Friday, September 24, 2021

Military Contractor CACI Funding Pro-War Think Tank

With the US withdraw of troops from Afghanistan, there have been numerous pieces written about how a number of think tanks over the years have taken donations from defense contractors while promoting the benefits of war in certain countries.

Here is the latest example, from Sarah Lazare of In These Times:

On August 12, the military contractor CACI International Inc. told its investors that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is hurting its profits. The same contractor is also funding a think tank that is concurrently arguing against the withdrawal. This case is worth examining both because it is routine, and because it highlights the venality of our expert”-military contractor feedback loop, in which private companies use think tanks to rally support for wars they’ll profit from.

CACI International is listed as a corporate sponsor” of the Institute for Study of War, which describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.” Dr. Warren Phillips, lead director of CACI International, is on the board of the think tank. (Other funders include General Dynamics and Microsoft.)

In an August 20 paper, the think tank argued that Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are weighing how to take advantage of the United States’ hurried withdrawal.”  Jack Keane, a retired four star general and board member of the Institute for Study of War, meanwhile, has been on a cable news blitz arguing against the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War, told Fox News on August 17 that the U.S. withdrawal could cause Afghanistan to become the second school of jihadism.”

 

Separately, Eli Clifton has outlined other think tanks that CACI has funded, including the Center for Security Policy (CSP).

Meanwhile, former think tanker Mattathias Schwartz wrote a piece for Business Insider entitled "I spent 5 Years Inside DC's Foreign Policy 'Blob.' Here's why the experts keep getting us into unwinnable wars in Afghanistan.

Here is a quote from that piece: "What I didn't do was actually go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, I ate free buffet lunches, collected business cards, and mainlined off-the-record propaganda that both of America's long-running wars were worthy undertakings, steered by capable hands."

Here is another quote:  "Into one end of the Blob goes the money — gifts from corporations, wealthy individuals, and, in some cases, foreign governments. Out the other end comes white papers, books, op-ed articles, salaries, fellowships, and panel discussions."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Intelligence Contract Funneled to CSIS

Here is more from The Intercept:

In 2018, when the government awarded a massive $769 million contract to Alion Science and Technology, a defense contractor, the company promised that the money would go to “cutting edge” intelligence and technological solutions “that directly support the warfighter.”

The Alion contract supports work from the Remote Sensing Center, an intelligence hub that assists the military with ground, maritime, and airborne intelligence. Much of the work, records show, went to subcontractors such as Venntel, a firm that hoovers up location data from smartphones, and Leidos, a technology firm that services a variety of weapons systems and intelligence agencies.

But part of the money embedded in that contract also flowed to the nation’s foremost hawkish think tanks, which routinely advocate for higher Pentagon budgets and a greater projection of America’s military force.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, and the Pacific Forum are just two of the independent research institutes that were given parts of the $769 million to Alion Science as subcontractors. (The others — the Russia Research Network Limited, Center for Advanced China Research, and Center for European Policy Analysis — are less prominent.) The indirect funding, channeled through a contract meant for advancing the government’s warfighting ability, is unusual among the many Pentagon grants that flow to research institutes.

 

The Intercept quotes Jack Poulson, the founder of watchdog group Tech Inquiry, as saying that the commingling of projects appeared to be "blurring the lines between think tanks and intelligence contractors." 

The article also notes that the Hudson Institute received nearly $400,000 from a Pentagon contract to produce a report on aircraft defense.  It also says that the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has received more than $1 million in funding from the Pentagon.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Carnegie Names Tino Cuéllar as New President

Dr. Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuéllar, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, has been named as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's 10th president in its 111-year history. 

He served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations.   Previously he was the Stanley Morrison Professor at Stanford Law School and Director of Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

He replaces William Burns, who stepped down earlier this year to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Biden Administration.  Burns had been president of the think tank since 2014.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#426)

  • US Navy keeps closer watch on Chinese submarines, says Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI).
  • Analysts with Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) using AI tools from Orbital Insight to track Iranian nuclear site.
  • MIT predicted in 1972 that society will collapse this century. New research shows we're on schedule.
  • How money politics runs behind US think tanks' approach to Taiwan.
  • India's homegrown think tanks are booming, influencing debate and policy. 
  • Scottish Centre on European Relations is ending its activities.
  • Daily Beast: A dark money think tank analyst working for Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin's office and campaign urges violence against law enforcement on social media.
  • Why we need more African think tanks to study the US.
  • The Lown Institute: "A nonpartisan health care think tank based in Boston."
  • Pic: Atlantic Council's summer social.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Backlash Fiece as Carnegie Hosts Former Trump Official

Here is more from Politico:

The most D.C. of mini-scandals is happening right now: A think tank is hosting a book event for a former Trump administration national security official who tweeted support for those questioning the 2020 election results.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has invited ELBRIDGE COLBY, author of “The Strategy of Denial,” to join a Sept. 15 panel to discuss his work and U.S. policy toward China.

The backlash has been fierce. “I continue to be disappointed in how the foreign policy community polices its own on a number of fronts, but particularly when it comes to attacks on democracy in the United States. We can do better,” tweeted LOREN DEJONGE SCHULMAN, a former NSC official in the Obama administration.

 

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post on Colby leading the conservative effort to prepare for a US war with China.

Colby is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, which calls itself a think tank.  He has held several positions at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), most recently as Director of the Defense Program, where he led the think tank's work on defense issues.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS).

Thursday, September 9, 2021

American Generals Cashed in at Think Tanks After Afghanistan

Here is more from the Washington Post:

[US Generals] including Stanley McChrystal, who sought and supervised the 2009 American troop surge — have thrived in the private sector since leaving the war. They have amassed influence within businesses, at universities and in think tanks, in some cases selling their experience in a conflict that killed an estimated 176,000 people, cost the United States more than $2 trillion and concluded with the restoration of Taliban rule.

Last year, retired Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who commanded American forces in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, joined the board of Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's biggest defense contractor. Retired Gen. John R. Allen, who preceded him in Afghanistan, is president of the Brookings Institution, which has received as much as $1.5 million over the last three years from Northrop Grumman, another defense giant.

 

Writer Adam Johnson notes that every couple of years the Washington Post and New York Times write an investigative piece "explicitly saying or heavily implying that foreign policy think tanks are laundromats for weapons contractors then 5 minutes later they institutionally memory hole it and go back to treating them as neutral sources."

Monday, September 6, 2021

Private Salons Replacing Think Tank Talks?

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to put the kibosh on most in-person think tank events, people have started to turn to private salons or "smarty parties" to get their in-person intellectual stimulation.

Here is more from the New York Times:

Across the country individuals and companies are staging their own salons. They may resemble cocktail parties or seminars or networking events — and some are sponsored, as the SoHo salon was, by St. Germain liqueur (the brand also conceived and co-hosted the event). But they are distinguished from those other events in one important way: all participants are expected to partake in communal, meaty conversations while having fun at the same time.

Historically, salons have become popular after dark periods, said Jesse Browner, author of the 2003 book “The Duchess Who Wouldn’t Sit Down: An Informal History of Hospitality.” One of the very first salons, hosted in Paris by a marquess named Catherine de Vivonne, happened in the early 1600s after a period of religious warfare.

 

There have always been private salons taking place in Washington, DC and elsewhere, but there now seems to be a proliferation as such gatherings as people try to break the monotony of Zoom fatigue and working from home and seek deeper human interaction.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#425)

  • Sarah Ladislaw, managing director at RMI, a clean energy-focused think tank formerly known as the Rocky Mountain Institute, denies that her testimony when she worked at CSIS was influenced by Exxon’s financial support for CSIS.
  • Chatham House "goes woke" as it awards Greta Thunberg and BLM.
  • Think tank diplomacy with Melissa Conley Tyler.
  • How the Atlantic Council's "domestic extremism" lays the foundations for shadow governance.
  • CGD: India's COVID-19 death toll may be millions higher than the official tally.
  • Aspen Institute and COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project: More than 15 million people in 6.5 million US households are behind on rental payments.
  • Think tanks weigh in to federal bank regulators about potential pitfalls in the use of AI and machine learning in making loan decisions. 
  • To one expert, the Trump Administration's approach to government benefits was to ask, "'Who does the policy in this space?' and they went straight for the most radical think tanks."
  • Matt Duss: "By 2025, 50% of all foreign policy writing will be things from the Quincy Institute or comically tendentious misrepresentations of things from the Quincy Institute."
  • Pic: Son of AEI president Robert Doar gets married.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Think Tank Chief Lobbying for the US to Engage with North Korea

 Here is more from Josh Rogin of the Washington Post:

Kim Ki-jung, former Moon adviser who is now president of the Institute for National Security Strategy, a government-funded think tank, told me in an interview that [President Joe] Biden must recognize there is an opening and act boldly [on negotiations with North Korea].

 

The Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) was founded in 1977, and has more than a dozen North Korean defectors as well as around 50 experts as in-house researchers.  Reports indicate that INSS is an affiliate of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Kim Ki-jung was chosen as new president of the think tank in 2020, raising eyebrows due to his close relationship to President Moon Jae-in and the fact that he was embroiled in misconduct allegations in the past.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

CAP Warning Dems Over Biden Agenda

Here is more from Politico:

One of the most powerful Democratic-allied groups in D.C. is warning party members that they risk leaving women voters behind if they don’t back President Joe Biden’s social spending package.

The Center for American Progress is pressing Democratic lawmakers to keep the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package as close to its original blueprint as possible, arguing that it’s vital for helping women workers hit hard by the pandemic. Simply passing an infrastructure bill, the group warns, would create a massive divergence in the economic recovery along gender lines.

Here is the Center for American Progress (CAP) memo that Politico is basing its reporting on.  The think tank has stocked the Biden Administration with dozens of policy wonks.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Think Tanker Leading Conservative Effort to Prepare for US-China War

Here is an excerpt more from a new New Yorker piece:

Elbridge Colby, a fortysomething graduate of Yale Law School, was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development in the Trump Administration. Amid many people saying roughly the same thing about the now-ending generational conflict over Islamic extremism, Colby is distinguished by a vision of the generational conflict to come. In his view, idealism and Afghanistan are both sideshows to the real military, economic, and diplomatic action—all of which concerns China.

Elbridge Colby goes by Bridge. To his patrician name, add a patrician face (long nose, side-parted sandy hair) and a patrician legacy: his grandfather, William Colby, was Nixon’s C.I.A. director, and his father, Jonathan Colby, is a senior adviser in the Carlyle Group, the defense-friendly private-equity giant. Bridge nearly overlapped at Harvard College with Tom Cotton, and at Yale Law School with Josh Hawley. He was considered for a role as a foreign-policy adviser to Jeb Bush in 2015; according to the Wall Street Journal, campaign operatives torpedoed his chance to be Bush’s foreign-policy director by raising concerns that he was insufficiently hawkish about Iran. Colby arrived at Trump’s Pentagon as an aide to the President’s first Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis.


Colby is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, which calls itself a think tank.  He has held several positions at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), most recently as Director of the Defense Program, where he led the think tank's work on defense issues.

