Does the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” Apply to American Independent or Alternative Media?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Spoiler alert: Yes, it may, owing to what would charitably be called ambiguity in the drafting, and yes, it does, because powers granted to the Act’s “Global Engagement Center” apply to U.S. citizens on US soil who work in media. To be fair, the sponsors of the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” (the Act) say differently, so let’s hear from them first. The Act was written by Rob Portman (R-OH) and co-sponsored by Chris Murphy (D-CT). From Portman’s press release on the Act:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) today announced that their Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act – legislation designed to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations has passed the Senate as part of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. The bipartisan bill, which was introduced by Senators Portman and Murphy in March, will improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation by establishing an interagency center housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government. To support these efforts, the bill also creates a grant program for NGOs, think tanks, civil society and other experts outside government who are engaged in counter-propaganda related work. This will better leverage existing expertise and empower local communities to defend themselves from foreign manipulation.

And, a week after the Act was passed and the ruckus kicked up on “numerous small web outlets,” Chris Murphy:

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Tuesday that passage last week of a bipartisan measure he co-sponsored will strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to track and combat disinformation and propaganda overseas, especially by Russia.

The legislation puts the State Department in the business of funding overseas news sites in hopes that could counter fake news propagated in their countries, such as a false story that President-elect Donald J. Trump hung up on the presidents of the Baltic nations.

“The United States wouldn’t be picking the messaging. The United States wouldn’t be censoring anyone’s newspaper or web site,” Murphy said. “We simply would be offering to help other countries’ in their efforts to produce more independent journalism to counter this Russian propaganda narrative.”

So, the Global Engagement Center will have no domestic effects at all. It’s all about other countries. That’s what Portman and Murphy say. But what does the Act say? Let’s take a look. Portman’s original, standalone bill (S.3274 – Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act bill) was folded into S.2943 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, signed by Obama on December 23, at SEC. 1287. Global Engagement Center.

Drafting Ambiguities in the Purpose of the Global Engagement Center

Section 1287(2) of the Act establishes the Center’s purpose:

(2) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the Center shall be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.

There are two ambiguities here. The first and most obvious: Does the adjective “foreign” apply (a) only to “state propaganda,” or (b) to “state and non-state propaganda? Some readers chose (b), but my reading was (a), probably because I took “foreign state” for a noun phrase, and so don’t distribute the adjective “foreign” over both “state and non-state.” In other words, if the statute were to mean “foreign state and [foreign] non-state propaganda,” I feel that the drafters would have written “foreign state and foreign non-state propaganda.” And fortunately, in my quest for the meaning of “non-state actor” (which we’ll get to in a moment) I found an example where drafters did exactly that. From H.R.4681 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015:

Report.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives a report on the threat posed by man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to United States interests through 2025, including threats from foreign countries and foreign non-state actors.

That is, because the drafters meant “foreign countries and foreign non-state actors,” they did not write “foreign countries and non-state actors,” as did the drafters of the Act.

So, if “non-state progaganda” can be produced by domestic entities, then clearly the Act does not apply only in “other countries,” as Senator Murphy would have it, and, contra Snopes, could very well apply to “American independent or alternative media.”

The second ambiguity is the source of the propaganda which, after all, has to come from somewhere. The origin of state propaganda is clear: The state. But what is the origin of non-state propaganda? There must be an agent somewhere, and in an attempt to discover that agent, I searched legislation (both proposed and enacted) for the usage of the phrase “non-state actor.”

In most cases, non-state actor is never defined. In the context of nuclear proliferation, “non-state actors” are presumbly the sort of “terrorist” (or “international terrorist”) organization that would wish to acquire a nuclear weapon. In the context of the Israeli-Palestian conflict, non-state actors are organizations like Hamas or Hezbollah; in Syria, non-state actors can be “vetted.” Non-state actors can also be “international criminal groups,” and “paramilitary groups.” Besides “recognized terrorist groups,” non-state actors can also be “individuals, mobs, vigilante groups, anti-government insurgents, [and] militant organizations.”

Clearly, the meaning of “non-state actor” is elastic. I found the following three definitions. (There are others, but it seems to me that the definitions that matter when consturing the law of the United States come from the law of the United States.) From an early version of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act:

(11) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means a nonsovereign entity that— “(A) exercises significant political power and territorial control; “(B) is outside the control of a sovereign government; and “(C) often employs violence in pursuit of its objectives.”;

Since none of those “numerous small web outlets” control any territory, they are clearly not “non-state actors,” hence are not within the scope of the Act.

The second, from a less restrictive version of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act:

“(11) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means a non-sovereign entity that exercises significant political power and is able to exert influence at a national or international level but does not belong to or ally itself to any particular country and often employs illegal violence in pursuit of its objectives.”;

This definition probably does not apply to any of those numerous small web outlets, depending on the meaning of “significant” political power. (It might apply to WikiLeaks, though.)

And the third definition, from H.R.1323 – Shahbaz Bhatti International Religious Freedom Act of 2015:

“(14) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means any entity outside of government, including an extremist group or terrorist organization.”.

This definition, the least restructive, clearly does apply to, for example, Naked Capitalism, since NC is “any entity outside of goverment (i.e., the whole of civil society).

At this point, it’s worth noting that some legislation requires the President to list non-state actors formally. S.3117 – Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2017

(e) Designation of non-state actors.—The President shall, concurrent with the annual foreign country review required by section 402(b)(1) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6442(b)(1)), review and identify any non-state actors in such countries that have engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom, and designate, in a manner consistent with such Act, each such group as a non-state actor of particular concern for religious freedom operating in such reviewed country or surrounding region: Provided, That whenever the President designates such a non-state actor under this subsection, the President shall, as soon as practicable after the designation is made, submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the reasons for such designation.

The Act does no such thing.

So, summarizing, we can certainly build a case that the Act applies domestically to “alternative media.” First, there is a colorable claim that the Act is intended to apply to “non-state actors” whether foreign or not; and second, there is a colorable claim that the alternative media, as entities within civil society, are non-state actors.[1]

Domestic Data Collection and Domestic Funding by the Global Engagement Center

Let’s look at the functions of the Global Engagement Center. From the Act:

(b) Functions.—The Center shall carry out the following functions:

(1) Integrate interagency and international efforts to track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

Regardless of whether maintaining a “Chinese Wall” between “counter-factual narratives abroad” and counterfactual narratives that reach the shores of the United States — for example, that “British intelligence has learned” of yellowcake uranium in the Iraq WMDs disinformation campaign — note that “narratives abroad” is qualified with “abroad.” I would argue that means that functionality not so qualified can be performed domestically.

(2) Analyze relevant information, data, analysis, and analytics from United States Government agencies, United States allies and partner nations, think tanks, academic institutions, civil society groups, and other nongovernmental organizations.

Since “relevant information, data, analysis, and analytics” is not qualified with “foreign” or “abroad,” that means the information can be American, including American media. (Which makes sense if you want to track information propagation, or counter it, but gives the lie to the assertion that the Act “does not apply to American independent or alternative media.”)

