Since 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act has prohibited United States citizens from accessing materials used by the U.S. government in “public diplomacy.”
On Friday, the House of Representatives quietly passed a markup that amends the original Smith-Mundt Act. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act is now part of the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Critics on the left and right have come out against the act, charging that the changes made will allow for the distribution of U.S. government propaganda aimed at American citizens.
“Hey, by the way, in completely unrelated news, did you see last week that the congress just passed in the dead of night, with no real discussion on this one, why, there's no big deal, this new act for propaganda,” Glenn said on radio this morning.
“Yeah, they [the U.S. government] they were spending so much great money on propaganda, you know, on the United States overseas, that we put a law in, in 1948: No propaganda here,” he continued.
“You can't use government propaganda on American citizens. We put that in, in 1948. We strengthened it in 1978. But the congress has decided, ‘Yeah, we're going to reverse that. We're going to use propaganda here.’”
In light of Glenn’s recent insight into the connectedness between social media tools like Facebook and the White House, these changes to Smith-Mundt are all the more alarming.
“Wow, wouldn't it be cool if you had Facebook and you had Cass Sunstein, who believed you could infiltrate groups, and you could manipulate groups, and you could manipulate public opinion,” Glenn asked.
“If you just had an asset like Facebook. Wouldn't that be good? I'm sure that's not what's going on. I'm sure that's not what's going on.”