That process doesn’t proceed quite as smoothly at the Voice of America (VOA), the government-funded news outlet that launched in 1942 “to combat Nazi propaganda with accurate and unbiased news and information.” Journalists at VOA work on government computers, an arrangement that creates some problems when viewing classified information, whether or not that classified information has been leaked to the whole world. “Even if classified documents are leaked and thus in the public domain, they have not yet been declassified. Because we’re a federal agency, these laws and rules [apply] to us,” wrote VOA Director Amanda Bennett in a Wednesday memo to VOA staffers.
The upshot? “We cannot, using agency computers, examine these leaked documents or reproduce them on our web sites,” wrote Bennett.
So the organization bootstrapped a workaround — with advice from the Obama Justice Department and other agencies — that involved using computers that weren’t connected to the federal network, just for the purpose of checking out the WikiLeaks material. Last night, Bennett & Co. repeated the operation, asking for the requisite technology to perform the computer isolation. Though the computers get their connection from an external WiFi hotspot, they are lodged in the VOA newsroom.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."