(3) As needed, support the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

The argument above applies here.

(10) Maintain, collect, use, and disseminate records (as such term is defined in section 552a(a)(4) of title 5, United States Code) for research and data analysis of foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts and communications related to public diplomacy efforts intended for foreign audiences. Such research and data analysis shall be reasonably tailored to meet the purposes of this paragraph and shall be carried out with due regard for privacy and civil liberties guidance and oversight.

Here is 5 U.S. Code § 552a – Records maintained on individuals:

(4) the term “record” means any item, collection, or grouping of information about an individual that is maintained by an agency, including, but not limited to, his education, financial transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and that contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual, such as a finger or voice print or a photograph;

Readers, I’ll leave you to imagine what the Global Engagement Center is going to do with your financial records, and what “reasonably tailored” and “due regard” might mean. But I’ll again point out that this function gives the lie to the assertion that the Act “does not apply to American independent or alternative media.”)

Now let’s follow the money. There is an “Information Access Fund”:

(1) AUTHORITY FOR GRANTS.—The Center is authorized to provide grants or contracts of financial support to civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions for the following purposes:

Note again there’s no “foreign” or “abroad” qualifier. So even if one grants that the purpose of the Act applies to foreign non-state actors as well as foreign states (which I regard as at best not proven), nothing says that money can’t go to domestic non-state actors to study foreign propaganda[2]. Indeed, “federally funded research and development centers” says as much. Therefore, the Act dangles the pleasant prospect before American “media content providers” — the Times, for example, or even Jeff Bezos’s vanity project — of being funded for the purposes listed.[3]

(A) To support local independent media who are best placed to refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.

Note there’s no “foreign” or “abroad” qualifier on “local.”

(B) To collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United States and its allies and partners.

Note again the lack of a qualifier. The Center could store every post from every outlet on PropOrNot’s defamatory list, and get Federal funding for it.

(D) To support efforts by the Center to counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

Counter how? The origin of the information might be foreign, but the “counter” might well be domestic. I suspect Obama’s head of the OMB, Cass Sunstein, would have some suggestions: See his paper on “cognitive infiltration” here, and Glenn Greenwald’s commentary. Obviously, if small web outlets with comments sections were cognitively infiltrated by paid trolls, that could have a severe impact on the quality of their communities and sucking up management time that would be better spent delivering product, with both factors combining to decrease profitability, and making it even harder for independent media to survive. This, too, would give the lie to the assertion that the Act “does not apply to American independent or alternative media.”)

Conclusion

A careful reading of the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” shows there is good reason to fear an impact on American independent or alternative media. As these numerous small web outlets are “non-state actors,” the Act can be colorably construed to apply to them, and many of the Act’s functions and funding opportunities impact them.

Maintaining Records on US Citizens

NOTES

[1] Snopes writes: “Numerous small web outlets inaccurately asserted that President Obama signed a “Christmas bill” criminalizing alternative media in December 2016. The provision is aimed at countering foreign sources of disinformation and does not apply to American independent or alternative media.” Snopes, at least as far as what’s on the page goes, did not check the wording of the statute; it relied only claims from the authors of the bill.

[2] Had Clinton won the election, the Act might well have been entitled “The Correct the Record Rice Bowl Act of 2016.”

[3] One can imagine more defamatory stories like the Post’s on PropOrNot being funded under the aegis of counting false narratives. The mind reels, as will the “numerous small web outlets” being given the Post’s treatment, again giving the lie to the assertion that the Act “does not apply to American independent or alternative media.”)

APPENDIX I: “State Actors” in the Law

To try to get a sense of what legislators meant by “non-state actor,” I ran a search on that string at Congress.gov for legislation going back to the 104th Congress in 1994-95 (that is, before the state of the “War on Terror.” These are the results (though not all hits contained the string, oddly). Bills that became Law are bold. I’ve underlined “non-state actor” throughout. Some of the bills are introduced several times, so there are duplicate entries.

  1. H.Res.59 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States remains committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    Whereas such challenges to NATO Allied interests and values include the  potential for the re-emergence of a hegemonic power confronting Europe; rogue states and non-state actors possessing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons and their means of delivery; transnational terrorism  and disruption of the flow of vital resources; and conflicts outside the  treaty area stemming from unresolved historical disputes and the actions of undemocratic governments and sub-state actors who reject the peaceful settlement of disputes;

  2. H.R.4205 – Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001

    1) the nature and magnitude of potential high-altitude EMP threats to the United States from all potentially hostile states or non-state actors that have or could acquire nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles enabling them to perform a high-altitude EMP attack against the United States within the next 15 years;

  3. H.R.5408 – Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001

    the nature and magnitude of potential high-altitude EMP threats to the United States from all potentially hostile states or non-state actors that have or could acquire nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles enabling them to perform a high- altitude EMP attack against the United States within the next 15 years;

  4. H.Res.468 – Transatlantic Security and NATO Enhancement Resolution of 2002

    risks from rogue states and non-state actors possessing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons and their means of delivery;

  5. S.15 – Project BioShield Act of 2004

    “(1) Threat assessment capabilities.–For the purpose of carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary for terror threat assessment under the security countermeasures program, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2004 through 2006, for the hiring of professional personnel within the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, who shall be analysts responsible for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threat assessment (including but not limited to analysis of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear [[Page 118 STAT. 853]]   agents, the means by which such agents could be weaponized or used in a terrorist attack, and the capabilities, plans, and intentions of terrorists and other non-state actors who may have or acquire such agents).

  6. H.R.2122 – Export Administration Renewal Act of 2011

    (3) Statutory authority to conduct investigations overseas, as well as undercover authority, is necessary for the Office of Export Enforcement of the Department of Commerce to combat increasingly complex international proliferation activities involving Iran and other hostile state and non-state actors.

  7. H.R.2122 – Project BioShield Act of 2003

    (1) Threat assessment capabilities.–For the purpose of carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary for terror threat assessment under the security countermeasures program, there are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2003, and such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2004 through 2006, for the hiring of professional personnel within the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, who shall be analysts responsible for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threat assessment (including but not limited to analysis of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, the means by which such agents could be weaponized or used in a terrorist attack, and the capabilities, plans, and intentions of terrorists and other non-state actors who may have or acquire such agents). All such analysts shall meet the applicable standards and qualifications for the performance of intelligence activities promulgated by the Director of Central Intelligence pursuant to section 104 of the National Security Act of 1947.

  8. S.Con.Res.81 – A concurrent resolution expressing the concern of Congress over Iran’s development of the means to produce nuclear weapons.

    Whereas the United Nations Security Council decided, in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, that “all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery”;

  9. H.Con.Res.330 – International Human Rights Equality Resolution

    (8) The fundamental human right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life is violated when lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals (hereafter referred to as “LGBT individuals”) are victims of extra judicial, summary, and arbitrary executions for consensual adult same sex relations by state and non-state actors with impunity in countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Honduras and El Salvador.

  10. S.1903 – North Korean Freedom Act of 2003

    have the primary responsibility of receiving voluntary information about weapons of mass destruction and related delivery systems, materials, and technologies and the intent or actions of countries to export such items or knowledge to other countries or non-state actors;

  11. H.Con.Res.398 – A concurrent resolution expressing the concern of Congress over Iran’s development of the means to produce nuclear weapons.

    Whereas the United Nations Security Council decided, in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, that “all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery”;

  12. H.R.2601 – Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007

    The national security interests of the United States would be enhanced by the rapid implementation by all Member States of the United Nations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which prohibits all Member States from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and requiring all Member States to adopt and enforce appropriate and effective domestic laws criminalizing such acts.

  13. S.1949 – Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2005

    “(c) Cooperative agreements.—In order to promote cooperation regarding the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction and related materials and delivery systems, the President is authorized to conclude agreements, including reciprocal maritime agreements, with other countries to facilitate effective measures to prevent the transportation of such items to states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.

  14. S.2566 – Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006

    “(c) Cooperative agreements.—In order to promote cooperation regarding the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction and related materials and delivery systems, the President is authorized to conclude agreements, including reciprocal maritime agreements, with other countries to facilitate effective measures to prevent the transportation of such items to non-state actors and states of proliferation concern.

  15. H.R.5333 – Shoulder-fired Missile Threat Reduction Act of 2006

    (4) A description and evaluation of the access of terrorists, non-state actors, and state sponsors of terrorism to MANPADS, their methods to acquire MANPADS, and a strategy for disrupting future access to MANPADS.

  16. H.R.5918 – To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to protect vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

    (2) Many enemies of freedom, whether state or non-state actors, persecute individuals and groups who stand up for democracy’s ideals.

  17. H.R.6060 – Department of State Authorities Act of 2006

    “(c) Cooperative Agreements.–In order to promote cooperationregarding the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction and related materials and delivery systems, the President is authorized to conclude agreements, including reciprocal maritime agreements, with other countries to facilitate effective measures to prevent the transportation of such items to non-state actors and states of proliferation concern.

  18. H.R.6419 – Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Act of 2006

    (5) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) reaffirms the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts and directs that all countries, in accordance with their national procedures, shall adopt and enforce effective laws that prohibit any non-state actor from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, developing, transporting, transferring, or using nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, and to prohibit attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, or assist or finance them.

  19. S.4103 – Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Act of 2006

    (7) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) reaffirms the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts and directs that all countries, in accordance with their national procedures, shall adopt and enforce effective laws that prohibit any non-state actor from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, developing, transporting, transferring, or using nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, and to prohibit attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, or assist or finance them.

  20. S.4 – Improving America’s Security Act of 2007

    (2) the Secretary of State should continue the effective and successful use of case studies and practical workshops addressing potential challenges, and work with non-state actors, including nongovernmental organizations that support democratic principles, practices, and values.

  21. S.1138 – Nuclear Safeguards and Supply Act of 2007

    (6) The 2004 Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change found that creating incentives for countries to forego the development of domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities is essential, and that such suggestions, if implemented swiftly and firmly, offer a real chance to reduce the risk of a nuclear attack, whether by states or non-state actors, and that such proposals “should be put into effect without delay”.

  22. H.R.2254 – Ending Nuclear Trafficking Act

    “2. Decides also that all States, in accordance with their national procedures, shall adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws which prohibit any non-state actor to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, as well as attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, assist or finance them;

  23. H.R.2265 – Responsibility to Iraqi Refugees Act of 2007

    (3) Other religious, ethnic, social, or minority groups, including gay and lesbian Iraqis, subject to violence, intimidation, or discrimination by state or non-state actors.

  24. H.R.3650 – North Korean Counterterrorism and Nonproliferation Act

    (4) President George W. Bush stated in November 2006 that: “The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action. . . . It is vital that the nations of this region send a message to North Korea that the proliferation of nuclear technology to hostile regimes or terrorist networks will not be tolerated.”.

  25. S.Res.399 – A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that certain benchmarks must be met before certain restrictions against the Government of North Korea are lifted, and that the United States Government should not provide any financial assistance to North Korea until the Secretary of State makes certain certifications regarding the submission of applications for refugee status.

    Whereas President George W. Bush stated in November 2006 that: “The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action. … It is vital that the nations of this region send a message to North Korea that the proliferation of nuclear technology to hostile regimes or terrorist networks will not be tolerated.”;

  26. S.Res.470 – A resolution calling on the relevant governments, multilateral bodies, and non-state actors in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Sudan to devote ample political commitment and material resources towards the achievement and implementation of a negotiated resolution to the national and regional conflicts in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Darfur, Sudan.

    Calling on the relevant governments, multilateral bodies, and non-state actors in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Sudan to devote ample political commitment and material resources towards the achievement and implementation of a negotiated resolution to the national and regional conflicts in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Darfur, Sudan.

  27. H.R.5658 – Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009

    (4) the United States should assess the security risks associated with existing stockpiles of nonstrategic nuclear weapons and should assess the risks of nonstrategic nuclear weapons being developed, acquired, or utilized by other countries, particularly rogue states, and by terrorists and other non-state actors; and

  28. H.R.5916 – Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act of 2008

    the term “qualitative military edge” means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.

  29. S.3001 – Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009

    (4) the United States should assess the security risks associated with existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and should assess the risks of nuclear weapons being developed, acquired, or utilized by other countries, particularly rogue states, and by terrorists and other non-state actors; and

  30. S.3563 – Security Assistance Act of 2008

    (6) The 2004 Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change found that creating incentives for countries to forego the development of domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities is essential, and that such suggestions, if implemented swiftly and firmly, offer a real chance to reduce the risk of a nuclear attack, whether by states or non-state actors, and that such proposals “should be put into effect without delay”.

  31. H.Res.1505 – Recognizing the United States-Bahamas Proliferation Security Initiative Shipboarding Agreement.

    Whereas this agreement will promote the goal of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) goal to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern;

  32. 42. H.R.7177 – Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008

    “(2) Qualitative military edge defined.–In this subsection, the term `qualitative military edge’ means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.”.

  33. H.Res.152 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States remains committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    Whereas such challenges to NATO Allied interests and values include the potential for the re-emergence of unresolved historical disputes confronting Europe, rogue states and non-state actors possessing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons and their means of delivery, transnational terrorism and disruption of the flow of energy resources, and conflicts outside the treaty area that affect vital security interests;

  34. S.891 – Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009

    (1) The Democratic Republic of Congo was devastated by a civil war carried out in 1996 and 1997 and a war that began in 1998 and ended in 2003, which resulted in widespread human rights violations and the intervention of multiple armed forces or armed non-state actors from other countries in the region.

  35. S.Res.176 – A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on United States policy during the political transition in Zimbabwe, and for other purposes.

