WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) sent a letter to President Biden requesting the withdrawal of Amanda Bennett’s nomination to be the next Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). AFL’s request stems from Bennett’s well-documented failures during her previous service as the Director of the Voice of America (VOA) from 2016 through 2020, where she appears to have overseen violations of federal immigration law, favored brutal dictatorships, failed to protect the lives of her own employees, undercut public diplomacy, and arguably presided over one of the biggest national security failures in U.S. government history.
AFL’s letter addresses in stark fashion Bennett’s failures, which are based on evidence and documentation about her past performance and conduct. Specifically, Bennett led VOA during a time when VOA was violating federal immigration law in blatant fashion by hiring J-1 visa holders for permanent journalist and other positions, a fact which raises questions about her involvement in that process and her awareness of the violation of law. Bennett also failed to take warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about VOA employee safety seriously, a failure that put several VOA Persia reporters who were on the front lines at serious risk of harm at the hands of the murderous Iranian theocracy. Bennett also suppressed Chinese dissidents and bowed to the demands of the Chinese Communist Party, possibly because of her family’s financial interests in the People’s Republic of China.
While the above conduct should be enough, by itself, to prevent her confirmation, Bennett’s involvement in perhaps one of the greatest national security lapses in U.S. government history has yet to be fully explored. During her tenure running VOA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) repeatedly warned USAGM leadership of serious issues with employee security reviews and clearance approvals. Federal investigations ultimately determined that more than 1,500 USAGM employees – roughly two-fifths of USAGM’s total federal workforce – appeared to hold national security-sensitive positions without full or proper vetting. Many of these improperly screened individuals were ultimately employed by VOA.
AFL is hopeful that Bennett’s nomination will be withdrawn and additional information about the catastrophic failures at USAGM and VOA will be brought to light.
Statement From America First Legal’s Deputy Director of Investigations John A. Zadrozny:
“Today’s letter is a recognition that Amanda Bennett failed in her only previous federal role, and that her painstakingly documented failures continue to have disastrous impacts on America’s national security and foreign policy. It is our hope that President Biden will see the light regarding this dangerous nominee, or at least feel the heat. Surely, there is someone else in the United States who can run our international broadcasting apparatus who has not demonstrated such abject failure in the past. Americans deserve far better,” John Zadrozny said.
Read the letter here.
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