The Pentagon will allocate $40 million into an inter-agency unit housed at the State Department to counter online propaganda and disinformation campaigns conducted by foreign nations, in an effort to respond “aggressively” to attacks.
The program was announced by the State Department this week in conjunction with the US Department of Defense, which will allocate the funds to the Global Engagement Center (GEC) – created in spring 2016 to replace the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC).
The @StateDept is pleased to announce a new partnership with the @DeptofDefense for initiatives to counter propaganda & disinformation from foreign nations. @UnderSecPD said the transfer of funds announced today reiterates the U.S. commitment to the fight. https://t.co/oT1ffDZU7R
Department of State (@StateDept) February 26, 2018
“One of those initiatives is the creation of an Information Access Fund to support public and private partners working to expose and counter propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations.“
This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight, said Under Secretary Goldstein. It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive.
Last year Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requested that $40 million be transferred from the Department of Defense, with an overall allocation of up to $60 million from the US Defense budget. The funding was authorized in a December 2016 defense bill signed by President Obama – which widened the scope of the center’s activities.
Previously, the GEC had focused exclusively on terrorist propaganda, however it was Tillerson’s request for the funds that got the ball rolling on the expanded operation.
Almost $20 million of the $60 million was already in the State Departments coffers and will be released to the center’s officials to fight propaganda by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. Tillerson also approved a request for a transfer of $40 million from the Pentagon to the center so it can fight state-sponsored propaganda. –Politico
The GEC will counter disinformation campaigns primarily from China, North Korea and Russia.
Tillerson’s delay in implementing funding authorized for the GEC had frustrated U.S. officials – who called it an example of “severe slowdown” within the State Department’s decision making process. Sources, however, cited another factor at play; angering Russia.
At one point during the discussions, Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond suggested the money is unwelcome because any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow, according to a former senior State Department official. –Politico
Hopefully the good folks at the GEC will be able to match forces with the “90 people with a shaky grasp of English and a rudimentary understanding of U.S. politics shitposting on Facebook.” at that Russian troll farm whose trash CNN went rooting through a few weeks ago. The one which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said had zero effect on the outcome of the election.
ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 16, 2018
Maybe the GEC can consult with Facebook’s VP of advertising, Rob Goldman, who noted that the majority of the Russian ad spend happened “AFTER the election,” and wasn’t intended to impact the election. Apparently dividing America by stoking political activism was their thing.
Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.
Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018
Just remember, it wasn’t Hillary’s fault that she lost – and the GEC will keep feeble-minded Americans safe and un-propagandized by foreign masterminds.