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Former Naval combat aviator and journalist Lea Gabrielle is leaving journalism for the time being to take a position at the State Department. She will be leading its counterpropaganda efforts, according to The Hill.
Gabrielle worked at Fox News until last year and was employed with NBC News prior to that.
The journalist’s official position will be the head of the Global Engagement Center, working to stop the spread of terrorist messaging and debunk disinformation from foreign sources.
Gabrielle told Foreign Policy online that the top propaganda threats to the United States currently are China, Russia, Iran and various terrorist entities that wish to harm the U.S.
“We have to realize that we are under attack by adversary countries and international terrorist organizations that are using propaganda and disinformation as a weapon,” she told the magazine.
“They’re doing it because it’s cheap, and it’s easy, and because they can.”
The GEC, which was originally designed to combat false messaging from terrorists, has expanded to deal with all sorts of propaganda and disinformation, according to Foreign policy.
State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino announced during a press briefing that Gabrielle will work as the special envoy and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center, CNN reported.
“Lea will provide the permanent leadership we have needed to bolster the Global Engagement Center’s operations. And she will begin her duties on Monday,” Palladino said.
“Lea is a former CIA-trained human intelligence operations officer, defense foreign liaison officer, United States Navy program director, Navy FA-18/C fighter pilot, and national television news correspondent and anchor at two different networks,” Palladino added.
The department has previously suffered from a lack of funding, however, within the last year, politicians have insisted that the GEC once again receive the funding that it needs to function at peak performance.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who has been a champion of the GEC, said in a statement that he is “looking forward” to working with Gabrielle.
“As we fight to ensure that the GEC is fully funded and staffed, I hope she’ll be able to elevate the profile and importance of the work that the GEC does to combat propaganda and disinformation,” he said.
Gabrielle has requested $55 million in funding for the 2019 fiscal year, but that budget amount could increase to $115 million, according to Foreign Policy, who cited a State Department spokeswoman.
“Since Secretary Pompeo came into office the GEC has been a priority and has received its full funding,” the spokeswoman told Foreign Policy in an email.