Excerpted from source watch
Posted on August 15th, 2015

by Gandara John

National Endowment for Democracy – Interfering in Elections, Polls monitoring and Cultivating the ‘Free Press’ 

(Several organisations in Sri Lanka are funded by NED and include BASL, Transparency international and CPA)

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a Washington D.C-based quasi-governmental organization funded by the U.S. which boasts that it is “supporting freedom around the world.”[1]

Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the NED, explained in 1991:

A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA[2]

Most of the NED, and its affiliated organizations, deals with influencing political processes abroad. The means employed range from influencing civil society, media, fostering business groups, lending support to preferred politicians/political parties, election monitoring, and fostering human rights groups.

Depending on the level of development of the political system and the sophistication of politicians, different strategies are applied. In underdeveloped countries (e.g., Haiti), it involves developing the civil infrastructure/civil society groups, human right monitoring groups, and especially, bonding with the country’s business elite.

In more advanced countries, with a civil society base, the focus is on fostering politicians/elite who favor the neo-liberal economic/political model.

From the NED’s website it is evident that the principal regions where it seeks to influence political outcomes are Asia, the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, some countries in Latin America, and Africa.[3]

NED funding mostly flows through the four foundations listed below; these in turn are active in influencing “civil society” and electoral processes around the world, in a process sometimes referred to as “cloak and ballot” operations.

While NED remains accountable to the US Congress and has to publish its disbursements, this doesn’t apply to the organizations that it in turn finances.

  • There are many other groups undertaking similar activities around the world, and one witnesses today a proliferation of these groups promoting Democracy primarily in the Middle East. While “human rights” was the favored theme some decades ago, now the key word indicating political manipulation is “democracy”. All these organizations are loosely modeled after the German model where early on the German government funded party-affiliated organizations meant to influence political processes elsewhere in the world.


NED was founded during the Ronald Reagan presidency in 1982, and shaped by an initial study undertaken by the American Political Foundation.[4]

NED was created with a view to creating a broad base of political support for the organization. NED received funds from the U.S. government and distributes funds to four other organizations – one created by the Republican Party, another by the Democratic Party, one created by the business community and one by the “labor” movement (N.B.: the names of these organizations have changed over time):

Although publicly funded, the activities of these four institutes are not reported to Congress. According to William Robinson, “NED employs a complex system of intermediaries in which operative aspects, control relationships, and funding trails are nearly impossible to follow and final recipients are difficult to identify.”

In a March 2005 interview, former CIA officer Philip Agee discussed the thinking behind NED’s establishment:[5]

During the late 1970s there was new thinking at the highest levels of the U.S. foreign policymakers, and they reconsidered whether these ugly murderous military dictatorships of the 1970s were really the best way to preserve U.S. interests in these countries – U.S. interests being defined traditionally as unfettered access to the primary products and raw materials, to the labor and to the markets of foreign countries.

This new thinking led to the establishment in 1983 of the National Endowment for Democracy. They had chosen the German pattern in which the major political parties in Germany have foundations financed by the federal government. They did more or less the same thing with the establishment of the NED as a private foundation – there is really nothing private about it, and all its money comes from the Congress.

But then there were the other core foundations – this was the fundamental mechanism for promotion of democracy around the world, but in actual fact, when they say the promotion of democracy, or civic education, or fortifying civil society, what they really mean is using those euphemisms to cover funding to certain political forces and not to others.

In other words, to fortify the opposition of undesirable foreign governments as in the case of Venezuela, or to support a government that is favorable to US interests and avoid of coming to power of forces that are not seen as favorable to US interests.

This will be the case since the early 1990s in Nicaragua because all those programs that were started in order to assure the defeat of Daniel Ortega in 1990 continued, and they continued to make sure that Sandinista Front was not reelected again after their defeat in 1990 – and that has been the case.

These programs go on in various different countries and they require quite a bit of research. … I am sure that one could find these programs in Mexico, Colombia, Peru probably, Brazil, and other countries outside the Latin American region.

Involvement in Foreign Political Processes

NED regularly provides funding to opposition candidates in elections in countries other than the USA.

According to Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, “A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA” (Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, 2000, p. 180).

NED has principally supported candidates with strong ties to the military and who support the rights of U.S. corporations to invest in those countries with minimal restriction.

The NED has not supported candidates who oppose investments by U.S. corporations or who promise restrictions on investment rights of U.S. corporations.

Tom Engelhardt notes that “we’ve seen “the Rose Revolution” in Georgia, “the Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, and now “the Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan, all heavily financed and backed by groups funded by or connected to the U.S. government and/or the Bush administration.”[6] He then quotes Pepe Escobar, who writes:

“The whole arsenal of US foundations — National Endowment for Democracy, International Republic Institute, International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), Eurasia Foundation, Internews, among others — which fueled opposition movements in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, has also been deployed in Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan]…

Practically everything that passes for civil society in Kyrgyzstan is financed by these US foundations, or by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

At least 170 non-governmental organizations charged with development or promotion of democracy have been created or sponsored by the Americans. The US State Department has operated its own independent printing house in Bishkek since 2002 — which means printing at least 60 different titles, including a bunch of fiery opposition newspapers.

