Thursday, January 5, 2017

Clapper calls for U.S. Information Agency ‘on steroids’ to counter Russian propaganda

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: "Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States."  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
 - The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017
The nation’s top spy suggested Thursday that it would behoove the incoming administration to revive the defunct U.S. Information Agency, or USIA, as a bulwark against Moscow’s powerful propaganda operation.
“We could do with having a USIA on steroids to fight this information war [with Russia] a lot more aggressively than we’re doing right now,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Resuscitating and revamping the agency, which was officially shuttered in 1999, and focusing the organization’s pro-U.S. messaging into social media networks would go a long way in countering Russian-sponsored media outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik, Mr. Clapper said. 
“[Russia Today] was very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights,” he said. “Whatever crack, fissure they could find in our tapestry, they would exploit it,” via the state-owned news network.
Currently the aging State Department-run Voice of America is the closest capability Washington has in offsetting Russia Today’s growing influence across the globe.
The State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism carries out a similar anti-propaganda mission, but it focuses on fundamentalist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

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