George Orwell rolls in his grave: Adam Smith and domestic propaganda

Grave of Eric Arthur Blair aka George OrwellIf you’re not from Washington State, you might only know of Adam Smith for sponsoring HR 4192 – Due Process and Military Detention Amendments Act, a laudable act, to be sure. While it was hardly major news in March when he introduced the bill, news of his sponsorship piggy-backed on the momentous occasion of US District Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling that, “that Section 1021 of NDAA was facially unconstitutional — a rare finding — because of the potential that it could violate the 1st Amendment” (LA Times, May 18, 2012). Smith gets his mention way down at the bottom (similarly in coverage elsewhere, as well). Sadly, his attempt to protect citizens from indefinite military detention without due process failed 182-238.

Late Friday the 18th, however, BuzzFeed broke the news that the same Adam Smith would like you to believe that:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Why else would have had his name added as co-sponsor of HR 5736 on May 10? HR 5736 – the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, was introduced a day earlier by Texas Republican William Thornberry. The ramifications of the bill are a tad unclear, but what would one expect of authorization for a domestic disinformation campaign by our own State Department? The BuzzFeed description of the bill is chilling, to say the least, so by all means read the article linked above. While you’re at it, give HR 5736 a gander, too.

From what I can make of it, the bill updates the language in the Smith-Mundt Act (US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948) to bring it into the 21st century by including the Internet and social media as tools for disseminating abroad “information” friendly to US people and policy. By itself, that might not be so bad (as propaganda goes). But, through the usual tricky legislative funding and authorization language, the bill seems to make that same propaganda readily available to domestic sources through the US Archives, so long as the proper requests, licenses, and payments are arranged. At first, second, and third glances, it looks like a pay-as-you-go propaganda bonanza. I guess having the MSM rubber-stamp press releases was just too constricting.

On the bright side, the act would shield us from recent disinformation (oddly coinciding with the Bush years) by preventing release of any materials pre-dating the act for twelve years after initial dissemination. Wouldn’t want yesterdays brainwashing to interfere with today’s new and improved brainwashing, now would we?

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell, 1984

RIP, Mr. Orwell. You tried your best, but your words continue to fall on deaf ears.

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Image credit: Brian Robert Marshall, licensed under Creative Commons.

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