Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Intercept ^ | 5/5/2023 | Ken Klippenstein

Posted on 05/05/2023 5:14:49 PM PDT by cuz1961

The new Foreign Malign Influence Center oversees efforts that span U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic agencies.

WITHIN THE FEDERAL government, offices dedicated to fighting foreign disinformation are springing up like daisies, from the Pentagon’s new Influence and Perception Management Office to at least four organizations inside the Department of Homeland Security alone, as well as ones inside the FBI and State Department.

To oversee the growing efforts — which arose in response to concerns about the impact of Russian meddling in the 2016 election but have now expanded — the director of national intelligence has created a new office.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines for the first time mentioned the creation of the Foreign Malign Influence Center, or FMIC. “Congress put into law that we should establish a Foreign Malign Influence Center in the intelligence community; we have stood that up,” Haines said, referring to legislation passed last year. “It encompasses our election threat work, essentially looking at foreign influence and interference in elections, but it also deals with disinformation more generally.”

The FMIC was established on September 23 of last year after Congress approved funding, but its creation was announced publicly only after The Intercept’s inquiry. Because it is situated within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, it enjoys the unique authority to marshal support from all elements of the U.S. intelligence community to monitor and combat foreign influence efforts such as disinformation campaigns.

The FMIC is authorized to counter foreign disinformation targeting not just U.S. elections, but also “the public opinion within the United States” generally, according to the law.

Haines also made clear that the effort to counter disinformation has expanded beyond not just elections and Russia, but also to other foreign adversaries: “What we have been doing is effectively trying to support the Global Engagement Center and others throughout the U.S. government in helping them to understand what are the plans and intentions of the key actors in this space: China, Russia, Iran, etc.” The GEC is a State Department entity tasked with countering foreign disinformation by amplifying America’s own propaganda.

Creation of the FMIC was debated in Congress for months, with senators questioning how its mission would differ from the bevy of entities that already exist. “We want to be sure that this center enhances those efforts rather than duplicating them or miring them in unnecessary bureaucracy,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in January 2022, adding that there were “legitimate questions about how large such an organization should be and even about where it would fit.” Reached for comment, Warner’s office said the senator’s position hasn’t changed.

U.S. Air Force Reserves intelligence officer Maj. Neill Perry echoed the concerns in a 2022 piece in the Army’s Cyber Defense Review, a West Point-funded journal. “The decision to create a new agency is puzzling for two reasons,” Perry wrote. “First, the FMIRC [Foreign Malign Influence Response Center, an earlier name for the FMIC] duplicates the mission of the GEC. The GEC already produces assessments on influence operations, including a team of thirty data scientists who monitor the public information environment and share their analysis with the State Department and interagency partners.

“Second, Congress did not elaborate on how the FMIRC would work with the GEC. In passing this legislation, Congress did not eliminate the GEC or reduce its mission. Not only does the GEC continue to exist, it may soon wield greater resources,” he wrote. “In May 2021, the Senate passed legislation that would double the GEC’s annual budget,” Perry added. The GEC’s current budget is $12 million, and the State Department has requested a $14 million budget for the next fiscal year.

From its perch atop the intelligence community, the FMIC has been designated the U.S. government’s primary authority for analyzing and integrating intelligence on foreign influence, according to a brief entry on ODNI’s website. The FMIC’s acting director, Jeffrey K. Wichman, is a former CIA executive who previously served as chief of analysis for the agency’s Counterintelligence Mission Center.

“Exposing deception in defense of liberty” is the center’s motto, ODNI’s website says. It enjoys access to “all intelligence possessed or created pertaining to FMI [foreign malign information], including election security.”

Foreign disinformation became a focus of the U.S. government after Russia’s state-sanctioned attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, which relied in part on bots and trolls to amplify falsehoods disseminated through social media. Following the election, Congress passed a bipartisan law, the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which established the State Department’s GEC.

Since then, government entities charged with combating foreign disinformation have proliferated. In the fall of 2017, the FBI established the Foreign Influence Task Force. In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security established the Countering Foreign Influence Task Force — which in 2021 was updated to include a misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation team — as well as a Foreign Influence and Interference Branch and last year, the Disinformation Governance Board.

The rapid and disjointed creation of these entities prompted the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to issue a report calling for a more coherent, unified strategy to counter disinformation.

More recently, the Pentagon created the Influence and Perception Management Office to oversee its various counter-disinformation efforts. As is often the case, no press release accompanied the office’s creation or any reference by the administration aside from this year’s budget request, which appears to be the only publicly available U.S. government reference to the office.

