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Clinton Touts Failed Online Counterterrorism Program

- December 15, 2015

Today, Clinton Touted Her Failed Online Counterterrorism Program. CLINTON: "At the State Department, I started an interagency center to combat violent jihadist messages to have a better way to communicate on behalf of our values and to give young people drawn to those messages an alternative narrative. We recruited specialists, fluent in Arabic, Urdu, and Somali, to wage online battles with extremists to counter their propaganda." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The University Of Minnesota-Minneapolis, 12/15/15)

  • Clinton: The Program I Started Sought To "Wage Online Battles With Extremists To Counter Their Propaganda." CLINTON: "At the State Department, I started an interagency center to combat violent jihadist messages to have a better way to communicate on behalf of our values and to give young people drawn to those messages an alternative narrative. We recruited specialists, fluent in Arabic, Urdu, and Somali, to wage online battles with extremists to counter their propaganda." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The University Of Minnesota-Minneapolis, 12/15/15)

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A Review Found That There Is "Scant Evidence" That Clinton's State Department Program Stopped The Flow Of ISIS Recruits

The State Department "Is Considering Scaling Back" Its Efforts To Discredit ISIS Online After A Review "Cast New Doubt" On The U.S. Ability To Fight ISIS Propaganda. "The State Department is considering scaling back its direct involvement in online campaigns to discredit the Islamic State after a review by outside experts cast new doubt on the U.S. government's ability to serve as a credible voice against the terrorist group's propaganda, current and former U.S. officials said." (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

  • The Washington Post Headline: "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS" (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

There Is "Scant Evidence That The State Department Program Has Diminished The Flow Of Recruits To The Islamic State." "But the team 'had serious questions about whether the U.S. government should be involved in overt messaging at all,' said a U.S. official briefed on the group's findings. The group's skepticism reflected concern about U.S. credibility with Muslim audiences overseas as well as the scant evidence that the State program has diminished the flow of recruits to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL." (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

  • Former Senior Counterterrorism Official: "Why The State Department And Homeland Security Department Have Not Leveraged The Power Of Social Media Is Beyond Me." "A former senior counter-terrorism official, who participated in the 2014 discussion, said, 'Why the State Department and Homeland Security Department have not leveraged the power of social media is beyond me.'" (Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, James Gordon Meek, And Josh Margolin, "Secret US Policy Blocks Agents From Looking At Social Media Of Visa Applicants, Former Official Says," ABC News, 12/14/15)
  • "The U.S. Counter-Messaging Operation 'Is In Disarray,' Said Will McCants, An Expert On The Islamic State At The Brookings Institution And A Former Adviser To The State Department." "The U.S. counter-messaging operation 'is in disarray,' said Will McCants, an expert on the Islamic State at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to the State Department. Among those involved in messaging efforts, McCants said, 'morale is low, and they're not getting any clarity from the top about what they're supposed to be doing.'" (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

"State Department Officials Acknowledged That Aspects Of The Program's Strategy Are Again Being Reevaluated…" "State Department officials acknowledged that aspects of the program's strategy are again being reevaluated, and that the number of positions devoted to producing content and posting items on Twitter and other platforms could be scaled back. But officials cited what they described as major progress on other fronts over the past year, including the addition of foreign partners to an expanding network of messaging centers overseas." (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

Recent ISIS Threats Have "Added To The Urgency Surrounding A State Department Team That Was Set Up To Serve As An Information War Room Against Terrorist Networks." "The terrorist assaults that killed more than 130 people in Paris last month were seen by counterterrorism officials as a demonstration of the Islamic State's expanding reach. …The threats added to the urgency surrounding a State Department team that was set up to serve as an information war room against terrorist networks. Over the past two years, the unit has mounted campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and other social-media platforms to sow doubt among those who may be enticed to join the Islamic State." (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

According To A U.S. Official, The Review Team "Had Serious Questions About Whether The U.S. Government Should Be Involved In Overt Messaging At All." "But the team 'had serious questions about whether the U.S. government should be involved in overt messaging at all,' said a U.S. official briefed on the group's findings. The group's skepticism reflected concern about U.S. credibility with Muslim audiences overseas as well as the scant evidence that the State program has diminished the flow of recruits to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL." (Greg Miller, "Panel Casts Doubt On U.S. Propaganda Efforts Against ISIS," The Washington Post , 12/2/15)

The White House Said It Was A "Matter Of Common Sense" That Clinton's Program Would Not Be An "Effective Voice" In Combating ISIS Propaganda

In A Testy Exchange, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Explained To Reporters Why Clinton's Online Counterterrorism Program Was Doomed From The Start, Calling It A "Matter Of Commonsense." QUESTION: "You know there is a report today that the State Department has determined that its social media effort is unsuccessful, should not be continued, because it is not considered a trusted origination of a message. So my question related to what Laura is asking is, you just described the vulnerabilities and the President's frustration, you know if you abandon a US government effort on social media, what fills that gap?" EARNEST: "Again Alexis, we've acknowledged for some time, we approach this from the standpoint of understanding just as a matter of commonsense, that trying to counter messages from ISIL, who are attempting to radicalize for example vulnerable members of the Muslim population that the United States government may not be the most effective voice in countering that strategy. What we need to do is look for other voices that can be lifted up; that can be engaged in this effort. Leaders across the country, in some cases maybe their faith leaders and in some cases their political leaders. But in any event they are people who can be effective in countering or at least providing an alternative vision and that's important work. It's hard to get your arms around it but it's critically important to our efforts and as I just acknowledged to Mara, there is important work that's being done and important progress that's being made but there surely room for improvement." (Josh Earnest, White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 12/3/15)

  • Earnest: "The United States Government May Not Be The Most Effective Voice In Countering That Strategy." EARNEST: "Again Alexis, we've acknowledged for some time, we approach this from the standpoint of understanding just as a matter of commonsense, that trying to counter messages from ISIL, who are attempting to radicalize for example vulnerable members of the Muslim population that the United States government may not be the most effective voice in countering that strategy. What we need to do is look for other voices that can be lifted up; that can be engaged in this effort." (Josh Earnest, White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 12/3/15)

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