Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The land of the free

Congress bans US "military propaganda". According to the Washington Times:

Congressional Democrats want to ban Pentagon propaganda on the Iraq war ... The House passed legislation in May to prohibit the military from engaging in "any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes or behavior of the people of the United States in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly."

The Washington Times says enforcing the ban will be difficult.

"I think it would be difficult to implement," said Anthony Pratkanis, co-author of the book "Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion," of any law attempting to prohibit the military from promoting itself. Interpretations of what constitutes propaganda can vary, and U.S. efforts to influence a foreign enemy - which is allowed under the law - often seep into American airwaves anyway, he said.

In an globalized world, what constitutes a domestic release of information? Is there any form of communication that can be directed at the enemy that lacks the potential to reach an American audience? A video on YouTube? A blog post? A telephone interview given to bloggers? A briefing given before network correspondents and cameras in Baghdad? All of those are likely to be seen by American audiences. Should they be proscribed? The days of short range radio stations and leaflet drops are over.

On the other hand, it is an open question whether enemy propaganda is restricted, even in principle from being broadcast at American audiences. Recently Senator Joseph Lieberman asked YouTube to pull al-Qaeda videos hosted on its site. Here's what happened:

YouTube LLC has refused a request from U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) to remove all videos sponsored by terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, contending that most of them don't violate its community guidelines.

Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Monday called on the Google Inc. subsidiary to remove video content produced by terrorist organizations that showed assassinations, deaths of U.S. soldiers and civilians, weapons training, "incendiary" speeches and other material intended to "encourage violence against the West."

YouTube's reason for its refusal is telling. It can't ban terrorist videos because they are entitled to Free speech.

YouTube went on to say that it encourages free speech and defends the right of its users to express unpopular points of view. "We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate, we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds," the company said. "Of course, users are always free to express their disagreement with a particular video on the site, by leaving comments or their own response video. That debate is healthy."

I wish the world would make it's mind up about what constitutes modern Western enlightenment. As matters stand we seem to exist in a universe where Free Speech can held to be both a virtue and crime by equally "progressive" parties. Why, British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal, which is investigating Mark Steyn's so-called transgressions of Muslim feelings (though nobody asked Canadian Muslims if they were offended) was told by Dean Steacy the principal "anti-hate" investigator of the HRC: "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value."

Here's what I think. Freedom of speech means exactly this on the Left. "You are free to speak and we are free to shut you down." Now that's a clear concept.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Lilith said...

Under a policy adopted in 1991, the Pentagon bars news organizations from photographing caskets being returned to the United States, saying publication of such photos would be insensitive to bereaved families.

6/04/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Wow! The house idiots are becoming curiouser and curiouser. Maybe they are wannabe Canadian Human Rights judges in training?

6/04/2008 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger peterike said...

So the Dimmicrats want to ban the military from saying anything that might, umm, help the country win wars. Uh huh.

But let's not question their patriotism or nothin'.

6/04/2008 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Congressman Hodes is from my state's second district. He's a lawyer and not an intellectual. He's basically a foot soldier for the Dhimmicrapic Party. It is interesting that he clerked under Justice Souter years ago before the judge went to the Supreme Court. You can be sure that before they dropped this bomb, they went to plenty of judges and lawyers to get legal opinions as to whether or not it would hold up to legal challenge. Dhimmicraps, the party of lawyers, are very good at that sort of thing.

I would be interested in knowing how this could be construed as defensible upon a legal challenge in the court system. I am no lawyer, so I haven't a clue as to how it can be unassailable.

They acted on the NYT story very, very quickly. So quickly, that I think they had a heads-up on it from the paper and their sources in the government. A bill like this takes planning and discussion, and I doubt that less than a month's time is sufficient for it. Want to bet that this has been months in the planning?

Hodes is a nobody. He campaigned aggressively on a "get us out of Iraq" platform and not much else substantive. I know the law firm he worked for, Shaheen and Gordon, and they are known for being very politically powerful in the state. They are putting up Jeanne Shaheen for the U.S. Senate - a woman who is about as vanilla and uninspiring as they come. How she ever won multiple terms as governor I'll never understand. She's not a lawyer, by the way, just married to one. She's an educator/educrat by training and profession. Need I say more...

6/04/2008 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard, that's precisely the point. Free Speech = anti-Western speech by Jihad OK, defense of Western values is hate speech.