He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS).

Friday, August 20, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#424)

  • National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) launches Emerging Technologies Institute (ETI). 
  • FP event: Can local think tanks save democracy?
  • Ron Dermer, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, joins Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) as a distinguished fellow.
  • Atlantic Council has a new Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Tracker.
  • After bucking Canadian government and Chinese pressure and giving award to Taiwan's president, Halifax International Security Form (HFX) to host major event in Taiwan.
  • ASPI: It's time for an independent think tank on Pacific security and foreign policy.
  • PPI's "Investment Heroes 2021" shows Amazon with largest capital expenditure in US.
  • CSIS tracks new Chinese aircraft carrier via satellite.
  • InfluenceMap: "A London-based think tank that tracks corporate climate lobbying."
  • At 93, civic leader Malin Burnham launches a "think-and-do tank" in San Diego, California.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Think Tanks?

While it appears that most of the think tank community is safe for now, artificial intelligence (AI) is getting so good that it may one day be able to replace think tanks altogether.

As Axios recently pointed out, the startup Primer is offering natural language processing (NLP) models for businesses that can rapidly read and analyze written text of all kinds.  It also notes that businesses are creating digital workers out of software bots.  Here are a few other things AI can now do:

  • AI has the ability to display human-like qualities such as reasoning, learning, planning, and creativity.  It can also see, hear, speak, smell, touch, move, and understand.
  • AI can read text, write it, and even convert it into computer code (check out AI21 Labs' Jurassic-1 Jumbo and OpenAI's Codex).  Here is some of the best AI writing-assistant software.
  • The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and Reuters have used AI for years to generate content via natural language generation (NLG).
  • AI can successfully debate humans in complex subjects (see IBM's Project Debater).
  • Neural networks are providing automated feedback.
  • Software like Synthesia allows one to create AI-generated videos from text in 40+ languages; it also allows you to create your own think tanker avatar.

But all this new technology doesn't necessarily mean that think tanking will be dead soon.  Here is an excerpt from a recent piece by National University of Singapore professor Atreyi Kankanhalli:

In my view, almost all...research tasks are currently not replaceable by AI. While AI can support search of references for literature review and discovery of patterns from data, it fails considerably in research problem identification and theory building, since these activities require semantic understanding that AI is currently not capable of. While AI could assist in data analysis, understanding the contributions of the work requires human interpretation. Similarly, for the writing process, AI mainly provides tools for preparing an initial publication draft – helpful in some science fields, which are more structured than humanities fields. Further, in the near future AI tools may not be able to replace our research activities because they lack semantic understanding, where little progress has been made so far.

 

The immediate impact of AI, for those who embrace it, will likely mean researchers can enhance their analysis with powerful tools to sift through enormous amounts of data and speed up a number of tasks.

In the coming months, Think Tank Watch will be establishing what is believed to be the first AI-run think tank to see if it can legitimately replace certain traditional think tanks.  One major benefit is that the new think tank will not be biased by outside funders, a problem with nearly every major think tank to date.

As reported last year, there is even a new ranking of think tanks that uses AI to make its determination.  There are also a number of think tanks that study AI.  Georgetown University recently created the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), which has a big AI focus.  CSET received a $55 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, a nonprofit research and grant-making group.

Here is a piece by Canon Institute for Global Studies (CIGS) Research Director Kunihiko Miyake entitled "In the age of AI, think tanks must evolve."

Here is a piece from Bruegel Director Guntram Wolff entitled "Artificial Intelligence: An Opporunity and a Challenge for Think Tanks."

And for any think tankers thinking about a new job, you can always check the site Will Robots Take My Job? to find out how susceptible your new job would be to computerization.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Think Tank Beats Harassment Claims

Here is more from Bloomberg:

The former finance and administration director with the Middle East Forum failed to show her boss sexually harassed her, a federal jury in Philadelphia found.

Marnie O’Brien alleged in a December 2019 lawsuit that Middle East Forum Director Gregg Roman told her that “he likes older woman” and that “non-Jewish women were made for sex.” Roman also inquired into her dating life and discussed his marital problems and sex life, according to O’Brien.

But a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania decided Aug. 6 after a seven-day trial that O’Brien didn’t present enough evidence.

 

The Middle East Forum (MEF) is a Philadelphia-based think tank founded in 1994 by Daniel Pipes.  Georgetown University has called it a "right-wing anti-Islam think tank that spreads misinformation and advocates hawkish foreign policy."

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has called it a "controversial far-right think tank that is known for its anti-Islam views and hawkish foreign policy recommendations."

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#423)

  • Business Insider: At least 99 former Trump officials have establishment ties with prominent lobbying shops, law firms, think tanks, or big business. 
  • PIIE's Gagnon & Sarsenbayev: Nobody forecasts inflation well.
  • South Korea's atomic energy think tank exposed to presumed North Korean hacking.
  • DC Circuit rejects Cato Institute lawsuit over SEC "gag" rule.
  • Longtime C-SPAN anchor Steve Scully to depart for bipartisan think tank. 
  • Trump alum Matthew Pottinger is now chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' China Program.
  • Cecilia Malmstrom joins PIIE.
  • The Bulwark: What the hell happened to the Claremont Institute?
  • Taiwan, Czech think tanks ink MOU on defense research cooperation.
  • No one wants to be friends with a professor.  What about a think tanker?

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Chinese Think Tanks Slam US COVID Response

Three Chinese think tanks have just published a hard-hitting new report bashing the US for its COVID-19 response and calling the US a "failed country."

