On Friday, July 6, President Barack Obama continued his quest to codify his own dictatorship with the issuing of a new executive order granting himself yet another expansive, unconstitutional power. The power afforded to the president in this latest executive order is so frighteningly expansive that it exceeds the scope of the authority acceded to the president in all his previous edicts.
In an order entitled the "Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,” the president quietly produced an edict that places the nation’s entire communications spectrum and infrastructure — private and public — under the control of the White House.
Of course, the president assures citizens that such authority would be exercised only for the protection of national security.
“The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions,” the order reads. “Survivable, resilient, enduring and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies and other nations.”
The president insists that the government needs to be able to contact every citizen in case of a national catastrophe. “Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies and improve national resilience.”
This tether connecting citizens to the federal government is to be created by a “joint industry-Government center that is capable of assisting in the initiation, coordination, restoration and reconstitution of NS/EP [national security and emergency preparedness] communications services or facilities under all conditions of emerging threats, crisis or emergency.”
“The views of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of NS/EP communications policies, programs and capabilities,” President Obama writes.
Accordingly, one of the nation’s cellphone providers has snapped a salute and begun the march toward complete compliance with the president’s usurpation of the domestic communications media.
Sprint’s Boost Mobile service sent a message to their customers informing them that the president now has effective control over their signal and that now “you can receive national and local emergency alerts directly on your phone.”
While the executive order was issued without any sort of announcement or signing ceremony typical of President Obama’s self-congratulatory style, there have been hints that this power grab was coming.
In 2011, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented that the federal government didn’t possess the power necessary to keep a close check on citizens and to broadcast the government’s propaganda more efficiently. “We are in an information war, and we are losing that war,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while defending her department’s request for a $50-billion budget. “Al Jazeera is winning, the Chinese have opened a global English-language and multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”
Clinton claimed in her testimony, “During the Cold War, we did a great job in getting America’s message out. After the Berlin Wall fell we said ‘OK, fine, enough of that — you know, we’ve done it, we’re done.’ And unfortunately we are paying a big price for it.”
That same Cold War nostalgia was echoed recently by a couple of congressmen who have proposed an amendment to the newest National Defense Authorization Act that would address the purported propaganda gap.
While America’s best brainwashing material was previously broadcast only overseas for the pleasure of foreign audiences, a provision in the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (H.R. 5736) removes that restriction, making “available, in the United States, motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad pursuant to this Act.”
Intended as an update to the post-World War II Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, the bill’s primary sponsors are Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.). Currently, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is considering the proposal.
If this amendment remains attached to the Fiscal Year 2013 NDAA and is passed by Congress and signed by the president, then for the first time in the history of the United States, citizens and residents will be exposed to government-produced propaganda in a manner that would impress even Orwell’s Big Brother.
As expected, neither Congressman Thornberry nor Smith admits that the underlying purpose of their amendment is the brainwashing of Americans by the federal government. In fact, in a joint press statement released by the two lawmakers, Thornberry and Smith soft-pedal the purpose of the provision by trotting out the favorite trope of the claque constantly clamoring for the exchange of liberty for security. “We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways. Communication is among the most important,” said Rep. Thornberry. “This outdated law ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation,” he added.
“While the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was developed to counter communism during the Cold War, it is outdated for the conflicts of today,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Effective strategic communication and public diplomacy should be front-and-center as we work to roll back al-Qaeda’s and other violent extremists’ influence among disaffected populations. An essential part of our efforts must be a coordinated, comprehensive, adequately resourced plan to counter their radical messages and undermine their recruitment abilities. To do this, Smith-Mundt must be updated to bolster our strategic communications and public diplomacy capacity on all fronts and mediums — especially online.”
Again, our government pretends to be forced into taking such a drastic and despotic step only as a reluctant response to the myriad threats to our national security.
Americans who use cellphones, the Internet, or other radio-based means of communication should understand that as a result of this latest executive order, President Obama has placed all these things under his sole supervision. The president’s order places under his personal purview all radio and digital communications, commanding that all of these signals can be intercepted by the president, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, or other intelligence agencies as directed by the president.
As of the date of President Obama’s signing of this order, every provider or facilitator of digital, radio, and cellular communications must accommodate the receipt, integration, and dissemination of the federal government’s propaganda programming. This provision in this decree amounts to nothing less than the nationalization of all privately owned communications companies, as these entities are now liable for instant usurpation by the president or his designated federal officers.
In its assessment of the impact of this latest executive order, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) writes that the White House has now empowered the Department of Homeland Security, under the direction of the president, to “seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications."
In 2011, Congress considered enacting similar provisions in a bill addressing cybersecurity issues. The measure, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the chairs of seven committees of jurisdiction: Joe Lieberman, Jay Rockefeller, Carl Levin, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, and Jeff Bingaman, would have granted the government power to disconnect or interrupt all private and public communication in case of a national emergency. Ultimately, the bill was abandoned as a result of public outcry against such usurpation.