THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S WEAK RESPONSE TO INFORMATION WARFARE HAS BEEN A GRAVE DANGER TO THE WEST
Washington Times on January 3, 2017, published an excerpt from Bill Gertz’ new book iWar. War and Peace in the Information Age, Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster Inc., 2017. Below are some excerpts from the Times article:
Russia under Vladimir Putin has emerged from the decades following the fall of the Soviet Union as a revanchist threatening power that is engaged in strategic information warfare against the United States and its allies.
Mr. Putin is a former KGB lieutenant colonel who directed its successor agency, the Federal Security Service. As Russia’s president, Mr. Putin has been a leading advocate for the use of secret intelligence operations for information warfare, and the most deadly form has been assassination of political opponents.
On November 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, arranged a meeting with two Russians who had offered him a lucrative business deal. They agreed to gather in the bar of London’s Millennium Hotel. As an outspoken critic of Mr. Putin and a defector very aware of the deadly capabilities of his former employer, Litvinenko was living an uneasy life in exile. Hours before the planned meeting in the Pine Bar of the hotel, the former FSB officer, who at one time specialized in clandestine assassinations, met with a friend, Mario Scaramella. The Italian lawyer brought distressing news: Litvinenko’s life was in danger. Russian intelligence had placed his name on a hit list along with several other high-profile critics of the Putin regime to be eliminated. Mr. Scaramella said radioactive poisons might be used. The information had come from Evgeni Limarev, a former member of the Russian SVR foreign intelligence service.
Hours later in the bar of the hotel, two men, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun, were waiting at a table with a white ceramic teapot. Both were former KGB agents. British police concluded the two men poisoned Litvinenko after one of them had poured a small vial of an extremely poisonous radioactive substance, polonium 210, through the spout of the teapot.
During the 23 days he lay dying in a hospital bed, Litvinenko managed to give British investigators his account of what had happened.
“I poured some tea out of the teapot, although there was only little left on the bottom and it made just half a cup,” Litvinenko recalled. “I swallowed several times but it was green tea with no sugar and it was already cold by the way. I didn’t like it for some reason well, almost cold tea with no sugar and I didn’t drink it anymore.”
Later that night, Litvinenko grew violently ill. When he was admitted to the hospital, doctors were unable to determine what made him sick until hours before his death. A doctor had suspected radiation poisoning and the diagnosis was confirmed by Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment. The poison was polonium 210.
Litvinenko’s death was the direct result of what a special British investigative commission concluded had been an assassination operation — likely carried out by the FSB with the direct blessing of Mr. Putin.
Litvinenko was not the only victim of the Russian intelligence killing operations. Several political killings were also linked to them, including those of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and opposition politicians Sergei Yushenkov and Vladimir Golovlev. All were shot.
The Litvinenko case highlights the growing danger of Russian intelligence and information warfare operations, which pose a direct threat to the United States.
President Obama, as he did throughout his presidency, turned a blind eye to Russian hacking and influence operations, just as he did in the case of China’s information attacks.
Mr. Obama has taken an extremely conciliatory approach to cyberattacks against America and instead voiced concerns repeatedly that he worries that a tough stance against foreign cyberattacks would lead to a cyber arms race similar to conventional arms races in the past. It was vintage Obama — he had no problem projecting weakness in dealing with America’s enemies.
“What we cannot do is have a situation in which suddenly this becomes the wild, wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in competition — unhealthy competition or conflict through these means when, I think, wisely we’ve put in place some norms when it comes to using other weapons,” the president said.
…influence operations [are] not new for the Russians, who are conducting similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia in seeking to influence public opinion.
Russian information warfare capabilities are among the most advanced of any nation and are built on a foundation of similar operations honed to perfection during the Soviet Union, a period that stretched from 1917 to 1991. American intelligence officials believe the current government unit in charge of Moscow’s information warfare programs is the Federal Security Service, which in the 2010s emerged as the most powerful spy agency in Moscow, eclipsing the civilian SVR foreign spy service and the once-powerful military spy agency known as GRU.
Bill Gertz is Senior Editor of The Washington Free Beacon, and National Security Columnist for The Washington Times.
Bill also is the editor and publisher of the news site Flash//CRITIC Cyber Threat News that highlights the growing challenge of cyber security threats.
He is the author of six books, four of which were national bestsellers. His 1999 book, “Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security,” (Regnery, May 1999) was on the New York Times bestseller list for several weeks. His second book, “The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America,” (Regnery) was released in November 2000. His book, “Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11,” was published in August 2002 and was a national bestseller.
Bill wrote “Treachery: How America’s Friends And Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies,” in 2005, a candid look at the growing problem of arms proliferation. The book was a national bestseller. In 2006, his fifth book was published. “Enemies: How America’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets — And How We Let It Happen,” was a bestseller and is a critical look at recent spy cases and counterintelligence failures. It also calls for using aggressive counterintelligence techniques to stop Islamist extremists in the global war on terrorism.
His latest book, “The Failure Factory: How Unelected Bureaucrats; Liberal Democrats and Big Government Republicans Are Undermining America’s Security and Leading Us to War,” was published in September 2008. It is a critical look at the problem of an out-of-control government bureaucracy.
Bill writes a weekly column called Inside the Ring, a chronicle about the ups and downs of the U.S. national security bureaucracy.
He also has written articles for Commentary magazine, National Review, The Weekly Standard and Air Force Magazine. Bill also has been a media fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, California.
Among his major newspaper exclusives are reports revealing that China conducted the first flight test of a revolutionary hypersonic strike vehicle in January 2014; the near collision between a U.S. warship and a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea in December 2013; and a U.S. intelligence report warning that malicious software developed in Balarus had compromised Obamacare computer networks.
Other exclusives have included reports on China’s deployment of a new long-range missile, the DF-41;how the Obama administration is ignoring a major Russian treaty violation by developing intermediate-range missiles banned under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and how secrets related to the U.S. F-35 jet fighter were stolen through Chinese cyber espionage and have been incorporated in China’s new J-20 stealth fighters.
Bill also was the first to report on Russia’s secret development of a new high-speed, long-range nuclear-armed drone submarine.
Bill has been a guest lecturer at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.; the Central Intelligence Agency; the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington, DC; and the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. He has participated in the National Security Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
He studied English literature at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and journalism at George Washington University, Washington, DC. In March 2014, Bill was awarded the Reed Irvine Award for Investigative Journalism by Accuracy in Media. In September 1999, Bill was awarded the Western Journalism Center award for investigative journalism. The United States Business and Industrial Council awarded him the “Defender of the National Interest Award” in June 1998, and in 1997 he was recognized by The Washington Times for excellence in achievement.
Comment: Information warfare is a leading warfare of our time. It has been developed to near perfection by the three main enemies of the West: China, Russia and Iran. As pointed out by Mr. Gertz Russian techniques in the field became a weapon in the hands of the Bolsheviks already in 1917. The Obama administration has since 2008 been reluctant to respond to iWar attacks by these three adversaries. One can only hope theat the US president-elect will develop a strong US response to information warfare, disinformation and propaganda waged by the three main challengers to Western civilization. A much more forward policy in the field is needed.