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Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks

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posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 05:59 PM
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks and Foreign Government Contributions to Nine Think Tanks
Comes as no suprise really, except that the New York Times has somehow again managed to do some exceptional journalism instead of propagandised pieces to fit a governmental/corporate/TPTB view as they tend to do now and then. But keep in mind a source is still a source despite their agenda and allegiance, which is as good information as an unbiased one.

WASHINGTON — The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.

But the recipient of the cash was not one of the many Beltway lobbying firms that work every year on behalf of foreign governments.

It was the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit research organization, or think tank, one of many such groups in Washington that lawmakers, government officials and the news media have long relied on to provide independent policy analysis and scholarship.

More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.

Yeah, so " ... friendly to the government financing the research" you think? That would also apply to U.S. funded research by the way. So much for "independent," (as if any of us didn't already know this though) it looks like some new laws are to be had, perhaps updating and extending the Logan Act that prohibits

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

But it sounds like they might already be in violation of said act or other law(s):

The think tanks do not disclose the terms of the agreements they have reached with foreign governments. And they have not registered with the United States government as representatives of the donor countries, an omission that appears, in some cases, to be a violation of federal law, according to several legal specialists who examined the agreements at the request of The Times.

As a result, policy makers who rely on think tanks are often unaware of the role of foreign governments in funding the research.

Joseph Sandler, a lawyer and expert on the statute that governs Americans lobbying for foreign governments, said the arrangements between the countries and think tanks “opened a whole new window into an aspect of the influence-buying in Washington that has not previously been exposed.”

“It is particularly egregious because with a law firm or lobbying firm, you expect them to be an advocate,” Mr. Sandler added. “Think tanks have this patina of academic neutrality and objectivity, and that is being compromised.”

It seems some of the most influential think tanks are involved:

The arrangements involve Washington’s most influential think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Atlantic Council. Each is a major recipient of overseas funds, producing policy papers, hosting forums and organizing private briefings for senior United States government officials that typically align with the foreign governments’ agendas.

Most of the money comes from countries in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, particularly the oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway, and takes many forms. The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world.

Some scholars say the donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments.

There is plenty more at the source, but a couple more quick notes in my post:

In interviews, top executives at the think tanks strongly defended the arrangements, saying the money never compromised the integrity of their organizations’ research. Where their scholars’ views overlapped with those of donors, they said, was coincidence.

People are not stupid, they know unequivocally through history that money always compromises integrity.

“Our currency is our credibility,” said Frederick Kempe, chief executive of the Atlantic Council, a fast-growing research center that focuses mainly on international affairs and has accepted donations from at least 25 countries since 2008. “Most of the governments that come to us, they understand we are not lobbyists. We are a different entity, and they work with us for totally different purposes.”

That "credibility," at least what was there, is now going to shrink and whither away fast.

Foreign officials describe these relationships as pivotal to winning influence on the cluttered Washington stage, where hundreds of nations jockey for attention from the United States government. The arrangements vary: Some countries work directly with think tanks, drawing contracts that define the scope and direction of research. Others donate money to the think tanks, and then pay teams of lobbyists and public relations consultants to push the think tanks to promote the country’s agenda.

Tsk, tsk, that is what diplomats are for silly!

After questions from The Times, some of the research groups agreed to provide limited additional information about their relationships with countries overseas. Among them was the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose research agenda focuses mostly on foreign policy ...

I think given your speciality CSIS, you ought to be more forthcoming.

Maybe it is time for the public and politicians to see we need to drastically cut back on foreign aid and invest domestically! What say you ATS?

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:08 PM
Corporations buying politicians decisions on key legislation's that the Corporation wrote themselves and the revolving door reward for a job well done and now this. What could go wrong with a system like this..... sickening ain't it !

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:21 PM
a reply to: 727Sky

Yes, quite, it just keeps getting better and better. I hope this story goes viral and I wonder when enough is going to be enough for the American public.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:44 PM
It's stories like this that make myself and others say that there should be no lobbying in DC....foreign or domestic. The US government is supposed to represent the PEOPLE of the US and not the corporations, foreign governments or special interest groups.

Others say that would be a violation of the 1st amendment, but I don't recall any of those groups being mentioned in the Bill of Rights.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:51 PM
a reply to: sheepslayer247

I couldn't agree more. Corporations knew/know that which is why that got the Supreme Court to rule they be considered persons. I say, if that is the case, they should be tried and convicted in the same manner. Where a crime committed by an actual person would equate to life in prison, a corporation should be permanently disbanded and its board/members barred from participating in another company, or forming a new one, for the same industrial/commercial purpose. The time should fit the crime.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:53 PM
a reply to: sheepslayer247

This isn't lobbying. The government officials can only spend so many energies being up to date on various affairs, so they outsouce their intel to think tanks that are supposed to be independent.

Well, this independent think tank, is no longer, it's up for grabs, apparently.

I don't find any of this surprising in the least. Pretty much everything is up for grabs and the highest bidders gain influence towards their interests.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 07:35 PM
a reply to: pl3bscheese

You are right, it is not lobbying in the traditional sense, but as the source noted, it is essentially tantamount to lobbying. However, it is worse, as it is a back channel lobbying platform for foreign governments, not Multi-National Corporations with interests in other countries mind you, but actual foreign governments. We have become so weak and so infiltrated. Like you, I am not surprised but I add another grievance to the list.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 08:40 PM
Way to leave out AIPAC NYT.

Regardless whether or not it is 'traditional' lobbying, it is still foreign interest and should not be tolerated in any country's politics. Lobbying is tantamount to propaganda, bribery, and treason. Its the same as campaign donations from corporations, simple money influencing policy, often to the detriment of the people.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 10:18 PM
a reply to: Ridhya
Yes, great documentary and add to the discussion, thank you. AIPAC yields tremendous influence and I wish just one politician grabbed some balls and told them to scram.

I couldn't agree with your statement more and the comic sums it up nicely.

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