What U.S. newspapers are saying

Oct. 10, 2001 at 10:47 AM
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New York Times

Since the end of the cold war, the Voice of America's radio programs have metamorphosed from government echo into real journalism. The station, which broadcasts in 53 languages worldwide, is for many people the only available counter to their governments' propaganda. Surveys of men in Afghanistan last year showed that 67 percent listened to the VOA every day. The need to maintain a credible alternative source of news for Muslims today makes the administration's efforts to censor the VOA all the more objectionable. The VOA today is an independent agency, but it is government-funded and still susceptible to State Department and Congressional pressure. The advent of war should be an occasion to strengthen its independence.

Last month the VOA obtained an interview with the Taliban's leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar. Although such an interview is indisputably newsworthy, the State Department asked the VOA not to broadcast it. The station hesitated for several days and then included a few excerpts in a larger report. Even this limited use of Mullah Omar's remarks has now inspired calls in Congress to turn the VOA back into a voice for American policies. Others want to recreate Radio Free Afghanistan, which existed during the Soviet occupation, as an ideological alternative to the VOA A second station broadcasting in Pashto and Dari would undoubtedly drain reporters and resources from the VOA.

In addition, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the leader of Qatar last week that he was concerned about the inflammatory rhetoric used by the Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite television station Al Jazeera. The emir of Qatar told reporters after the meeting that Mr. Powell had asked him to rein in Al Jazeera. The station is the most important and independent broadcaster of news in Arabic. Its journalism has aroused the ire of various Arab governments, much to its credit.

Al Jazeera has angered some Americans by replaying, several times, a 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden. It is surely Mr. bin Laden's favored news outlet, the one he chose to disseminate the video made after the Sept. 11 attacks. Al Jazeera is also the only station permitted to have a reporter inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. All These broadcasts are legitimate and valuable, and news organizations worldwide have repeatedly run Al Jazeera's tapes and reported its scoops.

The more worrisome feature of Al Jazeera is that it often slants its news with a vicious anti-Israel and anti-American bias. Islamic radicals dominate its talk shows, and the station reported that Jews were told not to go to work in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 -- promoting the rumor, widely believed by Muslims, that Jews were behind the attack. Its biases mirror public opinion in the Islamic world, but this deeply irresponsible reporting reinforces the region's anti-American views.

The correct response to Al Jazeera, however, is not to ask Qatar to censor it. The Islamic world has far too much censorship already. Instead, Washington should shower Al Jazeera with offers of interviews with American officials or respected Muslims who can counter the anti-American propaganda. The station's Washington bureau chief has complained that officials rarely agree to interviews, while the channel has broadcast interviews with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel, Colin Powell and Tony Blair. If Al Jazeera becomes so ideological that it is not interested in non-radical views, then the West can start its own Arabic satellite channel.

Springfield, Mass., Union-News

Secretary of State Colin Powell will soon be traveling to Pakistan and India to bolster the U.S.-led coalition in the war on terrorism.

He may want to keep his bags packed for some time now, as it most assuredly won't be the last trip he'll be making for that purpose.

The Bush administration was hard at work building the alliance after the attack on the United States on Sept. 11, and the efforts have proven, initially at least, to have been a great success. But building a coalition is one thing; keeping it from unraveling is quite another.

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has backed the administration's stated goals of ridding the world of terrorists -- and of taking on nations that support terrorism. But not all the Pakistani people share his enthusiasm for the U.S.-led effort.

There were anti-American, pro-Osama bin Laden riots in parts of Pakistan on Monday, but the nation's ambassador to the United States on Tuesday said the protesters were a small, but vocal minority.

Powell's visit will be, in part, an attempt to build support for the Pakistani president, but he will also be looking to ensure cooperation from both Pakistan and India. While the military component of the war on terrorism gains the most attention, the intelligence and financial efforts that take place behind the scenes play very significant roles in stopping bin Laden and his lieutenants from striking at more targets. Powell will no doubt be looking for as much assistance as possible from the two nations that usually share little more with each other than an unhappy, common border.

We were promised a different kind of war, and that's what we are seeing the first hints of today.

