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Intelligence and law enforcement leaders before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The leaders of America's intelligence community warned Tuesday that the threat of foreign offensives on social media had not abated:

“We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means … to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States."
— Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Why it matters: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts [were] successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations," Coats said. "Frankly, the United States is under attack."

Note: Both CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have also previously said they expect Russia to try to interfere in the midterm elections.

The details:

  • Coats said that the threat of foreign governments using social media tactics wasn't the purview of just one agency. "There’s no single agency, quote, in charge," he said.
  • Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr noted broadly that the committee and the intelligence community has had immense difficulty in communicating with tech companies about "a way forward that is in commonality."
  • Burr asked NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers whether he was worried that dynamic would get more fraught: "Yes I am, because quite frankly I wonder so how bad does this have to get before we realize we have to do some things fundamentally differently," Rogers replied.

Go deeper

Updated 29 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker

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