Tags: mike morell | social media | websites | election ads | rules

Ex-CIA Chief Morell: Make Social Media Sites Follow Election Advertising Rules

("CBS This Morning")

By    |   Wednesday, 27 December 2017 10:50 AM

Legislation to require social media websites to follow the same rules binding TV, radio, and print media would go a long way toward protecting the United States from further meddling from Russia in future elections, former CIA Director Michael Morell said Wednesday.

"There are many things to do about it and defend ourselves here at home," said Morell, now a CBS News senior national security contributor, commented on the "CBS This Morning" program. 

"For example, we can pass the legislation that's been proposed that puts the same rules on political messaging on social media that we have on TV, radio, and print," he said. "We can do a better job imposing costs on Vladimir Putin and Russian to make Putin think twice about continuing to do this."

In a column for The Washington Post Monday, Morell and ex-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers wrote that the United States did not establish deterrence against Russia following the 2016 election, and as a result, the country is continuing its use of social media against the United States. 

"We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation," the two experts, now on the advisory council for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, wrote. 

On Wednesday, Morell said that many Americans may not consider the interference matter as an urgent one because it's a new type of attack.

"This is not a terrorist attack where you can see the consequences immediately," he said. "This is a slow erosion of our confidence and our democracy. This is affecting the way we think about our country, our democracy, and our society. So it's a new type of attack and I think that's the primary reason we're not focused on it."

Morell said he also has "no doubt" that Russian President Vladimir is "fully involved" in the election attacks, and that he approved the moves.

"He's trying to accomplish two things," said Morell. "One, he is trying to weaken the United States, weaken our influence overseas."

Even more importantly, the greatest threat to Putin's stronghold in Russia is the threat of democracy coming from people in his own country, Morell said.

"If he can undermine it in Western Europe, he can raise questions in his own country about the value of democracy," said Morell. "That's very important to him."

Other countries are following Russia in meddling with elections, and Morell and that's "absolutely" the result of the United States' failure to take strong action on the matter.

"It's led over countries to think maybe this is a tool they can use," he said. "We see the Chinese doing this already. The Turks doing this in Western Europe. We see the Chinese doing it in Taiwan. I think more countries are going to start doing this unless we deter them from doing so, and they're going to start doing it against us here at home."

The Trump administration has started to take some steps, including agreeing to arm Ukraine, and those are good ideas, said Morell, but he believes more broad sanctions are necessary.

"Sanctioning specific individuals will not get Putin to think about what he has to do here," said Morell. "We need much broader sanctions, much more pain on the Russian economy and the Russian middle class to get Putin's attention.

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Legislation to require social media websites to follow the same rules binding TV, radio, and print media would go a long way toward protecting the United States from further meddling from Russia in future elections...
mike morell, social media, websites, election ads, rules
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 10:50 AM
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