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Goodkind writes: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left the allocated money untouched while expressing doubts that his department could effectively do anything to stop Russia, the report said."

Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. (photo: Reuters)
Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. (photo: Reuters)


Trump State Department Has Spent None of $120 Million Allocated to Fight Russia Meddling

By Nicole Goodkind, Newsweek

08 March 18

 

he State Department has spent $0 of its allocated $120 million to fight Russian election meddling, according to a new report by The New York Times.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left the allocated money untouched while expressing doubts that his department could effectively do anything to stop Russia, the report said. “If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” he said during a Fox News interview last month.

The Department’s Global Engagement Center, which works to combat Russian propaganda and social media efforts to influence voters through anti-propaganda projects and by boosting pro-democracy voices, has just 23 employees and none of them speak Russian, according to the Times. The center is also unable to hire the staff it needs due to a hiring freeze. 

Congress allocated $60 million to prevent Russian attacks in late-2016, but Secretary Tillerson took seven months to decide if should spend the money. When he did ask for it, the fiscal year was nearly over and his request was denied, reported the Times. Another $60 million is available this year but the State Department and Department of Defense are once again at an impasse on whether to spend the money.

The Times report comes just days after Admiral Mike Rogers, who heads the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress that President Donald Trump had not given him the authority to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate. "They have not paid a price that is sufficient to change their behavior," he said.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Legislators last month that the United States is under attack and that “there should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

“Despite the unanimous consensus of our intelligence agencies that Russia interfered, continues to interfere, and will continue to interfere in our elections, including those coming up this year, the President has still failed to provide the ‘whole of society’ response that we need in order to address this serious national security threat," Senator Mark Warner, ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Newsweek.

"This is just a another data point that this administration does not take the threat seriously despite our intelligence agencies sounding the alarm around our preparedness for 2018 elections. The administration has consistently underutilized the State Department despite its potential to mobilize expertise and conduct diplomacy in building alliances and coordinating defenses in confronting this threat,” he continued. 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his doubt that Russians played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election. During a February press conference, Trump told reporters that the allegations were “a ruse.” In May 2017, the president justified his firing of former FBI director James Comey by calling Russian interference a hoax. “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,’” he told NBC’s Lester Holt.


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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-08 14:46
Maybe this money is going unspent, but the State Department is pumping millions, maybe even hundreds of millions, into right wing think tanks in order to gin up public opinion against Russia.

What would the State Department spend the money on anyway? Do you pay Russian trolls to stop posting anything on the net? Google and the rest of social media is already working overtime to lock down the part of the web they control --i.e., most of it.

It is not just that Trump has expressed doubt that Russians played any role in influencing the elections, everyone who has looked at the issue has come to the same conclusion. There may be a few die-hards like Schiff or Warner, but no one else believes that Russians had any effect of Hillary's defeat.
 
 
+1 # Caliban 2018-03-08 14:53
"President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his doubt that Russians played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election".

Why would we expect any other response than this? The Trumpster clearly likes being in charge of the whole country. He will do --
or NOT do -- whatever is necessary to keep his place at the top.
 
 
-1 # Robbee 2018-03-08 15:40
Trump State Department Has Spent None of $120 Million Allocated to Fight Russia Meddling, 08 March 18

Tillerson says - “If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,”

"The Department’s Global Engagement Center, which works to combat Russian propaganda and social media efforts to influence voters through anti-propaganda projects and by boosting pro-democracy voices ... is unable to hire staff it needs due to a hiring freeze."

- that's the spirit! if at first you don't succeed, throw in the towel! - "no mas!"

for one thing 1) why would dickhead's fascist swamp creature wanna combat Russian propaganda here? or 2) boost pro-democracy voices anywhere?

not that i want dickhead to overrun rsn with fascist swamp creature comments, like putin does, but how much does putin spend? ginning up pro-patin fascist comments, here on rsn?

Quoting Krackonis 2018-02-14 11:56:
I'm pretty amazed how divided American's are. From the outside, it's pretty obvious how you are being played.

- it is strangely comforting that the far-away, great putin invests trolls right here on little, 'ol rsn!

we must have some importance! - even if it's only that we tend to throw-away our vote! on dead-horse jillie! - what if we stop? for putin? and his puppet dickhead? that would not be so good? would it?

"Next time, we must resolve to MAKE OUR VOTE COUNT!" - (caps in original) - bernie
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2018-03-08 21:02
The biggest danger to our elections is still the Republican's. The money should be reallocated to fight voter suppression. Distorted postings to social media are no more a danger if they are posted by Russians or Americans, that is negligible. Correct the record is no better than a Russian troll farm which has not convincingly been linked to the Russian gov't in any case. I did not want to see any money spent on internet censorship which is what they would be doing if they were spending the money.
 
 
0 # CDMR 2018-03-09 10:17
Yes, agree

Why are so few saying this? Maybe they do not know. Or maybe their logic is that republicans are americans so they can do whatever they want. Trolls are Russian so they shoul not be allowed to do anything.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2018-03-09 21:05
Quoting CDMR 2018-03-09 10:17:
Trolls are Russian so they shoul not be allowed to do anything.

- an interesting point! - yet i doubt marc can block putin's trolls from this website - plus they help me make my points!

i prefer to point them out - show how their words betray their mission - remind folks that they are here to sew discord - to try to develop a nonsense consensus that between dems and repukes there is no difference - and, finally, to remind those easily diverted, of differences that dems, even the least progressive, fight for every day, often at the cost of seats in congress!

the shortest path to progress lies not thru putin's russia, but thru reform of the dem party!

bernie is quite a leader, isn't he? - from when he started in mid-2015, in numbers progressives are breaking new ground, running for more progress than before!

the dem party? - lets take this party!
 

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