The official page of the US taxpayer-funded government outlet Voice of America on a Russian social media site was not just neglected for years, but allowed to be taken over by hostile hackers, a former executive has claimed.
The last official post on the LiveJournal page belonging to Voice of America Russian Service was in April 2012. Ever since, “anti-US propaganda, violence, and pornography” have appeared on the page under the VOA banner and logo, without editors or managers at the US Agency for Global Media “noticing anything wrong for eight years,” Ted Lipien revealed on Wednesday on the pages of the Washington Examiner.
“Unbeknownst to former USAGM Obama officials, a hacked VOA blog website, hosted…in…Russia since 2008, has been showing…anti-US propaganda, violence, and pornography under the VOA name and the VOA logo.” https://t.co/OPA7kGOE8j
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) August 26, 2020
Lipien worked for VOA from 1973 to 2006, retiring as acting associate director for central programming. He described the LiveJournal scandal as “a story of unprecedented US government managerial and security meltdown.”
The fact that none of the reporters, editors or managers noticed or did anything about the page “only shows how poorly managed and complacent these federal employees have become” under the previous management. The blog was deleted only after he noticed it on Sunday and alerted Michael Pack, the new CEO of USAGM.
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Pack was nominated to the post by President Donald Trump in 2018, but only approved by the Senate in June 2020. Any reforms and changes he has tried to implement since have been received with alarm by Democrats and the mainstream media establishment.
USAGM is ostensibly independent, but is fully funded by the US government and its mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy” in accordance with the “broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.” Lipien alluded to the VOA’s current budget being something on the order of $800 million.
What’s particularly mind-boggling is the fact that this was discovered by a retired former employee, rather than the legion of self-appointed fighters against “disinformation” and “protectors of democracy” that have popped up since 2016.
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Their digital forensic experts have been making the circuit of Washington, DC think-tanks and congressional committees ever since, warning about ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’ and ‘hackers’ and “active measures” personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin – but somehow missed the VOA LiveJournal entirely.
LiveJournal was actually launched by an American programmer, but had been purchased by a Russian media company by the time VOA decided to open a blog there. While its servers were eventually moved to Russia and its operations harmonized with Russian law, that did not take place until 2016 and 2017, respectively – four and five years after VOA neglected the page for whatever reason.
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