Mind Control & Propaganda
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U.S. ends ban on 'domestic propaganda'

US-Agency-for-Global-Media BBG logoRT.com
July 15, 2013

It’s being branded by proponents as an attempt at transparency, but critics of a new law say the United States government just got the green-light to use propaganda made for foreign audiences on the American public.

Until earlier this month, a longstanding federal law made it illegal for the US Department of State to share domestically the internally-authored news stories sent to American-operated outlets broadcasting around the globe. All of that changed effective July 2, when the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was given permission to let US households tune-in to hear the type of programming that has previously only been allowed in outside nations.

The BBG is the independent government agency that broadcasts Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other networks created “to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy" - and a new law now allows the agency to provide members of the American public with program materials originally meant to be disseminated abroad.

The Smith-Mundt Act has ensured for decades that government-made media intended for foreign audiences doesn’t end up on radio networks broadcast within the US. An amendment tagged onto the National Defense Authorization Act removed that prohibition this year, however, and as of earlier this month those news stories meant for nations abroad can now be heard easily by American ears.

Back in 1972, Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright equated those government stories with propaganda when he said they "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics.” A couple of current lawmakers were singing a different tune when they proposed the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 last year, though, which became official just two weeks ago.

When Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced their changes last year, they said their bill would modify “a Cold War-era law that hampers diplomatic, defense and other agencies’ ability to communicate in the twenty-first century.” Amid much debate, however, their argument quickly became one that focused less on ensuring Uncle Sam has his say within the media and more on making sure a taxpayer-funded program became available to those footing the costs.

Effective strategic communication and public diplomacy should be front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations,” Rep. Smith wrote in May 2012 in support of his bill. “An essential part of our efforts must be a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to counter their radical messages and undermine their recruitment abilities. To do this, Smith-Mundt must be updated to bolster our strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums – especially online.”

But a Buzzfeed article published days later by late journalist Michael Hastings opened a can of worms on Smith and Thornberry, and the lawmakers were forced to quickly diffuse critics who said their bill made it so that the government could effectuate propaganda on its own public. On his part, Thornberry told Foreign Policy that the BuzzFeed article and the subsequent blowback was “one level of sloppiness on top of another,” caused by an uninformed Hastings story being hijacked by pundits from other publications who were all the more ignorant. “And once something sensational gets out there, it just spreads like wildfire," said Thornberry.

"The idea that the State Department could be so effective as to impact domestic politics is just silly,” Thornberry told Foreign Policy last year. “This gives Americans the chance to see what the State Department is saying to people all over the world,” he insisted.

Weighing in to Foreign Policy one year later, BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil said that the maneuver is nothing more than to show Americans how their money is being spent abroad. "Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars - greater transparency is a win-win for all involved," she said.

In the wake of others’ comments, though — and the actual text of the legislation itself — critics can’t help but suggest that the latest amendment courtesy of Smith and Thornberry have opened the door for the use of propaganda to persuade the American public at a time when the popularity of both Congress and the president are lower than what either would prefer.

Those opinions and others could change, of course, if the American government can infiltrate the radio waves and introduce news aimed at specific demographics that has previously only been pushed outside of the US. The statement from Smith and Thornberry last year suggested that the Cold War-era legislation previously prevented a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based radio station with a large Somali-American audience from broadcasting a piece produced by the BBG’s Voice of America that rebutted efforts from Somalia’s al- Shabaab extremist group to recruit members within the US.

Even after the community was targeted for recruitment by al-Shabaab and other extremists, government lawyers refused the replay request, noting that Smith-Mundt tied their hands,” wrote the lawmakers.

"Somalis have three options for news" a former US government source with connections to the BBG told Foreign Policy. The source added that those three options are word of mouth, al-Shabaab or VOA Somalia.

"Those people can get al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn't get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia," the source said. "It was silly."

Previously, the legislation had the effect of clouding and hiding this stuff," the source said. "Now we'll have a better sense: Gee some of this stuff is really good. Or gee some of this stuff is really bad. At least we'll know now."

According to a document from the Office of the Federal Register published this week by Cryptome, the Smith-Thornberry act “does not require or prompt the public to take any action; rather, it functions to relieve the prohibition that prevented the Agency from responding to requests for program materials from the US public, US media entities or other US organizations.”

This rule benefits the public, media, and other organizations by allowing them to request and access BBG program materials, which previously could not be disseminated within the US,” it reads.

The rule applies only to media published by the State Department and does not involve any initiatives created or funded through the Pentagon.

This article was originally posted on Russia Today, and was used with permission.

 

 

The NDAA Legalizes The Use Of Propaganda On The US Public

 

Michael B Kelley
Business Insider
May 21, 2012

The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed. The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.

Thornberry said that the current law "ties the hands of America's diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way," according to Buzzfeed.

[More...]

 

Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban

Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank.

 

Michael Hastings
Buzzfeed
May18, 2012

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee's official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

[FULL ARTICLE...]

 

 

Obama Quietly Signs The "Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act" Into Law

 

Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge
December 26, 2016

Late on Friday, with the US population embracing the upcoming holidays and oblivious of most news emerging from the administration, Obama quietly signed into law the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $611 billion for the military in 2017.

