The House passed a $642 billion defense authorization bill late Friday afternoon. That's a lot of money. We always have plenty of money to fuel the Empire's killing machinery. It's only when citizens lose their jobs, homes, and health care that we struggle with whether any government spending can be done to help out. Always the same. Never changes.
What's of interest in the defense authorization bill is what was added to the bill's massive spending.
An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill,......
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.
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.
Now, I suggest that you re-read those three paragraphs.....so they sink in.
Yes, the House of Representatives of the United States has now passed a defense authorization bill which overturns decades-old laws which prohibited our government from propagandizing it's own citizenry.
On Friday, the House voted in favor of the U.S. government disseminating false information directed at its own citizens. Co-sponsor of the amendment, House Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) explains...
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 way.”
Frankly, I don't understand what Thornberry is getting at in his explanation. If the U.S. military cannot deceive and misinform Americans through targeted propaganda efforts directed at an U.S. audience......then, what? we're no longer free? What? ......the government's ability to effectively communicate in a credible way is inhibited.
Translation: The government cannot effectively communicate to it's citizens if they are prohibited from making sh*t up.
The bill's supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.
The lies we're telling overseas in the hopes of influencing foreigners are just too good not to use on Americans....and anyway....Al Qaeda propagandizes Americans, so the U.S. government is at a disadvantage if they can't also propagandize Americans.
This reminds me of the "discussion" over torture. Of course torture is savage and cruel...and illegal.....however, our society came to embrace torture, by and large, because of Foxian and Bushian propaganda directed at U.S. citizens. And besides, we were told, Al Qaeda acted savagely, in medieval fashion.....so it was necessary for the U.S. to act savagely to counter Al Qaeda's savagery.
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.”
Saddam had WMD, remember? Who assured us that Saddam had WMD? The Bushies did....with the full cooperation of almost all corporate media outlets. Saddam had nothing....but government propaganda, specifically targeted to increase fear in our population after 9-11, won the communication battle. 4500 dead U.S. soldiers are the result. The point being that government propaganda directed at American citizens leads to unnecessary tragedies.
This is a bit unsettling....
According to this official, “senior public affairs” officers within the Department of Defense want to “get rid” of Smith-Mundt and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"information activities" ....."designed to prop up unpopular policies"...The wording would make an old Soviet propagandist blush.
So, if Americans find Empire policies to be unacceptable....like, say, drone-killing women and children in Pakistan or Yemen....the new House-approved amendment to the defense authorization bill would help the government shore up support for ongoing killings by deceiving Americans with false information about what did or did not happen.
Feeling more free?
The author of today's source article says this amendment to the defense authorization bill is "part of a larger trend within diplomatic and military establishment"...citing these examples...
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.
I suppose all of this is simply further evidence of how exceptional and free America is among all the world's nations.
Or perhaps not. Maybe giving government the authority to deceive and mislead American citizens with phony information meant to bolster up very unpopular Empire-expansion policies....is in reality....just another symptom of the seemingly irreversible decline America is experiencing.
We've legalized pre-emptive war abroad and pre-emptive murder at home. We pass laws to suppress the right to vote. We have accepted torture....as well as offshore, lawless, hellhole-prisons, like Gitmo. We have rejected the rule of law by passing indefinite detention rules....which include U.S. citizens. We take off our belts and shoes and passively accept being felt up by strangers before we board an airplane. Our every electronic communication is being pored over by U.S. government super computers...every minute of every day.
So, I guess giving U.S. government and military officials the power to purposely deceive and mislead Americans into accepting policies which are unpopular....like more war....is just the natural flow of events for a rotted, bloated and declining Empire. The Soviets regularly lied to, deceived and misled their citizens about military adventurism, about worker productivity,...about the United States. The Soviets misled their people to help bolster acceptance of their policies, foreign and domestic. In the long run, that didn't work.
And it will not work for the U.S.A. either.
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