The report, entitled "America Ranked First?! The Truth About America's Fight Against COVID-19," was jointly released by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China (RDCY), the Taihe Institute, and the Intellisia Institute.

Here is more from the Global Times:

A 23,000-word report has been released in Chinese, English, Spanish and French, and is also the first to comprehensively show the truth about the US anti-epidemic fight, based on rigorous studies, objective and factual data from US research institutes, media outlets and politicians, Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY), told a press conference on Monday.

[The report] indicates that the US deserves to be the world's No.1 anti-pandemic failure, apart from being the No.1 political blaming country, No.1 pandemic spreader country, No.1 political division country, No.1 currency abuse country, No.1 pandemic period turmoil country, No.1 disinformation country and No.1 origins-tracing terrorism country.

 

The three think tanks held an event along with the release of the 70-page report.  Keynote speakers included former Senior Fellow at Cambridge University Martin Jacques, and Washington Bureau Chief for the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) William Jones.

Newsweek notes that the paper featured multiple spelling errors and a disjointed structure, and offered "no evidence to back up several damning claims."

Monday, August 9, 2021

Hungary Sponsoring English-Language Think Tanks to Promote Orban

Here is more from The Atlantic:

Just as Hungary now sponsors English-language think tanks designed to promote [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán’s illiberal ideas, so did the Soviet Union once create phony “institutes for peace” designed to promote Soviet Communism. The idea in both cases was and is the same: Lure in foreigners who are bored, disgruntled, or underpaid at home; offer meals, attention, and sometimes more.

 

Here is what Vox had to say last year: "The Hungarian government has actively cultivated support from...international conservatives. John O’Sullivan, an Anglo-American contributor to National Review, is currently based at the Danube Institute — a think tank in Budapest that O’Sullivan admits receives funding from the Hungarian government."

Vox also noted that Chris DeMuth, the former head of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), interviewed Orbán onstage at a conference, praising the prime minister in opening remarks as “not only a political but an intellectual leader.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported on a think tank called Veritas, whose "main mission is to provide revisionist interpretations of 20th-century Hungarian history."  It has also reported on an "ecosystem" of Hungarian foundations and government-affiliated think tanks which have received $3.5 billion in public money in the past year.

After Orban’s return to power, a government-funded think-tank called the Center for Fundamental Rights was created in 2013, according to FT. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Think Tanks' Impact on Policy in Turbulent Times

FP Analytics (FPA), the independent research division of Foreign Policy magazine, has published a new report entitled "Navigating Through Turbulence," which explores think tanks' impact on policy in a rapidly changing world.

Here is more on the report from FPA:

The last few years have seen rises in authoritarianism, economic protectionism, poverty, and threats to human rights and civil liberties, trends that were all further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to combat such trends take many forms, but this report is particularly concerned with the role and impact of think tanks given their capacity to understand, explain, and shape these trends. Such organizations have proliferated globally since the 1990s, but there has been limited research and a lack of consensus regarding how successful they are in counteracting these negative trends. To explore this topic, FP Analytics conducted an in-depth survey and semi-structured interviews with think tank personnel to highlight the experiences and viewpoints of the think tank staff working on the ground to advance democracy, economic openness, human rights, and poverty reduction in their home countries.

 

For the research, FPA interviewed 51 senior think tank leaders from around the world and surveyed another 322 from 80 different countries.

Think Tank Watch should note that the study appears somewhat biased because it relied heavily on the Atlas Network, an umbrella for libertarian and free-market groups, for its think tank outreach.  FPA notes that around 12% of of final sample of 322 respondents consists of responses from staff at think tanks outside of those from the Atlas Network.  In other words, people from the Atlas Network make up 88% of responses.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Kleptocracies Using Think Tanks for Reputation Laundering

A new paper by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) says that kleptocracies are using universities and think tanks for reputation laundering.

Here is an excerpt:

Universities and think tanks in open settings are prime targets for reputation laundering. The rapid internationalization of the higher education sector, as well as the swelling demand worldwide for Western education makes academic institutions particularly vulnerable to this form of transnational kleptocratic activity. Indeed, over recent years, there has been a major surge of foreign funding to U.S. and U.K. universities. The composition of fundraising has also changed. Major gifts comprise a growing share of donations, and a relatively small number of wealthy individuals contribute nearly 80 percent of gift-giving to universities.

A recent Foreign Policy article draws upon a new database of philanthropic donations and finds that in recent decades, seven post-Soviet oligarchs have together donated between $372 million and $435 million to U.S.-based not-for-profit institutions, including universities, museums, cultural centers, and think tanks.

 

NED cites the Foreign Policy article as a forthcoming piece written by Casey Michel and David Szakonyi entitled "Oligarchs and Philanthropy."  The figures, however, have already been published elsewhere, and come from the Anti-Corruption Data Collective (ACDC).  Michel is an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative, and Szakonyi is an assistant professor of political science at George Washington University.

Michel recently wrote a piece entitled "Illicit Temptation: "Funding of Universities and Think Tanks During COVID-19," which says that think tanks have been reliant on "questionable funding, including donations from oligarchs and other figures from kleptocratic settings, without any required due diligence mechanisms in place."

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#422)

  • Daily Caller: Jeffrey Epstein friend, client (Leslie Wexner) still a trustee of Aspen Institute.
  • Oregon think tank threatens to sue over state capitol workers union vote. 
  • UK's Policy Foundation: Everything you wanted to know about think tanks but were afraid to ask.
  • Carnegie Europe and Thomas de Waal under critique.
  • NBC: Fox failed to fully disclose the professional conservative ties of 11 guests featured in segments about critical race theory, among them lobbyists and staff of conservative think tanks.
  • CAP press team gathered for the first time together in 15 months. 
  • Institute of the Black World (IBW): "Think tank of the Black freedom struggle."
  • Think tanks with the most followers post 5-10 times per day.
  • Pic: CFR President Richard Haass gets 10/10 on Room Rater.
  • Think tanks rebrand themselves to sound more warm and bubbly: "Ideas bath."

