Disinformation was a widely used propaganda tool in the Soviet era. But did disinformation cease with the fall of the USSR?
Ronald Rychlak, a University of Mississippi School of Law professor, has co-authored a book on disinformation with the highest ranking Soviet bloc defector to come to the United States, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa.
Rychlak talked with The Daily Caller about Benghazi and other current events that have caused him to worry about the government lying to push a political agenda.
“Disinformation has caused worldwide damage to the reputation of the United States, and now it is putting down roots in this country itself,” Rychlak and Pacepa write in their book “Disinformation.” “To fight this invisible weapon, we must first recognize it for what it is and decode its hidden mission, since it is usually clothed in innocuous civilian dress — as were the terrorists who killed three thousand Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Rychlak says they define disinformation as the ideologically-motivated effort to “implant false ideas” through an indirect, credible source. In this interview, he describes examples of both positive framing to promote a person, and negative framing to discredit a person, idea or institution.
“There are groups out there that openly acknowledge that they’re trying to bring down the United States through means other than the ballot box,” Rychlak said. “I mean, if you want to change the direction of America and you want to vote and you want to debate, you want to write letters to the editor, and you want to write op-eds, write a book, make a video, that’s fair. That’s what America is about. If you want to spread falsehoods, if you want to bring down individuals over false stories about their backgrounds — that kind of stuff is not.”
Rychlak encourages information consumers to be skeptical of what they are reading or hearing.
Discussing the disinformation implications for what Americans were told about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2012, Rychlak told us he initially watched the blamed video with law students in a class on terrorism.
It was obvious, he said, that the Obama administration’s explanation “was a cover story.”
“The fact that there was even an effort to put forth that false story is a little bit shocking to me,” he said. “I don’t think they needed to do that. But it does suggest that there are folks in Washington, D.C. who were trying very hard to cover up some stuff that we still probably haven’t gotten completely to the bottom of.”
Rychlak also mentions in the interview the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., which was recently labeled by an Army trainer as “a terrorist group” “because it teaches traditional Christian values about abortion and homosexuality.”
He calls this labeling of Catholics, Christians and tea parties as “absurd.”
“These are people just having a viewpoint,” Rychlak said. “Having a viewpoint, by the way, which for the first 200 years of our nation, was almost universally shared.”
“It’s wrong for an individual to discredit people on that basis” of social issues, he said. “It’s really wrong for the government to label those folks as terrorists, deny them benefits, to spy upon them, to do a lot of things that have been happening and that really are very disconcerting about the United States today.”
Watch Part 2:
In a previous segment, Rychlak spoke about the Duck Dynasty controversy, why progressives need the culture to hate America and the dangers of the International Criminal Court.
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