Expert Pitch

Rutgers experts are available to comment on Iran’s interference in the U.S. election

John J. Farmer, Jr., University professor of law and director of Rutgers’ Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience and the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said:

“The challenge for the U.S. government is to devise an effective deterrent to such interference.  It is, after all, a direct assault on our national sovereignty and the integrity of our government. Because adversaries like Iran and Russia are authoritarian in nature and exercise tight controls over information, devising a response that will be effective in deterring these efforts is a difficult proposition. Their continued interference, however, underscores both the necessity to devise an effective response and our failure to do so in the four years since 2016.” 

Ava Majlesi, associate director of Rutgers' Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience, which is affiliated with the Eagleton Institute of Politics and Rutgers Law School, said:

"No one in the U.S. intelligence community is surprised that Iran has actively attempted to influence U.S. elections. ODNI’s 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment expressly mentions that U.S. adversaries, including Iran, will increase the use of cyber capabilities in an attempt to conduct influence operations and gain a competitive advantage over the United States. Election interference is not a new strategy—many Americans might be surprised to learn that election interference as a strategy to achieve political and military objectives predates by decades Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But whereas election interference used to consist of covert financial support, letter writing campaigns and airborne leaflet propaganda, the emergence of new technologies has moved influence operations into the digital space. The strategy of using influence campaigns to cause confusion, create chaos and potentially change the course of a foreign nation’s elections remains the same, but the methods used to achieve that goal have changed. Tools that can help the public distinguish facts from disinformation and misinformation have never been more vital to our democracy." 

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