But one need not look into too clear a crystal ball to believe that keeping the alliance together will be increasingly difficult as the larger war unfolds. Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Taliban had few friends across the globe, with only three nations even recognizing them as legitimate rulers.

Assuming that the war on terrorism began, but will not end, in Afghanistan, keeping the alliance intact when another nation friendly to terrorists -- but with more friends than the Taliban -- comes under attack will require a Herculean effort.

Which is not to say that it cannot be done.

By nearly all accounts, Powell, with his measured, pragmatic approach to coalition building, has a great deal of respect in most every corner of the globe. He is now doing diplomatically what he once did so well on the battlefield.

Washington Post

Yasser Arafat has a dilemma. He is desperate to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the new U.S.-led war against terrorism -- so much so that he is prepared to have his security forces open fire on his own people rather than allow a demonstration in favor of Osama bin Laden. At the same time, he knows that many people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank were charmed by Osama bin Laden's diatribe on behalf of Palestinians this week. What's more, several of the Palestinian organizations engaged in the continuing uprising against Israel share Osama bin Laden's ideology and his terrorist methods -- and they increasingly pose a threat to Mr. Arafat's hold on power. If Mr. Arafat tries to face them, he will likely cause the collapse of his fight with Israel, and might trigger a civil war among the Palestinians. If he does not, and the militants continue their suicide bombings and shootings of Israeli civilians, Mr. Arafat risks being lumped with the Taliban as a host and sponsor of terrorism.

What to do? As always, Mr. Arafat is trying to temporize. He is seeking to squelch any sign of Palestinian support for Osama bin Laden -- or at least prevent local and foreign journalists from reporting on it. But he's still hoping to avoid taking on the Palestinian extremists, or even carrying out the arrest of operatives known to be involved in organizing suicide bombings. Instead, he's betting that the United States will feel compelled to launch a new Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he will be able to demand concessions for joining it -- including the dropping of previous demands that he act decisively to end the violence.

The United States does need to restart the Arab-Israeli peace process if it is to hold together its coalition against Osama bin Laden. But letting Mr. Arafat off the hook is not the way. Instead, it should press him to do what it is asking of other governments -- to break, once and for all, links with Islamic extremist groups that are engaged in terrorism. Unless Mr. Arafat takes that step -- unless he arrests those in the West Bank and Gaza who are involved in such acts -- the violence will not end and negotiations will not progress; he will never regain credibility as a negotiating partner with Israel.

Despite Osama bin Laden's demagogic appeal to the Palestinians -- and maybe even because if it -- Mr. Arafat now has the opportunity to act. He can do it not as a concession to Israel but as a response to the United States; not just to end the largest threat to his power among the Palestinians but as part of the global campaign against Osama bin Laden and those who support his cause. Like Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Mr. Arafat has been given a chance to join the West -- a choice that would force him, like Gen. Musharraf, to face internal opponents and popular unrest but that ultimately would advance his own cause.

To make such a historic move, Mr. Arafat needs help from Israel, help that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears loath to provide. Rather than easing Israeli military pressure on the Palestinians, which would allow Mr. Arafat's own security forces more room to act against the extremists, Mr. Sharon's army continues to act provocatively, launching repeated forays into Palestinian territory since Sept. 11 and killing dozens of Palestinians in subsequent battles. Like Mr. Arafat, Mr. Sharon hopes to avoid being seen as an obstacle to the U.S. campaign, but he is unwilling to take the steps toward a peace process that could benefit Israel as well as advance the American cause. Instead he resorts to inflammatory declarations, such as his absurd and offensive suggestion that the Bush administration, by promoting Israeli-Palestinian talks, risks the error of European governments that appeased Adolf Hitler. The Bush administration must insist on an end to Israel's destructive provocations. And then it should tell Mr. Arafat it is time for him to decide.

Washington Times

Early last month, about a million years ago, the United States and Israel turned their backs on the international community and walked out on a United Nations conference on racism in Durban, South Africa. Remember why? As Secretary of State Colin Powell crisply explained at the time, "You do not combat racism (with a conference) ... that singles out only one country in the world -- Israel -- for censure and abuse."

