Ominous Warning from Counterintel Chief on Election

NCSC's William Evanina says Russia, China, Iran are trying to sway voters; Dems want more
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2020 7:30 AM CDT
'Fabric of Our Democracy' Is in Peril, Counterintel Chief Warns
This image shows William Evanina, the government's chief counterintelligence officer.   (Director of National Intelligence via AP)

The country's top counterintelligence official issued a warning Friday regarding the US election in November, though he's getting some pushback from Democratic leaders. "Foreign nations continue to use influence measures in social and traditional media in an effort to sway US voters' preferences and perspectives, to shift US policies, to increase discord, and to undermine confidence in our democratic process," Evanina said in a statement, per the Hill, adding that recent Black Lives Matter protests and the pandemic have given these countries a prime opportunity for "foreign influence and disinformation efforts." He blamed Russia, China, and Iran in particular, though he said "other nation states and non-state actors could also do harm." The election interference is "a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy," he added, per Politico.

But four Democrats from Congress—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, and Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee—say Evanina doesn't go far enough in giving Americans the info they need, and that China and Iran shouldn't be on the same level as Russia. Evanina's statement offers "a false sense of equivalence to the actions of foreign adversaries by listing three countries of unequal intent, motivation, and capability together," plus "fails to fully delineate the goal, nature, scope, and capacity to influence our election," the lawmakers say in their own statement. An official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence rejects that take, saying that while threats from Russia are "very serious ... other nation-state actors have entered the election threat arena in a big way and they can't be ignored." (More Election 2020 stories.)

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