State Department touts counter-propaganda funds without mentioning Russia

The State Department will get $40 million in new funding to fight disinformation from foreign countries, the agency s...

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 6:07 PM
Updated: Feb 26, 2018 6:07 PM

The State Department will get $40 million in new funding to fight disinformation from foreign countries, the agency said Monday in a long-awaited announcement that avoided mentioning Russia by name.

The funding for the State Department's Global Engagement Center had been a source of tension between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and lawmakers -- not because it wasn't available, but because Tillerson waited months before requesting the money from the Department of Defense.

Congress had mandated the initiative to counter propaganda and disinformation after Russia's meddling in the 2016 US election. Lawmakers and career foreign service officers were deeply critical when Tillerson didn't move to use any of the funding, and cited his inaction as another example of the agency's dysfunction.

In Monday's announcement, the State Department said the $40 million will be used, in part, to create an Information Access Fund that will support public and private partners who focus on fighting back against foreign disinformation.

"Civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, and academic institutions will be eligible to compete for grants" from the GEC to counter propaganda and disinformation, the department said in a statement.

Senior US officials have repeatedly warned that Russia is already targeting the US midterm elections in November, while Tillerson has spoken of Russian attempts to interfere with elections in Europe and warned Mexico about Moscow meddling in elections there set for July. President Donald Trump still hasn't publicly and unequivocally accepted the unanimous findings of US intelligence agencies that Russia worked to interfere in the 2016 race.

"This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight," said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein.

"It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive," Goldstein said in a statement.

The GEC is a multiagency effort created in 2016 and housed at the State Department. It replaced an earlier group that was charged with fighting online messaging from terror groups such as the Islamic State, but was frequently criticized for being ineffectual.

In its new form, and with this new funding, the State Department will initially award $5 million in grants from the Information Access Fund, and will consult with Congress about $1 million in "seed money" from a public diplomacy account "to kick start the initiative quickly."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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