US names intelligence official to counter election threats

Washington, Jan 15: The Biden administration has named a career CIA official to coordinate the intelligence community’s response to election threats from Russia, China and other adversaries.
Jeffrey Wichman was named election threats executive by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Friday, said Nicole de Haay, a spokeswoman for Haines. Wichman has served at the CIA for more than 30 years in top counterintelligence and cybersecurity roles, de Haay said. His appointment was first reported by The New York Times.
The appointment comes amid stalled efforts to create a new intelligence centre preventing foreign interference in American democracy. While experts and intelligence officials say the proposed Foreign Malign Influence Center is needed, the intelligence community and Congress have not agreed on the centre’s size and budget.
The election threats executive is responsible for coordinating all election security efforts across the 18-member intelligence community, which include agencies that detect and deter cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and efforts to influence politicians and policy debates.
The previous executive, Shelby Pierson, was in the spotlight after giving a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election in favour of former President Donald Trump. That angered Trump, who berated the then-director of national intelligence and later replaced him.
Pierson has since taken another intelligence post. (Agencies)