It is a given that in order for there to be an effective democracy the electors must have free open access to facts which are true and verifiable in order that they may use these to make informed choices when they go to vote. Any attempt, therefore, by the State to adulterate or falsify the information it produces to its voters is abhorrent, indeed it is the very act and hallmark of the despotic undemocratic administration.
It is therefore with a mixture of horror and disgust that one learns of a sly amendment snuck in on the back of a mammoth Defence Authorization Bill which seeks to do exactly that.
Two sponsors, Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas and Representative Adam Smith of Washington state, have slithered this amendment into the Act which in an instant would neutralize both the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987. It would seek to “Strike the current ban on domestic dissemination”.
So what does this mean? Well all countries lie when they deal with foreigners. It’s called propaganda. They hope to influence old Johnny Foreigner with unlikely tales of chickens in every pot, or free and equal representation for all and how bad people with brown skins and red books are. Normally this has been fairly straightforward stuff, but in the maelstrom that followed 9/11 new techniques were required to deal with a foreign enemy who was not bound in defined territories like Russia or Cuba had been. Al Qaeda was a multinational philosophy that needed new techniques.
The skills and tricks that the US has developed since then just seem too good to be left outside, and Thornberry and Smith would like to bring them home so the Government can directly lie to you through TV, radio, newspapers and social media. And by lie I mean exactly that, they will not do, as they do at the moment, simply dress up the story in its Sunday best give it a wipe behind the ears and send it out in polished shoes. They will invent stories about internal threats, of weapons of mass destruction, or people with exploding underpants. And in the process all oversight will be removed, together with any hope of checks and balances to ensure that what the Government says is accurate, true and balanced.
Partially accurate or plainly downright false reports would be used to prop up unpopular policies like wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
We can but trust that people making a fuss and exposing this sleight of hand, or the process of reconciliation in Congress to strip out the fruit loops of ideology will work.
Copyright David Macadam 2012