At the start of this month Trump reluctantly signed a new Russia sanctions bill pushed on him overwhelmingly by Congress. While there was much debate over the merits and logic behind the bill, one troubling implication of it was not widely addressed at all. The fact that it includes a provision for a legal backdoor that could lead to a full-fledged government crackdown on non “mainstream” news and media.
In section 231 of the bill titled “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” which can be seen in full here. It gives the government authority to punish persons or entities “engaging in transactions with the intelligence or defense sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.” Now on a plain reading that alone is clearly no call for alarm. But any veteran of Capitol Hill will tell you these laws are never interpreted in their final legal sense, in a strictly as written way. Just look to the modern liberal interpretation of the Constitution for proof of that. For one easy example of how this wording could be used to clamp down on the free press just look to how far the CIA has already gone in trying to argue foreign news channels such as Sputnik and RT are somehow not First Amendment protected press simply due to their associations with Russia.
With the Deep State leftist coalition desperate as ever to find fuel for their evil Russia narrative, it’s not that hard for the powers that be to rustle up arguments for a Russian connection between any media body they don’t like. Conservative news sites like The Duran for example, that while having no ties to the Russian government at all but still dare challenge the anti-Russian narrative, can be easily enough accused of aiding the enemy under this bill. All that will have to be argued is that by simply taking a Pro-Russian stance on any one given topic, you are inherently doing the work of Russian intelligence, and thus guilty under the law. When it comes to the topic of Russia at least, the government will finally have what’s its always wanted for some time now. A bill that truly makes Wrong-Think illegal.
While it will start with Russia if this goes unchallenged, it’s not that unlikely they will open the loose interpretation of the bill even more to the point it can be used against any site that argues against US interventionist foreign policy. If that is deemed as stretching the current law too far even for their lawyers, they will simply sneak in similar language into a new bill to that same basic effect. Sites like ZeroHedge, Infowars, or someday even us here at Squawker might all find ourselves deemed dangerous rogue agents and chased off the web or worse.
If you think that’s too far-fetched keep in mind just last year the Washington Post ran a major article regarding “fake news” propaganda largely based off this alleged study. A study that claimed both the above mentioned sites as well as many other popular Conservative or even Libertarian ones were somehow just Russian propaganda machines. As unreasonable as it sounds, you have to understand these people legitimately want to convince America that not being a card carrying member of the Democratic party legitimately makes you Un-American at best or even outright illegal at worst.
If we don’t call attention to this coming threat now. We might soon wake up in an America where the mere sharing of an article from a site like InfoWars, could be prosecuted under this already existing law as “engaging in transactions” with the enemy. While luckily we aren’t quite there yet, the fact this bill includes a backdoor to begin that level of media control should be alarming enough.
Keep in mind many U.S. government funded “non governmental” organizations are already practicing just that type of thing. In fact the partially U.S. funded German Marshall Fund recently launched its Hamilton 68 initiative. A project that monitors over 600 twitter accounts that it claims are “involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” However this organization which receives US tax dollars does not opt to tell us which accounts these include, or why it’s chosen them, or even to what ultimate end the monitoring is done. The program even admits its tracks and stores information about people who have no actual connection to Russia but simply, “on their own initiative reliably repeat and amplify Russian themes.” So to be clear, if you just happen to agree with some Russian policies all of your own free will, this American backed group could still be tracking your movements online, under the alleged goal of “securing democracy.”
It’s through programs like this, uttering empty phrases like the above, that our Big Brother government will begin to fully bully and silence all alternative opinions and media in the United States. Anyone who doesn’t back the official globalist neocon foreign policy line, will simply be said to be in bed with the enemy. Whether it be Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc… The list will just keep growing until all opposition is silenced under threat of law. Make no mistake, hidden inside this bill were the first real opening shots in the war to criminalize Thought-Crimes. Remember all this is being done with your money, by your government, and in your name. Which is why it’s all the more important we continue calling these practices out now, while we still have the free speech protections to do so.
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