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Intel chief Dan Coats creates new role to coordinate election security efforts

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced on Friday the creation of a new, senior-level position within the intelligence community whose focus will be on coordinating its election security efforts.

The announcement comes amid recurrent warnings by U.S. officials that adversaries and competitors – including Russia, China and Iran – are likely to attempt to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.

The election threats executive (ETE), as the position will be known, will serve as the DNI's main adviser "on threats to election security" and will "coordinate and integrate all election security activities, initiatives, and programs" across the intelligence community and other government agencies, according to a statement released by Coats.

The ETE will also chair a board focused on election threats and composed of senior intelligence and government officials, the statement said. Coats called on other agencies with a role in election security to identify a single, senior official to lead those efforts.

The DNI named Shelby Pierson, a career intelligence official who played a key role during the 2018 midterm elections, to the new position.

"Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC," Coats said. "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."

A senior intelligence official who briefed reporters last month said "unknown actors" continued to target internet-connected U.S. infrastructure and that foreign influence operations remain a "considerable area of concern."

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