You might have missed it. On April 7, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Turner (R-Ohio) announced on two different Sunday news programs that members of his caucus were repeating Russian propaganda in their arguments against foreign aid for Ukraine.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

Turner said on CNN's State of the Union, "It is absolutely true we see, directly coming from Russia, attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor."

Anti-Ukraine sentiment in the most extremist arm of the GOP has been simmering since Russia invaded in February 2022. U.S. intelligence data shows a proactive Kremlin campaign to undermine American support for Ukraine has been ongoing since at least May of 2022, and underway in earnest since January 2023.

U.S. intelligence documents shared with The Washington Post indicate a Moscow public relations firm called Social Design Agency, whose chief executive, Ilya Gambashidze, has been sanctioned by the U.S. for his involvement in a "persistent foreign malign influence campaign" involving the creation of fake European media outlets posting fake news stories about the war in Ukraine and so-called corruption in Ukraine.

A large part of this fake narrative has been to push that the war is about expansion of NATO. As Turner said on CNN, the war in Ukraine is not about NATO. It is about Russia claiming territory it believes to belong to Russia, which Vladimir Putin has been perfectly clear about in his public speeches and interviews.

This effort has the highest priority of the Russian government, being overseen by Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy chief of staff at the Kremlin. He called together Gambashidze and other political strategists working on the campaign in January 2023 with directions to increase the content and use American elected leaders' words against them.

In the intelligence documents shared with The Washington Post, very familiar themes appear – what is disturbing is that they are all crafted by Russian troll farms or Gambashidze's Social Design Agency. Here are some examples:
– Promote fears of overspending on foreign policy against a backdrop of domestic inflation, homelessness, and raise the spectre of eventual armed conflict in Europe where America will lose;
– Highlight the level of homelessness in America and note that it is starting to resemble a "third world country;"
– Highlight themes of "universal poverty, record inflation, a halt to economic growth … the risk of job losses for white Americans, privileges for colored and degenerate people and invalids;"

This has been done not just via fake news sites but also with fake social media profiles. One recommended social media comment developed by the campaign from a fake American reads, "I am overcome with anger when another Ukrainian aid package is distributed right before my eyes into the pockets of American and Ukrainian officials. Indeed, it is hard to understand such gestures of 'help' when one's own homeless sit at the feet of passersby [and] sleep under bridges."

According to Pew Research, a third of Americans say they get some of their news from social media. And we have fallen into the habit of liking and sharing "news" that we agree with. We need to make sure it is real.

It's not just Russians preying on Republicans, either. Iran and its proxies are likely running an anti-Israel campaign targeting Democrats and those on the left. Hamas is not concerned about Palestinian casualties until it can blame Israel for them. Pressuring sympathetic Americans to pressure President Biden to withhold or withdraw support for Israel is the best thing Iran and Hamas can do to further their cause.

I've worked for the U.S. government in public information in different capacities for three decades. I want to make this public service announcement: the U.S. government may want to put events in a positive light; the government may withhold classified information; the government may attempt to put out disinformation to the enemy; but the U.S. government is not in the business of deluding its citizens.

Americans must get out of the tribal habit of assuming everything that comes out of the opposition party's mouth is a complete lie. Ideological disagreement does not equate to deliberate falsehood. We must watch real news broadcasts and read newspapers. Our true enemies, like Russia, China, and Iran, have seized on our current political schism and desire for the "news we want to hear" and are using it against us every single day.

Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appeared regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. A Republican, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband north of I-40 where they run one head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at

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