• AP story header and lede

    DHS, Social Media, & the Smith-Mundt Act

    There is considerable confusion around what the Smith-Mundt Act does and does not do, specifically with regards to the United States government disseminating information within nation’s borders. The irony of this misunderstanding is thick and multilayered.

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 introduced in the House

    Last week, Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced a bill to amend the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to “authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and for other purposes.” The bill, H.R.5736 — Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (Introduced in House – IH), removes the prohibition on public diplomacy material from being available to people within the United States and thus eliminates an artificial handicap to U.S. global engagement while creating domestic awareness of international affairs and oversight and accountability of the same. This bill also specifies Smith-Mundt only applies to the Department of State…

  • Government Broadcasting,  Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Smith-Mundt Alert: USC magazine cites VOA

    Found on page 7 of the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of USC College Magazine is a violation of federal law, specifically the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, as amended.  This magazine contains a quote from the Voice of America, a US Government broadcaster that is not permitted to be disseminated within the territory of the US (see image at right).  Concern over USIA and US Government broadcasters like VOA led the DC Circuit court in 1998 to exempt USIA from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Think of the damage Wikileaks could have caused if it was around in the 1990s to “expose” Americans to VOA!

  • Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

    Berkowitz responds, discussing the Smith-Mundt Act

    The following is Part II of a discussion between Jeremy Berkowitz and Matt Armstrong on Jeremy’s paper “Raising the Iron Curtain on Twitter: why the United States must revise the Smith-Mundt Act to improve public diplomacy” (PDF, 415kb). Part I is Matt Armstrong’s initial response to Jeremy’s paper available here. My response to the below, Part III, is here. Jeremy Berkowitz: I want to thank Matt for his thoughts on my paper. I appreciate his comments and strongly respect his scholarship on the Smith-Mundt Act. I would like to discuss a few of the ideas he raised in his critique. I believe some of his criticism is well-founded and I…

  • Defense Department,  Intelligence,  Smith-Mundt

    Let me share some news with you: Gates likes the CNAS report but does not like that it is a CNAS report

    According to the Voice of America, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates endorses the recent report – Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan – authored by Major General Michael Flynn, Captain Matt Pottinger, and Paul D. Batchelor. However, according to VOA, the SecDef took issue with the report being published by CNAS.

  • Congress,  Defense Department,  Public Diplomacy,  Reports,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Smith-Mundt Act: Facts, Myths and Recommendations

    The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 is the authorizing legislation for America’s public diplomacy and strategic communication. This three-page information sheet addresses confusion surrounding the Act and makes recommendations that are fundamental to any improvement to US public diplomacy and strategic communication. It is ironic that legislation intended to counter misinformation is itself subject to misinformation to the point few know the Act’s purpose and true application. The following is a short three page overview written at the request of and for a (pro bono) client who is neither the State Department nor the Defense Department. Download here or read below or at Scribd.