Swans Commentary » swans.com November 17, 2008  



Co-opting Intellectual Aggressors
The "Progressive" Face of the CIA


by Michael Barker





"The CIA offers exciting career opportunities and a dynamic environment. We're on the forefront of world-altering events -- as they happen. So working here isn't just a job, it's a mindset and a lifestyle."
— Central Intelligence Agency -- 2008.
"Those who hold power in the society retain control, though they may grant support to dissidents when it suits their immediate purposes... [T]hose in power know precisely why their support is rendered, even if the recipients know neither the reason nor the source."
— Dan Schechter, Michael Ansara, and David Kolodney -- 1982. (1)


(Swans - November 17, 2008)   Mention the CIA to most historically-informed people and the immediate images that spring to mind are those of assassinations, coups d'état, drug running, and covert wars. On the other hand, those individuals whose understanding of the CIA's work has been stunted, primarily though exposure to the mass media, are more inclined to associate the CIA with bungling over-resourced spies, rogue elephants, or perhaps, in the case of conservatives, as patriotic warriors protecting homeland security. (2) Yet another side to the CIA that is rarely mentioned by progressives, let alone the mainstream media, is their commitment to public activism. By commitment I do not refer to their dedication to infiltrating progressive social movements with informants or agent provocateurs, although this is of course an important aspect of the subterfuge undertaken by the Agency. Instead I refer to the CIA's ongoing efforts to channelling popular dissatisfaction with political processes -- on both a theoretical and grassroots level -- towards support for counterrevolutionary causes. (3) Key organizations that have historically played an important role in helping the CIA's democracy manipulators include the most influential liberal foundations, two prominent examples being the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. (4) So in an attempt to develop a more nuanced understanding of the CIA's role in contemporary society this essay will explore their long-term involvement in utilising ostensibly progressive dissent in the service of imperialism.

Like most class-conscious institutions, the CIA is not stupid, although a useful PR purpose is served by presenting their activities as such. Instead the elites managing the upper echelons of the CIA have long understood the power of grassroots activism, and have demonstrated their longstanding fear of the public by industriously working to undermine our ability to effectively cooperate with one another to promote our own best interests. One simple elite method of attacking popular social movements that challenge capitalist interests is to destroy their leaders, firstly by attempting to weaken their legitimacy in the cultural sphere, and when this fails, by resorting to the literal termination of their lives. However, another more proactive, and arguably more effective, strategy to undermine the revolutionary potential of dissent is to co-opt it: a tactic that if taken to its logical extreme involves the manufacture of dissident groups, which pre-empt organic (more radical) grassroots responses to capitalist-driven injustices. This form of political warfare is as old as politics itself; yet as a result of significant plutocratic advances in the early twentieth century, and the ensuing public resistance to these developments, such co-optive strategies were institutionalized within capitalist states in the form of liberal foundations. As Edward Berman notes in his important book The Ideology of Philanthropy: The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy (State University of New York Press, 1983), the goals of such foundations...

included the stabilization of the rapidly evolving corporate and political order and its legitimation and acceptance by the majority of the American Population; the institutionalization of certain reforms, which would serve to preclude the call for more radical structural change; and the creation through educational institutions of a worldwide network of elites whose approach to governance and change would be efficient, professional, moderate, incremental, and nonthreatening to the class interests of those who, like Messrs, Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller, had established the foundations. The subsequent support by the foundations for various educational configurations both at home and abroad cannot be separated from their attempts to evolve a stable domestic polity and a world order amenable to their interests and the strengthening of international capitalism. (pp.15-6.) (5)

To be sure, truly revolutionary activity can never be funded by elites, no matter how progressive their credentials. The revolution will not be televised, or funded. (6) That said, this does not stop would-be revolutionaries from working with manipulative self-interested elites. By self-interested I refer to the dedication of leading liberal philanthropists to the capitalist status quo, not the degree to which they claim to wish to help the oppressed -- which may well be high -- within the (extreme) limits imposed by capitalist relations. Sadly, as Steve Weissman observed in 1970, "In the hands of the self-seeking, humanitarianism is the most terrifying ism of all." (7)

It should not be surprising that the same elites who worked within the upper echelons of both the CIA and the world of liberal philanthropy would ensure that the CIA (which was created in 1947) would play an important role in manipulating progressive social movements globally. In this regard it is clear that the leading US-based liberal foundations were not the CIA's unwitting dupes. (8) However, given the progressive image that these liberal philanthropists wish to project to the public, revelations in the late 1960s of their ties to the much maligned CIA led to "reforms" of the CIA's funding relations. In truth these reforms merely catalysed a chain of events that would ensure that the CIA's soft-power politics (philanthropic manipulation) were institutionally isolated from their hard-power politics (which includes their covert military operations).

Thus in 1967 President Johnson appointed a three-member committee headed by Under Secretary of State (1966-69) and former Ford Foundation fellow Nicholas Katzenbach, (9) John Gardner (the former president of the Carnegie Corporation, 1955-65), and CIA director Richard Helms, to review the CIA's activities. According to CIA-linked Time magazine, the committee recommended that secret funding for civil society groups be terminated, however, for those groups that are unable to obtain funding from private philanthropic foundations, or groups whose activities "seem especially worthy, the Katzenbach committee recommended that a public-private organization -- perhaps like the Smithsonian Institution -- be created." The organization that would eventually take on this proposed function and thereby take over the CIA's democracy-manipulating activities around the world is the so-called National Endowment for Democracy. (10)

Here it is appropriate to cite the National Endowment for Democracy's official historian, David Lowe, who notes that shortly after the Katzenbach committee returned its findings, Congressman Dante Fascell (Democrat, Florida) proposed a bill to "create an Institute of International Affairs, an initiative that would authorize overt funding for programs to promote democratic values." However, as Lowe continues: "Although the bill did not succeed, it helped lead to discussions within the Administration and on Capitol Hill concerning how to develop new approaches to the ideological competition then taking place between the U.S. and the Soviet Union." (11) One early outcome of this ongoing discussion was the creation, in 1969, of the Inter-American Foundation -- a group that was established through an act of Congress to distribute "grants to nongovernmental and community-based organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean for innovative, sustainable and participatory self-help programs." (12) Dante Fascell, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was the "presiding figure behind the IAF's founding" (pdf), so it is significant to note that at the time Fascell was "well known for his links with the CIA and the Cuban exile community."

A few years later, according to NED architect George Weigel, William Douglas's "pioneering" book Developing Democracy (Heldref Publications, 1972) served to stimulate new thinking about how the US government "might aid its democratic compatriots abroad." In particular, Weigel noted, "Douglas drew extensively on the experience of the American labor movement, which had for many years conducted an extensive program of support for free-trade unionists in Latin America and Asia." This statement of course refers to the anti-Communist organizing of the AFL-CIO and its Free Trade Union Institute. (13)

William I. Robinson adds a critical voice to this timeline, pointing out how...

Douglas coined the term regimented democracy to describe the type of political system the US should promote in place of authoritarianism. Comparing the populations of developing nations with "children", and calling underdevelopment a result of their "traditional attitudes", Douglas argued that the peoples of the Third World required "tutelage", "regimentation" and "social control", but that "democracy" could achieve these goals more effectively than authoritarianism. "That a firm hand is needed is undeniable", but "democracy can provide a sufficient degree of regimentation, if it can build up the mass organizations needed to reach the bulk of the people on a daily basis. Dictatorship has no monopoly on the tutelage principle." (14)

As a result of this democratic activism, by 1980 the American Political Foundation (whose founding members included Dante Fascell) had established an office in Washington, D.C., and with a US$300,000 grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Foundation recommended the creation of what turned out to be the National Endowment for Democracy. (15) Needless to say, given this history, it is critical that progressive activists encourage all groups which maintain a commitment to forms of democracy that extend beyond the neoliberal paradigm to explicate themselves from such imperialist funding relationships. Ideally, concerned activists should also interrogate the history of such compromised organizations in an attempt to understand the previously unforeseen detrimental influence that imperial democracy manipulators have had on society. For a start one may examine groups that have received NED grants (by country), focus on those that are members of the NED's World Movement for Democracy's Network of Democracy Research Institutes, or alternatively one might scrutinize the background of researchers who have worked for the NED or individuals who have received their annual Democracy Award. To take this a step further, it is important to critically examine the types of groups that current and former board members of the NED are affiliated to: the same holds true for former CIA directors given the links between the two organizations (see below).


