Nov 19 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, the bipartisan leadership of several key Senate committees urged President Trump’s national security adviser to designate a senior coordinator dedicated to leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy next-generation communications technologies. In a letter to Robert O’Brien, who was appointed as national security adviser in September, the top Republican and Democratic Senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee stressed the urgent need for the Trump administration to develop a national strategy for 5G, and to prioritize across government agencies the nation’s effort to develop and deploy the technology.
“While we appreciate the progress being made within and across departments and agencies, we are concerned that their respective approaches are not informed by a coherent national strategy. In our view, the current national level approach to 5G comprises of a dispersed coalition of common concern, rather than a coordinated, interagency activity. Without a national strategy, facilitated by a common understanding of the geopolitical and technical impact of 5G and future telecommunications advancements, we expect each agency will continue to operate within its own mandate, rather than identifying national authority and policy deficiencies that do not neatly fall into a single department or agency. This fractured approach will not be sufficient to rise to the challenge the country faces. We hope that you, as the new National Security Adviser, will make this issue a top priority. We would further urge you to designate a dedicated, senior individual focused solely on coordinating and leading the nation’s effort to develop and deploy future telecommunications technologies. We believe that having a senior leader would position the United States to lead on telecommunications advancements, ensure the United States is appropriately postured against this strategic threat, and demonstrate to our allies the seriousness with which the nation considers the issue,” wrote Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), the Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee; and Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee.
The Senators stressed the dangers of allowing China to continue to lead the development of 5G technology. Maintaining White House focus on 5G is especially important in light of last week’s decision to eliminate the emerging technologies directorate at the National Security Council.
“While the United States has led in the development and deployment of previous telecommunications evolutions, 5G represents the first evolutionary step for which an authoritarian nation leads the marketplace for telecommunications solutions. China’s leadership, combined with the United States’ increased reliance on high-speed, reliable telecommunications services to facilitate both commerce and defense, poses a strategic risk for the country. We cannot rely exclusively on defensive measures to solve or mitigate the issue, but rather we must shape the future of advanced telecommunications technology by supporting domestic innovation through meaningful investments, leveraging existing areas of U.S. strength, and bringing together like-minded allies and private sector expertise through a sustained effort over the course of decades, not months. A challenge of this magnitude requires a more ambitious response than traditional agency processes can support,” wrote the Senators.
A copy of the letter is available here.
Warner Requests Update on V-A, DoD Efforts to Protect Veterans & Servicemembers from Foreign Disinformation online
Nov 13 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined his Senate colleagues in requesting information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on the agencies' efforts to educate veterans and servicemembers about online disinformation campaigns and other malign influence operations by Russian, Chinese, and other foreign entities. Today’s letters follow a two-year investigation by Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) that documented persistent, pervasive, and coordinated online targeting of American servicemembers, veterans, and their families by foreign entities seeking to disrupt American democracy.
In particular, the VVA report found that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) specifically targeted American veterans and the social media followers of several congressionally-chartered veterans service organizations during and after the 2016 election. The report also revealed that foreign entities are targeting servicemembers and veterans for the purpose of interference in the upcoming federal election.
Virginia is home to roughly 714,000 veterans, approximately 130,000 active duty servicemembers, and their families.
In their letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, the Senators noted that while the VA has prioritized the security of its information systems and infrastructure – including veterans' personal information – the VA does not appear to have an established strategy for educating veterans about online disinformation efforts targeting them. The Senators urged Secretary Wilkie to consider implementing the VVA report's recommendations.
“While countering disinformation targeting veterans is not a core VA function, identifying these tactics helps improve veterans' cyber security and their ability to detect and avoid falling prey to scams and other forms of manipulation,” the Senators wrote in their letter to VA.
In their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the senators acknowledged DoD has worked to deter online disinformation and other malign influence campaigns by foreign adversaries, but they also called on the Department to implement VVA's recommendations, consistent with existing efforts to counter foreign malign influence operations.
“Malicious foreign actors are targeting servicemembers using disinformation through social media platforms and other online tools and ... countering foreign interference in American elections is critical to protecting the integrity of our democracy,” the Senators wrote in their letter to DoD.
The VVA report's recommendations for addressing online disinformation targeting servicemembers include directing DoD to “create a working group to study the security risks inherent in the use of common personal electronic devices and apps at home and abroad by servicemembers,” and to “direct commanders to include personal cybersecurity training and regular cyber-hygiene checks for all servicemembers.”
The report also recommended that the VA immediately develop plans to make the cyber-hygiene of veterans an urgent priority within the VA, and educate and train veterans on personal cyber security, “including how to identify instances of online manipulation.”
In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and cosigned by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Democratic Whip, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Udall (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Following Russia’s unprecedented use of social media to sow discord and influence the 2016 presidential elections, Sen. Warner wrote a social media white paper highlighting ways to protect users on social media against misinformation and disinformation campaigns. Sen. Warner has also written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook. His work as Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence helped uncover Russia’s extensive efforts to exploit social media in the 2016 elections.
WASHINGTON – After ISIS terrorists in Syria escaped from detention facilities that had been run by America’s Kurdish partners in the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) following the withdrawal of U.S. troops and subsequent incursion by Turkey, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a senior member of the Committee, today requested that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence produce an unclassified assessment regarding the escape’s impact on the security of United States and our allies.
In a letter to the acting Director of National Intelligence Admiral Joseph Maguire, the Senators wrote, “The SDF has been holding more than 10,000 captured ISIS fighters, including 2,000 so-called ‘foreign fighters,’ committed jihadists who traveled from Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere, to join ISIS. Many of these individuals are hard-core terrorists, with the kinds of expertise – bomb-making, leadership and propaganda – that had made ISIS such a threat to the United States and our allies. As the Kurds understandably shift their focus to defending themselves, their ability to securely detain these ISIS fighters will become increasingly uncertain. Already, press reports have indicated that senior U.S. officials say they have ‘no real idea’ how many fighters may have already escaped, and how many more are likely to do so.”
“If the past is any indication, it was escaped al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) prisoners that formed the core of what became known as ISIS, contributing to the group’s eventual takeover of Mosul and much of northern Iraq. The subsequent influx of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria increased the terrorist threat to the United States and Europe. If left unchecked, the escape of ISIS detainees in Syria could lead to similar counterterrorism setbacks,” continued the Senators. “Therefore, please provide to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence an assessment of the impact the escape of ISIS detainees in SDF custody could have on the security of United States and our allies, including the detainees who have escaped and those still residing in SDF custody. In order to better inform the American public, the Congress, policymakers and America’s allies, this assessment should be unclassified to the extent possible, with a classified annex if needed.”
The Senators asked that ODNI provide a response to the request within two weeks, by November 19, 2019. The full text of today’s letter is below. A signed copy is available here.
November 5, 2019
The Honorable Joseph Maguire
Acting Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
Dear Director Maguire:
We write to express our grave concern about the instability in Syria, and particularly about the escape of numerous Islamic State (ISIS) detainees from detention facilities that had been run by America’s Kurdish partners in the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF).
The SDF has been holding more than 10,000 captured ISIS fighters, including 2,000 so-called “foreign fighters,” committed jihadists who traveled from Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere, to join ISIS. Many of these individuals are hard-core terrorists, with the kinds of expertise – bomb-making, leadership and propaganda – that had made ISIS such a threat to the United States and our allies.
As the Kurds understandably shift their focus to defending themselves, their ability to securely detain these ISIS fighters will become increasingly uncertain. Already, press reports have indicated that senior U.S. officials say they have “no real idea” how many fighters may have already escaped, and how many more are likely to do so.
If the past is any indication, it was escaped al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) prisoners that formed the core of what became known as ISIS, contributing to the group’s eventual takeover of Mosul and much of northern Iraq. The subsequent influx of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria increased the terrorist threat to the United States and Europe. If left unchecked, the escape of ISIS detainees in Syria could lead to similar counterterrorism setbacks.
Therefore, please provide to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence an assessment of the impact the escape of ISIS detainees in SDF custody could have on the security of United States and our allies, including the detainees who have escaped and those still residing in SDF custody. In order to better inform the American public, the Congress, policymakers and America’s allies, this assessment should be unclassified to the extent possible, with a classified annex if needed. Please provide a response to this request by November 19, 2019.
