Hysteria in America: Congress filled with ‘totalitarians’ who oppose ‘free market of ideas’
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2018, which passed the US Senate earlier this week, carries some added provisions that have little in common with the military.
Indeed, American legislators have published a bill that could potentially block Russian broadcasters from being shown in the US. It could allow US content providers to break their contracts, leaving Russian channels without any legal recourse.
The plan is buried inside a tiny amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The part about Russia is summarized in just a few lines, between details on funding of the US military.
Amendment No 1096, which aims to“prohibit multichannel video programming distributors from being required to carry certain video content that is owned or controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation”.
RT: Why the focus on Russia, in what's supposed to be an annual defense spending bill?
Daniel McAdams: There is an obsession on Capitol Hill and within the mainstream media with RT because RT is effective and RT is watched. But also, and this is very important because RT carries perspectives that are not available in the mainstream media. Commentators on RT that I know would say the same thing that they say on RT if they were invited by any of the mainstream media, but they won’t. The matter of fact is that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the people who were behind this amendment, the Atlantic Council and the others are trying to silence RT. They are the totalitarians, they are the enemies of free speech; they're the enemies of the First Amendment; they don’t want anyone coming on television saying that America’s foreign policy is a disaster; it is broken; it is making us more vulnerable to attack, and it’s costing a fortune. It cannot stand competition in the area of ideas.
RT: As we mentioned, various foreign governments fund TV channels in America, but only Russia gets a mention in this bill. Is that a case of double-standards? Should the attention just solely be on Russia?
DM: The attention should be on none of these stations. It should be viewer beware. If you’re watching RT and you know that it is funded, or its funding comes from the Russian government, you take that into consideration just as any intelligent person would do. When I watch France 24, when I watch the BBC, I know that that takes the perspectives of the British government into consideration, because it is funded by that.
This is a free market of ideas; this is what this is all about. But the people on Capitol Hill are again totalitarians – they don’t want a free market in ideas. They want to control the debate. They don’t want Americans to wake up and see that the foreign policy that they are pushing is resulting in a charred Earth and a disaster that is coming home to roost.
RT: Does it look like this measure has been deliberately buried in a huge defense bill to avoid scrutiny? Or do you expect debate on this?
DM: This is how it’s done, absolutely. I have read a million defense spending bills in my 15 years on the Hill. This is called planting a seed – you plant this kernel, and it starts to grow. If someone objects, later on, you can say – this is already passed in the defense bill; you’ve already voted on this; this is already part of the law; this is just suggesting, clarifying, or going further. This is how they do things: you bury it in a huge bill like this; you plant a seed and you watch it grow.
I don’t know the exact language in the bill; I am sure Russia is not only the flavor of the month, it is the flavor of the year. There is the ‘Investigate Russia’committee, where a bunch of Hollywood liberals got together with a bunch of neocons and are finding reds under our beds. There is a hysteria going on in America. I still would like to believe that the average American thinks it’s absolutely nuts; I hope it stays that way. Hopefully, this will blow over at some point, and not blow up….
Hollywood was once on the receiving end of McCarthyism in the 50s, and now it looks like they want to dish out McCarthyism on everyone else.
‘Hemmed in by Deep State’
Dave Lindorff, investigative journalist
RT: This is supposed to be a routine defense spending bill. So why would Russian broadcasters be targeted?
Dave Lindorff: That is the view in Congress, Russia is the enemy, so they are sticking it in the defense bill. I am being a bit facetious, but not terribly facetious. The defense bill often has things stuck in it that have nothing to do with defense. That is how Congress gets things done that they wouldn’t be able to just to do as a free-standing bill because it would be too ridiculous or have too much opposition.
RT: Do you think that by focusing so heavily on Russia (Kaspersky Lab and the Russian Navy are also mentioned), Congress is losing sight of more important priorities?
DL: Since the election, and during the latter part of the campaign last year, Democrats have been trying to blame Russia for their inconceivable loss to Donald Trump. Then Trump, who wanted to have better relations with Russia, has been undermined by the people called the “deep state” – the CIA, the Defense Department. Even within his own cabinet now his key players are ‘cold warriors’ like (James) Mattis and (H.R.) McMaster, and so on. So he has been hemmed in by his own staff. To get credibility he has had to go to the deep state to get his key people, and they see Russia as at least a rival and maybe an enemy – I don’t know. Certainly in Syria, they think of [Russia] as the bad guys, and the US as the good guys, even though we're basically supporting terrorism there. It is not surprising that this would fit in the defense bill and that members of Congress are still living in the Cold War: Russia is bad, the US is good, that kind of thing.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.