Written by Alex Newman
Under the guise of countering foreign “propaganda,” the GOP-controlled Congress quietly passed a bill last week that will unleash even more government propaganda on humanity, while at the same time establishing what critics blasted as an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” The “bipartisan” but flatly unconstitutional scheme, dubbed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, also calls for providing tax funding and training to “journalists,” media outfits, and other propagandists willing to parrot the U.S. government's viewpoints. According to its sponsors, the goal is to help promote Washington, D.C.'s “foreign policy goals.” The potential for abuse, though, is nearly endless, and the bipartisan establishment's “foreign policy goals” are often at odds with the Constitution — not to mention common decency, human liberty, and peace. And so, critics are speaking out forcefully.
The deeply controversial legislation, approved by the U.S. Senate on December 8, was not voted on as a stand-alone bill, but was instead buried deep inside the 1,576-page National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017. Because the NDAA funds the military and is considered “must pass” by lawmakers with little regard for the oath they took to the Constitution, Big Government-loving politicians often sneak outlandish schemes into the NDAA that otherwise would almost certainly be rejected. In recent years, for example, they snuck a purported authorization for the military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial. That same ploy to sneak through totalitarian schemes appears to have occurred with the latest NDAA, with the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act stuck into the conference report and approved by huge margins, likely without even the knowledge of most lawmakers.
Under the radical measure, the U.S. government will unleash a powerful new federal bureaucracy on Americans and the world dubbed the “Global Engagement Center.” Overseen by the U.S. secretary of state — likely the pro-Russia Exxon-Mobil boss Rex Tillerson, ironically enough — the unconstitutional outfit will bring together bureaucrats from the State Department, the Pentagon, various “intelligence” bureaucracies, the lawless foreign-aid bureaucracy known as USAID, foreign governments, and more. In addition to establishing what one critic described as a “propaganda factory” to pump out U.S. government-backed propaganda, the bill also authorizes spying on journalists, funding “media” outlets willing to serve as U.S. government propaganda organs, and much more.
According to the legislation, the new Global Engagement Center should “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.” It should also work “to establish cooperative or liaison relationships with foreign partners and allies ... and other entities, such as academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.” So even universities, schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations will be harnessed and exploited to promote U.S. government propaganda.
Perhaps even more troubling is that the scheme aims to corrupt and co-opt existing media outlets and journalists, making all journalism suspect as Americans struggle to find out who is shilling for an increasingly radicalized Uncle Sam and who is not. The bill “establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques.” Under the bill, then, the U.S. government will officially get into the business of buying and training propagandists to promote its agenda.
While the scheme was passed quietly, and was barely mentioned by the establishment's propaganda organs aiming to quash their competition in the alternative press, the two senators behind it were cheering about their success in a press release. “The passage of this bill in the Senate today takes us one critical step closer to effectively confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us,” claimed Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the same day that failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promoted his bill as a way for the U.S. government to respond to “fake news” and alleged propaganda.
“While the propaganda and disinformation threat has grown, the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” continued Portman. “Today we are finally signaling that enough is enough; the United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. We are going to confront this threat head-on. With the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against our allies and our interests will fail.”
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), dubbed Portman's “partner in crime” by critics, made similarly bombastic claims in a statement. “Congress has taken a big step in fighting back against fake news and propaganda from countries like Russia,” he claimed. “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. I’m proud of what Senator Portman and I accomplished here because it’s long past time for the U.S. to get off the sidelines and confront these growing threats.”
Unsurprisingly, neither of the two chief senators behind the propaganda scheme are known for their fidelity to the U.S. Constitution they swore an oath to uphold. Senator Portman has a measly 51 percent on The New American magazine's Freedom Index, which ranks lawmakers according to the constitutionality of their voting records. Senator Murphy, meanwhile, has a 13 percent, meaning he voted against the Constitution on almost nine out of ten bills examined for the index. In the House, the lawmakers behind the scheme, dubbed H.R. 5181 in its original form, were Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has a 55 percent, and Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who has voted constitutionally less than a third of the time.
In recent weeks, unhinged conspiracy theorists in government and the establishment media — the primary purveyors of fake news, critics say — have blamed everything from Clinton's defeat and Trump's victory to British voters' historic decision to leave the European Union on “Russian propaganda” and “fake news.” In the real world, of course, those decisions by voters had nothing to do with Russian propaganda, according to virtually every credible expert, analyst, and lawmaker who has commented on the question. Instead, the votes had everything to do with the U.S. and U.K. electorate getting fed up with totalitarian-minded globalists subverting their nations and liberties.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” explained Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee involved with the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.” Indeed, the Washington Post and the New York Times appear to be spreading fake news and false propaganda in a bid to undermine the alternative media, President-elect Trump's administration, and the use of new media such as Wikileaks that is increasingly making the establishment propagandists and gatekeepers obsolete. And the implications are incredibly dangerous to freedom and free speech.
Among those speaking out was Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. McAdams suspects that the liberty-minded non-profit he runs will be among those targeted early on under the new propaganda scheme. “The measure essentially establishes a U.S. government-funded Ministry of Truth to ferret out and silence any independent media voices not toeing the US government line,” he warned, adding that the bill appeared designed to treat any criticism of the U.S. government's foreign policy agenda — “meaning disastrous neocon interventionism” — as Russian propaganda to be extinguished.
