Congress Relying On Debunked "Guilt By Association" Online Tool To Track "Russian Influence"

As we previously warned, the latest McCarthyite scam called "Hamilton 68" is increasingly serving as a go-to source for major media outlets and more disturbingly, now even members of Congress. This week Republican Senator James Lankford (Oklahoma) added another layer to the seemingly endless 'Russiagate' conspiracies - he claimed Wednesday during a hearing on threats faced by the US that Russia is using the NFL anthem kneeling controversy to drive a wedge through the American populace.

Lankford, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, made the bizarre claim that, "We watched, even this weekend, the Russians and their troll farms, their internet folks, start hashtagging out #TakeAKnee and also hashtagging out #BoycottNFL,” during a hearing on threats faced by the United States. Lankford, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, explained further that, "They were taking both sides of the argument this weekend... to try to raise the noise level of America and make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue as they are trying to push divisiveness in this country."

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). Image source: C-Span

Representative Adam Schiff of California, a Democrat, has also been a leading congressional voice demanding investigations into supposed Russian social media manipulation and election meddling. Stories in Reuters and the New York Times this week which uncritically amplified the claims, referenced the Hamilton 68 online platform as a key source of information for congressional investigators. Reuters described the online tool as:

A website built by researchers working with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic project to counter Russian disinformation, showed tweets promoting both sides of the football debate from 600 accounts that analysts identified as users who spread Russian propaganda on Twitter. A Senate aide said the website was viewed as credible among congressional investigators.

But a cursory glance at Hamilton68 - which is mostly funded by the US and NATO states (Bill Kristol is on the project's board, need we say more?) - reveals that both its list of "600 accounts" and methodology for determining these accounts as purveyors of "Russian disinformation" are largely hidden from public view. As we concluded when we initially profiled the platform and the organization behind it, the online tool is lacking in any semblance of scientific data-driven analysis, and its conclusions are thus meaningless. It exists to give gullible audiences the illusion that a data analysis driven tech tool produced via a "bipartisan" think tank has meticulously and objectively proven the "there's a Russia connection lurking behind every corner" conspiracy theory.

But the senselessness of Senator Lankford's shrill and bizarro assertions hardly needs much comment: he's essentially claiming that nefarious Russian-backed social media accounts promoted two contrary positions at a moment when much of the American populace itself was doing the exact same thing through millions of tweets, Facebook posts, and online message boards. As Mark Zuckerburg pointed out this week in what was surely a disappointing moment of truth for promoters of Russiagate conspiracies in general, "campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online" which was "1000x more than any problematic ads we've found."

It's important to remember that Hamilton 68 dashboard's "monitoring" of content primarily features what it calls "second tier Russian propaganda". As we previously reported this involves the following:

It tracks and stores information about others who have no connection to Russia but who "on their own initiative reliably repeat and amplify Russian themes." This is what the German Marshall Fund calls a "network" of second tier disinformation distributors.

If an article, tweet, or headline is trending among "Russian influence" accounts - which in this case means Alliance for Securing Democracy's secret list of 600 twitter accounts - the trending URL appears on the dashboard's front page. Essentially this is simple guilt by association, as we described:

What does this "network" of people with no connection to Russia but who amplify Russian "themes" do?

 

It "reflects Russian messaging priorities, but that does not mean every name or link you see on the dashboard is pro-Russian. The network sometimes amplifies stories that Russia likes, or people with like-minded views but no formal connection to Russia."

 

So, according to the self-proclaimed alliance for securing democracy you might not even know it when you are pushing Russian state propaganda!

So if even if stories from mainstream or establishment news organizations like The Washington Post, Bloomberg, or Reuters happen to be tweeted frequently by "Russian influence accounts" these mainstream sites appear on Hamilton 68's dashboard. Again, given that originating account identities are not revealed, the information is meaningless - it's but a mere reflection of what happens to be trending all over social media at any given moment.

Indeed below is an example of sites the tool was tracking within the first week Hamilton 68 was launched at the beginning of August. The below dashboard pane is accompanied with the descriptor: "Top websites tweeted by a monitored set of accounts related to Russian influence campaigns." Both Bloomberg and The Washington Times and other mainstream and long established outlets appear somewhat regularly on this dashboard which claims to identify Russian meddling.

