Review and Labeling of Foreign Films by the Justice Department

GGD-83-65: Published: May 27, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO addressed several issues surrounding the Department of Justice's authority to identify and label foreign films as propaganda.

Justice's authority for these actions is derived from the enforcement powers it receives under the Foreign Agents' Registration Act of 1938 and its amendments. Under the act, political propaganda includes written and visual communications intended to influence public opinion regarding the U.S. Government's foreign or domestic policies. The act requires that such material distributed by a registered foreign agent be labeled and a dissemination report filed, and Justice regulations require that foreign agents provide it with lists of organizations that have shown the films. GAO noted that determinations regarding a film's content are made by paralegals and attorneys and that estimated costs represent about 5 to 10 percent of the unit's expenditures. From 1980 through 1982, the unit reviewed 27 films and labeled 11 as propaganda.

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