Monday, August 2, 2021

Brookings & CSIS to Receive Congressional Scrutiny for Exxon Ties

After reports surfaced that ExxonMobil's two most important allies in think tank land are the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), US lawmakers are vowing to look into the energy giant's ties to these think tanks and others.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment, is planning to look into Exxon's ties to think tanks during a broader probe into fossil fuel industry misinformation efforts, according to E&E News, which notes that Exxon used a Brookings paper to help defeat the only major climate legislation that has ever passed the US House.

Exxon's financial support for Brookings "opened doors at the agenda-setting think tank," E&E says, while noting that Exxon is one of four oil and gas companies that have donated at least $100,000 to Brookings in each of the last three years.  The others are Royal Dutch Shell PLC, France’s TotalEnergies SE, and Equinor ASA of Norway.

Here is more from E&E:

That level of giving has secured Exxon a place on Brookings’ Corporate Council. The think tank’s website doesn’t explain what the council is, and [Brookings spokeswoman Andrea Risotto] didn’t respond to questions about the membership, structure and purposes of the group.

But a 2016 menu of “Corporate Council Donor Privileges” promised companies that give Brookings $100,000 or more would receive “a customized program of benefits designed in collaboration with the Senior Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations.”

Brookings deleted the document from its website after E&E News asked about it.

Other perks include “a private meeting” with the think tank’s president, “opportunities to request briefings with Brookings scholars” and invitations to a series of exclusive Brookings receptions, an archived version of the menu says.

 

E&E News reports that Exxon has donated $600,000 to Brookings since 2018, and nearly $2.1 million to CSIS during the same time period.

It also notes that the Center for Global Development (CGD) is among the think tanks that has received significant funding from Exxon.

Other think tanks that Exxon donates to include: American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  It also donates to dozens of colleges and universities.

In response to the recent reporting on Exxon's deep ties to think tanks, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted: "The Swamp in action. Read it and gag."

Monday, July 26, 2021

Heritage Foundation Promoting US-Tunisia Ties

 This is from Foreign Lobby Report:

The Heritage Foundation released a report calling for a “renewed strategic partnership between the United States and Tunisia.” The report’s release follows a meeting between study author Anthony Kim, the editor of the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, and Tunisian Olfa Hamdi, the short-lived former CEO of national carrier Tunisair and head of the Center for Strategic Studies on Tunisia, a new Washington think tank connected to lobbying firm Cornerstone Government Affairs.

 

Here is more on the Center for Strategic Studies on Tunisia (CSST), which was established as a 501(c)(4), an entity which can engage in much more lobbying than most US think tanks which typically establish themselves as 501(c)(3) entities.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#421)

  • Supreme Court throws out state law requiring nonprofits to name rich donors; "will make think tanks even less transparent." 
  • Treasury official Wally Adeyemo was hired to establish BlackRock's internal think tank.
  • China Watch is China Daily's "think tank."
  • CSIS has new Open Source Analysis Project.
  • RAND Corp. has a new artist-in-residency program.
  • Letter to US House Judiciary Committee signed by 13 think tanks and advocacy groups warning antitrust bills could "dramatically degrade" tech products. 
  • DGAP: Why German think tanks have to change the way they work.
  • Robin Niblett talk: How can think tanks become incubators for policy innovation?
  • "In academia you sometimes have to work 7 days a week, but the freedom to choose which 7 days is unparalleled; in think tanks you do so for nights, not just days."
  • The Onion: "Brookings released a statement encouraging Americans to start thinking about what form of government they would like to try after democracy crumbles."

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Major Source of Arms Control Funding to Dry Up for Think Tanks

 Here is more from Politico:

For the Washington think tanks and foundations that work to control the spread of nuclear weapons, the Doomsday Clock is inching closer to midnight.

That’s because a leading financial backer of their efforts to reduce nuclear proliferation is ending its support, sending shockwaves through arms control institutions that are already struggling to remain influential.

For more than 40 years, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States, has been a primary benefactor of a host of non-profit research centers, academic programs and grassroots organizations dedicated to reversing the spread of nuclear weapons and training a generation of arms control experts.

Since 2015 alone, MacArthur directed 231 grants totaling more than $100 million to “nuclear challenges” — in some cases providing more than half the annual funding for individual institutions or programs.

But its recent conclusion that it wasn't achieving its goals and decision to pull out of the arena could be detrimental without alternative sources of funding, according to multiple veterans of the nuclear policy community.

 

Those receiving funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation include the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Arms Control Association.  Another is the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the organization that operates the Doomsday Clock.

Matthew Bunn, who directs the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, estimates that MacArthur was providing around 45% - 55% of all non-government funding worldwide on nuclear policy.

Here is the MacArthur Foundation's statement mentioning its exit from the nuclear field.

The MacArthur Foundation has given to nearly every major US think tank, including the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Aspen Institute, Atlantic Council, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Cato Institute, Center for American Progress (CAP), Center for Global Development (CGD), Center for National Policy (CNP), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Hudson Institute, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Middle East Institute (MEI), Migration Policy Institute (MPI), New America, R Street Institute, Resources for the Future (RFF), Stimson Center, Truman Center for National Policy, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Urban Institute, Wilson Center, and World Resources Institute (WRI).