Recent CIA Directors and their current/former ties to democracy-manipulating organizations

CIA Director


Organizational Affiliations

James Schlesinger


American Academy of Diplomacy; Atlantic Council; Center for Global Energy Studies; Center for Strategic and International Studies; Committee for the Common Defense; Council on Foreign Relations; National Academy of Public Administration; Henry M. Jackson Foundation; National Committee on United States-China Relations, Nixon Center; RAND Corporation; US Institute of Peace

William Colby



George H. W. Bush


Academy of Political Science; AmeriCares; Council for Excellence in Government; East-West Institute; Seeds of Peace; World Food Prize

Stansfield Turner


Center for International Security Studies; Norwegian Nobel Peace Institute

William Casey


Council for the Defense of Freedom; Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

William Webster


Council on Foreign Relations; International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution; Middle East Institute; National Legal Center for the Public Interest

Robert Gates


America Abroad Media; Aspen Institute/Aspen Strategy Group; Forum for International Policy

R. James Woolsey


Arlington Institute; Americans for Victory Over Terrorism; Center for Strategic and International Studies; Center for Security Policy; Coalition for a Democratic Majority; Committee for the Liberation of Iraq; Committee on the Present Danger; Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Freedom House; Henry Jackson Society; Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; Oxonian Society; Project for the New American Century; Smith Richardson Foundation; Task Force on the United Nations; American Center for Democracy; Washington Institute for Near East Policy; World Affairs Council, Washington, DC

John Deutch


Aspen Institute/Aspen Strategy Group; Council on Foreign Relations; French American Foundation; Gorbachev Foundation of North America; Nixon Center; Resources for the Future; Urban Institute

George Tenet



Porter Goss



Michael Hayden




Although this table by no means provides an exhaustive list of democracy-manipulating affiliations, it does indicate that R. James Woolsey (of all the former CIA Directors) has graced the presence of the largest number of democracy-manipulating groups. Having served as the CIA's top man between 1993 and 1995, Woolsey currently acts as Vice President for Global Strategic Security at the international consultancy firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. He is also a well-known and highly influential neoconservative, best exemplified by his former membership of the Project for the New American Century, and notably he is presently an advisor of the AIPAC affiliated think tank, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; for further general biographical details see his Right Web profile. Woolsey's two most significant ties to the democracy-manipulating establishment arise through his acting as the chair of Freedom House's board of trustees from 2003 until 2005, and through his ongoing service as a distinguished advisor for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Both of these groups are clearly dominated by a neoconservative "democratic" agenda, so why one might ask, was Woolsey replaced at Freedom House (in 2005) by Peter Ackerman, the primary funder and chair of a controversial group called the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict?

It would seem that the simple answer to this question is that Ackerman's politics mesh well with those of his neoconservative travelling companions at Freedom House. However, if this is the case then another question arises, why has Professor Stephen Zunes -- an individual whom most progressive people would consider to be a radical political activist -- been serving, since 2006, as the chair of Ackerman's Center's academic advisory committee? The straightforward answer to this second question is that Zunes has mistakenly given his time and energies to help legitimate a group whose democratic credentials are less than savoury to say the least. Yet this answer does not suffice, as over the course of the last year Zunes has repeatedly defended the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict from critiques emanating from concerned progressive activists (myself included). Given this conflict, one can then only assume that Zunes applies an alternative method to judge a group's political orientation than that those criteria adopted by the progressive activists he finds himself in strong disagreement with. This assertion can be tested by his recent statement (November 7, 2008) that the US Institute of Peace -- a CIA-linked group on whose US advisory council Ackerman sits -- is "an ideologically diverse organization."

Ideological "Diversity" at the US Institute of "Peace"

Ranked from most conservative through to most liberal, the following list provides a general approximation of the ideological diversity of the US Institute of Peace's twelve person strong board of directors. (16)

•   Judy Van Rest -- is Executive Vice President of the International Republican Institute (a core grantee of the NED).

•   Chester Crocker -- is Professor of Strategic Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Amongst other affiliations he is a founding member and director of the Corporate Council on Africa, and a member of the US Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion.

•   Jeremy Rabkin -- is a former scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and presently serves as an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

•   Stephen Krasner -- is Professor of International Relations at Stanford University, where he serves on the executive committee of Condoleezza Rice's Center for Research on Economic Development and Policy Reform. He formerly acted as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and directed the operations of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

•   Ron Silver -- is an Actor/Producer/Director for Primiparous Productions, but he also serves on the advisory committee of a neoconservative Zionist group, which is known as The Israel Project.

•   J. Robinson West (Chair) -- Chairman, PFC Energy, a member of the National Petroleum Council, and friend of former US vice president Dick Cheney. West is a former trustee of the Nixon Center, and a current trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

•   George Moose (Vice Chair) -- Adjunct Professor of Practice at the George Washington University. Former US Ambassador to the Republic of Benin (1983-86) and to the Republic of Senegal (1988-91), and presently serves as a director of the NED-funded Search for Common Ground.

•   Nancy Zirkin -- Executive Vice President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights -- a group whose honorary chair, former NAACP executive director Benjamin Hooks (who recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush) formerly served as a leader of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights alongside then president of the AFL-CIO, Lane Kirkland.

•   Kathleen Martinez -- Executive Director of the conservative World Institute on Disability, and recent co-author of a World Bank report on disability. In 2002 Martinez was appointed by President George W. Bush as one of fifteen members of his National Council on Disability.

•   Ikram Khan -- is the President of Quality Care Consultants, LLC, and was recently appointed by Governor Jim Gibbons (Republican, Nevada) as his advisor on healthcare issues. (17)

•   Kerry Kennedy -- serves as Chair of the Amnesty International Leadership Council, is a board member of Human Rights First, and the NED-funded China Information Center.

•   Anne Cahn -- is a former Scholar in Residence at the American University, and a board member of the CIA watchdog, the National Security Archive.

Zunes refers to the US Institute of Peace as "an ideologically diverse organization," which suggests that while he professes to have strong anti-imperialist credentials -- and admittedly some of his work may have radical implications -- at the end of the day he is a left-leaning liberal, not a radical. That said, when Zunes referred to the Institute's ideological diversity he was considering the entire organization, which may of course encompass more liberals than their board of directors: however it is still far from coincidental that the Institute's board is far from diverse. Indeed, writing in 1990, Sara Diamond and Richard Hatch noted that the "supposed peace research sponsored by the federally funded US Institute of Peace (USIP) looks more like the study of new and potential means of aggression, though less in the conventional military realm and more in the vein of trade embargoes, economic austerity programs, and electoral intervention." They go on to point out that although the creation of the Institute (in 1984) was "approved by a wide spectrum of peace advocates" it actually acts as an "arm of the US intelligence apparatus" whose founding President was Robert Turner (a "former US Army Captain and "embassy official" in Saigon during the Vietnam War"). (18)

Just as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has become a central tool for the promotion of political parties, labor unions, and media voices deemed acceptable by bipartisan foreign policymakers, the USIP, using the same rhetoric of "peace" and "democracy" and many of the same recycled defense intellectuals, seeks to control debate and decision-making on conflict resolution. Also like the NED, the USIP performs in public view some of the functions traditionally conducted by the CIA and perpetuates the trend toward public funding of policy-making elites not in any way accountable to taxpayers or voters.