Under the scheme, he continued, the U.S. government is going to “actively propagandize” Americans in an effort to convince people that policies such as the “liberation” of Libya, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the 15 year war on Afghanistan, the “regime change” plot aimed at Syria, and more, “were not at all dismal failures but in fact glorious successes!” “Anyone who denies that our interventionist foreign policy is producing great things overseas is obviously a Russian intelligence asset and must be neutralized!” McAdams continued, using sarcasm to ridicule the lawmakers behind the scheme.
McAdams also criticized the plot to pay journalists to promote U.S. government propaganda while putting together “hit lists” of independent media sites that oppose or expose Washington, D.C.'s deadly “foreign policy” machinations. “We may take some comfort laughing at the ridiculous ´Putin did it´ hysteria, but slowly and behind the scenes Washington is building the infrastructure to end free speech as we know it,” McAdams warned. “Beware!”
Also blasting the propaganda scheme was analyst Jason Ditz with the liberty-minded, pro-peace, non-interventionist website Antiwar.com. “That we still don’t know much about what this new federal body will be authorized to do reflects both the vague wording of the bill itself and the fact that there was virtually no debate on the matter,” he cautioned. “This vagueness likely means future governments will be able to decide for themselves just how broadly empowered they have been, which is never a good sign.”
The propaganda measure was passed quietly amid efforts to pass another, related scheme as part of the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 6393). That bill, approved by the House last month, takes aim at websites and media sources alleged to be aiding “Russian propaganda” efforts. Among other schemes, it calls for the U.S. government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”
Considering that the globalist establishment and its propaganda organs have been labeling anything and everything that disagrees with their pro-globalist, pro-Big Government narrative as Russian propaganda or “fake news,” the implications of the legislation should be obvious. Indeed, the Washington Post, rescued by Bilderberg billionaire Jeff Bezos, published a malicious hit piece based on anonymous sources accusing hundreds of often respected alternative media outlets, including the Drudge Report, of peddling Russian government propaganda and potentially even violating federal laws against espionage. The increasingly discredited newspaper, facing potential libel lawsuits, has since clarified with an editor's note, and backed down somewhat. But the hysteria is growing — and it is dangerous.
Of course, none of the criticism of the new unconstitutional scheme takes away from the fact that hostile foreign powers — including those in Moscow and Beijing — regularly use propaganda and disinformation to achieve geopolitical objectives. In fact, KGB disinformation officer Anatoliy Golitsyn, upon defecting to the United States, warned Western governments that the entire “collapse” of the Soviet Union (then still in the future) was in fact a giant disinformation operation by the Kremlin aimed at facilitating an eventual takeover of the West. The overwhelming majority of his predictions have already come to pass. And yet, the establishment media continues to ignore his warnings, preferring instead to promote the demonstrably false narrative of Russia as bastion of conservatism and Communist China as free-market haven.
Democrats, though, have been active participants in promoting Kremlin propaganda. Indeed, the Democrat Party, which former Communist Party USA boasted is “utilized” by communists to pursue their totalitarian agenda, have often collaborated with and even encouraged Kremlin propaganda efforts. As conservative firebrand Ann Coulter documented in her book Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, for example, the late statist Senator Ted Kennedy was among the Democrats keen on helping the savage Soviets' anti-American propaganda campaign. Indeed, Kennedy was even busted sending secret messages to Soviet mass-murderer Yuri Andropov plotting propaganda efforts.
“Kennedy said how ´very impressed´ he was with Andropov, while decrying ´Reagan's belligerence´,” Coulter explained in her book. “The communist bootlicker asked for pointers on responding to Reagan's ´propaganda,´ particularly any tips on Reagan's vulnerabilities. Most perplexing for the Soviets must have been Kennedy's suggestion that Andropov embark on an American media tour to counter Reagan, with Kennedy proposing interviews with Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters.”
In other words, a leading Democrat politician wanted to help a murderous communist dictator use the (American) establishment media for pro-communist, anti-American propaganda. Since then, not much has changed, of course. Indeed, as The New American reported some years ago, Obama even took the unprecedented step of inviting Putin's terror troops to train with U.S. military forces on American soil — for the first time in history. Communist Chinese troops were invited for similar training schemes with U.S. forces under Obama, again for the first time in history, as leading globalists such as George Soros push for Beijing to “own” what they call the “New World Order.”
So far, The New American magazine, which has been exposing the schemes of the Kremlin and Putin and the establishment media since long before it was fashionable, has not yet been smeared as “Russian propaganda.” Indeed, that would be a tough sell, considering the fact that the late chairman of TNA's parent organization, Congressman Larry McDonald, was shot down by the Kremlin's fighter jets on a commercial airliner on his way to South Korea. Indeed, the establishment and its propaganda organs once demonized TNA and The John Birch Society, which publishes it, for allegedly being overly concerned about the threat Moscow posed to America and the world. No apologies have been forthcoming despite the hysterical shrieking about Putin's alleged (but almost certainly false) role in “hacking” the Democrat Party's e-mails.
There is certainly good cause for Americans and people around the world to be concerned about government propaganda. It is ubiquitous, and incredibly dangerous. However, whether it comes from the globalist and communist totalitarians in Washington, D.C., London, Moscow, Beijing, or some other capital matters little. The solution is not to authorize unconstitutional U.S. government propaganda and censorship schemes. Instead, citizen-led educational campaigns on the Constitution and the forces seeking to subvert are the key. Once the public is educated, government propaganda becomes a much harder sell, if not completely irrelevant.