USAID invested at least $2 million prior to the Kyrgyz elections — quite something in a country where the average salary is $30 a month.”[7]

Revolving Doorways

The close alignment of the NEDs activities with US foreign policy interests comes as no surprise, especially when you consider the revolving doorways between the US Government and the NED Board of Directors, some of the most notable of which include:

“…former US Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger (Nixon) and Madeleine Albright (Clinton), former US Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci (Reagan), former National Security Council Chair Zbigniew Brzezinski (Carter), former NATO Supreme Allied Command in Europe, General Wesley K. Clark (Clinton), and the current head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz (George W. Bush). Another notable, Bill Brock, served as a US Senator, a US Trade Representative, and US Secretary of Labor, and then Chairman of the Board of NED.” [7]

Fostering “Free Press”

In late 2004, Adam Wild Aba wrote, “The new intelligence law also directs the State Department to promote a free press and the development of ‘professional journalists’ in the Muslim world.

It says free press is a must as part of the overall public diplomacy strategy for the Middle East, according to the State Department’s statement. Under the law, the National Endowment for Democracy shall fund a private-sector group to establish a free-media network to help participants share information concerning development of free media in ‘societies in transition’.”[8]

NED also supports the nonprofit organization Internews which encourages media worldwide to “promote democracy”.

In 2004, Internews had a budget of $27 million, 80 percent of which came from the U.S. government.

Covert embedded reporters

Several articles about the political process in Haiti, Iraq, and the Palestinian-occupied territories have appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and other mainstream US media. The impression is given that the articles are from bona fide journalists, but it transpires that several of them are paid by the NED or its affiliated organizations.

The case of Regine Alexandre is particularly interesting. She wrote articles for the New York Times, AP, and commented on NPR. It transpires that she is on the NED payroll, and the NED confirmed this fact. However, when confronted with this information both the NYT and NPR failed to respond or take this seriously.

Source: Anthony Fenton and Dennis Bernstein, “AP reporter RéGINE is wearing two hats,” Haiti Action.net, December 29, 2005.

Conducting polls

NED (or its satellite organizations) has been active in conducting election exit polls in Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela. These results were used on occasion to cast doubt on the actual election results, and thus deligitimize the winner of the election, and thus create pressure for an election re-run. [9]

In December 2004, the NED-association organization International Republican Institute conducted a survey in Iraq to determine the popular intent to vote. It found that 75% of Iraqis would opt to vote, thus lending some legitimacy to the electoral exercise. However, IRI didn’t poll the key cities where the insurgency is strong, i.e., Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul. [10]

Such surveys lend legitimacy to so-called demonstration elections, or discredit electoral outcomes when the “wrong” candidate wins/or could win.

3 Responses to “Excerpted from source watch”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Well done … this is a much needed EXPOSE of the means by which the United States topples foreign governments without benefitting either itself or the people it pretends to assist!

    Almost ALL of the $25 million or so per year that the USG spends on “AID” is for “democracy enhancement”, “advancement of human rights” and “good governance”, not ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT in any way.

    These funds are AWARDED to CAPTIVE NGOs who are totally dependent on these funds, and whose performance in undermining and destabilizing the societies in the targeted countries, determines the level of their continued funding in the service of their master.

    All these HIGH FALUTING WORDS describing their “Goals” are really euphemisms for promoting the Neocolonial agenda of the United States at the expense of the national interests of the peoples of those countries.

    The NGOs who serve as their tools are NOTHING MORE than OUTRIGHT TRAITORS to their countries, serving a foreign power against their own motherland.

    If the RECORD of the United States in PROMOTING “democracy” in developing nations was good, then there would be defensible case to be made that it is a BENIGN ACTIVITY. Unfortunately, the RECORD of the United States in PROMOTING Democracy by destabilizing foreign governments has been ABSYMAL and has led to the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of human beings across the world.

    Examples abound, but Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Ukraine, Sudan, Palestine and many South American nations come to mind. Everywhere, the US has REAPED more ENMITY than GRATITUDE!But the US Govt goes its merry way destroying all it touches in countries the LEST ABLE to afford the chaos and destruction it sows. I SIMPLY don’t understand how the United States CONTINUALLY FAILS TO LEARN from its own OBVIOUS MISTAKES!

    I wish the US government would take a close hard look at how MONUMENTALLY UNSUCCESSFUL it has been in its regime change activities, and the death and impoverishment of millions of people it has caused around the world, and PUT A STOP to this criminal and IMMORAL behavior.

    America the beuatiful, the Land of Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights DESERVES better from its political leaders. The US should be LOVED by the world’s most impoverished people; not HATED by them for destroying the LITTLE ALL they have in their lives.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Oops! I meant to say ….

    “Almost ALL of the $25 million or so per year that the USG spends on “AID” in Sri Lanka ….

  3. Techno Says:

    This information is easily accessible. Its deeply unfortunate the previous Government did NOTHING.
    Ban a few, jail members for various crimes and tax the hell out of the rest.
    These people (traitors in SL) only care for money. So HIT THEM where it hurts.
    All these traitors, NGOs, Media, UNP etc LOVE MONEY. So deny them this. Make their lives and that of their friends/families incredibly difficult to force them to fall in line. Its how the US using the FBI dealt with “suspected” communists back in the 50s and 60s and is something the West as a whole does with other potential traitors they may face –> to the point that committing such treason does not enter the minds of people in the media etc.

    Sadly in SL open treason is NEVER punished.
    MR never punished it when he should have.

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