Those, of course, were the good old days, back before our nation had to face up to how much 6,000 people, 200 stories, five rings and four airplanes meant to its peace and well-being. In retrospect, washing our hands of Durban's rising bile came naturally enough, an expression of high principle rather than high emotion. As far as the United States was concerned, it was still a war of words not deeds.

No more. Now, in one of those weird twists, we find ourselves seeking common ground with many of the same states that only weeks ago were left in the diplomatic dust. And now, it turns out, those same states, largely members of the Arab and Muslim world, are slandering Israel again, this time not regarding such old saws as racism or colonialism, but on the dire topic of terrorism.

It sounds fantastic. But having left the international coalition wide open to any country "committed" to ending terrorism, the United States has left something else wide open: the definition of terrorism itself. As a result, Arab and Muslim leaders have cranked up a massive disinformation campaign to depict Israel -- war-weary, terror-targeted Israel -- as a fountainhead of "terrorism" second only to Osama bin Laden.

First, there is the name-calling. From Mecca's Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, Islam's most sacred mosque, Sheik Saleh bin Hamid declared his support for an international coalition to fight terrorism -- citing Israel as "a living example of terrorism in practice." Yasser Arafat, one of the great hoaxes of modern times, briefly displaced his suicide-bombing countrymen in the news this week to "demand" that the nations of the world stop Israeli "terrorism" against his people. Meanwhile, in mostly Muslim Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad offered to support the international coalition against "terrorism" if only the United States and Britain would pick their terrorist targets better: "I would support them," he said, "if they wanted to take action against Israel." Then there is the "debate" about the "meaning" of terrorism. At a recent summit in Qatar, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim body, came up with an utterly baseless distinction between blowing up American civilians and blowing up Israeli civilians by condemning the former as "terrorism" and hailing the latter as "national resistance."

The fact is, Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban won't be our sole objective forever. But by an act of government policy, we have chosen to avert our eyes from such crucial links in the Islamist terror network as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- those vaunted "resistance" fighters of the Arab and Muslim world. Do we accept this morally corrupt definition of "terrorism" in order to fight "terrorism"? What principle -- what purpose -- is served if it turns out that our objective has been rendered meaningless?

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language satellite station in Qatar, and in an interview made the case for the American-led air attacks on targets of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. It was a classic Blair performance, polished and persuasive - and yet another signal that the campaign against terrorism also would include a continuous battle for hearts and minds.

This must be fought with liberal doses of a medicine desperately needed in many parts of the Muslim world: truth. The battle won't be easy. The same day Blair told Al-Jazeera's audience that the U.S.-led coalition was battling terrorism, not Islam, a spokesman for bin Laden's al Qaida organization suggested precisely the opposite - that Muslims should rise up to oppose the "infidels" because of the attacks in Afghanistan and that they should wage a "holy war" against U.S. interests everywhere. But just as bin Laden tipped his hand in that ominous videotape delivered to Al-Jazeera and broadcast on Sunday, the al Qaida spokesman undermined any claim to being the injured party when he praised the Sept. 11 mass murderers for their "good deed."

These rank appeals -- based on the idea that all non-Muslims are the enemy -- profane Islam and, as Blair and President Bush have suggested, offend peace-loving Muslims everywhere. But the messages still have considerable resonance among the poor and the young in many Muslim countries, underscored emphatically this week by anti-American demonstrations in Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere.

As we said on Monday, the leaders of these countries and their responsible clerics should speak out forcefully to counter this dangerous perversion of a great religion. They should do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but because bin Laden and his adherents threaten their governance and their hopes that Islam and modernity can live comfortably side by side.

The United States and its closest allies, meanwhile, need to do a much better job of getting their message across. Bin Laden and other propagandists are spewing lies by the dozens: that somehow Israel and the Jews were behind the hijackings of Sept. 11, that the attacks on Afghanistan are a prelude to America's establishing a permanent military base of operations there, that the West is waging a "crusade" against Muslims and much more. Whether it is leaflets by the planeful, whether it is sharply increased radio broadcasts in Arabic and the main indigenous languages of the Afghan people, whether it is more frequent appearances on Al-Jazeera - the Americans, British and others should be much more active.

