Very interesting and informative new piece on Smith-Mundt
Thursday, June 14th 2012
We are delighted to share with you a great new piece on Smith-Mundt provided to the Council by its author Jeremy Berkowitz.
In "Why Repeal of Smith-Mundt is Not Enough for Public Diplomacy" Berkowitz discusses what the recent attempts by Congressmen Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) "to repeal the outdated domestic dissemination ban first inserted in Smith-Mundt in 1948, and later strenghtened in 1972" would mean (or would not mean) for U.S. public diplomacy.
Among other things Berkowitz argues:
"The repeal of the domestic dissemination ban is a good thing for public diplomacy, and the changes currently made are narrowly tailored. The bill makes clear that the repeal of the ban only applies to material produced by the State Department after the law goes into effect. The bill also makes clear that Smith-Mundt only applies to the State Department. This means that the Defense Department, which routinely produces psy-op materials for countries where the U.S. military is fighting wars, would not be obligated to release those materials upon request."
"However, there should be concern that this amendment is not providing public diplomacy with the proper attention it deserves during a legislative debate. A simple repeal of the domestic dissemination ban, while necessary, is insufficient, as protections will be needed to ensure that State Department personnel do not encounter interference with their work. However, more importantly, Smith and Thornberry are denying Congress the opportunity to have an important discussion about the role of public diplomacy in 2012. When Smith-Mundt was passed in 1948, it culminated a three year debate over the type of international information strategy the U.S. government wanted to establish after World War II. The stakes of public diplomacy currently demand a similar debate."
Read a copy of Berkowitz' full piece here.