Even after a federal court proclaimed the NDAA as unconstitutional, the US House of Representatives refused to eliminate the indefinite detention provisions from the notorious defense spending bill during a vote last Friday. Following discussions on an amendment to the 2013 NDAA that was proposed by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), House lawmakers opted against passing the law by a vote of 182-238. Had the Smish-Amash amendment passed, military detention for terror suspects captured in the US would have been excluded in the annual defense spending bill.
photo: Amy Sly for BuzzFeed
But a new unpopular amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned. 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. This amendment would allow for the United States government to create and disseminate pro-Government propaganda within the country’s own borders under the alleged purpose of putting al-Qaeda’s attempts at persuading the world against Western ideals on ice, commented RT News.
The change in the NDAA will 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.
For the last decades of participation in constant conflicts and wars, the federal government has been authorized to use such tactics overseas to pressure foreign support of America’s presence abroad, but has been barred from such propaganda methods on its own territory.
“We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways. Communication is among the most important,” Rep. Thornberry explains in his initial press release on the bill.“This outdated law ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation.”
Rep. Smith also is propagating that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the Internet in order to create anti-American sentiments and if the amendment he co-sponsors is passed, the US government would be able to fight fire with fire, reported RT News.
“While the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was developed to counter communism during the Cold War, it is outdated for the conflicts of today,” Smith says in his official statement. “Effective strategic communication and public diplomacy should be front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations. An essential part of our efforts must be a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to counter their radical messages and undermine their recruitment abilities. To do this, Smith-Mundt must be updated to bolster our strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums – especially online.”
“Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,” commented Michael Shank of the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington, according to Buzzfeed. "That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators – who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous."
Defending the totalitarian Amendment from the media backlash, Rep. Smith responded to the attacks that he is encouraging pro-American propaganda on US soil. “This amendment is intended to ensure that the US government can get factual information out in a timely manner to counter extremist misinformation and propaganda,” he writes in a follow-up statement. “It does not and is not in any way intended to ‘legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences’ and, in fact, specifically ensures that the content to be rebroadcast or republished domestically by the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) shall not influence public opinion in the US. It clearly states, no funds authorized to be appropriated to State Department or BBG for any activity shall be used to influence public opinion.”