US lawmakers seek federal agency to dilute Russian & Chinese ‘propaganda’ with ‘flow of truth’

© Fadi Al-Assaad
American congressmen introduced a new bill this week aimed at creating a separate federal agency that would focus exclusively on countering Russian and Chinese “propaganda” which poses a threat to US interests at home and around the world.

The bill, H.R. 5181, the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016’ is a companion bill to S.2692 introduced back in March.

According to Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) who coauthored the bill alongside Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), H.R. 5181, seeks to incorporate a “whole-of-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions,” which will set up innovative partnerships to combat information warfare with “organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda.”

“As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives, they undermine the United States and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries,” Kinzinger said.

“At a time when countries like Russia and China are engaging in hybrid warfare campaigns, the United States has a unique opportunity to respond to foreign manipulation by encouraging the free flow of truthful information. This can further prevent conflict and ensure future stability,” the congressman added.

Congressman Lieu added that the need to create a better paradigm in the information sphere is vital to US national interests as the alleged nature of Russian and Chinese information dispersal makes the world “less safe.”

“From Ukraine to the South China Sea, foreign disinformation campaigns do more than spread anti-Western sentiments – they manipulate public perception to change the facts on the ground, subvert democracy and undermine US interests. In short, they make the world less safe,” Lieu said. “The Act ensures that the US uses all the tools at our disposal to disrupt these vitriolic propaganda campaigns and empower those being manipulated with truthful information. The truth can be a powerful remedy to destabilization and conflict – and we must do all we can to make sure it is heard the world over.”

The Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016, according to US lawmakers, seeks to promote an “independent press” in countries that are seen by Americans as vulnerable to foreign disinformation.

Those selected to serve as US information officers will be selected from a list of participants in educational and cultural exchange programs, from countries “deemed vulnerable to foreign propaganda and disinformation campaigns.”

To battle the information the Department of State seeks to establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response that will collect and analyze information on information warfare efforts. The center will also be tasked with countering and exposing information operations directed against American national security interests by producing its own narratives that support US and its allies' aims in the region.