September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Congressional Record House Radio Free Afghanistan Act of 2001; November 06, 2001

RADIO FREE AFGHANISTAN ACT OF 2001 -- (House of Representatives - November 06, 2001)

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Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 2998) to authorize the establishment of Radio Free Afghanistan, as amended.

The Clerk read as follows:

H.R. 2998

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ``Radio Free Afghanistan Act of 2001''.


(a) ESTABLISHMENT.--The Broadcasting Board of Governors is authorized to make grants for surrogate radio broadcasting by RFE/RL, Incorporated (also known as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) to the people of Afghanistan in languages spoken in Afghanistan, such broadcasts to be designated ``Radio Free Afghanistan''.

(b) SUBMISSION OF PLAN TO BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS.--Not later than 15 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, RFE/RL, Incorporated, shall submit to the Broadcasting Board of Governors a detailed plan for the establishment of the surrogate radio broadcasting described in subsection (a).


(1) INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING OPERATIONS.--In addition to such sums as are otherwise authorized to be appropriated for ``International Broadcasting Operations'', there are authorized to be appropriated for ``International Broadcasting Operations'' $9,500,000 for the fiscal year 2002 and $8,000,000 for the fiscal year 2003 for broadcasting to Afghanistan described in subsection (a).

(2) BROADCASTING CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS.--In addition to such sums as are otherwise authorized to be appropriated for ``Broadcasting Capital Improvements'', there are authorized to be appropriated for ``Broadcasting Capital Improvements'' $10,000,000 for the fiscal year 2002 for transmitting broadcasts into Afghanistan.


The Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995 (Public Law 103-236) is amended--

(1) by striking section 226; and

(2) by striking the item relating to section 226 in the table of contents.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) and the gentleman from California (Mr. LANTOS) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE).


Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) for his leadership on the Committee on International Relations where this bill, the Radio Free Afghanistan Act, passed by voice vote last Thursday. I would also like to acknowledge the work of my co-author, the gentleman from California (Mr. BERMAN), who is traveling back from business in the district and could not be here yet today.

Mr. Speaker, the primary source of current news and information for the people of Afghanistan is the radio. Eighty-five percent of Afghans get their information from the radio. They do not have television there. That was banned under the Islamic law that the Taliban enforces. All of the televisions were destroyed. So Afghans saw no footage of the devastation at the World Trade Center. They had not had the opportunity to see what happened at our Pentagon.

Throughout that country on September 11 people held up small transistor radios to their ears to listen to news accounts. However, the news accounts they heard are far different from those that we heard in this country. Throughout the region, they heard that the attacks on the World Trade Center were the work of the Israel Government, the work of the Israelis with help from the Indian Government with the United States trying to cover this up. Why? Why did they believe this? Well, they were told by al-Qaeda and others that there were 4,000 Jewish Americans who did not go to work that day because they were tipped off; there was a plot to blame all this on Osama bin Laden.

We know that, in fact, is a lie; but they do not have access to that information. Because long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, bin Laden sympathizers waged a psychological war for the minds of Afghans. They shrewdly used radio to spread hatred of the United States, hatred of democracy, hatred of Israel, and hatred of Muslims who rejected their hate.

I believe that the establishment of a Radio Free Afghanistan by Radio Free Europe is essential to winning the information war. Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty does one thing very well. It engages in surrogate broadcasting, and they will operate as if Afghanistan had a free and vibrant press. They will counter these lies.

The Taliban and the terrorists they are harboring use propaganda, and they use censorship to maintain power. They must be countered.

As William Safire points out in last Thursday's New York Times, he says, ``That message that is sent should be the Taliban are corrupting the Koran, the Taliban and their terrorist guest bin Laden are the cause of Afghan casualties. As soon as the fanatic Saudi outsiders surrender then peace and food and jobs will come to the country.''