Alliance for Securing Democracy's online tracking tool reads: "Top websites tweeted by a monitored set of accounts related to Russian influence campaigns." 

But the dashboard more often targets hugely popular independent news sites like Robert Parry's Consortium News, The Federalist, Breitbart, and WikiLeaks. As The New York Times mentions, "Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent 'had a primary theme of anti-Americanism'". It is impossible to know what, according to the site's designers, "anti-Americanism" means, but it no doubt involves articles which are critical of US foreign policy. This means that if a Washington Post or Reuters article, for example, highlights "staggering" Iraqi civilian deaths under US coalition bombings, that article would likely register as "anti-American" by the platform and its creators. By such methods, the Washington Post, Reuters, and numerous independent sites are brought under suspicion alongside RT News and Sputnik. But "anti-American" could also simply mean any article produced by a site that Hamilton 68's creators don't like. Again, the data is meaningless. 

Indeed, on Thursday both The Intercept and Antiwar.com were top trending sites on the Hamilton's 68 dashboard. Ironically, The Intercept has take various editorial positions concerning Russian hacking allegations, and last June published a rather sensational headline, Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election, which ended up making only a small splash, but landed NSA leaker Reality Winner in jail.

Thursday's (9/28) list of Top Trending Domains advanced by what Hamilton 68 identifies as Russian backed social media accounts. Antiwar News and The Intercept were trending.

Antiwar.com was founded as far back as 1995 for the purpose of opposing American militarism and interventionism. It was one of the early and consistent few news and activist sites which opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Starting in 2011 it came under FBI investigation after what the FBI admitted was a "mistake". The site's founders, who were also personally under FBI monitoring for their "anti-war views", estimate that they had lost at least $75,000 per year after donors pulled their support while citing fears that the FBI might monitor them too. Antiwar was forced to sue in federal court just to clear its name and reputation, and yet the damage is long lasting and not fully quantifiable.

Similarly, as Hamilton 68's methodology is based entirely on guilt by association, it could potentially do some real damage to the independent sites it targets. This is an increased possibility given that highly visible outlets like the New York Times, Reuters, and NPR are now citing it. And this is precisely what it aims to do: silence dissenting voices and independent thought. But like the first round of McCarthyite hysteria, this too shall hopefully pass, and history will not look kindly on those engaged in this shrill and absurd witch hunt which doesn't appear to be relenting anytime soon.

Comments

LindseyNarrate… Fri, 09/29/2017 - 18:42 Permalink

Rep. Rohrabacher has THE KEY to exposing (((muh...Russia))), for-the-record.  President Trump is being-kept-in-the-dark-and-fed-bullshit, PREDOMINATELY, by Gen. Kelly, and it is LONG-PAST-TIME for him to stop fucking-around, and start doing what we elected him to do--DRAIN-THE-FUCKING-(((SWAMP))). NEVER FORGET THAT, and make sure that EVERYONE KNOWS IT.  Rep. Roharabacher has the evidence, and Julian Assange's testimony, ALL READY FOR THE WORLD TO SEE AND HEAR, and no more excuses, are accepted, at-this-point, for the fucking STONE-WALLING. Lindsey NB:  Aren't the REST OF YOU PEOPLE sick-and-fucking-tired of the LIES and the ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT that are STILL being presented, on-a-literally-daily-basis, by people WHOM KNOW THE TRUTHS-AS-THEY-ARE, but REFUSE!!!!!!!!!!!! to just fucking tell them????!!!!??  When is it going to be enough for people, given EVERYTHING that we know, and HAVE KNOWN, for years, now, about the malefactors, and the malevoent shit that they have done to us, All?

BingoBoggins LindseyNarrate… Sat, 09/30/2017 - 00:12 Permalink

I say "fire 'em". But these others say , "no, can't do it." And I asks , "why?" and they answer, "cuz", and I says, "I ain't your primo, what you mean?"It gets fuzzy right there. Like it's too embarrassing. Or there's some revelation, or secret news; "'member when he shot off his rockets? Hate to be the one to break this to ya, kid, but ..."Like, it's out of bounds or something. Like ... what's the next step after your rage? You know, like you're on a bank heist and you've just run out and your pardner says, "I cant' do it, I can't go through with it."It's not acceptance.

