June 8, 2016—The US government has been worried about international news organizations—more specifically Russian government-funded ones—for quite some time. But despite the fuss, many argue that attempting to restrict news organizations is at best, unconstitutional, at worst, it’s the very opposite of what a free nation should do.
But to those who agree with the government on this, thy should not worry for a duo of bipartisan congressmen has now decided to take matters into their own hands, introducing a piece of legislation that creates yet another bureaucratic conglomerate to review, analyze, dissect, and then “correct” information shared by what the government believes to be foreign propaganda machines.
How hypocritical of them.
In one of my latest articles for the Advocates for Self-Government, I discussed this bill, its contents, and why libertarians should oppose it:
“Instead of attempting to lower the income tax so we might, indeed, become more like Mother Russia where it counts, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), as well as several House supporters, want us to fight propaganda like the Kremlin does instead. Why? Well, because if other governments lie, we must be just as good at it as them.
H.R. 5181, a bill introduced by the bipartisan super duo, wants to create a structure that would allow for the creation of government-funded news propaganda. Too bad none of the H.R. 5181 supporters seem to know this approach is nothing short of tyrannical.
According to the bill’s text, the idea behind this piece of legislation is to create a ‘whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions’ in order to fight ‘foreign disinformation and manipulation,’ more specifically coming from countries like Russia.
In a statement, Kinzinger said that ‘As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives,’ they proved to be a problem to the United States ‘and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries.’
In order to remedy what Kinzinger and Lieu believe to be a propaganda problem, their approach is to boost the country’s role in ‘countering these destabilizing acts of propaganda’ with a bill that would ‘[develop] a comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter disinformation campaigns through interagency cooperation and on-the-ground partnerships with outside organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda.’
According to Lieu, foreign propaganda makes the world less safe. But not one word on how US intervention in other countries’ businesses is actually making us less safe was ever uttered by none of H.R. 5181’s sponsors, nor did they ever mention any examples of destabilizing consequences provoked by foreign propaganda. So what is the real purpose of this bill?
If signed into law, H.R. 5181, or the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016, would task the Secretary of State with coordinating the leadership of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, and finally the Broadcasting Board of Governors with the creation of a Center for Information Analysis and Response, giving bureaucrats the power to identify ‘disinformation’ so that the same bureaucrats are able to develop ‘fact-based narratives’ to help undermine different narratives.
The bill’s very text admits that the task force would search for ‘current trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation and proactively promote fact-based narratives and policies to audiences outside the United States. (emphasis added)’
In other words, the US government would have a group of bureaucrats focus solely on what those who dissent from the official narrative are saying in order to target them and fight the influence of their petulant commentary.”
We know how this will turn out if the bill is passed, don’t we? After all, bureaucrats are so efficient at their jobs, we should have nothing to fear.
Is it time for the United States government stop meddling with other countries’ business? Share your thoughts with us!