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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy > Meeting Transcripts and Minutes
December 12, 2002

Commission Present:
Chairman Harold Pachios
Vice Chairman Charles Dolan
Senior Advisor Walter Roberts
Executive Director Matt Lauer

Tim Isgitt, Special Assistant to Under Secretary of State Charlotte Beers

Chairman Harold Pachios: Since everyone is beginning to gather, letís just get a brief update from Tim Isgitt, who is here from Charlotte Beersí office. Tim, we have all been watching with interest the progress on the "Shared Values" campaign. When will this campaign go off?

Tim Isgitt: It will go off the air and I cannot tell you the exact date when that will be, but it will be whenever we run out of money.

Harold Pachios: So in round numbers, how much was the whole thing?

Tim Isgitt: Fourteen and one-half million. And, you know, we had budgeted so much for other areas of Northern African countries that just did not come through that I think they are just running longer on the rest of the networks.

Harold Pachios: How do you know if there is any progress Ė your boss is an expert on research and how you measure impact? So, you are doing something so that when it is all over and members of Congress say, was it worth it?

Tim Isgitt: Exactly. Right now all we have done, that I have seen, is annecdotal evidence, and you have a file of figures and quotes is what-have-you. I know our Public Affairs Bureau that wanted to put this together, and others, are going back out there to do more focus groups for different folks, and I know that INR is going to be tasked with also doing some follow up research, more questions, etc. None of that has been done yet. I think they are just waiting for the money to run out. Charlotte talks about . . .

(Charles Dolan walks in, is greeted and given a brief update as to where the meeting.)

Tim Isgitt continues: The second phase of this is coming up sometime next year and she has requested money and the Secretary has approved it. Our initial pass-back from OMB provides a certain amount of funding for next consideration of Shared Values.

Harold Pachios: Public service announcements, TV?

Tim Isgitt: Campaign on another Shared Value, maybe education next time. We will try to keep this whole kind of dialog going.

Harold Pachios: This one is Muslim Life in America. The next one might be education, health care or whatever?

Senior Advisor Walter Roberts: Are there any distinctions between Charlotte Beers and the Broadcasting Board of Governors? I mean this is a radio or television item, which is -

Harold Pachios: There are no distinctions. They are just trying to get it on somewhere else.

Walter Roberts: Well, doesnít the Board of Governors do that too?

Harold Pachios: I donít think so. I donít think the BBG does anything but run its own media, TV and radio.

Walter Roberts: As far as radio is concerned, putting radio shows on the FM and AM transmitters is -

Harold Pachios: But on their transmitters -

Walter Roberts: Well, there are also leased transmitters.

Harold Pachios: But, I mean they have some control over the transmitters, leased or owned.

Walter Roberts: Well, they obviously have not in any way said okay, this is our business.

Tim Isgitt: No, not at all. I know that they in their desire to have a radio/all-over-TV program that they said these kinds of things would be good to run on that, but other they that -

Harold Pachios: And they would.

Tim Isgitt: Oh, sure.

Harold Pachios: One of the advantages of having an American television capacity in the Middle East is that you donít have to worry about the Egyptian government.

Tim Isgitt: Right.

Matt Lauer, Director: And they run these things on the Voice of America have they not?

Tim Isgitt: Yes, the audios run on VOA.

Harold Pachios: All right, now what other interesting developments or things that we are doing. If somebody is to say okay, whatís happened in the last seven or eight months that we are doing in Public Diplomacy beyond the traditional things, which we in this Commission think are very important.

Tim Isgitt: A couple of things that I have heard about are the American Rooms and then the Arabic Youth magazine, both of which are well underway in development stages right now. I donít know exactly when either of those is going to be ready to roll out.

Matt Lauer: Whose portfolio is the American Rooms really under? Is it directly under the Undersecretaryís?

Tim Isgitt: It is. It is under the IIP (International Information Programs).

Harold Pachios: What are the American Rooms again?

Tim Isgitt: It is an interactive room where you would walk in and see an exhibit or have an interactive display, basically just educating on Americana.

Harold Pachios: Would invitations go out?

Matt Lauer: No, it is almost like an American Center but more of an interactive environment where it would be staffed by foreign service nationalsĖ

Vice Chairman Charles Dolan: They would be in the local library near the college campus.

Walter Roberts: We had that 30-40 years ago in Moscow. It was extremely difficult, of course, under the Communist regime to have an American Information Center. So what the Embassy and the PAO thought of, and was a huge success, was in the National Library of Moscow establish an American Room so that it would have American literature. It would be run by Russians who, however, would be employees of the Embassy. It worked very well. It was also an extremely effective way of avoiding what always happened in the Eastern Bloc. If we did something that was not palatable to the regime, there would be demonstrations. In Belgrade, for instance, I donít know in the six years I was in Belgrade how often I had to replace the windows of the American Information Center because they smashed them in. The American Room, this concept that, as I said was developed some years ago in Moscow, is an excellent way of avoiding all of this.

Harold Pachios: All right, so you have an American Room and letís say it is on a college campus. Letís take the Middle East, and there are books there, periodicals, and people coming. How do they interact or do they interact? What is the difference between the American Room and the old traditional American Library and Cultural Center?

Tim Isgitt: I think it is a modernizing of that, and that is why it is supposed to be into the 21st century, very interactive, lots of computer-guided games, interaction tied in with an Arabic girl 19-year-old being able to interact with another 19-year-old, her counterpart in America.

Walter Roberts: The most important reason for the American Room is to make it not visible as an American Center and hence to be the target of possible anti-American demonstrations. That is why this is a good idea.

Tim Isgitt: It is under development right now with the Smithsonian, and what they are trying to do is to develop a prototype, which they are going to put up at the State Department for people to look at, one of them. And then also run a prototype at two locations in the Middle East, Turkey they are talking about right now and they have been talking about Jordan, and there could be more ongoing. It is still under development but it is coming up. The other, the Arabic magazine, is also under development. The Undersecretary is very high on this idea and it would be targeted to Muslim youth.

Harold Pachios: How would we get to them? What about Ė what was it called, USA or America?

Walter Roberts: Both. America Magazine was the one for the Soviet Union and Poland.

Harold Pachios: How would it get out to the people in Poland?

Walter Roberts: It was sold in the kiosks.

Charles Dolan: Wasnít there a deal where we had to sell their magazine here?

Walter Roberts: Correct. It was a reciprocal deal.

Charles Dolan: Because I remember, Harold, in Raymondís in Peabody Square they used to sell Soviet Life Magazine in Peabody? It was amazing. I remember I used to pick it up and look at it.

Matt Lauer: I remember I used to get a subscription to it when I was 12 years old, and they would mail it to your house.

Walter Roberts: The problem that often occurred, of course, is that you went to the Soviet kiosks they said they were sold out, because the Russians played games. I think my recollection is that the distribution was 90,000 each way. We tried to find it quite often in Moscow and could not find it. That was a monthly or bimonthly to get out from Austria to the Soviet Union. In Belgrade, we printed our own magazine. Again one day, for instance, people told me they didnít get it in the mail, etc., and we found that the Minister of the Interior had thrown it into the Danube.

Charles Dolan: What language would you print in there?

Walter Roberts: Serbo-Croatian.

Matt Lauer: This new one will be somewhat of a high quality magazine that someone would want to purchase.

Walter Roberts: The information revolution has come to a point where, I think, again, it is an excellent idea. It will be very difficult in the present circumstances, even in a closed society basically like Egypt, etc. not to distribute it. We would know it immediately.

Harold Pachios: So beyond our standard stuff, these are two things that are being looked at and planned.

Charles Dolan: Did you talk about Internet stuff or the web sites?

Tim Isgitt: I didnít.

Charles Dolan: Because you read about all of these Internet cafes springing up all over the place.

Tim Isgitt: I know IIP (International Information Programs) is on the cutting edge of that but I didnít talk about it because I am not knowledgeable enough. A couple of other things, though. Tomorrow, Charlotte Beers is speaking to the USIA Alumni Association over at the Dacor House. Are you going to that?

Harold: No.

Tim Isgitt, continuing: And then on the 18th, she is speaking at the National Press Club. She is going to do a 12 to 2 on the 18th. I know we were having trouble with the time and know that the time just got scheduled yesterday.

Charles Dolan: So who shows up for that?

Harold Pachios: Thatís on CSPAN normally, too, isnít it?

Charles Dolan: Is it a luncheon?

Tim Isgitt: Yes. And then on the 8th and 9th, she is going to the Hill to brief the new members of the House and Senate respectively on diplomacy. The Secretary invited

her and Grant Green, the only two Undersecretaries. That information I sent you yesterday on Shared Values was the information, by the way, that we sent to the Hill. But late last week or early this week, we sent a letter to the Hill on Shared Values.

Matt Lauer: The one I passed on to you? You probably have it in your briefcase, I imagine, regarding the Shared Value campaign where it is airing successes, that information?

Tim Isgitt: This is a page and a half letter.

Harold Pachios: I donít think I have it.

Tim Isgitt: And we sent a little CD that had all of the biggest spots, one minute and two minute, as well as the Muslim Life in America book.

Harold Pachios: Is it a DVD?

Matt Lauer: No, it just on the desktop type of thing that you can watch on your computer.

Harold Pachios: Because tonight I am speaking to the Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations. I would love to show them something on Shared Values.

Matt Lauer: I have the spots on tape, though, so we will show it on tape. We have the video.

Tim Isgitt: Thatís about all on the upcoming calendar.

Harold Pachios: Are they taking any Christmas vacation over there? Government employees?

Tim Isgitt: In fact, I think she is going to Maine.

Harold Pachios: I have seen her house up there. Iíd go to Maine too. It is absolutely a beautiful town. Martha Stewart has a place up there, too.

Tim Isgitt: Yes, they are very close.

Matt Lauer: We will go to our first agenda item. Just a quick update here. We have done a ton of media appearances as of late and I hope everyone gets to see Chuckís Ė

Harold Pachios: Well we want to see it now.

Matt Lauer: Since we have to meet Tomlinson at 12 oíclock, do you want to run through it?

Harold Pachios: Well how long is Chuckís thing?

Matt Lauer: Itís probably about fifteen minutes.

Charles Dolan: No, I didnít get fifteen minutes.

Harold Pachios: Canít you fast-forward through the other stuff?

Matt Lauer: It is a round table discussion, but we can watch it now if you want to.

Harold Pachios: Just quickly give us the good stuff.

Matt Lauer: Okay, so we are fine with all the recent media activities. We are getting the Intern, as you know, who is the Tim Roemer Fellow. She will work almost like a full-time employee, and we are going to always have this person. Notre Dame has committed the pay to keep her here all the time in the name of Tim Romer. So constantly we will have a Romer intern, and we are currently working to bridge the summer session because they donít typically have people here.

Harold Pachios: Let me tell you something. When I went to Wellesley, two students asked me if they could intern on a non-paid basis here. I told them to get in touch with you.

Matt Lauer: Well, they certainly could. We obviously have space for these people.

Harold Pachios: I think we have the space and I donít think it would be a problem getting two unpaid interns each summer.

Matt Lauer: No, I donít think so at all, and that would be extremely helpful.

Harold Pachios: In fact, you could send a letter to Harvard student placement and say that we are looking for one or two students for unpaid internships and they would be grabbed.

Matt Lauer: For someone at that level, you could have him or her do a study over the summer.

Harold Pachios: You could have two of them doing two different studies. There is a lot of free information here.

Matt Lauer: I think I will pursue that and we can name one after a different Congressman!

Harold Pachios: Get one from Woodrow Wilson, my old school.

