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US Defers Launch of Foreign Malign Influence Center

Intelligence center


US Defers Launch of Foreign Malign Influence Center

Division among lawmakers in Congress continues to derail the launch of the Foreign Malign Influence Center, which was envisioned to lead efforts to stop interference by foreign adversaries.

Talks about creating the intelligence center surfaced in 2019 but Congress has yet to finalize its mission, budget and size while the person identified as a potential director has received a different assignment.

Despite expressing support, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., raised concerns about possible duplication of efforts as there are already existing government efforts to fight foreign interference, the Associated Press reported.

“I don’t have any real doubt that we will ultimately stand the center up in the relatively near future, but we need to be sure we get it right,” said Warner, a past Potomac Officers Club member.

Jessica Brandt, an expert on foreign interference and disinformation at the Brookings Institution, countered concerns about the unnecessary duplication that the center could end up causing. According to Brandt, who is also a past POC speaker, while government agencies such as the FBI and the National Security Agency have long worked on foreign interference, the efforts are disorganized and do not build a coherent threat picture.

When Congress authorized the creation of the center in 2019, the plan was to have the Office of the Director of National Intelligence lead its launch.

One of the people close to the matter said William Evanina, the former chief of ODNI’s counterintelligence center, offered to take responsibility for the Foreign Malign Influence Center at the time. However, the plan did not pan out as Evanina’s office ultimately refused to go the said route.

Suzanne Spaulding, an election security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and another past POC speaker, urged the U.S. government to act quickly, citing the national security threat posed by disinformation.

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Category: Speaker News

Tags: Associated Press Congress disinformation Foreign Malign Influence Center Intelligence Community Jessica Brandt Mark Warner Office of the Director of National Intelligence Speaker News Suzanne Spaulding