With the Biden administration elevating disinformation to a national security threat, as codified in its first-of-its-kind National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, published in June 2021, new government (and non-government) offices dedicated to fighting foreign disinformation are cropping up everywhere.
To oversee organizations like the Pentagon's new Influence and Perception Management Office and at least four organizations inside the Department of Homeland Security alone, the Director of National Intelligence has created a new office - the Foreign Malign Influence Center, The Intercept reports.
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.”
Established on September 23 of last year after Congress provisioned funding, the FMIC was only announced publicly after The Intercept inquired. The group, operating under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), '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," according to the report.
That said, it isn't just monitoring foreign threats... as the FMIC is also authorized to monitor "the public opinion within the United States."
"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.," said Haines, who made clear that the effort to counter disinformation has expanded beyond just elections and Russia.
"The threat to U.S. democratic processes and institutions from foreign malign influence is persistent and dynamic," according to an undated FMIC fact sheet noted by Just the News. "Informing efforts to counter it requires constant attention, a whole-of-government approach, support from the private sector, and engagement from the public."
More via Just the News,
Though its name starts with "foreign," FMIC's congressionally determined objective includes protecting American "public opinion," suggesting the potential for policing domestic narratives.
Journalism participants in an Aspen Institute exercise before the 2020 election, intended to prevent the spread of "hack-and-dump" disinformation from foreign governments, were explicitly told their suspects were "foreign or other adversarial entities," meaning domestic sources.
"It's the basic rhetorical trick of the censorship age: raise a fuss about a foreign threat, using it as a battering ram to get everyone from congress to the tech companies to submit to increased regulation and surveillance," Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi wrote Friday. "Then, slowly, adjust your aim to domestic targets."
The hypocritical major-media plot in advance to suppress The Post's Hunter Biden reporting https://t.co/DJ4pO0vWYw— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) May 6, 2023
(Read the rest here)
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2. The Foreign Malign Influence Center is operated under the ODNI— Name Redacted (@NameRedacted247) February 23, 2023
Jeffrey Wichman, former 30 year CIA agent, is the acting Director of #FMIC
Wichman, for lack of a better term, is the defacto leader of the “Thought Police” pic.twitter.com/6rFBXChKx3
4. Opening of the Foreign Malign Influence Center was delayed for 2 years as disagreements remained between the Intelligence Community & Congress over its size & mission— Name Redacted (@NameRedacted247) February 23, 2023
According to a “source”, Bill Evanina offered to take #FMIC under his authority https://t.co/g8yGU8sn1m
6. After widespread public outrage over the DHS Disinformation Governance Board, why is no one talking about the Foreign Malign Influence Center?— Name Redacted (@NameRedacted247) February 23, 2023
With identical missions, it has just been given a new name & operates under a different Intelligence Agency- ODNI pic.twitter.com/BSfTVho8m1