Relying on expert testimony and existing footage, Active Measures documents the surprisingly interconnected rise of two men, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. This film examines the evolution of Soviet influence techniques into modern warfare tactics that manipulated elections in several democratic nations, culminating in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Active Measures exposes what is possibly the largest and most effectively executed espionage operation in history.
The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person, ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.
Is a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. Example:In 2006, after Russians murdered Alexander Litvinenko in London, the Russian embassy in London responded to accusations with, “why not mind your British business thoroughly and ask why nobody has been until now held responsible for the British dead in the War in Iraq?”
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Example:A Dutch journalist asked the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, why he would claim there are no-go zones in the country when there aren’t. Hoekstra responded with, “I didn't say that. That's actually an incorrect statement, we would call it 'fake news.'” Then the journalist played a clip of him saying exactly that, proving him wrong, and then asked him why he’d call this fake news to which Hoekstra responded with, “I didn’t call that fake news, I didn’t use the word today.”
Breeding the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth or even facts, because everything is disguised to reflect advantageously on one group or another.
This is the main method of political agitation leveraging our tribal nature. Under an external threat, real or imaginary, a nation, obedient to instincts, rallies around a leader. The mechanisms of perception inherent in us are simplified in the event of danger, turning the world black and white. Example: Regarding Mexicans, Trump stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
With the help of stigmatization - branding, insulting and creating negative images - propagandists put into our consciousness primitive pattern-labels, which personify evil, based on cliched, symbolic thinking. Example: “global elite,” “rednecks,” “thugs,” “towel-heads,” “wetbacks.”
Generalizations often presented as statistics to drown out opposition. This is hammered home until those who disagree become afraid to voice a dissenting opinion counter to the generally accepted one.
The idea is to own all forms of political discourse, to not let any independent movements develop outside of its walls. By doing this, those in power can exploit all narratives and render them absurd. The result is an array of voices, working away at global audiences from different angles, producing a cumulative echo chamber of support.
Voters invariably prefer tempting and obviously impossible promises over boring, more realistic ones. The sober politician therefore always loses in front of a silver-tongued charlatan.
Substitution of the true cause is false. Often, substitution goes beyond the boundaries of sanity and the logic of events. Example: Censorship is necessary in order to protect children from pornography.
This is submitted as a priori, not requiring proof: if A, then B, although in fact B does not at all follow from A. Example:If Putin leaves, then Russia will fall apart.
A tautology in which the first part of the statement refers to the second, and the second supports itself by referencing the first as proof. Example:Official media do not lie, because official media never lie.
When a single whole is divided into parts, and each part is considered as a single whole. Example:The liberal opposition camp is promoted by propagandists as if they comprise the entire Russian opposition despite the fact that there are conservative factions in the opposition as well. But in the minds of the inhabitants, the phrase "oppositionist-liberal" has become inseparable.
In appearance, the harmless "allegedly", "attributed", "as if", "some", "so-called" are used to breed suspicion and escape hatches. Example:Compare the following: "Friends of Putin were mentioned in the anti-corruption investigation" and "Some alleged friends of Putin were mentioned in the so-called anti-corruption investigation."
Simple, straightforward lying.
In an effort to modernize long-standing Active Measures campaigns, entities affiliated with the Russian government formed the largest troll factory in the world in 2013. Its goal was to sow division in The West and infiltrate the 2016 US Election. Here's how it worked:
12-hour shifts every two days from 9am-9pm.
1000 in main office alone.
A blogger's quota is ten posts per shift, each post at least 750 characters. Each blogger is in charge of three accounts. A commenter generally posts 126 comments per day and two posts per account.
20 million rubles ($400,000)/month.
LiveJournal; VKontakte (Russia’s Facebook); Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; the comment sections of Russian news outlets; and the comments sections of international media platforms.
Active Measures in America
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To find out more about a few of our interview subjects, click on the links below.
The Kremlin PlaybookBy Heather A. Conley, James Mina, Ruslan Stefanov & Martin Vladimirov View here
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald TrumpBy Michael Isikoff View here
Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake NewsBy Clint Watts View here
The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations By John McCainView here
What HappenedBy Hillary Rodham Clinton View here
From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s RussiaBy Michael McFaul View here