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Obsolete Restrictions on Public Diplomacy Hurt U.S. Outreach and Strategy

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Publication Date: December 2007

Publisher(s): Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.)

Author(s): Juliana Geran Pilon

Series: Backgrounder

Topic: International relations (Diplomacy)
Media, telecommunications, and information (Information policy)

Keywords: National security; public diplomacy; voice of america; USIA

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Section 501 of the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Smith-Mundt Act) prohibits domestic dissemination of information designed for foreign consumption, ostensibly to ban "domestic propaganda." In the war on terrorism, this amounts to self-sabotage. Until Congress relegates this piece of legislation to the dustbin of history, the U.S. cannot expect to conduct public diplomacy effectively.