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Democrat Defends "Propaganda" Bill

Smith stands behind the amendment allowing domestic information campaigns. The argument: electoral accountability will be enough to safeguard against the spread of propaganda.

Posted on May 22, 2012, at 3:13 p.m. ET

Rep. Adam Smith from Washington championed the defense bill amendment that will “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda in an interview with Salon's Glenn Greenwald earlier today.

Repealing the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 is "not about trying to influence domestic audiences," Smith emphaized. Rather, he intends the amendment to free up current restrictions placed on foreign information campaigns.

"The internet is where Al Qaeda and a lot of violent extremist groups do a ton of work. Our ability to counter what they’re doing in terms of foreign areas like Afghanistan and Somalia was limited by interpretations of the Smith-Mundt Act," Smith said.

Responding to concerns that the amendment will allow information campaigns to be aimed at domestic audiences, Smith assured that if the amendment passes, the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors will still be unable to distribute propaganda originally intended for U.S. citizens. However, according to Smith, the strongest protection against the distribution of propaganda is the democratic process, not a bill or amendment.

"The primary block on the ability of the US government to wrongly and unfairly propagandize the American population is the American population saying ‘Don’t do that, or we’ll vote out of office the people who do it,’" Smith said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.