by Patrick Lang (bio below)

The same goes for TV stations — including al-Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored satellite channel, which is supposed to be providing uncensored news from an American point of view. From the beginning, al-Hurra’s operation in Egypt was subject to the covert control of the security services, a fact that is not always apparent to those who oversee the station from Washington. The services have close ties to some of the station’s directors and handpick many correspondents. They even have final say over which guests appear on programs. As a result, anyone who has paid careful attention to the tone and opinions of the regular programming will notice that liberal, progressive, open-minded views are presented almost apologetically. While al-Hurra is supposed to be a vibrant, fresh forum for freedom, it has failed to provide a real space for balanced views, and so it has been incapable of competing with the “Islamic” al-Jazeera and “pan-Arabist” al-Arabiya channels.”

From “Ending the Silent War in Egypt,” by Hala Mustafa of the Al-Ahram center to the WASHPOST.

“Al-Hurra” is not just “sponsored” by the United States. The network is the property of the United States government. Its studios in Fairfax County, Virginia are guarded by General Services Administration police. Its employees are US government employees or contractors to the US Government. How many hundreds of millions of dollars of American taxpayer’s money have now been spent on “Al-Hurra” and “Sawa” radio which is its other “face?” The salaries and fees paid to the the largely immigrant staff of “Al-Hurra” are such as to make the network the object of Congressional investigation. One must ask how much the directors of these exercises in foreign “information operations” have known about the degree of Egyptian police and intelligence control of “Al-Hurra.”

The police control everything in Egypt on behalf of the presidency. There is no aspect of Egyptian life that is not subject to police inspection and control. Since our government now seems to think it is a good idea to make all aspects of our lives “open” to police and intelligence agency surveillance, perhaps it is not surprising that “we” have not exerted ourselves in this matter.

Imagine what fools we look to the Egyptians with our prattling about freedom and democracy.

Pat Lang

Col. Patrick W. Lang (Ret.), a highly decorated retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces, served as “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism” for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and was later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. Col. Lang was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service in the DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” He is a frequent commentator on television and radio, including MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann (interview), CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room (interview), PBS’s Newshour, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” (interview), and more .

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Drinking the Kool-Aid,” Middle East Policy Council Journal, Vol. XI, Summer 2004, No. 2

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