In my op-ed in The Washington Examiner, I argue that the Voice of America (VOA) in USAGM, the $800-million taxpayer-funded U.S. Agency for Global Media, gives a false sense of security to Afghan women with some of its one-sided reporting from Afghanistan that goes against the requirements of the VOA Charter, the 1976 bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Ford.

 

In 2002, I negotiated and signed in Kabul with the new post-9/11 Afghan government the first U.S.-Afghanistan Radio Agreement. It allowed for the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts within Afghanistan and gave the Afghans U.S. radio transmitters for their use. I now hear from USAGM officials that they hope the Taliban will honor this agreement. If they really think that, they are extremely naive. Indeed, the new Afghan rulers may allow these rebroadcasts to continue, but only if VOA makes its programs acceptable to the Taliban.

That’s why I am extremely concerned when I see VOA news reports repeating the Taliban’s message. The religious fanatics in Afghanistan would have to be better than Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose security services quickly shut down my VOA and RFE/RL radio rebroadcasting work in Russia. The Taliban will almost certainly silence VOA rebroadcasts, but they may not if VOA carries its message and mutes criticism. Such caving in to the Taliban must not be allowed.

The leadership of the Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media needs to know that reporting from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and rebroadcasting from AM and FM transmitters within the country comes at a price that is too high for VOA reporters and for the truth. They also need to realize that VOA is putting Afghan women in danger by giving them false hopes for rule of law under the Taliban.

 

READ: Voice of America gives a false sense of security to Afghan women by Ted Lipien | The Washington Examiner, August 23, 2021

 

Ted Lipien is a journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL’s president.

 
 

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