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NSC Reluctant to Criticize Iranian Communications Jamming

Last week, as violent protests marred the Iranian regime’s anniversary celebration, the Iranian government launched an effort at jamming the attempts of western broadcasters to report the disturbance. Deutsche Welle, the BBC and the Voice of America issued a statement condemning the censorship attempt. But Josh Rogin reports that the National Security Council had some misgivings about VOA joining the statement, initially telling Jeff Trimble — the executive director of VOA’s overlord, the Broadcasting Board of Governors — to hold back.

According to several emails sent from Trimble to several BBG staffers, the NSC first didn’t want the VOA to join the statement if it mentioned “jamming.” Later in the email chain, the NSC modified its position to object to the use of the term “intensified jamming.”

“NSC is ok with our confirming that jamming continues, they ask that we not say for now that it has intensified,” one Feb. 11 email from Trimble to several BBG staffers read.

Dan Austin, the president of VOA, acknowledged that changes had been made to the statement, but declined to discuss the NSC’s role. He said that the U.S. government should not be interfering with the BBG’s editorial content, but acknowledged that on the communications and policy side, the lines were less clear.

Also less clear is why the NSC objected to “jamming” but not “intensified jamming.” Representatives didn’t respond to Rogin’s request for comment.

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