The new Foreign Malign Influence Center oversees efforts that span U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic agencies.
Within the federal government, offices dedicated to fighting foreign disinformation are springing up like daisies, from the Pentagon’s new Influence and Perception Management Office to at least four organizations inside the Department of Homeland Security alone, as well as ones inside the FBI and State Department.
To oversee the growing efforts — which arose in response to concerns about the impact of Russian meddling in the 2016 election but have now expanded — the director of national intelligence has created a new office.
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.”
The FMIC was established on September 23 of last year after Congress approved funding, but its creation was announced publicly only after The Intercept’s inquiry. Because it is situated within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, it 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.
The FMIC is authorized to counter foreign disinformation targeting not just U.S. elections, but also “the public opinion within the United States” generally, according to the law….