BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
BBG – USAGM has confirmed that Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Future of Geopolitics and Asia programs at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), will be the next president of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) after the bipartisan RFE/RL board of directors voted for him, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is one of the board members, and RFE/RL’s corporate board’s chair, Kenneth Weinstein, expressing their strong approval for Fly’s appointment.
The RFE/RL’s corporate board has the same members as the bipartisan board of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). With the exception of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, all of the members of USAGM and RFE/RL boards, both Republicans and Democrats, were appointed during the Obama administration and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Jamie Fly served as counselor for Foreign and National Security Affairs to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) from 2013–2017 and worked earlier for the George W. Bush administration at the National Security Council and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. According to sources, he has been very solid on human rights and independence of USAGM journalism and is highly regarded on the Hill. Confidential sources said that his Hill contacts will be a value to RFE/RL and USAGM.
Technically, Fly will report for the time being to the embattled USAGM CEO John F. Lansing who has been reeling under incessant scandals which have engulfed under his watch RFE/RL, the Voice of America (VOA), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), and the USAGM senior bureaucracy.
Lansing’s former right-hand man and advisor on strategy and program planning, Haroon Ullah, has pled guilty recently to federal fraud charges of stealing tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars while he was working under Lansing.
Lansing and his current top aide for strategy have continued to follow Ullah’s Twitter account and kept his bio on the official USAGM website even days after he had admitted in federal court to defrauding the U.S. government, causing outrage among current and former USAGM and VOA employees. Some longtime USAGM women employees have complained that they have been passed over for promotions in favor of men brought on board by Haroon Ullah with John Lansing’s approval. Some of these men are now reported to be Lansing’s new senior advisors.
Some of the best journalists who quit RFE/RL under the watch of John Lansing’s former RFE/RL president and his management team were experienced and talented women reporters. One of them, award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova who while still working for RFE/RL was at one time a political prisoner in Azerbaijan because of her reporting, has published on Facebook a blistering criticism of RFE/RL management assembled under John Lansing from new and previously employed executives, accusing them of lack of courage, “crisis of career stagnation“ and inability to communicate with their own journalists.
According to confidential sources, Fly is the choice of Weinstein and Pompeo rather than Lansing’s choice. Lansing’s previous selections of top executives have proven to be disastrous.
President Trump had nominated film documentarian and former U.S. government official Michael Pack to succeed Lansing, but Pack’s nomination has not been yet confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Both Weinstein and Lansing signed a message to RFE/RL employees about Fly’s appointment. Lansing who has neither a presidential appointment nor a Senate confirmation cannot fire Fly.
A town meeting of RFE/RL employees was announced for Friday, July 12, to discuss Fly’s appointment.
July 9, 2019
It is our pleasure to announce that the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Board of Directors has named Mr. Jamie Fly as the new President of RFE/RL, effective August 1.
Jamie is a recognized foreign policy thought leader and proven manager, currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In addition, he is Director of the organization’s Future of Geopolitics and Asia programs and Co-Director of its trans-Atlantic Alliance for Securing Democracy. Jamie has previously worked as a senior staffer in the U.S. Congress, the National Security Council, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
We thank RFE/RL’s Acting President, Daisy Sindelar, for her exemplary leadership of the network over the last six months, and throughout her 18 years at the company. Leveraging her depth of knowledge and professional expertise, she took challenges head on and worked to raise the bar of journalistic quality and professionalism ever higher. We are confident that Daisy will continue to drive innovation and impact at RFE/RL in her new role as Editor in Chief, effective August 1.
We thank Nenad Pejic for his more than 25 years of service to RFE/RL. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Nenad held various positions with Sarajevo Television, including head of the News Department, Belgrade correspondent, and Program Director. In 1993, Nenad joined the network when he was named the first director of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service. In December 2013, he was appointed as Editor in Chief. He also served as Acting President of RFE/RL from October 1 to December 6, 2018 and Interim Manager of RFE/RL from March 2014 to June 2016.
Jamie will spend his first couple of weeks as RFE/RL President at the organization’s Washington office before moving to Prague with his family in mid-August. I hope you will join me in welcoming him, as well as thanking Nenad and Daisy for their leadership and dedication to the mission. We will ensure that this transition proceeds smoothly. Ken and Jamie plan to hold a Town Hall on Friday, July 12 in Prague to answer any questions you may have.
In the meantime, we remain committed to continuing the arc of success at RFE/RL and USAGM. Through your hard work, we continue to make a difference in the lives of our audiences. You all continue to be this agency’s best asset.
RFE/RL Board of Directors and USAGM Board of Governors
John F. Lansing
Chief Executive Officer and Director
U.S. Agency for Global Media
Multiple scandals and resignations of award-winning RFE/RL journalists have been reported under the previous RFE/RL president Thomas Kent who had been selected by Lansing. The most recent scandal under the watch of another Lansing selectee has been reported at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting which manages Radio and TV Marti.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is reported to have a great deal of confidence in Jamie Fly called in March of this year for a leadership change at USAGM. In his appearance on March 27, 2019 before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs to discuss the Department of State Budget Request for FY 2020, Secretary of Pompeo said that the U.S. Agency for Global Media, previously known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), needs a better management.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I want to come back, though, to the BBG. It’s a challenge. It still has a leadership challenge, because we all know the history of BBG board and how it came to be fractious and had become political. We still have not resolved that situation. And I would urge to get a CEO of that organization in place so that the BBG will have the right leadership so they can do the traditional mission – perhaps in a different information environment than we did back in the Cold War, but can perform its function in a way that is important and noble, and reflects the enormous resources that are – that American taxpayers have put towards that. I’m very concerned about it.
Jamie Fly is a senior fellow and director of the Future of Geopolitics and Asia programs at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). He also works with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at GMF. He served as counselor for Foreign and National Security Affairs to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) from 2013–2017, serving as his foreign policy advisor during his presidential campaign. Prior to joining Senator Rubio’s staff in February 2013, he served as the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) from its founding in early 2009. Prior to joining FPI, Mr. Fly served in the Bush administration at the National Security Council (2008–2009) and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2005–2008). He was director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council, where his portfolio included the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense, chemical weapons, proliferation finance, and other counterproliferation issues. In the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he was an assistant for Transnational Threats Policy, where he helped to develop U.S. strategy related to the proliferation of missiles as well as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. For his work in the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
Prior to his service in government, Mr. Fly worked for the Republican National Committee on President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio and on the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Additionally, Mr. Fly was a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2002–2004, where he worked on European and national security issues. He has also worked at the World Bank.
Mr. Fly was a 2004 German Marshall Fund Manfred Wörner Fellow, 2009 Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and he participated in the 2004 Aspen Institute Berlin’s Transatlantic Young Leaders Program, the 2006 Atlantik Brücke German-America Young Leaders Conference, and the 2006 Bucerius Summer School on Global Governance and is a participant in the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s Global Atlanticists Program. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
His articles and reviews have been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, National Review, Politico, The Weekly Standard, Forbes.com, USA Today, USNews.com, The Daily Caller, and National Review Online.
Mr. Fly received a BA in international studies and political science from American University and an MA in German and European studies from Georgetown University.
End of Jamie Fly Bio on the German Marshall Fund Website