Mark R. Warner
Susan M. Collins
United States Senator
CC: The Honorable Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense
Top Senate National Security Democrats Slam Trump for Trying to Pay for Border Wall with Defense Funds to help Deter Russian Aggression
Oct 25 2019
WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today sent a letter to President Trump fiercely opposing his plan to pay for his border wall using money meant to help our European allies deter Russian aggression. Nearly $1.3 billion, including $700 million designated by Congress for the European Defense Initiative (EDI), will be diverted from confronting one of our greatest national security challenges—all to fund a medieval vanity project that was supposed to be paid for by Mexico.
“In light of the Kremlin’s ongoing assault on our democracy and its malign actions in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, U.S. national security requires our close cooperation with our NATO allies and maintaining a robust presence in Europe,” wrote the senators. “These cuts signal to the Kremlin that you do not view its interference in Europe as a serious concern and potentially serve as a green light for Moscow to expand their malign activities”
Diverting these funds from their original mission will impact critical military infrastructure projects in the countries most threatened by Russian aggression, and will cut more than half a billion dollars in funding for U.S.-operated facilities in Europe.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express deep concern about your decision to divert nearly $1.3 billion in U.S. funding away from critical national security projects in NATO countries, including funds specifically designated by Congress to deter Russian aggression and reassure our allies, in favor of your proposed border wall with Mexico. On numerous occasions you promised the American people that Mexico would pay for this wall. However, your administration’s diversion of funding from our core security interests and Secretary Esper’s statement that our NATO allies should pick up the tab, shows that the American people and our NATO allies, and not Mexico, are, in fact, paying. Your decision endangers our national security and signals to the Kremlin that the United States is not willing to stand up to its aggression.
In light of the Kremlin’s ongoing assault on our democracy and its malign actions in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, U.S. national security requires our close cooperation with our NATO allies and maintaining a robust presence in Europe. Congress has strongly supported the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to bolster U.S. and NATO’s military preparedness in Europe in the face of the persistent Kremlin threat.
This diversion of $770 million in EDI funds, in particular, will impact critical projects such as a special operations training facility in Estonia, airfield upgrades in Slovakia, and ammunition storage in Poland. These cuts signal to the Kremlin that you do not view its interference in Europe as a serious concern and potentially serve as a green light for Moscow to expand their malign activities. Cutting EDI also again raises questions about the United States’ commitment to NATO and to Article Five, which has been repeatedly reaffirmed by Congress on a strong bipartisan basis. In addition to the EDI cut, your $1.3 billion cuts divert an additional $520 million from U.S.-operated facilities in Europe, that are vital to support the military families based there and to sustain our missions in the Middle East.
Instead of sending a signal that could be interpreted by Vladimir Putin as an invitation to further aggression in Europe, we strongly urge you to support U.S. national security interests and reverse this decision.
On Senate Floor, Warner, Klobuchar, Wyden Call for Immediate Consideration of Legislation to Stop Foreign Interference in our Elections
Oct 24 2019
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, just 377 days before the presidential election, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), asked for unanimous consent for the immediate consideration of legislation to stop foreign interference in our elections. Senator Warner spoke first and asked for the immediate consideration of the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act (which is in the House SHIELD Act). Senator Klobuchar asked for the immediate consideration of the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, which includes three Klobuchar provisions to secure U.S elections and passed the House yesterday. Senator Wyden asked for the immediate consideration of the Securing America's Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, legislation that passed the House of Representatives in June. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) objected to all three requests, preventing the Senate from immediately considering these important election security measures.
“Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on Russia’s use of social media to undermine our democracy. The committee’s bipartisan conclusion is clear: Russia attacked our democracy in 2016. Their efforts are ongoing, and they will be back in 2020,” said Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “The alarm bells are going off – and we are running out of time to do something about it. History will not look kindly on Republican leaders’ refusal to consider bipartisan election security legislation following Russia’s attack on our democracy.”
“The next major elections are just three hundred seventy seven days away,” said Klobuchar, Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections. “We must take action now to secure our elections. Fundamental to our democracy and our founding fathers was this simple idea that we would determine our fate in America. That we would not let foreign powers influence our elections. That is what this is about. It's about protecting our election hardware and infrastructure, but it is also about protecting us from disinformation campaigns.”
“Despite all of the ways foreign hackers have already made it into our election infrastructure, Congress has refused to arm state and county elections officials with the knowledge and funding they need to secure their systems,” said Wyden. “The SAFE Act has all three key elements recommended by our nation’s top cybersecurity experts: paper ballots, security standards, and post-election audits, as well as the funding necessary to make sure states can get the job done. I urge my Republican colleagues to reconsider their opposition to this vitally important legislation.”
In Senator Blackburn’s remarks she stated that the Senators were attempting to “circumvent going to the Rules Committee and trying to bring these bills to the floor,” despite the fact that multiple election security bills have been introduced since 2017 and have yet to be brought to the floor by Senate Republicans for an up or down vote. Last year, the Senate Rules Committee was scheduled to mark-up Ranking Member Klobuchar’s comprehensive election security legislation, and Republicans cancelled the markup the night before.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released a new report titled, “Russia’s Use of Social Media.” It is the second volume released in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.
The new report examines Russia’s efforts to use social media to sow societal discord and influence the outcome of the 2016 election, led by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA). The analysis draws on data provided to the Committee by social media companies and input from a Technical Advisory Group comprising experts in social media network analysis, disinformation campaigns, and the technical analysis of complex data sets and images to discern the dissemination of disinformation across social media platforms.
Statement from Chairman Burr:
“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election. Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government. By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and our fellow Americans. While Russia may have been the first to hone the modern disinformation tactics outlined in this report, other adversaries, including China, North Korea, and Iran, are following suit.
“Any solution has to balance America’s national security interests with our constitutionally-protected right to free speech. Social media companies, federal agencies, law enforcement, and Congress must work together to address these challenges, and I am grateful for the cooperation our Committee has gotten from both the Intelligence Community and the tech industry. My hope is that by continuing to shine a light on this issue, we will encourage more Americans to use social media responsibly, as discerning and informed consumers.”
Statement from Vice Chairman Warner:
“The bipartisan work that this Committee has done to uncover and detail the extent of that effort has significantly advanced the public’s understanding of how, in 2016, Russia took advantage of our openness and innovation, exploiting American-bred social media platforms to spread disinformation, divide the public, and undermine our democracy. Now, with the 2020 elections on the horizon, there’s no doubt that bad actors will continue to try to weaponize the scale and reach of social media platforms to erode public confidence and foster chaos. The Russian playbook is out in the open for other foreign and domestic adversaries to expand upon – and their techniques will only get more sophisticated.
“As was made clear in 2016, we cannot expect social media companies to take adequate precautions on their own. Congress must step up and establish guardrails to protect the integrity of our democracy. At minimum, we need to demand transparency around social media to prevent our adversaries from hiding in its shadows. We also need to give Americans more control over their data and how it’s used, and make sure that they know who’s really bankrolling the political ads coming across their screens. Additionally, we need to take measures to guarantee that companies are identifying inauthentic user accounts and pages, and appropriately handling defamatory or synthetic content. It’s our responsibility to listen to the warnings of our Intelligence Community and take steps to prevent future attacks from being waged on our own social media platforms.”
The Committee has held five open hearings on Russia’s use of social media, including a September 2018 open hearing with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey. In December 2018, the Committee released two independent analyses of IRA activity, produced by New Knowledge and Graphika and the University of Oxford.
The Committee released the first volume of its Russia investigation in July 2019. You can read, “Volume I: Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure,” here.
You can read, “Volume II: Russia’s Use of Social Media,” here.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
- The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin. The Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign.
- The Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) targeting of the 2016 U.S. election was part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society. While the IRA exploited election-related content, the majority of its operations focused on exacerbating existing tensions on socially divisive issues, including race, immigration, and Second Amendment rights.
- The Committee found the IRA targeted African-Americans more than any other group or demographic. Through individual posts, location targeting, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and Twitter trends, the IRA focused much of its efforts on stoking divisions around hot-button issues with racial undertones.