Diamond and Hatch write that when Turner's presidency of the Institute ended in 1987, he was replaced by the "less overtly hawkish" Samuel Lewis (who was the former US Ambassador to Israel, 1977-85), who while directing the Institute, also worked with the AIPAC-affiliated think tank, the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. (19) Lewis retired as the Institute's president in 1992, being replaced by Richard Solomon, who like his predecessors boasts impressive democracy-manipulating credentials. For instance, during the early years of his career Solomon served as head of the Political Science Department at the imperial think tank, the RAND Corporation (1976-86), and just prior to joining the US Institute of Peace he served as US ambassador to the Philippines (1992-93).

Returning to the Institute's CIA connections, Diamond and Hatch observe how:

Three of the [then] current USIP board members -- William Kintner, John Norton Moore, and Morris Liebman -- also preside over the US Global Strategy Council, a shadowy clique of military intelligence strategists headed by former CIA deputy director Ray Cline. Any notion that this group is committed to peace is belied by its December 1989 publication of a slick promotional booklet for RENAMO, the murderous gang of thieves condemned even by the State Department for its plunder and pillage of Mozambique.

Likewise they point out that:

At the 1990 House of Representatives' Appropriations Hearings on the USIP, [Samuel] Lewis made an intriguing remark regarding the USIP's selection of grantees: "All the applications for distinguished fellows and peace fellows and peace scholars are first vetted by panels of distinguished experts." Vetted is intelligence profession jargon for the profiling and granting of security clearances to potential agents.

According to the USIP's 1989 biennial report, one of those "distinguished experts" is Robert Jervis, professor of International Relations at Columbia University. In his book Veil, Bob Woodward wrote that during the Iranian hostage crisis, Jervis was "brought in as a CIA scholar-in-residence" to produce a detailed assessment of US intelligence failings before, during, and after the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

One particular scholar, who has been honoured in the past by the US Institute of Peace, is the aforementioned Stephen Zunes, who in 1989 received a research fellowship from the Institute to study the role of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations in efforts to resolve the Morocco-Western Sahara conflict. (The following year Zunes completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University's Department of Government.) Despite the ensuing conflict between the Institute and leading peace researcher Johan Galtung, (20) and the subsequent critique of their work by Diamond and Hatch in Z Magazine -- which Zunes was surely aware of (or at least should have been) (21) -- he failed to adopt a critical approach to their activities. For instance, in 1998 he participated in, not protested at, a US Institute of Peace seminar that was held in Washington, D.C. Moreover, since 2006 Zunes has served as chair of the academic advisory board of a group (the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict) whose chair and primary benefactor (Peter Ackerman) serves on the US advisory council of the US Institute of Peace. (22)

Evident lapses in Zunes's "anti-imperial" faculties were similarly apparent in a recent ZNet article, titled "The Hope of Obama" (no irony intended), in which he suggested that although some of Obama's core foreign policy advisers' "commitment to international law and human rights have proven to be very weak" others rank among "some of the more critical, innovative, and enlightened members of the foreign policy establishment." Among the four more "critical, innovative and enlightened" advisers Zunes recounted was the noted inhumanitarian warrior Samantha Power, thus providing another useful illustration of his far from revolutionary intellectual calibre. Unfortunately, it is this type of so-called liberal anti-imperialism, all too common among progressive peace theorists today, that ensures that Zunes (and other progressive writers) defend democracy-manipulating groups like the US Institute of Peace from justified critiques. With this in mind it is informative to examine the other affiliations of one of the most liberal members of the US Institute of Peace's board of directors, Anne Cahn, that is, her ties to the National Security Archive -- a group which ostensibly acts as a watchdog on the activities of US intelligence agencies.

An "Independent" Intelligence Watchdog

The National Security Archive describes itself as an "independent non-governmental research institute... [that] collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act." Critically this research institute provides a particularly important source for critical scholars hoping to keep tabs on the activities of the US government and its intelligence agencies as the Archive maintains the largest non-government library for declassified documents in the world. The Archive is also home to well-known and widely respected CIA scholars like Peter Kornbluh and John Prados. Indeed, Prados observes in his most recent book, Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Ivan R. Dee, 2006), how CIA activities that have historically been...

aimed to influence the domestic affairs of other states were known as "political action." ... A variety of tactics might contribute to this kind of operation. The most obvious was to recruit -- usually for pay -- persons of influence in the target nation. Such opinion makers could include politicians, businessmen, labor leaders, and journalists -- especially the latter two: labor leaders because they could put bodies in the street on demand, journalists because their stories in the print or broadcast media could sway people's beliefs. Barrages of such press coverage could be targeted to shape opinion, and if intelligence operatives had good enough connections, they could concoct the stories themselves, taking CIA's carefully crafted lines of argument and drumming them in by repetition. Judicious dollops of CIA money could help form or advance political parties and finance candidates at election time. (p.9)

Later Prados observes how the CIA used various liberal foundations as funding conduits; he writes:

An internal agency study in 1966 found this technique "particularly effective for democratically-run membership organizations, which need to assure their own unwitting members and collaborators, as well as their hostile critics, that they have genuine, respectable, private sources of income." The funneling of money through legitimate foundations in fact became the most effective way to conceal CIA's role. Looking at major grants (at the time, more than ten thousand dollars) made by foundations other than the Big Three (Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller), the 1966 CIA review of grants made over the previous three years found the agency money involved in nearly half the awards for international activity and a third of those for scientific and social science initiatives. Of the total of seven hundred such grants, more than a hundred had been fully or partially funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. (p.93)

However, Prados, despite providing weighty overview of the CIA's global anti-democratic activities and even documenting the CIA's involvement in "Project Democracy," fails to mention the related work of either the National Endowment for Democracy or the US Institute of Peace: a problematic omission to say the least. (23)

Of course, like many ostensibly progressive groups such as Human Rights Watch or the Albert Einstein Institute, this does not mean that the National Security Archive or its researchers do not undertake valuable work that is well utilized by progressive activists; however, this does not mean that their ties to the democracy-manipulating community should be swept aside, for all intents and purposes ignored. (24) Consequently, the following section will cast a little light on some of the National Security Archive's less-than-democratic links.

Although the National Security Archive was formally established in 1985, the Archive had evolved from its predecessor, the Central American Papers Project, which was initiated sometime in the early 1980s. One of the key persons behind this project was Congressman Jim Moody, who since inspiring this project has gone on to work for many "democratically"-linked organizations: after retiring from Congress in 1993 he became the vice president and chief financial officer of the International Fund for Agriculture Development, subsequently he then served as the president and CEO of InterAction, worked as a field representative for CARE International (in both Yugoslavia and Iran), and now serves as a director of Relief International and on the advisory board of the National Iranian American Council -- a group that receives support from the NED and the Open Society Institute amongst others. Initially the Central American Papers Project was based in Moody's office, but it was subsequently shifted into the offices of the Center for National Security Studies -- a group that was founded in 1974 by Robert Borosage, a well known liberal who now serves on the advisory board of the NED-funded Search for Common Ground, and on the advisory board of Foreign Policy In Focus alongside the likes of Stephen Zunes and Lisa McGowan (a representative of core NED grantee, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center).

