By KrisAnne Hall, JD

Richard Stengel, former head of the office for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the Obama’s State Department from 2013 to 2016, former editor of Time Magazine, and a regular pundit on MSNBC, said in April of 2018, at a Council on Foreign Relations forum about “fake news,” that he supports the use of propaganda on American citizens. He then continued and said;

“Basically, every country creates their own narrative story and, you know, my old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the ‘chief propagandist’ job.”

Keep in mind, that in 2013 Congress passed legislation allowing the federal government to fund and create propaganda they knew could be used to manipulate Americans on American soil. This legislation was called The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), that failed in 2011 when it was submitted on its own. But in 2013 Thornberry and his co-sponsors buried this legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, where it surreptitiously was passed.

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act overturned a prohibition against domestic propaganda that had been in place since 1948. This prohibition act was passed as a result of a series of events in American history that drew the concern of those who wanted to secure a free press and the freedom of speech of the American people. The concern began when President Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information through an executive order with the purpose of influencing American public opinion toward supporting the U.S. involvement in World War I. The man appointed to be the chairman over this committee was George Creel, a renowned investigative journalist and editor of the Rocky Mountain News.

In 1942, FDR established the United States Office of War Information by executive order to “truthfully inform” the American people about the government’s efforts in World War II. FDR appointed Elmer Davis, a well-known CBS News analyst, as director of OWI. Davis’ job was to coordinate information from the military and mobilize public support of the war. OWI was to create an avenue for the government to develop and disseminate the information that they believed people needed to know about the war.

“Our job at home is to give the American people the fullest possible understanding of what this war is about…not only to tell the American people how the war is going, but where it is going and where it came from.” (Elmer Davis. AP/Wide World)

In 1946 Rep. Sol Bloom (D-NY) introduced a bill that would grant the Secretary of State the power to give monetary, service, or property grants to nonprofit public and private corporations to prepare and disseminate informational materials. Although this act was intended to disseminate information abroad, there were no limitations to keep it from being used on the American people and opposition began to form. After having lived through two regimes of government propaganda and having seen the effects of such government propaganda machines as Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Congress decided this was not something they wanted to engage in.

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An AP press release stated “government cannot engage in news casting without creating the fear of propaganda which necessarily would reflect the objectivity of the news services from which such news casts are prepared.”

The Bloom Bill passed the house but failed in the Senate. In 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act was passed with three key limitations on the government. The first and most well-known restriction was originally a prohibition on domestic dissemination of materials intended for foreign audiences by the State Department. This restriction has been supported by the courts even in the face of Freedom of Information Act challenges. In November 1996 the federal District Court in Washington, D.C., decided that the material under the Smith-Mundt Act is not to be available, applying the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 3 to block access.

The Smith-Mundt Act is now found in 22 USC 1461-1a titled, Ban On Domestic Activities By United States Information Agency. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act changed all of that. This act does several very destructive things.

First, it puts the President’s Board of Broadcasting Governors on the same level of authority as the Secretary of State. The Board of Broadcasting Governors is an independent government agency whose members are appointed by the President and whose sole function is to create American propaganda and disseminate this propaganda abroad.

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The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 created a limitation for propaganda to be released in the United States. If such propaganda was requested, the information could not be released until 12 years after its publication. This was an additional protection established so that this government created information could not be used to influence current public opinion. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, eliminated that protection. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act not only legitimized the heinous manipulation of mainstream media, but allowed Congress to fund it with taxpayer dollars

In 2011, I wrote a detailed analysis of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act and its potential dangers. In spite of our concerns, many congressmen were adamant that this legislation would not be used to spend tax dollars to create propaganda to be used domestically. They told us it would just be used to create propaganda on foreign soil, nothing to worry about.

Six years later, did a former State Department Official just admit he created and used domestic propaganda, and believes it’s the right thing to do? We don’t need to be concerned, right? They are just trying to keep us safe.

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the U.S. Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. She is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and has an internationally popular radio and television show. Her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com. Get the book “Sovereign Duty” to learn what the designers of our Constitution wanted Americans to do when their federal government became bloated and out of control. Find this book on Amazon, Barns & Noble, Wal-Mart, and many other merchants.


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Why The Federal Government Can Now Use Propaganda On Americans
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4 thoughts on “Why The Federal Government Can Now Use Propaganda On Americans

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  • October 30, 2018 at 9:11 am
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    they can lie to the american people because they made it legal in the so called patriot act.

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  • February 24, 2019 at 8:23 am
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    Like many pieces of legislation, Smith-Mundt had a noble beginning. It was primarily set to allow the dissemination of “pro-America/pro-western/pro-capitalist” messages aimed at the Soviet Union and other nations trapped behind the “iron curtain.” IOW, it was COVER, and PERMISSION, and formed a FUNDING MECHANISM for “Radio Free Europe” and other similar endeavors that the USA was committed to carrying out (as a low-cost way to help the people of the world to resist the horror of communism). .

    There are two challenges with pushing propaganda over the air; one is the message itself, and the other is the availability of the messages to get through. One “built-in” advantage was the large number of radios that Stalin had pushed on the Soviets to hear HIS messages; those radios then heard OUR messages during the Cold War. Yes, they jammed us, but we were persistent and the people heard the promise of freedom and liberty that eventually led to the fall of the Soviet system.

    That Soviet failure caused even more success; after the fall of the Soviets, we could begin to make inroads in nations such as Azerbaijan which allowed us to put up huge towers to reach nations like Iran (which was “locked to surface messages” by the mountain ranges that ring the country). However, we were winning a war that would soon be compromised, and even altered, due to technology.

    Technology caused the “present day problems” with Smith-Mundt because of the way that messages are sent (satellites, etc.) which means that the world’s “messages” are all available to anyone. And, because “propaganda” was NOT an option for the USA (because of Smith-Mundt) that would have meant shutting down key message operations such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Free Cuba, and any other nations we want to reach. It HAD to be rewritten!

    It is no longer possible to maintain a single message to a single people (except for present day socialist nations with dictators that control their people with an iron fist but that hold little sway in the world).

    Since technology has burst the “bubble” of isolationism (for the most part), there was nothing more to be “saved” by saving Smith-Mundt. [It was genius in its day.] Future conditions of such legislation is up to the INTEGRITY of our CONGRESS and our FUTURE ADMINISTRATIONS!

    It is ridiculous to blame a single entity, or a single act of Congress. If your neighbor is a good man, you need no locks on your doors. If your neighbor is a bad man, there are not enough locks in the world to keep you safe. We cannot guarantee good people; we can only demand good people, and hope for good people, and expect good people, and reward good people.

    If there is too much “deep state” in the current legislation, it will eventually be found out and changed. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it takes TIME to accumulate knowledge and that includes empirical evidence that follows new legislation. Moaning and groaning may make some feel good, but we need HARD EVIDENCE to demonstrate bad faith OR faulty legislation. Patience is a virtue; as is fairness.

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