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Buried within the $619 billion military budget is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

Under Cover of Christmas, Obama Establishes Controversial Anti-Propaganda Agency

"It owns all these not-at-all-important laws are smuggled into NDAAs that are signed on Christmas Eve with basically no public debate," wrote media critic Adam Johnson

Lauren McCauley

In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.

The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests."

Further, the law authorizes grants to non-governmental agencies to help "collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda" directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as "counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability" of the U.S. and allied nations.

The head of the center will be appointed by the president, which likely means the first director will be chosen by President-elect Donald Trump.

The new law comes weeks before the New York billionaire assumes the presidency, amid national outrage over the spread of fake news and what many say is foreign interference in the election, both which are accused of enabling Trump's victory.

Those combined forces have already contributed to the overt policing of media critical of U.S. foreign policy, such as the problematic "fake news blacklist" recently disseminated by the Washington Post.

And for those paying attention over the holiday weekend, the creation of the a new information agency under the Propaganda Act appears to be another worrisome development.


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Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·


Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·

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