March 21, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces this spring’s public policy lecture, “Russian Spies, Social Media, and Fake News: An Inside Look at Russia’s Cyber Warfare Campaign against American Democracy,” will be presented by NBC News contributor and former FBI agent Clint Watts on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 p.m., in the MCLA Church Street Center’s Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium.

Made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust, this event is free and open to the public.

“A foreign policy and cyber security expert, Clint Watts sounded the warning four years ago about a massive Russian cyber warfare propaganda operation that aimed to undermine American Democracy, as it exploited free speech on social media,” said John DeRosa, administrator of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust. “We are pleased to hear from this preeminent expert on the Russian propaganda campaign, as he discusses this attack and its implications. I encourage the public to attend this most timely and informative presentation.”

Watts, a Robert Fox Fellow for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, testified before the United States Congress in March and April 2017 about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and Russian black propaganda.

His testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian cyber warfare tactics made multiple headlines. CNN later profiled Watts in a piece where they reported that he himself was targeted by Russian information warfare after he documented Internet troll techniques.

Watts is the author of the new book “Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News,” which reveals how malefactors use social media information.

He also is a consultant and researcher who models and forecasts threat actor behavior and developing countermeasures for disrupting and defeating state and non-state actors. As such, he designs and implements customized training and research programs for military, intelligence and law enforcement organizations at the federal, state and local level. In the private sector, Watts helps financial institutions to develop best practices in cyber security intelligence operations.

His research predominantly focuses on terrorism forecasting and trends, which aim to predict emerging extremist hotspots and anticipate appropriate counterterrorism responses. More recently, Watts used modeling to outline Russian influence operations via social media and the Kremlin’s return to Active Measures.

Before becoming a consultant, Watts served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, as an FBI special agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), as the executive officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC), and as a consultant to the FBI’s Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) and National Security Branch (NSB).

Watts earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and an master’s degree from Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

For more information, 413-662-5224, or go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.