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John Lindburg is general counsel and corporate secretary of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Describe what Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty does, and a little of the organization’s history. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, formally RFE/RL Inc., began in the early 1950s as two separate organizations broadcasting by shortwave radio to Eastern Europe (RFE) and the Soviet Union (RL). The radios served as “surrogate” stations by broadcasting primarily local and regional news and information to countries in their native languages. In 1976, the two entities merged into a private nonprofit corporation incorporated in the state of Delaware and funded by grants from the U.S. government. Today, RFE/RL broadcasts to Russia, Southeastern Europe, and Central and Southwestern Asia, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Altogether, RFE/RL broadcasts to 19 countries in 28 languages. With broadcasting headquarters in Prague, its primary mission is to further democratic values and institutions through the dissemination of factual news and information, to provide a model for local media, and to foster a more peaceful world through mutual understanding among peoples of various countries. How did you come to this job? Do you have any on-air radio experience or journalism experience? I have not had hands-on journalistic experience, but have always had a keen interest in cross-cultural communication, building and strengthening a free press, and simply helping others. It is as though I had been preparing for this job for over 30 years. I concentrated on international issues while an undergraduate at Yale, and participated in a nine-month, post-graduate Fulbright program in Venezuela, and a two-year master’s program at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs. After I graduated from George Washington University’s law school, I served for many years as an assistant general counsel of the U.S. Information Agency, of which the Voice of America was a part, and also as the general counsel of the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), which gave and administered grants to RFE/RL. In 1995, I became the legal counsel for the newly established Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, and other U.S. government-funded nonmilitary international broadcasting. In 2000, I began my tenure as the deputy general counsel of the National Gallery of Art, until I was selected to be RFE/RL’s general counsel in February of 2003. What’s top of your mind in your job at the moment? Which areas of law are your biggest challenges? My primary objective is to assist RFE/RL’s president and board to achieve the organization’s goals in a cost-effective way. Recently, these include the reduction and/or elimination of seven Eastern European language services due to shifting broadcasting priorities. In addition, RFE/RL is exploring relocation of its broadcasting center in Prague to a new site. Finally, because this center is located in Prague, the Czech Republic’s accession into the European Union has presented some urgent and complex legal and budgetary issues. Personnel, property, contract, leasing, funding, copyright, and other issues must all be addressed, often within very short deadlines. How did Sept. 11, 2001, impact RFE/RL and its mission? The terrible tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, accelerated decisions about new regional broadcasting priorities, although RFE/RL’s core mission of promoting democratic values and a free press has remained the same. For many years RFE/RL broadcast exclusively to Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union. On Jan. 31, 2004, RFE/RL ceased broadcasting to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Croatia, and cut back to Romania. Today, RFE/RL is shifting more resources to broadcasting to Central and Southwest Asia. For example, included within RFE/RL’s activities are Radio Free Afghanistan, Radio Free Iraq, and Radio Farda to Iran. On Jan. 21, 2004, President Bush noted when addressing the subject of terrorism in his State of the Union address that, “To cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda, the Voice of America and other broadcasters are expanding their programming in Arabic and Persian.” Does RFE/RL view itself as providing news or propaganda? How do you draw the line between the two? RFE/RL does not broadcast propaganda (biased or misleading news reflecting one point of view) for three basic reasons: (1) it is contrary to federal law governing our grants; (2) it is inconsistent with fundamental democratic and journalistic principles; and (3) it simply isn’t effective. RFE/RL operates in accordance with federal statutory requirements for its grant funds mandating dissemination of news and information which are consistently reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective, comprehensive, and balanced. RFE/RL’s policies, and editorial and program reviews, are aimed at ensuring strict compliance with this mandate. In addition, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a bipartisan, nine-member federal oversight board, was established by law to serve as a firewall against any interference with journalistic integrity. With regard to fundamental principles, censored news would be contrary to the basic democratic value of free expression inherent in the U.S. Constitution and in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which appears on RFE/RL’s stationery. The most basic requirement of a democracy is a fully informed citizenry. Slanted news would undermine this prerequisite as well as RFE/RL’s mission of serving as a model for local media. Finally, the broadcasting of propaganda to countries awash in it simply does not work. Audiences tune out. Credibility is the lifeblood of successful journalism. Edward R. Murrow