22:12 GMT12 August 2020
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    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has approved spending nearly $60 million on countering terrorist propaganda and state-sponsored disinformation, a State Department official has confirmed to Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A US news outlet, Politico, reported in August that Tillerson was resisting the Department’s officials who wanted to spend $80 million on anti-propaganda efforts, including on countering Russia’s alleged disinformation campaign.

    "Last week, after significant consultations within the State Department… Secretary Tillerson approved the release of one source of funding, and approved the request for another," the official said, referring to $19.8 million in extra funding to target Islamist propaganda and another request for a transfer of $40 million from the Pentagon.

    The official stressed that Tillerson’s decisions came after a realignment of programs by the Global Engagement Center (GEC) to match national security priorities and make sure that this funding would be used effectively "to counter the messaging of international terrorist groups and state-sponsored disinformation."

    The Global Engagement Center is an interagency entity, housed at the State Department, tasked with coordinating US counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences. It was created in March 2016 to counter messaging from the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia).

    But former President Barack Obama last December signed the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which expanded the center's mandate, allowing it to counter messages from state actors like Russia and China.

    Russia has denied meddling in last year's election in the United States, and the Kremlin insists that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

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    Tags:
    Propaganda, U.S. Department of State, Rex Tillerson, United States
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