Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

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.

Recent Features



Display Date 

Add your content or connect to a database.


Recent Publications

The Saudi Lobby in 2020

by Ben Freeman

At every turn, however, the Saudi monarchy has been able to rely on an expansive and entrenched collection of lobbying and public relations firms in the U.S. that have worked to minimize the damage from these transgressions. Despite the best efforts of the Saudi lob- by, it has become increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia has lost the battle for the Beltway and seen its influence in Washington dramatically decline. In response, the Kingdom has done what any monarchy with millions to spend on influence in America might do: shift its influence operations to the states.

Restoring Trust in the Think Tank Sector

by Ben Freeman

Given public distrust of the U.S. policymaking process, think tanks have a valuable opportunity to take tangible and necessary steps to help reinstill public confidence in the government’s ability to address our nation’s economic, health, environmental, and foreign policy challenges.

The Taiwan Lobby

by Holly Zhang and Ben Freeman

American democracy has continually seen influence domestically from international players pushing their own portfolio of preferences. Taiwan's complicated relationship with China and their uniqueness as a state barring for sovereignty are no exception, in an effort to maintain a democratic stronghold the island of Taiwan lobbies within American borders. In this new report, a full analysis of these lobbying efforts is conducted and synthesized.

Recent Proposals to Amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act: A Survey

by Ben Freeman, Brian Steiner, and Tarun Krishnakumar

This Policy Brief surveys recent proposals to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act to identify key trends and areas of focus.

The South Korea Lobby

by Ben Freeman

The government of South Korea has a vested interest in attempting to sway U.S. foreign policy in its favor, and spends tens-of-millions every year on Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registered lobbying and public relations firms. The FARA filings examined in this report reveal what these firms are doing for a South Korea that seeks to strengthen all of its economic, cultural, political, and military ties with the U.S.

Latest News

As CBO Shows How to Cut $1 Trillion From Pentagon, Progressives Urge Spending on 'True Security'

William Hartung and Ben Freeman cited

Arms and Security Program, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Progressive foreign policy experts on Thursday pointed to a new Congressional Budget Office report that concludes it is possible to slash a trillion dollars in military spending over the coming decade without reducing force effectiveness as further proof that the United States can and should prioritize investments in tackling pandemics, inequality, and the climate crisis.

Top UAE officials named in illegal US influence operation

By Ben Freeman

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

The Emiratis continue their illicit campaigns undermining American democracy without consequence.

UAE officials met with Trump ally charged in lobbying case, Bloomberg says

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, said the naming of the Emirati officials shows that Abu Dhabi is not the US ally it appears to be.

Senior UAE officials, including MBZ, met with Trump insider Tom Barrack: Report

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

"The UAE officials being named means this was a conspiracy to interfere in US politics coordinated by the very top of the UAE government. After this revelation, anyone that thinks the UAE is a 'friend' of the US should think twice. Friends don't illegally interfere in each other's democracies," said Freeman.

Intelligence Contract Funneled to Pro-War Think Tank Establishment

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

“With so many think tanks getting a slice of the Pentagon budget, it’s not surprising that the Washington think tank choir sings the Pentagon’s praises,” said Ben Freeman