Clint Watts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Clint Watts
2017 March 30 Clint Watts by United States Senate 02.png
Education United States Military Academy (BS)
Middlebury College (MA)
Occupation National security analyst
Former United States Army officer
Former Special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Years active 2001–present
Employer George Washington University
Foreign Policy Research Institute
Known for Senate Intelligence Committee testimony about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections
Website fpri.org/contributor/clint-watts
Notes

Clinton "Clint" Watts is a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and a Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow.[3] He previously was an infantry officer in the United States Army,[4][5] and was the Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at United States Military Academy at West Point (CTC).[6][7] He became a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he served on the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).[1][8] He has consulted for the FBI Counterterrorism Division (CTD) and FBI National Security Branch (NSB).[9]

Watts has given expert testimony to the U.S. Congress multiple times, including: to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on April 5, 2016, about the ISIS November 2015 Paris attacks and the 2016 Brussels bombings,[10] to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs about ISIS after the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting,[11] to the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections in a widely reported March 30, 2017 public hearing,[12][13] and before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity on April 27, 2017 about Russian black propaganda.[14][15]

His testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian cyberwarfare tactics made multiple headlines,[12] with Slate calling him "Testifier Extraordinaire" and the star of the hearing.[2] Afterwards, CNN profiled him in a piece where they reported he himself was targeted by Russian information warfare after he documented Internet troll techniques.[1] His comment of "follow the trail of dead Russians" was seen as particularly noteworthy by CBS News, Salon, and The American Interest.[16][17][18]

Education[edit]

Watts received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Military Academy.[19] Subsequently he garnered a master of arts after graduating from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in 2005.[19][20]

Career[edit]

U.S. Army officer[edit]

Watts served in the United States Army as an officer in the infantry.[4][5][21] He was the Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at United States Military Academy at West Point (CTC).[6][22][7] After the September 11 attacks, he was recruited into the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help coordinate efforts combating terrorism across multiple agencies.[23]

FBI Agent[edit]

Watts worked as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[24][25][26] In this capacity he served on the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).[8][27][28] Watts has consulted for the FBI Counterterrorism Division (CTD) and FBI National Security Branch (NSB).[9]

National security research[edit]

Watts testified as an expert witness about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, in a March 30, 2017 hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.[12][13]

Watts is a Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) fellow.[29][30][31] He joined with FPRI in 2011,[1] and became its Robert A. Fox fellow in the FPRI initiative focusing on Middle East studies.[32][33][34] He is a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University.[35][36][37] He does consulting work and teaches for police agencies, intelligence sources, and the military.[1][9]

Watts wrote for The Daily Beast in August 2016 that Russian propaganda fabricated articles were popularized by social media.[38] Watts along with his colleague Andrew Weisburd documented how disinformation spread from Russia Today and Sputnik News, "the two biggest Russian state-controlled media organizations publishing in English", to pro-Russian accounts on Twitter.[38] Citing research by Adrian Chen, Weisburd and Watts compared Russian tactics during the 2016 U.S. election to Soviet Union Cold War strategies.[38] They referenced the 1992 United States Information Agency report to Congress, which warned about Russian propaganda called active measures.[38] They concluded social media made active measures easier.[38]

Weisburd and Watts collaborated with colleague J. M. Berger and published a follow-up to their Daily Beast article in online magazine War on the Rocks, titled: "Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy".[3][39] They researched 7,000 pro-Trump accounts over a two-and-a-half year period.[39] Their research detailed trolling techniques to denigrate critics of Russian activities in Syria, and proliferate lies about Clinton's health.[39] Watts said the propaganda targeted the alt-right, the right wing, and fascist groups.[3] After each presidential debate, thousands of Twitter bots used hashtag #Trumpwon to change perceptions.[40] In November 2016 the Foreign Policy Research Institute stated Russian propaganda exacerbated criticism of Clinton and support for Trump.[41][42] The strategy involved social media, paid Internet trolls, botnets, and websites in order to denigrate Clinton.[38][41][42]

U.S. Congress testimony[edit]

Watts testified before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on April 5, 2016, about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant November 2015 Paris attacks and the 2016 Brussels bombings.[10] He submitted testimony to the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 23, 2016, on the subject of ISIS strategies, in the wake of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.[11]

He testified as an expert witness about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, in a March 30, 2017 hearing before the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.[12][13][43] His testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was well received, and made multiple headlines.[12][20] Slate referred to him in a headline as: "Clint Watts, Testifier Extraordinaire", and "The star of March’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing".[2] CNN profiled him after the testimony in a piece "Russia investigation: Who is Clint Watts", where it was noted he gained knowledge in the field of Russian cyber hacking methods, after himself being a target in 2015 following his "Trolling for Trump" article; the FBI notified the Foreign Policy Research Institute of the attack.[1] Salon compared his testimony "follow the trail of dead Russians" to John Dean's statement about "a cancer on the presidency".[17] This phrase in testimony by Watts was highlighted by the media, including CBS News,[16] The American Interest,[18] and The Oregonian.[44] U.S. Senator Ron Wyden found the comment important to his investigation.[45] Mark Shields of PBS NewsHour found his testimony "compelling",[46] and CNN called it "blistering".[47] Jennifer Rubin wrote for The Washington Post that his testimony "laid out the most comprehensive look at the array of tools Russia used to influence our election".[48] After his testimony, he appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and explained ways the U.S. can better respond to cyberwarfare.[25][33]

