"I am not particularly concerned whether either gunpowder or propaganda have benefited or harmed mankind. I merely emphasize, at this point, that propaganda on an immense scale is here to stay. We Americans must become informed and adept at its use, defensively and offensively, or we may find ourselves as archaic as the belted knight who refused to take gunpowder seriously 500 years ago."
--State Department official (and future USIA director) George V. Allen, in "Propaganda: A Conscious Weapon of Diplomacy," The Department of State Bulletin, XXI, no. 546 (December 19, 1949), 941-943; cited at, footnote 11; image (Allen in 1924 Duke University Senior Yearbook Photo) from
Here's The Moving Photo Of President Obama Bending Over So A Boy Could Feel His Head - Brett LoGiurato, businessinsider.com: "The New York Times writes today about the backstory of the iconic photo that has hung in the White House for the last three years, snapped by White House photographer Pete Souza and on the official Flickr account. Jacob spoke first. 'I want to know if my hair is just like yours,' he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again. Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, 'Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?' He brought his head level with Jacob, who hesitated. 'Touch it, dude!' Mr. Obama said. As Jacob patted the presidential crown, Mr. Souza snapped. 'So, what do you think?' Mr. Obama asked.'Yes, it does feel the same,' Jacob said. ...
[comment by] Nicolas SERGE on May 24, 3:50 AM said: Dear, This is a lovely picture! Most of the time, children need model to grow up and been inspired. As a first African-American President, he could be a model for many young. Furthermore, it could have a positive impact on the public diplomacy of our country. Meanwhile, i don't think that we really need a moderate Democrat President in this Transitional and Competitive Period who is in favor of a demand policy while we're facing a supply challenge. FRESH, America is back! God bless America!"
Much ado about State Department 'propaganda' - Josh Rogin, Foreign Affairs: "The congressional drive to update a 1948 law on how the U.S. government manages its public diplomacy has kicked off a heated debate over whether Congress is about to allow the State Department to propagandize Americans. But the actual impact of the change is less sinister than it might seem. ... Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) ... add[ed] their Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 as an amendment to the House version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. ... The new legislation would "authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the
Smith–Mundt: Myth and Reality - Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation: "Controversy has swirled around the Smith–Mundt Modernization Act since it passed mark-up as an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act last Friday. Smith–Mundt has prohibited
U.S. citizens from accessing the public diplomacy products of the U.S. government, whether in print or on the airwaves, since 1948. Critics on the left and right alike have charged that modernizing the act will lift the floodgates for U.S. government propaganda aimed at U.S. citizens. Not so. Rather, the amended act will force greater transparency and accountability regarding the work of the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which would have no excuse to evade questions asked by Members of Congress.
Critics have cited prominently one of the first articles on the subject to appear last Friday, ‘Congressmen Seek to Lift Propaganda Ban.’ The article ran on BuzzFeed and was authored by Michael Hastings, whose main claim to fame, as an embedded reporter in
Afghanistan, was the Rolling Stone article that got General Stanley McChrystal in hot water. Hastings’s article therefore bears specific examination: 'The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith–Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.’ Misinformation campaigns? The overwhelming majority of U.S. government publications and broadcasts aim at furthering positive—sometimes rather bland, but accurate—information about the United States. ‘Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.’ This assumes that the U.S. government does not already address the American people. It does so every day, ad nauseam. U.S. citizens should be able to know what their government is telling the rest of the world. ‘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.' This is spoken out of pure ignorance. Smith–Mundt revision has been discussed for years. In 2007, Heritage published a seminal paper in favor of it, and the Smith–Thornberry bill has been around since 2009. 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. As noted in a correction to the article, Smith–Mundt does not now—nor did it ever—apply to the Department of Defense, so the point is moot. This has not, however, spurred the author to rewrite the article, the second half of which is an attack on the Department of Defense. As we debate Smith–Mundt and its pros and cons, at the very least let us have the facts on the table.” Image from
Critics have cited prominently one of the first articles on the subject to appear last Friday, ‘Congressmen Seek to Lift Propaganda Ban.’ The article ran on BuzzFeed and was authored by Michael Hastings, whose main claim to fame, as an embedded reporter in
Propaganda? So what? - Matthew Wallin, americansecurityproject.org: "Since the introduction of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013, there has been a surprising amount of attention to the fear of the American public being subjected to propaganda. The Act would remove the restriction currently in place that bans the dissemination of government material produced for overseas consumption from being made available to the American public. For a moment, let’s assume this is true and assert that the American public will be subjected to the same ‘propaganda’ as issued by the U.S. Government overseas. What is it exactly that we are worried about? Are we to assume that the messages we issue overseas are somehow unfit for the American public? If so, why is that? Is the information untrue? If it’s untrue, then it’s disinformation, and I don’t want that broadcast in my name—so let’s fix it. ... Making information readily available, propaganda or not, subjects it to more scrutiny and analysis directly by the people who are paying for it in the first place. It creates more transparency and accountability, and eliminates the domestic media as an intermediary. Should we rely completely on private media to decide what government-produced information we should or should not be issued? Why should we let CNN or Fox News decide for us? Doesn’t putting the information out there for public viewing make the private news we rely on more responsible for debating it? Shouldn’t we be able to know what we are broadcasting or publishing overseas? ... The fact of the matter is that Americans are subjected to propaganda in a variety of forms. Political campaigns are propaganda. Tourism ads are propaganda. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was propaganda. Standing on the National Mall surrounded by monuments is propaganda. What is it that frightens us?”
