White House Orders Propaganda Broadcasts

“No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by Congress.”

Since 1951, that prohibition on the funding of propaganda within the U. S. has been enacted annually. It’s a straight forward ban on the expenditure of taxpayer dollars intended to deceive and manipulate taxpayers. While there are many examples of deceptive communications by the government and its accessories (i.e. Judith Miller, Armstrong Williams, and Fox News), there remains a distinction between that and products deliberately intended to influence foreign audiences. For example, Voice of America, whose broadcasts are not permitted within the U. S.

The Bush administration, however, would never let 56 years of law and precedent stand in the way of its venal designs. As reported by the Miami Herald

“Taxpayer-funded TV and Radio Martí are spending $377,500 to air select programs on South Florida broadcast stations over the next six months, using loopholes in a law that prohibits the propaganda channels from distribution within the United States.”

The loophole that is being asserted here provides an exception for broadcast dissemination that is considered “inadvertent.” But it is implausible to suggest that broadcasts over South Florida radio and television frequencies would produce only inadvertent exposure to U. S. audiences. These channels are, in fact, intended for U. S. audiences.

Particularly disturbing is the statement by the director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Pedro Roig, that the decision to air these programs was, “taken at the White House.” This was corroborrated by Jorge Luis Hernández, director of broadcast operations for OCB, who said that the White House pushed for these broadcasts on local Miami stations. Though disturbing, it is not surprising with the knowledge that the federal agency that oversees the OCB, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), is chaired by the corrupt BushCo henchman, Kenneth Tomlinson.

There may be even more to this than simple propaganda. Joe García of the New Democratic Network believes that the financial arrangements in this matter have another unscrupulous purpose:

“This is a fraud. This is using taxpayer dollars for a political payoff to benefit the most Republican and politically charged radio station in Miami. They know well that the station isn’t heard in Cuba, because Cuba transmits Radio Rebelde over the exact same frequency.”

This news, coming as it does just days after the recess appointments of two more Bush cronies to the BBG suggests a massive escalation in Bush’s War on Truth. If our nation’s corporate dominated media were not already so compromised and ineffective, these events would constitute a major scandal. As it is, most Americans will hear little or nothing about it. That’s the way good propaganda works.

[Note: Sen. Lautenberg authored a bill to Stop Government Propaganda (S. 266) and to permanently codify the language at the top of this post. The bill was introduced in February of 2005 and went straight to the Judiciary Committee where it has languished ever since. We’ll see if there is any progress when the gavel passes from Sen. Specter (R-PA) to Sen. Leahy (D-VT)]