Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Bill Would Make It Legal To Target Propaganda And “Psychological Operations” Directly At U.S. Citizens


Michael Snyder
The American Dream
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Should it be legal for the U.S. government to spend billions of dollars on propaganda designed to change public opinion in the United States?  Should it be legal for the U.S. government to use television, radio, newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and Internet forums to conduct “psychological operations” targeted at the American public?

An amendment that has been added to a new defense bill in Congress would make it legal to target propaganda and “psychological operations” directly at U.S. citizens.  The latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act would overturn the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987.  Those two laws essentially make it illegal for propaganda that is used to influence public opinion overseas to be targeted at U.S. citizens back here at home.  If those two laws are struck down, there will be essentially very few limits to what the U.S. government can do to shape our opinions.  The government would be able to bombard us with propaganda messages on television, on the radio, in our newspapers and on the Internet and there would not even be a requirement that those messages be true.  In fact, just as happens so often overseas, it would likely be inevitable that the government would purposely disseminate misinformation to the American public for the sake of “national security”.  That is why it is imperative that this bill not become law.
As an article posted on LegalInsurrection.com correctly noted, this bill has already been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives….
Their bill was included as amendment 114 to the Defense Authorization Act and passed out of the House on Friday, May 18. It would amend two existing acts: the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (1987).
Fortunately, it looks like this amendment might run into some trouble in the U.S. Senate.  But during an election year, not many politicians want to appear “soft” when it comes to national security, so it is definitely not a sure thing that the Senate will reject this amendment.
This amendment has been kind of “flying under the radar”, so now would be a good time to contact your U.S. Senators and let them know exactly how you feel about this.
So precisely what would this new amendment do?
A recent article by Michael Hastings of Buzzfeed.com did a good job of explaining how it would change things….
The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon 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.”
Do you want the Obama administration to use mass media in the United States to push a particular political or social agenda?
Do you want the State Department and the Pentagon to conduct psychological operations targeted at you, your family and your friends?
Do you want to see and hear government propaganda everywhere you go?
In a previous article I detailed 25 ways that America is becoming more like Nazi Germany, and I suppose I now have another item to add to the list.
Sadly, the government is already “pushing the envelope” when it comes to using the media.  In his recent article, Michael Hastings detailed some examples of how the Pentagon is already attempting to shape public opinion in the United States….
In December, the Pentagon used software to monitor the Twitter debate over Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing; another program being developed by the Pentagon would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets; and, last year, General William Caldwell, deployed an information operations team under his command that had been trained in psychological operations to influence visiting American politicians to Kabul.
According to U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry, one of the sponsors of the bill, current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”
Apparently we cannot think for ourselves and we need the government to help us to see things more clearly.
But when it comes to “psychological operations”, the people that run them do not always play nice.
Just check out what happened recently to two USA Today reporters….
A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.
Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names.
If this new bill becomes law, there will be very few limits on what the government can do.
And just like the two USA Today reporters, you could end up being a target.

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