The US State Department announced an award of up to $ 10 million for information about individuals who are allegedly trying to interfere in the American elections. The corresponding appeal is published on the agency's website.

The US Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program, led by the US Diplomatic Security Service, offers rewards of up to $ 10 million for information that helps to identify or locate anyone who works with or for a foreign government to interfere with American elections through illegal activities in cyberspace, ”the message says.

The State Department also clarified that attackers convicted of such offenses may be punished in accordance with American law.

“Individuals involved in malicious cyber operations against electoral infrastructure or election campaigns may be prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 18 CFR 1030, which criminalizes unauthorized computer intrusions and other types of computer fraud. Among other things, the law prohibits unauthorized access to computers for the purpose of obtaining information and transferring it to unauthorized persons, ”the appeal says.

  • State Department building
  • Reuters
  • © Joshua Roberts

Note that the Rewards for Justice program has been operating in the United States since 1984. The original purpose of its creation was the fight against terrorism.

External threat

In July of this year, the director of the US National Center for Counterintelligence and Security, William Evanina, issued a written statement in which he said that the secret services were allegedly recording attempts to discredit the national electoral system.

According to the director of the national counterintelligence center, other countries allegedly do not abandon their attempts to influence US domestic policy through social networks and traditional media. Thus, the opponents of the United States are allegedly trying to incite discord between the Americans and undermine the democratic process, Evanina emphasized. 

  • William Evanina
  • Reuters
  • © Joshua Roberts

Ivanina paid special attention to Russia. According to him, Moscow allegedly seeks to weaken Washington by using Internet trolls, its "henchmen" and other means of spreading disinformation. 

The author of the document also did not bypass China. Ivanina accused Beijing of expanding efforts to counter criticism of the PRC.

Similar charges have been leveled against Iran, which, according to intelligence agencies, allegedly wants to harm American democratic institutions and sow discord in the country ahead of the presidential elections. To do this, Tehran is organizing disinformation campaigns on the Internet and distributing anti-American materials, Evanina said.

The head of counterintelligence called on the American public to be vigilant and critical of the information received, as well as to notify the relevant authorities about suspicious activity.

"Wild West Sheriff Style"

Despite the fact that Russia is not mentioned in the announcement of the award, experts nevertheless believe that when speaking about interference in the elections, the State Department means, first of all, the "hand of Moscow."

Political analysts note that the topic of alleged Russian interference in the American elections has been on the US information agenda since the election of Donald Trump as president.

At the same time, the Russian Federation has repeatedly denied accusations of attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election campaign, noting that the American special services were never able to provide any intelligible evidence. According to Moscow, rumors about Russian "influence" on the elections are spread by certain forces in the United States as part of the internal political struggle.

The State Department's initiative to pay informers $ 10 million has already been ironically commented on by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"To each?!! Now the site of the State Department will fall from denunciations to neighbors, "- wrote on Facebook the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.

It should be noted that this is not the first such initiative of the State Department, presented in recent days. Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 30, requested twice as much funds for the 2021 budget to combat Russian disinformation. In early August, his department published a report in which Russia was identified as the main threat in matters of disinformation and propaganda.

According to Nikita Danyuk, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the RUDN University, the American authorities are stirring up the topic of interference in the elections due to the extremely tense internal political situation in the United States. In these conditions, the image of an “external enemy” again, as in 2016, can play an important role in the electoral process.

“This is due to a rather fierce election campaign. Both sides accuse each other in advance that external forces will play along with their opponents. Now the State Department and Trump are actively demonstrating that they will stand guard over US sovereignty and will not allow any external interference. Thus, the current presidential administration is trying to knock the trump card out of the hands of the Democrats, who constantly declare that the intervention is beneficial to Trump, "Danyuk explained in an interview with RT.

  • US President Donald Trump
  • Reuters
  • © Joshua Roberts

According to him, such an initiative of the State Department can lead to a huge number of false denunciations.

“Considering the amount of the fee, there will certainly be people or organizations who will say that there is information that Russia or China“ interfered ”in the elections,” Danyuk believes.

At the same time, he stressed that the accusations may concern not only the special services, but also the authorities and the media of foreign countries.

“This is a proven scheme, when the thesis that“ Russian hackers ”or“ trolls ”are trying to undermine the electoral processes is thrown into the public plane, although no evidence is provided, because this information is supposedly classified. This is a win-win option, especially when there is still a witness who has been promised a large fee, ”the political scientist is sure. 

Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares a similar point of view.

“Pompeo, announcing the award, is performing in the style of a sheriff in the Wild West. This undoubtedly demonstrates the low level of the American political elite. In fact, today the US authorities announced a competition for the best fake about Russia and China, on the basis of which economic measures will be taken to increase pressure on these countries, "Blokhin predicted in an interview with RT.

He noted that the search for enemies in the United States is beginning to resemble the era of McCarthyism, when a campaign was waged in the country to discredit and persecute representatives of left-wing political forces.

“In the McCarthy era, the same practice was carried out in relation to the communist system. With the help of the threat from the side of the communists in the country there was a reprisal against the political opponents of the authorities. History repeats itself, the United States is again following this path, ”the expert concluded.