In January, IWP Chancellor Dr. John Lenczowski met with James Hughes, President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), to discuss the increasingly worrying intelligence collection and spreading of misinformation by the Chinese government. AFIO is a non-profit institution for current and former intelligence officers, dedicated to supporting the strength of the U.S. intelligence community.
What Mr. Hughes described as “both an informative but rather scary presentation” on Chinese misinformation began with an introduction to Dr. Lenczowski’s past professional and academic study of information operations, including the comparative public diplomacy capabilities of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
According to Dr. Lenczowski, the CIA and State Department had lacked cooperation between groups focused on the covert operations and propaganda of the Soviet Union. During his time at the National Security Council, Dr. Lenczowski helped to organize the Soviet Active Measures Interagency Group, which worked on strategic deception and Soviet disinformation. He described how during his time with the NSC, he would receive letters — which would also be sent to top officials — containing what he recognized as deception themes without the expected forewarnings of deception.
Dr. Lenczowski and Mr. Hughes then transitioned to discussing similar activities carried out by the contemporary Chinese government— the theft of intellectual property, the promotion and creation of the censored Confucius Institutes, and the psychological disarmament of the United States. These propaganda operations include the facilitation of access to reporters who feature the positive aspects of the Chinese government, as well as financial influence—and thus, decision influence—over certain trustees of well-known think tanks in Washington, D.C.