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Global Engagement Center Tasked With Combating Russian Propaganda Despite Funding Challenges

by Countable | 3.6.18

What’s the story?

The Global Engagement Center, an office of the State Department, is tasked with leading the U.S. government’s efforts to counter propaganda and disinformation from international terrorist organizations and foreign countries. The Trump administration, however, has neglected to spend any of the $120 million allocated by Congress since 2016 to counter anti-democratic propaganda by Russia and China, reports the New York Times.

The Center’s efforts are not to combat cyberattacks. The Center’s focus is messaging. According to the State Department website, the office works with other government agencies and private partners to create and disseminate content to combat terrorist propaganda in target areas around the globe.

In late 2016 Congress expanded the Center’s mission to fighting anti-democratic propaganda, allocating $60 million. Secretary of State Tillerson delayed requesting the funds from the Department of Defense until days before the end of the fiscal year, so the funds were not released. So far in fiscal year 2018, only $40 million of the $60 million allocated have been requested, and won’t be received by the Center until April.

Tillerson has expressed skepticism that Russian interference can be successfully countered, reports the Times:

"If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that. And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it."

Meanwhile, none of the Center’s staff speak Russian and department-wide hiring freezes have prevented staff expansion. Secretary Tillerson does not delegate spending decisions, and had a backlog of more than 1,400 funding requests waiting for sign-off at the end of last year.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Times he believes it is past time for the Center to secure the funds to do the work envisioned by Congress:

"It is well past time that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center gets the resources Congress intended for it to effectively fight Kremlin-sponsored disinformation and other foreign propaganda operations."

What do you think?

Is the Global Engagement Center focus on messaging important in combating Russian election interference? Do you agree with Secretary Tillerson’s skepticism about countering Russia or not? What do you want to see the State Department do about Russian election interference?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy In Moscow / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(29)
  • TexasProgressive210
    03/06/2018
    ···

    Tillerson is a Russian stooge, despite congressional allocation of $120 million dollars to combat Russian influence he's spent 0. After the shocking tell all released yesterday in the New Yorker, and the Kremlin directly compelling Trump to appoint Tillerson over Mitt Romney he's not going to do anything. But as I've said this is part with the assessment of the article and the dossier Complied by ex British MI6 agent. More over I am also under no impression that Trump the "so called President*" is a compromised Manchurian candidate who will do nothing to the Russian disinformationist and terrorist! They are a menace and will most certainly not go away! And to add another layer it should be noted that Almost all votes in the United States are counted by computer. Even keeping those machines off the internet (known as air gapping) doesn’t make the process hack-proof. A voting machine is programmed for each new election, with new candidate names and locations on the ballot, using a computer that typically is connected to the internet at some time. If that computer is infected with election-rigging malware, it can infect the voting machine, just as the Stuxnet Virus successfully attacked and infected air-gapped Iranian centrifuges. Pre-election testing of voting systems is not adequate – a sophisticated attack could have malware lie dormant during all pre-election tests, and then change votes on Election Day. An example of such software is the well-known Volkswagen diesel emissions software, which was designed to differentiate test mode from normal driving. Finally, the secrecy of individual ballots – a core principle of our democratic system – makes it very difficult to detect computer-based fraud, since it is essentially impossible for a voter to determine if his or her ballot was correctly tabulated. (There are some crypto-based systems that provide ballot verification, but none is commercially available

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  • German
    03/06/2018
    ···

    The republicans don’t want to do anything because the only way they win is by cheating. Gerrymandering, voter id’s, taking people off voter rolls, closing polling places earlier or making it harder for lower income people to vote. And now they desperately need Russians to help them. Why haven’t the republicans done anything to enforce sanctions against Russia? Russia teases us with new nukes and republicans say? Nothing! They have sold their souls to the devil and now our country to the Russians. Vote them out 2018!

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  • BeStrong
    03/06/2018
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    Mr Trump will tell us how much to fear the scary scary people crossing over our southern border but about those countries that commit acts of war against us...we get crickets. What’s the deal Mr Trump...is it easier for you to bully poor families and kids than to stand up to the powerful?

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  • Suzi
    03/06/2018
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    It’s clear that because of stubbornness, stupidity or greed the republicans currently in office won’t do anything to stop the Russians from destroying our democracy. Every one of you have failed the American people, may God have mercy on your souls.

    Like (6)
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  • Azrael
    03/06/2018
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    Get the funding and get to work

    Like (5)
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  • Joe
    03/06/2018
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    Where is the Republican outrage?

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  • Pittfancarl
    03/06/2018
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    If you allow Tillerson & Trump to continue in this manner, you are surrendering to our enemy in an ongoing war before firing a shot. You have the power to act to force these people to act in the best interests of We the People, or remove them from office!

