BEN FREEMAN

Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

bfreeman@internationalpolicy.org

Dr. Ben Freeman is the Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, where he works to expose how foreign governments are influencing U.S. public policy and elections. This work builds upon his book, The Foreign Policy Auction, which was the first book to systematically analyze the foreign influence industry in the U.S.

Before launching the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, Dr. Freeman was the Deputy Director of the National Security program at Third Way. Prior to joining Third Way, he served as the National Security Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight from 2011 to 2013, where he spear-headed creation of the “Foreign Influence Database,” a repository of propaganda distributed by foreign agents that was previously unavailable online.

Dr. Freeman earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, completing a dissertation that investigated the ability of foreign governments to effectively lobby for economic and military assistance from the United States. Upon graduation, Dr. Freeman taught in the Political Science Department and the Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M. His work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, and CNN, and he has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Recent Publications

Report: Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America

by Ben Freeman

Jan-29-2020

Think tanks vary considerably in terms of their objectives and organization, but many think tanks in Washington D.C. share a common trait—they receive substantial financial support from foreign governments. While these are often democracies with interests closely aligned with those of the U.S., a significant number of these foreign donors are undemocratic, authoritarian regimes whose aims often diverge significantly from U.S. interests. In a variety of instances, the public has learned that this foreign funding can significantly influence think tanks’ work. It can lead to a think tank producing reports favorable to a foreign power, think tank experts offering Congressional testimony in support of a foreign powers’ interests, or its scholars working closely with a foreign funders’ registered lobbyists.

Report: The Emirati Lobby: How the UAE Wins in Washington

by Ben Freeman

Oct-15-2019

How has the UAE maintained its privileged status? In short, the UAE has a vast and immensely influential lobbying and public relations campaign in America that has allowed the monarchy to exert considerable sway over U.S. policy, while keeping the UAE’s indiscretions largely hidden. In this report we attempt to tell the story of that influence operation.

Report: Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending

Sustainable Defense Task Force, co-directed by William Hartung and Ben Freeman

Jun-19-2019

An alternative defense strategy that avoids unnecessary and counterproductive wars, reduces the U.S. global military footprint, takes a more realistic view of the major security challenges facing the United States, and reduces waste and inefficiency could save at least $1.2 trillion in projected spending over the next decade while providing a greater measure of security...

Report: The Saudi Lobby in 2018

by Ben Freeman

Apr-17-2019

If the findings in this report are any indication, the Saudi lobby in Washington is feverishly contacting Executive branch officials and Congressional offices to stymie legislation that would punish Saudi Arabia for its actions, and they’re likely making campaign contributions to those same Members of Congress.

Report: The Saudi Lobby: How the Kingdom Wins in Washington

by Ben Freeman

Oct-30-2018

The brutal murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey has placed newfound and long overdue scrutiny on Saudi Arabia’s influence operation in the United States.

Latest News

Nuclear Arms Nightmare: Don't Let New START Die

by Ben Freeman and Colleen Moore

Apr-8-2020

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

If New START expires, or either party withdraws without a replacement treaty, America and Russia would be free to build up their nuclear arsenals. There would be nothing left to restrain the new nuclear arms race, and both countries would lose insight into the other’s nuclear arsenals. This move would reverse decades of bipartisan and international cooperation to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons.

U.S. Government Documents Detailing American Law Firm’s Work For Moscow Firm Puzzles Experts

Ben Freeman quoted

Apr-2-2020

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Ben Freeman, the Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center For International Policy and FARA expert said, “That’s so interesting, because none of that, reading their exact words, actually would require FARA registration. Where it could cross over, say, if they’re at a congressional briefing, telling a Congressman to do something to benefit their foreign client, that would trigger FARA, but it based on what they put here, this is just information collection”.

Don’t let the Saudis use coronavirus concerns to hide their crimes

by Sunjeev Bery and Ben Freeman

Mar-24-2020

Freedom Forward and Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Saudi Arabia has just offered to host a “Virtual” G20 summit, bringing the world’s leaders together to address the coronavirus pandemic. While the world absolutely needs much better international coordination in response to this catastrophic pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s ruling family is one of the last governments we should want convening a conversation on solving any humanitarian crisis, let alone a crisis of this magnitude.

Bloomberg’s NYPD Cozied Up To A Middle East Human Rights Abuser

Ben Freeman quoted

Feb-27-2020

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

“This fits a pattern that we’ve seen with Emirati influence in the U.S…. they really spread their influence around."

Qatar brings on Republican lawmakers for new GOP push

Ben Freeman quoted

Feb-25-2020

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

“If you hire a congressman to represent you, that congressman is much more likely to have their former colleagues open their doors, answer their phone calls and grant meetings,” Freeman said. After that happens, he added, “then it’s just easier for them to make their pitch on behalf of one of these foreign powers.”

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