THE INVISIBLE WAR: An Open Letter to President Biden — Defending Against Information Warfare
An urgent request to the President of the United States of America
An Open Letter to President Joe Biden regarding ‘The Invisible War’ — Defending Against Information Warfare
Dear Mr. President,
Throughout our history, when faced with a threat to our Republic, to the United States of America, we have always come together to defeat it. Every time.
We are asking you as our leader in this grave moment to address the nation about the need to unite against a new threat coming from our adversaries – the threat of information warfare.
We are a target nation in an Invisible War. It is called cyberwar — or information warfare, also known as active measures — and it’s a pernicious type of threat because people may not even know it’s happening.
Instead of bullets or bombs, our enemies are using lies and deceit, half truths, falsehoods. They are using psychological operations designed by foreign military intelligence — targeted to twist our minds, break our truth and destroy our reality — in an attempt to bring America to its knees.
This invisible war has taken aim at our decency, our humanity, our kindness and empathy, and we regret to inform you — the enemy is hitting their target: all of us.
A country divided is a weakened country, but a country that comes together to stand in shared truth is a strong country, a world leader, a shining example of democracy in action, and the people that make that democracy work. We cannot be divided when the enemy is on our doorstep.
These attacks by enemies of democracy aim to coerce our citizens into bizarre and dangerous beliefs through weapons of mass psychological destruction, weapons largely created to benefit the Russian government.
It is our belief that once Americans hear this truth from you, they will recall that together — united — we can do wondrous things. During the Civil War, Americans defeated slavery and restored our Union. In World War II, we defeated the dark authoritarian forces of fascism both at home and abroad.
The time is now, in this moment, to alert our nation. The effect information warfare is having on our citizens is wildly destructive and calls for violence are increasing.
It is important Americans know that forces of a very real evil are attempting to destroy our great nation and what it stands for. This is a new kind of battle, because our enemies are using technologies that didn’t exist in previous decades.
This is a war for our hearts and for our minds — a war that rips apart families and divides our communities — that pits parents against their children and neighbor against neighbor — that weakens the US globally and is taking direct aim to tear this country apart. It is an attack on the very soul of America and the democracy which has sustained it.
Disinformation does more than simply misinform people. When weaponized, it can change people’s minds for them. It can make them believe in things that don’t exist. It can make them hate their fellow Americans. It divides families, churches and communities.
Many of us see changes in our fellow Americans that we can’t understand, changes in our own loved ones that seem completely out of character.
Americans now repeat lies on social media about “communists,” “groomers” and “pedophile cabals”— the same language dictators and terrorist groups like ISIS have used to radicalize people. For many Americans, holiday dinners with their families have become political combat zones.
What changed us, America? How did this awfulness come to pass?
In 2018, a Republican Senate Intelligence Report determined the government of Russia engaged in an aggressive, multi-faceted effort to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in America.
As disinformation researchers, network analysts, and investigative reporters, we can tell you that they never stopped.
And what is the cost of their attacks? Lies erode truth and attack reality. Lies weaken our trust in science, in education. Lies attack our faith and weaken our ability to move forward to tackle the big problems of our time such as poverty and homelessness, mental health crises, drug addiction and overdose deaths, gun violence, and humanity’s most pressing threat — climate change.
This is going to be hard for people to hear but it’s important that they hear it from you: Psychological warfare can capture people into a different reality. When people are repeatedly targeted by violent, traumatizing content online repeatedly they can become radicalized. In effect, their minds can be stolen, and their souls turned to darkness and hate. We all know people like this – people we used to know but simply no longer recognize.
We can also see this in many of the mass shootings that leave our communities broken, our citizens murdered in their places of worship, our children dead in their schools. Our children — killed in the one place where they should all be safe.
Many of these terrorists were radicalized online on sites like 4chan, 8chan, Gab, Telegram, and X — people who were not hateful before but became obsessed with false hateful conspiracy theories designed to capture their minds. Siloed in chat rooms that function as virtual compounds, people are being radicalized by these internet hate machines, these digital cults.
People suffering from undue influence can be tricked into committing acts of violence and are often misled to think they are acting out patriotically as we saw at the January 6 Insurrection.
Our investigative team has interviewed such heroes as Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who reminds us there is nothing patriotic about attacking police officers and threatening the lives of lawmakers. But when these radicalized people were instructed to go to the Capitol, they listened. And they acted – all based on a lie.
The forces of authoritarianism, hatred and chaos, led by the government of Vladimir Putin, have created a pipeline of radicalization and hatred capturing our citizens, a pipeline that erases their identities and their empathy.
So how do we fight this? It starts with you, Mr. President, making the following requests:
We need you to ask for everyone’s help to combat this threat – to protect our loved ones, our communities, and our country — now and into the future.
Among the things you can tell the people of our nation is to refrain from spreading disinformation — the lies of those who want to bring us down. Urge them to check their sources, make sure they are credible. Question the purpose behind what they’re being told. Offer lists of trusted sources so they are no longer trapped by sites created by Russian lie factories and their domestic fifth columnists.
The second thing we need you to encourage people to do is to treat people with basic kindness.
It’s important to understand that this war targets people’s vulnerabilities. People suffering undue influence have been attacked. It’s important, no matter what, to keep connections with family members and friends, even if you disagree with them.
It will not be an easy job. It can be hard to love when your heart has been broken by people who have fallen into an abyss — into the disinformation tunnels caused by this Invisible War — people who no longer appear to be who and what they were but we know the person they love is still there, hidden under the lies the enemy has used to obscure them.
As we write these words to you, it is our hope that you have been working behind the scenes to build a task force to help inoculate Americans against disinformation. We cannot ignore this Invisible War in hopes that it disappears. The casualty rate is too high. We must fight the good fight. We can learn from the past how quickly Americans can mobilize around a profoundly important cause. This is your moment.
Our foreign enemies and their domestic allies are weaponizing our freedoms and using them against us. They want nothing less than the end of global democracy. But we’ve defeated big threats together before.
One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, stood before America in our gravest hours and warned “a house divided against itself will not stand.”
With your help, we can join together to defeat the great threat of disinformation by doing something that comes naturally to Americans — being good neighbors, being kind and empathetic, caring for one another, nurturing the broken back to health.
Let us echo President Truman: “It must be total war in every city, town, and village throughout the land. For only with a united front can we ever hope to win.”
Mr. President, it is clear that our enemies are forcing you to fight too many fronts. We believe until you address, neutralize, and protect our nation from information warfare, civilian casualties of this mind war will increase exponentially, weaponizing people to destroy their own democracy — threatening the very future of this country.
We are certain that Americans, once presented with this reality, will begin rebuilding a shared narrative of truth. It won’t be easy, but Americans have never been scared of a tough job. America has never backed down from the good fight.
United in truth we stand, in truth we shall defeat our enemies.
Our house will not be divided.
Our house will stand.
In this grave hour, we ask you to be the first President in history to defeat information warfare with the help of the people of our nation.
Written by Heidi Siegmund Cuda, Jim Stewartson, and High Fidelity, hosts of RADICALIZED Truth Survives podcast, January 29, 2024
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