January 1964 - Nineteenth Report of the United States Advisory Commission on Information
J. Leonard Reinsch, chairman
Clark R. Mollenhoff
Sigurd S. Larmon
M. S. Novik
John L. Seigenthaler
The Commissioners underscored the capabilities of USIA to stimulate and develop understanding and appreciation of the American economy, military strength, culture, scientific progress, and space achievements—while also highlighting the continuing problems with management, coordination, and content that ought to be addressed. The main recommendations in this report focused on achieving Congressional support and understanding for USIA and its activities.
This report on the activities of the United States Information Agency (USIA) was in preparation when the news of President Kennedy’s assassination shocked the Nation and the World. This tragic episode in our national history places an extra and immediate responsibility on the USIA to dispel any doubt as to the ability of the United States to maintain domestic tranquility, law and order.
The task of promoting and increasing foreign understanding of the United States and its policies is never ending. New generations abroad arise who need to be told of the distinctive American contribution to world peace, progress and security and of the value of this contribution to their own hopes, problems, concerns, and goals. Allies and neutrals cannot be taken for granted and potential enemies must be countered whenever our national interests are at stake.
This Commission is convinced that if USIA is to discharge its mission as indicated by the Congressional intent that underlies Public Law 402, and as expanded by President Kennedy’s Statement of Mission for USIA, it must obtain additional support.
USIA has a legal obligation (Title V, Sec. 501, Public Law 402) to make available, upon request, its press releases and scripts, after they have been released as information abroad, to the representatives of the mass media and to Members of Congress. Its educational films may be obtained from the Office of Education. Occasional domestic press releases are prepared on important developments. And, USIA officers speak to a variety of groups in the United States. The Commission recommends that USIA avoid those domestic activities which are contrary to the intentions of Congress. This calls for restrictions of domestic speeches and press releases. The Agency should limit the distribution of its materials and media products domestically in order to allay any Congressional apprehension that the Agency may be propagandizing within the United States.
The Commission believes that a concerted attack on the problems discussed above will improve the conduct of the information program. Together with some of the outstanding developments in USIA, listed below, it will help create greater Congressional appreciation and support.