U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC

February 19, 2002

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Did you see The New York Times story about attempts by the Pentagon to reach out and to deliver the message about what the United States is trying to do vis--vis the terrorism policy, and do you have any comment?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment. I'll leave it to the Pentagon to describe in any more detail that they want to the functions of the office that they have there. As you know, the US Government is trying to communicate our message in a whole variety of ways. The State Department has any number of programs that are designed to getting the word out into the world about what the United States is and what we are doing. We do that through our embassies, through many of our public relations activities. We hope we do that through our press briefing and other activities that we handle. And obviously other parts of the US Government are involved in this effort as well when they have things that they want to explain and want to make sure are understood overseas.

QUESTION: Two questions. Was anyone in the State Department informed of this new office? And second, has there been any concerns raised about prohibitions on US Government agencies providing propaganda to an American audience from the State Department on this?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, from the State Department there is the Smith-Mundt Act that deals with our funding, and we are very careful to make sure that money that's provided for information activities for foreign audiences is not used for materials or directed in any way at American audiences. I'm not sure whether other streams of funding have those same sorts of prohibitions on them, so I leave it to the lawyers or to the Defense Department to explain if there are any such things on their side.

But was the State Department aware of this office? Yes, we coordinate in all kinds of ways with other agencies on information activities, particularly when it comes to the war on terrorism. We have coalition information centers where we work with our friends in other agencies, and we work with, actually, some of the foreign governments involved to make sure that we all coordinate our information activities.

But as I said, this office, as I understand it, is not fully defined yet, and we would leave it to the Pentagon to describe it better than I can.

QUESTION: Just to check, you were aware of this office specifically before The New York Times article?


QUESTION: Just for the record, Richard, what is the State Department policy on providing misinformation?

MR. BOUCHER: We provide information. We provide accurate and truthful information.