- The IRA engaged with unwitting Americans to further its reach beyond the digital realm and into real-world activities. For example, IRA operatives targeting African-Americans convinced individuals to sign petitions, share personal information, and teach self-defense courses. Posing as U.S. political activists, operatives sought help from the Trump Campaign to procure campaign materials and to organize and promote rallies.
- The Committee found IRA activity increased, rather than decreased, after Election Day 2016. Analysis of IRA-associated accounts shows a significant spike in activity after the election, increasing across Instagram (238 percent), Facebook (59 percent), Twitter (52 percent), and YouTube (84 percent). Researchers continue to uncover IRA-associated accounts that spread malicious content.
- The Committee recommends social media companies work to facilitate greater information sharing between the public and private sector. Because information warfare campaigns are waged across a variety of platforms, communication between individual companies, government authorities, and law enforcement is essential for fully assessing and responding to them. Additionally, social media companies do not consistently provide a notification or guidance to users who have been exposed to inauthentic accounts.
- The Committee recommends Congress consider ways to facilitate productive coordination and cooperation between social media companies and relevant government agencies. Congress should consider whether any existing laws may hinder cooperation and whether information sharing should be formalized. The Committee also recommends Congress consider legislation to ensure Americans know the source behind online political advertisements, similar to existing requirements for television, radio, and satellite ads.
- The Committee recommends the Executive Branch publicly reinforce the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election. The Executive Branch should establish an interagency task force to monitor foreign nations’ use of social media platforms for democratic interference and develop a deterrence framework. A public initiative to increase media literacy and a public service announcement (PSA) campaign could also help inform voters.
- The Committee recommends candidates, campaigns, and other public figures scrutinize sourcing before sharing or promoting new content within their social media network. All Americans should approach social media responsibly to prevent giving “greater reach to those who seek to do our country harm.” The Committee recommends that media organizations establish clear guidelines for using social media accounts as sources to prevent the spread of state-sponsored disinformation.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have expressed concern over the growing threat posed by deepfakes – sophisticated audio and video technologies that allow users to create fake audio and/or video files that falsely depict someone saying or doing something. In letters to 11 social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Sens. Warner and Rubio urged the platforms to develop industry standards for sharing, removing, archiving, and confronting the sharing of synthetic content as soon as possible, in light of foreign threats to the upcoming U.S. election. The letters also encouraged the platforms to develop clear policies to ensure their platforms are not exploited to spread disinformation or misinformation, including through authenticating media, labeling and archiving synthetic media content, and providing access to qualified outside researchers.
“As concerning as deepfakes and other multimedia manipulation techniques are for the subjects whose actions are falsely portrayed, deepfakes pose an especially grave threat to the public’s trust in the information it consumes; particularly images, and video and audio recordings posted online,” wrote the Senators. “If the public can no longer trust recorded events or images, it will have a corrosive impact on our democracy.”
“Despite numerous conversations, meetings, and public testimony acknowledging your responsibilities to the public, there has been limited progress in creating industry-wide standards on the pressing issue of deepfakes and synthetic media,” they continued. “Having a clear strategy and policy in place for authenticating media, and slowing the pace at which disinformation spreads, can help blunt some of these risks. Similarly, establishing clear policies for the labeling and archiving of synthetic media can aid digital media literacy efforts and assist researchers in tracking disinformation campaigns, particularly from foreign entities and governments seeking to undermine our democracy.”
Deepfake technologies allow users to superimpose existing images and videos onto unrelated images or videos, essentially giving users the ability to create false and defamatory content that can be easily spread on social media.
In their letters to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat, Imgur, TikTok, Pinterest, and Twitch, the Senators emphasized that more than two-thirds of Americans get their news from social media sites, and stressed that online media platforms must assume a heightened responsibility for safeguarding public confidence. They also posed the following series of questions about each company’s ability to prevent, detect, and address deepfakes and other synthetic media:
- What is your company’s current policy regarding whether users can post intentionally misleading, synthetic or fabricated media?
- Does your company currently have the technical ability to detect intentionally misleading or fabricated media, such as deepfakes? If so, how do you archive this problematic content for better re-identification in the future?
- Will your company make available archived fabricated media to qualified outside researchers working to develop new methods of tracking and identifying such content? If so, what partnerships does your company currently have in place? Will your company maintain a separate, publicly accessible archive for this content?
- If the victim of a possible deepfake informs you that a recording is intentionally misleading or fabricated, how will your company adjudicate those claims or notify other potential victims?
- If your company determines that a media file hosted by your company is intentionally misleading or fabricated, how will you make clear to users that you have either removed or replaced that problematic content?
- Given that deepfakes may attract views that could drive algorithmic promotion, how will your company and its algorithms respond to, and downplay, deepfakes posted on your platform?
- What is your company’s policy for dealing with the posting and promotion of media content that is wholly fabricated, such as untrue articles posing as real news, in an effort to mislead the public?
Statement of Senate Intel Vice Chair Mark R. Warner on Protecting Intelligence Community Whistleblowers
Oct 01 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
“It is deeply disturbing that the president went on national television and told the American people that he’s trying to find out the whistleblower’s identity. The president’s comments about ‘spies and treason’ and ‘what we used to do in the old days’ are downright dangerous and will do serious damage to our national security long after this news cycle is over. That kind of rhetoric can only serve one purpose: intimidation of this whistleblower and anyone else within the intelligence community who is considering stepping forward to report wrongdoing.
“It is incumbent upon the Acting Director of National Intelligence and other intelligence leaders to publicly pledge that they will protect and stand by this whistleblower, and any other individual within the intelligence community who steps forward to lawfully report illegal or unethical behavior within the federal government, anonymously or otherwise.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote to President Trump to request that he direct a review of the Executive Office of the President’s (EOP) compliance with security clearance policies and procedures after several alarming media reports suggesting abuses in the process at the White House.
“Over the last two years, public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information. Among other things, reports allege that individuals have been granted interim clearances, to include access to Secure Compartmented Information, without undergoing a complete background investigation; that the EOP has extended these temporary clearances beyond the usual six month timeframe; that the EOP has overruled unfavorable adjudication recommendations by career security professionals in more than 30 cases; and that the EOP has threatened to revoke former officials’ eligibility for access to classified information for reasons other than the adjudicative guidelines,” the Senators wrote.
The Democratic request follows an earlier letter sent in March 2019 to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG), requesting a review of the Trump administration’s compliance with security clearance protocols. In a pair of responses four months later, the DNI and the ICIG told the Senators that, despite having conducted such a review of the EOP’s practices in 2015, the DNI lacks the authority to conduct such a review unless expressly directed by the President.
According to press reports, President Trump ignored objections from then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn and then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to grant security clearances to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner. Additional reports have alleged that former White House Staff Secretary Robert Porter was allowed to handle extremely sensitive information for over a year with an interim clearance, despite his record of domestic abuse, and that the White House overturned at least 30 clearance adjudication recommendations made by career security professionals.
“We believe a new review is necessary to address the allegations that have been raised and, if necessary, implement corrective action. Without such a review, it will be incumbent upon Congress to take a more direct role in overseeing and legislating on EOP security clearances to protect national security,” the Senators told the President.
Sen. Warner has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s abuse of the security clearance process. He believes it significantly distracts from the shared agenda that he has with the administration to reform an antiquated process that does not reflect today’s threats, use advanced technologies and analytics, or support an increasingly mobile workforce. He has championed comprehensive legislation, included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, to modernize the government’s security clearance system and reduce the background investigation backlog. He has also teamed up with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to introduce bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.
Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.
President Donald Trump
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We request that you direct the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) perform a Security Executive Agent National Assessment Program (SNAP) review of the Executive Office of the President’s (EOP) compliance with security clearance policies and procedures.
Over the last two years, public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information. Among other things, reports allege that individuals have been granted interim clearances, to include access to Secure Compartmented Information, without undergoing a complete background investigation; that the EOP has extended these temporary clearances beyond the usual six month timeframe; that the EOP has overruled unfavorable adjudication recommendations by career security professionals in more than 30 cases; and that the EOP has threatened to revoke former officials’ eligibility for access to classified information for reasons other than the adjudicative guidelines.
