NEWSWATCH: “Countering Putin begins with knowing what his regime is saying” [Bring back FBIS] – The Hill/Stephen Blank, Glen Howard, Enders S. Wimbush, Paul Goble

Recent media accounts have argued that the U.S. government suffers from an absence of high-quality expertise on Russia. * * * One such solution that does not require legislation is directing the intelligence community to resume the daily electronic Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) now supervised by the Open Source Center. … a daily electronic feed of worldwide media, press, radio, television, and social media networks known as the World News Connection (WNC) … once was available to thousands of researchers and which provided immense amounts of information that were vital to shaping our understanding, not only of Russia, but of China, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, etc. This service was shut down in December 2013 by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for a reason known to nobody outside the intelligence community. * * *  Making FBIS available again to experts probably does not cost a lot of money and could be done, if necessary by charging for its use.  Moreover, it needs no Congressional authorization and it would help prevent the intelligence failures that the Administration has admitted to: failure to anticipate the invasion of Crimea, the rise of China’s military, the rise of ISIS, and Russian intervention in Syria. It would not just be relatively easy for the intelligence community to make this material available again to experts even if on a paid basis, it would also be a significant step in advancing our understanding of Russia and other international actors and a material contribution to the national interest and security of the United States.  …

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