Counter-Propaganda Bill Quietly Creates US Propaganda Factory

Counter-Propaganda Bill
Quietly Creates US Propaganda Factory

Propaganda Portman-Murphy ActOn Thursday December 8th, the US senate quietly passed the National Defense Authorization Actor the ‘NDAA’ ) for the fiscal year of 2017. Basically, the NDAA is passed every year to re-approve & add to the United States’ so-called “defense” spending — which is sort of like Christmas for the officials who run the profitable death-machine called “US foreign policy.” However, many would likely be shocked by the ridiculous & terrifying laws that our treacherous congress usually buries inside the yearly bill — for example, congress just used the NDAA to create a “Global Engagement Center,” headed by the Secretary of State. Sounds harmless, right? Well, it might seem that way until you realize that “Global Engagement Center” is code for our new “Ministry of US Propaganda.”

Counter-Propaganda = Propaganda

NDAA section approving propaganda agency
Where congress buried their approval of official, state-funded propaganda

Hidden in the fantastically boring depths of the 1,576-page NDAA, in §1259C, below Subtitle E, labeled “Other Matters,” below Title XIII, is approval for the funding of a new propaganda agency which will be managed by the secretary of state. The text was pretty much lifted word-for-word from the Portman-Murphy “Countering Disinformation & Propaganda Act,” except that congress changed the name from the slightly ominous-sounding “Center for Information Analysis and Response” to a happier “Global Engagement Center.” Among other things, the center’s function is to —

develop, plan, and synchronize… whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests
— §1259C, a3

Or — to put it simply — they’re going to help the US government distribute information that will support their interests, especially those interests that face scrutiny in other countries. However, as I’ve written about before, it’s often very difficult or impossible for the public to verify whether the godless communists or whoever else are actually messing with us or whether our public officials are only making excuses for their own corruption.

Regardless, it seems reasonable to assume WikiLeaks-style journalism (like the email leaks during our “elections”) will now be considered “foreign propaganda and misinformation...”

A Threat to a Free & Open Press
& to Free Thought in Education

If this isn’t a big enough red flag for you already, consider the fact that, not only does the new Ministry of Propaganda plan to “proactively advance fact-based narratives,” they plan on doing it with the help of both our schools & the private sector:

To establish cooperative or liaison relationships with foreign partners and allies… and other entities, such as academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector
— §1259C, a5

Or, in other words, they’ll be planting their people in academic situations & working with pretty much any industry they think will enhance their propaganda’s reach & effectiveness. The section even approves funding to spy on journalists, social media groups, political parties, & NGOs — all of this is to “proactively advance fact-based narratives,” of course. See for yourself — the NDAA lists one of the center’s functions as:

“Identifying current and emerging trends in… information obtained from print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations… and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments
— §1259C, b4

Is this the end of journalism?

Lastly, I’d like to show you the part of all of this that, as a journalist, I find most worrying:

AUTHORITY FOR GRANTS.—The Center is authorized to provide grants or contracts of financial support to civil society groups, journalists, nongovernmental organizations, federally-funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions for the following purposes:
[…] to counter efforts by foreign governments to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States
— §1259C, f(1) & §1259C, f(1)D

In plain English, this is saying that the US is going to start subsidizing journalists, researchers, & even schools who agree with the regime — which, incidentally, will punish & potentially threaten the viability of truly independent media altogether.

Government Propaganda is Dangerous

Now, this bill does contain vague wording, like the Global Engagement Center’s function being “to demonstrate new technologies, methodologies and concepts relevant to the missions of the Center,” which could mean pretty much anything. This has always been one of congress’ favorite tricks — to pass legislation that could be interpreted in different ways, so that they can deny responsibility while making funds available to do whatever they want.

That means that this legislation is a lot like a loaded gun — harmless in one person’s hands but potentially devastating & destructive in the hands of another, depending on how the scope & language of the bill is interpreted. Which “new technologies” will they “demonstrate” and what will the “missions of the Center” be? Which “populations” will they “target” and with who’s “fact-based narratives” will they be “targeted” with? What will the “interests” of the US be, who is “foreign,” & will journalists who report this foreign “disinformation” be considered propagandists for foreign agents?

The answers to these questions depend on who is in charge of interpreting them — which means that the most important question of all is do you trust the United States, and particularly the incoming administration, to make those decisions?

I know I don’t.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

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38 comments

  1. question: when I go to the congress.gov page for the bill, which you link to, it doesn’t say that it passed Senate. any idea as to why? (as of today Dec 17).

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  2. Dec 8, 2016 We Are Watching The Long Game to Total Censorship Play Out

    Maybe we should just start titling our videos something totally random and innocuous like, “Puppies frolicking in a daisy field” or “Look at this cute cat named Bob!” or “I like cheese”… Thoughts?

    https://youtu.be/XWJIod5Z4Rg

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  3. “Is this the end of journalism?”

    Of course not! Journalism ended 15 years ago when the towers fell, followed shortly thereafter by the end of the people’s will to enforce the constitution. It’s all just a nostalgic pass-time now as far as I can tell.

