Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where the $$$$ trail leads...

The vigilantes and shadow lobbyists who assailed Chas Freeman claimed that he was on the Saudi dole, which Freeman denies and which remains completely undocumented insofar as I know. Here Ken Silverstein of Harper's puts the finances of the Middle East Policy Council and rival policy-oriented Washington think-tanks into perspective.

[Full disclosure: I am a member of the MEPC National Advisory Board and I know Ambassador Freeman. Members of the Advisory Board serve pro bono, receive no compensation, and are kept "in the loop" on MEPC activities, usually by email.]

Chas Freeman and Saudi Money—By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine): "Freeman headed the Middle East Policy Council. I’m not sure how much Saudi money flows to the think tank, but it can’t be much. I checked the firm’s non-profit disclosure form for 2007 and its total receipts for the year were $731,000, and it had assets of $1.3 million. Freeman was paid $87,000 that year.

"Compare that to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank that is overwhelmingly supportive of Israel and whose board includes Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Martin Peretz. Its receipts for 2007 came to $11.9 million, and it had $26.5 million in assets. Robert Satloff, the institute’s executive director, was paid $307,000. Dennis Ross, now the Obama administration’s special adviser on Iran, was paid $208,000 for duties as a “Distinguished Fellow.”

"Then there’s the equally pro-Israel American Enterprise Institute, from where a number of prominent Bush Administration employees came. It had assets of $77 million in 2006 (the last year for which I could find its disclosure form at the Foundation Center), and receipts of $56 million."

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