    Whereas the Global Political Agreement, as written, included provisions to restore the rule of law and economic stability and growth, establish a new constitution, end violence by state and non-state actors, and promote freedom of assembly, association, expression, and communication;

  36. H.R.2845 – Protect the Homeland from North Korean and Iranian Ballistic Missiles Act

    (3) realizes missile delivery technology and warheads could be passed along to state and non-state actors; and

  37. S.1438 – Fostering a Global Response to Cyber Attacks Act

    (4) A growing array of state and non-state actors, such as terrorists and international criminal groups, are targeting United States citizens, United States commerce, and the information infrastructure of the United States, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries, to steal, exploit, and potentially disrupt or destroy information.

  38. H.R.3244 – Nuclear Trafficking Prevention Act

    “2. Decides also that all States, in accordance with their national procedures, shall adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws which prohibit any non-state actor to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, as well as attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, assist or finance them;

  39. S.1464 – Nuclear Trafficking Prevention Act

    “2. Decides also that all States, in accordance with their national procedures, shall adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws which prohibit any non-state actor to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes, as well as attempts to engage in any of the foregoing activities, participate in them as an accomplice, assist or finance them;

  40. S.1494 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010

    (1) the intelligence collection efforts of the United States dedicated to assessing the threat from biological weapons from state, non-state, or rogue actors, either foreign or domestic; and

  41. S.1528 – Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission Act

    (10) On February 12, 2009, the Director of National Intelligence testified to the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate that “I’d say the most significant gaps are the areas that are not traditional State threats, that we have not figured out the right way to collect information and we have not grown the analysts to do it. … We’re not as good with non-state actors.”.

  42. S.1966 – Global Child Survival Act of 2009

    (24) According to the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI) 2009 Annual Threat Assessment, widespread poor maternal and child health and malnutrition has the potential to weaken central governments and empower non-state actors, including terrorist and paramilitary groups.

  43. H.R.4128 – Conflict Minerals Trade Act

    (1) The Democratic Republic of the Congo was devastated by a civil war in 1996 and 1997 and a war that began in 1998 and ended in 2003, which resulted in widespread human rights violations and the intervention of multiple armed forces and armed non-state actors from other countries in the region.

  44. H.R.5136 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

    (1) The ballistic missile threat, including electromagnetic pulse attacks, against which the homeland defense elements are intended to defend, including mobile or fixed threats that might arise from non-state actors and accidental or unauthorized launches.

  45. H.R.5268 – Improvements in Global MOMS Act

    (22) According to the Director of National Intelligence’s 2009 Annual Threat Assessment, widespread poor maternal and child health and malnutrition has the potential to weaken central governments and empower non-state actors, including terrorist and paramilitary groups.

  46. H.R.5327 – United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act

    (3) The United States remains committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge, including its advantage over non-state actors such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which boast increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  47. United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act

    (3) The United States remains committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge, including its advantage over non-state actors such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which boast increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  48. S.3451 – H.R.6297 – International Biosecurity Act of 2010

    (5) Biological risks extend beyond biological weapons developed or used by foreign countries and also include intentional release of harmful biological agents by non-state groups or individuals, harmful outcomes through unintentional release or unforeseen consequences of biological research and experimental biological agents, and natural disease outbreaks. (11) The changing geopolitical climate in which a number of countries and non-state actors are seeking or have acquired weapons of mass destruction indicates that the United States will require specialized nonproliferation experts in addition to experts in regional security.

  49. S.3920 – A bill to address national security threats and vulnerabilities that could undermine economic recovery and financial markets.

    (A) potential threats to financial markets and economic recovery from state actors and non-state actors;

  50. H.R.1540 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

    disrupt the ability of terrorists, non-state actors, and state sponsors of terrorism to acquire such man-portable air-defense systems.

  51. S.1867 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

    (III) disrupt the ability of terrorists, non-state actors, and state sponsors of terrorism to acquire such man-portable air-defense systems.

  52. H.R.4229 – Iron Dome Support Act

    (2) The United States remains committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge, including its advantage over non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which boast increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  53. H.R.4310 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

    (2) A description of the means by which any foreign country and non-State organization that has achieved, or is making progress toward achieving, capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, or cruise missiles has achieved, or is making progress toward achieving, that capability, including a description of the international network of foreign countries and private entities that provide assistance to foreign countries and non-State organizations in achieving that capability.

  54. S.2325 – Iron Dome Support Act

    (2) The United States Government remains committed to ensuring the Government of Israel’s qualitative military edge, including maintaining its advantage over non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas who possess increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  55. S.3254 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

    (1) An assessment of the likely internal and regional security environment for Afghanistan over the next decade, including challenges and threats to the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan from state and non-state actors.

  56. H.R.6644 – Global Partnerships Act of 2012

    (b) Qualitative military edge defined.—In this section, the term “qualitative military edge” means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.

  57. H.R.938 – United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014

    (i) the range of cyber and asymmetric threats posed to Israel by state and non-state actors; and

  58. H.R.1793 – Global Partnerships Act of 2013

    (b) Qualitative military edge defined.—In this section, the term “qualitative military edge” means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.

  59. H.R.1992 – Israel QME Enhancement Act

    (A) the range of cyber and asymmetric threats posed to Israel by state and non-state actors; and

  60. H.R.2701 – United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation Act of 2013

    (3) The United States remains committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge, including its advantage over non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which boast increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  61. H.R.2717 – United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation Act of 2013

    (3) The United States remains committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge, including its advantage over non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which boast increasingly sophisticated and powerful weapons as a result of support from Iran, Syria, and other state actors.

  62. S.J.Res.21 – Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons

    (4) prevent the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors within Syria of any weapons of mass destruction.

  63. S.Res.219 – A resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and others to be tried before the International Criminal Court for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) prohibits all United Nations member states, including Syria, from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop, acquire, possess, transfer, or use chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and it reaffirms that weapon of mass destruction proliferation “constitutes a threat to international peace and security”;

  64. H.R.3292 – United States-Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act

    (B) Deter Iran’s development of nuclear weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect United States allies and partners against the development and transfer of such weapons to rogue regimes and non-state actors.

  65. H.R.4495 – Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act

    (7) The United States continues to work with these and other regional countries on a range of transnational security and humanitarian issues, including countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, encouraging the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, responding to and mitigating humanitarian disasters, halting the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, and weapons, coordinating to monitor and combat the risk of pandemic disease, and fighting the disruptive activities of state and non-state actors for the betterment of regional stability and prosperity.

  66. H.R.4681 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015

    Report.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactmentof this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives a report on the threat posed by man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to United States interests through 2025, including threats from foreign countries and foreign non-state actors.

  67. H.Amdt.775 to H.R.4681

    (a) Report.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the   enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence   shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees and   the Committees on Armed Services of the House of   Representatives and the Senate a report on the threat posed   by man-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to United States   interests through 2025, including threats from foreign   countries and foreign non-state actors.

  68. S.2588 – Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014

    (2) A list and an assessment of the countries and non-state actors that are the primary threats of carrying out a cybersecurity threat, including a cyber attack, theft, or data breach, against the United States and which threaten the United States national security, economy, and intellectual property.

