Al Kamen [In the Loop, Sept. 24] wrongly criticized Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) for his bill to reauthorize the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. No one connected with the commission spoke to the congressman before he decided it was important to keep the commission.

Congress established the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in 1948 to provide "great consultative value to the secretary of state and Congress in the development of public relations programs in the foreign relations of the United States." That objective is no less important now.

With the consolidation of the U.S. Information Agency into the Department of State, a reauthorized commission would be the only independent governmental entity exclusively devoted to promoting public diplomacy as a primary tool in achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives.

The budget being proposed for the reauthorized commission is less than $250,000. The commissioners -- four Democrats and three Republicans -- are unpaid.

Rep. Roemer, as well as the many other members of Congress who support the commission, recognizes the small cost and great benefit in having it continue during the period when USIA is dismantled and the agency's functions incorporated into the Department of State. That is why the House voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the commission.



U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy