By THE TRUTH HOUND
Stop the Presses News & Commentary
A bipartisan bill is upon us that cannot square with the First Amendment’s clear language that “Congress shall make no law” abridging free speech and a genuine free press.
The legislation (S. 3274), which comes from U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), is slyly called the “Countering” Disinformation and Propaganda Act of 2016 and is ostensibly designed “to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations.”
Unfortunately, the bill passed the Senate Dec. 8, tucked away in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, according to a press release from Portman.
In June, this writer revealed the House version (which still hadn’t yet been voted on as of Dec. 14). Prompt calls to the House switchboard are in order: 202-225-3121. Ask for any legislator by name. Or call or visit your House member’s local office. That previous report noted:
A bill quietly brewing in Congress . . . would create an official ‘Ministry of Truth’ in the federal government. That’s what critics are saying about H.R. 5181—officially named The Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016. Given the U.S. government’s already dim view of Russia, this bill appears to signal a return to the propaganda wars of the good-old days of the U.S. Cold War with Russia.”
Regarding the Senate version, Sen. Murphy—a frequent speaker at world government-oriented think tanks that advocate a confrontational stance versus Russia—raised the “fake news” meme that’s been flooding the news recently. Corporate media are claiming that alternative news competitors engage in “fake news,” even though that same corporate media fully revealed itself as vastly deceptive propaganda outlet primarily due to its malicious, misleading and inaccurate presidential election reporting. As a result, the big media’s credibility is tanking.
So, this legislation’s apparent underlying goal is to equate alternative media—which are exposing the world-government agenda mainly led by the U.S.—with “foreign” media outlets that are allegedly allied with “enemy” states like China and Russia (e.g., Russia Today, or RT.com online). It’s the vintage “guilt by association” game, but disguised in “national security” garb. The twisted tactic is to convince the public that at least most alternative news outlets, even those based in the U.S. and other parts of the “free world,” engage in “fakery” like RT.com allegedly does and also are closet allies of America’s “enemies.”
“Congress,” said Murphy, “has taken a big step in fighting back against fake news and propaganda from countries like Russia. When the president signs this bill into law the United States will finally have a dedicated set of tools and resources to confront our adversaries’ widespread efforts to spread false narratives that undermine democratic institutions and compromise America’s foreign policy goals.”
Thus, the Senate version is based on the amusing assumption that manipulative propaganda could not possibly come from the American government or U.S. “mainstream” media and America could only be a propaganda victim.
The bill, added Portman, also calls for creating a “Global Engagement Center (GEC)” to analyze “state actors like Russia and China in addition to violent extremists.” (“Violent extremists” are undefined)
The GEC will be led by the State Department “with the active senior-level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID [a CIA front—Ed.], the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the intelligence community and other relevant agencies,” Portman added.
And contrary to the very idea of an independent press, Portman said the legislation “establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to “think tanks . . . media organizations and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in . . . analyzing the latest trends in foreign-government disinformation techniques.”
Portman also sponsored S. 2692, a similar bill that neither chamber had voted on as of Dec. 14. This “Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016,” parked at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would “promote an independent press in countries that are vulnerable to foreign disinformation,” even though the real problem is that all this legislation mitigates against actual independent journalism.