In case you missed it…

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the confirmation hearing today, Wednesday, at 11:15a. CNN so far is the only one reporting on it, but to say they "reported" on it is a stretch.

The man nominated to head public diplomacy at the State Department said Wednesday that al Qaeda is doing a better job than the Bush administration in winning friends over the Internet….

"Our enemies are eating our lunch in terms of getting the word out in digital technology," said James Glassman….

Glassman said the United States must overturn a misconception in the Muslim world that it is a military threat, that it wants to weaken and divide the Muslim world and spread Christianity.

One member of the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, asked Glassman, "Do we broadcast what people want to hear or what they need to hear?"

Glassman replied, "We have to be honest. If we tell them lies they are going to figure that out very quickly."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, introduced Glassman to the committee, saying the public diplomacy post is "the closest thing to a supreme allied commander in the war of ideas and one of the most important posts in Washington."

Glassman’s prepared remarks are here. Light highlight:

Since I was nominated as Under Secretary on December 11, many friends have congratulated me and perhaps just as many have offered condolences. They were half-joking, I suppose, in their reference to how difficult this job must be.

From the VOA reporting on the hearing:

"OK, what can you do? You have only got a year to do this," asked Senate Democrat Bill Nelson.

In response Glassman said the United States must aggressively fight misinformation and work to counter a perception that it doesn’t care or take into account views of other nations.

That won’t be easy, he says, in the face of an ideology based on a distortion of Islam. He adds that "You Tube" and a new State Department blogging site are among tools now being employed, and urges greater use of what he calls credible Muslim voices. "That is an area we need to do better in encouraging Muslim voices to step forward and say exactly what you are saying, that you have built an ideology which is a violent and vicious ideology on top of a religion that is not like that at all," he said.

When Senate Democrat Robert Menendez asked whether U.S. public diplomacy should "tell it like it is", Glassman said "we have to be honest" adding "we don’t do propaganda."

Senator Russ Feingold, a committee Democrat, pointed to criticisms of U.S. public diplomacy efforts. "As you are well aware however, this bureau [public diplomacy effort] has been criticized for having a weak communications strategy which obviously raises questions about its ability to meet its important mission," he said.

See also: