The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239) allows U.S. government officials to disseminate in the United States news and information programs produced by the government at taxpayers’ expense for audiences abroad.

This change in the law, which earlier under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 prohibited U.S. government officials from actively distributing such material domestically, raises constitutional and civil liberties questions.

It is important to note that even under the old law it was never illegal for American citizens, residents of the United States or American media outlets to use and rebroadcast such programs in the United States if they obtained them on their own, for example from the Internet. Many did.

What the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which was incorporated into the FY 2013 NDAA, did was to give government officials, specifically the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) officials, the power to disseminate these programs in the United States upon request.

The new law still does not allow the BBG, which includes such media outlets as the Voice of America (VOA), to produce programs for domestic audiences. Fears have been raised, however, that government officials will use their new powers to in fact produce such programs or at least to target specific groups of Americans based on their ethnic or religious origins.

The purpose of this website is to keep an eye on U.S. government officials to make sure that they do not abuse their new powers and to provide information to the media and American public at large about this issue.