Winston Churchill, no stranger to the prevarications that attend wars, once said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. This is bin Laden's skill. He takes widely held Muslim concerns - the human toll of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, for example, or a perceived anti-Palestinian bias in U.S. policy - and spins them into a tapestry of hate and outright lies.

America's pants are still around its ankles.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Early last month, 15,000 people gathered in Durban, South Africa, for a U.N. conference on racist hatred and intolerance. As many of the delegates returned home, they were met with news of attacks that changed the world. In less than two hours, more than 5,000 citizens perished on American soil because of hateful, intolerant terrorism.

Those tragic events stunned not only the West, but the rest of the world as well. And as Americans mourn, bury their dead, rebuild and begin to wage a multi-layered campaign against terrorism, they must remain focused on long-term solutions to man's inhumanity to man.

The horrendous events of Sept. 11 bring new urgency to the challenges posed by humankind's historical, horrible abuse of one group by another. The evil that toppled the World Trade Center towers and battered the Pentagon reminds us how essential it is to embrace the goals of last month's U.N. forum against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

Minnesotans will have the opportunity to learn more about the Durban conference and share views tomorrow at the University of Minnesota. The Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice and several other local groups are sponsoring a public forum about the outcomes of the summit. Twin Cities residents who traveled to Durban will describe their experiences and how the outcomes can help combat racism and intolerance here at home.

Despite the U.S. government's withdrawal from the Durban conference, scores of American-based groups stuck with the historic meeting and helped produce the final declaration. The document acknowledges that slavery and colonialism were wrong and calls upon nations to protect the rights of minorities, migrants, refugees and indigenous people.

Those who remained committed to the U.N. summit dare to imagine a world free of racial, religious and ethnic hatred. They seek a planet on which an internationally accepted social compact would stamp out terrorism and hateful attitudes well before they could kill and injure.

Building that kind of world takes patience, perseverance, vision and a willingness to understand and celebrate differences. It takes believing in and acting upon the goals of the U.N. conference.

Local residents can learn more about how to do that on Thursday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Av. S., Minneapolis. The community forum is free and open to the public. For more information call 612-625-9821.

New York Newsday

The limited U.S. air war against Afghanistan's Taliban regime has been a clearly defined tactical opening in what is likely to become an eventual ground attack by Afghan rebel troops with U.S. support.

To accomplish the Taliban's ouster, that's the way to go. Flushing out Osama bin Laden, however, will require deployment of U.S. commando teams aided by Northern Alliance rebels. None of this will be particularly quick or easy.

The air war has not been like the Gulf War's phantasmagoric light show over Baghdad that played so dramatically on TV. And it's not the relentless, months-long bombardment of Serb targets in the Kosovo War. But both the objectives and conditions on the ground are different from either the war against Iraq or against Serbia's involvement in Kosovo.

There will be ground action in Afghanistan -- though it must come soon to avoid trapping troops in the brutal Afghan winter. And there will be casualties, military and civilian, no matter how carefully the attacks are planned. The first confirmed civilian casualties have already occurred - four Afghan security guards for a U.N. mine-clearing program, killed close to a Taliban radio transmission tower, a U.S. target.

Such casualties are regrettable, but they should not deter U.S. military commanders from pushing ahead with additional air sorties. The clear intent of the early phase of the air war, which is quickly coming to an end, was to impair the Taliban's command-and-control capabilities by knocking out its major communications systems, damaging its airfields and crippling its air defenses. Some of this was accomplished, and U.S. planes are quickly running out of useful targets.

For the next phase, U.S. air power will probably focus on Taliban troop concentrations in preparation for a Northern Alliance offensive in the north. The brunt of the ground war will fall on Afghan rebels; they should get ample U.S. air cover and even some ground support.

But unless significant progress is made against the Taliban and in rooting out bin Laden in the coming weeks, the long winter may put everything on hold in Afghanistan, and the fight on terrorism may have to shift gears elsewhere in the meantime. Americans should be prepared for that.

Baltimore Sun

Since 1988, when a software worm effectively shut down the fledgling Internet, we have known cyber-terrorism is possible.

Indeed, over the past two decades, hackers and pranksters have momentarily crippled innumerable computers with viruses.

