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Legislation Alert: “Defending American Security From Kremlin Aggression Act”

It’s been more than two years since we got the first signs that a foreign government was engaged in a sprawling hacking and disinformation attack against America. We now know, beyond any doubt, that those attacks were directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. We have proof that Kremlin agents were even here in America orchestrating efforts to influence our elections. Why would they do this? To dictators like Putin, America’s commitment to freedom and liberty and thus free and fair elections is a threat to his despotic power.


What’s more, we know that those attacks continue to this day, and are only becoming more sophisticated. The problem is, nothing is being done to really make Moscow feel the consequences of its actions. The president has routinely watered down, delayed, or even ignored the sanctions that Congress enacted. And even as the attacks raged on against our country, Trump stood up next to our assailant to praise and defend Vladimir Putin.


Praising the man who’s actively working to weaken and divide us…


That’s not leadership. That’s a national security crisis.


Fortunately, in America, our power doesn’t begin or end with the president. Congress has the power — and the duty — to act and force the president’s hand. Already, there’s a bipartisan bill in the Senate which would enact strong and unyielding sanctions against those who attack us. This bill, the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, is our best chance to defend ourselves by enacting real consequences for our foes; consequences so strong, that Putin and any other possible adversary won’t be willing to risk such attacks in the future. Deterrence is our best hope for ending the continual assaults on our sovereignty. Congress has a duty to make sure we’re safe from all attacks, no matter how the president feels about the people attacking us. That’s why we’re asking to you join us in supporting S. 3336, the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act.


Read more about the bill below:




S.3336, or the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, is currently sponsored by Senator Graham and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators: Menendez, Cardin, Shaheen, Gardner, and the late Senator McCain.


This legislation strengthens both Congress’ role defending alliances like NATO as well as its firm stance against Russian interference in America’s elections. The bill, if passed, would require a two-thirds majority from the Senate to withdraw from NATO.


Specifically, some of the more potent actions against Moscow include, but are not limited to: punishing Russia for chemical weapons production and use, requiring the Secretary of State to determine if Russia meets criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, establishing an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the State Department, establishing interference in American elections as grounds for inadmissibility under federal immigration law, establishing federal charges for hacking a voting system under the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act, and a slew of sanctions on key Russian economic sectors and individuals engaged in corrupt or malicious activity.


Why this is necessary:


The current political environment has deferred too much Congressional authority to the Oval Office. This bill would reassert Congress’ constitutional powers and provide a much needed check on the executive branch’s inaction. By strengthening our commitment to NATO, an alliance which Putin seeks to destroy, and applying economic pressure to the Kremlin, this bill will fill the void of inaction left by a president who refuses to act. Safeguarding the international world order that has brought great peace and global prosperity is imperative — and it seems this responsibility now rests on Congress’ shoulders.


Furthermore, this legislation takes an unequivocal stance that Kremlin interference in one of the most essential aspects of America’s democratic republic — free and fair elections — will not be tolerated, but will be met with harsh repercussions. This bill implements sanctions and punishment immediately, rather than waiting for future election interference. As such it is the only bill that provides immediate repercussions for Moscow’s attacks, combatting any ongoing cyber-operations and deterring future attacks from Putin and other adversaries. It is the only way to protect our free and fair elections.


The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act not only imposes highly targeted and withering sanctions, it reinforces America’s commitment to organizations which Putin seeks to disband and states unequivocally that the Russian government is an adversary of the United States, and of liberty around the world.


Tell Congress to pass the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act.

‘Jade Helm’ — an Early Kremlin Experiment

Guest Post from SUR Intern, Dakota Stephens.


Jade Helm conspiracy propaganda

At this point it’s a well established fact that Russia has undertaken a campaign to undermine democracy everywhere, including the US, using a variety of tools and techniques. We may not be at the height of the Cold War anymore, and we may not even envision this rivalry in the same ideological terms we once did, but Putin continues to see the United States and the tradition of freedom and democracy as threats to Russian interests. This idea drives Putin’s foreign policy, and thus recapturing this status is not seen as merely a symbol of national pride, but also as a vital security interest. Any democratic impulse is therefore seen as a threat to this interest, and must be dismantled for Russia to regain its stature in the international community.