Smith-Mundt and Propaganda - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "There are people who know and care far more about the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act than moi, and I will let them debate and discuss. The thing that I find most fascinating is that the debate about the dreaded 'p' word has become filled with propagandized discussions. Propaganda is essentially the use of small bits
of cherry-picked information or half-truths used to try to influence thought--as opposed to public diplomacy, which tries to draw a more robust picture and shade in greyer areas. Yet the discussion over Smith-Mundt and what it stands for seems tainted by half-understood truths and weighted terms bandied about over what is really at play. I have my own issues and questions about the 'modernization' of Smith-Mundt, but I would hope that the debate could be held frankly and fully, and with a full understanding of all the implications." Image from
NDAA 2013: Congress approves domestic deceptive propaganda - Russia Today: "Reauthorizing the indefinite detention of US citizens without charge might be the scariest provision in next year’s defense spending bill, but it certainly isn’t the only one worth worrying about. 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 under the alleged purpose of putting al-Qaeda’s attempts at persuading the world against Western ideals on ice. Former US representatives went out of there way to ensure their citizens that they’d be excluded from government-created media blasts, but two lawmakers currently serving the country are looking to change all that. Congressmen Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced 'The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012' (H.R. 5736) last week during discussions for the NDAA 2013. It was voted on by the US House of Representatives to be included in next year’s defense spending bill, which was then voted on as a whole and approved. The amendment updates the antiquated Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987, essentially clarifying that the US State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors may 'prepare, disseminate and use public diplomacy information abroad,' but while also striking down a long-lasting ban on the domestic dissemination in America. For the last several decades, the federal government has been authorized to use such tactics overseas to influence foreign support of America’s wars abroad, but has been barred from such strategies within the US. If next year’s NDAA clears the US Senate and is signed by President Obama with the Thornberry-Smith provision intact, then restrictions on propaganda being force-fed to Americans would be rolled back entirety. Both Congressmen Thornberry and Smith say that the amendment isn’t being pushed to allow for the domestic distribution of propaganda, but the actual text of the provision outlines that, if approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, that very well could be the case. 'We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways.Communication is among the most important,' Rep. Thornberry explains in his initial press release on the bill. 'This outdated law ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation.' On his part, Rep. Smith says that al-Qaeda is infiltrating the Internet in order to drive anti-American sentiments ablaze. If the amendment he co-sponsors is passed, the US government would be able to fight fire with fire. 'While the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was developed to counter communism during the Cold War, it is outdated for the conflicts of today,' Rep. Smith says in his official statement. 'Effective strategic communication and public diplomacy should be front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations.An essential part of our efforts must be a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to counter their radical messages and undermine their recruitment abilities. To do this, Smith-Mundt must be updated to bolster our strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums – especially online.' Does that mean that the anti-Nazi and damning communism adverts that were a hallmark of America during the Second World War and the Cold War, respectively, will be updated to outrage Americans against the country’s alleged enemies? It isn’t ruled out, for sure. Both Congressmen Thornberry and Smith have tried to dull the American public’s quickly surmounting outrage by saying that the act won’t be used for brainwashing purposes, but by letting Uncle Sam’s propaganda-spewing communication machine have free roam on the Web and elsewhere, it would absolutely be allowed."
