• Congress,  Media,  Now Media,  Smith-Mundt,  State Department

    Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2010 (Updated)

    On July 13, US Congressmen Mac Thornberry (TX-13) and Adam Smith (D-WA), both members of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, introduced “The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2010” (H.R. 5729), a bipartisan bill to revise an outdated restriction that interferes with the United States’ diplomatic and military efforts. The Smith-Mundt Act, formally known as the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, was intended to improve and institutionalize information and exchange activities to counter Communist activities around the world that America’s ambassador to Russia described in 1946 as a “war of ideology… a war unto death.” Today, however, the Smith-Mundt Act is invoked not to enable engagement…

  • Public Diplomacy

    Public Meeting of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

    The US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on July 20, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the conference room of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) located at 1850 K Street, NW., Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20006. The Commissioners will discuss public diplomacy issues, including measurement of U.S. government public diplomacy efforts. The Advisory Commission was originally established under Section 604 of the United States Information and Exchange Act of 1948, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1469) and Section 8 of Reorganization Plan Numbered 2 of 1977. It was reauthorized pursuant to Public Law 11-70 (2009), 22 U.S.C. 6553. The public may attend…

  • Defense Department,  Media,  Psychological Struggle

    Pincus article on military information activities is part literature review, part ignorance

    Once again, Walter Pincus of The Washington Post writes about military information activities. Once again, the esteemed Pincus exposes his lack of knowledge and ability to really investigate and qualitatively report on military information activities. Just as Pincus criticizes the military for expanding into areas it lacks expertise in, the same can be said about Pincus, an internationally influential reporter at a major media outlet. In a June 29, 2010, article titled “Fine Print: Contractors’ roles in psychological operations raise concerns,” Pincus links the recent debacle of the Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal with the use of contractors in information-related roles while unfairly mocking the Defense Department’s effort…

  • Congress,  Government Broadcasting

    Congress and International Broadcasting

    While the nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors remain in a holding pattern in the Senate, mostly likely because of Senator Tom Coburn, there is good news on the US international broadcasting front. The bill to permanently authorize Radio Free Asia has passed an important milestone. According to a Senate source, last Friday, the Radio Free Asia bill was “hotlined” on the Republican side. This means there was no Republican opposition to considering the bill for unanimous consent. The next step is to hotline the bill on the Democrat side, which may or may not have occurred before you read this. See also: Senator Richard Lugar’s report on the…

  • Congress,  Events,  Now Media,  Other

    USA Lost and other depressing news

    Team USA lost to Ghana in the World Cup in a contest that went into extra time. The referring was not quite the factor it was in previous games, but the referee yesterday should have warned and even penalized Ghana for delay of game and pretending to be fouled. He did neither but in the end, that did not change the fact Team USA could not put the ball in the net, despite several good opportunities to do so. South Korea, another team I hoped would make it to the next round, was also defeated. Also depressing is the nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors have yet to be…

  • Defense Department,  Psychological Struggle,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department,  White House/NSC

    Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus briefing

    The Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Caucus is holding a briefing this Thursday, June 17th at 9:00am in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building to discuss the National Framework for Strategic Communication, the Secretary of State’s Strategic Framework for Public Diplomacy, and the Secretary of Defense’s “1055 Report” on Strategic Communication. Briefers include Mr. Pradeep Ramamurthy from the White House National Security Staff, Ms. Kitty DiMartino from the State Department, and Ms. Rosa Brooks from the Department of Defense. The one-hour briefing will include time for questions and answers. RSVP with Katy Quinn in Rep. Adam Smith’s office at Katy.Quinn@mail.house.gov or with Michael Clauser in Rep. Mac Thornberry’s…

  • Congress,  Government Broadcasting,  Public Diplomacy,  Reports

    Senate Report on the Broadcasting Board of Governors

    The most extensive report on the issues facing the Broadcasting Board of Governors and US international broadcasting was released this week. “US International Broadcasting – Is Anybody Listening? – Keeping the US Connected” (1mb PDF) was prepared by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of senior professional staff member Paul Foldi, and is the best, if not the only, substantial review of its kind. The report describes the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) as transforming from its intent of a political “firewall” to a modern political “football” that has resulted in an average vacancy on the board of over 470 days. Even now, the new…

  • Congress,  Government Broadcasting

    Movement on the BBG? (Updated)

    No, not yet. The Senate has adjourned until June 7. Questions from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to at least one of nominees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors is available from the Huffington Post (scroll down to COBURN’S QUESTIONNAIRE FOR DANA PERINO), or click here for the Word document with the questions. Meanwhile, the head of the Persian News Network was “reassigned” and his deputy was fired. See also: All eight BBG nominees are now committee approved, await Senate floor vote by Kim Andrew Elliott, 26 May 2010.  VOA Persian tilts in favor of Tehran? (updated) by Kim Andrew Elliott, 15 February 2010. Voice of the Mullahs? Not quite. from…

  • Congress,  Defense Department,  State Department

    Understanding State’s Budget Woes

    Andrew Exum at CNAS blames – only somewhat tongue in cheek – the absence of federal money creating jobs in Congressional districts for the State Department’s budget woes. His point, of course, is that Congress sees little direct benefit from State’s activities. My friend draws additional insight from Gordon Adams and Cindy Williams and their highlight of an operational difference between State and the Defense Department: The State Department’s dominant culture — the Foreign Service — takes pride in [the department’s] traditional role as the home of US diplomacy. Diplomats represent the United States overseas, negotiate with foreign countries, and report on events and developments. Diplomats, from this perspective, are…

  • Congress,  Development

    Lynne Weil goes to USAID

    One of public diplomacy’s best friends on the Hill, Lynne Weil, is going to USAID. Al Kamen writes about this move: The beleaguered Agency of International Development is awaiting the arrival of some assistant administrators to give the new boss, Rajiv Shah, some help in restoring the dysfunctional shop to at least some semblance of robust health (he is a doctor, after all). … Now comes word that he’s tapped veteran Hill foreign policy insider and media maven Lynne Weil to shore up the AID press shop as its director and to be the agency spokeswoman. Weil, who spent 15 years as a reporter, much of that time overseas, has…