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  • Clint
    03/06/2018
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    The Trump administration, however, has neglected to spend any of the $120 million allocated by Congress since 2016 to counter anti-democratic propaganda by Russia and China. Once again. Plain as day. He does nothing to protect this country or the people in it. He has been well on his way to tearing it all down and setting himself up as a dictator. He said it himself. Just like when he bragged about molesting woman. Every once in awhile he lets out the truth and everyone of you are letting him get away with it and I mean every one of you. That goes for anyone who voted for him and still stands with him. It’s stupid and childish we are even having these discussions as if we aren’t all aware of exactly what is going on.

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  • PaxAmericana
    03/06/2018
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    Russia is #FakeNews Let’s focus on some real problems, please!

    Like (4)
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  • Aaron
    03/06/2018
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    Secretary Tillerson is harming the country’s ability to protect and defend the United States without military action. His insistence on being the bottleneck for all significant State Department action is detrimental to all Americans. So far we have been lucky that no real crisis has arisen, but our luck will only hold for so long.

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  • Cheryl
    03/06/2018
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    Trump will not fund it and if Tillerson is in charge he is a great friend to the Russians. They have both profited and stand to gain millions from their relationships with the Russians. Where do we suppose their loyalties are?

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  • Debi
    03/06/2018
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    Get Trump & every last one of his appointees OUT!!! ALL OF US ARE DONE WITH ALL OF THEM! When I think of all the people that have served jail time for minuscule torts, I wonder how much jail time ALL THE WASHINGTON THUGS & THIEVES will get....our country is going down with The ______ President.

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  • KansasTamale
    03/06/2018
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    Need to take the millions of $$$ That Trump won’t give permission to be spent toward studying and combating Russian meddling in our elections and give it to this group to STOP RUSSIA.

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  • NoHedges
    03/06/2018
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    Do u know that for roughly 2k per year per student we could provide every student in the US with a evidenced based time tested curriculum that would prepare them with the skills and knowledge they need to compete in global economy. That includes the cost of a sound comprehensive and coherent technology curriculum with ample opportunities to develop key 21st skills. A cohesive curriculum that would enable students to move from state to state without the risk of skill gaps. A methodical system of learning that would engage students through hands on science, objective social studies, writing, reading, and even two separate math tracks. A program of instruction that would allow teachers the time to teach standards deeply and bring their unique experiential backgrounds into the classroom. A curriculum that provides the necessary data need to evaluate students performance separate from school/district/or state data. We could save children's lives, foster peace, decrease disaster related deaths, reduce maternal deaths, promote gender equality, reduce poverty, and realize similar GDP growth as our world peers.The curriculum has already been developed, tested, and adjusted right here in the US. It is used all over the world. A pre-k through high school whole-child curriculum that doesn't teach to the test, yet whose students test at the same level as students in Canada. Most importantly a curriculum that would end the billions being spent on lobbying and fuel our own economy. 🧐Sadly, until parents demand such a system the government is happy to go about cycle after cycle of experimental trials, and toying with our children's future.

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  • Mark
    03/07/2018
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    Rex Tillerson is weak. We are the United States of America, when we are united behind a common goal as a nation we put men on the moon. Russia is a weak, criminal state run by a small man who clings to his power, ever fearful his allies are plotting against him. We need leadership and good men and women willing to do what is right. 2018 is here, a change in leadership is coming.

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  • Phillip
    03/06/2018
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    Is this office even staffed? Perhaps that’s why they never spent any money. No one is home!

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  • Adam
    03/06/2018
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    I’m tired of the defeatist attitude that is so prominent in Washington when the issue is one that politicians don’t care about. “There is no point in regulating guns because criminals will just ignore us anyway...”, “there is no point in trying to stop Russian interference, they are just going to succeed anyway...”. What the hell are you people getting paid for? Try something, anything before you declare defeat!

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  • Christine
    03/06/2018
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    Tillerson is puty’s boy are we surprised he does nothing like puty’s boy djt? We have some high level traitors among us.

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  • Kelly
    03/06/2018
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    Fund the state department and get on with cyber security!! Talk to your intelligence agencies!! They know what to do. Never forget Tillerson is Putin’s‘s best friend. He’s not going to do a dang thing to stop him or Trump from getting what they want. And that wouldn’t be a democratic functioning government. Fund this program and cyber security now!!

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  • Lisa
    03/06/2018
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    This Administration has spent more time with Russia and golfing than protecting the US. Either Trump and his administration could give a damn about proactively protecting democracy or Trump has laundered that money and we just haven’t figured it out!!!!

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