Rep. Mac Thornberry wants a piece of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 to fall down. So the Republican congressman from Clarendon is the co-sponsor of a bill that would flick into Cold War history a provision prohibiting the State Department from disseminating its overseas propaganda here in the States.
In the war on terrorism, this restriction is worse than an anachronism: It 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.
The bill, H.R.5736 — Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (Introduced in House – IH), removes the prohibition on public diplomacy material from being available to people within the United States and thus eliminates an artificial handicap to U.S. global engagement while creating domestic awareness of international affairs and oversight and accountability of the same.
In an article published in the Department of State’s Bulletin on November 7, 1948, entitled simply “The Voice of America,” Allen stated the purpose of the Department’s information activities, including VOA, the Congress had authorized earlier in the year with the passage of the Smith-Mundt Act
"Modern international relations lie between peoples, not merely governments." The above quote is from a State Department report entitled Memorandum on the Postwar International Information Program of the United States. The report was completed in July 1945...
The United States Informational and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, more commonly known at the Smith-Mundt Act, institutionalized the Voice of America and specified how the U.S. government could engage in public diplomacy.