Founded in 1972 by German Chancellor Willy Brandt as a permanent memorial to the Marshall Plan, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) has long been one of the Beltway’s most respected think tanks.
Yet in July, with the announcement that it was creating the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which would seek “to work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe” it became clear that GMF was abandoning the Ostpolitik that characterized Brandt’s foreign policy and instead embracing the Russia panic that dominates the current discourse in Washington.
The ASD, which according to a GMF spokesperson is “funded by a group of American private individuals and small family foundations,” is, in reality, an alliance between longtime Republican neocons and Democratic war hawks such as William Kristol, David Kramer, former CIA acting director Michael Morell, Hillary Clinton foreign-policy adviser Jake Sullivan and former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
On Wednesday GMF announced the creation of a new project under the auspices of the ASD, Hamilton 68, taking its name from Federalist Paper 68, which expounds on the danger of foreign influence on American democracy.
According to a press release announcing the project:
Hamilton 68 will help journalists and ordinary people alike identify Russian messaging themes and detect active disinformation or attack campaigns at the start. This will reduce the effectiveness of Russia’s attempts to influence Americans’ thinking, and deter this activity in the future.
How will it achieve this goal? By tracking 600 Twitter accounts which are said to be furthering Russian influence in the United States.
The new project is designed “to shed light on Russian propaganda efforts on Twitter in near-real time” by highlighting “trending content from Twitter accounts for media outlets known to be controlled by the Russian government” as well as “themes being pushed by Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns.”
According to GMF, “The initial dashboard tracks 600 accounts that were 1) identified as participating in specific disinformation campaigns synchronized with Russia Today and Sputnik News, 2) meaningfully linked to users who self-identified as promoting pro-Russian viewpoints, and 3) bots that provide support to members of the first two categories.”