Congress Moves to Stifle Free Speech – Expands Government Control Over the Media

Congress is well aware of the potential for the abuse of power they bestow on unaccountable government agencies.

In 1975 the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities was convened and chaired by Idaho Senator Frank Church (D-ID.) The committee was tasked with determining what threat, if any, the growing network of government intelligence gathering agencies posed to the freedoms of everyday Americans:

In 1976 the Church Committee published its findings:

“The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.”

Senator Church was interviewed by NBC News and was asked about the threat that our intelligence gathering services posed to the freedoms of Americans:

Church told his interviewer that, “I don’t ever want to see this country go across the bridge.  I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America.  And we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss.  That’s the abyss from which there is no return.”

As much as anything else, Donald Trump’s electoral success was fueled by a rejection of candidates on both sides of the aisle who were supportive of globalist policies.  Trump would never have been elected without support from the new media over which the government’s intelligence agencies exercises only a modicum of control.

This insubordination by the people is unacceptable to our inside the-D.C.-beltway betters who are only in Washington to benefit themselves and not the people who elected them.  In October they turned control of the Internet over to an international body.

And now the oligarchs who masquerade as our elected representatives just established and funded the Ministry of Globalist Truth.

Over the weekend the Senate passed S. 2943 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.  The vote was 85-13.  It had passed the House a week earlier by a vote of 375-34.

The pertinent text is included below with emphasis added by this writer.

Sec. 1287. Global Engagement Center

  1. Establishment –

(1) In general –

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies, shall establish within the Department of State a Global Engagement Center (in this section referred to as the Center).

(2) Purpose –

The purpose of the Center shall be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.

(b) Functions –

The Center shall carry out the following functions:

(1) Integrate interagency and international efforts to track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

(2) Analyze relevant information, data, analysis, and analytics from United States Government agencies, United States allies and partner nations, think tanks, academic institutions, civil society groups, and other nongovernmental organizations.

(3) As needed, support the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

(4) Identify current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation 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.

(5) Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.

(6) Identify gaps in United States capabilities in areas relevant to the purpose of the Center and recommend necessary enhancements or changes.

(7) Identify the countries and populations most susceptible to propaganda and disinformation based on information provided by appropriate interagency entities.

(8) Administer the information access fund established pursuant to subsection (f).

(9) Coordinate with United States allies and partner nations in order to amplify the Center’s efforts and avoid duplication.

(10) Maintain, collect, use, and disseminate records (as such term is defined in section 552a(a)(4) of title 5, United States Code) for research and data analysis of foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts and communications related to public diplomacy efforts intended for foreign audiences. Such research and data analysis shall be reasonably tailored to meet the purposes of this paragraph and shall be carried out with due regard for privacy and civil liberties guidance and oversight.

(c) Head of Center

(1) Appointment

The head of the Center shall be an individual who is an official of the Federal Government, who shall be appointed by the President.

(2) Compliance with privacy and civil liberties laws

The President shall designate a senior official to develop guidance for the Center relating to relevant privacy and civil liberties laws and to ensure compliance with such guidance.

(d) Employees of the Center –

(1) Detailees

Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Center without reimbursement, and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege for a period of not more than 3 years.

(2) Personal service contractors

The Secretary of State may hire United States citizens or aliens as personal services contractors for purposes of personnel resources of the Center, if—

(A) the Secretary determines that existing personnel resources are insufficient;

(B) the period in which services are provided by a personal services contractor, including options, does not exceed 3 years, unless the Secretary determines that exceptional circumstances justify an extension of up to one additional year;

(C) not more than 50 United States citizens or aliens are employed as personal services contractors under the authority of this paragraph at any time; and

(D) the authority of this paragraph is only used to obtain specialized skills or experience or to respond to urgent needs.

(e) Transfer of amounts authorized

(1) In general

If amounts authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to carry out the functions of the Center—

(A) for fiscal year 2017 are less than $80,000,000, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to transfer, from amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017, to the Secretary of State an amount, not to exceed $60,000,000, to be available to carry out the functions of the Center for fiscal year 2017; and

(B) for fiscal year 2018 are less than $80,000,000, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to transfer, from amounts authorized to be appropriated by an Act authorizing funds for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2018, to the Secretary of State an amount, not to exceed $60,000,000, to be available to carry out the functions of the Center for fiscal year 2018.

All that is left is for President Obama to sign the bill and it will become law.  The government will soon have the power to determine what is truth and what is propaganda.  This is how the end starts in a free society.

Notice the name of the bill, The Defense Authorization Act.  That’s not insignificant.

Benjamin Franklin offered this sage advice over two centuries ago:

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

That is why the Framers gave us the First Amendment in as explicit a form that they could:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The Framers were not naïve ideologues, far from it, in fact.  The author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson explained his well considered reason for such brevity, Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”  Translated from Latin, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

The argument coming from Washington is that the proliferation of “fake” news sites has become so overwhelming that it is overwhelming the debate.  That is nonsense on two counts.

First, two centuries ago many villages and towns had only one newspaper espousing only the publisher’s opinions.  This meant there was often little or no debate over issues in the media.  How did they ever survive?

Second, it is simply unbelievable that the massive reach of the $1.8 trillion mainstream media – The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, The Huffington Post, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Etc. – could ever fail to be heard over the ragtag new media that is led by The Drudge Report, Breitbart News, Infowars, World Net Daily, and sites like the one you are reading. 

The man who penned the First Amendment James Madison acknowledged every government’s potential to dissolve into tyranny by using the excuse of defending the nation:

“The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”

Madison also told us that the defense against “fake” news in the name of liberty was more news not less news.

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

We have now arrived at the precipice of tyranny and sadly only 47 Senators and Representatives out of a total of 535 even care.

Trump promised to “drain the swamp.”  It’s now or never,