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Public Statements

Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FIscal Year 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



What is propaganda? Of course, Americans engage in propaganda. It is a vital part of the mission of the United States to promote democracy and protect our country from harm. The United States spreads propaganda every day in spreading freedom and democracy across the world.

The military uses propaganda to recruit soldiers. TV commercials, air shows and other military events all use what is considered to be propaganda to bring out the patriotic spirit of the American youth and people. Slogans such as ``Be all you can be in the Army'' and ``The Few, the Proud, the Marines'' are all propaganda directed at the American people, and there is no deception or malice in their intent.

During war, propaganda can save American lives. It already has in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wouldn't we rather shoot our enemy or talk him out of fighting? For Americans fighting overseas, it could be described as persuading our enemies to lay down their arms rather than to fight us.

It is better to defeat our enemies with words than with guns. However, we know that commanders have already been hesitant in many cases to use propaganda during this war because they don't want to be accused of propagandizing American contractors overseas. The misconception of what kinds of propaganda are allowed has already caused harm to our soldiers overseas.

This amendment raises significant concerns about our ability to defeat terrorists overseas and protect American lives. This amendment would prohibit funding for propaganda, which is defined as ``any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of the people of the United States.''

This definition raises serious questions when you apply it in this sense:

Could we produce the propaganda within the United States and use it overseas? Would this amendment restrict U.S. military operations, including propaganda aimed at our enemies that a U.S. contractor working overseas may see?

Would this restrict certain types of military recruitment within the United States?

What about propaganda that is aimed for overseas consumption, that because of the Internet, returns to the United States and influences U.S. citizens; would that violate the prohibition?

Is there any way that this could interfere with the military releasing information to the media in the United States?

Under this amendment, would providing facts and data on successes overseas to the American public be defined as propaganda?

What if the information went to Members of Congress and they were to share it; is that a violation?

Before we vote to tie the hands of our military, we should make absolutely sure that the Hodes-DeFazio-DeLauro amendment will not constrain recruitment or warfighting efforts by not allowing the types of propaganda that we need.

I would hope that as this bill moves to the conference that we can work to ensure that the language is not so broad that the military cannot do its job.

I recommend that people vote ``no'' on this amendment because I think it would be disastrous for our Nation because it is an overly broad amendment and would hamstring and shackle our military and our government.


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