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U.S. Names Official to Counter Foreign Election Interference

  • January 15, 2022

But some congressional aides said that leaving the position empty for four months was a missed opportunity to quickly undo the damage to the office that occurred at the end of the Trump administration, when Ms. Pierson was blocked from briefing Congress.

Other former intelligence officers said that the leadership vacuum had caused much of the coordinating operation to go on hiatus. Without an election threats executive, sharing information among several intelligence agencies has proved difficult.

Part of the reason the job was not immediately filled was that intelligence officials had intended to expand the election threats executive’s team into a wider malign foreign influence center. While the annual defense policy bill that Mr. Trump signed into law in 2019 created such a center, Congress has not yet funded it.

The malign influence center was originally the idea of Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who is now the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The center, he said this week, would address both foreign efforts to influence elections and “counter the full spectrum of these threats, which continue to evolve.”

It would focus on a range of countries trying to influence the United States, not just China and Russia.

While various intelligence agencies are trying to fight malign influence campaigns, Mr. Reed said there was not enough coordination across departments. As the midterm elections approach and other countries seek to use information warfare to undermine infrastructure, the economy and the military, it is critical to get the center running, he said.

Last year, Ms. Haines, the director of national intelligence, proposed reallocating positions to create a small center of up to 15 people without adding new jobs, congressional aides said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/14/us/politics/foreign-election-interference.html

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