Intelligence in Defense of Democracy, the final report of the LBJ School’s 2021-2022 Policy Research Project on foreign election interference, was recently published. Intelligence Studies Project Director Steve Slick led 13 UT master’s degree candidates in an extensive literature review, policymaker and expert interviews, and the drafting of this report including specific policy recommendations. The report concludes that the threat posed to America’s democratic processes by Russia and other foreign adversaries is serious and likely to persist, if not grow, in the future.
Russian operations aimed at interfering with or influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election paired longstanding Soviet and Russian tradecraft with powerful new digital tools. Our governments, both federal and state, are better prepared to address such threats today. U.S. intelligence represents the first line of defense against foreign malign influence by focusing on early detection, appropriate sharing of information, reliable attribution of sponsorship, expert analysis, collaboration with the private sector, and timely communication with stakeholders including the voting public. This report describes the historical context and remaining challenges and recommends steps to improve the U.S. Intelligence Community’s performance on this important mission. The report’s student authors traveled to Washington, D.C. in May 2022 to present their findings and recommendations to executive and legislative branch officials including the newly-appointed Office of the Director of National Intelligence Election Threat Executive. Read the full report with recommendations HERE.