Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) introduced legislation on Wednesday to deny state-sponsored media outlets, such as Al Jazeera, from obtaining press credentials and access to Capitol Hill until such organizations comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and other U.S. laws.
The legislation from Bergman, who chairs the House Armed Services Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee, would also require the organizations to comply with FARA. Additionally, his legislation would limit the state-sponsored media outlet and its affiliates to having ten total press credentials and require FBI background checks for individuals applying for certificates through a state-sponsored media outlet.
This comes after Bergman, along with two other Republican lawmakers, sent a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) specifically targeting Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN), saying the organization’s press credentials need to be suspended until the State of Qatar and its propaganda arm adhere to FARA and other U.S. laws:
We are writing to request the immediate suspension of press credentials for the Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN), and for that suspension to remain in place until the State of Qatar and its propaganda arm agree to adhere to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and other U.S. laws.
Credentialed members of the House and Senate galleries enjoy unparalleled access to the U.S. Capitol, as well as to Senators, Members of Congress, and staffers. While this access is necessary for the media to provide accurate reporting to the American public, it is also the kind of access coveted by foreign powers seeking sensitive information from inside Congress. The most recent list of press credentials issued by Congress shows that Al Jazeera’s various subsidiaries (Al Jazeera International, Al Jazeera English, and AJ+) have 136 employees who have been credentialed by Congress. For context, the New York Times has 82 employees with credentials.
Bergman noted, “Troublingly, state-sponsored media outlets are not subjected to background checks prior to acquiring credentials” and do not have a limit on the number of “journalists” who can receive credentials and are essentially given “all-access passes” to Capitol Hill, even after some states have been “known to have conducted espionage operations targeting U.S. government officials or other Americans.”
He explained in further detail about some of the state-sponsored media outlets from the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and the State of Qatar:
Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and the State of Qatar have aggressively deployed their espionage forces against United States Government agencies and government officials, as well as targeting thousands of United States businesses and Americans perceived to be opponents or dissidents of their regimes.
The spy balloon recently launched over the continental United States was only one of many examples of Chinese government espionage and surveillance targeting Americans. Yet, as noted in the bill’s findings, more than two dozen credentials were issued in the 118th Congress to media outlets that are registered under FARA as Chinese agents and another 16 credentials were issued to media outlets owned and/or controlled by senior officials in the Chinese Communist Party.
Russia’s track record is no secret, neither is the fact that Russia has repeatedly engaged in espionage and surveillance targeting Americans, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Yet in the 118th Congress, Channel One Russian TV had three press credentials in the Congressional Press Galleries and Russian State TV and Radio (RTR) had four.
“It is difficult to see how anyone could stand in opposition to legislation that merely requires foreign state-sponsored media outlets to comply with U.S. law in order to receive Congressional press credentials,” Bergman stated.
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.