New Pentagon outfit wants more agitprop in Iran

Not being satisfied with the fact that Voice of America/Radio Farda broadcasts to Iran are already the most popular in the country, the Bush administration would like to see lies and disinformation inserted just as they do in Iraq:

WASHINGTON – In another indication that some in the Bush administration are pushing for a more confrontational policy toward Iran, a Pentagon unit has drafted a report charging that U.S. international broadcasts into Iran aren’t tough enough on the Islamic regime.

The report appears to be a gambit by some officials in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s office and elsewhere to gain sway over television and radio broadcasts into Iran, one of the few direct tools the United States has to reach the Iranian people.

McClatchy Newspapers obtained a copy of the report this week, and it also has circulated on Capitol Hill. It accuses the Voice of America’s Persian TV service and Radio Farda, a U.S. government Farsi-language broadcast, of taking a soft line toward Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime and not giving adequate time to government critics.

U.S. broadcasting officials and others who’ve read the report said it’s riddled with errors.

They also see it as a thinly veiled attack on the independence of U.S. international broadcasting, which by law is supposed to represent a balanced view of the United States and provide objective news.

“The author of this report is as qualified to write a report on programming to Iran as I would be to write a report covering the operations of the 101st Airborne Division,” Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Larry Hart, a spokesman for the board, which oversees U.S. non-military international broadcasting, said that the radio and TV operations have covered Iran’s human rights abuses extensively and have featured appearances by dissidents – who sometimes telephoned from Iranian jails.

Surveys have shown that Radio Farda is the most-listened-to international radio broadcast into Iran, Hart said.

Three U.S. government officials identified the author of the report as Ladan Archin, a civilian Iran specialist who works for Rumsfeld.

Archin was out of town this week and unavailable for comment. She works in a recently established Pentagon unit known as the Iran directorate.

Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman, said last week that the unit was established this spring as part of a government-wide reorganization aimed at better promoting democracy in Iran. He confirmed Tuesday night that Archin had been asked to prepare the report. “It was meant to be a look at how the program was working and to determine if it was an effective use of taxpayer dollars,” Ballesteros said.

Critics charge that the unit resembles the pre-Iraq-war Office of Special Plans, which received intelligence reports directly from Iraqi exile groups, bypassing U.S. intelligence agencies, which distrusted the exiles. Many of the reports proved to be fabricated or exaggerated. Some of the directorate’s staff members worked in the now-defunct Office of Special Plans, and some intelligence officials fear that directorate also is maintaining unofficial ties to questionable exiles and groups.

That is so 2002! Ladan Archin, by the way, was a Wolfowitz protégé from SAIS (surely by now one of the most discredited academic institution that does international relations, considering its alumni) involved in the Iraq war run-up and a connection with Ahmed Chalabi.

0 thoughts on “New Pentagon outfit wants more agitprop in Iran”

  1. Hey dude,

    Ease up on SAIS. I know its a finishing school for the globalized elite, but check this out (pg. 26)

    for summary check this,

    The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is the top master’s degree program in international relations (IR) for students looking to pursue a policy career, according to a recent survey of scholars in the field.

    The November/December issue of Foreign Policy magazine features the results of the survey, conducted by scholars at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Nearly 1,100 IR professors and researchers at universities throughout the United States participated in the study. SAIS also made the survey’s Top 20 Ph.D. Programs list, coming in 13th.

    Of course what are rankings and polls(?)… though this one was conducted by peer rivals, so I give it a bit more creedence. It ain’t all bad it seems….

  2. Issandr, I’d agree you’re being a bit harsh on SAIS – there are plenty of ex-administration people on pantouflage there and they do tend to say silly things and have silly proteges, but there are also several good scholars who do good work (particularly in the area studies and development studies departments). It’s the security studies folks and particularly the little research/policy centers embedded in the insttn (usually run by faculty who are more Washington playas than academics) that give it the reputation you’ve referred to. And Wolfowitz was at SAIS very much in a pantouflage position, not part of the integral faculty.

    Having said that, I’d be *very* surprised to hear that SAIS ranks so high among PhD programs, given that they take in a negligible number of PhD students every year. I wonder if the ranking referred to JHU as an institution (of which SAIS is a small, fairly autonomous wing). Himyari, you have a link?

  3. Good question SP,

    I suspect you are right on that count, though don’t know much about Hopkins’s poli sci. phd program on their home campus. I suspect the ranking reflects the combined resources of SAIS and the Hopkins poli. sci. department, but that is just conjecture.

    Don’t have a link beyond what I’ve sent about the programs (though full disclosure: the second bit came from a SAIS press release). Page 25 of the survey talks about the doctoral programs though.

  4. What’s the point of having a blog if not to run ad hominem attacks against people and places you dislike?!?!?

    I’m sure SAIS will provide a fine set of of senior managers for various governments and international institutions. They can then all get together for a Power Brunch at Chez Panisse or wherever at some point wearing their “SAIS Matters” T-shirts. I used to work with a guy who actually had one of those. And not ironically. Hey maybe we can all get together with people from Georgetown and Sciences Po and plot world domination while namedropping. I’ll be the one wearing the garish purple, black and yellow tie from LSE.

  5. And that’s why I love reading your blog Issander, cause you don’t hold back your comments, and the range of your consternation is broad and interesting. I do have to defend my alma mater though. Right now I’m exploring the Tunisian prisoner’s map. Do you know anything more about the Jemaiya al-dawliya li musanadat al-musajeen al-siyasiyeen? Do they have a site, or is there reporting I can read on them? Thanks!

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