Alliance for Securing Democracy
The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) is a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group formed in July 2017 with the stated aim of countering efforts by Russia to undermine democratic institutions in the United States and Europe. As of 2021, it had expanded to combating China's United Front Work Department.
The organization is chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials. Its daily operations are led by Zack Cooper, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Laura Rosenberger, senior director for China on the Biden administration's National Security Council was previously involved. The ASD is housed at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and pursues its work in both the United States and Europe.
The ASD publishes an online dashboard called "Hamilton 68" showing the activity of Twitter accounts that the organization claims are linked to Russian propaganda.
In 2016, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the Director of National Intelligence concluded that Russia had interfered in US elections of that year. This was subsequently confirmed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his report on his investigation and summarized in his 2019 testimony before Congress. The Alliance for Securing Democracy declared that it will develop strategies to "defend against, deter, and raise the costs" on any attempts by Russia or "other state actors" to undermine democracy. Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who serves on ASD's advisory council, stated that the group will fulfill some of the role that ideally would have been handled by a national investigative commission.
The "Hamilton 68" Dashboard on the ASD website tracks in real-time 600 Twitter social media accounts that the ASD asserts are "linked to Russian influence," whether knowingly or unknowingly. In September 2017, the group launched a similar German-language website focused on possible Russian influence in German politics. The ASD's tracking encompasses social media accounts it suspects are related to the Russian government or Russian state media, as well as accounts it believes to be unconnected to Russia, but which repeat what it sees as Russian government views. ASD does not disclose which accounts "Hamilton 68" tracks, citing its desire to "focus on the behavior of the overall network rather than get dragged into hundreds of individual debates over which troll fits which role."
Advisory council and staff
The ASD is governed by an Advisory Council and an operating staff who are drawn from the American Marshall Fund. The Washington Post called the membership of the advisory council "a who's who of former senior national security officials from both [the Democratic and Republican] parties." Members of the advisory council include Michael Chertoff (a Republican who worked in the George W. Bush administration as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security) and Mike McFaul (a Democrat who worked in the Obama administration as U.S. Ambassador to Russia), former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, neoconservative political analyst and commentator William Kristol, and Hillary Clinton foreign-policy adviser Jake Sullivan.
The Hamilton 68 dashboard has been cited by many news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and Business Insider. The dashboard has received criticism for its "secret methodology" and refusal to disclose the Twitter accounts it tracks. ASD founders Laura Rosenberger and Jamie Fly said that the accounts are not disclosed to prevent them from being shut down. James Carden wrote in The Nation that the dashboard seemed to characterize factual news items as Russian propaganda and questioned its impact on political discourse.
In a 2017 article in The Atlantic, Peter Beinart argued that the group's efforts were important in understanding Russia's involvement in American politics. In a Politico article, Susan Glasser praised the group for its bipartisan approach to tracking Russian propaganda. However, Glenn Greenwald wrote that the group represented a political alliance between neoconservatives and establishment Democrats.
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