  69. H.Con.Res.107 – A concurrent resolution denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

    Whereas the United States and Israel have cooperated on missile defense projects, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow Anti-Missile System, projects designed to thwart a diverse range of threats, including short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state actors, such as Hamas;

  70. H.R.5649 – United Nations Human Rights Council Accountability Act

    (5) The United Nations Human Rights Council’s agenda contains a permanent item for criticism of the democratic, Jewish State of Israel, but no permanent items criticizing any other state or non-state actor.

  71. H.R.5862 – Improvements in Global MOMS Act

    (32) According to the Director of National Intelligence’s 2009 Annual Threat Assessment, widespread poor maternal and child health and malnutrition has the potential to weaken central governments and empower non-state actors, including terrorist and paramilitary groups.

  72. H.R.5878 – Shahbaz Bhatti International Religious Freedom Act of 2014

    (A) by striking the second and third sentences and inserting the following: “More than 76 percent of the world’s population live in countries in which religion is restricted in significant ways, either by the government or by societal non-state actors. These limitations severely restrict or prohibit the freedom of people to study, believe, observe, and freely practice the religious faith of their choice.”; and “(7) In addition to governments, non-state actors severely violate freedom of religion or belief. These actors include individuals, mobs, vigilante groups, anti-government insurgents, militant organizations, and recognized terrorist groups. In those cases in which governments’ legal systems promote intolerance, non-state actors often act unilaterally to enforce these biased measures.

  73. S.3019 – War Powers Against non-state actors Act of 2014

    “(a) Termination of use of United States armed forces; exceptions.—In the event that a report submitted by the President to Congress consistent with the requirements of section 4 relates to the use of the United States Armed Forces against a non-state organization or entity—

  74. H.R.1150 – Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act

    “(11) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means a nonsovereign entity that— “(A) exercises significant political power and territorial control; “(B) is outside the control of a sovereign government; and “(C) often employs violence in pursuit of its objectives.”;

  75. H.R.1323 – Shahbaz Bhatti International Religious Freedom Act of 2015

    “(14) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means any entity outside of government, including an extremist group or terrorist organization.”.

  76. H.R.1560 – Protecting Cyber Networks Act

    (Sec. 108) Directs the DNI, in a report to Congress regarding cyber threats, attacks, theft, and data breaches, to: (1) assess current U.S. intelligence sharing and cooperation relationships with other countries regarding cybersecurity threats to U.S. national security interests, the economy, and intellectual property; (2) list countries and non-state actors that are primary threats; (3) describe U.S. response and prevention capabilities; and (4) assess additional technologies that would enhance U.S. capabilities, including private sector technologies that could be rapidly fielded to assist the intelligence community.

  77. H.R.1649 – Partnering to Detect and Defeat Tunnels Act

    (c) Lead intelligence officer.—The Director of National Intelligence shall designate a senior intelligence officer to manage the collection and analysis of intelligence regarding the tactical use of tunnels by state and non-state actors.

  78. H.R.1735 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    Not later than seven days after the Secretary determines that there is reasonable grounds to believe that the Russian Federation has tested, initially deployed, or sold or transferred to another state or non-state actor the Club-K cruise missile system, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a notification of such determination.

  79. H.R.2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016

    Provided further, That funds appropriated in this Act which are used to establish a national one-stop career center system, or which are used to support the national activities of the Federal-State unemployment insurance, employment service, or immigration programs, may be obligated in contracts, grants, or agreements with States and non-State entities:

  80. S.1356 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    (Sec. 1248) Requires the annual report on military matters and security developments involving Russia to include: (1) an assessment of the force structure and capabilities of Russian military forces stationed in the Arctic region, Kaliningrad, and Crimea; (2) an assessment of the Russian military strategy and objectives in the Arctic region; and (3) a description of the status of testing, production, deployment, and sale or transfer to other states or non-state actors of the Club-K cruise missile system by the Russian Federation.

  81. S.1376 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    (3) The United States is facing an increased threat from both state and non-state actors. (2) The rise of committed, non-state forces and near peer competitors has introduced destabilizing pressures around the globe.

  82. H.R.2596 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    (d) Reports on nuclear aspirations of non-state entities.—Section 1055 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (50 U.S.C. 2371) is repealed.

  83. S.1705 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    (2) transferred or sold, or intends to transfer or sell, the Club-K container missile system to another state or non-state actor.

  84. S.1798 – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2015

    “(ii) non-state actorS.—The President shall designate each non-state actor that has engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom as entities of particular concern for religious freedom.”.

  85. H.R.3194 – FIRST Freedom Act

    (16) The United States Government has limited tools to hold accountable the perpetrators of religious freedom violations. Section 604 of IRFA added section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(G)), which made foreign government officials who commit particularly severe violations of religious freedom inadmissible to the United States, but it has only been applied once, to deny entry to Narendra Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat, India. In its 2015 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the State Department: “Make greater efforts to ensure foreign government officials are denied entry into the United States due to their inadmissibility under U.S. law for their responsibility for religious freedom violations abroad.”. The effectiveness of this law is also limited because it does not apply to non-state actors, such as international terrorists, and it can only be used to deny entry to a perpetrator who has not yet arrived in the United States, not to deport a perpetrator who has already entered the country.

  86. S.1860 – A bill to protect and promote international religious freedom.

    (16) The United States Government has limited tools to hold accountable the perpetrators of religious freedom violations. Section 604 of IRFA added section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(G)), which made foreign government officials who commit particularly severe violations of religious freedom inadmissible to the United States, but it has only been applied once, to deny entry to Narendra Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat, India. In its 2015 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the State Department: “Make greater efforts to ensure foreign government officials are denied entry into the United States due to their inadmissibility under U.S. law for their responsibility for religious freedom violations abroad.”. The effectiveness of this law is also limited because it does not apply to non-state actors, such as international terrorists, and it can only be used to deny entry to a perpetrator who has not yet arrived in the United States, not to deport a perpetrator who has already entered the country.

  87. H.R.4127 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016

    (2) transferred or sold, or intends to transfer or sell, the Club–K container missile system to another state or non-state actor.

  88. H.Res.600 – Reaffirming the right for the United States to use all available options, including the use of military force, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    (4) makes clear its unwavering support for Israel’s right to ensure its survival and to defend itself from nations and non-state actors that wish to do it harm;

  89. S.2551 – Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016

    (1) The nature of genocide and mass atrocities, including crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes, committed globally includes shocking acts of violence perpetrated by governments and non-state actors, which have killed millions of civilians and other innocent individuals.

  90. H.R.4909 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

    a) Report required.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on policies, doctrine, procedures, and authorities governing Department of Defense activities in response to malicious cyber activities carried out against the United States or United States persons by foreign states or non-state actors.

  91. S.2878 – Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act

    “(11) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means a nonsovereign entity that exercises significant political power and is able to exert influence at a national or international level but does not belong to or ally itself to any particular country and often employs illegal violence in pursuit of its objectives.”;

  92. H.Res.729 – Expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust, and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel.

    Whereas, on October 15, 2008, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 was signed into law (Public Law 110–429) and defined Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) as “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damage and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors”;

  93. S.3017 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

    (a) Foreign intelligence entity defined.—In this section, the term “foreign intelligence entity” means any intelligence or security entity of a foreign country, an international organization, a non-state actor, or a sub-state actor.

