Russiagate--New frontiers of state propaganda--USG takes a more activist role in disseminating fake news that promotes geopolitical interests
QUOTE FROM BUZZFEED: The new law would give sweeping powers to the government 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.”
An amendment tagged on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 would allow for the United States government to create and distribute pro-American propaganda within the country’s own borders....Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of section 1078 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s long term effort to control the news, has shifted into overdrive.
“Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” Portman said. “But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas. With this bill now law, 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. I am confident that, with the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail.”
The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.
The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.
Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who released a highly critical report regarding the distortion of truth by senior military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan, dedicated a section of his report to Information Operations (IO) and states that after Desert Storm the military wanted to transform IO "into a core military competency on a par with air, ground, maritime and special operations."
Davis defines IO as "the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own."
IO are primarily used to target foreign audiences, but Davis cites numerous senior leaders who want to (in the words of Colonel Richard B. Leap) "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will" by repealing the Smith-Mundt Act to allow the direct deployment of these tactics on the American public.
Davis quotes Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker — the Pentagon officer responsible for the Department of Defense’s Joint Force Development (i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) — who defines IO as activities undertaken to "shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience" and equates descriptions of combat operations with standard marketing strategies:
For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertisement strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product. The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.
Davis subsequently explains the "cumulative failure of our nation’s major media in every category" as they continually interviewed only those senior U.S. officials who had top-level access, even as the officials given that clearance were required to stick to "talking points" given to them by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
If the NDAA goes into effect in its current form, the State Department and Pentagon can go beyond manipulating mainstream media outlets and directly disseminate campaigns of misinformation to the U.S. public.
Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank....
“I just don’t want to see something this significant – whatever the pros and cons – go through without anyone noticing,”
“ says one source on the Hill, who is disturbed by the law. According to this source, the law would allow "U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population."
The new law would give sweeping powers to the government 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.”
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.
Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.
The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year. ...
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.
A U.S. Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis, noted recently in his scathing 84-page unclassified report on Afghanistan that there remains a strong desire within the defense establishment “to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will," he wrote, quoting a well-regarded general.
The defense bill passed the House Friday afternoon.
3--U.S. Government Repeals Ban - Opens Floodgate to Mass Agitprop Meant for Domestic Consumption
One thing is crystal clear though, the blurring of the lines between truth and agitprop will now become even more opaque for an American audience that, for whatever reason, doesn't really make too much of an effort to stay informed. The potential for government misuse here is substantial. To me, it's just another in a series of concerted, subtle efforts by the U.S. government to control the retail dissemination of information in America.
4--Turley on Hastings--"a 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.” " archive
The upshot, at times, is the Department of Defense using the same tools on U.S. citizens as on a hostile, foreign, population.