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January 2005
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Lawmakers call on President to Stop Covert Propaganda

At BuzzFlash

Democratic leaders in Congress today called on President Bush to stop the alarming use of illegal covert propaganda to promote government policy after two new accounts of such activity surfaced today. In a letter to the President, they pointed out that the use of covert propaganda has been revealed through independent investigations by at least three separate federal agencies. …

The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the outgoing Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senior Democrat on the Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources Subcommittee.

The letter was in reaction to two reports today. USA Today disclosed that the Department of Education paid $240,000 to conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams to routinely promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his broadcast shows without revealing that he was being paid by the government to do so. Rep. Miller separately today requested that the Department’s Inspector General investigate this contract with Williams.

And the Washington Post and New York Times reported today on a General Accounting Office report to Rep. Waxman and Rep. Obey that found the Office of Drug Control Policy violated the law when it used video news releases to promote an anti-marijuana message without revealing to television news viewers that the on-camera “reporter” was really an actor, not a journalist. In May, the GAO found that the Department of Health and Services also violated the law by producing and distributing similar video news releases regarding Medicare policy.

It seems to me that the drug czar’s use of propaganda would normally have received less public awareness (it’s almost the status quo). But since the report come out at the same time as the Armstrong Williams issue, there may be some attention paid.
I doubt that a lot will come of this, but the public statement by these Representatives will help long-term.

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