Before leaving office on Jan. 20, President Barack Obama and the Democrats stuck Americans with a combination Christmas and going-away present that effectively creates a Ministry of Truth to police what constitutes news in this country. Notably missing from this new measure is who, exactly, is going to be defining what is true and what is false.
By John Tiffany
There’s a saying that evil and the devil never sleep. Thus, while the American people were celebrating the Christmas season and paying little attention to politics, secure in the knowledge that Donald Trump had been elected, a lame-duck Congress and President Barack Obama made their move, passing and signing into law a bill that will create an Orwellian Ministry of Truth.
The budget-busting $611 billion 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has hidden deep within its pages a proviso known by various euphemisms such as the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016 (H.R. 5181) or the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S. 2692).
Long before the flap about so-called “fake news”—meaning anything (such as the truth) not conforming to the government/mainstream media narratives—was drummed up, the writers of this anti-First Amendment legislation were planning to task the secretary of state with coordinating with the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response,” whose ostensible purpose is to “develop and disseminate” what are claimed to be “fact-based narratives” to counter the pesky truthers who have the effrontery to point out anomalies and holes in the establishment narratives.
Notably unanswered is the question of who determines what is “fact” and how they determine this. For example, for President George W. Bush it was a “fact” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. In the end, it was clear to everyone the true facts were the opposite of the president’s “facts”—but by then the damage had been done.
The free speech-chilling rider was first introduced by Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and back in March by RINO Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). Kinzinger is noted for saying he cannot support Donald Trump.
Portman complained: “Surprisingly, there is currently no single U.S. governmental agency or department charged with the national-level development, integration, and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.”
On Dec. 8, the proviso was quietly inserted into the Senate version of the NDAA. Obama signed it into law in the evening of Dec. 23—practically on Christmas Eve.
The bill also creates a grant program to give away taxpayer dollars to “NGOs, think tanks, civil society [whatever that means] and other experts outside government who are engaged in counterpropaganda-related work.”
In what is effectively a return to the Cold War, Obama and these solons claim “foreign disinformation and manipulation” threaten the world’s “security and stability.”
This legislation “does not bode well for independent media and has massive potential to be abused for political purposes,” commented the news and commentary website “21stCenturyWire.com.”
Germany’s boss, Angela Merkel, joined with Obama in calling for more censorship and news control.
As part of the same drive, we have already seen Facebook partnering with government-sponsored “fact checking” sites and algorithms being put in place to remove dissident news from social media feeds. The new law chips away at freedom in America.
This latest outrage comes scant weeks after the Defense Department was found to have hidden a January 2015 report showing how $125 billion could have been saved over a five-year period without any civilian layoffs or any reduction in military strength—information the Pentagon and military-industrial-banking complex do not want leaked to the taxpayers.
Such “lamestream media” as The Washington Post have already indoctrinated and primed the public to believe that anyone deviating from the official narrative is providing “fake news” and “Russian propaganda,” so that now the government can legally crack down on any media that questions the official line.
WHAT THE NDAA IS ALL ABOUT
SEN. ROB PORTMAN ON FOREIGN PROPAGANDA:
“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.
“. . . 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.” —SEN. ROB PORTMAN[AMERICAN FREE PRESS translation: Too much truth is getting out about the misdeeds of the U.S. government and something has to be done.—Ed.]
PORTMAN ON THE PURPOSE OF THE NDAA:
The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act has this as its main goal, according to a press release on Portman’s Senate website:
“The first priority is developing a whole-of-government strategy for countering the foreign propaganda and disinformation being wages [sic] against us and our allies by our enemies. The bill would increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China as well as non-state actors.
“The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies. The Center will develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations by our enemies and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.”[AMERICAN FREE PRESS translation: The government will accelerate distribution of its official propaganda narrative through compliant media outlets while at the same time crushing “fake news” outlets until the nexus between government and media is 100% complete. At the same time, the U.S. will expand even further its own spying and disinformation operations.—Ed.]
John Tiffany is AFP’s copy editor and lives in West Virginia.