DNI creates agency to fight foreign ‘disinformation’
The United States established a foreign malign influence center to respond to foreign threats to elections and “public opinion” Domestically, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes revealed at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.
FMIC operates under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and has access to “All intelligence owned or created related to foreign malicious information, including election security.” Its director, Jeffrey Wichman, was a former head of analysis at the CIA’s Counterintelligence Mission Center.
For the purposes of the agency, “foreign” means a person from Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, or “Any other foreign country in the opinion of the Director of the Center” deems it appropriate, while “malicious foreign influence” is defined as “any hostile act committed by, or under the direction of, on behalf of, or with the substantial support of,” Designate one of the countries to covertly or overtly influence U.S. government or national policy or “Public opinion in the United States.”
While the FMIC was apparently formed in September in response to recent legislation, Thursday’s hearing was the first public reference to its existence. Its creation was controversial because some senators and intelligence officials questioned the need for another agency with the same remit as the Center for Global Engagement, the State Department subsidiary tasked with spreading U.S. propaganda to combat foreign breeds.
Haynes addressed some of those concerns at Thursday’s hearing, insisting the FMIC is working to “Supports the Center for Global Engagement and other agencies of the U.S. government by helping them understand the plans and intentions of the key players in the field: China, Russia, Iran, etc.”
Countering ‘foreign disinformation’ has become something of an obsession for government bureaucrats since the 2016 election of Donald Trump, with half a dozen agencies springing up since then. The Office of Perception Management, which joins the Department of Homeland Security’s Foreign Influence and Interference Branch, the Anti-Foreign Influence Task Force, and the ill-fated Disinformation Governance Council, as well as the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force.
However, Pentagon contractor RAND Corporation recently admitted that Russia’s role may be overblown.Blaming Moscow for all the information Washington doesn’t like could backfire, the think tank warned in a study last year, urging the Defense Department to reduce “Over-attribution of disinformation on social media to Russia.”
“With every semblance of Russian meddling on social media, targeting Russia distorts the understanding of the threat,” reported.