Ben Freeman

Ben Freeman

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.


July 29, 2021

Towards Global Best Practices for Regulating Foreign Influence

by Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

This Issue Brief aims to take the first steps to contribute to the fledgling
discourse by highlighting key policy questions that the proliferation of transparency-based responses to foreign influence campaigns raise and will raise. In particular, the focus will be on issues that they must seek to resolve in order to offer balanced but effective outcomes in the modern democratic context.

Towards Global Best Practices for Regulating Foreign Influence
June 24, 2021

What the COVID-19 Pandemic has Meant for Foreign Influence

by Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

This brief aims to add to the discourse by, for the first time, studying how foreign influence and lobbying activities have interplayed with the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, this brief aims to conduct a preliminary survey of how the scale of these activities have been affected by the pandemic and how substantive issues around the pandemic have become the subject, object, or channel of foreign influence activities. By doing so, this brief aims to throw light on how the pandemic has interplayed with important themes around public health, global inequality, as well as the practice of lobbying and influence bartering. It aims to serve as a foundation for future research around these themes.

What the COVID-19 Pandemic has Meant for Foreign Influence
May 12, 2021

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.

The Saudi Lobby in 2020


October 7, 2021

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

William Hartung and Ben Freeman cited

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.

September 29, 2021

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

Ben Freeman quoted

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.

September 30, 2021

Top UAE officials named in illegal US influence operation

By Ben Freeman

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

September 28, 2021

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

Ben Freeman quoted

"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.