Propaganda, Public Diplomacy, and the Smith-Mundt Act - John Brown, Notes and Essays: "Roughly speaking, public diplomacy (defined by the State Department as "engaging, informing, and influencing key international audiences") is white propaganda; psyops (now known as MISO) carries out grey and black propaganda. Strategic communication contains elements of the three types of propaganda. To repeat, propaganda is an instrument of war by a government against an enemy -- including a power that could turn out to be an enemy. It stands to reason, therefore that, because propaganda is a weapon directed at an adversary, actual or potential, citizens of a country should not be subjected to the propaganda of their government. If they are, their government is essentially waging war upon them. That is why the Smith-Mundt Act, the 1948 legislation (amended several times) which prohibits the domestic dissemination of some USG-produced propaganda ('information') directed to foreign audiences, is still very relevant today. To be sure, some aspects of the Act are anachronistic and need fine-tuning to deal with the internet age and a globalized world. And doubtless some USG white propaganda -- such as jazz music over the Voice of America -- cannot, except by an extreme stretch of the imagination, be considered harmful to home audiences. Moreover, Americans can easily find VOA news on the Internet, despite the Smith-Mundt Act. But the Act's most important point -- that a democratic government should not propagandize its own people, as was the case with totalitarian states like Nazi Germany and the
with its citizens in the name of ‘access to information in an information age.’” Image from
Amendment in NDAA Allows US Government to Use Propaganda to Control American Perception - Susanne Posel, Occupy Corporatism: "The US government is trying to unbind the legal regulations against using propaganda against foreign audiences and American citizens. The intention is to sway public opinion by using television, radio, newspapers, and social media targeting the American and foreign people in controlled psy-ops. The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has an amendment added that negates the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (SMA) and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987. These laws made propaganda used to influence foreigners and US citizens illegal. Without these laws, disinformation could run rampant throughout our information junkets. SMA defines the prohibition of domestic access to influence information through a variety of means, from broadcast to publishing of books, media, and online sources by restricting the State Department. The Broadcasting Board of Governors was created from SMA. This agency claims to 'inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy'. They omit that their specialty is making sure propaganda is added to the informational flow we all depend on. The amendment would sanction the US government, without restriction, the use of any mode of message to control how we perceive our world. As of now, the level of propaganda in the mainstream media (MSM) is quite high, with all of our television, printed media and internet sites associated with MSM owned by only 5 corporations. Without these laws, the lies purveyed as truth to foreigners would find their way to our doorsteps as a purposeful operation enacted by our government. And in the name of national security, the US government could, and probably would, disseminate misinformation to gain public support for otherwise decidedly deplorable actions. Amendment 114 of the NDAA was approved by the House in May of this year. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act (2012) reads: Sec. 501. (a) The Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appropriated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy information programs to provide for the preparation, dissemination, and use of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers, instructors, and other direct or indirect means of communication. (b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors may, upon request and reimbursement of the reasonable costs incurred in fulfilling such a request, make available, in the United States, motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad. ... Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) in the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act (2012) (H.R. 5736), advocate that it is time to liberate the authority of the US government
to broadcast American produced foreign propaganda in the U.S. The amendment, which was hidden within the NDAA, has remained relatively unnoticed. However, it empowers the State Department and Pentagon to utilize all forms of media against the American public for the sake of coercing US citizens to believe whatever version of the truth the US government wants them to believe. All oversight is removed with Amendment 114 . Regardless of whether the information disseminated is truthful, partially truthful or completely false bears no weight. Thornberry believes that with the use of the internet by terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, the federal government needs to have the freedom to circulate their own propaganda to combat terrorism effectively. ... Four billion dollars per year is spent by the Pentagon on propaganda aimed at the American public; as well as $202 million spent by the Department of Defense on misinformation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011. Currently, the Pentagon is using 'sock puppet' (fake handles) on social media sites to purvey false information, harass users and enact psy-ops to influence Americans. A California corporation is working with the US Central Command (CENTCOM) in spreading propaganda overseas. They provide 'online persona management service' that allows active duty military to set up an estimated 10 different false identities that are used worldwide. Each fake persona comes complete with a background history and safeties to prevent 'sophisticated adversaries' from discovering the lie. CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: 'The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable CENTCOM to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.' Sophisticated software allows military to engage in online conversations with coordinated answers, blog comments and instant messaging remarks that are solely meant to spread pro-American propaganda. US Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis believes there is a definitive aspiration within the US government '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.'” Edward Bernays would be proud." Image from entry
American Propaganda: It’s Not Just for Foreigners Anymore - Beth, veracitystew.com: "In 1948 the Smith-Mundt Act was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, which prohibits the 'domestic dissemination of materials intended for foreign audiences,' namely American propaganda, from being used on American citizens. That could change very soon. An amendment has been attached to the most recent defense spending bill that would legalize the use of American propaganda materials on American audiences.