In reply to by LindseyNarrate…

Arnold LindseyNarrate… Sat, 09/30/2017 - 06:40 Permalink

The membership of the advisory council has been described by the Washington Post as "a who's who of former senior national security officials from both [the Democratic and Republican] parties."[2] Advisory council member William Kristol and one of the two day-to-day directors, Jamie Fly, have previously cooperated closely on neoconservative causes.[citation needed] The other director, Laura Rosenberger, served as a foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and was chief of staff to two Obama national security officials.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_for_Securing_Democracy

In reply to by LindseyNarrate…

rwe2late Fri, 09/29/2017 - 18:49 Permalink

Anyone who does not believe Trump was elected because of "Russia"orthat NATO should not expand to Russia's border? They must be dupes of Putin! [quick now, "enhanced interrogation, confession, name some names...or something like that]

tripletail Fri, 09/29/2017 - 18:53 Permalink

So the false Hegelian dialect is still strong in the deep-state-sponsored media. Who knew? Yet independent thought is increasingly strong among real Americans.

uhland62 Catahoula Sat, 09/30/2017 - 03:36 Permalink

Maybe its just to frighten the children, maybe not.But the more  opposition there is against 'the system', the swamp, the two-party collusion, the bigger their appetite to keep tabs on everybody so they can stay in power.Remember Steve Bannon's words about the hegemon in 25/30 years? Must be us, he said. It's a preparation for that, but they are quite ignorant. The more power they accumulate, the more those who have their power snatched away will kick shins. I expect the nocturnal knock on the door every night. 

In reply to by Catahoula

begintowin Fri, 09/29/2017 - 19:03 Permalink

These criminals in the United States Congress, the federal judiciary and the chief executive are the reasons why there is a swelling of disdain and disgust for the lack of representation of the national electorate. The U.S. Constitution means nothing to them; they wil justify any heinous act to maintain power over the people through the spreading of unjustifiable fear.It's not anti-Americanism; it's anti-Washingtonianism that fuels the fire in the furnace of freedom and liberty. We are sick of you disgraceful villains whose self-interest is paramount over the rights of the citizenry.Damn you all to Hades!

historian40 Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:15 Permalink

Thanks for a list of useful sites to gather information on.  That's how I see it.Will the Federalist Papers be considered subversive literature?If I read a copy of Mein Kampf because I wanted to read for myself what was written, rather than trusting what I was told, does that make me a nazi?If I read the Constitution and realize the regime ruling the US is foreign to that document, am I an enemy of "Americanism"?If I identify as a Texan, instead of American, am I a rebel?

Dre4dwolf Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:25 Permalink

Lets be honest here, if Russia wanted to destroy America, it would not try and get a man elected who ...-Wants to lower taxes-Wants initiate a trade war with Russia and the rest of the world-Wants to build the military-Wants to enforce borders No, if Russia wanted to destroy America it would of wanted HILLARY TO WIN.That being said, if there was any reason at all in the world why Russia wanted Trump to win, its simply because destroying America with Hillary in charge WOULD OF BEEN TOO EASY AND THERE WOULD OF BEEN NO SPORT IN IT, NO RESPECTABLE CLASH NO EQUAL MATCH, it would of been like a world champion chess player defeating a 2 year old we would of put up no resistance. The reason the establishment is pulling out all the stops and trying to initiate 1984 is because they know a populist uprising is kicking them out of power, from small local elections all the way to the presidency, the establishment is being kicked out (both republican and democrat), the two party system has been shattered.Trump broke "the spell" on the minds of Americans and shattered the false reality, he did so by ripping the fools down from their ivory towers and forcing them to compete on the battlefield of ideas.

JimmyRainbow Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:31 Permalink

and so we have a thought police with a big data interface.wonderfull. in 10-20 years we can feed our death list app with all the big data.wonderfull new world.