stated many years ago that to be credible, U.S. international broadcasting must be truthful. Furthermore, use of propaganda is unnecessary. It was Winston Churchill who said, “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.” As the head of the legal department, what are your primary administrative issues or challenges? My biggest administrative challenge is balancing the need for thorough research and a quality work product against the demands of timely responses to a wide variety of questions. Addressing numerous issues often originating in various foreign countries located many time zones away can be both intellectually stimulating and challenging. In addition, communication by e-mail, faxes, and teleconferencing is not always an ideal substitute for face-to-face time with clients to gain a full understanding of an issue, or to satisfactorily resolve a problem. Unfortunately, such time is not always possible given the distances between Washington and Prague, Moscow, Tashkent, or Kabul. How big is your legal department � how many attorneys/staff do you supervise? I serve both as RFE/RL’s in-house counsel and its corporate secretary. There is no in-house legal or support staff dedicated exclusively to assist me. I receive valuable assistance, however, from RFE/RL’s assistant corporate secretary, Ben Herman, who also is a lawyer. Whom do you report to? I report on a daily basis to the president of RFE/RL, Thomas A. Dine, and also work closely with the vice president of finance, Michael R. Marchetti. The three of us are corporate officers and report to RFE/RL’s board of directors. By law, RFE/RL’s corporate board must consist of the same persons who serve on its federal oversight board, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, in order to receive federal grant funds. What kind of work do you send out? Which outside counsel do you turn to in various substantive areas? My goal is to perform the maximum amount of work in-house to achieve savings and cost-efficiency. There are, however, specialized or extremely time-consuming matters that must be handed off to private counsel. Litigation is a good example. Another example is the use of counsel abroad for interpretation of foreign law and local representation. I recall one recent morning communicating by telephone and e-mail with local counsel in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Germany about a variety of legal issues requiring knowledge of foreign law. Have you changed your company’s relationship with outside counsel in the past year? How? Until I became general counsel, Hogan & Hartson provided virtually all of RFE/RL’s legal services for many years. Since my arrival, I have tried to the extent possible to do more of the legal work in-house. The services of Hogan & Hartson or other counsel in the United States or abroad are still necessary, however, depending on such factors as the nature of the task, expertise, past performance, and fees. Have you had any interesting, exotic, or dangerous travel experiences as part of your job? Business matters took me to beautiful Prague last June and again just before Christmas. More travel elsewhere soon is a distinct possibility. My 30 years of working with the Voice of America and RFE/RL have taught me that anything is possible in this field. For example, I would cite the following: traveling for the VOA into Guatemala with an armed escort to negotiate with a priest about radio interference; helping arrange a bird migration study in the Negev Desert in Israel in anticipation of building radio towers; narrowly missing a riot in the Old City of Jerusalem; learning that high-level officials in the Turks and Caicos had missed important discussions during my travel there because of their arrest in Miami resulting from a sting operation for drug dealers; becoming lost in communist Bulgaria in the 1980s without being able to read or speak the language; witnessing the beginnings of American-style campaigning in Moscow while Yeltsin wriggled on stage to music played by a rock band at the foot of the Kremlin; risking offending the foreign minister of Thailand by inadvertently crossing my legs while seated during discussions and showing him the bottom of my shoe; and celebrating years ago the signing of an agreement with high-level officials of Belize at the only restaurant (open-air) in the new capital, Belmopan, named The Bullfrog. What was the last book you read? I most recently read Ghost Soldiers, by Hampton Sides. The dramatic true story describes the daring rescue by 121 U.S. troops behind enemy lines in 1945 of over 500 American and British POWs in the Philippines who were the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. There were as many as 8,000 Japanese troops on the island. The book contains elements that I like: an international setting, and a courageous struggle against considerable odds to further a worthy cause. Where do you see RFE in the future? Could you envision the organization shifting to place less emphasis on radio and more on other forms of media? Has this already started to happen? RFE/RL currently delivers three news and information products � radio, Internet, and television. Over the next few years, our red-hot Internet operation will become hotter. But making the world more open and free remains our chief objective. For example, Freedom House statistics show a staggering 80 percent of the world’s population living without a truly free press in 115 countries covering most of Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Southeastern Europe, Russia, Central and South Asia, China, North Korea, and Latin America. Thus, as already mentioned, RFE/RL has begun devoting more resources to broadcasting to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Caucasus, the five Central Asian countries, plus Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

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