Obsolete Restrictions on Public Diplomacy Hurt U.S. Outreach and Strategy

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Obsolete Restrictions on Public Diplomacy Hurt U.S. Outreach and Strategy

December 3, 2007 28 min read Download Report
Juliana Geran Pilon
Policy Analyst

A little-known legal restriction on U.S. public diplomacy, despite being rendered unenforceable long ago by technological advances like the Internet,[1] continues to damage America's global communication efforts.

At issue is Section 501 of the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Smith-Mundt Act), the legislation underlying America's overseas informational and cultural programs.[2] While the act is rightly hailed for establishing the programming mandate that still serves as the foundation for U.S. outreach, it has one serious drawback: It prohibits domestic dissemination of information designed for foreign consumption, ostensibly so as to ban "domestic propaganda." Yet in this age of instant and global communication, expecting to prevent such public information from reaching Americans is unrealistic and technologically impossible.

In the war on terrorism, this restriction is worse than an anachronism: It amounts to self-sabotage. Until Congress relegates this piece of legislation to the dustbin of history, the U.S. cannot expect to conduct public diplomacy effectively.

Unintended Consequences

Anyone who tries to order English-language publications from the State Department's on-line catalog will learn that "the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is prohibited from distributing its print materials in the United States by the Smith-Mundt Act."[3] This bureau is just one of many U.S. agencies inhibited by Section 501 and its prohibition on disseminating information about their activities overseas for fear that unsuspecting Americans might hear about them. Notable among such activities are taxpayer-funded humanitarian and democracy-assistance programs, including the grantees and contractors of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In 2003, the Djerejian Commission, a bipartisan advisory group on public diplomacy, reported to Congress:

When we asked the administrator of USAID how much of his budget of $13 billion goes to public diplomacy, [the USAID administrator] answered "Almost none." He explained that AID is generally prohibited to disseminate information about its activities--a restriction that the Advisory Group recommends be ended immediately.[4]

USAID public outreach is subject to the same limits as the rest of the government, and any information disseminated abroad is much more likely to reach a domestic audience today than it was six decades ago. As a result, understandably cautious bureaucrats choose to err on the side of legality.

A year later, after chastising the State Department for still paying insufficient heed to the Djerejian Commission, Congress passed a law requiring the Secretary of State to ensure that information about U.S. foreign assistance is being widely disseminated, especially "within countries and regions that receive such assistance."[5] USAID's Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs has since been trying to do the best it can to comply. Yet the ban against domestic "propaganda" predictably continues to exert a chilling effect on U.S. public diplomacy, not only at USAID, but at all other agencies that engage in international outreach.

As a result, American generosity is virtually unknown at home and abroad. The Djerejian Commission also mentions asking the USAID administrator: "How many people in the Arab and Muslim world, or anywhere else for that matter, know the extent of AID's activities?" The answer--"Too few"--is unfortunately still accurate. Paradoxically, as global surveys keep finding that the United States is increasingly misunderstood and maligned across every continent and as U.S. popularity keeps descending to one more "all-time low,"[6] the U.S. ties its own hands by failing to let people know about the billions of dollars that the U.S. is spending to help others throughout the world.[7]

Ever since the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) was abolished by the Clinton Administration in 1999,[8] and even more so since 9/11, reports on how to improve public diplomacy have proliferated.[9] Most recommend increased expenditures, reorganization, coordination, and strategic direction--all of which are worth taking seriously. Yet the first step, before adding money to boost the programs that work or cutting those that do not, must be to allow free and unfettered dissemination of information.

Far from constituting support for "propaganda," repealing Section 501 of the Smith-Mundt Act would be a move in the direction of transparency and freedom of information. Instead of shielding Americans from learning about how their government assists and communicates with foreign publics, Congress should ensure that taxpayers are made aware of those efforts. They could then become better partners as America seeks to engage in more effective outreach.