So what is the Center for National Security Studies? According to their Web site, between 1978 and 1994, the Center for National Security Studies "was a project associated with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Fund for Peace." Here it is critical to observe that the latter group, the Fund for Peace, has received 21 grants from the NED between 1992 and 1998. Moreover, Russell Hemenway, a trustee of the Fund for Peace, presently serves as the current chair of the Center for National Security Studies board of directors. These NED connections exemplify many of the problems associated with liberal humanitarian nongovernmental organizations, because as the Center for National Security Studies' Web site puts it, the Center attempts to "work for control of the FBI and CIA and to prevent violations of civil liberties in the United States." Given their indirect ties to the NED it is unfortunate to note that they go on to describe themselves as the "only non-profit human rights and civil liberties organization, whose core mission is to prevent claims of national security from eroding civil liberties or constitutional procedures."

Furthermore, the Center's links to the democracy-manipulating community do not end here, as their Director between 1975 and 1992 was none other than former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Morton Halperin, who is the current Director of US advocacy for George Soros's Open Society Institute. (Between 1984 and 1992 Halperin simultaneously served as the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Office.) On top of this connection, another Center for National Security Studies board member, Sheila Coronel, is the Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism -- a group which is one among four others journalism projects that is a part of the NED-funded Southeast Asian Press Alliance. (25) Finally, the President of the Center for National Security Studies, Thomas Blanton, serves on the advisory board of the "democratic" Project on Justice in Times of Transition, (26) and also happens to be the head of the National Security Archive. Indeed, the board of directors of both the Center for National Security Studies and the National Security Archive are almost identical, and so is not surprising that Anne Cahn should serve on both boards.

Returning to the founding of the National Security Archive, once the Archive's predecessor, the Central American Papers Project, had relocated to the Center for National Security Studies it morphed into what is now known as the National Security Archive -- mostly as a result of the work of Morton Halperin and Stephen Paschke (who was then the chief financial officer of the Fund for Peace, and continues to serve to as the Archive's vice president for finance). Four other people who played a vital role in founding the National Security Archive were the investigative reporter Scott Armstrong (who served as the Archive's founding executive director, 1985-89), the investigative journalist Raymond Bonner, Moody's congressional aide Ruth Chojnacki, and Nina Solarz (who was the former executive director of the Fund for Peace, and is married to Stephen Solarz, an individual who in 2001 received the NED's Democracy Service Medal).

Key funders that helped found the National Security Archive include the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Aryeh Neier (who is now president of George Soros's Open Society Institute), Anne Bartley (who is currently a member of the Soros-backed Democracy Alliance, and is the Vice Chair of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), Gary Sick (who served on the National Security Council staff under three presidents, was the deputy director for international affairs at the Ford Foundation, 1982-87, and was a former director of both the Middle East Institute and Human Rights Watch), and, of course, the Archive also received ample start-up funding from the Fund for Peace.

At this stage it is worth noting that Nina Solarz came to head the Fund for Peace in the late 1980s after serving as the executive director of Peace Links -- an "antiwar" group that was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1982 by Betty Bumpers (a board member of the US Institute of Peace from 2000 until 2007) and a number of other Congressional wives. (27) Thus it is not so strange that David Corn (writing in 1990) noted that:

One person who worked at Peace Links during [Nina] Solarz's tenure recalled that in 1987, when a staff member proposed that the group address nonproliferation issues, particularly Pakistan's efforts to make a nuclear bomb (which was much in the news at the time), Solarz scuttled the idea. "She said, We don't know enough about it. We're not experts. You can't do that." At the time [her husband] Stephen Solarz was opposing an aid cutoff to Pakistan, then being pushed by nonproliferation advocates.

Corn adds that Nina Solarz "tangled with Scott Armstrong," which resulted in Armstrong's dismissal from the National Security Archive, and concluded that:

What's clear is that there have indeed been management problems at the archive, including budget difficulties and delays in producing document sets, and there was some skittishness on the part of the Ford Foundation, the major financial backer, about the outside writings and public appearances of archive personnel. Armstrong freely admits he had faults as an administrator. He says that he was willing to move from the executive director post to a less managerial position, but that Solarz, driven by an urge to control, wanted him out of the office entirely, and the Ford Foundation wanted a less vocal Armstrong -- which, as anyone who knows Armstrong will attest, was a wish unlikely to be fulfilled...

Crucially, Corn notes that Philip Brenner (who currently serves on the Archive's advisory board) described the Ford Foundation as a "cautious mainstream organization, [which] has always been nervous about the political dimensions of the archive." Thus given that people working with the National Security Archive are aware of the limits imposed on their work by their funders, it is worrisome that the Archive still counts upon the financial support of many democracy-manipulating groups, which include amongst many others, the Carnegie Corporation, the Wilson Center, the Ford Foundation, Freedom Forum, the New World Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Winston Foundation for World Peace, and even one conservative foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Finally, returning to John Prados's recent book-length (limited) critique of the CIA, it is interesting to note that Prados highlights how, at the CIA, the US government's "first sustained foreign assistance program," the...

Marshall Plan became a device to disguise the provenance of money spent for propaganda and political action purposes, an institution that could help the agency exchange US for local currencies, a way to hide CIA officers and a source of recruits to the agency's cause. (p.37)

This is noteworthy because Suzanne Woolsey, the wife of former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, is a trustee of the Marshall Plan's memorial group, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, while she is also a trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses -- a group which counts among its former presidents a current board member of the National Security Archive, General William Smith. The shared interests between the elites and their "critics" never seem to end.

Defeating Democracy Manipulators

[The CIA's] key is secrecy, and when it is peeled away, there standing naked and exposed for all to see, is the CIA secret policeman, who only hours before was lurking in the darkness to bribe a military officer, a student leader, a journalist, a politician, or a trade unionist. Take away secrecy and the CIA officer becomes impotent. (28)

Former CIA agent, the late Philip Agee, made this observation in 1989, and although it is true up to a point, as this article has demonstrated, the CIA has now farmed out most of their secret democracy-manipulating activities to overt rather than covert operatives. (29) So although the CIA still carries out most of its activities under a veil of secrecy, a lot of their former work is now carried out overtly by the National Endowment for Democracy and an assortment of other related groups. This apparent openness has in turn ensured that there has been next to no critical reporting on the democracy-manipulating activities undertaken by government agencies and private philanthropists. However, as Agee noted in 2003, the CIA still remains a key player in the democracy-manipulating field, especially given the "CIA's long experience and huge stable of agents and contacts in the civil societies of countries around the world." Agee adds that: "By joining with the CIA, NED and [US]AID would come on board an on-going complex of operations whose funding they could take over while leaving the secret day-to-day direction on the ground to CIA officers." Moreover, the CIA has "ample funds of its own to pass quietly when conditions required," while the CIA officers themselves play a critical role in monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of democracy-manipulating activities. On this last point, Agee suggests that the...

NED would not have people in the field to do this, nor would their core foundations in normal conditions. And since NED money was ostensibly private, only the CIA had the people and techniques to carry out discreet control in order to avoid compromising the civil society recipients, especially if they were in opposition to their governments.

The democratic problems (for those in the U.S.) and imperial nightmares (for those on the receiving ends of US violence overseas) associated with the CIA and the NED will sadly persist until the US public mobilises to oppose all forms of elite manipulation. Obama most certainly is not the solution, and his election does not provide "real hope" of change: instead the real solution must be to work to eradicate capitalism and propose truly democratic alternatives. Until then, the democracy-manipulating establishment will continue to operate behind the scenes until progressive activitists stop legitimizing their work. Whether people support the work of elite manipulators, consciously or not, the result is the same. (30) Therefore what is needed is a concerted effort by all progressive activists to break their own ties with elitist democracy-manipulators (especially liberal foundations), and then for them to work to create alternative lifestyles and groups that are not dependent (strings attached or not) in any way or form on elite bankrollers. A democratic future that actively attempts to minimize elite manipulation will not be funded by elites. Elites are the threat, the public are the solution. Thankfully the numbers are already stacked in our favour.




