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U.S. spy chief creates a new head of election security for intelligence agencies

Image: Daniel Coats
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 29, 2019. Copyright Jose Luis Magana AP file
Copyright Jose Luis Magana AP file
By Ken Dilanian with NBC News Tech and Science News
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DNI Dan Coats announced Friday he has appointed a career official, Shelby Pierson, to serve as the first intelligence community election threats executive.


ASPEN, Colo. — The nation's top spy has created a new job to coordinate the U.S. response to election security threats.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced Friday he has established the position of intelligence community election threats executive — and appointed a career official, Shelby Pierson, to serve in this new role.

Pierson wiill serve as the DNI's principal adviser on threats to elections and matters related to election security, the DNI said in a statement. She will coordinate and integrate all election security activities, initiatives, and programs across spy agencies and synchronize intelligence efforts in support of the broader U.S. government, the DNI said.

"Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC," Coats said. "In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue. There is no one more qualified to serve as the very first election threats executive than Shelby Pierson, whose knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission."

Coats also directed the FBI, the CIA and other spy agencies to name a single, senior-executive lead for election security for each agency.

Coats's move came amid growing concern about foreign threats to the 2020 election, and little evidence that the Trump White House is engaged on the issue.

Pierson served as the DNI's crisis manager for election security during the 2018 midterm elections and has served for more than two decades in intelligence jobs, the DNI said,

Coats also announced the creation of an Intelligence Community Election Executive and Leadership Board, chaired by Pierson. Members of this board are senior executives from across the government who will coordinate the response to election threats, Coats said.

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