  94. S.Res.508 – A resolution expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust, and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel.

    Whereas, on October 15, 2008, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 was signed into law (Public Law 110–429), defining Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) as “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damage and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors”;

  95. S.3117 – Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2017

    (2) PROTECTION AND INVESTIGATION PROGRAMS.—Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading “Economic Support Fund”, not less than $10,000,000 shall be made available for programs to protect vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities: Provided, That a portion of such funds shall be made available for programs to investigate the persecution of such minorities by governments and non-state actors and for the public dissemination of information collected on such persecution, including on the Department of State Web site.

    (e) Designation of non-state actors.—The President shall, concurrent with the annual foreign country review required by section 402(b)(1) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6442(b)(1)), review and identify any non-state actors in such countries that have engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom, and designate, in a manner consistent with such Act, each such group as a non-state actor of particular concern for religious freedom operating in such reviewed country or surrounding region: Provided, That whenever the President designates such a non-state actor under this subsection, the President shall, as soon as practicable after the designation is made, submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the reasons for such designation.

  96. H.R.5732 – Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2016

    (C) the potential for contributions from other countries and vetted non-state actor partners to establish and maintain one or more safe zones in Syria.

  97. H.R.5912 – Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2017

    (2) PROTECTION AND INVESTIGATION PROGRAMS.—Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading “Economic Support Fund” shall be made available for programs to protect vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities: Provided, That a portion of such funds shall be made available for programs to investigate the persecution of such minorities by governments and non-state actors and for the public dissemination of information collected on such persecution, including on the Department of State Web site.

  98. H.R.6482 – Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act

    (11) non-state actor.—The term ‘non-state actor‘ means a nonsovereign entity that— “(A) exercises significant political power and territorial control; “(B) is outside the control of a sovereign government; and  “(C) often employs violence in pursuit of its objectives.”;

  99. S.3536 – Preventing Destabilization of Iraq and Syria Act of 2016

    (C) the potential for contributions from other countries and vetted non-state actor partners to establish and maintain one or more safe zones in Syria; and

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

50 comments

  1. Oregoncharles

    ” if the statute were to mean “foreign state and [foreign] non-state propaganda,” I feel that the drafters would have written “foreign state and foreign non-state propaganda.” ”
    You overestimate the competence of Congressional legal drafting. However, it doesn’t really matter, because ambiguity is bad regardless of motive. In this case, the ambiguity in itself would license an administration – Trump’s, as it turns out – to interpret the law as broadly as possible. Despite some of the gaslighting we’ve seen, there is no reason to think Trump will be less authoritarian than Obama, and some reason to think he’ll be more heavy-handed – it’s what worries me most about him.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You overestimate the competence of Congressional legal drafting

      Possibly. Which is why I laid out a precedent for my interpretation — which others could also use.

    2. Carolinian

      Of course as with so many other laws the law means what those enforcing it want it to mean. For example we have laws against financial crimes but what those laws really mean is that executives of systemically important companies get to do what they want. At least according to Eric Holder.

      Personally I’d say put away the worry beads on this one. The powers that be may encourage a ban of sites from Facebook (or Facebook will use the law as an excuse to ban mention of certain sites) but since it’s Facebook who cares? Besides we are soon going to be best buddies with state actor Russia. Trump doesn’t seem to be backing down from that promise at least.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        The most recent studies indicate 40% of those polled cited Facebook as their primary news source, many of them younger people who already suffer from lack of basic knowledge of history, civics and politics. Those here who persist in sneering at Facebook need to wake up and understand there are many people who don’t share their disdain. The corporate media propaganda machine is very much aware of this, and the impact of Facebook is ignored at one’s peril.

        1. Chief Bromden

          If one isn’t on Facebook to post pictures of puppies and kitchen adventures, one may actually be able to cultivate a pretty informed network over time. A sifting process organically weeds out the nonsense and you end up with a feed that produces some diverse and informative ‘news’ from various sources. I believe it is these channels that the establishment feels threatened by as it drives traffic to places like NC.

          Where I used to see lots of self-marketing nonsense on FB I now see a feed dominated by a soup of information challenging medical/economic/political/journalistic cultist orthodoxy. The information is spreading like a wildfire and the establishment is desperately running around trying to put it out.

          “many of them younger people who already suffer from lack of basic knowledge of history, civics and politics”Perhaps. But many older people who consider themselves well-versed in such areas are so heavily conditioned that they cannot unlearn the fake news version of ‘history’ repeated in our textbooks and classrooms throughout our formal education years. Many have never even heard of Howard Zinn or Edward Bernays. It’s easy to make an argument that the cognitive handicapping is even worse with those who believe they know what they know.

    3. Ivy

      Ambiguity in drafting is to be construed against the drafter, based on what various attorneys said over the years. Is the Federal Government somehow exempt from any ambiguous drafting?

      1. hunkerdown

        No, but they are exempt from “construed against the drafter”, in that the judicial branch customarily defers to Congressional intent when interpreting laws. From the Law Dictionary:

        Drafting, proposing, debating, and enacting a particular statute based on the design, plan, and purpose the legislature had.

        The only way to win at cribbage is to own the table.

        1. Lambert Strether

          That’s why I created the Appendix, to see what legislative intent had been over time.

          Our experience with intelligence agencies has been that the broadest possible interpretation is the one they will choose. And as the post shows, the broadest possible interpretation is very, very broad.

          Perhaps I should have appended “that you can drive a truck through” to “ambiguities.”

    4. Andrew Watts

      Who started this hysteria in the first place? If this legislation is used against American citizens they’ll probably be charged with violating the Espionage and/or Sedition Act.

      In which case the Democrats are historically the clear winners for utilizing that legislation to imprison the most people. The Wilson Administration charged over 2000 people with violations of those Acts stemming from their anti-war opposition. That’s a hard record to top even for the Republicans.

      1. Grizziz

        Its true that there is likely existing legislation to cover this potential threat.
        Maybe it should be interpreted as grant writing instead of legislation. Is it possible to determine if the legislation was created to fund a specific yet unnamed think tank or NGO?

        1. Andrew Watts

          Not really. But it’s very likely that more than one NGO / think tank is standing in line.

  2. Oregoncharles

    “a week after the Act was packed”
    I assume that was meant to be “passed”?
    It’s a good example of spell-chek treachery.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can spell, but I can’t type. In this case, this was a “sonic typo” — my brain seems to file words by sound, and it grabbed “packed” from the shelf next to “passed.”

      1. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        January 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        Impressive references and notes. Takes me back to when I had to help draft regulations to comply with laws at the FDA – ah, the terrible old days…. When there was ambiguity *** we left it to the Agency’s discretion to do what we wanted to do, WHICH WAS ALWAYS AS MUCH AS WE COULD GET AWAY WITH. Or we ignored it altogether…

        *** And when it was clear? We still left it to our discretion to do what the Agency wanted to do. There are something like 150 pages of the FEDERAL REGISTER published every business day. Notice and comment rule making is a long drawn out process, and probably no small numbers of laws’ sponsors are no longer in Congress by the time all the implementing stuff is done. It ain’t too often that anybody in congress checks on how well the regulations comport with the law**….

