Distract, deceive, destroy: Putin at war in Syria


Atlantic Council: A new Atlantic Council report uses open-source data to debunk Russian claims that its military mostly struck Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets, and links Russia to attacks on civilian facilities and the use of cluster bombs in Syria. So why haven’t Western governments that have more sophisticated intelligence capabilities employed similar technologies and techniques to counter Russian propaganda?

“Just as we saw an abuse of intelligence under the [George W.] Bush administration to make a case for specific action [in Iraq], I think you are seeing not as large an abuse but not proper use of intelligence right now because if they were to put this stuff out this would push their policy in a direction in which I don’t think they want to go,” said John E. Herbst, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

Eliot Higgins, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Council’s Future Europe Initiative, said he didn’t think that the US government is using open-source data as much as one would assume. “In any bureaucratic establishment, it is going to take a long time for the wheels to turn and for this to be actually something that they do on a regular basis,” he said.

Herbst and Higgins are co-authors of the Atlantic Council report “Distract, Deceive, Destroy: Putin at War in Syria,” which was launched in Washington on April 5. [Continue reading…]

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