I had originally planned on covering the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) assessment of Foreign Threats To the 2020 US Federal Elections on Tuesday night, but decided we needed something on the then just happened domestic terrorist attack in Atlanta. Yesterday, ODNI also released the executive summary from a recently completed threat assessment into domestic violent extremism. Given that the two assessments overlap in a key finding, I’ve decided to basically deal with them in one post. Especially because the assessment on foreign threats to the 2020 elections basically tracks with everything we covered here between my Black PSYOP series of posts beginning in October 2019 and Cheryl’s posts on the topic here and at her Nuclear Diner. In other words, between Cheryl and I, you all were getting pretty close to the same assessment that ODNI has put together. On behalf of Cheryl: we demand a raise!!!!
You can click across and read the whole assessment for yourself, but here’s the key findings:
You’ll notice that Key Judgement’s 2, 3, and 4 all track with what we’ve been discussing here since October 2019. In the Black PSYOP 1 and 2 posts we covered what misinformation and agitprop was being laundered, by whom, and why. Including this lovely little item dated May 2014, which I misdated to April 2014 in the post:
Anyone surprised by these findings, such as self declared information warfare expert Thomas Rid, quite simply, didn’t want to know about them because they had their own agendas. Specifically downplaying that anything that has actually been happening since at least 2014 if not 2011 in terms of Russian information warfare was actually happening. He’s suddenly surprised because he’s spent the past several years writing, publishing, and defending a book on information warfare that essentially denies it is actually occurring.
We also covered what Rudy Giuliani, Chanel Rian, and OAN News were doing to mule this Russian misinformation and agitprop to Trump, his surrogates in the House and the Senate, in the conservative movement, and in the conservative news media. As well as what Senators Johnson, Grassley, and Graham were doing with that material in the Black PSYOP Part X. And while it was reported at the time, in July 2020, we now have confirmation directly from Democratic members of Congress that Congressman Nunes received this fabricated material directly from Andreii Derkach. As in the Democrats actually have the delivery receipt!
The executive summary of the ODNI’s report on domestic violent extremism brings us to the overlap. Here are the findings:
(U) The IC assesses that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021. Enduring DVE motivations pertaining to biases against minority populations and perceived government overreach will almost certainly continue to drive DVE radicalization and mobilization to violence. Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year.
(U) The IC assesses that lone offenders or small cells of DVEs adhering to a diverse set of violent extremist ideologies are more likely to carry out violent attacks in the Homeland than organizations that allegedly advocate a DVE ideology. DVE attackers often radicalize independently by consuming violent extremist material online and mobilize without direction from a violent extremist organization, making detection and disruption difficult.
(U) The IC assesses that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and militia violent extremists (MVEs) present the most lethal DVE threats, with RMVEs most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians and MVEs typically targeting law enforcement and government personnel and facilities. The IC assesses that the MVE threat increased last year and that it will almost certainly continue to be elevated throughout 2021 because of contentious sociopolitical factors that motivate MVEs to commit violence.
(U) The IC assesses that US RMVEs who promote the superiority of the white race are the DVE actors with the most persistent and concerning transnational connections because individuals with similar ideological beliefs exist outside of the United States and these RMVEs frequently communicate with and seek to influence each other. We assess that a small number of US RMVEs have traveled abroad to network with like-minded individuals.
(U) The IC assesses that DVEs exploit a variety of popular social media platforms, smaller websites with targeted audiences, and encrypted chat applications to recruit new adherents, plan and rally support for in- person actions, and disseminate materials that contribute to radicalization and mobilization to violence.
(U) The IC assesses that several factors could increase the likelihood or lethality of DVE attacks in 2021 and beyond, including escalating support from persons in the United States or abroad, growing perceptions of government overreach related to legal or policy changes and disruptions, and high-profile attacks spurring follow-on attacks and innovations in targeting and attack tactics.
(U) DVE lone offenders will continue to pose significant detection and disruption challenges because of their capacity for independent radicalization to violence, ability to mobilize discretely, and access to firearms.
And it is the last sentence of Key Judgement 2 regarding US officials and prominent Americans promoting the Russian misinformation and agitprop against Biden that was key to Putin’s efforts to effect the 2020 election outcome and the final sentence of the first finding on domestic violent extremism – narratives of fraud about the election, calling “patriots” and “real” American to the Capitol to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes, use of racial slurs when referring to COVID-19, etc – overlap. Because we’ve seen the same US officials and prominent Americans within the conservative movement and conservative news media promote Putin’s misinformation and agitprop and promote the conspiracy theories about the election being stolen, calling “patriots” and “real” Americans to action to do something about it, and using racial slurs to refer to COVID-19. Additionally, as in Key Judgement 2 and the fourth finding on domestic violent extremism, we see the connection to foreign actors promoting, facilitating, and encouraging Americans to act on either Russia’s misinformation and agitprop, a variety of conspiracy theories, and white Christian supremacy. It is well documented that the Russians have funded, supported, and manipulated American white supremacists, Christian supremacists, and anti-government extremists.
Do take the time to read both documents, neither is very long, and you’ll get both a real solid understanding of how the Intelligence Community understands these problem sets and an appreciation for having professional, mature leadership running the US Intelligence Community.