Critics Fret About Smith-Mundt Modernization Act

by Steven R. Corman The House of Representatives has been working to amend the laws that govern the dissemination of “propaganda” materials in the U.S.  What seemed like a good idea to me and others–one long overdue–is being spun by some observers as a dark effort by the DoD and State Department who want authorization to brainwash Americans. Last night Buzzfeed posted an article claiming that the changes were being quietly inserted into a defense […] Read more »

US PD Advisory Commission is no more

by Steven R. Corman In an apparent budget cutting move, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy was cut from the recently passed budget, and has ceased to exist. The move eliminates an organization over 60 years old. The Commission was established under the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 as the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information.  It was merged with an educational exchange commission in 1977 to produce the current name […] Read more »

State’s Digital Outreach Team May Do More Harm Than Good

by Cameron Bean Since November of 2006, the State Department has taken its public diplomacy efforts into the online arena of Arabic, Urdu, and Persian discussion boards. Heading this effort is the Digital Outreach Team (DOT). According to DOT member Muath Alsufy, the initiative began after the realization that “there was a lot of misinformation about the US, mainly foreign policies, and there was a void… no source on these forums and blogs that would […] Read more »

Two Agenda Items for Next Week’s Smith-Mundt Pow Wow

by Steven R. Corman Yesterday I participated in a journalists’ roundtable discussion (sponsored by the AOC) on next week’s symposium organized by blogging buddy and Smith-Mundt super-wonk Matt Armstrong.  At issue is what to do about the Smith-Mundt Act (SMA). In a nutshell, the SMA (among other things) erects a firewall preventing domestic dissemination of U.S. strategic communication directed at foreign audiences.  If you want to know more about it than that, a good place […] Read more »

Real vs. False Distinctions in Rethinking Smith-Mundt

by Steven R. Corman Matt Armstrong recently posted  an essay on the Smith-Mundt Act that has been getting a lot of attention.  In it he claims that the Act has outlived its usefulness, and I am on record as agreeing with him. Sharon Weinberger over at Danger Room has just finished posting a three part critique of Matt’s paper.  Her response is thoughtful and impassioned, the kind of discussion we should be having about this […] Read more »

The Problem with Smith-Mundt

by Steven R. Corman Matt Armstrong of the MountainRunner blog probably knows more about the Smith-Mundt Act than any other living human, and he’s not even a lawyer. He has just published an “interim version” (?) of an essay on Smith-Mundt over at Small Wars Journal.  It begins with the (very good) question “how can a guy in cave out propagandize the country that created public relations and the Internet?” Partial answer: The Smith-Mundt Act. […] Read more »