Humiliated by Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election, despite all the rigged polls and voting by illegals and the dead, the Obama administration and the mainstream media created boogeymen to blame: It’s the Russian government, the Alternative Media, and “fake news”!

All the more important that we in the Alternative Media are scrupulous in what we report and write.

On December 24, 2016, Investment Watch Blog (IWB) published a very alarming article by Sean Adl-Tabatabai titled “Obama Signs Christmas Bill Making Alternative Media Illegal“. Adl-Tabatabai writes (I supplied the red bold emphasis):

“President Obama has just quietly signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.

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On Friday, just two days before Christmas, Obama signed the ‘Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017′ bill into law.

Adl-Tabatabai then quotes an article by Aaron Kesel of Wearechange.org, complete with odd capitalized letters (I supplied the bold and red color for certain words for emphasis):

“This bill, as we reported previously, will ‘Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web,’ a key piece of legislation meant to crack down on free speech and independent media. In Layman’s terms, the act will allow the government to crack down with impunity against any media outlet it deems ‘propaganda.’ […]

What does that mean for you if you are an independent journalist or blogger? You can read more here, but it means that for simply writing this and asking questions and pointing out that Obama always signs these bills around the holidays like I did in this poem, if I am accused of ‘fake news’ or propaganda, I could face criminal charges.

In other words the stage is now set for the U.S. government to legally crack down on every media outlet that the they deem to be ‘foreign propaganda.’ The ministry of truth is setup. Welcome to 1984.”

Note that the embedded link in the words “Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web” refers to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

The problem is neither Investment Watch Blog nor Wearechange.org provides a link to the legislation in question, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, nor do they provide the actual words, sentences and paragraphs from the bill which “criminalize fake news, propaganda on the web” and “make it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.”.

So I went on the web to find the text of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 30, 2016. Here’s the link to H.R. 6393, so you can read it for yourself. To read H.R. 6393 in PDF format, go here.

Below is the summary of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017:

“To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.”

This is what I did:

  • I searched for these specific words: “criminalize”, “fake news”, “alternative media” and “propaganda”. I can’t find them in H.R. 6393.
  • I read the entire text of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

The closest to what Investment Watch Blog and Wearechange.org claim is Section 501 (I supplied the bold red color):

Section 501. Committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments(a) Definitions.–

In this section:

(1) Active measures by Russia to exert covert influence.–
The term active measures by Russia to exert covert influence means activities intended to influence a person or government that are carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly, including the following:

(A) Establishment or funding of a front group.
(B) Covert broadcasting.
(C) Media manipulation.
(D) Disinformation and forgeries.
(E) Funding agents of influence.
(F) Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
(G) Assassinations.
(H) Terrorist acts.

(b) Establishment.–
There is established within the executive branch an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.

(c) Membership.–

(1) In general.–

(A) Appointment.–
Each head of an agency or department of the United States Government set out under subparagraph (B) shall appoint one member of the committee established by subsection (b) from among officials of such agency or department who occupy a position that is required to be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(B) Head of an agency or department.–
The head of an agency or department of the United States Government set out under this subparagraph are the following:

(i) The Director of National Intelligence.
(ii) The Secretary of State.
(iii) The Secretary of Defense.
(iv) The Secretary of the Treasury.
(v) The Attorney General.
(vi) The Secretary of Energy.
(vii) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(viii) The head of any other agency or department of the United States Government designated by the President for purposes of this section.

(d) Meetings.–
The committee shall meet on a regular basis.

(e) Duties.–

The duties of the committee established by subsection (b) shall be as follows:

(1) To counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence, including by exposing falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

(2) Such other duties as the President may designate for purposes of this section.”

Some in the Alternative Media see Section 501 — specifically the allusion to “agents of influence” — as reminiscent of a November 24, 2016 article in The Washington Post which cited “experts” who claim the Russian government had helped Donald Trump get elected, as well as a newly-founded and anonymous website, Is It Propaganda or Not? (PropOrNot), that posted a hit list of 200 alternative media websites that are alleged to be either witting or unwitting agents of Russia in spreading disinformation (“fake news”) and propaganda. The list includes WikiLeaks, Drudge Report, Zero Hedge, and small potatoes like Fellowship of the Minds. (See “FOTM made the List of 200 secret-Russian-agents websites!”)

That being said, it is one thing for the Washington Post to accuse bloggers of being Russian agents, it’s another thing entirely for the U.S. government to do so.

Nothing in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 “criminalizes fake news, propaganda on the web” and “makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.”. To do that, the U.S. government will have to:

  • Give evidence that an alternative media website is an “agent of influence” of and has a connection with the Russian government.
  • Criminalize, i.e., make it against the law to have a blog or website on the Internet. To do so would mean the government would have to violate the Constitution’s First Amendment provision of freedom of speech and of the press.

The same claim — that a newly passed law “criminalizes fake news, propaganda on the web” and “makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.” — is also made about another law, S. 2943: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed by Congress (both houses) on Dec. 13, 2016. See TrailDust’s post of today, “While you celebrated Christmas – Obama stole the 1st Amendment“.

I’ll address S. 2943 tomorrow.

~Eowyn

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Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.