An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill.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.
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 1 way.”
The new law would give sweeping powers to the government to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.” 2