Memo for Improving Information Statecraft and Countering Foreign Information Warfare

In April 2018 I wrote a memo and draft executive order intended to help the current administration address foreign information warfare and advance “information statecraft.” It was socialized at the highest levels of national security but ultimately didn’t go anywhere.

I wanted to share it here in case any administration, current or future, wants to use it. I still believe there’s a need to address these issues across the government and strengthen our defenses. Let me know your thoughts!

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April 21, 2018

I believe there’s an opportunity to advance “information statecraft” as a positive and enduring legacy for the Trump administration. Below is a draft presidential memo to this effect. I modeled it on Obama’s Climate Change memorandum and borrowed language from the National Security Strategy. It is intended as a starting point.

The memo seeks to advance four priorities across relevant agencies:

1. Create leadership and institutional space to drive these issues;
2. Improve awareness and visibility of foreign information warfare;
3. Enhance talent and capabilities for information statecraft; and
4. Get ahead of emerging threats while speeding the government’s OODA loop.

The emphasis here is on national security. But keep in mind that the threat of foreign information warfare cuts across multiple domains: military operations, diplomacy, law enforcement, crisis events, stock market activity, elections, and infrastructure. As with climate change (a surprisingly helpful analog), it is very much a cross-agency issue.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Jeff Giesea


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following.

Section 1. Purpose. This memorandum establishes a framework and directs Federal departments and agencies to perform certain functions to ensure that information statecraft and countering foreign information warfare are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.

Section 2. Background. America’s competitors weaponize information to attack the values and institutions that underpin free societies, while shielding themselves from outside information. They exploit marketing techniques to target individuals based upon their activities, interests, opinions, and values. They disseminate misinformation and propaganda.

Risks to U.S. national security will grow as competitors integrate information derived from personal and commercial sources with intelligence collection and data analytic capabilities based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Breaches of U.S. commercial and government organizations also provide adversaries with data and insights into their target audiences.

China, for example, combines data and the use of AI to rate the loyalty of its citizens to the state and uses these ratings to determine jobs and more. Jihadist terrorist groups continue to wage ideological information campaigns to establish and legitimize their narrative of hate, using sophisticated communications tools to attract recruits and encourage attacks against Americans and our partners.

Russia uses information operations as part of its offensive cyber efforts to influence public opinion across the globe. Its influence campaigns blend covert intelligence operations and false online personas with state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

U.S. efforts to counter the exploitation of information by rivals have been tepid and fragmented. U.S. efforts have lacked a sustained focus and have been hampered by the lack of properly trained professionals. The American private sector has a direct interest in supporting and amplifying voices that stand for tolerance, openness, and freedom.

Sec. 3. Policy. It is the policy of the Federal Government to advance information statecraft capabilities while ensuring that current and future impacts of foreign information warfare be identified and considered in the development and implementation of relevant national security doctrine, policies, and plans. This policy builds on the following Presidential directives and policies:

(a) the 2017 National Security Strategy, which identified information statecraft as an area of need for sustained focus and improved capabilities;

(b) the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which emphasizes the changing character of war, the need for innovation and talent development, and the need to counter coercion and subversion;

© Executive Order 13799 of May 16, 2017 (Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity), which created and directed a commission to advance integrity in federal elections.

Sec. 4. Coordination on Information Statecraft and Countering Foreign Information Warfare

(a) The Information Statecraft Working Group. [ ], or their designees, will chair an interagency working group (Working Group) to coordinate the development of a strategic approach to identify, assess, and share information on current and projected information warfare impacts on national security interests and to inform the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.

(b) Representation. The Working Group shall include representatives, at the Assistant Secretary or equivalent level, or their designees, from:

(i) the Department of State;

(ii) the Department of the Treasury;

(iii) the Department of Defense;

(iv) the Department of Justice;

(v) the Department of Commerce;

(vi) the Federal Election Commission

(vii) the Department of Homeland Security

(viii) the Federal Emergency Management Agency;

(viv) any other agencies or offices as designated by the Co-Chairs.

© Functions. The Working Group shall:

(i) identify the U.S. national security priorities that are within the scope of the Working Group’s mission;

(ii) develop recommendations for requirements for advancing information statecraft and countering foreign information warfare, as appropriate, that support national security interests;

(iii) catalog information warfare data, intelligence analyses, and other products and programs that support or should be considered in the development of national security doctrine, policy, and plans;

(iv) identify information and program gaps that limit consideration of information warfare-related impacts in developing national security doctrine, policies, and plans;

(v) facilitate the production and exchange of information with relevant stakeholders, including the United States Intelligence Community, and private sector partners, as appropriate;

(vi) produce, as appropriate, and make available intelligence assessments to agencies having responsibilities in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans in order to identify information statecraft-related impacts and prioritize actions related thereto;

(vii) provide a venue for enhancing the understanding of the links between information warfare and national security interests, and discussing the opportunities to improve statecraft and counter foreign information warfare to address national security issues;

(d) Action Plan. Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the Working Group shall, by consensus, develop an Action Plan, which shall identify specific steps that are required to perform the Working Group’s functions. The Action Plan shall also include specific objectives, milestones, timelines, and identification of agencies responsible for completion of all actions described therein. The Action Plan shall include recommendations to inform the development of agency implementation plans, as described in section 5 of this memorandum. The Action Plan shall be submitted to [ ].

Sec. 5. Federal Agency Implementation Plan. Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the agencies listed in subsection 4(b) of this memorandum shall each develop an appropriate implementation plan supporting the policy of this memorandum. Such implementation plans may be classified, as required, to meet specific agency requirements. Implementation plans shall consider for inclusion, but not be limited to, a description of how the respective agencies will accomplish the following actions:

(a) create internal leadership and institutional space to advance these efforts;

(b) identify current and future information warfare-related risks to agency missions, and risks that may be caused by agency policies, programs, and actions;

© pursue agency adaptation strategies and methods that address information warfare-related impacts on national security and homeland defense;

(d) audit talent and capability gaps for information statecraft and countering foreign information warfare, and pursue agency strategies to address these;

(e) develop an agency-specific approach to advance information statecraft and build speed and resilience against information warfare-related threats to national security;

(f) incorporate related impact information and considerations into agency technical and executive education and training programs.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and policies, including the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

© All activities conducted pursuant to this memorandum shall be undertaken consistent with all applicable classification requirements set forth in law, Executive Orders, regulation, and policy.

(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.



Musings on media, technology, national security, and personal development.

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Jeff Giesea

Musings on media, technology, national security, and personal development.