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


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Recent Publications

The Emirati Lobby: How the UAE Wins in Washington

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.

by Ben Freeman


Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending

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...

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


The Saudi Lobby in 2018

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.

by Ben Freeman


The Saudi Lobby: How the Kingdom Wins in Washington

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.

by Ben Freeman


Making Sense of Foreign Agents Registration Act Advisory Opinions

The first comprehensive list of Advisory Options under FARA...

by Sarah Jolley, Hannah Poteete, Ben Freeman


Latest News

Tomgram: Ryan Summers and Ben Freeman, Of, By, and For Them (Not Us)


Foreign influence in America is the topic du jour. From the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s request that a foreign power investigate a political opponent to the indictment of associates of his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections, the nation has been transfixed by news of illegal foreign influence in the political process. While such efforts to subvert American elections garner headlines, there remains a treasure trove of perfectly legal ways foreign powers are subverting American democracy. And they’re not waiting for election day -- they’re doing it every single day of the year.

by Ryan Summers and Ben Freeman

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Uber CEO Under Fire for Downplaying Saudi Kingdom's Murder of Khashoggi as a 'Mistake'


Uber's ultra-millionaire CEO Dara Khosrowshahi came under fire Sunday for downplaying the Saudi kingdom's gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a "mistake" comparable to technological malfunctions in self-driving cars. "It's a serious mistake," Khosrowshahi told Axios in an interview that aired late Sunday. "We've made mistakes, too—with self-driving, and we stopped driving and we're recovering from that mistake. I think that people make mistakes, it doesn't mean they can never be forgiven. I think they have taken it seriously."

William Hartung and Ben Freeman quoted

Arms & Security Project

The Lobbying Industry Is Shadowy and Full of Loopholes. Here’s What You Need to Know


As the House impeachment saga unfolds in frantic and dramatic fashion, it’s easy to forget the spark that instigated the proceedings began with something as pedestrian as political donations opening the door to lobbying on behalf of foreign interests.

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Foreign Money Flows Into US Politics


Untold amounts of foreign donations are flowing into America's political system, with little accountability or limits.

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

"Foreign Money Flows Into US Politics"


Untold amounts of foreign donations are flowing into America's political system, with little accountability or limits. Although election experts say it's impossible to accurately estimate the extent of foreign financial influence over U.S. elections, many agree it has increased substantially since a landmark Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago opened the flood gates.

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Center for International Policy

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