Sunday, August 26, 2012

CIA's Freedom House: A House of Destruction

CIA’s Freedom House: A house of destruction

Saturday, 25 August 2012 19:36
Phyllis Kachere
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Describing itself as a “clear voice for democ­racy and freedom around the world”, Freedom House has a history of mud­dying the politi­cal waters of targeted nations.

Freedom House was formed in the United States in 1941 to counter iso­lationism and to support the Mar­shall Plan, and has largely been sup­ported by US federal funding.

According to the US Institute of Policy Studies, in 2001 Freedom House had and income of around US$11 million, increasing to over US$26 million in 2006.

“Much of the increase was due to a rise between 2004 and 2005 in US gov­ernment federal funding, from US$12 million to US$20 million. Fed­eral funding fell to around US$10 mil­lion in 2007, but still repre­sented around 80 percent of Free­dom House’s budget,” read a state­ment on the Inter Press Service (IPS) website.

The strong financial links between the US government and Freedom House have resulted in critics ques­tioning how an organi­sation that claims to be independent could be funded by a government which it seeks to be independent from.

These strong links have cemented suspi­cions that Freedom House is indeed used by the US government to do hatchet jobs on nations deemed to be threats to America.

When Freedom House released what they said were findings of a new public opinion poll on Zimbabwe on Thursday, it was not surprising that political analysts were left wondering what the American CIA-spon­sored agent was up to this time.

UK-based Zimbabwean law lec­turer and political analyst Dr Alex Magaisa opined on his Facebook page:

“Research itself is a site of struggle — sometimes between researchers or between the researcher and the researched or indeed, among the researched. It is important to bear in mind always, that research is not an inno­cent exercise but is invariably designed toward certain goals; cer­tain agendas; with the researchers them­selves being critical actors.

There is invariably always an agenda, albeit unsaid, behind research.

“So when you look at a survey or research, you have to go outside the narrow focus on the results and inter­pretations and ask the hard question: What is the agenda behind this sur­vey? It could be to wake up; it could be to lull.

“It is a question that both the posi­tively represented and the negatively represented have to bear in mind. Either way, you have to look at a sur­vey or research generally with a criti­cally aware eye and mind.”

Responding to Dr Magaisa’s post, Mr Miri­rai Smart said:

“Strategists know what popularity surveys and not research aim at. Most people are always fooled almost all the time by such stu­pid gimmicks which either are meant to lull unliked politi­cians into undeserved self-praise and therefore into a lull or gal­vanise the supposed survey unpopu­lar to gird their loins into action, which may be the real intent of such.

“People get fully emotionally charged and frustrated either into action or inaction as a result. Which is what strategists par excel­lence aim at. Political engineering at its most stupid, actually.”

The critical question to be asked is: Why now? What are the Americans seeking to achieve?
Could the Americans be trying to divert Zimbabweans from the more pressing consti­tution-making debate?

“Efforts that strategists expend to try and shape world outcomes in the political arena either accelerate or decelerate a process, by refocusing direction. We are here embroiled in discussing some survey/research, occupy­ing space which can best and profitably be used to discuss the constitu­tion which might affect the lives of generations after us. No move is as stupid as it looks,” warned Mr Smart.

IPS has quoted Italian political sci­entist Pro­fessor Diego Giannonea, questioning this unholy alliance.

Prof Giannonea wrote that US gov­ernment funding to Freedom House was “unusual, especially when one considers that the organ­isations involved in the assessment and mon­itoring of human rights, democracy and free­dom in the world refuse on principle — as a guarantee of their independence and credi­bility — gov­ernment funding.”

The Financial Times has reported that Freedom House is one of several organisa­tions selected by the State Department to receive fund­ing for “clandestine activities” inside Iran.

In a research study quoted by the paper, Freedom House set out its con­clusions:
“Far more often than is generally under­stood, the change agent is broad-based, non-violent civic resist­ance — which employs tac­tics such as boycotts, mass protests, block­ades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, includ­ing the loyalty of their armed defend­ers.”

Past Free­dom House advisers and associ­ates have included former CIA direc­tor James Woolsey, the late UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick; con­servative Rolling Stone writer P. J. O'Rourke, and the late Samuel Hunting­ton, the Harvard professor known for his “clash of civilisations” thesis.

In fact, Freedom House is classified in the same group with other CIA-linked organisa­tions like the National Democratic Institute for Interna­tional Affairs, National

Endowment for Democracy, Millennium Chal­lenge Corporation and the Interna­tional Centre for Journalists.

Egyptian media reported in 2009 that 16 young Egyptian activists ben­efited from a two-month Free­dom House “New Genera­tion Fellow­ship” in Washington DC.

“The activists received training in advo­cacy and met with US govern­ment officials, members of Congress, media outlets and think tanks.

“As far back as 2008, members of the April 6th Movement attended the inaugural sum­mit of the Association of Youth Movements (AYM) in New York, where they networked with other movements, attended work­shops on the use of new and social media and learned about technical upgrades, such as consistently alter­nating computer simcards, which help to evade state internet surveil­lance.”

Information gleaned from various Ameri­can websites shows that AYM is sponsored by Pepsi, YouTube and MTV.

Amongst the luminaries who par­ticipated in the 2008 Summit, which focused on train­ing activists in the use of Facebook and Twit­ter, were James Glassman of the State Depart­ment, Sherif Mansour of Freedom House, national security advisor Shaarik Zafar and Larry Diamond of the National Endowment for Democ­racy.

And it is these American-trained young people who drove the so-called Arab Spring in Egypt.
Freedom House took an active role in the overthrow of Slobodan Milose­vic in 2000, specifically in training the non-violent student movement, known as Otpor.

Closer home, in February 2006 clandestine Freedom House meetings in Zambia led to the deportation of now Prime Minister Mor­gan Tsvangi­rai and his eight-member team from that country. Reports said that the eight MDC-T offi­cials posed as tourists but later held secret meet­ings with officials from Freedom House in Livingstone.

The MDC-T officials included the late Mr Isaac Matongo, Mr Nelson Chamisa, Ms Lucia Matibenga, Ms Gertrude Mthombeni, Ms Paurina Mpariwa, Mr William Bango, Ms Thokozani Khupe and Mr Eddie Cross.

According to reports, Mr Tsvangi­rai flew into Victoria Falls ahead of his colleagues and met a Samuel Mark Imende, believed to be Kenyan.

After regrouping at Zambezi Sun Interna­tional Hotel in Livingstone, the MDC leaders held a marathon meet­ing with the Freedom House mem­bers, who were initially believed to be MDC donors.

Sources said the officials from the US-funded organisation were ini­tially stationed in Kenya to mobilise senti­ments against the Kenyan govern­ment’s bid to amend that country’s constitution.

The sources said Imende was pres­ent at the meeting in Zambia because he had been working hand-in-hand with the organisation during its stint in Kenya.

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