At the end of 2020, MacArthur's assets totaled $8.2 billion.  In June 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the MacArthur Foundation was one of several major institutions that pledged to increase their charitable giving.

Update: In related arms control think tank news, the Federation of American Scientists just released a report using satellite imagery showing that China is building a new network of silos for launching nuclear missiles.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

New Site Tracks Think Tank Funding by Big Tech

 Here is more from Politico:

The American Principles Project (APP), a populist Republican group that has been advocating against the influence of “Big Tech,” is launching a project today that’s certain to stir up debate, as GOP resistance to the influence of Silicon Valley money in Washington escalates.

BigTechFunding.org tracks which nonprofits, think tanks and academic centers receive funding from Facebook, Google, Amazon and/or Apple, based on publicly available disclosures. One of the datasets tracks the tech funding behind 400 groups; the other, which comes with a browser extension, includes 200 groups.

Jon Schweppe, the director of policy and government affairs at the APP, said he launched the project after hearing from staffers on Capitol Hill who were confused about which groups involved in policy debates about the tech sector receive money from those same companies.

The website also offers a “Big Tech Funding Browser Extension,” which adds disclosures to tweets from groups that take money from big tech companies. For instance, the browser extension would add a disclosure that says “Warning: This group is funded by Google, Facebook and Amazon” to tweets from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, or the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank. Schweppe said he knows it’ll ruffle some feathers.

 

Here is the Big Tech Funding website.  Think Tank Watch took a peek and here are some findings in terms of think tanks receiving big tech money:

  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI): Facebook, Google, Amazon
  • Aspen Institute: Facebook, Google
  • Atlantic Council: Facebook Google
  • Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC): Facebook, Amazon
  • Brookings Institution: Facebook, Google, Amazon
  • Cato Institute: Facebook, Google
  • Center for a New American Security (CNAS): Google, Amazon
  • Center for American Progress (CAP): Facebook, Google, Amazon
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): Google, Amazon
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI): Facebook, Google, Amazon
  • Council on Foreign Relations (CFR): Facebook
  • Heritage Foundation: Facebook, Google
  • Hudson Institute: Google
  • New America: Facebook, Google, Amazon
  • Niskanen Center: Google
  • R Street Institute: Google, Amazon
  • Third Way: Facebook, Google
  • Urban Institute: Google

 

In June, APP sent a letter to offices on Capitol Hill warning Republican lawmakers and staffers to be wary about Big Tech funding of think tanks and other entities. 

The Heritage Foundation has recently turned down large donations from Facebook and Google.

Heritage is among more than 40 right-leaning research groups that have stopped accepting donations from tech giants.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Iran Hackers Masqueraded as UK Scholars to Hack Think Tanks

 Here is more from the Jerusalem Post:

Iranian hackers masqueraded as British scholars with the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in an attempt to solicit sensitive information from journalists, think tank experts and senior professors since the beginning of the year, according to a new report by the cybersecurity company Proofpoint on Tuesday.

While Proofpoint has been unable to independently confirm that the hackers, known as TA453 or CHARMING KITTEN and PHOSPHORUS, are part of the IRGC, the hackers have historically aligned with the priorities of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with attacks targeting dissidents, academics, diplomats and journalists, according to the report. 
In their latest attack, TA453 compromised a site belonging to SOAS in order to deliver pages disguised as registration links to harvest login information from targets, including experts in Middle Eastern affairs from think tanks, senior professors at academic institutions and journalists specializing in Middle Eastern coverage.
The hacker group used the personas of individuals associated with SOAS, in order to solicit conversations with targets. In initial emails sent by the first persona, TA453 invited the target to a fake online conference on “The US Security Challenges in the Middle East.” Emails by the second persona solicited contributions to a "DIPS Conference."

 

Last year, researchers said that Charming Kitten targeted the World Health Organization (WHO) by posing as a think tank.  In that incident, the hackers tailored a message to look like an interview request from a scholar at real Washington, DC-based think tank American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC).

In a separate 2020 incident, Iranian hackers impersonated the former head of Israeli military intelligence and his assistant to fish for analysis from a researcher at a think tank.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#420)

  • Jack Levine, chief climate officer at the US International Development Finance Corp., is shopping a paper by Barbara Matthews of the Atlantic Council, calling it recommended reading for the Biden Administration.
  • Panera partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to create a carbon label identifying which meals fall below a threshold of 5.38kg of carbon emissions per lunch or dinner - a number WRI says is needed to cut food-related emissions 25% by 2030.
  • SOSi's Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis (CIRA) is "a leading national security think tank serving the US government, Fortune 500 companies, and the broader Washington foreign policy community."
  • Paul Musgrave: Political science has its own lab leaks, and when ideas get out from academia (and think tanks) into the wold, they can be surprisingly dangerous.  Dan Drezner responds.
  • Rahm Emanuel being briefed by think tankers like CFR's Richard Haass and CSIS's Michael Green in preparation for likely US Ambassador to Japan nomination.
  • World's most influential think tanks rankings updated by AcademicInfluence.com.
  • Whenever a party loses, people start think tanks.
  • In 2020, Exxon gave $100,000 each to the Brookings Instituion and AEI.
  • Retraction Watch: Zombie papers taint academic journals; lots of post-retraction citations.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Think Tanks Raking in Big Bucks From ExxonMobil

 Here is more from The New Republic (TNR):

Not everyone is happy about Unearthed’s recent exposé on ExxonMobil. Shortly after the Greenpeace-attached journalistic outfit published quotes top Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy unknowingly gave to an undercover reporter about the oil giant’s attempts to shape climate policy, Brookings Institution Executive Vice President Darell M. West penned a blog post declaring that “using secret video recordings to embarrass opponents is undermining the health of our already ailing American democracy.” He also likened Unearthed to the right-wing sting operation Project Veritas.

