On Thursday December 8th, the US senate quietly passed the National Defense Authorization Act ( or 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 and 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
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 disinformationdirected 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...”
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 asacademia, 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, and even schools who agree with the regime — which, incidentally, will punish and 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
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.