Arizona courts versus the Kremlin

Courts to prep for Russian campaign of disinformation

The Kremlin in Moscow. The Arizona Supreme Court has established a task force to counter disinformation campaigns that might come from the Kremlin.

By Heather Smathers | Arizona Capitol Times

The CIA spoke and Dave Byers, the director of Arizona’s Administrative Office of the Courts, listened.

He listened as the CIA described how a Kremlin-sponsored organization that peddles in disinformation and spreads a false narrative poses a serious threat to Arizona courts and the justice system as a whole.

And he concluded that the court needs to act – proactively.

“We need to have a plan in Arizona for how we will deal with state-sponsored campaigns against the judicial system,” said Byers, who brought the issue to leaders in Arizona’s courts after hearing from the agents at a recent conference.

So to combat the spread, the Arizona Supreme Court on September 18 created a task force to study the effects that disinformation has on the court system.

The discussion Byers heard was based on “Beyond the Ballot: How the Kremlin Works to Undermine the U.S. Justice System,” a report created for the Center for Strategic & International Studies, which lists cases of targeted disinformation attacks carried out through social media.

The report was authored by Suzanne Spaulding, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Spaulding came to the think-tank from the federal government, where she had most recently served as under Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, where she handled cyber security issues, including leading the teams who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

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