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I have been calling for Radio Free Afghanistan for several years, since 1996; and I think it is fair to say that the previous administration had little interest in this type of aggressive broadcasting in Afghanistan. I talked to the former Under Secretaries of State. I talked to the Secretary of State about this, and at one point I argued in committee that Afghanistan would pose a national security threat to the United States if what was happening there was not countered.

If we had Radio Free Afghanistan up and running for several years, the terrorists would not have had the fertile ground they have found in Afghanistan to prepare, to train, to be funded. It is very hard to organize like this when you are on the run.

I believe Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty is the best organization for broadcasting to Afghanistan for the following reasons: first, it had an outstanding impact behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War; second, there are eight employees there who ran Radio Free Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in 1985. It has the experience, the expertise. It was helpful at rallying the Afghan people against the Soviets, and I think it will have the best chance of providing information that will help turn the Afghan people against the Taliban and other extremists.

It is the voice of Afghans talking about the radicalism of the Taliban, frankly, that will be our best ally.

This legislation will provide for 12 hours of broadcasting a day; 6 in Pashto, 6 in Dari, the two major languages. In addition, this legislation provides for three transmitters to be moved from Spain to Kuwait. They are not currently being used. Kuwait is an ideal location geographically for transmission to Afghanistan. Although it is my intention that these transmitters be primarily used to broadcast to Afghanistan, they may also be used to broadcast throughout the Middle East or to China.

The concept behind Radio Free Afghanistan is to do what was done with Radio Free Europe in Poland and in the Czech Republic and across Eastern Europe. When we talk with leaders of Poland, Lech Walesa, when we talk to Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, they say that the hearts and minds of those people in those countries were turned by the opportunity to listen daily to a radio broadcast which explained what was actually happening inside their society.

These broadcasts were able to explain and put in context what they would be hearing from the Soviet broadcasts. Over time we know from these leaders that this was the most effective single thing that changed the attitudes of the average person in Eastern Europe.

[Time: 15:00]

We know what happened to the Berlin Wall, and part of this was because they had access to information. Radio Free Europe broadcast to all of Eastern Europe during the Cold War except for one country, and that country was the former Yugoslavia. We all know the atrocities that have taken place there.

I remember a young Croatian journalist telling me, if only we had had the type of broadcast they had in Czechoslovakia in Yugoslavia we would not have had the slaughter. We would have been able to teach people about political pluralism and tolerance and democracy.

So we know that surrogate broadcasting works. China spends a tremendous amount of time attempting to jam the broadcasts in Radio Free Asia. Saddam Hussein has long complained about Radio Free Iraq, calling these broadcasts an act of aggression. The Iraqi dictator has apparently become so irked by this attempt to undermine his control over the media, that intelligence officials have recently uncovered a plot by Iraq to bomb Radio Free Europe's headquarters in Prague.

Evil regimes like the Taliban hold power through ignorance and propaganda. The Afghan people deserve something better. They deserve to hear the truth, and I hope my colleagues will support this bill for Radio Free Afghanistan.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I rise in strong support of this bill.

Madam Speaker, this is an extremely important piece of legislation, and I want to commend my good friend and distinguished colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE), for introducing this legislation and being its principal sponsor. He deserves enormous credit. I also want to commend our colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. BERMAN), for being the principal Democratic author, and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE) for expediting the handling of the legislation.

Madam Speaker, as our military is executing our plans in Afghanistan with extraordinary skill, we are falling behind in the battle for the minds and hearts and souls of the people of Afghanistan. It is almost incomprehensible that our values should be challenged and questioned by the barbaric nihilists of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leadership. I support this legislation because it is evident that we need to increase dramatically our public diplomacy not just in Afghanistan but across the Muslim world.

The Middle East Broadcasting initiative, announced by the administration, and Radio Free Afghanistan, established by this legislation, introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE), are two important initiatives that will help us reach tens of millions of Muslims to provide fair, accurate, dependable information about the United States, our values and our policies.

I remember well during the Second World War how powerful it was to listen to the British Broadcasting Corporation and the American Voice of Freedom as a counterweight to the vicious propaganda of Hitler and Goebbels. We are in a somewhat similar fight, confronting a totalitarian, nihilistic, barbarian enemy that is ready to resort to nonstop lies and distortions to make their case.

