Located within the Department of State, the Bureau of International Information Programs is the main propaganda arm of the U.S. Government towards the rest of the world. Responsible for producing and distributing information about the United States to an international audience, the Bureau attempts to foster understanding and good will towards America with an eye towards creating an environment receptive to U.S. national interests. The Bureau was created in 1999 out of the remnants of the U.S. Information Agency when it was merged with the State Department, and has attempted to brand itself as a more high-tech and modern office. In addition to news reports and publications about the United States, the Bureau recently unveiled a new website, designed to reach a younger audience with multimedia presentations, videos and podcasts. The Director of the Bureau of International Information Programs reports directly to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Closely linked with the Digital Outreach Team, the Counterterrorism Communication Center is focused on monitoring terrorist communication and propaganda online and developing counter messages to undermine ideological support for anti-American messages. The primary focus of the Counterterrorism Center is Arabic language websites and chat room.
The vast majority of the Bureau’s $55 million annual budget goes towards salaries for its approximately 260 staff, based in Washington, DC and at a variety of U.S. Embassies around the world. In addition, the Bureau releases approximately $4.5m in grants, subsidies and contracts, including funding for writers, international speakers and exchange programs, as well as an estimated $13 million in “Other Services.”
The change has received some criticism for narrowing the focus of the agency too much towards promoting U.S. policy and away from fair and balanced reporting or an expression of “core American values,” such as democracy, freedom of speech and human rights.
USIA Resurrected? (blog, Public Diplomacy)
(by Carnes Lord and Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation)
Jeremy Curtin served as the coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs beginning in April 2007. Curtin earned his B.A. at the University of Toronto and went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Curtin joined the Foreign Service in 1975 and served at U.S. Embassies in Finland, Poland and South Korea. He served as Executive Secretary for the U.S. Delegation to the Stockholm Conference on Disarmament in Europe, where he helped to strengthen military cooperation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In 1986 Curtin returned to Washington, DC, serving as Director of International Programs on the National Security Council staff and later as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State, with responsibility for democracy programs in Eastern Europe. From 2002 to 2005 Curtin served as Senior Adviser and Executive Secretary to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.