In a statement, Obama said that:

Today, I have signed into law S. 2943, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This Act authorizes fiscal year 2017 appropriations principally for the Department of Defense and for Department of Energy national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe. It continues many critical authorizations necessary to ensure that we are able to sustain our momentum in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to reassure our European allies, as well as many new authorizations that, among other things, provide the Departments of Defense and Energy more flexibility in countering cyber-attacks and our adversaries’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles."

Much of the balance of Obama's statement blamed the GOP for Guantanamo's continued operation and warned that "unless the Congress changes course, it will be judged harshly by history," Obama said. Obama also said Congress failed to use the bill to reduce wasteful overhead (like perhaps massive F-35 cost overruns?) or modernize military health care, which he said would exacerbate budget pressures facing the military in the years ahead.

But while the passage of the NDAA - and the funding of the US military - was hardly a surprise, the biggest news is what was buried deep inside the provisions of the Defense Authortization Act.

Recall that as we reported in early June, "a bill to implement the U.S.’ very own de facto Ministry of Truth had been quietly introduced in Congress. As with any legislation attempting to dodge the public spotlight the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016 marks a further curtailment of press freedom and another avenue to stultify avenues of accurate information. Introduced by Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Ted Lieu, H.R. 5181 seeks a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” to counter “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” which they believe threaten the world’s “security and stability.”Also called the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S. 2692), when introduced in March by Sen. Rob Portman, the legislation represents a dramatic return to Cold War-era government propaganda battles. “These countries spend vast sums of money on advanced broadcast and digital media capabilities, targeted campaigns, funding of foreign political movements, and other efforts to influence key audiences and populations,” Portman explained, adding that while the U.S. spends a relatively small amount on its Voice of America, the Kremlin provides enormous funding for its news organization, RT.

“Surprisingly,” Portman continued, “there is currently no single U.S. governmental agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.”  

Long before the "fake news" meme became a daily topic of extensive conversation on such discredited mainstream portals as CNN and WaPo, H.R. 5181 would task the Secretary of State with coordinating the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response,” which will pinpoint sources of disinformation, analyze data, and — in true dystopic manner — ‘develop and disseminate’ “fact-based narratives” to counter effrontery propaganda.

In short, long before "fake news" became a major media topic, the US government was already planning its legally-backed crackdown on anything it would eventually label "fake news."

* * *

Fast forward to December 8, when the "Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act" passed in the Senate, quietly inserted inside the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report.

And now, following Friday's Obama signing of the NDAA on Friday evening, the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act is now law.

* * *

Here is the full statement issued by the generously funded Senator Rob Portman (R- Ohio) on the singing into law of a bill that further chips away at press liberties in the US, and which sets the stage for future which hunts and website shutdowns, purely as a result of an accusation that any one media outlet or site is considered as a source of "disinformation and propaganda" and is shut down by the government.

President Signs Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill into Law

Portman-Murphy Bill Promotes Coordinated Strategy to Defend America, Allies Against Propaganda and Disinformation from Russia, China & Others

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) today announced that their Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act – legislation designed to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations has been signed into law as part of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. The bipartisan bill, which was introduced by Senators Portman and Murphy in March, will improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies by establishing an interagency center housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government. To support these efforts, the bill also creates a grant program for NGOs, think tanks, civil society and other experts outside government who are engaged in counter-propaganda related work. This will better leverage existing expertise and empower our allies overseas to defend themselves from foreign manipulation. It will also help foster a free and vibrant press and civil society overseas, which is critical to ensuring our allies have access to truthful information and inoculating people against foreign propaganda campaigns.

“Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” Portman said. “But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas. With this bill now law, we are finally signaling that enough is enough; the United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. We are going to confront this threat head-on. I am confident that, with the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail.”

The use of propaganda to undermine democracy has hit a new low. But now we are finally in a position to confront this threat head on and get out the truth. By building up independent, objective journalism in places like eastern Europe, we can start to fight back by exposing these fake narratives and empowering local communities to protect themselves,” said Murphy. “I’m proud that our bill was signed into law, and I look forward to working with Senator Portman to make sure these tools and new resources are effectively used to get out the truth.”

NOTE: The bipartisan Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act is organized around two main priorities to help achieve the goal of combatting the constantly evolving threat of foreign disinformation from our enemies:

  • The first priority is developing a whole-of-government strategy for countering THE foreign propaganda and disinformation being wages against us and our allies by our enemies. The bill would increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China as well as non-state actors. The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies. The Center will develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations by our enemies and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.
  • Second, the legislation seeks to leverage expertise from outside government to create more adaptive and responsive U.S. strategy options. The legislation establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques. This fund will complement and support the Center’s role by integrating capabilities and expertise available outside the U.S. government into the strategy-making process. It will also empower a decentralized network of private sector experts and integrate their expertise into the strategy-making process.

* * *

And so, with the likes of WaPo having already primed the general public to equate "Russian Propaganda" with "fake news" (despite admitting after the fact their own report was essentially "fake"), while the US media has indoctrinated the public to assume that any information which is not in compliance with the official government narrative, or dares to criticize the establishment, is also "fake news" and thus falls under the "Russian propaganda" umbrella, the scene is now set for the US government to legally crack down on every media outlet that the government deems to be "foreign propaganda."

Just like that, the US Ministry of Truth is officially born.

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