We must do much more than just pass this legislation, Madam Speaker, to reach the disaffected youth in the Middle East, in Central Asia, but also in Africa, East Asia, and across the globe. We must intensify all of our Voice of America broadcasting, and the broadcasting of Free Asia and Free Afghanistan, and we must increase our educational and cultural programs. We must come up with new and innovative ways to reach the young people who live on the outer fringes of all these societies. Marginalized youth who live without hope and without opportunity grow up into hate-filled men and women who choose to bring death and destruction to themselves and to those around them.

H.R. 2998 is an important piece of legislation and moves us in the right direction of presenting the case of freedom and truth in Afghanistan. I strongly urge all of my colleagues to support it.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to express my appreciation to the gentleman from California (Mr. LANTOS), the ranking member of the House Committee on International Relations, who is a strong supporter of public diplomacy based upon his own unique experiences. I look forward to continuing to work with him in the future in doing more in this critical area, and I thank him for the focus he has brought to this.

Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I thank my friend.

Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. ENGLISH).

Mr. ENGLISH. Madam Speaker, I would like to publicly thank both gentlemen from California for their excellent efforts in this area.

Madam Speaker, Shakespeare wrote ``Time's glory is to calm contending kings, to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.'' The truth is a powerful foundation for freedom, and it is a powerful weapon on behalf of freedom. I propose that we enlist it in the current conflict in Afghanistan.

That is why I rise in strong support of H.R. 2998, the Radio Free Afghanistan Act. As a cosponsor of this legislation, I recognize the need to counter the negative propaganda that the Taliban government is force-feeding the Afghan people. We must let the Afghan people know the truth about the war we are fighting and what the United States is prepared to do to help

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them as innocent victims of the Taliban regime.

The people need to know the truth about the cause and effect of harboring the agents of terrorism. The people of Afghanistan are not hearing our message, but instead are being filled with the lies of the Taliban. This has to stop. We must let them know that the war we are fighting is not with them, but rather with the Taliban, who have been systematically stripping away the common individual's liberties since they came to power.

During the Cold War, as the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) noted, similar radio broadcasts spread information and ideas, including the presentation of the democratic ideal, which proved fatal to the Eastern Bloc. I believe this same tool can be devastating to the Taliban. These radio broadcasts are absolutely essential to this freedom struggle.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the spread of truth and vote in favor of this legislation, because, as we know, only the truth shall set us free.

Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. KIRK).

Mr. KIRK. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the bill, H.R. 2998, authored by the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE), recreating Radio Free Afghanistan.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty previously broadcast to Afghanistan from 1985 to the end of fiscal year 1993. Although it broadcast to Afghanistan during the last half of the Soviet-Afghan war, RFE/RL had been reporting on the war and its happenings in Afghanistan since the 1979 invasion through its other services in Russian, Turkmen, Tajik, and Uzbek.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a 50-year-plus history of delivering accurate and timely information to areas that would not otherwise receive it. The creation of Radio Free Asia in the 1990s built on this tradition. Currently, Afghans are in desperate need of access to this information.

Although RFE/RL is currently not broadcasting into Afghanistan, it is providing vital information about the war through its other services to other countries in the region. One example can be found in the case of Afghan resistance general Abdurashid Dustom. Recently, Russian TV programs reported the killing of this prominent anti- Taliban general. The reports were picked up by media in various Central Asian countries and broadcast throughout the region. Just 2 hours after the first Russian report, RFE/RL's Tajik service aired an interview with General Dustom himself, denying the false reports. Subsequently, RFE/RL's Turkmen, Uzbek, and Persian services also broadcast the interview.

A 1999 study conducted by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, concluded that 80 percent of Afghan men listen to the Voice of America. The need to provide these men with accurate information from their country and around the world has never been greater.

