Home World Justice Department’s ‘deepfake’ concerns over Biden interview audio highlights AI misuse worries

Justice Department’s ‘deepfake’ concerns over Biden interview audio highlights AI misuse worries



WASHINGTON (AP) — Releasing an audio recording of a special counsel’s interview with President Joe Biden could spur deepfakes and disinformation that trick Americans, the Justice Department said, conceding the U.S. government could not stop the misuse of artificial intelligence ahead of this year’s election.

A senior Justice Department official raised the concerns in a court filing on Friday that sought to justify keeping the recording under wraps. The Biden administration is seeking to convince a judge to prevent the release of the recording of the president’s interview, which focused on his handling of classified documents.

The admission highlights the impact the AI-manipulated disinformation could have on voting and the limits of the federal government’s ability to combat it.

A conservative group that’s suing to force the release of the recording called the argument a “red herring.”

Mike Howell of the Heritage Foundation accused the Justice Department of trying to protect Biden from potential embarrassment. A transcript of the interview showed the president struggling to recall certain dates and confusing details but showing a deep recall of information at other times.

“They don’t want to release this audio at all,” said Howell, executive director of the group’s oversight project. “They are doing the kitchen sink approach and they are absolutely freaked out they don’t have any good legal argument to stand on.”

The Justice Department declined to comment Monday beyond its filing.

Biden asserted executive privilege last month to prevent the release of the recording of his two-day interview in October with special counsel Robert Hur. The Justice Department has argued witnesses might be less likely to cooperate if they know their interviews might become public. It has also said that Republican efforts to force the audio’s release could make it harder to protect sensitive law enforcement files.

Republican lawmakers are expected to press Attorney General Merrick Garland at a hearing on Tuesday about the department’s efforts to withhold the recording. According to prepared remarks, Garland will tell lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee that he will “not be intimidated” by Republican efforts to hold him in contempt for blocking their access to the recording.

Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Associated Press that he was concerned that the audio might be manipulated by bad actors using AI. Nevertheless, the senator said, it should be made public.

“You’ve got to release the audio,” Warner said, though it would need some “watermarking components, so that if it was altered” journalists and others “could cry foul.”

In a lengthy report, Hur concluded no criminal charges were warranted in his handling of classified documents. His report described the 81-year-old Democrat’s memory as “hazy,” “poor” and having “significant limitations.” It noted that Biden could not recall such milestones as when his son Beau died or when he served as vice president.

Biden’s aides have long been defensive about the president’s age, a trait that has drawn relentless attacks from Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, and other Republicans. Trump is 77.

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