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The Washington Times
Friday, February 7, 1997

Scientific Set Celebrates Survival of CIA Service

By Ben Barber
The Washington Times

A group of scientists, including 40 Nobel laureates, yesterday applauded a CIA decision to preserve the U.S. government's monitoring and translation service covering 3,000 foreign newspapers and broadcasts around the world.

"We note with satisfaction the new Central Intelligence Agency statement that the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) will continue to provide 'virtually 100 percent of the coverage we provide today'," Jeremy Stone, the president of the Federation of American Scientists, said in a statement.

The CIA refused to disclose the budget or staff size of the FBIS, or any planned reductions, but sources told The Washington Times last month that deep cuts were under way. The CIA runs the FBIS.

Last year, after 50 years of providing America's window into the news that reaches people in 50 countries, the FBIS stopped printing its English translations of reports from 3,000 newspapers and broadcasts. The service continued to be available on the Internet for $50 per month.

Other sources said the CIA was cutting staff in several countries and was considering reducing the scope of the service.

The CIA said Tuesday that it would hold the line and maintain the FBIS, which reaches not just government and military analysts, but academics, businessmen and journalists.

The scientists mounted a world-wide campaign to preserve the service as an essential tool to help Americans keep abreast of events, ideas, trends and public opinion around the world.

The FBIS enabled anyone interested to read the texts of Cuban President Fidel Castro's speeches, the stilted denunciations by North Korean media of everyone else, the convoluted politics of Central Europe, and the daily guerrilla tolls in Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Colombia.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the spy agency plans to make "more, not less, information available on line for direct public access," Reuters news agency reported.


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