MuffDiver69 Fri, 09/29/2017 - 20:32 Permalink

Lets just cut to the chase..If we go from 90% blatant anti-Trump coverage by press, to say 99%, would that cut it..Exactly what is the ratio..I can only watch or read a handful of anything nowdays without anti-Trump shit intruding..I can't even watch football anymore because of this shit..Fuck them ALL...

earleflorida Fri, 09/29/2017 - 21:59 Permalink

"Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews"a little off topic, but references U.S Rep. Dana Rohrabacher---exerpts: Vol.III Chapter II (Conflict Without End) "The Liberty Affair - Pure Murder on a Great Day"  pgs.109-111 by Alan Hart"since this book was first published, more information has come to light--- much but not all of it from 'Liberty survivors---about who knew what when the spy ship was attacked.In this book I'll leave the last word on why the Liberty was attacked to a former Israel officer in conversation with Liberty survivor Don Pageler.Pageler's task after the Israel attak was to collect and try to re-assemble the bodies blown to pieces by Israel bombs and torpedoes.When my assignment was done (Pageler) after arriving in Norfolk, I was debriefed. I was told: You have the highest security clearance anyone can get in this country. Never speak about this to anyone, including your family.In 1985, I began to lose my vision (Pageler, my BP was sky high, and was having reoccuring nightmares. During this time my marriage of 20 years was dissolved.In February of 1987, I (Pageler) found myself with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) first diagnosed after Vietnam. Sadly, in the late 1990s I came down (Pageler) with Type II diabetes.I (Pageler) attended group therepy from April 1987 to March 1990. One night a Marine from Vietnam looked at me and said. 'You guys got screwed as bad if not worse than anyone I knew in Vietnam. You have the right to be angry as you can be. But, what are you going to do about your anger? It took me (Pageler) 4 year (~1994-5) to answer that question.I would write Congress. I'm not stupid. I have a college degree. I knew they would not do anything about it. Finally I realized, that the only way I was going to get rid of my anger was by giving it to Congress. I wrote a three-page letter with 30 pages of documentation, including my medical charts, to every California and Kansas Congressman and Senator. They all passed the buck back to my local Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher. He asked me to come in and see him. He looked at me and said: I have read everything you have written and all the material you sent me. There is no way I believe this was a mistake on the part of the Israeli's. But, I have to tell you, Congress will not touch this until after there is peace in the Middle-East.'   That will not be in my lifetime. But, I (Pageler) succeeded in getting rid of my anger (at least to a certain degree, still saking?). This man who fancies himself a supporter of Veterans (Rohrabacher) had to face me and say, 'You're right, and we don't have the courage to do anything about it.'This excerpt from the 'Six Day War' (June/1967) and the merciless death attack on the USS Liberty by the Zionist Israelites to get Greater Israel--- LBJ made it happen selling his soul to the Zionist!PS. Ike and JFK (murdered by Mossad and CIA) were not on Israel's payroll, but Truman won his reelection because of the Zionist!   Think Marshall loathing of Truman after 1948 and  the murder of SOD James Forrestal suicide/murder  with LBJ hands all over it and guaranteed the POTUS after JFK?Note: the 'Powers-That-Be' have the countries POTUS lined-up like ducks, as long as they bow to the zionist`cabal that runs/owns the Congress, SCOTUS, MSM, POTUS, FED Banking System that plays the tunes for the dance-of-thrones?!?--- With MR. Mossad married to the MS.CIA <WOW>think about it?http://www.zionismbook.com/

JailBanksters Fri, 09/29/2017 - 21:25 Permalink

How about an APP that can track when Members of Congress are being Bribed, Coereced, Manipulated, Handled in order to change their stand on a matter, to track Jewish Influence

desertboy Fri, 09/29/2017 - 23:38 Permalink

And the online project is called "Hamilton 68"  ???   Inspired by the grossly over-hyped and unremarkable propaganda play that actively distorts history?  Can't make this shit up.

VW Nerd Fri, 09/29/2017 - 23:48 Permalink

It is slowly dawning on me that representative Lankford and the rest of the US government AKA the DC cesspool, are COMPLETELY off their rocker!