the Orwellian Global Engagement Center
The Ministry of Truth an Orwellian concept becomes real
They called Donald Trump a liar, then they gave him a Ministry of Truth. Strange! But that's what Congressional Democrats and Republicans got together and did. Outgoing President Obama signed it into law on December 23rd, 2016, a month before Trump's inauguration.
"Global Engagement Center" is the official name for the Ministry of Truth. "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."
How powerful the Ministry will become remains to be seen. It may turn out to be a farce, or it could become a very destructive Joe McCarthy style assault on journalists, writers, and scholars who dare to criticize neoliberal establishment policies. The immediate targets are the websites which the Washington Post has accused of being part of a "Russian propaganda effort [which] helped spread 'fake news' during [the] election." A tentative blacklist of two hundred supposedly "fake-news" websites included right-wing and Libertarian as well as left-wing websites. It's an attack on the alternative media -- those insufferable little websites who comment on the emperor's new clothes.
In the current witch hunt the Washington Post and Congress are labeling information and opinions they don't like as "foreign" -- supposedly coming from Russia and echoed by "useful idiots." This is quite reminiscent of the McCarthy era. Back in the 1950s the unwanted opinions were supposedly from the Soviet Union.
This particular round of media legislation was introduced by Senators Rob Portman and Chris Murphy in March 2016. However, U.S. government intervention in the media goes back a long way. According to a 1977 article by Carl Bernstein, "America's leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services." About twenty-five major news organizations were part of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird; hundreds of smaller ones were involved. For a more recent update see Susanne Posel's 2013 article "How the NDAA Allows US Gov to Use Propaganda Against Americans."
What's new about the "Global Engagement Center" is that government intervention in the media is no longer covert. The mask is off.
The legislation creating this "Ministry of Truth " consists of about three pages of the 969 page "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017" The full 969 page NDAA document can be found at congress.gov. Below is the text of the three pages regarding the Ministry.
Those of us who read or write for alternative media should take a look at what's in this recently created Orwellian entity.
January 22, 2017
The text of the
Global Engagement Center
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017
pages 547 to 549
SEC. 1287. GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT CENTER.
(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.
(2) NOTICE REQUIREMENT.—The Secretary of Defense shall notify the congressional defense committees of a proposed transfer under paragraph (1) not less than 15 days prior to making such transfer.
(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF REPROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS.— The authority to transfer amounts under paragraph (1) shall not be subject to any reprogramming requirement under any other provision of law.
(f) INFORMATION ACCESS FUND—
(1) AUTHORITY FOR GRANTS.—The Center is authorized to provide grants or contracts of financial support to civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions for the following purposes:
(A) To support local independent media who are best placed to refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.
(B) To collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.
(C) To analyze and report on tactics, techniques, and procedures of foreign information warfare with respect to disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda.
(D) To support efforts by the Center to counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.
(2) FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND LIMITATIONS.—The Secretary of State shall provide that each organization that applies to receive funds under this subsection is selected in accordance with the relevant existing regulations to ensure its bona fides, capability, and experience, and its compatibility with United States interests and objectives.
(g) REPORTS .—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than one year after the date on which the Center is established, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report evaluating the success of the Center in carrying out its functions under subsection (b) and outlining steps to improve any areas of deficiency.
(2) DEFINITION.—In this subsection, the term ‘‘appropriate congressional committees’’ means—
(A) the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and
(B) the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
(h) LIMITATION.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to carry out this section shall be used for purposes other than countering foreign propaganda and misinformation that threatens United States national security.
(i) TERMINATION .—The Center shall terminate on the date that is 8 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.
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articles from various sources about the "fake news" hysteria
"Democrats Launch New McCarthyism"
by Norman Solomon
December 8, 2016
Glenn Greenwald's response on The Intercept
"Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group"
by Glenn Greenwald
November 26 2016
The WASHINGTON POST article about "fake news" & PropOrNot:
"Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say."
by Craig Timberg
November 24, 2016
THE PROPORNOT WEBSITE, LISTING 200 WEBSITES
KPFA’s “Fake News” Pitch and the Ministry of Truth
by Daniel Borgstrom
at Counter Punch
"Under Cover of Christmas, Obama Establishes Controversial Anti-Propaganda Agency"
by Lauren McCauley
December 26, 2016
Press Release from Senator Portman
December 23, 2016
Portman-Murphy Bill Promotes Coordinated Strategy to Defend America, Allies Against Propaganda and Disinformation from Russia, China & Others
Global Engagement Center
2017 National Defense Authorization Act