That foreign governments such as Russia spread lies as part of propaganda to advance their own interests is not in dispute. But the efforts to counter disinformation have now become a cottage industry that critics suggest has grown far out of proportion to the threat.

Last month, a Pentagon-funded think tank concluded that Russia’s efforts as of 2019 were not well coordinated and overstated in their impact. “The Russian disinformation machine has been neither well organized nor especially well resourced (contrary to some implications in popular media), and the impact of Russian efforts on the West has been uncertain,” a detailed RAND Corporation study concluded last year. The report called for greater efforts to “reduce overattribution of disinformation on social media to Russia,” warning that “pointing the finger at Russia in every instance of activity on social media resembling Russian interference distorts the understanding of the threat.” The study also stressed that “algorithms that merely pick up bots, pro-Russian content, or both on social media are liable to overattribute.”

Given its inherently subjective nature, what constitutes disinformation — and which disinformation or propaganda actually poses a threat — can quickly take on a political valence, as The Intercept has previously reported.

In 2021, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, mistakenly believed that Iran was behind the January 6 storming of the Capitol, despite abundant publicly available evidence that Trump supporters had been planning it.

Then, following widespread criticism for failing to anticipate the storming of the Capitol, the Department of Homeland Security, like many agencies, tried to get out ahead of other disruptions. On January 19, 2021, an intelligence assessment obtained by The Intercept showed that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis believed Iran might capitalize on the unrest ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. Titled “Iran Is Likely Seeking to Foment Inauguration Day Unrest,” the assessment cited “credible information,” according to a copy of the report. The next day, Biden was inaugurated with no issue.

“There was a big ramp-up in concern going into 2022 mostly because of a lot of foreign influence stuff in 2020, but then Election Day came and went without much incident as far as I saw,” a former Homeland Security contractor who worked with the misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation team told The Intercept, requesting anonymity to avoid professional reprisal. “There was very little midterm election-related disinformation coming from foreign actors from what I saw.


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: 1984; 2016election; 2017; 2018; 2019; 202101; 20210106; 202105; 202209; 20220923; avrilhaines; axisofevil; billayers; capitolriot; cfitf; china; cia; cmc; collins; creepstate; deepstate; dhs; fbi; fitf; fmerc; fmic; fmidod; fmirc; freedomofspeech; freespeech; gec; ipmo; iran; iranians; j6; j6iran; jeffreykwichman; jeffreywichman; jeffwichman; markwarner; ministryofpropaganda; minitru; odni; policestate; propaganda; refusefascism; russia; russianmeddling; singlepartystate; statedepartment; susancollins; theintercept; tyranny; waronfreedomofspeech; westexec; who; wichman; williamayers

1 posted on 05/05/2023 5:14:49 PM PDT by cuz1961
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

One pack of progs to rule them all.


2 posted on 05/05/2023 5:24:23 PM PDT by TLI (ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

The snowball we refer to as our nation is rolling downhill towards hell and moving faster than ever before. Our nation will melt immediately upon arriving at its final destination.

Thankfully, my Lord has a plan for that.

3 posted on 05/05/2023 5:28:07 PM PDT by CFW (old and retired)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961


4 posted on 05/05/2023 5:30:19 PM PDT by sauropod (“If they don’t believe our lies, well, that’s just conspiracy theorist stuff, there.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

5 posted on 05/05/2023 5:33:05 PM PDT by BenLurkin (The above is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion, or satire, or both.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

Biden says to cabinet: “I want a disinformation office.”

Cabinet says to Biden: “We already have several agencies covering disinformation.”

A dark figure leans over and whispers in Biden’s ear.

Biden says to cabinet: “I want another one.”

Dark figure whispers.

Biden says: “A bigger one.”

Dark figure hands Biden an ice cream cone.

6 posted on 05/05/2023 6:22:34 PM PDT by conservativeimage (Help Reassemble Civilian Government. Join Your State Assembly -
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

An office to combat domestic disinformation would be problematic. It would have to eliminate the entire FedMob government. And it would itself be part of the FedMob gov.

7 posted on 05/05/2023 6:40:48 PM PDT by TigersEye (Woke is a cancer of the mind and humanity)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

This is unAmerican, but America is gone, so it’s not a surprise.

8 posted on 05/05/2023 6:40:57 PM PDT by Trumpisourlastchance
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

Pathological liars are exposing lies.