Section 501

Section 501 reads:

The Secretary [of State] is authorized, when he finds it appropriate, to provide for the preparation, and dissemination abroad, of information about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, and other information media, and through information centers and instructors abroad. Any such information (other than "Problems of Communism" and the "English Teaching Forum" which may be sold by the Government Printing Office) shall not be disseminated within the United States, its territories, or possessions, but, on request, shall be available in the English language at the Department of State, at all reasonable times following its release as information abroad, for examination only by representatives of United States press associations, newspapers, magazines, radio systems, and stations, and by research students and scholars, and, on request, shall be made available for examination only to Members of Congress.[10]

The original 1948 legislation has since been modified slightly. For example, a 1994 amendment clarifies that it "shall not prohibit the [USIA] from responding to inquiries from members of the public about its operations, policies, or programs."[11] The negligible nature of this modification was underscored later that year when USIA began publishing its English-language news stories on the Internet with a disclaimer stating that the information is intended for international audiences only.[12] The self-constraint persists.

Moreover, being allowed to respond is not tantamount to being required to respond. When Essential Information, Inc., a nonprofit citizen activist group founded in 1982 by Ralph Nader, asked the USIA in February 1996 for six months of agency records, the request was denied. Essential Information, joined by several other groups associated with Nader, sued for the records in May 1996, but the federal district court in Washington, D.C., ruled in November 1996 that the Smith-Mundt Act is one of the statutes requiring confidentiality in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act's Exemption 3.[13]

Efforts to make a distinction between domestic and foreign propaganda are a quintessentially American phenomenon. Other democratic countries have shown much less concern about this issue--to say nothing of totalitarian propaganda, which essentially does not separate foreign and domestic targets. Of course, totalitarian propaganda is considerably more sophisticated. For one thing, it massages certain messages to influence audiences abroad more effectively.[14] Slogans designed for home consumption tend to rely less on semantics and more on tanks and the secret police.

How Section 501 Hurts American Interests

To summarize, Section 501 hampers public understanding of the U.S. government's activities and prevents serious oversight and evaluation by members of the public.[15] Occasional Government Accountability Office[16] reports indicating strengths and weaknesses are a poor substitute for transparency.

No less critical, the provision inhibits dissemination of information about U.S. outreach activities abroad. In addition to USAID, this affects other services including U.S.-funded broadcasting. James Glassman, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, outlined the problem in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed article:

During his testimony Monday [September 10, 2007], U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker was asked by Rep. John Boozman (R., Ark.), "Can you tell us a little bit about what we're trying to do to get the hearts and minds through the media?" Mr. Crocker replied, "We still have a way to go both in Iraq and the region."

As chairman of the agency that directs the U.S. government's international broadcasting effort--radio, television and the Internet--I agree. In a powerful report on jihadist exploitation of the Web, Daniel Kimmage, a researcher for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), quoted a terrorist group saying, "Media is half the battle." That may be lowballing the situation. Media is critical. We're making progress, but we have a way to go.

Most Americans know little about what we do today--in part because a law called the Smith- Mundt Act limits our communications at home.[17]

Most Americans probably would care little about these activities because the target audience is necessarily foreign, but both the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have powerful Internet presences that could provide important research assistance to the very people who are paying for them--the American taxpayers. Moreover, the fact that these activities exist and are often quite effective ought to be known.

For example, Radio Free Iraq's local correspondents, working virtually around the clock on small salaries, have done a superb job of delivering timely and accurate information to Iraqis while coincidentally gathering important information useful to U.S. troops. Some of these journalists have paid with their lives. Yet Radio Free Iraq is underfunded and underappreciated because it is practically unknown on Capitol Hill.[18]

Most alarming, the provision is hurting America in the war against terrorism. It hampers strategic communication in ways that its original patriotic framers could never have contemplated. British-born intelligence expert Andrew Garfield reports:

U.S. authorities handicap themselves. U.S. military lawyers fear "blowback" to U.S. domestic audiences, which they interpret as a violation of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which prohibited domestic distribution of propaganda meant for foreign audiences. As a result, U.S. commanders forbid coalition authorities to openly engage on the Internet. This decision has ceded this key tool to the Iraqi insurgents. The insurgents now provide, over the Internet, self-starter kits to transform any disaffected Muslim youth, be he in Ramadi, Rabat or Rochester, into an effective propagandist. Such mass mobilization allows the insurgents to overwhelm at minimal cost the expensive, pedestrian, and ineffective strategic advertising campaigns of the coalition.[19]

Why are we doing this to ourselves? This provision, however well-meaning when originally conceived, is now harming the U.S. national interest.