In the postwar era we have established a number of structures to avoid all-out war, but Russia has become a master of pursuing its goals through less kinetic forms of warfare, such as political warfare, cyber and information campaigns, and a variety of gray-area tactics. Especially when facing its most powerful adversaries, such as the US, Russia opts for tactics that sow discord, distrust, and chaos. It seeks to erode our confidence in the ideas of liberty and equality from which our nation derives its strength. Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election brought this issue to the forefront of our national consciousness and caught many by surprise, but it was far from their first bid to weaken and divide America. Several similar efforts took place prior to this one, almost certainly to test the waters before they embarked on such a significant operation.

Jade Helm propaganda

The 2015 Jade Helm conspiracy is one such example of Russian interference that preceded — and likely directly contributed to — their decision to meddle in the 2016 election. A military training exercise took the internet by storm when a number of conspiracies spread that it was a cover for something far more sinister. The actual conspiracy theories varied. Some believed it was an Obama plot to implement martial law, or take people’s guns, or imprison political opponents. Some theories even speculated the involvement of Blue Bell ice cream trucks or Walmart military bases. Notably, as these stories began to spread, so too did a parallel conspiracy that Russia was coming to the aid of Texas rebels to prepare them for an impending civil war. Concern over the training exercise became so widespread that Governor Abbott responded by sending a letter to the Texas State Guard telling them to “monitor the situation”.


A recent interview of former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden revealed that this irrational paranoia didn’t arise organically, but was actually a test case using Russian bots and alt-right media to see if information campaigns like these could work. According to Hayden, Governor Abbott’s letter to the State Guard legitimized the conspiracy both domestically and in the minds of Russian intelligence officials. In Hayden’s analysis, this signalled the success that these types of operations could achieve at the highest levels of US government, and likely gave them the confidence to employ similar tactics in our elections. Jade Helm is just one example in a long history of Russian attempts to divide Americans and incite turmoil, but this case demonstrated that their operations could create such a high level of panic that they could influence elected US officials.


This was hardly an isolated event. In keeping with their goal of driving a wedge in American society, previous Russian operations promoted secessionist movements by stoking xenophobia, nativism, and white nationalism. They harnessed these past initiatives to amplify Jade Helm and target the audience most likely to be influenced by the conspiracy. They also utilized social media bots to fuel the stories, while conspiracy sites like Alex Jones’ InfoWars immediately jumped on the opportunity to push the false narrative of a coming civil war. A letter from a supposed Texas Ranger to the Common Sense Show also spread the rumor that trains with shackles were going to be used to transport prisoners. In the end, Russia enjoyed substantial support from alt-right media sources in promoting a conspiracy that had no basis in reality.


It’s certainly difficult to trace Russian disinformation efforts as a whole back to a single event, but in this case we have a former intelligence chief making the analysis that Jade Helm directly led to the Russian effort to influence our elections at the highest level. It can often be easy to dismiss the issue of fake news and conspiracies as minor problems that don’t play a significant role in our society, but the Jade Helm case is strong evidence to the contrary. It highlights the potential dangers of our information consumption and the precautions we must take before posting anything online. In the short term, we may inadvertently cause warrantless panic and instability, and in the long term we may contribute to a myriad of unintended consequences, and perhaps even embolden our enemies.

Statement on Putin’s Arrest of Opposition Leader Alexey Navalny

Earlier today, Vladimir Putin took yet another extraordinary step away from democracy and toward dictatorship by arresting his last remaining legitimate political opponent, Alexey Navalny. Although Putin already ensures his electoral victories through farcical vote counts and fixed poll results, the arrest of his opposition shows just how fearful and jealous he is of his power.


Every autocrat, no matter how strong they might appear, is terrified of their own people. Putin is not Russia, and the Russian people are tired of the corruption and the senseless aggression of his regime. They want their rights respected just as any other people do. But Vladimir Putin has made the Kremlin an extension of his own power, and wields it to silence and oppress Russia and its people.


Navalny’s arrest is not just an abstract example of authoritarianism across the globe. It is a stark reminder of the importance of America’s commitment to liberty. Our own founding fathers enshrined the principles of freedom into our Constitution, empowering the citizenry to guard against government overreach. Our dedication to these principles at home serves as an example to people around the world who yearn for freedom, a reminder that they are not the helpless subjects of their leaders. All men and women are by nature free, and they can, and must, demand a government that respects their rights.