US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee has suggested it would behoove the incoming administration for reviving the defunct U.S. Information Agency, or USIA, as a bulwark against the powerful propaganda operation of Moscow.
“We could do with having a USIA on steroids to fight this information war [with Russia] a lot more aggressively than we’re doing right now,” said Clapper.
Clapper was sworn in as the fourth Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on August 9, 2010. He leads the United States Intelligence Community and serves as the principal intelligence advisor to the President.
The USIA was officially shuttered in 1999. Clapper said resuscitating and revamping the agency that used to focus on pro-U.S. messaging into social media networks would prove to be a good choice to counter Russian-sponsored media outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik. “[Russia Today] was very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights,” he said. “Whatever crack, fissure they could find in our tapestry, they would exploit it,” added Clapper.
Presently, the aging State Department-run Voice of America is the closest capability Washington has to offset the growing influence of Russia Today across the globe. A similar anti-propaganda mission is carried out by the State Department’s Bureau of Counter-terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism but it focuses on fundamentalist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda.