VOA giving Taliban airtime in Pakistan?

posted at 10:55 am on June 2, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) pressed hard to get the Voice of America to offer programming that would inform Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan about the real aims of America and the news of the world.  What Kirk and the US wound up funding, Eli Lake reports for the Washington Times, was a radio service that gave the terrorists of the region free air time.  After hearing that Baitullah Mehsud, a notorious leader of the Pakistani Taliban, got interviewed on VOA to claim credit for terrorist attacks, Kirk hit the roof:

Complaints that the U.S. government’s Voice of America (VOA) interviewed a top Pakistani Taliban leader have sparked an investigation into VOA’s Pashto language service to determine if it has allowed itself to become a platform for terrorist propaganda.

In a letter obtained by The Washington Times, the State Department’s acting inspector general, Harold Geisel, said his office will conduct a review “to determine the effectiveness of their broadcast and editorial practices and policies.” The service broadcasts into the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region that serves as a refuge for al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The probe was spurred by concerns first raised by Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, an Illinois Republican who in the past had championed the Pashto-language service known as Deewa Radio. Mr. Kirk said he became concerned that American taxpayers were providing the Taliban a megaphone after he learned that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud had been interviewed by the service — and claimed responsibility for terrorist bombings in the Pakistani city of Lahore in March.

“The U.S. taxpayer should not be subsidizing free air-time for al-Qaeda terrorists and Taliban leaders,” Mr. Kirk wrote in a May 5 letter to Mr. Geisel. “These broadcasts put the lives of American soldiers in danger and undermine the policies of the United States in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The VOA wanted to interview Mehsud to protect its journalistic street cred.  No, I’m serious:

VOA Director Danforth Austin said Deewa Radio was simply seeking to report the news in a way that was credible to listeners from the same ethnic Pashtun group as the Taliban.

Speaking of credibility, Eli notes that the Taliban have used the VOA service for their military maneuvers as well.  They have on at least one occasion used VOA interviews to deceive the Pakistani military as to their position.  On April 24th, a Taliban spokesman claimed that their forces were withdrawing from Buner, when in fact they were holding the territory.  They wanted to lure the Pakistani army into a trap, although it didn’t work out very well for the Taliban when they did.

Perhaps the VOA doesn’t quite get the ‘A’ in its acronym.  No one wants the VOA to broadcast half-truths and falsehoods; during the Cold War, people trapped behind the Iron Curtain learned to rely on VOA broadcasts for the truth.  However, the news service did not give free air time for enemies of the US to broadcast their own propaganda, which was abundantly available in that period, as is the Taliban’s now, although through less technological means.

For a little proof of this hypothesis, Lake reports:

The professional staff of VOA consider the operation akin to the British Broadcasting Corp. and other Western news outlets, Mr. Austin said.

Note to the VOA: You are not the American equivalent to the BBC.  (That would be NPR, anyway.)  The VOA exists for strategic purposes, not for the purposes of the individuals employed by it.  If current management doesn’t understand their raison d’etre, Congress needs to replace it with people better suited to the task.


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Comments

Will the terrorists will be involved in design carbombs at GM too?

Is this VOA outfit run by Ivy League grads?

WashJeff on June 2, 2009 at 10:59 AM

To be fair, VOA is simply reflecting Obama’s views.

battleoflepanto1571 on June 2, 2009 at 11:00 AM

When will the VOA broadcast their puff piece on Abdulhakim Muhammad from Little Rock?

Loxodonta on June 2, 2009 at 11:01 AM

If current management doesn’t understand their raison d’etre, Congress needs to replace it with people better suited to the task.

Hopeless…does anybody think Pelosi and Reed would oppose this? And, based on what we are seeing from Obama right now, this seems to jibe perfectly with his foreign policy initiatives to coddle every enemy America has.

AUINSC on June 2, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Good news catch, Ed.

If current management doesn’t understand their raison d’etre, Congress needs to replace it with people better suited to the task.

Given our circumstances, that any replacement would only do more progressive damage to American security, it would be time to pull the plug of any tax funds.

Mr. Austin has his propaganda setting that he’s converted in order to have his saboteur cake and eat it too.

maverick muse on June 2, 2009 at 11:07 AM

“The U.S. taxpayer should not be subsidizing free air-time for al-Qaeda terrorists and Taliban leaders”

They don’t have a choice. The Taliban is simply too big to fail.

logis on June 2, 2009 at 11:08 AM

I’ve heard that when Ronald Reagan was elected he brought in all of his career state department consuls. He asked each of them “Which country do you serve?, please point it out on my office globe”. If they pointed to any country other than the U.S., they were demoted from consul.

VOA needs that kind of cleaning.

Consanescerion on June 2, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Once again, career diplomats and journalists show their liberal stripes.

VOA should be run by the military, as an arm of Armed Forces Radio.

hawksruleva on June 2, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Will the terrorists will be involved in design carbombs at GM too?

Is this VOA outfit run by Ivy League grads students?

WashJeff on June 2, 2009 at 10:59 AM

FIFY. The car dude isn’t a graduate yet.

hawksruleva on June 2, 2009 at 11:10 AM

As long as you think you can trust practicing Muslims you hire to work against Islam, America will continue to be kicked in the nuts like this. There are no practicing Muslims you can trust to work against Islam for you. Hire apostates.

[email protected] on June 2, 2009 at 11:12 AM

To amend my story, of course that was shortly after he took office.

Consanescerion on June 2, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Everything is wrong.

Shy Guy on June 2, 2009 at 11:18 AM

When are we going to learn these extremists are just impoverished, frustrated, disenfranchised people who need both our sympathy and tolerance and well… now a voice.

After all, just as a lefty friend of my says with straight face, “right wing evangelicals are just as bad.”

Riiiiiight

seymour on June 2, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Vacuity
Of
As*holes.

Infidels have NO credibility with Muslims.

Stop the fantasy-based follies.

Just promote our interests …which boils down to:

killing and defeating the Islamic jihadis.

profitsbeard on June 2, 2009 at 11:28 AM

If current management doesn’t understand their raison d’etre, Congress needs to replace it with people better suited to the task.

The current Congress? Good luck with that.

infidel4life on June 2, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Barack hearts Iran

maverick muse on June 2, 2009 at 11:34 AM

We’re all mistaken.

It really IS the Voice of America now.

Get used to it.

Wine_N_Dine on June 2, 2009 at 11:38 AM

But don’t you dare mention that his middle name is Hussein.

angryed on June 2, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Is that Russell Brand there with the Taliban in the picture?

thebadoutlaw on June 2, 2009 at 11:43 AM

VOA could eventually become an unindicted co-conspirator like CAIR? Hmm?

Ditto sentiments to contributing to actions like what took place in Little Rock! Wonder if they will be investigated? Yeah, I doubt it too!

So, what happens when the GITMO prisoners, who are innocent don’t you know, what if THEY listen to VOA and then go out and commit a man-made disaster, (formerly called an act of terrorism)?

Each day is a new day for more insanity. I feel like I am trapped in an Acme cartoon of sorts, but there is nothing about this that is funny.

freeus on June 2, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Vault of Archavon? Oh, cool…we have Wintergrasp.

Asher on June 2, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Johnny has a red mustache. The chair is against the wall.

journeyscarab on June 2, 2009 at 11:57 AM

killing and defeating the Islamic jihadis.

profitsbeard on June 2, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Well said.

hawkdriver on June 2, 2009 at 12:11 PM

I’m sure Obama’s alright with this. Don’t you all remember when he wouldn’t wear his flag pin because he “didn’t want to appear to be taking sides”?

loudmouth883 on June 2, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Absolutely nauseating

clnurnberg on June 2, 2009 at 12:46 PM

from the state dept web site:

The U.S. Department of State has authorized a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the location, arrest, and/or conviction of Baitullah Mehsud, the senior leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban (Taliban Movement of Pakistan).

WTF!!!

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on June 2, 2009 at 1:14 PM

i just submitted my tip to the state dept for my 5mil reward.
i suggested they use the VOA to locate and kill this terrorist.

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on June 2, 2009 at 1:26 PM

This proves to me that the left controls all media and messaging.

PattyJ on June 2, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Fairness doctrine. Just a little “localism,” really. Not much of a problem. Move along here, nothing to see other than shadows of your future…

PersonalLiberty on June 2, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Mark Kirk is a bright spot on the otherwise bleak landscape of Illinois politics.

ynot4tony2 on June 2, 2009 at 5:38 PM