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DOD: Disinformation in maligned media hands is a national security risk

Written By | Apr 28, 2021
Media Disinformation, Russia, Satellite, Maxmar, CNN, Reuters

Composite Artwork – Dave McKinney – share-alike. Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE), SimgDe, . Stratocumulus Clouds, ISS Expedition 34 Crew, Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, Julian Herzog, . Camera Lens, stockunlimited,

If flying a drone over 133 U.S. military bases is restricted, would private satellites taking zoomed-in photos of military installations also be unlawful?

A question not easy to find an answer to. CNN recently released photos taken by private satellite operator Maxar which raised concern over national security. Then U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (Adm.) Brown responded to a tweet posted by Iranian Press TV of a 2015 aerial video of our carrier in the Persian Gulf.

There was a lot of negative chatter about the post and Rear Adm. Brown took the time to remind us how social media disinformation is antithetical to national security. Rear Adm. Brown enacted a swift, appropriate response to not only explain the Iranian news post but warn of any misleading contents.

Truth matters militarily.

Correct information can prevent confusion, doubt, panic. Even war. Our biggest threat from space lies within, with reckless misuse of technology to upend world stability.

“I get it. Sometimes disinformation is hard to spot. But a good rule of thumb is to be skeptical of content shared by organizations KNOWN to spread disinformation. Before you further spread their disinfo, check it closely. Social media literacy is national security too,” tweeted Rear Adm. Brown.

If the law regarding international satellite imagery of military installations exists, the DoD is not the place to find it. In their response to a request for clarification by CommDigiNews, the message of policy or no policy is conflicting.

In a bit of abstract/distract as I was told I was speaking to the wrong department. But who the right department is was not shared.

However, the DoD is concerned about disinformation from our adversaries and broadcast via social media to Americans. (Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations Hearing: “Disinformation in the Gray Zone: Opportunities, Limitations, and Challenges” – March 16, 2021)

This all relates to the Iranian Press TV tweet last week that was exactly that type of disinformation:

Rear Adm. Brown’s response:

The Navy’s Twitter response tied into this writer’s original quest to follow up on a search for answers regarding CNN’s recent dissemination of Russian military spy photos over the internet. (Are CNN’s satellite photos of Arctic military bases in Russia “loose lips”? (Video Update)

If CNN can lie about Russia plus spy on them is that a risk to national security?

I was skeptical about CNN known to spread disinformation about Russia as caught on camera during the Trump presidency riddled with conspiracies about Russia.

‘Project Veritas’ American Pravda: CNN continues today with a video of left-leaning political commentator Van Jones caught on camera plainly stating that “the Russia thing is just a big nothing burger.”

This follows the release of a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield, who was caught touting the Russia narrative as “bullsh*t.”

Not privy to Russia’s intent or military strategies, Russia is

amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons in a region freshly ice-free due to the climate emergency, in a bid to secure its northern coast and open up a key shipping route from Asia to Europe,” claims CNN.

CNN also pumped up the threats of Russian nuclear staging in the Arctic.

CNN hyped that Russia’s warheads could wipe out the West Coast for generations. Following CNN’s trend to label Russia as the aggressor, intruder, bad guys all around they are now itching to fire off a nuclear warhead, without actual provocation.

Remember, CNN used Russia to try and impeach Trump, which proved a huge conspiracy in which Seth Rich lost his life. (Seth Rich: Evidence of DNC staffer’s murder being buried by Durham)

CNN pokes at Russia continually. And laughably calls their lies “embracing diverse opinion.”

Russian military in the Russian Arctic is nothing new. Reuters reported on this matter in 2017. Yet CNN leads you to believe it is sudden Russian aggressive buildup in the Arctic. It is not a military incursion into the U.S., but Russia strengthening its defense.

Reuters’ 2017 report. Putin’s Russia in biggest Arctic military push since Soviet fall

Were CNN’s Russian military satellite photos and installation descriptions lawful?

So I started asking officials questions to understand any military policy or law regarding acquiring imagery on Russian or any foreign nation’s military installations. Apparently, we have such laws for our own bases, but I had to find that out on my own.

18 U.S. Code § 795 – Photographing and sketching defense installations

In the interests of national defense when certain vital military and naval installations or equipment as requiring protection against the general dissemination of information…it’s against the law to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation of vital military and naval installations or equipment without first obtaining permission from the relevant military or naval command. Then promptly submitting the imagery product obtained for censorship or other action deemed necessary. (summarized)
Whoever violates this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 737Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(H)Sept. 13, 1994108 Stat. 2147.)

18 U.S. Code § 795  maps out specific no, no’s for anything “classified” or “top secret”.

The code defines vital military and naval installations or equipment requiring protection against the general dissemination of information. To include all military, naval, or air-force installations and equipment which are now classified, designated, or marked under the authority or at the direction of the President, or other top military officials as “top secret”, “secret”, “confidential”, or “restricted”, and all such installations and equipment that may be designated so in the future (summarized). Located within a diverse and wide range of military facilities.

So if there are secret classified things on our military bases that are off-limits to imagery and dissemination. It must be the same in other nations like Russia. How does CNN or any other entity know what is “classified” or “top secret” from space?

What’s top-secret in?…

CNN’S disseminated satellite photos that include Potelny Island (Russia), Nagurskoye military facility (Russia), Olenya Guba storage facility – home to the Northern fleet headquarters where key submarines are moored (Russia),  and Alexandra Island (Russia).

Plus a CNN video inside a ship or submarine and readiness operations.

Would CNN push a similar warlike narrative about our U.S. military installations complete with imagery of our bases, weapons, training iterations, and storage and radar facilities?

Some elements of which are top secret, even from the top of the earth. CNN even described underground military storage in their story.

OSD’s official statement:

“The Department of Defense is aware of satellite imaging that could pose a threat.  Commercial and government satellite imagery can be obtained from U.S. and foreign sources.  DoD continues to take appropriate measures to protect our critical assets.”

The Navy’s official response in regards to my question spurred by the CNN warning,

What is the Navy’s presence in the Arctic now that the word is out Russia is building forces? Are we patrolling?

“The U.S. Navy maintains a regular presence in the Arctic region. As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future operations or ship schedules,” says Navy officials.

You can find out all about the Navy’s capabilities here. For instance,

“Since the 1960s, strategic deterrence has been the [Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines] SSBN’s sole mission, providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.”

We have the greatest Navy in the world. Unsurpassed in both naval capability and the people who serve her.

Did CNN’s spying break any Russian laws?

FYI Reuters has done the same thing.

Six days ago Reuters distributed about 11 satellite photos of Russian bases in Crimea/Black Sea Coast over the Internet. To include Saki Airbase (Crimea), Opuk training area (Black Sea Coast, Crimea), Kirovskoye Airbase (Crimea), Morozovsk Airbase (Russia), Pogorovo training area (Russia), Angarsky training area (Crimea), as reported by MSN.

Is CNN’s and Reuters’ satellite photo showcase of Russian bases all over their territory, plus their assumptions of the intent of Russian military activities, a national security/military matter? Would be in our country.

I could not get that answer directly from a government official who requested to be ‘off the record’. Furthermore who suggested I ask ‘academia’, NASA, or private space tech companies about international laws regarding military base satellite imagery.

Two weeks ago, this writer reached out to Maxar Technologies who took CNN’s photos. No reply to date.

 FAA restricts drone flyovers, effective April 14, 2017

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) § 99.7  to address national security concerns about unauthorized drone operations over 133 military facilities.

“The FAA and the Department of Defense have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these 133 facilities…There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA,” states the FAA

“Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.”

The world is an open book on Google maps; we have to be careful with it.

What we do, say about those with those images is our American responsibility. What CNN or Reuters or any news agency does affects millions should there be any retaliatory fallout. Back to Rear Adm. Brown’s warning,

“Before you further spread their disinfo, check it closely. Social media literacy is national security too.”

Whether using social media or news, we have a duty to think about how our actions affect foreign relations and above all other Americans. Currently, our relations are on thin ice with the U.S. and Russia over Crimea. Ukraine declares the intent to take it back from Russia who annexed Crimea in 2015 after the Euromaidan Revolution.

My quest ended in disappointment and a sudden dial tone from one official. Yet, my 10 years working with hundreds of PAOs in all military branches reminds me how fortunate we are. Through them, I am able to showcase our amazing military members and get the real story out. Never an ill-tempered word and always respect. I love our military and look out for them.


Read more from Patriot Profile by Jeanne McKinney


About the Author:

Senior Staff Writer for CommDigiNews, Jeanne McKinney is an award-winning writer whose focus and passion is our United States active-duty military members and military news. Her Patriot Profiles offer an inside look at the amazing active-duty men and women in all Armed Services, including U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard.

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Jeanne McKinney

Senior Staff Writer for CommDigiNews, Jeanne McKinney is an award-winning writer whose focus and passion is our United States active-duty military members and military news. Her Patriot Profiles offer an inside look at the amazing active-duty men and women in all Armed Services, including U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard. Reporting includes first-hand accounts of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fight against violent terror groups, global defense, tactical training and readiness, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, next-generation defense technology, family survival at home, U.S. port and border protection and illegal immigration, women in combat, honoring the Fallen, Wounded Warriors, Military Working Dogs, Crisis Response, and much more. Starting in 2012, McKinney has won multiple San Diego Press Club “Excellence in Journalism Awards,” including eight “First Place” honors, as well as multiple second and third place recognition for her Patriot Profiles published printed articles. Including awards for Patriot Profiles military films. During the year 2020, McKinney has written and had published dozens of investigative articles in her ongoing fight to preserve America the Republic, the Constitution, and its laws. One such story selected for use in a legal brief in the national fight for 2020 election integrity.