West didn’t mention that Brookings received $100,000 from ExxonMobil last year, according to the oil company’s own disclosures. He also didn’t mention that, in parts of the transcript Unearthed did not publish but which they subsequently provided to The New Republic, Brookings is mentioned explicitly by McCoy as one of two think tanks his company is “actively involved in.”

In 2019, the Progressive Policy Institute received $50,000 from ExxonMobil but was not listed on this year’s report. Notably, the right-wing Manhattan Institute—funded as well by Trump backer Rebekah Mercer—is apparently no longer getting Exxon funds, after receiving $90,000 in 2019.


Other think tanks that Exxon donates to include: American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  It also donates to dozens of colleges and universities.  Mr. McCoy named Brookings and CSIS as "key allies" of Exxon.

CFR's Lisa Shields said that Exxon is one of roughly 120 members of the think tank's Corporate Program.  Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Total are also corporate members.  Shields noted that corporate membership dues account for about 9% of CFR's total operating revenue.  [AEI says that around 10% of its revenue comes from corporations.]

Update: Brookings quietly took down the Darrell West post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Think Tanks Urged to Help Boost China-Russia Ties

As China and Russia appear to be cozying up to each other and drifting further apart from the US, they have begun working closely on think tank coordination.

Here is more from China Daily:

Think tanks in China and Russia should maintain close relations and deepen their cooperation to face common challenges and bring mutual development, experts from both countries said on Thursday.

The China and Russia: Joint Development and Modernization International Symposium, and the publishing ceremony for the think tank report series "Russia-Eurasia Studies"-both co-hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China-Russia Friendship Committee for Peace and Development and China Daily-were held at Beijing International Hotel.

The event was co-organized by the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the CASS, the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and China Watch, China Daily's think tank.

Over 60 government officials and experts, who participated in the symposium and publishing ceremony by either attending the conference in person or joining the discussion via video link, had a comprehensive discussion about China-Russian relations and Eurasian affairs.

 

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, the US has 2,203 think tanks, China has 1,413, and Russia has 143. 

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) is expanding its ties with European think tanks, as they are interested in Taiwan's experience in countering China's security threat. 

"Since its establishment in May 2018 by the Ministry of National Defense, the institute has interacted with think tanks or research agencies in the US, New Zealand, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and Europe, its budget plans over the past few years showed," notes the Taipei Times.

While DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu said that INDSR is Taiwan's only "official" think tank, Taiwan actually has 44 think tanks, according to the latest University of Pennsylvania statistics.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Man Indicted for Alleged Threats to Brookings Institution

Here is more from US Department of Justice:

United States Attorney Duane A. Evans today announced Russell Vennell, age 59, of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, was charged on July 1, 2021 in a one-count indictment by a federal Grand Jury with making threatening phone calls in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 875(c). 

According to previously filed court documents, on June 13, 2021, at approximately 2:08 a.m., a person called the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC 20036, from a telephone number found to be subscribed to Vennell. The caller stated that he was going to kill S.H., a person employed by the Brooking Institution at the time of the call. The subject later left a voicemail, at the Brookings Institution, reiterating the previous threat he made to kill S.H.  Vennell was arrested on June 18, 2021 by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If convicted, Vennell faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years imprisonment, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, up to a $250,000.00 fine, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee based on the charge outlined in the indictment.  

 

According to NOLA.com, Vennell apparently said "I'm going to wipe the entire Brookings Institution off the face of this f****** Earth.  You are scum sucking evil (expletives) and you all deserve death in the most heinous way and it's coming at you."

This is not the first time that someone has wished ill upon Brookings.  President Richard Nixon ordered his top aide to break into Brookings and steal its files on Vietnam.  The plan involved firebombing the think tank.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#419)

  • Top 10 highest paid CEOs at nonprofits in 2021, via Economic Research Institute (none are think tankers).  Politico asks: when is a nonprofit CEO's salary too high?  Jonas Parello Plesner, who runs the Alliance of Democracies from Europe, said he earns around $150,000 a year and suggested an informal cap of around $300,000 for the NGO and foundation sector.
  • NRDC appointed Manish Bapna as president/CEO starring Aug. 23.  Bapna is currently interim president and CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI).  Replacing him at WRI is Ani Dasgupta, who has been named the think tank's next president and CEO.
  • CSIS: Survey of Chinese-linked espionage in the US since 2000.
  • Former USTR Robert Lighthizer has joined American Compass board of directors along with Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel.
  • New IISS report assesses the US as the only global cyber superpower, well ahead of China. 
  • Young Uighurs look to sue Australian think tank ASPI over report on forced labor in Xinjiang.
  • A research team at Stimson Center, led by Richard Ponzio, has published a roadmap for new global governance "to fill gaps in thinking around what a new global social contract could look like," and is pushing for a 2023 World Summit on Inclusive Global Governance.  The center launched a Global Governance Innovation Network on June 24.
  • The Center for Global Development (CGD), which specializes in anti-poverty research, spent two years measuring the diversity of nonprofit governing boards.
  • Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief and friend of Playbook Eliana Johnson is teaming up with AEI fellow and Dispatch editor Chris Stirewalt on a new podcast critiquing DC journalism.
  • Steve Rattner's wife, Maureen White, is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) at SAIS; she is also a member of CFR and serves on the board of CGD.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

New Think Tank Focusing on Intersection of Foreign Policy & Tech

Purdue University's Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) has just launched a new "tech tank" that is being billed as the US's first think tank focused on the intersection of technology and diplomacy.

