Skip to main content

tv   Discussion on Combating Disinformation Campaigns  CSPAN  February 19, 2020 10:03am-10:35am EST

10:03 am
istory twitter. we thank you for everything you do to keep democracy alive. host: if you want to see more of this program or watch it again, you can see it tonight on c-span3, american history tv. we will continue museum week tomorrow from the smithsonian museum, but the american indian. we will be joined by director groverg -- kevin to discuss artifacts import to native americans today. that starts at 9:00 a.m. on the washington journal. that will do it for us this morning on washington journal. we will take you now, already in progress, to the george washington university program on extremism, the session on state and nonstate militias influence activities and efforts to counter propaganda and disinformation. event with dr.
10:04 am
alastair reid from the royal united services institute. the special envoy and the staff at gec are committed to using every available tool in order to stop america's adversaries from weaponizing information that undermines our societies. having received a preview of dr. ingram's analysis, we are encouraged to read that his assessments of our ability to do so is optimistic and we look forward to today's discussion of the paper and its recommendations. we are especially interested in the gc in the papers framing state-sponsored propaganda and information as anti-democratic threats to their shared intention, to erode trust and democracies in society. for me, having previously worked with the special convoy for the past year, as well as our senior leadership as the -- at the
10:05 am
ce, it has pushed back against our adversaries' false narratives and the views those narratives create and amplify. it is never final, it is always changing. with every passing year, more and more people have access to the internet and therefore, more and more people are able to reach these audiences globally. this, of course, creates a competitive informational landscape that makes it more difficult for the u.s. and our partners to not only reach out to these audiences, but to also make our message stake. for example, i can tell you that even as of today with a high that one confidence, of our adversaries have taken advantage of and continues to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak and has continued to push disinformation campaigns in at least five different languages globally.
10:06 am
some of these narratives that they are pushing include one, the coronavirus is an engineered by a weapon. two, it was the cia who cooked up this virus because china is now an economic rival to the united states, and three, blaming bill gates as the mastermind behind this -- i am pretty sure that bill gates is a bit busy, hold up on an island somewhere and reading a dozen books a day, but you get the point. while you or i might easily dismiss these narratives as foolish or ask ourselves, how can anyone believe this, the fact is that many audiences around the world do believe these lies. for some, it reinforces their views of the west. for others, it shapes these views. if these false narratives are unchallenged and repeated over months and years, they may become increasingly difficult, for example, for u.s. public diplomacy efforts to flourish most needed, for policy to get properly executed,
10:07 am
and for businesses to operate in certain places and offer fact-based narratives as a baseline for this decision-making. this is our challenge at the gce , a challenge we are eager and poised to meet, and a challenge that we are grateful to have partners from the academic community and civil society, and governments that are witnesses in this fight. today, by far, the strongest mandates, the largest staff, and a stronger budget than we ever have had before, and i would like to share with you our five key lines of effort. the first is to leave the u.s. agency in and synchronizing these efforts. the second is to do the same with our international partners. the third is to leverage the private sector, including academia, through engagements such as these, and as well as the tech industry and media as well. the fourth is to assess and
10:08 am
adjust. in the information space, we have to be asking ourselves what is and is not working, and redefine if necessary. the fifth and last is to 's workforcehe gce and processes. in all five of these efforts, we have made tremendous progress, especially in the last year. hard at work on a range of efforts, both large and small, to get to the point where we can be more effective at deterring our adversaries from affecting us and our partners in the information space. of course, we cannot do it alone. it will take all of us. that is not something i put in here because it sounds good, i say because from a contractual perspective, it is very true from the u.s. government, academia, and society to help protect these democratic values from the erosion of propaganda.
10:09 am
we look forward to today's discussion. [applause] >> the university and the editor of the special issue, which is not yet out yet, but i have a pre-copy, and a free copy of his paper, beyond prevention. this should be released tomorrow for all very much anticipating its release, and i will hand the floor over to you. >> thank you very much.