A SNAP review will assess compliance with statutory requirements and executive-branch policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to Sensitive Compartmented Information. Such policies and procedures ensure proper due diligence in exercising the granting, denying, and revoking of access to classified information. The DNI has conducted scores of SNAP reviews to ensure rigorous application of proven standards and to give Congress faith that classified information is being properly protected.
In a recent letter, the Office of the DNI advised us that, despite completing a SNAP review of the EOP personnel security program in 2015, it does not have the legal authority under Executive Order 13467 to conduct a SNAP review of the EOP unless you specifically direct it to do so. We believe a new review is necessary to address the allegations that have been raised and, if necessary, implement corrective action. Without such a review, it will be incumbent upon Congress to take a more direct role in overseeing and legislating on EOP security clearances to protect national security.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has designated tomorrow, July 26, 2019 as “United States Intelligence Professionals Day,” following passage of a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), and every member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The text of the resolution, adopted today by unanimous consent, celebrates the courage, fidelity, sacrifice, and professionalism of the hardworking men and women of our nation’s intelligence agencies, just ahead of the 72nd anniversary of the National Security Act of 1947 that laid the foundation for today’s intelligence community.
“The courageous men and women of our intelligence community are one of the first lines of defense for our country,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “Because of the secret nature of their jobs, their sacrifice, loyalty, and hard work often go unheralded, even as they save American lives. They should have our respect and our tremendous gratitude not only today, but every day of the year.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’ve witnessed the dedication, professionalism, and sacrifice the men and women of our intelligence community bring to their jobs each day,” said Chairman Burr. “I understand the magnitude of their work, which is done without public acknowledgment or credit, and what it means to America’s national security. Today and every day, these patriots deserve our recognition and gratitude for their service to keeping our nation safe.”
“Having served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2001, I am very familiar with the work of the men and women of our intelligence community. This work is often dangerous and is rarely able to be fully appreciated, but nonetheless it’s essential to keep our nation safe. Too many of their successes go unnoticed by the general public, so I’m proud to cosponsor this resolution thanking these dedicated women and men for their hard work and service,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
“As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee I see firsthand the incredible commitment that our nation’s intelligence professionals exhibit,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said. “The public often never learns of the accomplishments and sacrifices of the men and women of our intelligence community. Nevertheless, we are grateful for the important work that they do to serve our country, often in the shadows, and keep Americans and our allies safe. I am proud to join my colleagues in publicly honoring these dedicated patriots.”
“To ensure the safety of our country and our citizens, the hard working men and women serving in the intelligence community make countless sacrifices every day,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “I am continuously impressed by the high level of professionalism, patriotism, and courage that our intelligence professionals exhibit. Our resolution will ensure that these Americans, who must operate in the shadows, receive well-deserved recognition for their public service.”
“Our nation's intelligence professionals are dedicated, patriotic men and women who make real sacrifices to help keep our country safe and free. I am proud to recognize them for their public service,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
“We live in an increasingly complex and dangerous world, and the contributions made by our intelligence professionals play a critical part in our national security,” said Sen. Angus King (I-ME). “These men and women are our first line of defense, working diligently – and often in the shadows – to assess threats and gather information so policy makers can be fully informed as to the scope of the threats against the American people. Perhaps most importantly: these professionals are patriots, working not on behalf of an individual or a political party but for the safety of the American people. The dedication, skill, and patriotism demonstrated by intelligence professionals day in and day out provide peace of mind in complicated times. For their efforts, they are owed our utmost respect and gratitude.”
“Intelligence professionals work tirelessly to ensure decision makers have all the facts they need to protect our nation,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). “Today is a unique opportunity to recognize these heroes and show our gratitude for all they do to keep America safe.”
“Our intelligence professionals do essential work to help us understand the threats we face as a nation. Theirs can often be a thankless job, and today we recognize them for their service and patriotism,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
“We owe the men and women who serve in our nation’s intelligence community a profound debt of gratitude,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). “So often, the work intelligence professionals do to keep our nation safe happens behind the scenes and involves individuals whose stories will never be told. I’m proud to join with my colleagues today to express our deepest thanks to these courageous Americans.”
“The men and women of our Intelligence Community serve with quiet courage and sacrifice, and without expectation of recognition or acknowledgement,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). “Today we honor their unwavering professionalism, commitment to mission, and spirit of service, and thank them for their tireless efforts to protect our country.”
“The patriots working in America’s intelligence community are on the front lines of national defense,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “Their relentless professionalism and quiet strength protect our freedom every day. While their hard-fought victories are rarely disclosed, the American people are grateful for these men and women.”
The resolution was sponsored by every member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Vice Chairman Warner and Chairman Burr, and including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Text of the resolution can be found here and below.
Designating July 26, 2019, as ‘‘United States Intelligence Professionals Day’’.
Whereas on July 26, 1908, Attorney General Charles Bonaparte ordered newly-hired Federal investigators to report to the Office of the Chief Examiner of the Department of Justice, which subsequently was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
Whereas on July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thereby laying the foundation for today’s intelligence community;
Whereas the National Security Act of 1947, which appears in title 50, United States Code, governs the definition, composition, responsibilities, authorities, and oversight of the intelligence community of the United States;
Whereas the intelligence community is defined by section 3 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3003) to include the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, other offices within the Department of Defense for the collection of specialized national intelligence through reconnaissance programs, the intelligence elements of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of the Treasury, the elements of the Department of Homeland Security concerned with the analysis of intelligence information, and other elements as may be designated;
Whereas July 26, 2019, is the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.);
Whereas the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–458; 118 Stat. 3638) created the position of the Director of National Intelligence to serve as the head of the intelligence community and to ensure that national intelligence be timely, objective, independent of political considerations, and based upon all sources available;
Whereas Congress has previously passed joint resolutions, signed by the President, to designate Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, Patriot Day on September 11, and other commemorative occasions, to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement officers and of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001;
Whereas the United States has increasingly relied upon the men and women of the intelligence community to protect and defend the security of the United States in the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001;
Whereas the men and women of the intelligence community, both civilian and military, have been increasingly called upon to deploy to theaters of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere since September 11, 2001;
Whereas numerous intelligence officers of the elements of the intelligence community have been injured or killed in the line of duty;
Whereas intelligence officers of the United States are routinely called upon to accept personal hardship and sacrifice in the furtherance of their mission to protect the United States, to undertake dangerous assignments in the defense of the interests of the United States, to collect reliable information within prescribed legal authorities upon which the leaders of the United States rely in life-and-death situations, and to ‘‘speak truth to power’’ by providing their best assessments to decision makers, regardless of political and policy considerations;
Whereas the men and women of the intelligence community have on numerous occasions succeeded in preventing attacks upon the United States and allies of the United States, saving numerous innocent lives; and
Whereas intelligence officers of the United States must of necessity often remain unknown and unrecognized for their substantial achievements and successes: Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) designates July 26, 2019, as ‘‘United States Intelligence Professionals Day’’;
(2) acknowledges the courage, fidelity, sacrifice, and professionalism of the men and women of the intelligence community of the United States; and
(3) encourages the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Jul 25 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released “Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure,” the first volume in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.
Today’s installment builds upon the unclassified summary findings on election security released by the Committee in May 2018. This was the first volume completed due to the fundamental importance and urgency of defending our democratic elections.
As part of its investigation, the Committee will also release final volumes examining the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Russian interference, the Obama Administration’s response to Russian interference, the role of social media disinformation campaigns, and remaining counterintelligence questions. The Committee has submitted its volume on social media for declassification review and intends to release the remaining installments in fall 2019.
Over the last two and half years, the Committee’s investigation has spanned more than 15 open hearings, more than 200 witness interviews, and nearly 400,000 documents.
Statement from Chairman Burr:
“In 2016, the U.S. was unprepared at all levels of government for a concerted attack from a determined foreign adversary on our election infrastructure. Since then, we have learned much more about the nature of Russia’s cyber activities and better understand the real and urgent threat they pose. The Department of Homeland Security and state and local elections officials have dramatically changed how they approach election security, working together to bridge gaps in information sharing and shore up vulnerabilities. The progress they’ve made over the last three years is a testament to what we can accomplish when we give people the opportunity to be part of a solution.