1.  Dan Schechter, Michael Ansara, and David Kolodney, "The CIA as Equal Opportunity Employer," In Ellen Ray, Dirty Work 2: The CIA in Africa (Zed Press, 1980), p.69. Danny Schechter's online biography notes that he first received a grant from the Ford Foundation in 1966, and to this day he continues to actively work with liberal democracy manipulators like the Gates Foundation and George Soros's Opens Society Institute (through his film production company, Globalvision), and a multitude of other liberal foundations (through his progressive media project, MediaChannel). By way of contrast, James Petras who received a Ford Foundation fellowship in the 1960s to study in Chile for one year, quickly recognized the elitist modus operandi of such liberal philanthropy and subsequently worked to expose the anti-democratic nature of such co-optive funding practices.  (back)

2.  "Three decades ago the 'problem' of the CIA appeared to be the agency's status as a 'rogue elephant' -- unsupervised, tearing about the globe, acting at whim. By now it is evident that the agency and its cohorts were in fact responding to presidential orders." John Prados, Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Ivan R. Dee, 2006), p.xiv.  (back)

3.  For a timeless exposition of the hijacking of revolutionary causes, see Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 (AK Press, 2004 [1947]).  (back)

4.  As Frances Stonor Saunders observed in her important book, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War (1999): "That former left-wingers should have come to be roped together in the same enterprise with the CIA is less implausible than it seems. There was a genuine community of interest and conviction between the Agency and those intellectuals who were hired, even if they didn't know it, to fight the cultural Cold War. The CIA's influence was not 'always, or often, reactionary and sinister,' wrote America's pre-eminent liberal historian, Arthur Schlesinger. 'In my experience its leadership was politically enlightened and sophisticated.' This view of the CIA as a haven of liberalism acted as a powerful inducement to collaborate with it, or, if not this, at least to acquiesce to the myth that it was well motivated. And yet this perception sits uncomfortably with the CIA's reputation as a ruthlessly interventionist and frighteningly unaccountable instrument of American Cold War power." (p.3) In his review of Saunders's book, CIA historian Thomas Troy, Jr., notes how Saunders "does a fine job in recounting the intriguing story of how the CIA worked with existing institutions, such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and established numerous 'bogus' foundations to 'hide' its funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and its other covert activities."  (back)

5.  For example, Berman points out how the Russell Sage Foundation "played the crucial role in coordinating the disparate charity organizations that had arisen in the burgeoning urban areas to deal with the growing human dislocation brought about by the rapid immigration and industrialization of the late 19th century. Many of the individuals involved in these charity movements had a deep and abiding concern for the plight of the poor. It is equally clear that a major cause of the misery confronting the charity workers was the very system of industrial capitalism that they so vigorously supported, but which shattered the poor immigrants' sense of community. Since the charity workers refused to recognize the roots of this mass misery, their palliatives focused more on attempts to reform the existing system and to adjust their clients to it, than to search for alternative organizational structures that might result in a more equitable society less destructive of the immigrants' communities." (p.19)

Critically Berman observes that: "It is important to mention the frequently contradictory nature of liberal capitalism, as well as the apparent and very real conflicts within the dominant class. Theirs is not a unitary perspective on all matters; the most cursory acquaintance with daily political jockeying in Washington, London, or Paris quickly reveals this. Contradictions occasionally surface within the foundations as well. Examples include the funding provided by the Ford Foundation for the avowedly Marxian interpretation of American education authored by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis in 1976, or the Russell Sage Foundation's 1972 support of three leftist sociologists to study that foundation's organization and operations. Other examples might include the funding provided for such 'radical' researchers on Third-World development as Denis Goulet, the support afforded several left-wing Latin social scientists, or the support and advice given by the Ford Foundation to enable Tanzania to further its program of African socialism." (p.39)  (back)

6.  By way of an alternative, Murray Bookchin presents an inspirational model for anarchist-orientated revolutionary activity that has been succinctly summarized in The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism (Black Rose Books, 1997).  (back)

7.  Steve Weissman, "Why the Population Bomb is a Rockefeller Baby," in Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe (Harper & Row, 1970), pp.40-1.  (back)

8.  "Not coincidentally, many of the veterans of the US government's Office of War Information (a wartime propaganda agency) went on to become powerful foundation executives. For example, Charles Dollard became head of the Carnegie Corporation, Leland DeVinney worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, William McPeak became vice president of the Ford Foundation, and W. Parker Mauldin went on to become vice president of the Population Council -- a group that received most of its funding from the Ford Foundation. Likewise in 1951, Paul Hoffman, who had administered the Marshall plan for the US government, made a smooth transition to become the first president of the Ford Foundation. Hoffman's recruitment also marked the Ford Foundation's transition to the big league, as recent endowments had made it the largest and most influential philanthropic foundation in the World. Two years later, another former Marshall planner, Richard Bissell (who incidentally had worked under Hoffman), also joined the Ford Foundation. Bissell maintained close links with the CIA during his tenure at Ford and eventually left the Foundation in 1954 to become special assistant to Allen Dulles in the CIA." Likewise former Rockefeller Foundation chairman, John Foster Dulles (brother of Allen Dulles), and Rockefeller president, Dean Rusk (1952 to 1960) went on to became US Secretaries of State. Michael Barker, "The Liberal Foundations of Media Reform? Creating Sustainable Funding Opportunities for Radical Media Reform," Global Media Journal, 1 (2), 2008.

Frances Stonor Saunders writes that "for the CIA, the strategy of promoting the NonCommunist Left was to become 'the theoretical foundation of the Agency's political operations against Communism over the next two decades'. The ideological rationale for this strategy, in which the CIA achieved a convergence, even an identity, with leftist intellectuals, was presented by [Arthur] Schlesinger in The Vital Center, one of three seminal books which appeared in 1949 (the other two being The God That Failed, and [George] Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four). Schlesinger charted the decline of the left and its eventual moral paralysis in the wake of the corrupted revolution of 1917, and traced the evolution of the 'non-Communist Left' as 'the standard to rally the groups fighting to carve out an area for freedom'. It was within this group that 'the restoration of the radical nerve' would take place, leaving 'no lamp in the window for the Communists'. This new resistance, argued Schlesinger, needed 'an independent base from which to operate. It requires privacy, funds, time, newsprint, gasoline, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear.'" Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War (Granta Books, 1999), p.63.  (back)

9.  Nicholas Katzenbach "worked with Congress to ensure the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act," and while serving as US Attorney General in 1965 he "helped to draft the 1965 Voting Rights Act." Thus it is significant that he was a former Ford Foundation fellow, as the Ford Foundation played a key role in undermining the radical aspiration of the civil rights movement by supporting moderate professional movement organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and their Legal Defense and Education Fund -- a group for which Katzenbach is an emeriti director.

For further details see, Craig Jenkins and Craig Eckert, "Channeling Black Insurgency: Elite Patronage and Professional Social Movement Organizations in the Development of the Black Movement", American Sociological Review, 51, 1986.  (back)

10.  As David Ignatius reported in 1991, Allen Weinstein, the NED's first acting president, noted that "A lot of what we [the NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." Unfortunately, as Joan Roelofs observes, since the shocking revelations in the late 1960s of the CIA's leading role as a democracy manipulator, such "transborder manipulation has become so 'normal' that it is rarely discussed, even by political scientists concerned about 'money in politics,' or those who consider themselves on the 'left.'"