        **And if the bureaucrat being checked on lies…..(cough…cough, coughs out lung…Clapper) in a forest, and nobody cares to hear it, is it still perjury?

  3. Oregoncharles

    Lambert, your patience in researching and laying out a case like this is impressive. I don’t think I could do it – it’s the reason I’m not a scholar or a lawyer.

  4. jake

    It would fascinating to know how this program intends to deal with “counterfactual narratives abroad” (or at home, for that matter) which promote rather than “threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies and partner nations,” including counter-factual claims offered by the U.S. government and members of Congress.

  5. sd

    Skynet just ate my comment.

    My take on this legislation is that it’s passing funding to entities who have not been eligible before. Much like the Iraq War “Coalition of the Willing” allowed the US to pass funding to foreign companies. Their “participation” protected them from being considered mercenaries under UN treaties.

  6. Pajarito

    All the more reason to charge and prosecute Madame Hillary for her private server while at State. Restore the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) so citizens can see what their government is doing. Also, so government staff must respect citizen oversight. Clinton not only wrecked the Democratic party but destroyed a key pillar of our democracy: citizen oversight of government.

    FOIA the pants off them! Expose who gets the grants, who does the counter propaganda. And who decides what is propaganda; the state department, state department contractors, MSM…? Are the decisions and recommendations FOIA-able? Does “grant” allow a FOIA-free claim by State?

    1. sd

      This legislation would allow funding to Clinton entities that are registered outside of the US. Just saying. Funding tends to follow already established paths….water seeks its own level.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Despite the Republican drafting and co-sponsorship, I can’t help thinking that this legislation was drafted on the assumption that Clinton would win. The Red Scare, the War Scare, the “fake news” (censorship) scare were all started by the Clinton campaign, and would have been intensified had Clinton won. When Clinton lost, her faction deployed them anyhow. They all at least have the merit of providing Clintonite grifters with continued employment.

    1. Ranger Rick

      In today’s modern dystopia, no one could possibly have acquired a dissenting opinion without hearing it from someone else.

  7. Steve C

    I would think that since you link to non-US publications and foreign residents leave comments, that’s good enough for US authorities to say you’re covered by the act. At least they have plausible deniability. You’d have to expend resources to make them stop, so mission accomplished.

    1. tgs

      I think you are right. Any non-state actors that link regularly to sites that are state actors are probably going to find themselves in the cross hairs. And from what I have seen, there will be very few pundits, especially ones associated with the Democratic party and so called centrist liberalism, who not be cheering the censors on.

      It is ironic since that MSM is so brazenly issuing fake and slanted news at this time; ‘news’ that any rational person can see is fake. In addition to the Vermont hack, consider:

      CNN Uses Screenshots from Fallout 4 to Depict Russian Hackers

      As Alfred Ng wrote for CNET, it is highly unlikely that alleged Russian hackers used Pip-Boys, a game device within the Fallout play environment, to disrupt the US election.

      Epistemological question: is CNN purveying fake news, or just plain old-fashioned bullshit?

  8. steelhead23

    I would like to hear the views of lawyers on this. I believe that when dealing with legislative ambiguity, the courts tend to look at Congressional intent. I believe its weight is well below the weight of precedents, but considered nonetheless. Like the election of Trump, I tend to believe that over-reach almost always results in blowback. Of course, blowback does not always triumph (e.g. Paris Commune, Occupy), but it can (e.g. Joe Welch’s response to Eugene McCarthy). With this over-reach, the story this very morning on doing away with the Office of Congressional Ethics – which garnered a whiff of blowback from the president-elect, I see our near future filled with interesting opportunities. Sure, they may well be disastrous, but they will surely be interesting.

    1. pictboy3

      It depends on your judge’s philosophy of legislative intent. Some care deeply about legislative intent. Others don’t give a toss and simply divine their own meaning from the language that’s on the page.

      My whole take on this is that it’s mostly about narrative and throwing more pork at friendly entities. The 1st Amendment is pretty ironclad when it comes to this sort of behavior, and it’s probably our most consistently strongly enforced civil right. Short of putting your names in databases (which lets be honest, they don’t need this act to do that), there’s not a whole lot I can see them being able to do without having the courts swiftly cut them off at the knees.

  9. Andrew Watts

    H.R.1150 is consistent with most of the other legislation that passed too. It seems to only refer to various insurgent warbands we’re all familiar with. As well as some we aren’t because they haven’t emerged from the rubble of the empire’s periphery yet. The problem with all that is that’s only the legal argument. It doesn’t provide any clue with regards to the political or domestic equation which is more important imo.

    I’m a little sketchy on the details because I haven’t read the book in years but according to what I remember of Legacy of Ashes when the Ford Administration was trying to deal with the CIA’s various scandals they chose the political battle over the legal battle because the latter was hopeless and the former was salvageable.

    (D) To support efforts by the Center to counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability of the United States and United States allies and partner nations.

    Counter how?

    That’s why I mentioned the British Security Coordination a few days ago. That bit of history covers a broad spectrum that ranges from petty harassment to blackmail with extreme measures like the killing of foreign nationals being rare but likely. Everything old is new again. I just wish I could remember the name of the Islamic State propagandist that was taken out by an airstrike.

    *edited* It was Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad according to the Guardian.

  10. Altandmain

    Sounds like an attempt to install a authoritarian state and to suppress dissent, except for state sanctioned sources of media.

    The sad thing is that the US is a plutocracy pretending to be a democratic society. They have reached the limits of propaganda. They are without integrity and struggle to keep the charade that America is a good meritocracy up. They looted too much and fundamentally, the social contract has been broken.

    The reason why Americans look at the alternative media us because people know that the mainstream media is a corporate mouthpiece. The American mainstream media is for crony capitalism and the Deep State what Pravda was for the Soviet Union.

    They seem to think that censoring the alternative media will cause people to trust the Establishment and allow the plutocrats to put Humpty Dumpty back together. It would be amusing if it were not so tragic.

  11. Skip Intro

    I wonder if Brock already has his contract for this work signed.

    p.s. They could have written state and non-state foreign propaganda, if they wanted to be inclusive. Reading ambiguity into it is a charitable interpretation of phrasing meant to mislead.

    1. polecat

      Ah, I see …. So if ‘cash’ is banned, then speech is mum … for the ants, and hence, their communication pathways.

  12. RBHoughton

    What an absurdly long and complex piece of law drafting – can any Congressman have read it? The Real News Network has some brief and helpful data:

    For over 40 years the Smith Mundt Act explicitly prohibited the US government from propagandizing its own people. In 2013, that year’s version of a National Defense Authorization Act, incorporated the Smith Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 which repealed the anti-propaganda rules of the Smith Mundt Act.

    Now a new bill – the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act – is directed to the control of overseas news while Section 501 of the Intelligence Authorization Act (which has passed the House and awaits Senate approval) is aimed at American media companies.

