WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) announced that the Senate today passed the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, which includes their language to improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies. The language builds on their Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, legislation signed-into-law last year, by helping them to promote more seamless coordination between the Department of Defense and the State Department in countering foreign propaganda and disinformation. The FY 2018 NDAA now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Last year, the United States took a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our foreign adversaries by passing the bipartisan Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act. And today marks another step forward,” said Senator Portman. “By better coordinating and synchronizing our government’s response to foreign propaganda and disinformation, the United States will be more successful in ensuring that our ideas win. I am confident that, with the help of our bipartisan bill and proper coordination between government agencies, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail. I urge the President to sign this measure immediately.”
“Terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation threaten our national security every single day. Congress is finally taking these threats seriously. I’m proud to partner again with Senator Portman to ensure the Global Engagement Center has the resources and support to fight back against our enemies and adversaries,” said Senator Murphy.
NOTE: Specifically, the FY 2018 NDAA will consolidate the Department of Defense information operations and cyber-enabled information operations within a single task force that would be linked to the Global Engagement Center, which was established by their legislation last year. By incorporating the Department of Defense’s operational capabilities and resources with the State Department’s overarching strategic guidance and civilian grant programs, the United States will be better situated to counter foreign propaganda. The language also requires regional Combatant Commanders to coordinate with the relevant Assistant Secretary of State in submitting a regional information strategy to counter propaganda and disinformation from our adversaries. Currently, DoD and State often pursue separate regional agendas. In an area like disinformation, better coordination is critical because modern information war leverages both military and non-military means. The bipartisan Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced to improve the coordination of counter disinformation efforts throughout our government, was incorporated into the FY 2017 NDAA.