Congress Quietly Passes Act to ‘Counter Russian Propaganda’

Congress Quietly Passes Act to ‘Counter Russian Propaganda’ | Sen. Murphy: Act gives US tools to counter threats to ‘foreign policy goals’

If you want to pass a controversial piece of legislation in the US, you can go the route of intensive debate and public discussion to defend the position. Or, if there’s a big spending bill coming up, you can just slip it in there and hope nobody notices.

That was the go-to strategy for Sens. Rob Portman (R – OH) and Chris Murphy (D – CT) in getting their big “counter-propaganda” bill through the Senate, sneaking it into the massive military spending bill for fiscal year 2017, which passed overwhelmingly, and which most probably didn’t even know included the provision.

While the measure has its origins in a less ambitious bill intended to subsidize “independent” (but obviously pro-US) journalists in Eastern Europe to counter the influence of the Russian state media, it rapidly grew to include a domestic component, creating a State Department center to track and counter what they consider “foreign disinformation.”

There are a lot of questions unanswered about how exactly the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” will end up working, but Sen. Murphy bragged that it will provide the federal government with an entire set of tools to counter threats to America’s “foreign policy goals.”

The environment in which the bill passed is disconcerting, however, coming just weeks after the Washington Post publicized a “list” of hundreds of private US media outlets who they accused of being “Russian propaganda,” and the Senate agreed to add the bill to the spending measure the day Hillary Clinton made a big speech hyping the “fake news” problem.

That we still don’t know much about what this new federal body will be authorized to do reflects both the vague wording of the bill itself and the fact that there was virtually no debate on the matter. This vagueness likely means future governments will be able to decide for themselves just how broadly empowered they have been, which is never a good sign.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • Bob

    This needs to be challenged in court.
    Very ugly government corruption.

  • dieter heymann

    The positive aspect of Trump’s apparent (he is not president yet) Russia policy is that it is much more realistic than even that of Sanders. Foremost among the positives is the dropping of “Crimea must be returned to Ukraine” which will not happen unless Ukraine gives up its independent status and returns to Russia which is not likely to happen either. Dropping the economic sanctions is good too.
    The very negative aspect of Trump’s overtures to Russia is the obvious attempt to make Russia an ally against China. The stroking of Putin is almost nauseating. That would be the reverse of Nixon’s trip to Beijing to wean China away from the then Soviet Union. That did not work and neither will the Trump policy work.
    The great winner of this dicey intentional chess game will be Russia/Putin. After all, Russia has had many more chess grand masters and more world champions than we have had. I bet that Putin is a good chess player. He was also a KGB officer in East Berlin. He has all the training. Trump has zero training.
    Trump’s opening is a Queen’s Gambit. Putin can play that opening even in his dreams.

    • survivor

      Can’t disagree. The bottom line in all this is bad behaviour will get reaction. So, Obama’s (and McCain’s) gambit that they could subvert the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2013/2014 by working with and assisting violent neo-nazi opposition groups in overthrowing the President and replacing it with a stooge (Yatz) and think Russia wouldn’t react is typical arrogance of a corrupt elite who Obama and McCain represent. I am all for a George Washington type of foreign policy so yes, do away with the sanctions against Russia and let’s be friendly towards each other.

      • dieter heymann

        Be careful with George! He was not so “Simon-pure”. When he was a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia (before our revolution) he used inside classified information available to the House for his land speculations at the Western border of Virginia which made him rich in addition to his tobacco farming.
        There were probably (I cannot prove this) two major reasons why Washington did not want to be drawn into wars abroad (wars against native Americans and poor whiskey rebels were OK). The navies of Great Britain and France individually and combined could easily close all US shipping lanes of the time.
        Furthermore, the new country needed a lot of immigrants from abroad. War with Great Britain in particular might throttle the flow of farmers and artisans from Great Britain to the newly minted US. Their offspring would also provide more soldiers for future US armies. They did.
        Washington was no ideologue. He was immensely practical. Had to be. Madison (war of 1812!) and to a lesser extent Jefferson who supported measures against Great Britain abandoned practicality for ideology with disastrous results in 1812.

  • curmudgeonvt

    Let me guess, this new State Dept agency will be based in Connecticut and Ohio? I wonder how many new government employee jobs that will allow Senators Portman and Murphy to “protect” in the future?

    Of course, that is not to overlook the obvious nefarious possibilities of the castration of freedom of the press in the US.

  • nhmakingwaves

    With the government and corporate media getting less and less willing to cover or release the facts on current events, officials require a forceful method to ensure real info doesn’t reach the public. It’s slightly more elegant than secret police. About as ethical though.

  • Freedomfighter

    well, i guess it was only a matter of time before they started going after the internet. These people will attack any forms of freedom of information whatsoever.

  • survivor

    Congress itself is propaganda. Nothing will change with this law for they spew lies and BS constantly, lol.

  • TellTheTruth-2

    As the IRON CURTAIN descends on the USA, nobody notices until it’s too late. George Orwell transposed 1984 with 1948 to hide the fact he was telling what our world would like like when Israel was a state with Zionists in control.

  • Idiotland

    Once again we see who the real enemies of America and the constitution are.

    It’s not Russia or China or Iran. It’s the zio funded trash like Portman and Murphy and the their fellow scum who occupy Washington.