Atlantic Council becomes attack dog; betraying their history

June 23, 2021

By John Ransom

The Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, has become a political attack dog for the left, “fact-checking”  GOP claims of widespread voter fraud.

The group once lauded for fostering European and American cooperation on a host of issues from trade to national security has become a political advocacy group.

The Atlantic Council, through the establishment of the impressive-sounding Digital Forensic Research Lab, has helped to establish the major narratives used by the press to “fact-check” GOP claims of election fraud and claims that the COVID-19 virus may have originated in the Wuhan virology lab.

In the case of election fraud, the Council issued its reports before the 2020 election, anticipating the fraud claims and helping the press issue explanations of fraud accusations by the GOP in advance.

“As part of the Election Integrity Partnership, the DFRLab has analyzed roughly four hundred cases of election-related disinformation on social media. This memo gathers the findings and issues recommendations for US election officials: they must prepare for viral falsehoods online that persist for weeks,” says the Atlantic Council’s introduction to the report.

The report takes firm aim at:

  • Claims of widespread voter fraud based on decontextualized, fragmented, or fabricated anecdotes. For example, claims that someone has cast multiple ballots without acknowledging processes to deal with redundancy.
  • Claims that the USPS, election administrators, or poll workers are acting in bad faith, using images of ‘mail dumping’, or decontextualized videos from poll worker training.
  • Claims that voting infrastructure is broken or compromised, and particularly allegations about the reliability of voting machines.
  • Claims of large-scale conspiracies or general partisan collusion by election administrators spun from court rulings or recent legislative changes.

Claiming, in advance, that there will be no election fraud by any of those means or providing ready-made excuses of lacking “context” seems as dangerous as any other misinformation.

The report also contends claims the vote was suppressed against minorities are dangerous misinformation, as is the claim of significant foreign influence in elections.

Neither of those claims, however, have made it into the press narrative as dangerous misinformation

That shouldn’t surprise us. And not just because the Atlantic’s Digital Forensic Lab (DFL) is headed up by Obama partisan, Graham Brookie, who was responsible for communications on Obama’s National Security/Foreign policy team. It’s because shaky, partisan claims seem to be at the core of the Atlantic’s anti-GOP mission.

In the case of COVID-19, the claims in the DFL report issued in February are increasingly coming under scrutiny. The DFL says that President Trump, Senator Tom Cotton, and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needlessly weaponized the source of the COVID-19 virus when they said the virus may have been released by a bio lab in Wuhan, China, either intentionally or by accident.

“The language deployed in support of this narrative by some political influencers often followed a pattern of intentional insinuation, which posited unverified information, which was then twisted into disinformation when further amplified, offering the original source an unhelpful amount of plausible deniability,” says DFL, which then attributed the comments by Trump et al to “xenophobia.” In fact, were it not for strenuous efforts by China to cover up the origins of the virus, we might actually know where it came from.

But recent reports show that early on the US intelligence community had not—and still have not— ruled out the possibility the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, despite vigorous attempts to shout down that theory under the banner of “anti-hate.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Atlantic Council’s new mission is being funded by Lebanese billionaire Bahaa Hariri, a Lebanese national, whose bother is a prominent Syrian politician; the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; Abu Dhabi National Oil Company; Facebook and Hunter Biden’s old friend from Ukraine, Burisma Holdings. Yes, the Burisma that paid Hunter Biden $50,000 a month for a no-show job.

No big deal really. Unless of course, you are worried about foreign election interference, which of course the Atlantic has already found to be “minimal.”


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