ProPublica is a nonprofit investigative news organization that shares its material with all of us, making it available to freely republish. Following are a couple of very good articles.
The story of Alhurra has been on their agenda for over a year. The latest piece by Dafna Linzer (9/17/09) reports that Alhurra will now be reviewed by the State Department Inspector General. Alhurra is essentially a propaganda broadcast operation set up by former President George W. Bush to put out information on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The original ProPublica investigation was undertaken jointly with CBS's 60 Minutes. It's investigation, according to Linzer,
revealed serious staff problems, financial mismanagement and long-standing concerns inside the U.S. government and Congress regarding Alhurra's content. Those stories led to congressional inquiries in the House and Senate. The station has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $600 million since it began broadcasting in 2004.The problems that have plagued this broadcast operation are only part of what is currently on the Obama administration's radar screen. The State I.G. has sent out a questionnaire to all employees to begin its work. Alhurra, which has cost taxpayers $600 million so far, is rated very low in popularity in the Middle East, it has experienced high rates of staff turnover and it was investigated last year by both the House and the Senate.
The current administration's intentions are not clear at this point. The article reports that Walter Isaacson will be nominated to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees international government broadcasting, and believes that no decisions about the controversial broadcasting station will be made before the new BBG chairman is seated. Visit ProPublica's web page for a complete list of links to its previous articles on Alhurra.
ProPublica recently published another very useful article by Emily Witt (9/10/09), titled: "Bush and Obama: A Counterterrorism Comparison." It is a side by side comparison to the two administrations' stances regarding "Interrogation, Rendition and CIA Black Sites, Detention, Military Commissions, Secrecy and Warrantless Wiretapping and Surveillance." Witt summarized by saying,
. . . what exactly has changed? Abusive interrogations have been banned, but renditions to other countries will continue. The prison at Guantanamo Bay has been ordered closed, but that hasn’t proven easy to do. Meanwhile, prisoners at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan — even those detained in other countries -- can still be held without charge. Memos on CIA interrogation practices have been released, but the details of some programs are still smothered In sum, there are clear differences between Bush and Obama, but some policies have stayed the same in the name of national security.
[Post date - September 18, 2009]
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