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  4. I hate this practice of tacking on irrelevant and controversial proposals to bills that probably would raise a stink if it were known…now it is done and we are screwed again by our representatives. This should not be allowed! Changes need to be made in the way Congress does business!

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  5. Ominous and dangerous to the 99% for sure. Thank you for laying it all out for us. We rely on journalists such as yourself to do all the digging and heavy lifting. Bottom line is it scares the sh*t out of me!

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    • Senator Portman has a post on his website/blog bragging about how their ‘counter-propaganda & disinformation act’ was passed as part of the NDAA. Being the kind of journalist that I am & also being particularly concerned about the whole “fake news/Russian interference” hoax, the term ‘counter-propaganda’ caught my attention immediately and so I investigated.

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      • Thanks. Found Sen. Portman’s brag here: http://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=3765A225-B773-4F57-B21A-A265F4B5692C. Chilling.

        Add’l comments:

        During the Bush years, I heard University of Houston communications professor Garth Jowett, author of “Propaganda and Persuasion” (5th ed, 2012), give a presentation showing how closely Dubya’s communication tactics paralleled those of Hitler. I wonder whether a formal analysis by Jowett or other scholars would reveal any meaningful parallels or contrasts with Herr Drumpf.

        The Bullock Museum (Austin TX) has a special exhibit through 1/8/17 on Nazi propaganda and US counter-propaganda, including Donald Duck facing off against Adolf Hitler (I kid you not), http://www.texasstandard.org/stories/museum-exhibits-nazi-propaganda-and-texas-media-during-wwii.

        Note: this Texas state museum receives taxpayer support, yet — unlike other museums that enjoy major public funding — the Bullock lists NO free days in its regular listings: http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/visit/plan-your-visit. Under the subhead “Hours” there’s a link to “Calendar” for specific programs and events. No free days there, either. However, if you’re persistent, by googling you’ll eventually stumble across corporate-branded “Free First Sundays” at the Bullock — a well-kept secret on the museum’s main pages. (Even on the museum’s interactive Calendar, if you click a first Sunday of any month, there’s no mention of a free day.)

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      • (Pls also see my previous reply… continued here:)

        — You use the term “subsidizing” journalists, researchers and schools. I believe the operative term is “bribing,” and of course it is already being done — but now to be done more, and more normalized, and more explicitly under law.

        — As you essentially say, funding an enormous new US propaganda machine under an Orwellian “Global Engagement Center” will almost certainly go hand in hand with cracking down on free speech including, and especially, independent journalism.

        — Incremental crackdown already underway. Journalists arrested for recording and reporting on police violence. Wikileaks accused of being the work of foreign agents, enemies of the US. Whistleblowers hounded and prosecuted, while government protects the bad actors who are exposed. “Ag gag” state laws criminalize journalists investigating factory farms. And criticizing the behavior of Israel’s vicious rightwing government is officially equated with anti-semitism under a bill passed by the US Senate, now headed to the rightwing-dominated US House, https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/senate-approves-bill-seen-threat-campus-criticism-israel.

        — Suppression has long been official policy in research. it’s been almost impossible to systematically study gun violence or cannabis biomedical effects, thanks to legislation suppressing inquiries that would expose inconvenient truths (that is, inconvenient to government ideologues). It looks as if Trump is about to do something similar with climate research, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/1210/Trump-team-s-intrusive-memo-alarms-DOE-climate-scientists.

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      • (Pls also see my previous two replies… continued here:)

        — One might say that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s sneaky little gem of an NDAA add-on is a crucial link to creating a more fascist state. A more authoritarian, militaristic US government gradually becomes more tightly integrated with media, education and research, squeezing opposition to the margins or eliminating it — through fear and intimidation, imprisonment based on increasingly draconian laws, and direct attacks and death threats, such as those by Trump supporters against anyone he publicly criticizes for any reason.

        Digital-era brownshirts:

        — “Fox News Had To Beg Trump Campaign To Stop Inciting Death Threats Against Megyn Kelly” http://thedailybanter.com/2016/11/wont-help-trump-if-kelly-killed. Heady stuff for a narcissistic sociopath: the power of life and death, merely by issuing terroristic tweets.

        — Herr Drumpf has already flexed this muscle against others, including an Indiana union leader http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/08/union-leader-who-called-out-donald-trump-says-hes-getting-threats-from-trump-supporters.html. Step One toward an ultimate result: paramilitary death squads, denied (as always) by government.

        — Herr Schmuck has also sued and threatened to sue journalists for (gasp) reporting facts about him that he doesn’t like. Most journalists barely make a living and cannot afford even the threat of a ruinously expensive lawsuit. So even when Herr Schmuck loses, he wins — which is the whole idea.

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        • For the record, this was another of those insidious bipartisan bills with blame to be deposited equally at the feet of (D) Chris Murphy – CT.

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  6. Great work. Can you please provide an option for easier reading for those of us that can’t read small fonts any more? Reader view option, for example?

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    • You can’t enlarge it on you mac or pc? I’m on a mac and I just enlarge it if I can see it comfortably. But I have no idea on phones, I don’t believe in them. lol

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    • If you’re reading via a windows pc, the size of the reading material can be enlarged simply by pressing the Ctrl key and moving the scroll button on your mouse.

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