On Wednesday, presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unveiled a new plan to fight disinformation, aiming to stem the effect of the Russian troll campaigns that plagued the 2016 election.
In particular, Warren proposes harsher laws against spreading misinformation for the purpose of voter suppression, as in ads spreading the wrong date for election day.
“I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of information,” Warren writes, “which has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote.”
It’s part of a broader policy against the use of disinformation, requiring action on the part of both platforms and the government. Warren would also establish clear rules around data sharing within platforms, potentially allowing networks to raise the alarm about disinformation campaigns earlier and faster.
As part of that policy, Warren pledges not to employ disinformation in her campaign in any way. “Anyone who seeks to be the Democratic nominee must condemn the use of disinformation,” Warren says in the post, “and pledge not to knowingly use it to benefit their own candidacy or damage others.”
She subsequently pledges not to spread manipulated news reports, promote content from fraudulent online accounts, or allow campaign staff or surrogates to spread manipulated information.
Reached by The Verge, the Biden campaign pointed to a similar pledge their candidate made in June as part of the Transatlantic Council on Election Interference. The Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns did not respond to a request for comment.
I’ve certainly seen this happen before from people supporting other candidates in the primary. In an age of fake news and misinformation being spread like a plague, just saying “it’s a primary” is not a good enough excuse. In other Warren-related news, she has a great op-ed piece in The Atlantic that highlights her foreign policy and calls for our government to finally stop getting us involved in endless wars:
First, I would make the cornerstone of my approach to ending these wars the renewal of efforts to forge diplomatic solutions based on realistic objectives. In the case of Iran, we should have never walked away from a nuclear deal that was working, triggering an inevitable cycle of escalation. I will bring both the U.S. and Iran back into the agreement if that is still possible, and build on the deal with additional negotiations to extend its accomplishments and sunset provisions, while beginning a broader negotiation with Iran, its neighbors, and key world powers to de-escalate regional tensions.
In Syria, we must pursue clear and achievable goals that will not require resources we never intended to commit. And while we must bring our troops home, Trump’s erratic approach has only endangered our partners and further confused an already chaotic situation. We need to be honest with ourselves that, after Trump’s incompetent handling of the situation, any diplomatic deal will be worse than the one we could have gotten before he betrayed our Kurdish partners, confused our European allies, and handed leverage to Turkey and Russia. Instead of playing games with troop deployments and missions, we should use our remaining leverage to negotiate a fragile balance among Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran; mitigate the humanitarian crisis; and keep ISIS fighters in prisons.
In Afghanistan, we need serious diplomacy that achieves our counterterrorism goals as we bring home our troops. Trump’s haphazard approach has repeatedly upended delicate negotiations and wasted leverage. And there cannot be any workable deal in Afghanistan as long as the U.S. and Iran are in an escalating conflict.
Second, I would refocus our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks—whether they originate at home or abroad—on intelligence, law enforcement, and international partnerships. These tools have been enormously successful in preventing attacks against the U.S. since 9/11—and more effective and less costly than occupying countries.
Third, in my administration the United States will again lead international efforts to provide the humanitarian and economic aid that is essential to stabilizing Syria, Afghanistan, and other conflict areas in the long term. Instead of this proven and cost-effective approach, the Trump administration has slashed assistance and instituted racist, draconian cuts in the number of refugees we allow into the U.S. By doing our part and leading the way, we can get the world to invest the attention and resources needed to mitigate the local conditions that lead to global threats. As part of this effort, my administration will reduce our aid to corrupt governments and focus instead on economic assistance that empowers citizens and increases human development.
Fourth, I will strengthen our alliances in Europe, Asia, and beyond as an essential pillar of our national security, updating them to address the real challenges of our time.
All these steps will require real investments in our diplomatic capabilities. That’s why I’ve proposed a plan to rebuild the State Department and appoint only highly qualified diplomats, not wealthy campaign donors, to represent our vital interests abroad.
Finally, we will use our military wisely. All three of my brothers served in the military. I know that our service members and their families are smart, tough, and resourceful. They will make any sacrifice we ask of them. But having a strong military means using it with the utmost responsibility. The job of the president is to keep Americans safe. Every day, around the world, our military is engaged in training partner forces, protecting our embassies, providing humanitarian relief, and keeping sea lanes open. But we must reassess our global posture to ensure that U.S. forces are engaged in realistic missions, and that the risks and costs of military deployments must be appropriately limited.
She’s also calling out Alan Dershowitz:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, knocked a presentation by Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Trump's legal team, calling it “nonsensical.”
“His characterization of the law simply is unsupported. He is a criminal law professor who stood in the well of the Senate and talked about how law never inquires into intent and that we should not be using the president's intent as part of understanding impeachment,” Warren told reporters.
“Criminal law is all about intent. Mens rea is the heart of criminal law. That's the very basis of it. So it makes his whole presentation just nonsensical. I truly could not follow it,” Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, continued.
Dershowitz, who currently teaches at Harvard Law, provided lengthy remarks during the impeachment trial on Monday. He argued that issues such as abuse of power and obstruction of Congress “are outside the range of impeachable offenses.”
And by the way, she performs the best against Biden in the primary. Here’s an e-mail I received from PCCC yesterday: