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From: Gary G Sick
Subject: FBIS Alert

To all scholars who use FBIS

The Central Intelligence Agency, which is the operating agency for the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, is reportedly considering a major downsizing of its FBIS operations.

The proposed reductions are reliably reported to involve approximately a 20% cut in personnel and a 38% cut in the non- personnel budget. This would have a crippling effect not only on the Washington, D.C. operations but also on the overseas bureaus and monitors. It is estimated that these cuts would result in the closure of approximately one-third of the FBIS bureaus worldwide. The cuts are projected to begin in FY 98, i.e. mid-1997.

Since World War II, FBIS has served as one of the most important sources of detailed and reliable information on countries throughout the world, many of which receive little or no coverage in the international media. Countless academic studies have relied on this source for primary research about radio, TV, and print reporting on countries around the world, including translations of full texts of speeches and political commentaries that are available from no other source. The collected reporting of FBIS is a unique and irreplaceable resource concerning the domestic politics and foreign policies of these countries and about their perceptions of the world and international politics.

Recently, FBIS has begun to publish electronically under the aegis of the NTIS (National Technical Information Service). As this new service became available, it was announced that the coverage of items in the print version would be sharply reduced, apparently due to copyright problems. So FBIS was already in the process of scaling back. But the proposed cuts would go far beyond this, shutting down entire operations and potentially reducing the flow of information to a trickle. As you may know, the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts utilizes the same facilities as FBIS, so this cutback would presumably have a similar effect on that source as well.

This is a matter of great concern to the entire academic community, not only in the United States but throughout the world. If you wish to make your views known on this subject, you can write to:

Dr. John Deutch
Director of Central Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20505

You may also send a fax to Mr. Deutch at the Public Affairs Office of the CIA at the following number:


Please share this notice with as many friends and colleagues as possible, particularly including university libraries, which are among FBIS' most faithful subscribers and users. It is important for CIA to know that this product is appreciated and used, and that its reporting would be severely missed if reduced in scope or partially eliminated. Practical examples of past or on-going studies that would be adversely affected by these cuts could be particularly important.

The end of the Cold War has resulted in a broad reevaluation of activities by CIA and other U.S. government agencies, resulting in significant cuts. Although this process is unavoidable, care should be exerted to prevent eliminating programs that are invaluable and irreplaceable. If these cuts go through, there is every reason to believe that they would never be restored. Some would argue that the need for reliable and timely information about other countries has never been greater, and that a reduction of our knowledge about other societies could eventually prove to be a costly and false economy.

The U.S. Congress is also deeply involved in the funding process. The following are the names and fax numbers of the Chairmen of the Intelligence Committees. These members of Congress may not be aware that the information produced by FBIS is one of the most valuable and widely used products of the intelligence community. They may also be interested to learn that a sharp reduction in FBIS reporting could have a substantial impact on students and scholars everywhere, and on the quality of information available not only to the academic community but also to the public through interviews, newspaper articles and other forms. This is an issue that has clear implications for national security, since it could restrict the quantity and quality of information available for scholars, political analysts and the general public.

Consequently, you may wish to send copies of any correspondence on this subject to either or both of the following individuals:

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate
fax: 202-224-1772

Representative Larry Combest (R-TX)
Chairman, Intelligence Committee
United States House of Representatives
fax: 202-225-1991

For names and addresses of other Senators and Representatives, see the following internet site (Almanac of American Politics):


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