David Ignatius, "Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups," The Washington Post, September 22, 1991; Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003), p.193.  (back)

11.  Former CIA agent Philip Agee wrote in 2003 that, "The Fascell idea failed to prosper, however, because of the breakdown of the bipartisan approach to foreign policy that had prevailed since the administration of Harry Truman after World War II. Differences since the late 1960's within and between the two parties over the war in Southeast Asia, then in the '70s over Watergate and the loss of the Vietnam war, and finally over revelations of assassination plots and other operations of the CIA by Senate and House investigating committees, prevented agreement and resulted in several years of isolationism. Only the successes of revolutionary movements in Ethiopia, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Grenada, Nicaragua and elsewhere brought 'cold warrior' Democrats and 'internationalist' Republicans together to establish in 1979 the American Political Foundation (APF)." Philip Agee, "The Instruments of US Policy in Cuba: Terrorism and Civil Society," CounterPunch, August 9, 2003.  (back)

12.  The two co-founders of the Inter-American Foundation were William Dyal, Jr. (who has since served as a consultant advisor to the president of the Ford Foundation) and the late Augustin Hart, Jr. (who was the former vice chairman of Quaker Oats Company). Writing in 1983 for the New Internationalist, Richard Kazis, who was supportive of the Inter-American Foundation, noted that their "main goal, according to President Peter D. Bell, is 'to encourage economic and social change that is bottom-up rather than top-down, self-help rather than charity'." Yet despite the similarities between the Inter-American Foundation's work and the social engineering of liberal foundations,' in the early 1980s, some progressive activists -- like Kazis -- still held out hope that others in the aid community might follow the Inter-American Foundation's apparently progressive lead. However, such liberal activism was never going to survive long within the belly of President Reagan's reactionary regime, and during Reagan's tenure the Foundation was regularly attacked by right-wing think tanks (like the Heritage Foundation) which accused it -- as they did liberal philanthropists -- of promoting socialism. Thus when Reagan managed to get a majority on the Foundation's seven-person board in 1983, he quickly ousted its liberally-minded president, Peter D. Bell. (Incidentally, Bell now serves on Human Rights Watch's Americas Advisory Board, and is president of the equally misnamed CARE International.)

More recently, in December 2006, the US Senate confirmed eight individuals to the Inter-American Foundation's board of directors, and those with especially strong democracy-manipulating credentials include Kay Arnold (who is a former director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation), Thomas Dodd (who served as US Ambassador to Uruguay from 1993 to 1997, and in Costa Rica from 1997 to 2001), Adolfo Franco (who is assistant administrator for the bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID, and "would have overseen US 'democracy promotion' efforts in Haiti prior to the [2004] coup"), and Thomas Shannon (who is the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US Department of State). It is also particularly enlightening to examine the Foundation's board of directors in 2004, which included Nadine Hogan (who was a former mission director of USAID's regional office for Central America and Panama from 1985 to 1991), and Roger Noriega (who between 1986 and 1990 worked for USAID and the US Department of State, where amongst other things he funneled money to the Contras -- sometimes via Colombia's Medellin drug cartel). More recently, as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs (from 2003 to 2005), Noriega played a pivotal role in the US's democracy-manipulating activities in Haiti, where he oversaw the "removal" of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in March 2004. For further details about Noriega's background see Max Blumenthal, "Uncovering a US-planned Coup in Haiti," The Huffington Post, January 1, 2006, and Joshua Kurlantzick, "The Coup Connection," Mother Jones, November 2004.

While the Inter-American Foundation's 2005 and 2006 annual reports do not provide lists of their board of advisors, their 2004 annual report does, and notable members of this board include Rita DiMartino (who is a NED board member), James Jones (who is a former US Ambassador to Mexico, and a board member of the Americas Society), Douglas Patino (who is a "[l]eading Latino philanthropist" and a trustee of the Mott Foundation, amongst others), Renate Rennie (who is president of the Tinker Foundation), Susan Kaufman Purcell (who is the vice president of both the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society, is a former trustee of Freedom House, and a former member of the editorial board of the NED's Journal of Democracy), and Al Zapanta (who is the president and CEO of the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and was "recently awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Restore Hope in Somalia and Restore Democracy in Haiti").  (back)

13.  Gary Busch proposes that: "One of the most important of the international non-governmental voluntary organisations is the international trades union movement": a movement, he adds, "has been, and continues to be, a vital tool of governments in the shaping of the political destinies of foreign political parties and states and is an important part of most nations' foreign policy system." Moreover, Busch writes that: "One reason why the trades union movement has been such a fertile field for intelligence operations is that it has within it numerous trades unionists who are motivated by ideologies and a commitment to abstractions. The question of motivation is crucial for mounting a successful intelligence operation. The art of building a successful intelligence operation does not lie in coercing or blackmailing into service unwilling agents: it consists of finding agents already committed to a goal shared by the intelligence operatives and providing them with the resources in order for them to achieve this goal. If, for example, there exists a trades union or political party faction opposed to a key policy or programme of the targeted party or government, intelligence operatives would be very foolish to try and start their own opposition movement to this policy. It is wiser and more useful to offer to the dissident faction their covert assistance by providing funds, printing presses, media access and subsidised travel so that they can achieve their goals." Gary Busch, The Political Role of International Trades Unions (MacMillan Press, 1983), p.1, p.259.  (back)

14.  William I. Robinson, "Pushing Polyarchy: The US-Cuba Case and the Third World," Third World Quarterly, 16 (4), 1995, p.654.  (back)

15.  Writing in 1988, Ralph Goldman notes how, "Few academicians and political leaders have acknowledged the importance of political aid as a dimension to be added to the military and economic aid techniques of the United States. One of these was George E. Agree, an experienced Washington, DC political consultant and organizer, who directed a project -- Transnational Interactions of Political Parties -- for Freedom House of New York City. Late in 1977, citing the West German experience, Agree proposed the creation of the American Political Foundation as a similar vehicle for promoting communication and understanding between the two major US political parties and democratic parties elsewhere in the world. By early 1980 he had recruited officers for the foundation: William E. Brock, then US special trade representative and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, to serve as the foundation's chairman, and Charles T. Manatt, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as vice chairman. Agree became president." Ralph Goldman, "The Democratic Mission: A Brief History," in Ralph Goldman and William Douglas, Promoting Democracy: Opportunities and Issues (Praeger, 1988), p.19.  (back)

16.  The four most recent people to be replaced on the US Institute of Peace's board were:

•   Charles Horner -- a senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. Horner formerly served as associate director of the US Information Agency under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

•   María Otero (former vice chair) -- is president of ACCION International. Prior to joining ACCION she worked as a USAID economist and from 1994 to 2000 served as chair of the aforementioned Inter-American Foundation. She is married to Joseph Eldridge, who in 1991 established the Washington office of Human Rights First (serving as their director for six years).

•   Laurie Fulton -- previously served as the executive director for Peace Links (whose founder Betty Bumpers presently serves as a board member of the NED-funded Vital Voices Global Partnership, a group whose honorary chair is none other than Hillary Clinton).