    This has nothing to do with the massaged US view in VoA and Radio Free Asia.

    It looks like a new McCarthyism taking shape in Washington. Independent News providers may have to use offshore servers.

  13. Fool

    Interestingly, what Scopes purports to debunk links to the House version of the Bill, NOT the version signed by Obama into law. Go figure: the version “debunked” by Snopes makes no mention of “non-state actors”.

    Now if only there was a “fake news” alert I could click…

  14. Whats the story?

    I am firmly convinced that not only may the law be used against more reliable sources, such as NC but also will be used for the simple reason that there are no good narratives coming out of the US nowadays; perpetual war and hard-core neoliberalism being the leitmotifs. A few examples,
    A) US says it is necessary to fight terrorism, but why then:
    1) desctruct Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, making sure that the countries are invaded by terrorists and on top of that
    2) finance and arm these very same terrorists in Syria
    B) US is aggressively trying to provoke war with Russia. Every aggression has been american. From fooling Sakaashvili to invade Russian territory, to anti-missile systems in Romania and Poland (against Iran, mind you. Have a look at the map to check the absurdity of this idea.) to supporting fascists and neo-nazis in Ukraine, to “russian hacking of the election”, to mobilizing NATO troops to Russian borders
    C) IMF being key in forcing Greece to its knees
    D) CIA arming and training drug cartels in Mexico making sure that the country is competely destabilized and being the ones managing and profiting from drugging down the very US-population they are supposed to protect
    E) Threatening China militarily in the South China sea. Again have a look at a map. Basically China is the only country needing this water for their economy. Surprising if they need to defend it?
    F) Militarization of the police and the police killing their own citizens.
    G) TTP, TTIP, TISA

    The list just goes on and on and on. In this perspective you cannot have people reporting facts calling the bullshit from the sinister plans made up by the crazies in the basement.

    Hey, how about a challenge here on NC? Let us find some good foreign or domestic plans/policies/actions that is actually making the life better for someone else than the military-industrial complex and the financial oligarchs?

  15. Fiver

    This is the creation of an Imperial Information Order to match the financial/economic and military integration of Hegemony Past. Signing this ranks with Obama’s lowest moments, and he had already scraped ground one time too many.

    While there is no doubt that elements of the US State (and of other States) already engage extensively in all or most of the activities this Act is intended to empower, the breadth of the mandate is nothing short of ‘all spectrum dominance’ in a way which I’ve absolutely no doubt is going to fundamentally, radically alter everyone’s access to real information and genuine communication. One World View brought to you by Google and the other Tech Titans in cooperation with the US State Department and CIA.

    A President’s Order away from madness, one last war away from doom.

  16. toshiro_mifune

    As needed, support the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation

    I’m going to read this as an excuse to pump money into various think tanks, working as consultants, to come up with counter propaganda.

    (10) Maintain, collect, use, and disseminate records

    So the NSA and various other 3 letter agencies can now keep their various domestic surveillance activities in place. No need to shutdown that million sq ft data center in Bluffdale.

  17. Ian Perkins

    I find this the most noteworthy piece:
    “(3) As needed, support the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and United States allies and partner nations.”
    Not only does it appear to include US citizens, journalists, and so on; it gives the green light to what I would call fake news and propaganda, and they call fact-based narratives and analysis – such gems as ‘Sadaam can kill us all in forty-five seconds’, no doubt.
    Given the history of such things as the Patriot Act, whose overt meanings and intentions have since been stretched to justify perpetual war and total global surveillance, I can only foresee the act being interpreted in the widest possible way a lawyer could possibly interpret it. Watch out for Global Engagement Center chatbots dominating and delineating social discourse!

  18. IdahoSpud

    Clearly the electorate is misinformed and has elected the wrong president. This legislation should help to minimize wrongthought within the proles.

  19. Angry Panda

    I still don’t understand what the point of this is. The blog post, I mean. And others like it.

    Many a time and oft (in the Rialto), U.S. state and non-state actors have already engaged in every single thing that is incorporated into this legislation. Formulate and disseminate own propaganda? Check. Fund or “assist” friendly individuals and organizations, including, more recently, paid trolls? Check. [Really? Have we forgotten the paid pro-Clinton trolling in this past election cycle already??] Look into a dissenting person’s financial records et cetera, damage their career et cetera, discredit them in the press et cetera? Check, with a special shout-out to Nixon. [Besides, the NSA already has everyone’s email traffic, so what’s the point exactly?]

    What’s changed? No, what has really changed?

    Ok, now the whole thing will be done not on an ad-hoc basis but, at least in part, through a centralized, err, center. Golly. I’ll be dashed. This really does change the whole equation markedly, doesn’t it. I mean, it’s not as if a small alternative-media website or blog used to run the risk of being “outed” as a foreign propaganda outlet by a mainstream media organization with no proof whatsoever, or flooded with legions of paid trolls, or…no, have we really forgotten the events of just one or two months ago? What nonsense is this?

    Personally, I am even dubiously in favor of having this legislation in place. First, because it is serves as a confirmation of sorts. Of things that the U.S. had already been doing, but still, official seal and all that. Second, because one hopes at least some of the budget aspects (e.g. total amounts of grants) will be non-classified and reported regularly (whereas when, say, the CIA funds a media organization someplace, good luck following that money trail). If you’re going to have this, might as well have it in the open, in other words.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I still don’t understand what the point of this is. The blog post, I mean. And others like it.

      Thanks for sharing your concern. Perhaps the headline and the lead will give you a clue. I asked:

      Does the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” Apply to American Independent or Alternative Media?

      And answered:

      Spoiler alert: Yes, it may, owing to what would charitably be called ambiguity in the drafting, and yes, it does, because powers granted to the Act’s “Global Engagement Center” apply to U.S. citizens on US soil who work in media.

      There’s an issue of fact in the discourse on the Act, now settled, and that’s not hard to understand, surely?

      You do, however, seem to wish that the post were a different post, showing a distinction between “what the US ha[s] already been doing,” albeit informally, and what the US can now do, formally and with official sanction.

      I’m sorry your expectations for a different post were not met. As a first cut, if you can’t see a difference between the creation of Federally funded and branded black lists — which the law permits — and random and varying efforts by various private and public actors, there’s probably not a lot I can do to help you with your perplexity.

      One can see, for example, how easy it would be for corporations of all kinds (ISPs, search firms, hosts, for example) to tell their IT people, “Yeah, use the Center’s list.” Especially when it’s available for free, provides an excellent shield against libaility, and eliminates the need to deal with a vendor’s privately managed list. One can also see, for example, how a Federally funded and branded black list would bleed over into no-fly lists.

  20. WhiteyLockmandoubled

    Important to recognize the other loophole. The second half of the purpose definition, : “….propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests,”

    Is incredibly broad. There is no question that US government agencies believe that foreign state and non-state actors can, and will engage in such “efforts” on US soil targeting US citizens. Despite the authors’ protestations, this is another big hole in the traditional restrictions on US government propaganda operations targeting American civilians.

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