I also want to thank the Czech people for their decision to host RFE/RL in Central Europe. Building on Vaclav Havel's experience as a prisoner of conscience listening to Radio Liberty underscores the value of this service.

Unlike BBC World Service and other radios, RFE/RL provides unbiased news about unfree societies in their own language about their own society. The difference is key and the service is invaluable.

I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) for introducing this bill, and also the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. HYDE), the chairman, and Congress' hero on human rights, the gentleman from California (Mr. LANTOS) for bringing it to the floor today. This is one of the many tools we will need to fight terrorism around the globe, and arming citizens with the truth is the best way to bring about change, victory and reducing American casualties.

Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to thank my colleagues for their support. Now, some might question whether broadcasts to this part of the world would really make that much of a difference. I suggest that if done right, these broadcasts would make a profound difference in our war on terrorism, and I want to give an example.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that on the streets of Tehran in Iraq, young people, Iranians born after the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini and fed up with extreme theocracy, are in the streets, in the streets last night, chanting ``We love the USA.'' Yes, ``We love the USA.'' That is what was occurring in the streets in Iran. And these young people, because they want freedom, are our allies and our friends. The hard-line mullahs, who have run on the ``America is the great Satan'' line for years, are deadly fearful of these rumblings.

What is being credited with prompting these expressions is a message of freedom that is being sent by a private television station in Los Angeles, run by Iranian expatriates. These broadcasts are challenging the power of the repressive theocracy, the power of the mullahs who would control every aspect of Iranian lives. And these broadcasts are speaking to Iranian women's desires to play a role in modern society. These and other broadcasts are revolutionary and, in this case, it is an Iranian revolution in America's favor.

Now, Iran is not Afghanistan, that is true, but there are parallels, and what is the same is the power of ideas, the urge for freedom and for individual dignity. That is the desire that Radio Free Afghanistan will be able to bolster, which will significantly aid our war against terrorism. And that is why I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation and why I urge final passage of the bill.

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Mr. GILMAN. Madam Speaker, I want to commend Committee Chairman HYDE for bringing this bill before the House and I commend Subcommittee Chairman ROYCE for crafting this important initiative.

For the past several years, the people of Afghanistan have been manipulated by foreign forces who are motivated by selfish evil intentions. Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan, have created a radical Islamic fundamentalist movement in Afghanistan which threatens international stability. While we work to ensure that the governments of those two countries permanently change their policy, the only way that the world will be safe from the disaster that they have created is by helping the Afghan people to liberate themselves from the Taliban and bin Laden, and to give them the tools to put together a broad based representative form of government.

For the past several years, members of our Committee have been working with the former King and the Northern Alliance to ensure that our government support the Afghan people's desire for a free and democratic Afghanistan. A Radio Free Afghanistan can play a significant role in this endeavor. Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to support this measure.

Mr. HOEFFEL. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2998, the ``Radio Free Afghanistan Act.'' I would first like to thank my House International Relations Committee colleagues, ED ROYCE and HOWARD BERMAN, for their hard work in introducing this important piece of legislation, and to acknowledge their commitment to free speech and freedom in Afghanistan.

The importance of the Radio Free Afghanistan Act should not be underestimated. Under this bill, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty would expand to create Radio Free Afghanistan. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has effectively developed over the past 50 years the ``surrogate broadcasting'' concept of local, regional and international news in native languages in countries that do not enjoy freedom of the press.

The principle of broadcasting news and factual information free of the propaganda of repressive states is well established. Bringing the truth of the Taliban's actions to the Afghan people would continue a long-held tradition of bringing the voice of liberty and personal freedom to people around the world.

The Radio Free Afghanistan Act would simply allow the Afghan people to learn the hard-hitting truth about what is happening in their own country. As we all know, knowledge is power.

In the war against terrorism, we must blanket the people of Afghanistan with the voice of freedom, truth and democracy as we blanket the Taliban with bombs. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this vitally important piece of legislation.

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Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. BIGGERT). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 2998, as amended.

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The question was taken.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.

Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.


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