Sunday, May 20, 2012


I'm generally not one to take an alarmist position on pending legislation, but this is truly creepy.  This quiet little amendment to the defense authorization bill would roll back, among other things, a law passed in the wake of WWII which was designed to protect the American populace from America's foreign propaganda campaigns. 

There has been little communication from the cosponsors on this so far, but the rationale here would seem to be that in the information age, it's not really possible to target exclusively foreign audiences.  If you put up a "Voice of America"-style podcast or a website designed to depose a dictator, that material is accessible to a domestic audience, which effectively makes it illegal to put pretty much anything on the internet.  Okay, fine, that needs to be fixed.  I imagine it's a tricky problem and I may not agree with your solution, but yes, go ahead and amend the law.

Coverage of the issue is mostly spotty opinion journalism based an an anonymous Pentagon whistleblower.  However, this amendment seems to remove the protections altogether, and that is foolish in the extreme.  More on this when I have time to find the actual text of the amendment; digging through the legislative history of a defense authorization bill takes time.

EDIT:  It looks like this bill died in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  We may hear from it again, but probably not any time soon.


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