The U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), which is tasked with countering disinformation, has been unable to completely fulfill its aim of exposing foreign propaganda, according to the department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The GEC was established in 2016 to counter terrorist propaganda, and its role was later expanded to coordinate government efforts and various agencies for countering and exposing foreign disinformation. The center has a budget of $74 million and employs 167 staff members who are mostly non-government contractors.
The OIG found that there was a lack of coordination across the U.S. government departments to counter disinformation programs. Multiple government agencies who were 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 began their own separate agency efforts to counter propaganda. Even within the State Department itself, the Bureau of Counterterrorism officials had a “challenging” relationship with one of the divisions at GEC, according to the report.
Russian and CCP PropagandaThe GEC leadership admitted during the OIG investigation that the problem of disinformation is “serious 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 ongoing disinformation about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines produced in the United States.
Of the two, Anderson feels Russia has perfected the use of propaganda as a tactic. “They mixed a percentage of truth with a slightly higher percentage of misinformation or propaganda and delivered it to an audience that was already inclined to hear it,” he said. The tactic proved to be effective in “affecting the way those people thought about certain topics.”