•   Holly Burkhalter -- has served as advocacy director of Physicians for Human Rights in Washington, D.C., since 1997, and from 1983 until 1997, she was advocacy director of Human Rights Watch and director of its Washington office.  (back)

17.  A recent FBI investigation determined that Governor Gibbons was not guilty of allegations made by former eTreppid Technologies LLC employee, Dennis Montgomery, "who said company founder Warren Trepp lavished Gibbons with money and a Caribbean cruise in exchange for help winning defense contracts for the company."  (back)

18.  Diamond and Hatch observe that an "early proponent" for the creation of the USIP "was the recently deceased Senator Sparks Matsunaga of Hawaii who in 1963 introduced a bill in Congress to create a peace academy. The immediate antecedent to the USIP was the National Peace Academy Campaign, launched in 1976 in the aftermath of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Scores of reputable peace groups supported the idea of a 'federally-funded training center for peace' studies. But the peace movement was inattentive to the support coming from the less-than-reputable: the misnamed World Without War Council, a deceptive, intelligence-linked 'peace' group, collected 90,000 signatures to lobby Congress. NPAC cofounder Bryant Wedge, a psychiatrist who started the George Washington University Center for Conflict Resolution as a model for the proposed academy, testified during a peace academy hearing before Congress that he had produced psychological studies for the Department of State, the US Information Agency, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the CIA."  (back)

19.  The Right Web profile of the US Institute of Peace notes that Samuel Lewis served as a member of the USAID mission to Brazil between 1964 and 1966; that is, during the US-backed coup that toppled the elected government of Brazil.  (back)

20.  According to Hatch and Diamond, "Galtung says he sees a fundamental contradiction between honest research in the field of peace and that conducted by a government agency. 'The contradiction,' he says, 'is even greater when the government is a superpower.' Galtung is less disturbed by the USIP's connections to intelligence agencies or right-wing think tanks than he is by the Institute's unwillingness to 'admit any peace research fundamentally critical of U.S. foreign policy.' Galtung calls this blind spot the 'hidden axiom' behind the USIP's approach to subjects like 'low intensity conflict [LIC].'"  (back)

21.  Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Zunes published a number of articles in other leading progressive publications like The Progressive and In These Times, although he only published his first article in Z Magazine in 1994.  (back)

22.  In November 2008, Professor Stephen Zunes launched a broadside against his progressive minded critics by noting how "a series of articles in Green Left Weekly [authored by myself] and other publications began accusing ICNC [International Center on Nonviolent Conflict] of having links to the CIA." He continued, the "basis of this allegation apparently came as a result of ICNC President Jack DuVall's 'connection to former CIA head James Woolsey.'" As Zunes acknowledged in his article, this connection "consisted of the two of them overlapping for less than a year back in 2001-2002 on the board of the Arlington Institute." My article also mentioned that the chair and primary funder of the ICNC, Peter Ackerman, presently chairs the board of trustees of the neoconservative Freedom House, and noted that his predecessor in this position was none other than Woolsey. Either way, Zunes declared my analyses (or alleged conspiracy theories) to represent a "remarkable parallel to the right-wing attacks over Obama's service on the same nonprofit board as education professor and former Weather Underground Activist Bill Ayers." By this parallel Zunes is referring to both Obama and Ayers service on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago (from 2000 until 2002).

At first glance both DuVall's and Obama's cases seem related, but they certainly do not present a "remarkable parallel." This is because while DuVall's link to Woolsey took place at a time when Woolsey was working with various democracy-manipulating groups that work intimately with the CIA, Obama's link to Ayers took place some decades after the latter's days as a radical activist, and more to the point, Ayers is now a model liberal. Indeed, in 1995 Ayers along with Anne Hallett (who served as the Executive director of the Wieboldt Foundation, 1986-93), and Warren Chapman (who at the time was a senior program officer for education at the Joyce Foundation) received a US$49.2 million grant from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to be used for public school reform. One could only argue that there is a "remarkable parallel" between the two cases, as Zunes does, if Ayers was still considered a revolutionary activist, which he clearly is not.

On the contrary, Ayer's connection to Warren Chapman emphasizes his elite rather than radical pedigree, because after serving for nine years as a program officer at the Joyce Foundation (one of Chicago's largest liberal foundations) Chapman was named head of contributions and community relations for Bank One, and later served as the vice president for Corporate Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. Incidentally, Obama served as a board member of the Joyce Foundation from 1998 until 2001, and if one was so inclined one can draw extremely tenuous connections between the Joyce Foundation and Woolsey. This is because the current chair of the Joyce Foundation, John Anderson, is a board member of a group called Border Trade Alliance, whose board members include two Booz Allen Hamilton employees, Daniel Dreyfus (a Senior Associate) and Kirk Lanz (a Senior Consultant). Woolsey is of course vice president for Global Strategic Security at Booz Allen Hamilton. Another separate and tenuous link between the Joyce Foundation and Woolsey comes through Project for a New American Century signatory, Craig Kennedy, who presently serves alongside Woolsey's wife on the board of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and previously served as the president of the Joyce Foundation from 1986 until 1992. Incidentally, Kennedy has been president of the German Marshall Fund since 1995.

Zunes moves on to attempt to dismantle another of my arguments, when he argues that I "tried to discredit ICNC through one of its senior advisors, Shaazka Beyerle... for having served alongside the now-World Bank President Robert Zoellick on the board of the European Institute, a public policy forum on transatlantic relations." Although one would be forgiven for not realizing it, this link was just one among many others I identified that demonstrated the dubious backgrounds of most of the people associated with the ICNC. Beyerle, however, was no ordinary board member: she is the founding vice president of the European Institute. Launched in 1989 by Jacqueline Grapin, one current board member of the European Institute is former World Trade Organization President, Peter Sutherland, and current advisors include Michael Haltzel, who acted as senior foreign policy advisor (1994-2005) to Joe Biden, and Eric D.K. Melby, a senior fellow at the Forum for International Policy -- a group whose board of trustees includes the former head of the CIA, Robert Gates. Finally, Jacqueline Grapin who served as the president of the European Institute from 1989 through 2005, is a member of the British-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (whose US-branch counts Peter Ackerman among its board of directors), was an emeritus trustee of the elite-planning group, the Aspen Institute, and is a board member of the "humanitarian" organization Action Against Hunger in New York. Notable funders of Action Against Hunger's work include USAID, Morgan Stanley, and the Blackstone Group.

Returning to tenuous connections, Zunes asserts that my analyses demonstrate how "CIA cooties are contracted by the NED, which are then spread to Human Rights Watch, which are thereby picked up by board member [Joanne] Leedom-Ackerman, who passes them on to her husband, who then infects ICNC." Zunes thereby points out the "absurdity of attacking ICNC and its work as a result of such tenuous connections." Yet I did not make the connections in such a simplistic manner. Instead this and other articles demonstrate the work of the CIA and NED are tightly enmeshed; Human Rights Watch's history is intimately tied with the CIA haunting ground, the Council on Foreign Relations, while Human Rights Watch's founding chair, Robert Bernstein, presently serves as the chair of the NED-funded Human Rights in China; Joanne Leedom-Ackerman serves on the chairman's advisory council of the US Institute of Peace, and as a board member of the NED-funded International Center for Journalists; Joanne's husband, Peter, is in turn a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations, chair of Freedom House, and serves on the US advisory council of the US Institute of Peace. Such linkages are clearly not the result of any conspiracy theories lurking in my imagination, but are an artifact of the actual existing connections (far from tenuous) that exist in the present day.

Finally, it is also interesting that Zunes writes of himself that: "As someone who has been listed by such prominent conservatives as Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, and Sean Hannity as being among the most 'dangerous' and 'anti-American' left-wing professors in the country, such charges against me have more than a little irony." More irony comes when it is known that Daniel Pipes (the arch neoconservative and right-wing Zionist) was temporarily appointed (in 2004) by George W. Bush to the board of directors of US Institute of Peace. Furthermore, for a discussion of the relevance of Horowitz's work to understanding Zunes' position, see my recent article "Capital-driven Civil Society." On top of this, Sean Hannity (an infamous right-wing media pundit) happens to be, like David Horowitz, a leading critic of liberal democracy-manipulators like George Soros, although needless to say his motivations are very different from my own.  (back)

