THE RUSSIAN HACK – Members from two Russian military intelligence units have been indicted for hacking into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computers and strategically disseminating the data to undermine individual candidates. Bill Whitaker reports how Russian operatives disrupted the 2016 elections. Graham Messick is the producer.
TANIA’S STORY – The Salvadoran wife and mother of the drowned migrant father and daughter whose image in death captivated the world and framed the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border speaks in her first interview. Sharyn Alfonsi reports. Guy Campanile is the producer.
MIND READING – Scientists can actually identify what we are thinking and now even feeling. Lesley Stahl reports on the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging and computer analysis to decode the physical makeup of our thoughts. Shari Finkelstein is the producer.
ON “60 MINUTES”: FLORIDA STATE SENATOR ANNETTE TADDEO DECRIES BEING TARGETED BY RUSSIAN HACK OF 2016 ELECTIONS
Graham Messick for CBS News/60 MINUTES
Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo will appear on 60 MINUTES Sunday to decry the Russian hack of the 2016 election. The Democrat’s campaign strategy and other sensitive data was stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computers by the Russians when she was running for the state’s 26th congressional seat. Justice Department officials say those files were hacked and dumped by Russian military intelligence units.
Taddeo speaks to Bill Whitaker for a report that explains in detail how the Russians stole the critical information and disseminated it to undermine political candidates in 2016. It will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Taddeo says she was on her way to a live television debate with her opponent when she learned of the hack. “My opponent, Joe Garcia, showed up at that debate with a printout of all the documents,” she tells Whitaker.
“We’ve seen a lot [in Southern Florida]. But this was a foreign government. This was so much bigger,” says Taddeo, who says she lost to her opponent by about 700 votes. “You know, I’ve been told by a lot of people, ‘You should stop talking about this. It’s really not good for you politically to remind people that you lost.’ But I refuse to stop talking about it. Because, again, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And it didn’t happen to me: It happened to our democracy.”
Whitaker also interviews John Demers, the assistant attorney general who runs the Department of Justice’s national security division, which inherited the Russian hacking case from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is no doubt in his mind that the Russians executed the hack and strategically disseminated the documents through the online persona Guccifer 2.0. The agents behind Guccifer 2.0 then gave the data to political operatives and local journalists, and it eventually found its way to mainstream media. “So Guccifer 2.0 is a fictional online persona,” says Demers. “It’s all an effort on the Russian side to hide their involvement.”
Robert Anderson, who played leading roles in the FBI’s counterintelligence and cyber security divisions, tracked Russian intelligence operatives for years. He warns in an interview with Whitaker that the Russians will be back for the 2020 election. “The thing that you need to worry about with Russia and every one of their intelligence services is they will learn from these operations…They will analyze everything they did right or wrong. And when they attack again, they will not come at you the same way,” he says.
Scientists can actually identify what we are thinking and now even feeling, reports Lesley Stahl on this Sunday’s 60 MINUTES. Her story on the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging and computer analysis to interpret human thoughts will be broadcast on Sunday, Nov. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Ten years ago, Stahl first reported on a team of scientists from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University who discovered a way to, in effect, read minds – to identify the thoughts of people inside an MRI scanner when they thought about simple objects like tools and dwellings. In the decade since, the team has dramatically expanded the types of thoughts it can identify in the brain to emotions, highly abstract concepts, foreign languages, and even suicidal thinking. Stahl and her producers decided to go back. Neuroscientist Marcel Just tells Stahl that being able to peer inside our brains to identify our thoughts is a whole new frontier for science: “It’s like being an astronomer when the first telescope is discovered, or being a biologist when the first microscope is developed.”
One of the most surprising discoveries, says Dr. Just, has been the fact that activity patterns in the brain when people think about even abstract ideas like spirituality, forgiveness and gossip are common across people. They’re even the same when people think in different languages. To study emotions, Just asked acting students to conjure up different feelings while having their brains scanned. Again, results showed common patterns. “Each emotion had its own characteristic values, and you could tell which one was which,” he tells Stahl. “Amazingly, it was common across people.”
To demonstrate, 60 MINUTES associate producer Jaime Woods agreed to go into the MRI scanner and think about different scenarios for each of a series of emotions shown to her on a screen. For the word “disgust,” she says she thought about a person vomiting on her at a baseball game. The computer analyzed her brain patterns, compared them to those of others, and correctly identified her feeling as “disgust.” Says Just, “It’s funny, isn’t it, because it’s so personal. We all think of our own thoughts as so individual, so intimate, how could anybody else’s thoughts be like mine? And they are.”
Just and colleagues have also begun exploring how thought patterns can differ in the brains of people with disorders. In a recent study, they discovered differences in the activity patterns of people contemplating suicide, compared with healthy control subjects. Just’s goal is to one day create a dictionary of brain activation – a key to what all different thoughts look like inside our minds. Exciting, but also risky. Asked by Stahl whether he believes his research could lead to the reading of people’s minds precisely, Just replies, “I think it will be technologically possible to invade people’s thoughts. But it’s our societal obligation to make sure that never happens.”