Suozzi, King, Rice, Meeks, and Zeldin Send Letter to National Security Officials Calling for Investigation into Whether Foreign Adversaries are Instigating Rise in Anti-Semitism and Hate
Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Congressman Peter King (NY-02), Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05), and Congressman Lee Zeldin (NY-01) sent a letter to top-ranking national security officials calling for an investigation into foreign adversaries continuing use of social media and other efforts to foment hate and civil unrest across America.
The letter comes after disturbing anti-Semitic attacks in New York and amidst a well-documented increase in anti-Semitic and other hate crimes across the United States.
In the letter, they write:
“We are requesting that your offices specifically investigate potential state-sponsored campaigns by our foreign adversaries to sow civil unrest in America using social media disinformation campaigns, corruption and foreign actors. The power of social media provides nefarious actors the ability to exploit ignorance and spread hate, in an effort to undermine national unity for their strategic interest. In addition to tanks, missiles and soldiers, we must be conscious of our adversaries’ efforts to undermine our nation using cyberspace, economic systems and corruption.”
Letters were sent to: Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense; Gina Haspel, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security; and Christopher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Together, Suozzi, King, Meeks, Rice, and Zeldin remain committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hate on Long Island, in New York, and across the United States. While there are several contributing factors in the rise of intolerance and bigotry throughout America, we must explore the possibility of foreign interference.
A full text of the letter can be found attached and copied below.
Dear Director Wray, Acting Secretary Wolf, Director Haspel, and Secretary Esper,
We write in the wake of the disturbing anti-Semitic attacks in our region, and amidst a troubling and well documented increase in anti-Semitic and other hate crimes across our nation. These violent, criminal acts continue to divide an already polarized nation by instilling fear, distrust and potential civil unrest among Americans.
This troubling trend, at the beginning of the new year and leading into a national election year, demand that we explore root causes. We are well aware of the impact of divisive rhetoric at the national level, the new power of social media, and the lack of knowledge about historic events such as the Holocaust.
We are requesting that your offices specifically investigate potential state sponsored campaigns by our foreign adversaries to sow civil unrest in America using social media disinformation campaigns, corruption and foreign actors. The power of social media provides nefarious actors the ability to exploit ignorance and spread hate, in an effort to undermine national unity for their strategic interest. In addition to tanks, missiles and soldiers, we must be conscious of our adversaries’ efforts to undermine our nation using cyberspace, economic systems and corruption.
A recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report confirms the ongoing crisis with data and finds year over year increases in hate crimes. The report found hate crimes have increased by 17 percent from 2016-2017, an increase for the third consecutive year. In 2017, anti-Semitic crimes increased by 37 percent and attacks motivated by racial or ethnical prejudice doubled.
In February 2018, the Justice Department charged 13 Russians and three companies for using fraudulent social media accounts, online political advertisements, and other tools to subvert the 2016 election. According to the indictment, hundreds of social media accounts impersonating Americans were used to “create political intensity through supporting radical groups.” Furthermore, the indictment states that these same nefarious actors paid for advertisements on social media platforms and other places that specifically sought to divide Americans based on race, religion, and other factors.