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Thank Rudy Giuliani and the FBI raid of his home and office Wednesday for vaulting the Foreign Agents Registration Act — an obscure, pre-World War II law that went little-enforced for decades — back into public prominence.

“FARA is definitely having its moment in the spotlight now,” said Robert Kelner, chairman of law firm Covington & Burling LLP’s election and political law practice. 

So what, exactly, is FARA?

Here are five key things to know:

FARA was designed to fight Nazi propaganda

President Franklin Roosevelt signed FARA into law in 1938 to “combat the spread of hidden foreign influence through propaganda in American politics.” 

Federal officials were particularly aghast at Nazi efforts to propagandize Americans in the years immediately before the United States’ entry into World War II. 

FARA’s passage provided legal muscle against a danger that even President George Washington foreshadowed in his farewell address.

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government,” Washington wrote in 1796 when the nation remained in its infancy.

This isn’t your grandfather’s FARA

Lawmakers have significantly revised FARA over the years, gearing it away from propaganda and toward exposing and defending against foreign meddling in US politics, including foreign advocacy and lobbying.

Congress revised FARA in 1942, 1966, and 1995, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

In its modern context, “the core purpose of FARA is to put US government officials and the American people on notice when a foreign government or other foreign interest is behind efforts to influence their opinions or actions, so that they can appropriately consider and weigh information or content in light of that underlying foreign interest,” said David …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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