“There is still much work that remains to be done, however. I am grateful to the many states that provided their points of view, which helped inform our recommendations. It is my hope that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report will provide the American people with valuable insight into the election security threats still facing our nation and the ways we can address them.”
Statement from Vice Chairman Warner:
“When the Russians attacked elections systems in 2016, neither the federal government nor the states were adequately prepared. Our bipartisan investigation identified multiple problems and information gaps that hindered our ability to effectively respond and defend against the Russian attack in 2016. Since then – and in large part as a result of the bipartisan work done on this issue in our Committee – the intelligence community, DHS, the FBI, and the states have taken steps to ensure that our elections are far more secure today than they were in 2016. But there’s still much more we can and must do to protect our elections. I hope the bipartisan findings and recommendations outlined in this report will underscore to the White House and all of our colleagues, regardless of political party, that this threat remains urgent, and we have a responsibility to defend our democracy against it.”
You can read, “Volume I: Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure” here.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
- The Russian government directed extensive activity against U.S. election infrastructure. The Committee found the activity directed at the state and local level began in at least 2014 and carried into at least 2017. The Committee has seen no evidence that any votes were changed or that any voting machines were manipulated.
- Russian efforts exploited the seams between federal authorities and capabilities, and protection for the states. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are, by design, limited in domestic cybersecurity authorities. State election officials, who have primacy in running elections, were not sufficiently warned or prepared to handle an attack from a hostile nation-state actor.
- DHS and FBI warnings to the states in the late summer and fall of 2016 did not provide enough information or go to the appropriate people. The Committee found that while the alerts were actionable, they provided no clear reason for states to take the threat more seriously than other warnings.
- DHS has redoubled its efforts to build trust with the states and deploy resources to assist in securing elections. Since 2016, DHS has made great strides in learning how election procedures vary across states and how to best assist those states. The Committee determined DHS’s work to bolster states’ cybersecurity has likely been effective but believes more needs to be done to coordinate efforts.
- Russian activities demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities in U.S. voting infrastructure. Cybersecurity for electoral infrastructure at the state and local level was sorely lacking in 2016. Despite increased focus over the last three years, some of these vulnerabilities, including aging voting equipment, remain. As states look to replace machines that are now out of date, they should purchase more secure voting machines. At a minimum, any machine purchased going forward should have a voter-verified paper trail.
- Congress should evaluate the results of the $380 million in state election security grants allocated in 2018. States should be able to use grant funds provided under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to improve cybersecurity in a variety of ways, including hiring additional IT staff, updating software, and contracting vendors to provide cybersecurity services. When those funds are spent, Congress should evaluate the results and consider an additional appropriation to address remaining insecure voting machines and systems.
- DHS and other federal government entities remain respectful of the limits of federal involvement in state election systems. America’s decentralized election system can be a strength against cybersecurity threats. However, the federal government and states should each be aware of their own cybersecurity limitations and know both how and when to obtain assistance. States should remain firmly in the lead on running elections, and the federal government should ensure they receive the necessary resources and information.
- The United States must create effective deterrence. The United States should communicate to adversaries that it will view an attack on its election infrastructure as a hostile act and respond accordingly. The U.S. government should not limit its response to cyber activity; rather, it should create a menu of potential responses that will send a clear message and create significant costs for the perpetrator.
WASHINGTON — Following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led a group of Senators asking for votes on several pieces of legislation to improve election security and protect our democracy ahead of 2020. All of the requests were blocked by Senate Republicans, who, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House, have resisted legislative efforts to secure our elections against foreign interference in future elections.
“Earlier today, Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our elections are, quote, ‘among the most serious challenges to our democracy.’ A challenge, he says, that ‘deserves the attention of every American.’ Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections, if we fail to act,” Sen. Warner said on the Senate floor in making the request. “When asked if he thought that Russia would attack our democracy again in 2020, Mr. Mueller said ‘they are doing it as we sit here.’ Think about that for a moment. The special prosecutor spent two and a half years looking into Russian intervention in our election in 2016 and says not only are they going to do it, but they are doing it as we sit here.”
Warner added, “Now, if this is was just coming from the special prosecutor, some folks might be willing to dismiss it, but this is exact the same message we heard earlier this week from FBI Director Wray. It’s a message that all of us have heard – and I particularly on the Intelligence Committee have heard repeatedly – from Director of National Intelligence Coats, and we have heard this as well from other leaders of law enforcement and our intelligence community. Again, I point out leaders all who were appointed by this president, who have sounded the alarm about the ongoing Russian threat to our elections. Unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we have uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on standalone legislation to protect our elections.”
“I am not looking to relitigate the 2016 election or for that matter, to second-guess the special counsel’s findings. This is more a question of how we defend our democracy on a going-forward basis,” Warner noted, before asking for unanimous consent for the Senate to take up and pass his legislation that would require presidential campaigns to report to the appropriate federal authorities any contacts from foreign nationals seeking to interfere in a presidential election, which was rejected by a Republican Senator acting on behalf of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
This is the second time Republicans have rejected Sen. Warner’s attempt to pass the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act. After Sen. Warner made a previous attempt to pass the bill by unanimous consent last month, President Donald Trump thanked Senate Republicans for blocking the measure via Twitter, instead launching an attack on Sen. Warner for raising the issue in the first place.
Sen. Warner’s remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below:
Mr. President, in a moment I will ask unanimous consent for the Senate to take up and pass legislation I’ve introduced to help protect our democracy from foreign interference.
Earlier today, Special Counsel Mueller testified that the Russian government’s efforts to undermine our elections are “among the most serious challenges to our democracy” — a challenge he says “deserves the attention of every American.”
Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, if we fail to act.
When asked if he thought Russia would attack our democracy again in 2020, Mr. Mueller said, “they are doing it as we sit here.”
This echoes what we’ve heard from Director Wray, DNI Coats, and others who are sounding the alarm about the ongoing Russian threat to our elections.
Unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a vote on standalone legislation to protect our elections.
Mr. President, I am not here to re-litigate the 2016 election or second-guess the Special Counsel’s findings. This is a question of how we defend our democracy on a going-forward basis.
Just over a month ago, the President of the United States sat in the oval office and effectively gave Russia the green light to interfere in future elections. Since then, my Republican colleagues have done nothing to prevent future attempts at undermining our democracy.
Let me be clear. If a foreign adversary tries to offer assistance to your campaign, you have a moral obligation to call the FBI.
Mr. Mueller, the former FBI Director and arguably the straightest arrow in public service, said as much this afternoon.
So if the President, or his son-in-law, or other members of his campaign can't be trusted to do the right thing and report their foreign contacts, then we need to make it a legal requirement. That’s what the FIRE Act is all about.
The FIRE Act is a simple, narrowly targeted bill. All it does is make sure attempts to interfere in future presidential elections are promptly reported to the FBI and FEC.
The FIRE Act is not about prohibiting innocent contacts or the exercise of First Amendment rights.
Contrary to some of the mistaken rhetoric we’ve heard, it does not require reporting of contacts with foreign journalists, or DREAMers, or official meetings with foreign governments.
It is simply about preserving Americans’ trust in the democratic process.
If a candidate is receiving or welcoming help from the Kremlin, I think the American people should have a right to know that before they head to the polls.
And in a world where campaigns are a target for foreign espionage, I think our law enforcement and counter-intelligence professionals should have the tools they need to protect the integrity of our presidential elections.
This is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it is an issue of America’s national security.
And I hope the Senate can come together at this moment to send a clear message that we will defend our Democracy, even if this President won’t.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following statements on the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which included the Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020:
“I am thrilled to know that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan authorization act passed today through the Senate as part of our nation’s defense authorization bill,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “The bipartisan authorization bill ensures that the women and men of our intelligence agencies have the resources they need to do their jobs. I am particularly proud of a provision within the bill that will help recruit and retain top talent within the Intelligence Community by providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave to personnel, including adoptive and foster parents. I am also pleased that it includes a number of other provisions aimed at deterring foreign influence in our elections, tackling the technological threats from China as the U.S. and other nations move to 5G communications, revamping our outdated security clearance process, and enabling the IC to exchange talent with the private sector.”
