FOREIGN INFLUENCE TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

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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
ISSUE BRIEF
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
REPORT
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

LATEST NEWS

October 19, 2021

What Buying the Support of Top Think Tanks Gets You

By Taylor Giorno

With nearly $2 trillion for nuclear modernization on the table over the next three decades, it’s no surprise major nuclear weapons contractors are doing everything in their power to capture these coveted, costly projects. Capitol Hill is no stranger to the revolving door of lobbyists that funnel in and out of its hallowed halls.

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.

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.

EXPERTS

Ben Freeman

Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative
  • Gordon Adams, Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center and professor in the U.S. Foreign Policy program at the School of International Service, American University

  • Amy Belasco, former Specialist for the Defense Budget of the Congressional Research Service

  • Neta Crawford, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at Boston University

  • Matt Fay, former Director of Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Niskanen Center

  • Ben Friedman, Senior Fellow and Defense Scholar at Defense Priorities

  • Laicie Heeley, CEO of Inkstick, Host of Things That Go Boom

  • John King, Founder, King and Brown Company LLC

  • Larry Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and adjunct professor at Georgetown University

  • Lindsay Koshgarian, Program Director, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies

  • Miriam Pemberton, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies

  • Mandy Smithberger, Director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

  • Col. Larry Wilkerson (Ret.), Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, William & Mary

  • Col. Isaiah "Ike" Wilson (Ret.), director, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College​

  • CIP Senior Associate Carl Conetta was a consultant to the project

ABOUT

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.


The Initiative believes that promoting transparency is the best tool for highlighting the impact – potentially for both good and ill – of foreign influence on American democracy. To this end, it works to devise policy solutions to increase the incentives for agents to properly register and report the work they are doing on behalf of foreign powers and to make the details of such contracts and work publicly available.


FITI also seeks to highlight how advocacy campaigns implemented on behalf of foreign powers have successfully influenced U.S. foreign policy, particularly lobbying that promotes a more militarized U.S. foreign policy. Finally, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is dedicated to increasing public education about the role foreign powers play within American democracy. Efforts to accomplish this goal include collaborating with journalists to highlight corruption in the foreign influence industry and working with policymakers to devise solutions that minimize the ill effects of undue foreign influence.