Bipartisan Letter on Need to Evacuate of VOA and RFE/RL Staff from Afghanistan is a Condemnation of Failed Leadership at USAGM
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are beginning to realize that they are dealing with a failed leadership at USAGM on Afghanistan as they urge evacuation of U.S. Agency for Global Media, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Afghan staff and their families.
USAGM Watch Commentary
Media reports, including the Voice of America (VOA), have noted that “U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden on Wednesday to evacuate hundreds of people affiliated with the U.S. Agency for Global Media from Afghanistan as Washington rushes to meet a troop withdrawal deadline of August 31.”
The bipartisan letter is a condemnation of the lack of planning and leadership at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Headed by Acting CEO Kelu Chao, USAGM’s senior leadership failed to take actions to plan and evacuate the staff of USAGM, VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) when it was still possible to do so safely.
Some of the Voice of America reporting from Afghanistan was heavily focused on transmitting messages from the Taliban without sufficient challenge to the Taliban’s false propaganda claims and disinformation. One VOA headline read: “Taliban Vow to Respect Women’s Rights ‘Within Islamic Law’.”
VOA reporter Esha Sarai, however, deserves credit for her report and for pointing out that “USAGM did not respond to a request for comment.”
Sources told USAGM Watch that USAGM and VOA senior leaders were warned multiple times by various individuals over the last few weeks that they should order evacuations of USAGM staff from Afghanistan.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are beginning to realize that they are dealing with a failed leadership at USAGM.
END OF USAGM WATCH COMMENTARY
VOICE OF AMERICA
By Esha Sarai
Updated August 25, 2021 08:55 PM
U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden on Wednesday to evacuate hundreds of people affiliated with the U.S. Agency for Global Media from Afghanistan as Washington rushes to meet a troop withdrawal deadline of August 31.
In a letter sent to Biden on Wednesday, Senator Ben Cardin and Representative William Keating said about 550 people — employees of USAGM and their families — are still trying to leave Afghanistan.
USAGM is an independent federal agency that encompasses several news networks, including the Voice of America and Radio Azadi.
“We stress to you that the 550 USAGM employees and their families are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate,” the letter read, noting that the administration has worked with multiple American publications to evacuate their employees.
“They have been and continue to be a target for the Taliban due to their association with the United States government,” the letter stated.
USAGM did not respond to a request for comment.
Evacuation efforts for Afghan journalists have increased this week amid reports that Taliban fighters have been searching the homes of some media workers.
In the past week, the Taliban searched properties belonging to at least five journalists, media rights organizations said.
The reports of harassment and searches come a week after the Taliban held its first news conference in Kabul.
The White House said Wednesday that since August 14, the U.S. has evacuated or helped evacuate about 82,300 people on U.S. military and coalition flights in one of the largest airlifts in history. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated about 88,000 people.
END OF VOICE OF AMERICA REPORT