“Today’s passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) marks a significant investment in the men and women of our Intelligence Community and the work they do to keep our nation safe,” said Chairman Burr. “The IAA was approved unanimously by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, and I am glad to see it included in this year’s bipartisan defense bill. This legislation is critical for advancing the IC’s mission of deterring foreign adversaries, strengthening our election security, protecting our technology supply chains, and building a capable workforce. It strikes the right balance between giving our intelligence agencies the resources they need to operate effectively, while keeping them accountable to American taxpayers. I look forward to the IAA’s passage in the House.”
The IAA for Fiscal Years 2018-2020 authorizes funding and enables comprehensive, Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community. This legislation is named for two dedicated staff members on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Damon Nelson and Matt Pollard, who passed away last year.
Specifically, the bill improves the Intelligence Community’s ability to defend the United States by:
- Deterring aggression from Russia and other foreign actors by increasing the United States’ capability of detecting malign activities, such as active measure campaigns, illicit financial transactions, and other intelligence activities.
- Securing our elections from foreign meddling by requiring strategic assessments of Russian cyber threats and influence campaigns, and facilitating increased information sharing between local, state, and federal government officials.
- Enhancing the security clearance process by requiring a plan to reduce the backlog, increase efficiencies, create an interagency information sharing program for positions of trust, and ensure compliance with uniform clearance eligibility procedures within the federal government.
- Protecting the U.S. Government technology supply chain by creating a task force within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and improving the procurement process to defend against intrusion and sabotage.
- Bolstering the recruitment and retention of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals by enhancing career path flexibility and benefits for cybersecurity experts working within the Intelligence Community.
- Improving the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s oversight by establishing an effective appeals panel process and enabling consistency among Intelligence Community agencies’ processes and procedures.
- Advancing the Intelligence Community workforce by requiring 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian IC personnel, and by establishing a Public-Private Talent Exchange to foster professional experiences and growth.
The IAA was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee on a bipartisan and unanimous 15-0 vote on May 14, 2019.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate approved the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“This year’s annual defense bill takes a bipartisan approach towards meeting our national security challenges and better supporting our servicemembers and their families. For too long, military families have been dealing with problems like mice, rodents, and mold, among other hazards in military housing. I’m pleased that this bill includes our legislation to improve oversight over the companies providing housing, including provisions establishing common credentials for environmental and health inspectors and authorizing the withholding of rental payments and incentive fees when these companies fail to perform. By improving accountability and oversight over military housing, we can ensure that servicemembers and their families have the protections they need,” said Sen. Warner.
The base text of the defense bill includes large portions of Sen. Warner’s Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act, legislation that strengthens accountability and oversight in privatized military housing following reports of hazardous living conditions in privatized military housing throughout the United States. The bill also includes a Tenant Bill of Rights, which outlines much-needed protections for servicemembers and their families, and obligations from the private housing companies and the military services.
“This year’s defense bill also advances a number of priorities critical to our servicemembers, as well as to the men and women in Virginia’s shipbuilding industry. I’m also proud to report that this bill authorizes a 3.1 percent pay raise for our servicemembers. In addition, the NDAA would provide for nearly $420 million to fund 12 military construction projects across the Commonwealth and includes robust funding for the Virginia-class submarine and carrier programs. And while the Trump Administration thankfully reversed its plan to retire the USS Truman decades ahead of schedule, this bill will require the Navy to continue with the nuclear refueling and complex overhaul needed to make sure the Truman can continue supporting the national security mission,” continued Sen. Warner.
The NDAA also includes language from Sen. Warner’s bill to provide financial relief for civilian federal employees so that they’re not hit with unexpected costs for relocating to a new duty station or returning home after completing their service. This additional cost on moving expenses is a result of the 2017 Republican tax bill, which eliminated the deduction for job-related moving costs, as well as the exclusion for reimbursements or in-kind contributions made by employers to cover the cost of moving. While the law excluded active-duty service members, it placed a burden on many federal civilian workers, like military civilian employees, law enforcement and military teachers, who are required to relocate for work, and who, as a result, have extra money withheld to cover the taxes on moving-expense “income” following the changes in the law. The NDAA now ensures that all federal employees who qualify to have their moving costs reimbursed by the government are also repaid for the taxes owed on relocation reimbursements.
The defense bill also includes several provisions by Sen. Warner to overhaul the antiquated security clearance process. And with the inclusion of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018-2020, Congress takes key steps to modernize the nation’s security clearance process by reducing the background investigation inventory and bringing greater accountability to the system. In addition, the legislation provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave to intelligence personnel.
Jun 25 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced legislation today to expand the scope of the prohibition on political activity by foreign nationals. The Preventing Adversaries Internationally from Disbursing Advertising Dollars (PAID AD) Act would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) to prevent foreign nationals from purchasing broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications naming a candidate for office at any point in time, and prevents foreign governments and foreign lobbyists from buying issue ads.
“Our intelligence community has been clear—foreign powers continue to interfere in our elections and they’ll keep doing so unless we stop them,” Klobuchar said. “Strengthening our campaign finance laws to prohibit paid political advertisements by foreign nationals and foreign governments is necessary to ensure American elections are free and fair.”
“Russia’s massive and unprecedented interference in our last presidential election revealed a number of vulnerabilities in our election system,” Warner said. “And now that the Kremlin’s playbook is out in the open, we can expect more of the same in 2020, from Russia or elsewhere. We need to get serious about protecting our elections from foreign interference. This bill is just one commonsense measure we should adopt to strengthen our democracy against foreign intervention.”
A combination of statutes and Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules define the campaign and electoral activities in which participation by a foreign national is prohibited. Currently, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits a foreign national from contributing directly to campaigns, making independent expenditures, or buying electioneering communications. However, the definition of electioneering communication is narrow and creates a loophole by which foreign nationals may lawfully exert influence in the American electoral system.
The PAID AD Act would make it illegal for foreign nationals to directly or indirectly make an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication at any time. The legislation would also prevent foreign governments from purchasing issue ads during an election year. Under the proposed legislation, FECA’s specified time horizons for “electioneering communication” are also removed for foreign nationals.
Representatives Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced bipartisan companion legislation as an amendment to H.R. 1 in the House of Representatives.
Warner Introduces NDAA Amendment to Annual Defense Bill to Mandate Reporting of Foreign Elections Interference
Jun 19 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has introduced an amendment to the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require presidential campaigns to report foreign interference in U.S. elections. The amendment introduction follows Sen. Warner’s attempt last week to pass the legislation by unanimous consent, which was blocked by Senate Republicans.
“Protecting our democracy is a national security issue,” said Sen. Warner. “President Trump’s own FBI Director and Director of National Intelligence have warned that the Russians – and others – will be back in 2020. Then last week, President Trump, sitting in the Oval Office, rolled out the welcome mat for Russia, China or any of our other adversaries to interfere in the 2020 election. So let’s be extra-clear: if a foreign country contacts you to interfere in a U.S. election, you don’t say ‘thank you’ – you call the FBI.”
Sen. Warner originally introduced the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act last month. The proposed NDAA amendment, based on the FIRE Act, would require presidential campaigns to disclose attempts at foreign elections interference to the appropriate federal authorities at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
This amendment requires presidential campaigns to report only contacts with foreign nationals offering explicit assistance that is already forbidden under existing law, or offers to collaborate or coordinate with a foreign government or agent thereof. Routine contacts with foreign nationals, including meetings on official government business, personal conversations, contact with journalists, or contact with non-citizens expressing political views, including conversations with DREAMers, would continue to be exempt from any reporting requirements.
The amendment has been co-sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Angus King (I-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the statement below, following the press conference held by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who announced his resignation and spoke about the findings of the Mueller Report:
“First, I want to thank Special Counsel Mueller for his patriotism and dedication to this two-year investigation. I am grateful the American people have heard from him directly regarding his findings. Still, this press conference leaves us with unanswered questions. The underlying evidence supporting the Special Counsel’s conclusions must be made available to Congress immediately.
“What is clear is that Russia deployed a sophisticated cyber campaign in order to interfere in our democratic process and tip the scales in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. This is the same conclusion that the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reached. As the Special Counsel made clear today, it’s up to Congress to uphold the rule of law, and ensure this never happens again. Going forward, we must take steps to protect our democracy by passing legislation that enhances election security, increases social media transparency, and requires campaign officials to report any contact with foreign nationals attempting to coordinate with a campaign.”
Statement of Senate Intel Vice Chair Mark R. Warner on WH Executive Order to Ban Chinese Telecom Gear
May 15 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after President Trump signed an executive order to ban American telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security:
“This is a needed step, and reflects the reality that Huawei and ZTE represent a threat to the security of U.S. and allied communications networks. Under current Chinese security laws, these and other companies based in China are required to provide assistance to the Chinese state. This executive order places a great deal of authority in the Department of Commerce, which must ensure that it is implemented in a fair and responsible fashion as to not harm or stifle legitimate business activities. It should also be noted that we have yet to see a compelling strategy from this Administration on 5G, including how the Administration intends to work cooperatively with our allies and like-minded nations to ensure that international standards set for 5G reflect Western values and standards for security and privacy. Nor do we have a stated plan for replacing this equipment from existing commercial networks – a potentially multi-billion dollar effort that, if done ineptly, could have a major impact on broadband access in rural areas. A coherent coordinated and global approach is critically needed as nations and telecom providers move to implement 5G.”
As a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, Sen. Warner has been a leading voice in the Senate regarding the national security risks posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. He is the lead sponsor of the Secure 5G and Beyond Act – legislation to require the President to ensure the security of next-gen mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States. He also introduced a bipartisan bill in January to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China. Additionally, Sen. Warner called on the Trump Administration last week to promote U.S. leadership and strengthen diplomatic efforts around the development of a secure 5G architecture that challenges Huawei’s monopoly over the next generation of telecoms networks.
Warner, Klobuchar, Graham Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Senate Legislation to Protect Integrity of U.S. Elections, Improve National Security
May 08 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence and former telecommunications executive, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), reintroduced bicameral legislation to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. The Honest Ads Act will safeguard the integrity of our democracy by requiring large online platforms to maintain public records of advertisers who purchase political ads. Companion legislation is being introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and 24 other bipartisan cosponsors.
“In 2016, Russia waged widespread disinformation campaigns that exploited social media in an effort to attack our democracy and divide the American public. As we continue to grow increasingly dependent on a handful of very large platforms, there is no doubt in my mind that foreign adversaries will continue to follow in Russia’s footsteps, exploiting the scale, amplification, and lack of transparency of these platforms in order to undermine the strength of the United States and advance their own anti-American agendas,” Sen. Warner said. “Right now, our country needs strong defenses that help ward off shady online attacks by demanding increased transparency, which is why I’m proud to introduce the Honest Ads Act. By requiring large digital platforms to meet the same disclosure standards as broadcast, cable, and satellite ads, this legislation can help prevent foreign actors from manipulating the American public and interfering in our free and fair elections through the use of inauthentic and divisive paid ads.”
“Foreign adversaries interfered in the 2016 election and are continuing to use information warfare to try to influence our government and divide Americans. We must act now to protect our democracy and prevent this kind of interference from ever happening again,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “The goal of the Honest Ads Act is simple: to ensure that voters know who is paying to influence our political system. The bill would put in place the same rules of the road for social media platforms that currently apply to political ads sold on TV, radio, and in print regarding disclaimers and disclosures so that Americans know who is behind the ads they see online. I also want to commend Senator Graham for taking up the mantle of bipartisanship from our late friend, Senator John McCain. Protecting our elections isn’t about politics—it’s about national security and the future of our democracy. I look forward to working with him and Senator Warner to get the Honest Ads Act passed.”
“Hardening our electoral infrastructure will require a comprehensive approach and it can’t be done with a single piece of legislation,” Sen. Graham said. “I am cosponsoring this legislation because it’s clear we have to start somewhere. I am pleased to work with Senators Klobuchar and Warner to address the gaps that currently exist, particularly with regards to social media. Online platforms have made some progress but there is more to be done. Foreign interference in U.S. elections – whether Russia in the 2016 presidential election or another rogue actor in the future – poses a direct threat to our democracy. I intend to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bolster our defenses and defend the integrity of our electoral system.”
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Russia attempted to influence the American electorate by using fake accounts to buy and place political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Without greater transparency and disclosure requirements, foreign adversaries and bad actors copying their playbook can continue exploiting the opacity of large social media platforms.
The Honest Ads Act would improve disclosure requirements for online political advertisements by:
- Amending the definition of ‘electioneering communication’ in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
- Requiring digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. This file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
- Requiring online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.
The Honest Ads Act has the support of the Campaign Legal Center, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice, Issue One, the Sunlight Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the German Marshall Fund's Digital Innovation Democracy Initiative, as well as Facebook, and Twitter.
The full text of the Honest Ads Act is available here.
Ahead of G7 Tech Meeting, Menendez, Schumer, Brown, Warner, Wyden Call on Sec. Pompeo to Promote U.S. Leadership in 5G Development
May 07 2019
WASHINGTON – A group of leading national security senators today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to use an upcoming meeting of the G7 to forge a partnership of like-minded allies to compete with China in the development of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology. Signed by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, the letter calls on the Trump Administration to lead an international effort to develop a secure 5G architecture challenging Huawei’s monopoly over the next generation of telecoms networks.
“As we prepare for G-20 in Japan later this year, this meeting provides a critical opportunity for the United States to lead in the development of an international consortium of like-minded nations to develop a safe, secure, and economically viable alternative to the 5G architecture of firms, like Huawei,” wrote the Senators.
The informal May 16th meeting of the G7 will focus on, “strategy of the G7 at the advent of the data economy and the need to build trust in digital technologies such as 5G.” In their letter, the senators suggest the U.S. must not just confront but also effectively compete with China by leading a public-private consortium of U.S., European, Japanese, Korean and others in an effort to create 5G architecture that meets mutual safety goals and does not pose a risk for national security.
“Separate and alone, competition with China’s state-directed authoritarian model is challenging. Together, our economies represent the vast majority of the world’s most productive and innovative assets. It’s important that this next generation of technologies is shaped by the values of the U.S. and our allies around openness, pluralism, fair competition, and security,” added the senators. “We look forward to your thoughts and ideas for how you intend to take advantage of this meeting to forge an international effort not merely to confront China, but to effectively compete to develop 5G architecture.”
A copy of the letter can be found here and below:
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary,
On May 16th, France will host an informal G-7 “Digital Ministers” meeting to explore strategy and partnership in the G-7 on “Tech for Humanity,” including “strategy of the G-7 at the advent of the data economy and the need to build trust in digital technologies such as 5G.”
As we prepare for G-20 in Japan later this year, this meeting provides a critical opportunity for the United States to lead in the development of an international consortium of like-minded nations to develop a safe, secure, and economically viable alternative to the 5G architecture of firms, like Huawei, that are subject to extra-judicial demands of foreign governments.
As you know, we share many of the concerns you have raised about Huawei’s efforts to dominate global 5G architecture, including the risk created for espionage, and the risks to privacy, security, our military, and our economic competitiveness.
But it is not enough to simply confront China. Working with our allies, we must also be able to compete – and win. Fifth-generation wireless (5G) telecommunications technology stands poised to offer not just a simple step-change as with previous generations of cellular telecommunications technology, but to fundamentally re-write the rule book for economic and social organization, and even our politics, with a new generation of responsive and diversified services.
Yet the fact of the matter is that as things stand today, neither the United States nor our allies and partners are making comparable capital investments or commitments to research and development that match what China and Huawei are devoting to this critical next generation data governance architecture.
However, if the United States were to take a leadership role in forging a new approach with our G-7 and other like-minded partners to bring together a public-private consortium of the best of US, European, Japanese, Korean and others efforts, we are convinced that in short order we can create 5G architecture that meets our common goals for trusted, safe and secure 5G.
We are currently living through a digital transformation of society and of the economy that is as significant as any in human experience. It is creating both opportunities and challenges, including, immediately, that of Huawei’s efforts to set the standards and architecture for 5G. This is mirrored more broadly in China’s wider efforts to unduly shape the development of key emerging technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and life sciences.