That's what it is all about. Orwellian thought control.

YouTube yanks anything critical of Obama or Dems or Jihad. It's a Left Wing echo shop.

6/04/2008 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

If you want to look for the hand of evil, this is where you can find it. There is an ongoing, ususally subtle, pervasive effort by most centers of power to encroach on the freedom of speech in one way or another. Vladimir Putin does it, but so does the Texas State Board of Education and the philosophy department at your local college. Each group has a different angle, and its own reasons, but they all must be resisted if we are to maintain a decent society. All of us are subject to the temptation of restricting what others may say. Whether we are talking about hate speech or campaign finance or political correctness or two-tiered internets, I think we have to be extremely alert to principle in all these arguments. I'm not advocating for one position or another. I'm just saying that everyone should inspect their own motives carefully and hew to Voltaire's maxim.

6/04/2008 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I have not the slightest doubt that we are headed for 'interesting times'. How interesting, I don't know.

It doesn't serve much of a purpose to create complex future scenarios in a situation where it is literally impossible to anticipate them. Whatever edge we can gain will serve only to get a half-step ahead of events. Here is where you create a reserve because nobody knows what happens next.

6/04/2008 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Neo Conservative said...

well... a good part of the canadian mainstream media are already totally on board.

hope you resist the mad tide... south of the 49th.


6/04/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger randian said...

What do we have a military for if not to support national objectives?

6/04/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger randian said...

What do we have a military for if not to support national objectives?
now you're getting to the heart of it. The objectives are not national.

6/05/2008 03:17:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

randian: What do we have a military for if not to support national objectives?

We do have a military and it does support our national objectives. It just so happens that the democratic party no longer supports either.

Once a party is entirely adversarial with respect to its nation's military—think John "in cold blood" Murtha—they become an enemy of the state and a threat to American society. Clearly, the democratic party is both.

This is cognitive dissonance writ large. Consider for one moment that America's military remains one of the most highly respected national institutions, if not THE most respected of them all.

McCain needs to beat this like a dimestore drum. America must be made aware of this most recent example of the democratic party's ongoing treason.

6/05/2008 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger NJArtist said...

now you're getting to the heart of it. The objectives are not national.

You are indirectly stating, in typical left wing duplicity, that only left wing objectives are "national" objectives:"National objectives are those that further the policies and designs of the left; all others are "partisan" policies of the extremist right and are therefor illegitimate."

6/05/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger AnotherSkelly said...

Perhaps such a congressional mandate would also block DoD personnel from wasting time in Congressional hearings. They - Congress - do claim to represent the people.

"... any form of communication in support ... of the people of the United States"

But more importantly, please drop the other shoe. What is the status of the legislation?

6/05/2008 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/05/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

6/05/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Analyst: ‘Nobody directed what we said’

Paul Vallely sees a high-profile New York Times story on military talking heads as a hatchet job.

In an April 25 letter to the Times, he accused it of “thwarting American’s ability to fight that war by any means available.”

From PSYOP to MindWar: The Psychology of Victory

The Value of Military Analysts

And so it was settled. Al Qaeda’s would attack Iraqis, creating media events that the Western media could use to try to lose the war at home. It was understood that this strategy would turn the Iraqis against al Qaeda, losing the war on the ground, but maybe not before the Democrats and their media allies managed to lose the war in America. It would be a race: could the Democrat/ al Qaeda alliance create defeat in America before the American military would win the war in Iraq?

The Democrat / al Qaeda Alliance's Morale Operations against national will met resistance which delayed American defeat. Rep. Hodes has a cure for that.

6/05/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

If Congressman Hodes and his masters who have directed his efforts think that this legislation will affect the outcome of the present phase of the war, they are sadly mistaken and they truly do not grasp the realities on the ground and their metrics.

They are too late and are in reactive mode.

On the other hand, is it possible that they know this and there is a deeper game, aimed at the future, intended with this legislation?

6/05/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Congress approves the promotion list for officers; generally it's just a "rubber stamp" of what comes from the services, but occasionally they have held up promotion lists to force an issue with the Pentagon. (Following the Tailhook scandal, for example.) Unfortunately, a Democratic-controlled Congress could use that method to indirectly enforce this issue if they wanted. ANd based on their actions in recent years, I would not put it past them.

6/05/2008 12:46:00 PM  

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