Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.
That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces.
Facing tough questions before a congressional panel last week, Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya admitted none of the senior news managers at the network spoke Arabic when the terrorist messages made it onto the air courtesy of U.S. taxpayer funds. Nor did Blaya himself or any of the other officials at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the network.
"How does it happen that the terrorists take over?" asked Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, D-N.Y., at a hearing last Wednesday of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee he chairs. "Is there no adult supervision?"
Blaya conceded that the top officials in the network's chain of command could not understand what was being said on al Hurra broadcasts.