Matt Lauer: And then we have been doing a lot of these speaking appearances. As you know, Chuck spoke to the American Council of Young Political Leaders the other day. Harold was up to Wellesley and now is going to the Charlottesville tomorrow.

Charles Dolan: Walter and I, together with Bruce, met with the Swiss Ambassador and the head of what is essentially Switzerlandís public diplomacy program that is only two years old, at the Swiss Ambassadorís residence Tuesday.

Harold Pachios: One thing I asked Matt to do before the end of the year is to try to inventory all of the things that we have done since he has been here, really just being three-quarters of the year, all of the things he has done or even during the last six months, all of the meetings we have had with various people, the press conferences, where we have appeared in the press, TV, speeches or whatever. I believe it will be very impressive and it will be very useful. We will then send a letter to the new staff lineups in the House and Senate, a letter that will say, "We just want to update you on our activities."

Matt Lauer: Thatís a good idea instead of just a regular report.

Harold Pachios: An activities report, not just media. We have done a lot of meetings with everybody. I really think it will be four or five pages long.

Matt Lauer: The next thing we have to do, just as a business, we have to approve the Charter. It is also under tab two Ė the change is simply that the Charter was done incorrectly last time and you will see the old version is in the back pocket of your item and it was approved by the Undersecretary of Management at that time. And that is not the correct way to do it. What we do need to do is that since you are a Presidential Commission, obviously the debate that goes into whether or not the Commission exists is done in the halls of Congress rather than in the suite of the Undersecretary for Management. So, it is done already. Because it is re-authorized, we just have to create the Charter ourselves. Essentially, what has been done to change the Charter is the first paragraph, anywhere essentially that you see that this Commission carries out and examines the Public Diplomacy functions of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, that has been expanded to government public diplomacy functions and functions of Public Diplomacy within the private and public sectors. And that is the primary change. The second change is that the Commission in the Charter should accurately portray the large number of public meetings that you choose to have a year. Right now, it said eleven but that would not be in the spirit of the Federal Advisory Commission Act because those eleven meetings then should be eleven announcements of recommendations, so instead you can -

Harold Pachios: I disagree. The purpose of this is to inform and the only purpose is to inform. And, I think it is misleading to say that the Commission as a whole meets approximately four times a year. I think it meets approximately eleven times a year.

Matt Lauer: No, that is true, it does, but essentially then you should have eleven meetings that you open up to the public.

Harold Pachios: It says approximately, and it is informative, and we may or may not have all eleven and we have all been around here for ten years almost and there have been monthly meetings.

Walter Roberts: The solution is, you might say eleven (some in executive session).

Harold Pachios: Why even do that? We violate nothing. Why do we have to diminish the number of meetings we have.

Matt Lauer: Very well. We will keep it at eleven if everyone agrees with that. And then the third issue where it needs to change is at the funding. Currently, it says that the Commissionís funding is approximately one hundred eighty-eight thousand dollars a year, which is incorrect. We have about sixty-nine thousand dollars to operate on a yearly basis.

Harold Pachios: You made a very good change. At the time this was filed, the State Department people made a distinction in this announcement between operating funds and funds for employees, and that is a battle that still is not over yet, and I donít think we should sign on with the other side yet. I think this needs to say about two hundred eighty thousand.

Matt Lauer: Yes, with inflation it is essentially about two hundred eighty thousand. Now it says that the Commissionís estimated annual operating cost for fiscal year 2002 is approximately two hundred eighty thousand dollars.

Harold Pachios: Now the other change you have is that we operate until October 1, 2005.

Walter Roberts: The three things Ė

Harold Pachios: Can I just follow up on something? I wouldnít use those words. I would say the Commission must be re-authorized in fiscal year 2005.

Walter Roberts: May I make a suggestion? Why do we have to have that paragraph?

Matt Lauer: That is an essential part of all charters Ė the termination date of the Commission, because under the Federal Advisory Commission Act it is designed to eliminate some of these superfluous commissions. There were three thousand of them at one point and now there are only fifty. And the average Charter has to have a termination date.

Walter Roberts: I agree with you, and the Commission will have to be re-authorized after October 1, 2005.

Matt Lauer: Yes, and now it says the Commission is a seven-member bipartisan Presidentially appointed panel. Its chairman is designated by the President and has a paid staff of two.

Now, the next agenda item. Harold, do you want to touch a little bit -

Harold Pachios: While we are on . . . touch on what?

Matt Lauer: While we are on the record, we just want to have the unanimous consent that the Charter is as written.

Walter Roberts: Which reminds me, there are more words here in the By-Laws. Where are the By-Laws?

Matt Lauer: These are the By-Laws in the terms of this Federal Advisory Commission Act.

Walter Roberts: So this is congruous?

Matt Lauer: Yes.

Harold Pachios: Ok, letís go on to talk about my trip to the United Kingdom to speak at a public diplomacy conference. Walter, and you arranged for it and it was good for the reasons you intended; 1) you wanted the Commission to be represented. You wanted the Commission to be a player in this, and I think that was very important. 2) What we found out and what you see in this report is a lot about what other countries, France, UK and Canada, and they are not in the same business we are in when it comes to Public Diplomacy Ė they just arenít.

Walter Roberts: And the Swiss do not even know what this is about. This was a revelation to me.

Harold Pachios: When it came my turn to talk, I pointed out the critical difference between all these people and us. Whatever the United States does, if it hiccups, it reverberates throughout the world. Every single announcement from this Capitol gets a reaction somewhere. This is not true with any other country in the world.

Walter Roberts: So, we have a different problem.

Harold Pachios: So that was it. It was this fellow Hawkins who was the outstanding guy. Under the Views of Academics, Brian Hawkins School of International Studies, Coventry University.

Walter Roberts: Yes, he is the one who read the report?

Harold Pachios: Iím not sure that he was the one who read the report. At the Embassy, Dr. Wayne Nelson, University of British Columbia. And then another one, Robin Brown of the University of Leeds. These guys read the reports and that was great. And suddenly out comes the U.S. Commission on Public Diplomacy, but Brian Hawkins has written about public diplomacy and he is on the cutting edge and he is creative. He actually writes creative things. And then the only other thing that happened Ė oh, I spent quite a bit of time with Chris Ross and we rode over in the morning to the Canada House together, and I had lunch with him. There was a reporter, this lady who was on TV with you, and then the Sixty Minute Producer took me out one night and talked about public diplomacy. Thatís it. Go on.

Matt Lauer: Okay. Anything else you want to touch on?

Harold Pachios: No, one of the things I touched on in my report that I thought was very interesting. I wrote it down for research or a measuring tape for us.

Walter Roberts: You did very well and this comes from a professional who does not throw around positive remarks.

Harold Pachios: All right. Do you want to go to California?

Matt Lauer: Do you want to talk about that?

Harold Pachios: Why donít we update since the report, and we know you have some concerns about this so why donít you go ahead.

Matt Lauer: Since the report, Harold and I met with Assistant Secretary of State Pat Harrison and Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors Ken Tomlinson regarding what we found out.

Harold Pachios: Let me tell you what we did when we came back. We gave the report to Pat Harrison and discussed it with her. Then two weeks ago, he and I met with her. We told Pat Harrison this was to help her and that two of these key people, Bruce Ramer, a most powerful lawyer who represents Stephen Spielberg and many people, and Lionel Chetwynd, who is the patriot who does a lot of documentaries, both want to be helpful. So we are inviting them to meet with Pat Harrison. I already talked to Ramer last week. And Pat Harrison thanked us for arranging the connection for her.

Matt Lauer: And since that meeting what she has done with Rick Ruth Ė Rick Ruth is trying to create some sort of cultural connect program Ė we donít have really a cultural program even though it is called Education and Cultural Affairs, we donít have a cultural program anymore so she is trying to coordinate the whole cultural angle of it. Mr. Ruth has put together a "wish list" of things he wants from Hollywood and these are things like a promotional video with the production talent that they need to create it. They want celebrities to do public service announcements in the United States to advertise for host families for exchanges. It is items like that, which Hollywood can do for them. They are going to use us as the liaison to get at the different people in the sector.

