Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pentagon’s Iran Directorate: ‘US broadcasts into Iran aren’t tough enough’

The Pentagon’s Iran Directorate, created in March 2006, “has drafted a report charging that US international broadcasts into Iran aren't tough enough on the Islamic regime,” further indication that some in the Bush administration are pushing for a more confrontational policy toward Iran. According to McClatchy Newspapers, which obtained a copy of the report this week, “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.”

The report was written by Ladan Archin, a regime change proponent who formerly studied with Paul Wolfowitz when he was dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Archin now serves as the Country Director in the Near East and South Asia Department of the Department of Defense responsible for Iran. The report was prepared for an inter-agency committee on policy toward Iran called the Iran Steering Group, which is co-chaired by the National Security Council and the State Department.

But, US broadcasting officials and others who've read the report say its contentions are riddled with errors. The report’s accusations of Radio Farda and Voice of America’s Persian TV include:

  • the stations take a soft line toward Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime and don’t give adequate time to government critics;
  • the stations consistently fail to maintain a balance by inviting informed guests who represent another perspective on the same issue; and
  • "neither station is a primary source of news for Iranians."
In February 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a major initiative to “promote democracy” in Iran, including $50 million to increase Farsi-language television broadcasts. The announcement set off a furious bureaucratic battle for control of the funds and the initiative.

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