10:10 am
good morning and thank you very much for coming along to listen to us talk this morning. i'm going to say a few words, first of all, about this before i go on to talk a little bit more in detail about prevention and the role of communications within counterterrorism policy. in this special issue, we wanted that weaponization of communication by both state and nonstate actors, which has emerged in recent years as one of the most arresting security issues. this communication thread has been transformed over the last decade or so by the rise of the islamic state. that the islamic state isopaganda anything new, they have been more successful than previous groups. this has been in part to how they have exploited new technologies, in particular
10:11 am
social media, to allow them to communicate directly their messages. however, if this emerging threat goes far beyond isis, and we have seen other extremists become extremely challenging online, particularly from far-right and nationalist groups. this change goes beyond extremist groups, and we have seen eight actors -- state actors taking advantage of the influencing power of new technologies to be able to launch misinformation, disinformation campaigns. in short, liberal democracies face multiple threats from modern influencing activities from a spectrum of different actors. the nature of these threats have been transformed by new technology. however, these diverse threats do not exist in isolation and our response needs to be strategic and comprehensive. while it has been a tendency to look at these threats
10:12 am
individually, what we want to do with a special issue was look at them collectively. to be able to identify the full spectrum of communication threats facing modern liberal democracies, and face the modern theater they are operating in. must be exploited frustum better understand how to counter them. the special issue touches on many different aspects, the role of conspiracy theories in communications with state and nonstate actors, the social ecology of communication, and the challenges that we have faced in tackling far right extremist propaganda online, compared to the successes we have had in recent years in tackling state propaganda online. it is much, much more than that. we are talking about beyond
10:13 am
prevention, where we looked at the role strategic communications plays in counterterrorism policy. -- has been widely accepted as playing a key role in the policy. if you look at any strategy of most countries, you find the reference somewhere. but when you look more closely communicationsc is rarely actually strategic. we have these communications apply to one particular aspect of gce, particularly within the inventions they are -- the sphere.tions this might be a most synonymous with counter narratives and counter messaging. what we put forward in this article is that strategic communications have far more to offer than just counter narratives. they should be an integral part
10:14 am
of the totality of counterterrorism strategy. as our framework analysis views the uk's counterterrorism strategy based .n four pillars if we look at the perceived pillar, that is the hard edge of counterterrorism. this is using the police, the military intelligence agencies to identify, go after, arrest, and ultimately prosecute terrorists before they have been able to carry out any attacks. scope forhere is much the application of stratcoms and how they can be used. there is also much to be gained from public awareness campaigns,
10:15 am
which encourage members of the public to come forward with their suspicions to be able to advise actual intelligence lead operations. it is particularly important with the rise of lone actor attacks. with loan actors, there is often little communications in effect or no organization to infiltrate. aftermath of an attack when the investigation happens, almost invariably, it turns out somebody saw something, somebody knew something, but did not know the importance of what they knew or who to tell. how can we have awareness campaigns to educate the public to be able to report things that they see in a way to law enforcement that provides them intelligence to be able to thwart and prevent the attacks happening? way, a successful awareness campaign can help us counteract the so-called bystander effect.