Harold Pachios: Let me say one other thing, and this gives me an opportunity to just drop a name or two. Weíre friends. Sen. George Mitchell had me to dinner at this apartment Saturday night in New York. He and his wife and three other couples there Ė I was alone, of course, and the couples were Peter Jennings and his wife from ABC, Bob Kerrey, and Michael Eisner and his wife. Anyway, it was very nice. I asked Michael Eisner about Bruce Ramer and do you know what he said? "Might be the most powerful guy in Hollywood because he represents all the talent so we have to deal with him. He is a very nice guy and a good friend of mine." He confirmed the power this guy has. And I asked him about our meeting with Valenti.

Charles Dolan: What is expected of Hollywood. Somebody mentioned the fact that this is a bottom line industry and they donít really care. The only other thing I would add to this thing is a cautionary note, that story telling is different from getting a message out. Story telling is being entertained, and in terms of knowing what America is about, I would only caution you that the people in Hollywood know about as much about what is going on within America outside of market research for what America is interested in for entertainment as people in Paris know. My classic example is the West Wing. I think it is one of the worst television shows I have ever seen. Any time they try to do something about Washington, it is horrible. The one thing I saw was an AIDS thing and the premise was that the White House was bringing in the African Heads of State with the heads of the pharmaceutical companies for a three-day conference in the White House. Things donít work that way in this town. You would have had a bunch of staffers work together for two days tops, more like five hours, come up with some kind of agreement and then have everybody sign off on it. Everything from cars going to the White House going towards Virginia because it is more scenic Ė that is what Hollywood does. It does not produce messages. It produces entertainment.

Harold Pachios: In most of the cases that is true but a guy named Lionel Chetwynd does documentaries for fun. He has done some interesting ones, and we ought to get a couple to show. And one last thing Ė we have to go to the State Department Ė but Walter, very quickly, didnít we have documentaries back in the 1960s that your side put out that George Stevens and others did with Kennedy.

Walter Roberts: Quite frankly, we purchased documentaries. There is, of course,

George Stevens film called Years of Lightening, Days of Drums about Kennedyís death. A

Congressional resolution was passed that despite the Smith-Mundt Act that film could be shown in the United States. We were very much in the documentary business, acquiring documentaries. If a documentary was a Nobel Prize winner, we acquired it.

Harold Pachios: And these documentaries should be shown through FilmAid, too.

Charles Dolan: I think it is a good idea to first hook up with some documentary people some time in the future. But let me give you another idea that has come to me. It is on the back of an envelope right now but if you are interested, I think we could develop it very, very quickly and it could be very, very timely. I ran into this guy from Harvard when I was at the American Council of Young Political Leaders. He said, I want to try to get you to come up and talk about this stuff, etc. And it occurred to me that we could do a very interesting Commission meeting or a conference Ė and we have to figure out how to pull this thing together. And you and I, Harold, to make this work I think we are going to need to do a visit to Harvard, even Joe and I and some other people up there. But here is my idea. January is probably too soon, but in February, we hold a conference up there on lessons of public diplomacy for allied nations or whatever, lessons from Afghanistan. I think one of the things we would do is to invite Ė I know the guy over at the British Embassy who was in the White House Communication Center working full time. I can talk to him about getting the British Ambassador to come up there, Peter Reed, or may we could invite Bruce Gregory or maybe get some people out of the White House, etc. and we have people from Harvard come in. They have the communication center up there, and one of the things we do is invite the PAOs from the diplomatic community in Washington to come up as part of the audience. I think if we are looking for something that is going to get some attention and also serve a purpose, I think this could be an interesting forum.

Harold Pachios: Yes, we have to work out the details. Why donít we work out the details with Matt on that? At this point, letís head over to the State Department.

Matt Lauer: The meeting is adjourned.

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