In the face of this challenge, the United States must stand at the forefront of the development of new global governance models, based on open and secure standards and principles -- and to do so with our allies and partners. Separate and alone, competition with China’s state-directed authoritarian model is challenging. Together, our economies represent the vast majority of the world’s most productive and innovative assets. It’s important that this next generation of technologies is shaped by the values of the U.S. and our allies around openness, pluralism, fair competition, and security.
Six Senate Intelligence Committee Members Request Public Update On Status of NSA Phone Records Surveillance Program
May 07 2019
Washington, D.C. – Six Senate Intelligence Committee members today requested the National Security Agency (NSA) provide a public update on the status of the NSA’s phone records surveillance program.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Vice-chair Mark R. Warner, D-Va., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., sent the request in a letter to NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone today.
The text of the letter is below. View a signed copy here.
Dear General Nakasone,
We write to urge that you provide a public description, consistent with protection of sources and methods, of the current status of the call detail record (CDR) program under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). On June 28, 2018, NSA publicly announced that it had obtained from telecommunications service providers CDRs it was not authorized to receive, and that NSA had begun deleting all CDRs acquired since 2015. Since then, there have been no public updates from NSA. A public status report will resolve the current confusion, demonstrate the NSA’s commitment to transparency, and inform Congress’s deliberations about the possible reauthorization of the program later this year.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Washington – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement regarding the signing of the Executive Order transferring responsibility for background investigations to the Department of Defense:
“I am pleased that after many months of delay, the President has kept the background investigation mission intact, signing an executive order transferring the remaining portion of the National Background Investigation Bureau to the Department of Defense. This is an important step toward transforming the security clearance system.
“There is much more we can do to reform decades-old policies and processes to reflect today’s threat environment, adapt to the dynamic of a modern mobile workforce, and capitalize on opportunities offered by modern information technology. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to pass my legislationenacting further critical reforms to the security clearance process.”
In February, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2019, which draws on provisions from the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018/2019, which was unanimously reported out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2018. The Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act would:
- Hold the Executive Branch accountable for addressing the immediate background investigation backlog crisis.
- Provide a plan for consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau at the Department of Defense.
- Implement practical reforms so that policies and clearance timelines can be designed to reflect modern circumstances.
- Require that reforms be implemented equally for all departments, and for personnel requiring a clearance, regardless of whether they are employed by the government or industry.
- Strengthen oversight of the personnel vetting apparatus by codifying the Director of National Intelligence’s responsibilities as the Security Executive Agent.
- Promote innovation, including by analyzing how a determination of trust clearance can be tied to a person, not to an agency’s sponsorship.
Top House and Senate Democrats Decline Limited DOJ Offer to View Some Hidden Sections of Mueller Report
Apr 19 2019
Washington, D.C. – Today, top House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr rejecting his limited offer to view a less-redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s report. The proposal would only allow twelve Members of Congress to view a less-redacted version of the report in person and would not permit them to discuss it with other Members of Congress who all have top security clearances.
In their letter, the Members wrote, “While the current proposal is not workable, we are open to discussing a reasonable accommodation with the Department that would protect law enforcement sensitive information while allowing Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties.”
The letter is signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA).
A full copy of the letter can be found here and below.
April 19, 2019
The Honorable William P. Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
We write in response to your proposal regarding restricted access to a less redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s report. Unfortunately, your proposed accommodation—which among other things would prohibit discussion of the full report, even with other Committee Members—is not acceptable.
In order for Congress to fulfill its functions as intended by the Constitution, it must operate as a coequal and coordinate branch of government. Given the comprehensive factual findings presented by the Special Counsel’s Report, some of which will only be fully understood with access to the redacted material, we cannot agree to the conditions you are placing on our access to the full report. Nor can we agree to an arrangement that does not include a mechanism for ensuring access to grand jury material.
As the Special Counsel stated, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” The Department now has a duty to submit the full report and underlying evidence to Congress so that it can fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. This includes considering whether legislation is needed in light of the findings contained in Special Counsel Mueller’s report and the Attorney General’s determination that no prosecution is warranted despite those facts.
While the current proposal is not workable, we are open to discussing a reasonable accommodation with the Department that would protect law enforcement sensitive information while allowing Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties.
U.S. House of Representatives
House Committee on the Judiciary
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
cc: Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader, House of Representatives
Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, Senate
Honorable Doug Collins, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary
Honorable Lindsey Graham, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Honorable Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Honorable Richard Burr, Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement regarding the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report:
“We have received the redacted version of the Special Counsel’s report, and I am carefully reviewing its contents and findings.
“Even a preliminary review of the material makes it clear that the Attorney General fundamentally mischaracterized the Special Counsel’s findings in his pre-emptive press conference this morning. In the days to come, it is essential that Congress hear directly from the Special Counsel regarding his investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee continues its own investigation, and I expect to receive a full briefing, an unredacted report, and all the materials underlying the Special Counsel’s findings.”
Top House and Senate Democrats Write to AG Barr About Expectation that Congress Receive Full Mueller Report
Apr 11 2019
Washington, D.C. – Today, top House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr following his testimony before the House and Senate appropriations committees reasserting their expectation for the full, unredacted Mueller report, along with the underlying evidence, to be provided to Congress. The letter, signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), also urges the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work with them to find an accommodation on providing the full report from the Special Counsel, with the underlying materials, to the relevant committees.
A full copy of the letter can be found here and below:
April 11, 2019
The Honorable William P. Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
We have received your recent letters regarding the Special Counsel’s report. We have also reviewed your testimony before the House and Senate appropriations committees on April 9 and 10. We write to you now, in advance of your expected release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, to restate two important points.
First, as a matter of law, Congress is entitled to the full report—without redactions—as well as the underlying evidence. We require that information in order to discharge our constitutional obligations: to develop and pass legislation and to conduct thorough oversight of the Executive Branch. These responsibilities are most acute where they involve the alleged misconduct of the President of the United States. Indeed, because you have told us on several occasions that you will not indict the President for obstruction of justice and related crimes, it now falls to Congress to examine the President’s conduct and, if necessary, to hold him accountable.
Second, the Department of Justice has an obligation to work with the relevant committees of the House and Senate to reach an accommodation on the full report and the underlying materials. Since your March 22 letter announcing the end of the Mueller investigation, our senior Members have written to you on numerous occasions. We have asked reasonable questions and raised legitimate concerns about your handling of this report. So far, we have received no direct response, and you have made no effort to work with us to accommodate our concerns. This work should not wait until after you have provided a redacted report. It should start now.
You have outlined four kinds of information that you plan to redact from this report: grand jury information, classified information, information that may impede an ongoing investigation, and information that may affect the privacy and reputational interests of third parties. We acknowledge that there may be legitimate reasons for withholding some of this information from public view.
As recent precedent makes clear, however, the Department of Justice has no legitimate reason for withholding these materials from Congress. In every other instance where a federal grand jury was used to probe the alleged misconduct of a sitting president—namely, in the Watergate and Starr investigations—the Department of Justice worked with the relevant federal court to release the grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee. That has not happened in this instance, despite numerous direct requests, nor have you provided us with any legitimate reason for failing to follow the Department’s precedent.
With regard to the other areas of possible redaction noted in your March 29 letter, we note that the Department of Justice and the FBI provided nearly one million pages of material to the committees of jurisdiction related to a long list of largely discredited conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and about the origins of the Special Counsel’s investigation—while that probe was ongoing. These documents included highly classified information, information and investigative records related directly to ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigations, and reams of information that directly impacted the “privacy and reputational interests of third parties.” The Department also made dozens of line personnel available for transcribed interviews. We expect that you will be just as forthcoming with us now and, accordance with those precedents, promptly produce each of these categories of information to Congress, as requested.
Finally, we would be remiss not to express profound concern about your comments before the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding your apparent review of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Your testimony raises questions about your independence, appears to perpetuate a partisan narrative designed to undermine the work of the Special Counsel, and serves to legitimize President Trump’s dangerous attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI.
We renew our request to work together prior to any release to ensure that Congress receives the full report and all of the underlying evidence. Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.