History of "Anti-Propaganda" Legislation

The legislation's authors were both Republicans. Karl Earl Mundt (R-SD) was a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee and sponsor of the "Buy American" legislation. Howard Alexander Smith (R-NJ) was elected to the Senate in 1944 after teaching politics at Princeton University and serving as Princeton's executive secretary.

Smith's Princeton years coincided with President Woodrow Wilson's heavy-handed use of propaganda to drum up support for U.S. participation in World War I, which may have contributed to his support for Section 501. Without a doubt, both Senator Smith and Representative Mundt were concerned that the current Democratic President, as well as any future President, would again use taxpayer funds to "brainwash" voters in the United States in partisan ways.

History indicated that they were right to worry. The Commission on Public Information (CPI), established by President Wilson in April 1917, was designed principally to create a "war will" among an ethnically diverse American population, although it reached far beyond American shores. According to John Brown's study "The Anti-Propaganda Tradition in the United States," "Wilson wanted the CPI under his close control" and could count on George Creel, a trusted and admiring supporter, to do his bidding. "Creel used the latest media to win the world over to America. Movies served this purpose perfectly. As far off as remote Siberia, CPI operatives used the new medium with what they claimed was success."[20]

Among the CPI's admirers was none other than Adolph Hitler, who wrote in Mein Kampf that "the war propaganda of the English and Americans was psychologically correct." Such endorsements were just what the American public did not need. It recoiled in overreaction. "Faced with the threat of Nazi and fascist propaganda in Latin America in the 1930s, the State Department reacted not with a counterpropaganda agency, but with the creation of the Division of Cultural Relations (1938)."[21] Its mandate was to use only education and culture to accomplish its mission. Above all, it was to stay away from anything that looked even remotely like propaganda.

This attitude continued even after the trauma of World War II. Wallace Carroll, head of the Office of War Information that was established in 1942, agonized over the moral quandary of engaging in what he, at least, saw as propaganda. To him, that meant "a choice between giving the news and withholding it, between the practices of journalism and the dictates of war, between the urge to inform and the passion to save lives, between common honesty and plain humanity."[22]

Yet devotion to truth seems to have been carried to extremes that are nothing short of bizarre. "This ambivalent attitude toward propaganda," for example, "[was] also reflected in Voice of America broadcasts during the war years, which omitted reports on the Holocaust for fear that they would be considered atrocity stories and thus not be believed!"[23] How such a decision could be considered moral is mystifying.

Not all the ambivalence toward government broadcasting was based on hostility to propaganda. For some, the motives were purely commercial. Alvin Snyder, fellow at the University of Southern California's Center for Public Diplomacy, wrote:

That law [the Smith-Mundt Act], still in force, was designed in and for another era, when memories were still fresh of Hitler's propaganda pounded into audiences in Nazi Germany. And American commercial broadcasters, too, were all in favor of the Smith- Mundt Act; the nation's radio stations were concerned about competition from the government-funded Voice of America, so they did not want its signal heard in the U.S. As a consequence, even informed Americans are kept in the dark about how our tax dollars are used to promote U.S. interests through international broadcasting.[24]

Throughout its history, America has shunned self-advertisement, whether at home or abroad. Examples of this nearly masochistic reluctance to engage in public diplomacy abound.[25]

In a way, America was lucky that the Soviet Union was such a ruthless adversary, whose many successes in disinformation and "active measures" were seriously undermined by its murderous tactics and economic bankruptcy. This luck, however, is clearly running out. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates told an audience in Manhattan, Kansas, on November 26, 2007:

[W]e are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture, about freedom and democracy, about our policies and our goals. It is just plain embarrassing that al-Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the internet than America.[26]

Why Is This Provision Still on the Books?

When asked about this provision at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting on public diplomacy on October 11, 2007, David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, stated unequivocally: "It is violated every day." Given the technological impossibility of preventing any form of public communication from reaching Americans, Dr. Abshire's statement is self-evidently true, which begs the question of why U.S. lawmakers consciously and recklessly continue to condone such rampant lawlessness.

One explanation is the political timidity of both political parties. Reportedly, whenever its possible repeal is raised, the fear of being accused of favoring domestic propaganda seems to stop the debate dead in its tracks. It does not help that most of the proponents of invigorating public diplomacy focus primarily on increasing funding for such programs rather than on repealing old legislation. Nor should it surprise anyone that many public diplomats are happy with the status quo. After all, it is much easier not to have to answer to the taxpayers, who may occasionally feel that the content of what is being presented overseas is less than first-rate.

Others, especially on the far left, welcome any provision that prevents the Defense Department from engaging in activities that might, as one article puts it, help "develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners."[27] For example, Heather Wokusch, author of The Progressives' Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now, cites a 2003 Pentagon document called Information Operations Roadmap:

Information Operations Roadmap detailed the U.S. military's approach to exploiting information in order to "keep pace with warfighter needs and support defense transformation." Personally approved by former Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld, the document was declassified in 2006 and covers everything from the Pentagon's plans for Computer Network Attack ("We Must Fight the Net") to beefing up the use of Psychological Operations ("We Must Improve PSYOP") to manipulating information through means including: "Radio/TV/Print/Web media designed to directly modify behavior and distributed in theater supporting military endeavors in semi or non-permissive environment."[28]

She notes that the document, while acknowledging the Smith-Mundt limitations on domestic dissemination of information, fails to take them seriously. This, she concludes, explains "why a top US general ordered public affairs to be joined with combat PSYOP into one 'strategic communications office' in Iraq in the summer of 2004." It is hardly obvious how coordinating communications in Iraq would negatively affect Americans at home, except to someone who assumes that anything that might help Defense Department activities is bad and should be opposed by all possible means.

Perhaps the principal reason why this provision has not been repealed is insufficient understanding of what public diplomacy entails. Too few people, either inside or outside of government, appreciate what it takes to engage in effective, targeted, and strategic communication. In the current global climate, the war of ideas is more challenging than ever.

Even the new U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication falls short of clarity. The strategy is certainly correct that "some of America's most effective public diplomacy is communicated not through words but through deeds, as we invest in people through education, health care and the opportunity for greater economic and political participation."[29] Yet the role of verbal communication should in no way be downplayed. Deeds may speak louder than words, but technically they do not "speak." In public diplomacy, words matter, and considering all that America does, there is much to be said.

What the U.S. Should Do

The United States is the world's foremost advocate of freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. The acceptance of and support for its core values and its foreign policies depend on how well they are communicated to people at home and abroad.

The U.S. cannot conduct effective public diplomacy unless it uses all available tools of engagement. We are fighting a war of ideas, and we should fight it as we would fight any real war.[30] It cannot be done with hands tied behind our backs, with self-imposed constraints that make no technological and even less strategic sense. Accordingly:

  • Congress should immediately repeal Section 501.
  • The U.S.-funded Alhurra TV should then immediately be permitted to broadcast in the United States. While Al-Jazeera can freely preach hatred and distortion in Arabic to Arab Americans over many U.S. cable systems, it is nothing short of bizarre to forbid a moderate message from reaching the same audience.
  • Congress should require all agencies involved in any form of public diplomacy to report these activities to the National Security Adviser for a comprehensive tally.
  • Until then, Congress should require the State Department, USAID, and all other agencies conducting public diplomacy to submit or post on the Web an annual report listing all relevant publications and activities so that Americans can be informed of how we are communicating our values and principles as well as our generosity abroad.
  • Congress should mandate that all public servants who engage in public diplomacy must receive specific training and should expressly allocate "career enhancement" funds to that purpose.
  • Current ambassadors, foreign service officers, USAID employees, and other relevant government personnel engaged in public diplomacy outreach should be required to undergo intensive additional training prior to their next deployment overseas.
  • U.S. government grantees and contractors should be required, rather than be forbidden, to inform the public about their activities, contingent on security considerations.
  • The U.S. government should expand its efforts to encourage the private sector to engage in public diplomacy activities and to provide citizen ambassadors with relevant information to help them in this task.


The U.S. Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan for 2007-2012 recognizes the importance of ideas in today's complex and dangerous world:

Public perceptions of the United States directly affect our ability to achieve our foreign policy and development assistance objectives. The Department and USAID will lead the effort to inform these perceptions of the United States by relating this public face to our values and our history.[31]

When military experts like Frank G. Hoffman write that "most COIN (counterinsurgency) campaigns are won or lost in the political and psychological dimensions" and emphasize the vital "importance of communications and ideas,"[32] we should recall our values and our history and not hesitate to face the public. If a few Americans happen to overhear, so much the better.

Juliana Geran Pilon, Ph.D., is Research Professor of Politics and Culture at the Institute of World Politics and Adjunct Professor at the National Defense University.

AppendixA Sample of Public Diplomacy Reports

Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, submitted to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, October 1, 2003, at www.state.gov/documents/organization/24882.pdf (November 27, 2007).

Amr, Hady, "The Need to Communicate: How to Improve U.S. Public Diplomacy with the Islamic World," Brookings Institution Analysis Paper No. 6, January 2004, at www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/analysis/amr
 (November 27, 2007).

Bollier, David, The Rise of Netpolitik: How the Internet Is Changing International Politics and Diplomacy (Queenstown, Md.: Aspen Institute, 2003), at www.aspeninstitute.org/atf/cf/%7BDEB6F227-659B-4EC8-8F84-8DF23CA704F5%7D/NETPOLITIK.PDF (November 27, 2007).

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Commission on Smart Power, A Smarter, More Secure America (Washington, D.C.: CSIS Press, 2007), at www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/071106_csiss
 (November 27, 2007).

Center for the Study of the Presidency, An Initiative: Strengthening U.S.-Muslim Communications, July 2003, at www.thepresidency.org/pubs/US-MuslimCommu
(November 27, 2007).

Defense Science Board Task Force, Managed Information Dissemination, U.S. Department of Defense, September 2001, at www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/mid.pdf (November 27, 2007).

Ford, Jess T., Director, International Affairs and Trade, U.S. General Accounting Office, "U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Expand Efforts in the Middle East But Face Significant Challenges," GAO-04-435T, testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, February 10, 2004, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d04435t.pdf (November 27, 2007).

------, "U.S. Public Diplomacy: Strategic Planning Efforts Have Improved, But Agencies Face Significant Implementation Challenges," GAO-07-795T, testimony before the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, April 26, 2007, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d07795t.pdf (November 27, 2007).

------, "U.S. International Broadcasting: Challenges Facing the Broadcasting Board of Governors," GAO- 04-627T, testimony before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, April 1, 2004, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d04627t.pdf (November 27, 2007).

Independent Task Force on Public Diplomacy, "Public Diplomacy: A Strategy for Reform," Council on Foreign Relations, July 30, 2002, at
(November 27, 2007).

Johnson, Stephen, and Helle Dale, "How to Reinvigorate U.S. Public Diplomacy," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1645, April 23, 2003, at www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/bg1645.cfm.

------, "Reclaiming America's Voice Overseas," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 273, May 14, 2003, at www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/wm273.cfm.

Public Diplomacy Institute and The George Washington University, Public Diplomacy Council, "Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century," submitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, and the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, May 31, 2002.

U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, "Building Public Diplomacy Through a Reformed Structure and Additional Resources," 2002, at www.state.gov/documents/organization/13622.pdf (November 27, 2007).

------, "The New Diplomacy: Utilizing Innovative Communication Concepts That Recognize Resource Constraints," July 2003, at www.state.gov/r/adcompd/rls/22818.htm (November 27, 2007).

U.S. General Accounting Office, U.S. International Broadcasting: Enhanced Measure of Local Media Conditions Would Facilitate Decisions to Terminate Language Services, GAO-04-374, February 2004, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d04374.pdf (November 27, 2007).

------, U.S. International Broadcasting: New Strategic Approach Focuses on Reaching Large Audiences But Lacks Measurable Program Objectives, GAO-03-772, July 2003, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d03772.pdf (November 27, 2007).

[1]The Internet enables Americans as well as foreign audiences to access the public diplomacy documents published by the U.S. government, including those produced by the U.S. Information Agency, the former public diplomacy entity. As one law library puts it, "in 1994, the USIA began publishing its English-language news stories on the INTERNET computer system. Though the stories include a disclaimer stating that the information is intended for international audiences only, the USIA has no way to enforce this restriction. Furthermore, Worldnet, the federal government television service, was transmitted by satellite, and anyone who had a satellite dish could receive the broadcast. Thus, technology circumvented the prohibition on domestic dissemination of USIA programs." See American Law Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, s.v. "U.S. Information Agency-- Further Readings," http://law.jrank.org/pages/11029/U-S-Information-Agency.html (November 27, 2007) (emphasis added).

[2]Public Law 80-402.

[3]U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of English Language Programs, "English As a Foreign Language Publication Catalog: How to Order Publications in This Catalog," at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/engteaching/pubs/countries.htm (November 27, 2007).

[4]Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, submitted to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, October 1, 2003, pp. 66-67, at www.state.gov/documents/organization/24882.pdf (November 27, 2007).

[5]22 U.S. Code § 2732(d).

[6]For a comprehensive overview of Pew Research Center studies of anti-Americanism over the course of several years, see Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes, America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked (New York: Times Books, 2006).

[7]America remains by far the most generous nation in the world, both in official assistance and in voluntary and private-sector donations.Accenture reported in early 2007 that Americans privately send over $70 billion a year to developing countries. Yet these important facts are rarely repeated or reported. The 2007 Index of Global Philanthropy, which compares government and private aid from developed countries to the developing world, notes that the U.S. is "at the top of all donor nations in absolute amounts, and...in the top third as a percentage of gross national income.... U.S. private giving in 2005 in the form of money, volunteer time, goods, and expertise to the developing world, was at least $95 billion. That is three and a half times the amount of U.S. government foreign aid." Press release, "Hudson Institute Launches Second Annual Index of Global Philanthropy," Center for Global Prosperity, May 21, 2007, at /static/reportimages/91D24ADD5CD58FB2CEF43B8A48E7C043.pdf (November 27, 2007).

[8]While Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) certainly pressed for its absorption into the State Department, he met with little if any resistance from then-USIA Director Joe Duffy. The State Department subsequently designed and implemented the restructuring of public diplomacy that resulted in its current marginalization.

[9]For a partial list of such reports, see the Appendix.

[10]22 U.S. Code § 1461(a).

[11]22 U.S. Code § 1461-1a. The very fact that the amendment had to clarify as late as 1985 that the provision applies to the State Department and to USIA indicates the uncertainty surrounding its reach. The problem is that as long as this provision exists, it may be read to imply that the intent of the provision was to prohibit domestic dissemination of all information meant for overseas. That government lawyers and bureaucrats have "extended S-M well beyond what the law intended" is proof of the uncertainty surrounding it. J. Michael Waller, Public Diplomacy: A Reader (Washington, D.C.: Institute of World Politics Press, 2007), p. 488.

[12]American Law Encyclopedia, s.v. "U.S. Information Agency--Further Readings."

[13]Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "USIA Bar on U.S. Broadcasts Exempts Transcripts from Disclosure," February 23, 1998, at www.rcfp.org/news/1998/0223c.html (November 27, 2007).

[14]John Brown, "Public Diplomacy Press Review," University of Southern California, Center on Public Diplomacy, August 18- 19, 2004, at http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/index.php/newsroom/
 (November 27, 2007).

[15]Americans generally, as well as Members of Congress and their staffs, cannot provide the necessary checks and balance through oversight if they are unaware of the public diplomacy materials we put out. Much of this material, according to sources in the State Department's International Information Program office, is less an explanation of U.S. policy than a range of competing opinions that you find in America. It is confusing, to say the least, for people overseas who do not live in an open society with complete freedom of speech to see the kind of difference of opinion we are used to on issues like global warming and the United Nations. For examples of these types of publications, see U.S. Department of State, International Information Programs, Web site, at http://usinfo.state.gov (November 27, 2007).

[16]The General Accounting Office became the Government Accountability Office in July 2004.

[17]James K. Glassman, "Media Is Half the Battle," The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007, p. A13 (emphasis added).

[18]Jeffrey Gedmin, "Voices That Tehran Fears," The Washington Post, September 19, 2007, p. A23, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091801570.html (November 27, 2007).

[19]He continues: "For example, production of a DVD highlighting insurgent attacks on U.S. troops may cost less than US$100 to make using equipment that costs less than $1,000. Maintaining an Internet bulletin board with postings picked up by Al-Jazeera television and then, perhaps, CNN, may cost as little as $1,500 and certainly no more than $10,000. In contrast, the value of the U.S. military's information contracts exceeds $250,000,000 per year, with only a fraction of the effectiveness of their adversaries. While the impact of insurgent propaganda is obvious, the coalition has yet to monitor enemy messages systematically at the grass roots level. There are no standing orders or central database to record enemy graffiti, for example. Absent such monitoring, any coalition attempt to seize information momentum falls short." Andrew Garfield, "The U.S. Counter-Propaganda Failure in Iraq," The Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Fall 2007), at www.meforum.org/article/1753 (November 27, 2007).

[20]John Brown, "The Anti-Propaganda Tradition in the United States," Bulletin Board for Peace, June 29, 2003, at www.bulletinboardforpeace.org/articlebrown.htm (November 27, 2007).


[22]Wallace Carroll, Persuade or Perish (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1948).

[23]Brown, "The Anti-Propaganda Tradition in the United States."

[24]Alvin Snyder, "Is It Time to Permit Americans to Watch U.S. International Broadcasting?" University of Southern California, Center on Public Diplomacy, March 8, 2005, at http://uscpublicdiplomacy.com/index.php/newsroom/
 (November 27, 2007).

[25]For example, see my recent book: Juliana Geran Pilon, Why America Is Such a Hard Sell: Beyond Pride and Prejudice (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, Inc., 2007), esp. Part IV, "Public Diplomacy the Hard Way."

[26]Robert M. Gates, "Landon Lecture," remarks delivered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, November 26, 2007, at www.defenselink.mil/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1199 (November 29, 2007).

[27]Alok Chaturvedi, quoted in Heather Wokusch, "Welcome to the Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations and You," CommonDreams.org., August 12, 2007, at www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/12/3126 (November 27, 2007).

[28]Wokusch, "Welcome to the Jungle" (emphasis added).

[29]U.S. National Security Council, Policy Coordinating Committee, "U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication," June 2007, p. 12, at www.state.gov/documents/organization/87427.pdf (November 27, 2007).

[30]This expression is borrowed from J. Michael Waller, Fighting the War of Ideas Like a Real War (Washington, D.C.: Institute of World Politics Press, 2007).

[31]U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2007-2012, revised May 7, 2007, p. 34, at www.state.gov/documents/organization/86291.pdf (November 27, 2007).

[32]Frank G. Hoffman, "Neo-Classical Counterinsurgency?" Parameters, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Summer 2007), pp. 71-87, at www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/07summer/hoffman.htm (November 27, 2007).


Juliana Geran Pilon

Policy Analyst