UPDATE: Although we were able to defeat this piece of legislation the first time around, Thornberry and his co-sponsors were able to sneak it through in the next session and The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act was signed into law. The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance, the consequence of inattention is tyranny. ~ KrisAnne
Once again, the National Defense Authorization Act is used as a Trojan horse to unload a dangerous threat on America. This time it is offered up in an amendment sponsored by Representative Thornberry from Texas and its called Dissemination of Information Abroad. This bill has also been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a separate bill titled HR 5736, The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. This bill will overturn a prohibition that has been in place since 1948 and make it possible for the US Government to fund the dissemination of propaganda to influence American citizens.
Immediately, the question comes up, why should we care? Isn’t domestic propaganda something that this administration has been engaging since 2008? Would any of us disagree that the mainstream media is a tool of this administration? Read on and see just why there should be national outrage over this bill.
Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information through an executive order with the purpose of influencing American public opinion toward supporting the US involvement in World War I. The man appointed to be the chairman over this committee was George Creel, a well renowned investigative journalist and editor of the Rocky Mountain News.
In 1942, FDR established the United States Office of War Information by executive order to “truthfully inform” the American people about the government’s efforts in World War II. FDR appointed Elmer Davis, a well-known CBS News analyst, as director of OWI. Davis’ job was to coordinate information from the military and mobilize public support of the war. OWI was to create an avenue for the government to develop and disseminate the information that they believed people needed to know about the war.
“Our job at home is to give the American people the fullest possible understanding of what this war is about …not only to tell the American people how the war is going, but where it is going and where it came from.” Elmer Davis. AP/Wide World
In 1946 Rep. Sol Bloom (D-NY) introduced a bill that would grant the Secretary of State the power to give monetary, service, or property grants to nonprofit public and private corporations to prepare and disseminate informational materials. Although this act was intended to disseminate information abroad, there were no limitations to keep it from being used upon the American people and opposition began to form. After having lived through two regimes of government propaganda and having seen the effects of such government propaganda machines as Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Congress decided this was not something they wanted to engage in.
An AP Press Release stated “government cannot engage in news casting without creating the fear of propaganda which necessarily would reflect the objectivity of the news services from which such news casts are prepared.”
The Bloom Bill passed the house, but failed in the Senate. In 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act was passed with three key limitations on the government. The first and most well-known restriction was originally a prohibition on domestic dissemination of materials intended for foreign audiences by the State Department. This restriction has been supported by the courts even in the face of freedom of information act challenges. In November 1996 the federal District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the material under the Smith-Mundt Act is not to be available, applying the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 3 to block access.
The Smith-Mundt Act is now found in 22 USC 1461-1a titled, Ban on domestic activities by United States Information Agency. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 is set to change all of that. This act does several very destructive things. First, it puts the President’s Board of Broadcasting Governors on the same level of authority as the Secretary of State. The Board of Broadcasting Governors is an independent government agency whose members are appointed by the President and whose sole function is to create American propaganda and disseminate this propaganda abroad.
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 created a limitation for propaganda to be released in the United States. If such propaganda was requested, the information could not be released until 12 years after its publication. This was an additional protection established so that this government created information could not be used to influence current public opinion. Thornberry’s HR 5736, The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, would preserve that 12 year limitation for all propaganda created prior to the adoption of this act but would remove the limitation for everything created after. Therefore, you have to wait 12 years to obtain propaganda created in 2010, but propaganda created in 2013 would be immediately available for dissemination domestically.
Finally, although I am sure supporters of this legislation will attempt to tell you that this act has protections built in to prevent the use of propaganda to influence Americans; make no mistake this act fails to ensure that result. It is true the Act maintains the original prohibition for domestic use.
(a) In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States. This section shall apply only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.), and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.). This section shall not prohibit or delay the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such available, to the media, public, or Congress, in accordance with other applicable law.
However, this new Act adds new language that completely nullifies that prohibition through a couple rather clever loopholes.
The original Act does not include “program material” in the list of items that must be provided. This is how the courts could decide that the propaganda material was covered under the Freedom Information Act’s section 3 limitations. The addition of “program material” will now require the actual propaganda to be available through a FOIA request.
As if that was not bad enough, the new Act adds a section “b” that will create the most effective loophole to nullify the prohibition in section (a).
(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012.
Section (b) tells the Secretary of State and the Board of Broadcasting Governors that they do not have to worry about the limitation of section (a). They are to go about business as usual in spite of the fact that this information will be immediately available for domestic distribution. This creates a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon for these agencies to create propaganda that they know will be distributed domestically and will be used to influence Americans.
So, why should we care? We should care, because this crime against the American people is not being perpetrated by a Socialist President through executive order. It is CONGRESS authorizing this manipulation. It is coming from alleged CONSERVATIVE CONGRESSMEN. This act will not only legitimize the heinous manipulation of mainstream media, but will allow Congress to FUND IT with TAX PAYER DOLLARS.
Are you Tyrannized Enough Already? CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMEN NOW.