In the defense authorization bill: Legalizing propaganda, misinformation from our own government


Say hello to another bad idea, this time courtesy of a bi-partisan amendment to the defense authorization bill, one that is sponsored by Rep. Mark Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington state.

It would legalize propaganda directed at us by our own government.

Via BuzzFeed:

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, 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.

If you're a Democrat and trust this kind of activity under a Democratic administration, then think again... and then think how it would be, and was, under a Republican administration.

The bill also includes indefinite detention and a ban on gay marriage at military installations. But I digress:

The bill's supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.

Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.

This is dangerous territory, and exploiting the "protect us from the terrorists" excuse isn't good enough to trump protecting Americans from our own powerful government propaganda campaigns intended to sway public opinion.

The upshot, at times, is the Department of Defense using the same tools on U.S. citizens as on a hostile, foreign, population.

Let's hope this kind of thing doesn't happen again.