President Barack Obama quietly signed a bill Dec. 23 authorizing the creation of an anti-propaganda center.
The bill was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will allocate almost $619 billion for military spending, notes Democracy Now!. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, sponsored by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, will focus on fighting propaganda spread by foreign entities.
Portman published a Dec. 23 news release on his official website:
Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel. ... But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas. With this bill now law, we are finally signaling that enough is enough; the United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. We are going to confront this threat head-on. I am confident that, with the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail.
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The NDAA, including the anti-propaganda bill, easily passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate with a sizeable majority, reports Democracy Now!. The act also includes provisions to increase the number of active-duty soldiers to more than 1.3 million, raise military pay across the board and add new restrictions for transferring prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center, making it more difficult for Obama or anyone else to shut down the prison.
The news release on Portman's site also provided Murphy's thoughts:
The use of propaganda to undermine democracy has hit a new low. But now we are finally in a position to confront this threat head on and get out the truth. By building up independent, objective journalism in places like eastern Europe, we can start to fight back by exposing these fake narratives and empowering local communities to protect themselves. I'm proud that our bill was signed into law, and I look forward to working with Senator Portman to make sure these tools and new resources are effectively used to get out the truth.