10:16 am
if we look at the protect pillar, which provides our border security that protection from critical infrastructure and public spaces, there has been a long history of vigilance campaigns, particularly on public transport, such as if you see something, say something campaign from the new york police, see it, say it, sorted campaign from the british police, these have been focused on public transport in the structure, but also focused on preventing imminent attacks. trying to get the public to report unattended luggage that may carry an explosive device, etc. there is much scope for vigilance campaigns that go down precursoruch as materials which are used in running an explosive device. target thehich
10:17 am
supply chain so that people who work in the supply chains will be able to spot what is a suspicious transaction. -- iss the specific -- a suspicious amount of a certain chemical? legitimate uses and are frequently brought and available, but how can people in the industry be able to spot things? there are many other areas where we can work to have targeted at specificmpaigns audiences. another aspect on which communications can be applied is in deterrence. it is one thing to be up to protect your critical infrastructure. it is another thing to be able to communicate the protection offered to your adversary in such a way that you shake up their behavior. they realized their success of attack is very limited, so they don't go ahead. one of the reasons why there has terroristrease in
10:18 am
hijackings is because of the security and infrastructure changes we have had at airports. it is not just structures put in [inaudible]vent, if you move on to the prepare designed to stabilize, reduce harm, and aid recovery quickly in the event of a terrorist attack -- what can we do in the aftermath to reduce its impact and aid recovery? this is perhaps the most underdeveloped pillar. >> sorry about that. undeveloped pillar from a communications perspective. just violence,t it is the communication of violence. terrorists carry out attacks against individuals and infrastructure that are here to have an effect on individuals over there, to be able to terrorize them or inside them
10:19 am
into supporting them. they impetus for a terrorist attack depends on how it is communicated. this event ceases the wind of to decide how attacks are perceived. public sense making, where we understand the crisis. we normally have a communication campaign to help shape the narrative around this. governments need to be able to a prepared to have communication strategy in place so they do not surrender the communication space to terrorist and surrender the narrative to , but that would help reduce the social impact. it is not just terrorists that carry out the attack which are operational in this communication space after the attack, we see many other taking place, such as other extremist groups
10:20 am
exploiting the situation. after jihadist attacks, we often see far right groups the backing on the attack and exploiting it for their own agenda, using it to drive polarization, leading to reprisal attacks, a surge in hate crimes, after attacks, there is normally a surge in hate crimes afterwards. also by accident or by design, between minutes or hours of terrorist attack, we often see conspiracy theories developing or misinformation, which in turn shape how things are interpreted. also one of the most disturbing is we see hostile state actors being operational in this instance, in order to help manipulate the communication field, to amplify its effects, to drive polarization in order to push an agenda. critically, if states are not prepared to be operational in this phase, they are
10:21 am
surrendering to the other actors. we need to have a communication strategy in place to help shape the narrative and reduce the social impact of threats. i will quickly wrap up. to,want to get back communications in counter terrorism is far more than just counter narratives. the thing we often forget about in communications is it is meant to be strategic, and it has a role to play in the totality of counterterrorism strategy, and not just an individual aspect of it. >> thank you so much. that was very interesting. this whole series, such an impressive group of academic writers involved in this project. it is very interesting to read. i will now handover to our next speaker. >> thanks, and thanks, alastair. and thanks to everyone who is
10:22 am
attending. i appreciate those of you who are here and made it. i also need to take this opportunity to thank the global engagement center for the opportunity that they gave me to access these internal documents and evaluations and provide the assessment that -- i will talk today, looking forward to the discussion, but the policy paper is on the website for those of you who are interested. my goal in the next 15 minutes is to give you a bit of a background to the policy paper, talk about its key findings, if assessments, and then conclude with recommendations. the paper owes much to the access that i am fortunate to receive from the state department, but it also owes a lot to the work of other researchers, those who have tried to understand this complex
10:23 am
, many of whomats are in these audiences, my colleagues at the naval postgraduate school -- they work into specific threats, things, and trends. in informed and allowed me to adopt the approach i did, which was to understand the current u.s. posture in the context of a broader in touche and all history. that institutional history that preceded it. so what is the current state of u.s. posturing and how to address this propaganda and disinformation threats? it is captured pretty well by the 2017 national security that thesehich says events have been covered and fragmented. been lackinghave focus and hampered by the lack of properly trained
10:24 am
professionals. the question is, well, how did we get to this point? of course, posture is not just the product of current decisions. decisions made in the last six months, year, even two years. is that institutional history. the impact that history has not only on making decisions, on precedents, on the legislation -- -- what i want to try to do is understand not just the policy dynamics and the broader dynamics, but some of the more abstract things that are just as important to success in national
10:25 am