He appeared before the United States Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity on April 27, 2017 on the subject of cyber warfare and national security, where he spoke on strategies by Russia using black propaganda.[14][15][49]

Controversy[edit]

In a 2014 article titled "The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham",[50] Watts and co-authors, for reasons clearly explained in the article, urged the US to openly support the Al Qaeda linked group Ahrar al Sham which was one of the main opposition forces of the Syrian Civil War and accused of war crimes by Amnesty International[51] and by the UN Human Rights Council.[52] All sides of the brutal civil war in Syria are accused of war crimes. [53] Ahrar al-Sham "is not designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, or the European Union", "has been active in providing public services to the communities under its control", "maintains a relief office that engages in humanitarian missions and provides the population with food and fuel", "operates water pumping stations, dams, and a road and bridge repair team" and "intervened to end a Jabhat al-Nusra massacre that killed 20 Druze villagers in Idlib."[54]

The associate vice president and director of the Center For Cyber and Homeland Security Frank Cilluffo told CNN that Mr. Watts' "background in understanding networks as part of his counter-terror work makes him specially qualified to do the research he is doing on Russian propaganda." [55]

Selected bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Kopan, Tal (March 30, 2017), "Russia investigation: Who is Clint Watts", CNN, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  2. ^ a b c Pesca, Mike (May 11, 2017), "Clint Watts, Testifier Extraordinaire: The star of March's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing says we need to get better at knowing information warfare when we see it.", Slate, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  3. ^ a b c d Dougherty, Jill (2 December 2016), "The reality behind Russia's fake news", CNN, retrieved 2 December 2016, Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University 
  4. ^ a b Malsin, Jason (January 28, 2017), "Experts Warn President Trump's Refugee Ban Could Backfire", Time, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  5. ^ a b Mackintosh, Eliza (January 31, 2017), "Trump ban is boon for ISIS recruitment, former jihadists and experts say", CNN, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  6. ^ a b Ramahi, Hassan; Glucroft, William (August 23, 2016), "A Yemeni Terrorist Pitches Tent in Germany", The Majalla, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  7. ^ a b Vick, Karl (May 27, 2016), "No Terrorist Groups Took Credit for Downing EgyptAir Flight 804. So Experts Have Other Theories", Time, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  8. ^ a b Hoffer, Jim (September 19, 2016), "The Investigators: Was Ahmad Khan Rahami really acting alone?", WABC-TV, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  9. ^ a b c Mak, Tim (March 30, 2017), "Marco Rubio Was Targeted by Russian Influence Operation, Ex-FBI Agent Reveals", The Daily Beast, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  10. ^ a b United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (April 5, 2016), "Combating Terrorism", C-SPAN, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  11. ^ a b Watts, Clint (June 23, 2016), "Directing vs. Inspiring: ISIS' Evolving Tactics and the Orlando Terrorist Attack" (PDF), Statement Prepared for the United State House Of Representatives Committee On Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, United States House of Representatives, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  12. ^ a b c d e "How Russian trolls influenced the U.S. election", Vice News, April 3, 2017, retrieved June 4, 2017, his candid testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 30 grabbed headlines. He answered questions about how these types of FBI counterintelligence investigations work, Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. election 
  13. ^ a b c Wilber, Del Quentin (March 30, 2017), "Follow the money and the trail of 'dead Russians,' expert urges senators", Los Angeles Times, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  14. ^ a b Gallagher, Sean (May 3, 2017), "Facebook enters war against "information operations," acknowledges election hijinx", Ars Technica, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  15. ^ a b Bertrand, Natasha (April 28, 2017), "Russia's risky strategy for recruiting hackers is also incredibly effective — and the US is lagging behind", Business Insider, retrieved June 4, 2017, Watts, now a senior fellow at George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, argued that Russia's ability to hack into US political organizations last year and launch a sustained disinformation campaign 
  16. ^ a b Pegues, Jeff (March 30, 2017), "'Follow the trail of dead Russians': Senate hears testimony on 'cyber invasion'", CBS News, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  17. ^ a b Parton, Heather Digby (March 31, 2017), "Trump in the whirlwind: President goes after Freedom Caucus as Michael Flynn offers to tell all", Salon, retrieved June 4, 2017, Meanwhile, up on Capitol Hill, a former FBI agent and cybersecurity expert by the name of Clint Watts was blowing everyone’s mind with his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee 