The appointment of veteran diplomat Richard A. Clarke to direct the nation's cyber security acknowledges the obvious: Computer terrorism is a realistic threat. A well-planned computer assault can paralyze life in the United States more quickly than anything short of a nuclear attack.

If computers go haywire, airlines and trains could stop, electricity and broadcast networks could go dark. ATM machines could crash, 911 emergency phone systems could collapse.

Such sabotage might not bring the United States to its knees, but it certainly would cause chaos and confusion.

The Muslim Hackers' Club is an illustration of the devious expertise available to anyone with access to the Internet.

The London-based 3-year-old site is a veritable do-it-yourself warehouse for anyone wanting to wreak havoc.

It gives tips -- from public American Web sites -- on hacking into the Pentagon's computers, offers free software that enables unbreakable encryption as well as anonymous e-mailing and teaches how to use viruses.

Since Sept. 11, the Muslim Hackers' Club has piqued authorities' interest because of its contents. But several other sites on the Internet offer comparable basic tools for hacking and virus making without any professed religious or political agenda.

The National Security Agency and other U.S. government affiliates have for years quietly worked on strategies to combat computer attacks.

But the absence of any perceptible crisis lessened the urgency of such countermeasures.

The government has been trying to make up for lost time since Sept. 11. The appointment of Mr. Clarke is part of that catch-up effort.

So is the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, which would enable easier prosecution and sentencing of computer hackers and Web site vandals and "crackers."

Civil liberties groups are worried about attempts to lump small-time hackers together with murderous terrorists. That's a reasonable concern.

Ensuring precise definitions and language for legislation are technical problems, though. They should not be diverting attention from the main issue: Having never had to fear audacious, large-scale terrorism, this nation has been far too lackadaisical about its security.

The past four weeks have taught every American that we live in a world full of dangers.

Coordinated national defense against cyber-terrorism is not only justified but prudent.

Boston Globe

Once again the political institutions created by the Northern Ireland peace agreement are in crisis. The leading unionist party is threatening to pull out of the government, all the while blaming the Irish Republican Army and its political agent, the Sinn Fein party. It is time for the IRA to give the political process a fair chance by giving up the bulk of its weapons, especially the bomb-making Semtex explosive.

The urgency of IRA action was underlined by the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Leading supporters of Sinn Fein in this country have called for IRA disarmament, or decommissioning. The IRA and Sinn Fein can no longer expect to raise money in the United States freely while maintaining an arsenal. If the United Kingdom, steadfast ally of the United States against terrorists, decides it can no longer allow a terrorist force on its soil, the Bush administration would be obliged to crack down on fund-raising in the United States.

The IRA has refrained from sectarian attacks despite ample provocation from unionist thugs in the ethnic no-man's-lands of North Belfast. Unionist political figures have been less than forthright in condemning the harassment of Catholic children walking to school. And late last month, drug runners doubling as unionist gunmen murdered a journalist in Lurgan. By the standards of these criminals, IRA conduct has been exemplary.

Yet the obvious capacity of the IRA to resume violence whenever it wants to do so empowers paramilitaries on the other side to maintain their hold over unionists who see themselves under threat from nationalists. Leading unionist politicians are dragged toward the extreme to appease constituents who regard Sinn Fein as a front for gunmen. The IRA maintains that it is no threat to the peace process, but it cannot disclaim responsibility for the distrust that poisons the political atmosphere in Northern Ireland more than three years after the ratification of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Some leaders of the Sinn Fein/IRA combine seem to be aware of this responsibility. Martin McGuinness, minister of education in the Northern Ireland government and an IRA veteran, has said, ''As far as I'm concerned it [decommissioning] couldn't happen quick enough.'' The hard-liners in the movement have to abandon their traditional belief in violence as the last resort of politics.

The attacks of Sept. 11 have reminded people in democracies of the importance of creating and maintaining strong political institutions to settle disputes and establish fair rules of governance. Northern Ireland has in place the making of democratic structures that acknowledge and bridge sectarian discords. The IRA has the opportunity to allow the politicians to go about their essential work untroubled by a gun or a bomb at their backs.

