000 efforts at the same period in time. so are you suggesting that they had an effort to mess with the elections and just happened to
be lucky enough to stumble across a volume of e-mails? mr. watts: whatever the best nuggets that come out of that is what they run with. they hit a gold mine and they , were able to successfully find ammunition they wanted. what you see in other cases is they do compromise other accounts. i'm not going to talk about them, i don't want to amplify them. they are less successful. this isn't anything other than what i expected a politician to say. so they hit a whale whenever they went fishing but i would also say that somewhere in their cache right now, there's tremendous amounts of information laying around that they can weaponize against other americans. sen. burr: we would agree with you on that. very quickly, which is sort of summarize how fake news and how coordinated social media efforts 10 andstories to the top
they get picked up automatically? what is the takeaway for u.s. media outlets to what you just said. mr. watts: they have to improve their editorial processes and also take a step back from the i got to get it out first competitive environment. they, part of the reason this -- they -- part of the reason this russian system works is every outlet races to get the story out when they do that, first. they put themselves at risk to fall for these sorts of schemes. or till they collectively we -- and until they improve that or till they collectively we have some sort of standard that either the public or media holds to itself, we're going to keep seeing them fall for these campaign. whether it is russia or others. you will see many other nations take this on now. the playbook has been thrown out there. sen. burr: dr. rumer would you , like to take the opportunity to address in greater detail what the russians are doing in the french and german elections? dr. rumer: well, sir, there's a
wide effort in the german election to build up this far right party, alternative for germany, adf, to use them as sort of a credible challenger to chancellor angela merkel. there are countless stories that are being spread through fake mediaites, preferring the , about the failures of chancellor merkel. they, as others have pointed out have exploited the story about , the girl that was not raped , but to again discredit her in the eyes of the general public so as to, you know, point out her failure to protect germany against the flood of refugees. that's one of the major policy initiatives that she took when the syria crisis broke out. in the french election, we just
just saw something that really was staggering and that is president putin hosted in the kremlin the leading far right candidate and almost with a smirk said that we don't interfere in french elections, but we have the right to engage any candidate in that contest. so, also russian disinformation sources have spread malicious stories about one of the leading candidates about his personal . -- personal life. sen. burr: so for the first time we are seeing an effort to build up and to absolutely destroy the , having aof others double impact on the potentially that potential outcome of the election? mr. watts: yes sir. sen. burr: quickly, how did we respond differently when we
overcame these active measures pre-80's, and is there a lesson for us to learn from that in our actions now? dr. godson: i think there are a number of lessons. one was this exposure business that we learned how to put out , information to the public domain that not only was relevant for americans, but for foreigners. and we briefed that and we developed teams that could go out and talk about these things. that neutralized a lot. that was one of the methods that we could replicate. a second was support to elements abroad who are trying to maintain the democratic process. -- are trying to maintain the democratic process. we developed some capabilities. we still have some. ne of the outstanding examples is the national endowment for democracy, bipartisan, able to
a lot. ut is also emitted in various ways, so one could look back and see how we were able to do this abroad, had anys effect in the past. t's not that expensive financially. >> sure, sure. methodsson -- and those are available. >> thank you. mr. watts, has anybody taken you up on your list of recommendations? watts: no. >> thank you. unnoticed. go america's response to date has been woefully short of what it should be. if anything, it should be nterpreted and probably was interpreted by the russians that they could double down and, in it unscathed. so, mr. watts, we heard you when and fiction had become wildly blurred."
that thist assure you committee's mission every day is oversight on the ntelligence community, 17 agencies, that ensures the american people that we do everything within the letter of the law. assure that to 85 other members of the senate. time for a look inside what russia active and what our response was and how our intelligence community came to that they would, this fell right in our wheelhouse. this is what our professional on a daily basis. this is a little more granular we do. it will take some time, and it means triaging a tremendous of documents. but i also heard from all three f you that if there was ever a time to get it right, it's now. and we have methodically built a builds a foundation to build an
investigation on that foundation hopefully, come to a the tisan finding, where conclusions are matched with the facts that we find. in some cases, as all three of ou know, that might be intelligence product that can't be made public. can, n every place that we i have pledged to the vice chairman, and he has pledged to pledged rs, and i have to mine, where we can make it public so that the american people understand it and feel credible and been thorough and that the conclusions are valid, we're that. o try to do but i also believe that the to ican people expect us protect sources and methods. they expect us to work with the in a way ce community that strengthens what they do do it, not by sharing that with everybody, but
that they're doing it within the letter of the law to keep america safe. investigation as one extension of that, and it's again, certify to the american people that what we've done has been thorough, to provide some actionable conclusions for this administration. and to look back on the work and believe that in 2018 and 2020, we're going to be with russia's involvement in our elections and united states of america should likely do on country work with any in the world that might be the arget of an aggressor like vladimir putin so i'm grateful to you for what you're doing for this investigation. this hearing is now adjourned. [gavel]
adam shiftongressman -- the news briefing is 20 minutes. >> good afternoon. his afternoon, i received a letter from white house counsel inviting me to review materials at the white house that pertain incident of incidental collection. the letter asked that the look into whether these materials were properly gathered, whether they were masked or unmasked and proper