Biden admin’s Russian propaganda allegation sounds eerily familiar

The Biden administration has accused Russia of planning to use a fabricated video purporting to show Ukrainian military attacking Russians, giving Russia a pretext to invade Ukraine. The report gave me déjà vu. 

On Thursday, Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. believes Russia is planning to “produce a very graphic propaganda video.” He claimed the video would include “corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations, as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine or the West, even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was Western-supplied.”

The Pentagon declined to make public the underlying evidence supporting its claim, and I’m fully aware of the danger in accepting the U.S. military’s word as the ultimate truth — even though the claim is backed by international officials.

But without knowing whether this claim is true, the story should instill fear in Americans — not only because the propaganda attempt being described is straight out of the totalitarian disinformation playbook, but because a similar tactic was reportedly being executed on our soil very recently. The Biden administration’s Russia allegation came one day after The Washington Post reported about a 2020 effort by allies of then-President Donald Trump to co-opt the National Security Agency to support baseless allegations that foreign powers helped Joe Biden fraudulently win the election. 

Whoever wrote the memo was looking for the Defense Department to follow their conspiratorial path to an illogical conclusion.

The Kremlin allegedly tried to fabricate a rationale for attacking Ukraine. Trump allies reportedly tried to fabricate a rationale for attacking American democracy. 

A December 2020 memo circulated by Michael Del Rosso, a former Trump campaign surrogate and failed GOP House candidate, called for the Trump administration to sift through NSA “unprocessed raw signals data” as part of the scheme. Trump’s allies apparently hoped this data, which can include Americans’ text messages, emails and more, could be used to prop up their claim that operatives — both foreign and domestic — were seeking to overthrow Trump.

The memo said the data could give the Trump administration a pretext to issue a “classified DOD legal finding to support next steps to defend the Constitution in a manner superior to current civilian-only judicial remedies.”

It’s unclear who wrote the memo. The Post said Del Rosso did not respond to its requests for comment.

In plain English, whoever wrote the memo was looking for the Defense Department to follow their conspiratorial path to an illogical conclusion: a military-supported reversal of the 2020 election results.  

Team Trump is often soft on the Russia, which — as the U.S. intelligence community has confirmed — meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump. This alleged memo shows just how alike Trump allies and Russia are in their strategies to retain power. 

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