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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 25, 2002
President Salutes VOA's 60-Year Commitment to Freedom
Voice of America Cohen Building
2:16 P.M EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for that warm welcome. I'm glad I came. (Laughter.) Bob, I want to thank you very much for your hospitality, and I want to thank you very much for your willingness to take the reins of the Voice of America in such a critical time.
I also want to thank all the supporters who are here, those who support the Voice of America. And I'm glad to see so many friends of international broadcasting, the Voice of America staff, the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, former Voice of America directors, former U.S. Information Agency directors, staff and directors from Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Marti. (Applause.) You all are dedicated professionals who serve your country and its highest ideals with honor and with purpose.
I also want to thank Marc Nathanson, who's the chairman of BBG. Deserves a special thanks for his endowment of the Nathanson Fellows, between the Voice of America and the Annenberg School of Journalism. (Applause.)
Sixty years ago, only 79 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the first Voice of America broadcast across the Atlantic into Nazi Germany, with these words: Here speaks a voice from America. We shall tell you the truth.
For decades, the Voice of America has told the world the truth about America and our policies. Through a world war and a cold war, in crisis and in calm, the Voice of America has added to the momentum of freedom. And now, in a new conflict, I'm proud to say that the Voice of America still speaks strongly and clearly.
To people whose governments broadcast messages of bigotry and hate, the Voice of America sends a message of tolerance and respect. To people who are told that democracy is soft and weak, the Voice of America shows freedom's strength and determination. To people who live under governments that sustain their power with lies, the Voice of America brings truth.
Under some regimes, like that in North Korea, simply listening to the Voice of America is treated as a crime. And the fears of these regimes are well-founded, because tyranny cannot survive forever in an atmosphere of truth. The Voice of America is not neutral between America and America's enemies, between terrorism and those who defend themselves against terror, between freedom and between tyranny. The Voice of America is a broadcaster with a special purpose, a special mandate and a special trust.
As President Reagan said, freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings. The Voice of America spreads that message throughout the world, with special emphasis on those countries where information is restricted and free voices are silenced.
The Voice of America broadcasts in 53 languages, to nearly every country on Earth, reaching an audience of over 90 million listeners. Many are listening right now, exercising their God-given right to freedom, free access of information. And their numbers are growing every day. The Voice of America's new Middle East Radio Network will offer music, reliable news, and information in Arabic, and an opportunity to better understand American principles and American actions.
And I want to thank Norm Pattiz for his perseverance and dedication to this project. Even before our Armed Forces helped bring freedom to the Afghan people, the Voice of America was bringing them the news in languages of Dari and Pashtu. Since September the 11th, Voice of America has increased its programming in these two languages, serving as a vital partner in helping rebuild that country.
Throughout its history, Voice of America has applied the power of technology to the advance of liberty. It has used every means possible -- shortwave, television, and now the Internet -- to bypass the barriers of tyrants.
Radio waves are not hindered by borders, and as technology improves, the Internet will become less vulnerable to the censor's hand. No one knows what new information technologies will be available 60 years from now. But two things we do know: first, that the Voice of America will find a way to use them; and second, though these means of delivery may change, the message never will.
It's a simple message. It's a message of freedom, and freedom is worth defending. (Applause.) And the truth, no less than the force of arms, is needed for its defense.
Since 1942, you have defended freedom by speaking the truth to millions. (Applause.) You not only have the ear of the world, you have the gratitude of your country.
May God bless your efforts, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 2:24 P.M. EST