State Department agency fails to fully counter disinformation campaigns abroad, says Watchdog


The US State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), which is tasked with combating disinformation, has been unable to fully fulfill its purpose of exposing foreign propaganda, according to the Office of Inspector General ( OIG) of the department.

“Despite having a clear legal mandate to coordinate departmental and interagency efforts to counter propaganda and disinformation by foreign state and non-state actors, the center’s inherited organizational structure, insufficient internal controls to properly manage contractors and a limited strategic planning process have affected its ability to fully deliver on its mission,” says a September 15 OIG report (pdf).

The GEC was created in 2016 to counter terrorist propaganda, and its role was later expanded to coordinate government and various agency efforts to counter and expose foreign disinformation. The center has a budget of $74 million and employs 167 people who are mostly non-governmental contractors.

The OIG found that there was a lack of coordination among US government departments to counter disinformation programs. Multiple government agencies involved in countering disinformation sometimes had “competing coordination mandates.”

The Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have launched their own separate efforts to counter the propaganda. Even within the State Department itself, Office of Counterterrorism officials had a “difficult” relationship with one of the GEC divisions, according to the report.

The lack of coordination has hurt US efforts to expose disinformation. “Foreign actors are spending billions of dollars on disinformation campaigns to establish and legitimize their narratives using ever-changing technology, requiring an agile response from the U.S. government,” the report said.

Russian propaganda and CCP

GEC leadership admitted during the OIG investigation that the problem of misinformation is “severe and growing.”

The report alleges that prominent examples of such campaigns targeting U.S. national security include attempts to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, as well as continued misinformation about the safety of state-produced COVID-19 vaccines. -United.

A 2021 report from the Digital Forensic Research Lab of Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council found China to be the most active country in spreading misinformation regarding the origin of the COVID-19 virus. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) withheld information about the outbreak from the public and silenced eight medical whistleblowers at the time.

The Russian government and the CCP regime have learned that spreading disinformation helps sow distrust of the United States and win over foreign audiences, said Evan Anderson, CEO of INVNT/IP, an organization that fights against state-sponsored intellectual property theft. interview with The Epoch Times.

Of the two, Anderson believes that Russia has perfected the use of propaganda as a tactic. “They mixed a percentage of truth with a slightly higher percentage of disinformation or propaganda and delivered it to an audience that was already inclined to hear it,” he said. The tactic was found to be effective in “affecting the way these people thought about certain topics”.

JM Phelps contributed to this report.


Naveen Athrappully is a reporter and covers world affairs and events at The Epoch Times.


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