The Center for Tech Diplomacy's (CTDP) primary focus will be on technologies that are critical to American foreign policy, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, energy, digital health, digital currency, cybersecurity, autonomy, and global supply chains, according to a press release, which notes that CTDP will collaborate with like-minded countries and with the private sector to advocate for a global tech agenda that "reflects freedom, democracy, and human rights" in multilateral organizations.

Dr. Mung Chiang, Executive Vice President and John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University will be CTDP's Founding Director.  In 2019-20, he served a one-year appointment at the State Department as the Science and Technology Advisor to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Dr. David Reingold, Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University, is the Co-director of the think tank. 

Mr. Keith Krach, who served as Undersecretary of State in the Trump Administration, is the think tank's Chairman.  Krach founded Ariba and served as DocuSign Chairman and CEO for 10 years.  He was also Chairman of the Board of Angie's List.  He is reportedly a single-digit billionaire.

Others on the board include: Former Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN); 3 Points Partners Managing Director Marc Carlson; Foundation Capital Co-Founder and General Partner William Elmore; Cold Canyon AI Founder and CEO Daniel Goldin; and Stephens Inc. EVP Mary Kissel, who was a senior advisor to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Initial senior fellows include: Former Indian Ambassador to the EU Rajendra Abhyankar; Managing Director of Fannon Global Advisors and CSIS Senior Advisor Frank Fannon; Predata Co-founder Jim Shinn, and former Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh.

CTDP will host an inaugural event focusing on the global semiconductor supply chain on September 22, 2021. The event will feature a keynote speech from Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, and roundtables with chief technology officers from major semiconductor companies across the world and leaders from the US government and Congress. The bi-coastal event will take place in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, while kicking off virtually from West Lafayette, Indiana.

Two additional launch events are scheduled for October, one focusing on US-EU-UK-Japan collaboration in technology research and development and another launching a year-long study on 6G global roadmap.

In parallel with the July 7 launch of CTDP, Dr. Chiang wrote a piece entitled "The Era of 'Tech Diplomacy' is Here."  CTDP's new website can be found here; its YouTube page is here.

Here are some thoughts on the new think tank from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who is also Chairman of PRF.

CTDP is one of the many university-affiliated think tanks in the US.  Other notable examples of university think tanks include Stanford University's Hoover Institution and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

CTDP is also one of a number of think tank or think tank-like entities focusing on technology.  One example is the Center for Data Innovation, which runs the AI Policy Network.  Another is the Center for AI and Digital Policy.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, the US currently has 2,203 think tanks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Former Think Tanker Lina Khan Now Chairing FTC

Before becoming Chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the Biden Administration, tech critic Lina Khan was a think tanker.  Here is some more from the New York Times:

One of Lina Khan’s first projects as a new staff member at an antitrust think tank in 2011 was researching the history of the market for books, which had increasingly been dominated by Amazon. It was an early, unpublished entry in a body of work that has since established her as a major critic of the tech giants and corporate concentration.

She spent the next 10 years honing her arguments, becoming a leading figure in a growing movement that calls for more aggressive policing of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

Ms. Khan rose quickly to prominence. After a few years at the think tank in Washington — during which she wrote, among other things, about the failure to rein in concentration in chicken farming — she went to law school at Yale.

 

Although not directly mentioned in the piece, Khan was a fellow with the Open Markets Program at New America.  From 2011-2014, she was a policy analyst for the program, formerly known as the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative.

The Open Markets Institute applauded Khan's new job.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

German Think Tank Chief Arrested for Spying for China

Here is more from Associated Press:

A German man who ran a think tank has been arrested on suspicion of being an informant for Chinese intelligence for years, German prosecutors said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Dr. Klaus L. in line with German privacy rules, was arrested on suspicion of espionage Monday following an indictment that they filed at a Munich court in May.

They said he is a political scientist and had run a think tank, which they didn’t identify, since 2001. According to prosecutors, employees of a Chinese intelligence service contacted him when he went on a lecture trip to Shanghai in June 2010.

He is accused of regularly passing information to Chinese intelligence ahead of or after state visits or multinational conferences until November 2019. That information, prosecutors said, came primarily from “high-ranking political interlocutors” he was in contact with thanks to the think tank. 

 

Here is more from Reuters, which notes that he had also been a spy for Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, for half a century before retiring.

"Klaus L." had worked for the Munich-based Hanns Seidel Foundation, associated with the Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on the abundance of Chinese moles at US think tanks.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Fmr. Intel Official: Abundance of Chinese Moles at US Think Tanks

Here is more from a SpyTalk interview:

The entire U.S. intelligence community—17 agencies in all—has been penetrated by Chinese spies, says Nicholas Eftimiades, who recently retired as one of the U.S. government’s top experts on Chinese espionage.

He added,  “I think if we're talking about [the] Justice [Department], the intelligence community, the 17 agencies including the DNI, I'd be stunned if there weren't dozens, absolutely stunned if there weren't dozens” of Chinese moles.

Eftimiades, who retired in 2017, quickly cautioned that probably only a small number—”less than a dozen”—have access to classified information.  Many more are employed to find out just “who's who” in U.S. intelligence, “and where they're living and things like that.” But Eftimiades, author of two books on Chinese espionage, said there are “thousands more” moles in other, non-intelligence U.S. government agencies, as well as among contractors, corporations, think tanks and congressional offices.

 

Here is list from Think Tank Watch of former US intelligence officials who have worked or still work at US think tanks.