security and in championing the foreign-policy agenda. to look back and a more textually considered way at what andbeen done in the past how we've got to the situation we are in right now. i have distilled this assessment down to a few points. set up, the answers to a recurring questions has driven the evolution of u.s. government information efforts for about a century. here are the questions -- should persuasive communications play a role in how the u.s. pursues its foreign-policy and national security agendas? if so, how should this be achieved? therefore, who should be responsible? deceptively simple questions, implications, bureaucratic, [inaudible]
10:26 am
the change has reflected the answers to these questions, which themselves have been influenced by shifting perceptions of who are the primary threats. different beliefs in the u.s.' in the world and risk appetite at the time. his history -- about a century's worth of this history can be captured in this regularly repeating dynamic of building up the central mechanisms of the u.s. government and the national security policy information sector, dismantling it, to touild it again later, just dismantle it and rebuild it again later. it canend, i would argue be traced back to 1919, when the publicmmittee on information was suspended by executive order only to be inuilt decades later, response to the nazi as japanese
10:27 am
-- and japanese propaganda threats. the u.s. and many of its allies persuasive communications can also be traced back to world war i, when the allies were seen to have [inaudible] "falsehood in wartime" captures this sentiment well. he says that the deflowerment of the human soul is worse than the district of -- the destruction of the human body. this is something that has remained ingrained in a way that so many of these institutions, the cultures and mentality of them have at the time. talked aboutrend i constantly playing out, where the u.s. government information sector, especially such as the
10:28 am
office of war information in world war ii, the cold war, the gce during the global war on terror, they are built in response to a threat. misstepsracterized by and inevitably tensions. at first, the mandates on the are narrowlynism narrowl -- the mandates on the central mechanism are narrowly and poorly defined, and the institutional knowledge is lost. one of the key recommendations is that it is essential that some of the historical lessons, that we return to those and try to capture them. and so you have this recurring dynamic through the second world war, roosevelt establishes the owi, the office of war
10:29 am
information, to streamline functions. this was not just about finite resources. as much abouta philosophy and strategy. a shining city with the hill, or do we play it covert and unattributed? of course, what happened to owi, it is dismantled, only for it to be rebuilt again once you get into the cold war period . growing expansion for decades of strategic communications, public diplomacy, however you want to call it. , theull spectrum expansion office of war information on one hand to the kind of covert intelligence driven activities on the other.
10:30 am
this was positioned to not only to deal with that threat, but the broader role in the world. at the end of the cold war, again, these capabilities are dismantled. >> as you can tell, we are having some technical difficulty from the program of george washington university, but we will take that program and air it later in our schedule. some related news to what they , thealking about at gwu u.s. has imposed new rules on state chinese media, the trump
10:31 am
administration said on tuesday it will begin treating five chinese state-run media entities with u.s. operations the same as foreign embassies, requiring to register their employees at u.s. properties with the state department. read more on have the winners for the george polk awards in journalism. and more from campaign 20 tonight, president trump holding phoenix,n rally in arizona. watch that rally at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. our c-span campaign 2020 bust team is traveling across the country, asking voters what issues should presidential candidates address? >> this election, the most
10:32 am
important issue for me is civil rights and civil liberties, like voting rights, reproductive rights, civil liberties reform, and reproductive freedom. these are more important than ever because they are being violated left and right. they are just as important as every other issue. >> the issue that is most important to me right now is the fact that our veterans do not have housing. i feel as though new hampshire, since it is one of our 50 states, should do more for its veterans. right now, veterans have to leave and either go to vermont or to massachusetts in order to get the services that they need. i don't think it is appropriate. these people make a sacrifice for our country and they should be able to have those services when they come home. having the candidates focus on actionable environmental policies, saying that you are going to rejoin the paris accord and come up with real policies. >> the most important thing to
10:33 am
me about this campaign is the truth. we need to work on gun violence, health care, college education -- we have a lot of things to work on, but when the senate votes openly and against the , ith in a partisan manner is time for us to return to our roots, face facts, listen to witnesses -- it is just time to face the truth and move forward, and we can do that if we do not open our eyes and pay attention. >> one of the most important issues to me in the 2020 election is education, including the current cost of education for postgraduate and graduate work. also the concern in the legislature that has been coming out about the trump administration in regards to secondary education and k-12. betsy devos has not done a lot of good for teachers, and
10:34 am
that is issue number one, so that is why i am voting. >> voices from the road on c-span. >> next, a debate between incumbent senator red marking and -- ed markey and joe kennedy . the candidates answer questions on a variety of issues, such as the environment, housing, health care and president trump. event, hosted by wgbh tv in boston, is about an hour. > >> broadcasting across the commonwealth in partnership with wc ai and new england public media. live from our studios, here are our moderators, jim broudy and margery eagan.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on