propaganda

The New York Times promotes Putin’s propaganda

Vladimir Putin

In trying to determine something new to say about what’s happening in Syria and how, with his charmingly offensive op-ed in The New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin is essentially trying to do the job of the American President by telling us how we should all view events in the eastern Mediterranean, it became clear to me that what’s potent about these events from a domestic perspective is how they shine a light on something that conservatives and libertarians have long been yelling into the wind: the use of propaganda via media to misinform the public is pervasive and very dangerous.

This hit me hard when a good-hearted person with conservative principles remarked recently on a social networking site that Putin’s op-ed made some kind of sense to him, presumably because he called for the U.S. to stay out of war in Syria, an idea popular with conservatives and libertarians.

I went back and re-read the op-ed and couldn’t make out how passages like this one seemed reasonable:

Lies My History Teacher Told Me About the War on Terror

Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf gives us a disturbing glimpse of what American schoolchildren are being taught about the War on Terror, in the form of excerpts from a widely-used high school history textbook. The whole piece is a disturbing catalog of hilarious propaganda presented as fact to kids who are increasingly too young to remember much about the immediate aftermath the 9/11 attacks, but  I figured I’d focus on the paragraph dealing with the Patriot Act, which manages to get a truly impressive number of things wrong in a short space.

The President also asked Congress to pass legislation to help law enforcement agencies track down terrorist suspects. Drafting the legislation took time. Congress had to balance Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure with the need to increase security.

Obama Administration studying how to make Americans do what it wants

Obama's propaganda

The Obama Administration is taking the study of behavioral economics and government paternalism to a new level by setting up a task force to come up with ways to determine how best to influence or nudge Americans to make decisions of which it approves, via Richard Williams at Politico Magazine:

Indefinite detention not the only problem with NDAA

Much has been made over the “indefinite detention” language included in the National Defense Authorization Act. As Ron noted earlier, an effort to fix the legislation — the Amash-Smith Amendment — was defeated by the House, which opted for much less clear language.

But the failure to get rid of the indefinite detention provision isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. The NDAA for FY 2013 includes a provision, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who sponsored the language to axe the indefinite detention provision, that would allow for taxpayer-funded propaganda to influence Americans:

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

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.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.


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