What: All Issues : War & Peace : US Intervention in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan : (H.R.2410) On the Brown-Waite of Florida Amendment, which would have prevented the distribution in the U.S. of a film, titled “A Fateful Harvest” that examined the narcotics industry in Afghanistan (2009 house Roll Call 324)
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(H.R.2410) On the Brown-Waite of Florida Amendment, which would have prevented the distribution in the U.S. of a film, titled “A Fateful Harvest” that examined the narcotics industry in Afghanistan
house Roll Call 324     Jun 10, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, included a provision that waived the historic ban against disseminating U.S. public diplomacy (propaganda) materials within the United States in order to make the film “A Fateful Harvest'' available for U.S. viewing. The film dealt with the poppy growing, opium production, trafficking, law enforcement efforts, the harmful health effects of drugs, and the difficulties facing both the Afghan Government and U.S. governments in dealing with these matters. It was produced by the Voice of America, a government-funded service that broadcasts programs designed to develop a positive view of the HYPERLINK "http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States" \o "United States" United States in other countries. These programs are broadcast in many languages and are not intended for an American audience.

This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Brown-Waite (R-FL) that would have prevented the domestic distribution of the film. Rep. Brown-Waite began her argument in support of her amendment by noting that “America is facing unprecedented trillion-dollar deficits, a ballooning national debt and steady-growing entitlement obligations. Yet, each and every time the House comes together to consider spending bills, evidence abounds that very few tough choices are being made.”

She then went on to say: “(I)n a perfect world where the United States is flush with money, very few spending ideas don't hold some merit. But simply having merit does not mean the American people have enough money to pay for it, nor do they have enough money around to fund this (and) . . . spending taxpayer dollars for the domestic distribution of a documentary film in a foreign affairs bill is not what the taxpayers need most at this time.”

Brown-Waite then pointed out that “laws have been on the books for 60 years that prohibit the executive branch from distributing government-sponsored information campaigns domestically.” She added that, if someone in the U.S. did want to see it, the film is on the Internet “and yet we have this in the appropriations bill.”

Rep. Scott (D-GA), who opposed the amendment noted that “on many occasions . . . Congress has passed legislation to waive the domestic dissemination ban . . . to make a film available for public viewing in the United States. It is a simple matter with many precedents. This should be one of those occasions.”  

Rep. Klein (D-FL) opposed the amendment because, he said, it “would disallow . . . a documentary that exposes the poppy trade that the Taliban has used to imprison the Afghan people, from broad distribution.  Klein argued that the intent of the usual prohibition on the domestic distribution of such films “was that a U.S. Government agency should not be able to brainwash Americans or put things out there that would not be considered objective information (but) . . . This particular movie, ‘Fateful Harvest’, is important for any American who's concerned about our national security. In a time when some Americans question the presence of American troops in Afghanistan, this film makes the case that American efforts help the Afghan people transition away from poppies to other agriculture helps in our fight against the Taliban.”

The amendment was defeated on a vote of 178-254. One hundred and sixty-six Republicans and twelve Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-three Democrats and eleven Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the effort to prevent the distribution in the U.S. of a film that examined the narcotics industry in Afghanistan was not successful.

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