An example of the Smith-Mundt firewall

From Pat Kushlis at Whirled View:

Shhh. This delightful children’s book may – or may not – be off-limits to Americans. So let’s pretend you didn’t hear about it from me. But it’s a best seller in the Philippines.

I first learned about Inang Bayan’s New Clothes from one of the few informative articles I’ve come across of late in State the State Department’s in-house magazine so I sent out feelers to see if I could obtain a copy.

Don’t ask how I got it but I did.

That’s best kept part of my “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy – because of an outdated law known as Smith-Mundt that restricts Americans’ access to learning what our taxpayers’ dollars are supporting overseas. Thanks to the Internet, however, you can at least see American Ambassador Kristie Kenney on the US Embassy’s webpage reading from the book to a group of Filipino girls in 2006 when it first appeared. It then took over a year for the story to appear in State – but better late than never.

Suffice it to say that I’ll bet you never dreamed that US government money would help finance a story about two Filipino girls – Feliza and Nurhana, one Christian and the other Muslim – who live in Mindanao, work in a dress shop after school and despite their families’ religious differences are best of friends.

Read the rest at Whirled View.