Buffalo News

If the Islamist terrorists who struck Washington and New York nearly a month ago had hoped to provoke the United States into a quick and clumsy retaliation, they badly misjudged. After President Bush spent weeks rounding up allies around the world and planning a careful but wide-ranging assault, U.S. and British forces launched the first military strikes in the war on terrorism on Sunday.

Still, it may prove impossible to avoid chaos among the civilian population or civilian deaths. It is likely, as well, that U.S. forces will sustain casualties eventually. In the days ahead, as special forces are deployed to search for Osama bin Laden and his minions, the campaign will grow more treacherous and unpredictable.

But the Bush administration was left with no choice but to pursue military action. . . . With the Taliban's refusal to surrender their ally, there was simply no other reasonable option.

Many Americans are understandably anxious that the U.S. retaliation will lead to another terrorist attack, sparking waves of terror and reprisal. ... As frightening as that is to contemplate, the sight of bin Laden on television, apparently thanking Allah, in a pre-taped harangue, for the horrific deaths of thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, is still more unsettling.

Given bin Laden's pledge to destroy the United States, the dangers of inaction were greater than the risks of military action.

Chicago Tribune

Pressure is mounting on Voice of America to behave less like a news network and more like a megaphone for U.S. government policy. Such pressures, which typically arise during wartime, could cost the agency its credibility as a reliable news source. That loss would be a bad bargain for the taxpayers who fund it.

VOA broadcasts in 53 languages to tens of millions of listeners worldwide. Like its competitor, the British Broadcasting Corporation, VOA provides a popular information lifeline, especially in places that provide no other access to reliably balanced news. A BBC survey last year found that some 80 percent of men in Afghanistan listen to VOA news in Pashto or Dari, the country's two principal languages. (The Taliban would not permit a survey of women.)

Unfortunately, coverage that sounds reasonably fair to some inevitably sounds irredeemably biased to others, especially in the emotionally charged wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Recently, the State Department tried unsuccessfully to stop the VOA from broadcasting its exclusive interview with Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, who was reacting to President Bush's anti-terrorism address to Congress. The State Department, which holds a seat on the VOA board, was reacting to complaints from Afghan emigres who oppose the Taliban.

Last week the Bush administration replaced the agency's acting director with Robert R. Reilly, a veteran of VOA's policy side who has hosted VOA's main foreign policy radio and TV show "On the Line" and written many editorials.

Congress is pondering the creation of a new service, Radio Free Afghanistan, which threatens VOA's already-strained ability to serve Pashto- and Dari-speaking audiences. The House Committee on International Relations is holding hearings this week that will debate the question of what VOA's role should be.

That role has shifted since the agency went on the air in 1942 with a gallant promise in German to "tell you the truth," whether the news was good or bad. Through much of the Cold War, VOA was regarded as a counterweight to Communist lies. Amid warming East-West relations, Congress enacted a charter in 1976 that mandated VOA to "serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news" and to be "accurate, objective and comprehensive."

With that recipe, the network has won growing audiences and shown the world through its example how a diversity of views, including some that are critical of the U.S. government, is fairly presented in a free society.

In keeping with its taxpayer-funded status, VOA's first mission is to tell this country's story to the world. But that message can be delivered best by example. As its charter suggests, VOA can earn its audience by showing a commitment to fairness and balance.

The idea of a U.S. taxpayer-funded outlet broadcasting an interview with a Taliban leader may sound like an outrageous perversion of that mission. But VOA on Sunday also broadcast Bush's speech announcing the air strikes and an editorial by Robert Reilly that explained U.S. military goals and promoted the fact that the U.S. has been the largest contributor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

The point is that, without credibility as a news and information source, VOA won't have an audience. And without an audience, the opportunity for U.S. views to be heard in many places will be lost.

VOA presents America's foreign policy positions in much the way that conventional radio stations broadcast their commercials. America's policy voice is heard in straightforward commentaries that are kept separate from the news, the way a quality news channel's editorials should be.

If the Voice of America comes to sound less like news and more like cheerleading for White House policies, it will jeopardize its hard-won credibility, an essential commodity that is very hard to win back.

(Compiled by United Press International)

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