The bill, a bipartisan effort, if you can believe it, was introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), proving that the a-holes in Congress sure do know how to work together when it suits their purpose." Image from
Bill to relax the domestic dissemination ban results in the domestic dissemination of debate - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting [summarizes some articles appearing on the subject]
Ethiopia: Are the Islamists Coming? - Alemayehu Fentaw, ethiopianreview.com: "[A] source of interference [in Ethiopia] is the Government of the United States (USG) if the diplomatic cables that came out of the US embassy in Addis Ababa ending up in wikileaks are credible enough to deserve our attention. Recent wikileaked cables have made the security concerns crystal-clear and confirmed ongoing public diplomacy as well as cultural programming efforts sponsored by Embassy Addis Ababa. Three wikileaked diplomatic cables, created on 2009-07-15, and released, on 2011-08-30, originating from Embassy Addis Ababa, entitled, Growing Wahabi Influence in Ethiopia – Amhara Region and the 'Jama Negus Mosque', Wahabism in Ethiopia as 'Cultural Imperialism' and Countering Wahabi Influence in Ethiopia Through Cultural Programming discuss Wahabism at length."
Murray native, Fulbright Scholar receives award for Public Diplomacy - murrayledger.com: "Rachael Williams, Murray High School alum and current Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, recently received an award for Public Diplomacy in Seoul, South Korea. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim presented the award at the conclusion of a three-day Youth Diplomacy Program.
Williams has coordinated the program since 2010. ... Williams, the daughter of Maureen and Brian Williams, graduated from Murray High School in 2005 and Transylvania University in 2009. Since then she has served as a Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, a prestigious international educational exchange program supported by the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ... As a Fulbright Scholar, Williams has also served as Curriculum Director of Camp Fulbright, an English Language immersion program, and mentor for incoming Fulbright grantees. Williams plans to return this fall to pursue a Master’s Degree at the International School of Training located in Brattleboro, Vt." Image from article, with caption: achael Williams, a Murray High School alum and current Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, is presented an award for Public Diplomacy in Seoul, South Korea. Making the presentation is U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim. The award was presented at the conclusion of a three-day Youth Diplomacy Program.
BBG strategist says "think like an app" - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting
Thanks largely to Ron Paul coverage, RT America (Russia Today) has more YouTube subscribers than Fox and CNN - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting
USIA redux, Taiwan-style - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "Taiwan's public diplomacy institutions are undergoing a bit of a merger. The Government Information Office, which spearheads the pd efforts is being folded up into a new Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While akin to the USIA merger, there are some differences. For one, the history of the GIO has a different context. For years, the GIO was chief censor, something not said of USIA. Prof Kwei-Bo Huang has a good article for Brookings on the meaning of the merger and its effects on Taiwan's diplomacy and public diplomacy."
State Department to Unfriend al Qaeda on Facebook – Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: “Secretary of State Hillary said that “experts” at her State Department swapped al Qaeda ads on Yemeni websites bragging about killing Americans with ones showing the deadly impact of al Qaeda tactics on Yemenis themselves. “Our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaida attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,”
But wait a minute– we’re now trying to win the war on terror by buying banner ads? Won’t this keen strategy just stop working when the web site owners stop selling us the ads, which they will do now that
The least bad option on Iran: An interim nuclear deal could buy time, which is the essential point - An interim deal would gain time, and that is the essential point. No other option, including a successful military attack, could achieve more. Iran has already developed the know-how and infrastructure needed to make a bomb; were a military attack to destroy all of its nuclear facilities, it could rebuild within a few years. An attack may still prove to be necessary, but if the few years can be achieved through diplomacy, this is obviously preferable.
Syria’s neighbors are growing restless - David Ignatius, Washington Post: Fear of blowing up the region — and spawning even more Sunni-Shiite sectarian war — is one reason the Obama administration has refused to arm the Syrian opposition. Officials fear that militarizing the conflict, without reliable Syrian allies or a clear endgame strategy, could produce unintended consequences much like those of the Iraq war.
State Department to Create Jobs for Women (Not in America Dumbass) - Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: Attention unemployed American masses! Good news to announce!
Your Department of State is spending some of your last tax dollars on creating jobs for women– in Afghanistan. Those of you who can’t find work are encouraged to pack up and move to Afghanistan, where apparently the US government is interested in helping you find employment. Image from article
Proof that our ally, Pakistan is not/not complicit in hiding Bin Laden in plain sight - Domani Spero, DiploPundit: Under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, Pakistan is slated to receive $1.5 billion in annual nonmilitary aid from FY2010 through FY2014. So even the senators over at the Armed Service Committee did not like the ka-ching sound of that transit fee. “I think that’s called extortion,” Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ) told The Cable yesterday. “We can’t look at aid in that light. It’s now becoming a matter of principle.”
Via NP on facebook