During a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Oversight & Accountability, Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) questioned the Global Engagement Center’s (GEC) ability to reject legitimate “disinformation” as it could affect global conflicts and disputes.
An example of a scenario such as this includes the recent missile that hit near a Gaza hospital.
Initially, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that it was an Israeli missile that hit the hospital directly, killing 500 civilians.
Prominent news outlets such as The New York Times ran the story, despite not properly fact-checking the source’s validity. It turns out, it was a rocket fired within Gaza that hit the parking lot adjacent to the Gaza hospital, killing “probably at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum” a U.S. intelligence report predicted.
Due to events such as this, Rep. Mast called out the GEC and its acting coordinator Daniel Kimmage for their inadequacies.
“The State Department’s anti-disinformation apparatus has failed to quickly and publicly counter blatant disinformation in many cases. This case highlights the problem that I have with GEC, Mr. Kimmage. We know very little about the day-to-day operations. According to an OIG (Officer of the Inspector General) report, GEC’s leadership was ‘unable to determine whether it was meeting its strategic goals and objectives to counter state-sponsored disinformation,’” said Rep. Mast.
He went on to mention, “If GEC isn’t countering real-time disinformation that is damaging one of our greatest allies, what is it focused on? A few examples that we can point to seem to form a problematic problem.”
Furthermore, Mast reminded the committee that it is their job to “determine what the problems are” relating to GEC.
“In the next year, this committee will decide whether or not GEC should be reauthorized. At this moment, we will determine what the problems are, if there are solutions to fixing any of those problems, and whether this should be reauthorized. The first problem that I see is actually fulfilling your mission to counter disinformation from foreign sources. I don’t believe that you’ve adequately – in your statement – quantified your success in doing so,” said the Florida congressman.
In a blog post regarding the hearing, Mast concluded his statement by saying GEC is “certainly not an acceptable use of your tax dollars.”