The State Department is launching a $40 million initiative to crack down on foreign propaganda and disinformation amid widespread concerns about future Russian efforts to interfere in elections. The department announced Monday that it signed a deal with the Pentagon to transfer $40 million from the Defense Department’s coffers to bolster the Global Engagement Center, an office set up at State during the Obama years to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. The new influx of funds will bolster the center’s operations in the current fiscal year.
“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,” Steve Goldstein, the department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, said in a statement.
“It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive.”
The announcement comes less than two weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly participating in an elaborate scheme to meddle in the 2016 presidential election by creating false U.S. personas and spreading divisive content on social media platforms.