  18. ^ a b Orlova, Karina (April 27, 2017), "Following the Trail of Dead Russians", The American Interest, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  19. ^ a b Watts, Clint (2017), "Clint Watts - Foreign Policy Research Institute", Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fpri.org, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  20. ^ a b "Alumnus Clint Watts Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee", MIIS News stories, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, March 30, 2017, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  21. ^ Engel, Pamela (November 16, 2015), "Fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq may be accelerating its attacks around the world", Business Insider, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  22. ^ Rubin, Trudy (February 23, 2015), "Important to correctly define ISIS threat", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  23. ^ "Intercepted podcast: Donald in Wonderland", The Intercept, March 1, 2017, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  24. ^ Vitali, Ali (May 12, 2017), "Is Trump Taping Conversations in the Oval Office? Sean Spicer Won't Say", NBC News, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  25. ^ a b Savransky, Rebecca (April 2, 2017), "Key Senate intel panel witness: Russia 'still winning today'", The Hill, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  26. ^ Vick, Karl (April 25, 2014), "Drone War Doesn't Stop Al-Qaeda's 'Obsession' With Striking U.S.", Time, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  27. ^ Brannen, Kate (December 1, 2015), "What's driving the terrifying, sophisticated reach of ISIS terrorism?", The Week, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  28. ^ Engel, Pamela (August 25, 2016), "We could soon see a 'third generation' of jihadism that's harder for the West to defeat", Business Insider, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  29. ^ Barrett, Brian (June 1, 2017), "Don't Buy Into Putin's Latest Misdirection on Election Hacking", Wired, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  30. ^ Reston, Laura (May 12, 2017), "Russia Has Weaponized Fake News to Sow Chaos", The New Republic, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  31. ^ Carroll, Lauren (April 4, 2017), "Four things to know about Russia's 2016 misinformation campaign", PolitiFact, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  32. ^ Robertson, Lori; Kiely, Eugene (August 11, 2016), "Trump's False Obama-ISIS Link", FactCheck.org, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  33. ^ a b Todd, Chuck, "Meet the Press - April 2, 2017", Meet the Press, NBC News, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  34. ^ Choi, David (September 27, 2016), "FBI director: ISIS' loss will create a 'terrorist diaspora' like we've never seen before", Business Insider, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  35. ^ Sheffield, Matthew (March 31, 2017), "Fake news websites targeted Trump, Bernie Sanders supporters to spread conspiracy theories", Salon, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  36. ^ Carberry, Sean D. (April 28, 2017), "Senate cyber panel makes public debut", Federal Computer Week, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  37. ^ McPhillips, Deidre (April 12, 2017), "The 'Useful Idiot's' Guide to Hacking", U.S. News & World Report, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  38. ^ a b c d e f Watts, Clint; Weisburd, Andrew (6 August 2016), "Trolls for Trump - How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too)", The Daily Beast, retrieved 24 November 2016 
  39. ^ a b c "U.S. officials defend integrity of vote, despite hacking fears", WITN-TV, 26 November 2016, retrieved 2 December 2016 
  40. ^ Frenkel, Sheera (4 November 2016), "US Officials Are More Worried About The Media Being Hacked Than The Ballot Box", BuzzFeed News, retrieved 2 December 2016 
  41. ^ a b "Russian propaganda effort likely behind flood of fake news that preceded election", PBS NewsHour, Associated Press, 25 November 2016, retrieved 26 November 2016 
  42. ^ a b "Russian propaganda campaign reportedly spread 'fake news' during US election", Nine News, Agence France-Presse, 26 November 2016, retrieved 26 November 2016 
  43. ^ Grier, Peter (March 31, 2017), "Election meddling: When Russia returns, will the US be ready?", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  44. ^ Friedman, Gordon R. (March 30, 2017), "Follow the money, 'trail of dead Russians,' security expert tells Ron Wyden", The Oregonian, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  45. ^ Martin, Rachel (May 12, 2017), "Clint Watts Explains What He Means By 'Follow The Trail Of Dead Russians'", Morning Edition, National Public Radio, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  46. ^ Woodruff, Judy (March 31, 2017), "Shields and Brooks on Trump's conservative confrontation, Senate's Gorsuch showdown", PBS NewsHour, The testimony of FBI agent Clint Watts before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday was compelling. It was compelling about the efforts and the sabotaging by Russia of the American democratic process. Anybody, Democrat, Republican, should listen to that and say, this is serious stuff. 
  47. ^ "Witness' blistering words about Trump", CNN, March 30, 2017, retrieved June 4, 2017, Clint Watts, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, says President Trump used active Russian measures against his opponents during the 2016 election. 
  48. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (May 31, 2017), "Would a spy for Russia be acting any differently?", The Washington Post, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  49. ^ Pomerleau, Mark (April 28, 2017), "Weaponizing the truth: the fake news antidote?", C4ISR: The Journal of Net-Centric Warfare, retrieved June 4, 2017 
  50. ^ Doran, Michael; McCants, William; Watts, Clint (23 January 2014). "The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham" – via www.foreignaffairs.com. 
  51. ^ "Syria: Abductions, torture and summary killings at the hands of armed groups". www.amnesty.org. 
  52. ^ Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic*
  53. ^ "How all sides are committing war crimes in Syria". Washington Post. 27 Aug 2014. 
  54. ^ "Mapping Militant Organizations: Ahrar al-Sham". Stanford University. 5 Aug 2017. 
  55. ^ "Who is Clint Watts". CNN. 30 March 2017. 

External links[edit]