23.  According to William I. Robinson "in January 1983, Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 77 [pdf] (NSDD77), which laid out a comprehensive framework for employing political operations and psychological warfare in US foreign policy." Robinson continues: "NSDD 77 focused on three aspects of Project Democracy. One aspect was dubbed 'public diplomacy' -- psychological operations aimed at winning support for US foreign policy among the US public and the international community -- and involved an expansion of propaganda and informational and psychological operations. The directive defined 'public diplomacy' as 'those actions of the US Government designed to generate support for our national security objectives.' An Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) operating out of the White House was established. The General Accounting Office rules OPD an illegal domestic propaganda operation in 1988. Another aspect set out in the NSC directive was an expansion of covert operations. This aspect would develop into the clandestine, illegal government operations later exposed in the hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. Parallel to 'the public arm of Project Democracy, now known as the National Endowment for Democracy,' noted that New York Times, 'the project's secret arm took an entirely different direction after Lieut.-Col. Oliver I. North, then an obscure National Security Council aide, was appointed to head it.'" William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.91-2.  (back)

24.  Joan Roelofs make the same point in her landmark critique of liberal philanthropy, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003). Roelofs highlights the problem: "When the media is examined for bias and control, critics tend to focus on government and/or corporate influence; foundations are barely noticed. We cannot assume lack of bias without further examination." It is commonsense that reference books "are a source for conventional wisdom" but as Roelofs points out "The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1930-1935) was funded by the Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Russell Sage foundations, and its successor, The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, was organized by the Ford Foundation and commercially produced. The connections between foundations and reference materials and the funding of scholarly and professional journals could use an avid researcher." (p.58) Similarly then: "Databases require the same analysis as reference books. Some provide excellent information (although foundation funded): the Center for Responsive Politics and Project Vote Smart (both for campaign funding and other information about representatives); the National Security Archives (selected declassified CIA documents), and others. Government information is copious and increasingly userfriendly: Thomas (U.S. Congress), the General Accounting Office, and the Environmental Protection Agency are fine examples." (p.62)  (back)

25.  For further details see my recent article "Instrumentalizing Press Freedom: 'Independent Journalism Organizations and the National Endowment for Democracy. "Incidentally, Sheila Coronel is a member of the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists -- a group whose director, David Kaplan, served as the "principal writer" for the inaugural report of the NED's recently launched imperial media manipulator, the misnamed Center for International Media Assistance.  (back)

26.  The Project on Justice in Times of Transition's Web site states that it "brings together individuals from a broad spectrum of countries to share experiences in ending conflict, building civil society and fostering peaceful coexistence." The Project was created in 1992 by Wendy Luers and Timothy Phillips, and is an "independent program of the Foundation for a Civil Society in New York working in collaboration with the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University." To tease out this group's strong democracy-manipulating roots, the following will review the backgrounds of the Project's two cofounders, and will then look at some of the members of their strategy committee and advisory board.

First and foremost, Wendy Luers -- who is currently a co-chair of Project on Justice in Times of Transition -- is the president of the Foundation for a Civil Society, a group that was established in 1990 to support "projects that strengthen the forces of democracy, civil society, the rule of law and a free-market economy in the Czech and Slovak Republic." Luers's biographical details were recently discussed here, but perhaps most significantly for the purposes of this article, Luers is a member of the CIA-linked International Rescue Committee's leadership council on children in armed conflict.

The second co-founder and co-chair of Project on Justice in Times of Transition is Timothy Phillips (who is also a director of the Foundation for a Civil Society). His biography notes that he has served as a consultant on "democratization, conflict resolution and human rights initiatives" to NGOs and governments all over the world, including at the US State Department and the Council of Europe, and he is a former board member of the CIA-linked International Rescue Committee. Phillips also serves on the advisory board of Coexistence Initiative, a project based at Brandeis University that describes itself as being "an initiative committed to strengthening the field of policymakers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, organizations and networks promoting coexistence at local, national and international levels." Other advisors of this project with notable democracy-manipulating credentials include Dekha Ibrahim Abdi (who works for Development Alternatives Inc. amongst other groups), Mohammed Abu-Nimer (who serves on a number of review boards for the US Institute of Peace), Stella Sabiiti (who is the founder and executive director of the Ugandan-based Center for Conflict Resolution -- a group that has received support from USAID and the British equivalent of the NED, the Westminster Foundation), Paul van Tongeren (who is the executive director of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention -- a group that receives funding from the US Institute of Peace), and Howard Wolpe (who is a NED board member).

Now that the two founders of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition have been introduced it is appropriate to briefly examine some of the people who sit on the Project's strategy committee and advisory board. Thus notably "democratic" members of the strategy committee include, M. Bernard Aidinoff, Bernard Aronson, Brian Atwood, Harry G. Barnes, Jr., Robert P. DeVecchi, Jorge I. Dominguez, James F. Hoge, Jr., Samantha Power, John Shattuck, John Biehl, Antonia Handler Chayes, John H. Coatsworth, Deborah Harding, and Nancy Soderberg. Similarly notable members of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition's advisory board include George C. Biddle, Richard J. Goldstone, Vaclav Havel, Adam Michnik, Alex Boraine, Jose Zalaquett, and Rose Styron.  (back)

27.  Betty Bumpers also presently serves as a director of the NED-funded Vital Voices Global Partnership. Like Betty, another former executive director of Peace Links, Laurie Fulton, until recently served as a board member of the US Institute of Peace. The Solarz-Bumpers connection is particularly interesting because Betty Bumpers is married to Dale Bumpers, who according to Thomas Carothers was a vocal opponent of the NED during the 1980s.  (back)

28.  Philip Agee, On the Run (Lyle Stuart, 1987), p.101.

As might expect the CIA is hardly an operation that is amenable to democratic reform. Agee pointed out in his book On the Run, even after the year-long inquiries of the "House investigation under Otis Pike, and Senate investigation under Frank Church... In terms of reform or control of covert intervention, the most those investigations produced were establishment of intelligence oversight committees in both chambers, and recommendations for possible future legislation." He adds that "there were a few victories still. A couple of weeks after the House of Representatives voted to allow the White House to censor the Pike committee's report, someone leaked it to the Village Voice. It was sensational, with details of CIA intervention in foreign elections, paramilitary operations and propaganda -- along with damaging revelations of the Agency's intelligence failures." Yet despite all the public revelations of the CIA's illegal activities President Ford "seized the initiative and promulgated a 'reform' program of his own for the CIA and other intelligence agencies. By Executive Order he established new charters and duties, hyping it all as 'reform,' when in fact he made 'legal' many activities considered to be 'abuses' in the past." Moreover, the "only restriction on covert intervention in other countries was a prohibition of political assassinations. For nearly every other apparent restriction, exceptions were provided. In fact the Ford "reforms" were a license for operations that must have truly pleased the Agency." (p.143)  (back)

29.  Although he passed away earlier this year, Agee became an important critic of the National Endowment for Democracy and his long-time colleague William Schaap (who helped Agee found the Covert Action Information Bulletin in 1978) presently serves as Legal Counsel for the International Endowment for Democracy -- a group that was set up in 2006 and is dedicated critiquing the NED and to "promoting real democracy in the country that needs it most, the USA."  (back)

30.  In 1999, James Petras wrote in his classic article "NGOs: In the Service of Imperialism" (pdf), that: "Today most left movement and popular spokespeople focus their criticism on the IMF, World Bank, multi-national corporations, private banks, etc. who fix the macroeconomic agenda for the pillage of the Third World. This is an important task. However, the assault on the industrial base, independence and living standards of the Third World takes place on both the macro-economic and the micro-socio-political level. The egregious effects of structural adjustment policies on wages and salaried workers, peasants and small national businesspeople generates potential national popular discontent. And that is where the NGOs come into the picture to mystify and deflect that discontent away from direct attacks on the corporate/banking power structure and profits toward local micro-projects and apolitical 'grass roots' self-exploitation and 'popular education' that avoids class analysis of imperialism and capitalist exploitation."  (back)


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About the Author

Michael Barker has recently handed in his PhD thesis at Griffith University in Australia. His other articles can be accessed at michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published November 17, 2008