Saturday, August 08, 2020

Russia! Russia! Russia! Still Evidently A Thing....,

NYTimes |  Russia continues to use a network of proxy websites to spread pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda in the United States and other parts of the West, according to a State Department report released on Wednesday.

The report is one of the most detailed explanations yet from the Trump administration on how Russia disseminates disinformation, but it largely avoids discussing how Moscow is trying to influence the current campaign. Even as Democrats on Capitol Hill have urged the American government to declassify more information on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the election, President Trump has repeatedly told officials such disclosures are unwelcome.

Most of the report focuses on an ecosystem of websites, many of them fringe or conspiracy minded, that Russia has used or directed to spread propaganda on a variety of topics. Those include an online journal called the Strategic Culture Foundation and other sites, like the Canada-based Global Research. The document builds on information disclosed last week by American officials about Russian intelligence’s control of various propaganda sites.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced the release of the report on Wednesday, said the State Department would offer rewards of up to $10 million for information to help identify any person who, acting at the direction of a foreign government, tries to hack into election or campaign infrastructure.

The report was prepared by the department’s Global Engagement Center, whose mandate is only to examine propaganda efforts outside the United States.

The report states that the Strategic Culture Foundation is directed by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the S.V.R., and stands as “a prime example of longstanding Russian tactics to conceal direct state involvement in disinformation and propaganda outlets.” The organization publishes a wide variety of fringe voices and conspiracy theories in English, while trying to obscure its Russian government sponsorship.