October 11, 2018

Senator Hassan Presses Counterterrorism Official on Size of ISIS, Urges FBI Director to Crack Down on “Deepfakes”

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, participated in a hearing yesterday where she pressed Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Russell “Russ” Travers on recent reports that a resurgent ISIS has 30,000 fighters engaged in its attempts to reassert control over Iraq and Syria, seemingly contradicting President Trump’s assertion that ISIS has been “obliterated.”

The Senator also urged Director of the FBI, Chris Wray, to confront the emerging threat of “deepfakes,” which are video or photo editing techniques that utilize artificial intelligence to create convincing impersonations. “Deepfake” videos could potentially create global security issues if used to convincingly and falsely depict a government official or public figure.

See below for highlights of coverage:

WCAX: Is ISIS beaten? Hassan questions counterterrorism officials

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ANCHOR: “Is ISIS beaten, or have they just made a tactical retreat? That's what New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan asked at a hearing on homeland security.

“Hassan cited multiple reports, putting the number of insurgent fighters in Syria and Iraq at 30,000 or more.

“She questioned the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center.”

HASSAN: "How do you square the reports I just mentioned with your testimony that says - the administration - we're in the final stages of defeating ISIS? Does ISIS currently have 30,000 or more fighters in Iraq and Syria?"

TRAVERS: "These numerical estimates are low confidence, to be sure." 

ANCHOR: “The Director admitted that while ISIS has long 95% of the territory they once held, they've now been forced underground. And without continued action in that region, he warned that ISIS could continue to pose a significant threat.”

TRAVERS: "We saw them several years ago begin to be thinking about how to implement an insurgency strategy - and they're burrowing down - and we certainly see this throughout Iraq and Syria." 

ANCHOR: “Senator Hassan stressed it's important to keep the pressure on ISIS because that problem has not been solved yet.

NEPR: Sen. Hassan Questions FBI Director On 'Deepfakes'

New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan said she wants to make sure the FBI has the authority and the tools it needs to crack down on so-called "deepfakes."

…At a meeting of the Senate's homeland security committee Wednesday, Hassan said "deepfakes" could be used to depict a government official, such as the defense secretary, making fictional statements about other countries.

"This false rhetoric could trigger mass protests or instability in regions, force impulsive reactions from countries who fall for the ruse, and cause massive shifts in stock markets across the world," Hassan said.

FBI director Christopher Wray called this a "topic of great concern."

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