(New York, NY) — PEN America reacted with dismay to the news over the weekend that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence plans to discontinue in-person briefings to congressional leaders about foreign attempts to interfere in the 2020 elections. On August 28, the director of national intelligence, former Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe, wrote to congressional leaders to announce that henceforth only written briefings would be provided to Congress on the subject. It was left unstated if public reports to the American people about threats by foreign adversaries, including their deployment of disinformation campaigns on social media platforms, would continue.

“The evasion of congressional oversight that this represents, by staying away from meetings where elected members of congress are able to pose questions and receive answers on matters that may not be not included in written products, makes a mockery of longstanding non-partisan cooperation on vital national security matters,” said PEN America Washington Director Thomas O. Melia. “At a time when the president himself has been documented seeking to mislead the American public about real versus imaginary threats to the integrity of our elections, it is appalling that one of his political appointees would end the practice of sharing intelligence on one of the most critical issues of our time: the nefarious attempt by certain foreign governments to undermine our democratic elections with disinformation.”

PEN America has published thorough reports on the role played by disinformation in the U.S. elections of 2016 and 2018.