What could possibly go wrong?

9 posted on 05/05/2023 6:50:53 PM PDT by cgbg (Claiming that laws and regs that limit “hate speech” stop freedom of speech is “hate speech”.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TigersEye

Foreign information/disinformation is domestic information/disinformation in the age of the Internet.

This is just good old fascist censorship.

10 posted on 05/05/2023 6:52:23 PM PDT by cgbg (Claiming that laws and regs that limit “hate speech” stop freedom of speech is “hate speech”.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Fedora; MadMax, the Grinning Reaper

Interesting bit about J6 and Iran ... I hadn’t heard that before.

11 posted on 05/05/2023 6:57:08 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cgbg


12 posted on 05/05/2023 6:59:56 PM PDT by TigersEye (Woke is a cancer of the mind and humanity)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: piasa; Fedora
In 2021, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, mistakenly believed that Iran was behind the January 6 storming of the Capitol, despite abundant publicly available evidence that Trump supporters had been planning it.

I must have missed this. Collins, a nevertrumper...thought this? Why would she have thought this? What evidence did she see? Note this is The Intercept, which was also involved in the case of the female military translator with the funny name and an affinity for Iran who leaked docs to hurt Trump.

13 posted on 05/05/2023 7:13:02 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: piasa; MadMax, the Grinning Reaper

I don’t know what Collins based that on, but I do know Bill Ayers announced he was launching a group called Dissenters in September 2020 and protesting Trump’s policies on Iran was one of the items on his agenda early that year. He’d been working with Iran for years before that:

One link between Ayers’s network and 1/6 would be Refuse Fascism—allied with both RCP and former members of Weather Underground—which had been actively organizing protests in DC since the 2016 inauguration. A related group would be Shut Down DC, which targeted Trump supporters at hotels in DC in December 2020.

* * *

Target Hotels for 12/12/2020 March for Trump
Shut Down DC collaborated with fellow Antifa groups designed to target Trump rally attendees in Washington, DC and intimidate hotels from hosting Trump supporters on December 11/12, 2020.[5]

The list of organizations taking part in the action:

Black Lives Matter DC
All Out DC
Autonomous Liberation Collective NYC
Baltimore Liberation Front
DC Youth Liberation
Front Fairfax Smash The Fash
Frederick Socialists
Generation Ratify
Liberty Union Party of Vermont
Maryland Youth Liberation Front
One People’s Project
Shut Down DC
Showing Up For Racial Justice DC
United Against Racism and Fascism-NYC
Wake Up 301
Petition to ‘enact emergency ban on tear gas before election’
Shut Down DC promoted a petition[6] to enact an “emergency ban on tear gas before election.” Supporting organizations included:

Black Lives Matter DC
Calvary Episcopal Church
Collective Action for Safe Spaces
Center for American Progress Union
DC Jobs With Justice
Delicious Democracy
Nonprofit Professional Employees Union
Shut Down DC
The DC Center
The Democratic Coalition
Women’s March
Occupation Free DC
“Force Trump out of the White House”
In an invitation[7] to sign up for an “organizing call” that took place on September 10th, Shut Down DC said in part:

“…it’s going to take all of us to create an uprising powerful enough to defend democracy and force Trump out of the White House.”
Shut Down DC further stated that their followers should “be in the streets before the polls even close [on November 3rd], ready to adapt and respond to whatever comes our way.”

Target 2020 RNC
Shut Down DC was present at protests at the Republican National Convention at the White House on August 27, 2020.[8]

* * *
Biden and Pelosi had tweeted support for these groups during the Strike for Black Lives in July 2020, co-organized by a key Biden link to the labor movement and supporters of Bernie Sanders, Mary Kay Henry of SEIU, which endorsed Biden that month.

14 posted on 05/05/2023 9:32:08 PM PDT by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

Another FedMonster to censor and jail conservatives.


GEC was involved heavily in the mass censorship of conservatives on Twitter and FB, as recently revealed by the Twitter Files (Thank God for Elon Musk).

GEC and this new beast need to be shut down completely.

15 posted on 05/06/2023 12:12:47 AM PDT by Basket_of_Deplorables (THE FBI INTERFERED IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cuz1961

What about mis info from the US government? Is that the sound ocrickets we hear.

16 posted on 05/16/2023 5:24:55 PM PDT by Nebr FAL owner (Treason is the reason for Democrat Sedition & Subversion)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson