Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cool Think Tank Event: Cyber Spies

The Center for National Policy (CNP) has just announced it will be hosting an event on March 6, 2013 titled "The Spy Who Hacked Me: America and Cyber Espionage."

Here is a description of the event:
The first two months of 2013 have seen an increase in media attention surrounding cyber attacks and cyber espionage incidents targeting major US banks and businesses. As a follow on to incidents including DDoS attacks on US banks, hackings at Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, and the recently released Mandiant APT1 cyber attack report CNP President Scott Bates will host an expert panel to discuss cyber espionage developments in the international arena.
So far, the event features:

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post on the prevalence of cyber spying on US think tanks.

Here is what Dan Blumenthal of American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has to say about cyber spying and China.

Here is what Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation has to say about Chinese cyber spying.

Here is what Kenneth Lieberthal of Brookings has to say on US-China relations and cybersecurity.

As Think Tank Watch noted in a previous post, CNP recently merged with The Truman National Security Project.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #41

  • FDI in India's think tank sector.
  • Papers on the 2nd meeting of the China-Africa think tanks forum.
  • New blog on think tank ethics.
  • Heritage Foundation on what you need to know about incoming President Jim DeMint.
  • Heritage Foundation to host former Rep. J.C. Watts Jr.'s launch of Insight America.
  • NAM and Brookings studies offer dueling views of carbon tax. 
  • New Israeli think tank, the Israel Institute, opens in Washington, DC. 
  • Spanish think tank defrauded
  • BPC's Strategic Energy Policy Initiative issues broad energy blueprint. 
  • Chuck Hagel's top ACUS aide to follow him to Pentagon.
  • CAP's "itchy trigger finger" on likely WH nomination of Gina McCarthy for EPA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Think Tank Power Couples

A variety of husband-wife teams have been affiliated with think tanks.  Recent examples include:
  • Kurt Campbell and Lael Brainard.  Mr. Campbell, who just stepped down as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was the co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  He will soon become Chairman of CNAS.  He also served as Senior Vice President, Director of the International Security Program, and the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in National Security Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  His wife, Lael Brainard, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, was a long-time Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
  • Douglas Elmendorf and Karen Dynan.  Mr. Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), was a Senior Fellow at Brookings.  His wife, Karen Dynan, is Vice President, Co-Director of the Economic Studies Program at Brookings.
  • Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan.  Mr. Kagan is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director, Critical Threats Project at American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  His brother is Robert Kagan, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  Kimberly Kagan heads the Institute for the Study of War.
  • Robert Einhorn and Jessica Einhorn.  Mr. Einhorn, Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the State Department, was a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) International Security Program.  Jessica Einhorn is a trustee at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) and sits on the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).  She is also affiliated with the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Muckety has just put together a similar list.  Its think tank power couples include:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Close Ties Between CNAS and the White House

Muckety's latest think tank map outlines the close ties between the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the White House.

In the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, CNAS was ranked as the 14th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 24th best security and international affairs think tank in the world.  It was ranked 25th in the world in terms of think tanks having the most significant impact on public policy.

It was also ranked 18th in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.  It was ranked as the 21st best think tank in terms of best use of media (print or electronic).  CNAS was also ranked as the 20th best think tank in terms of best external relations/public engagement program.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on CNAS's new CEO, Tom Work.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on CNAS's incoming Chairman, Kurt Campbell.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #40

  • Acton Institute moving up.
  • CSIS head John Hamre on the ludicrous policies of the US national security system. 
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to deliver "Japan is Back" speech today (Feb. 22) at CSIS.
  • On think tanks, push polling, and echo chambers. 
  • Obama's favorite think tank's "ingenious plan to end Chicago gun violence." 
  • Lowy Institute announces four new board members, including former Singapore Ambassador to US. 
  • Heritage President Ed Fuelner in South Korea to welcome its new president. 
  • Brookings scholars Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy publish new book on Vladimir Putin. 
  • CAP's ThinkProgress livesblogs the Oscars. 
  • Economic downturn affects think tank funding. 
  • Think tanks link Arab Spring to global warming.

Details Revealed of Aspen Institute Hack Attack

Here is what the Huffington Post is reporting:
Hackers spied on employees at the Aspen Institute for two months, snooping on their email correspondence before the FBI discovered the breach and traced its origin to China, executives at the think tank told The Huffington Post.
It was the second time the Washington-based Aspen Institute has been hacked in the past two years, according to Trent Nichols, its director of IT services.  Nichols said in an interview Thursday that hackers stole the user names and passwords of three employees -- including president and chief executive Walter Isaacson -- and used the information to repeatedly log in to the institute's Web mail service.
Nichols said he learned about the cyber-espionage campaign in a Jan. 6 email from the Department of Homeland Security that revealed one email account had been hacked. The next day, he received a phone call from the FBI, saying that two additional employees' emails had been hacked.
"We were shocked," Nichols said. The hackers "would just go in, read their emails and get out. They were basically snooping around to see what they could find."
Isaacson said the FBI told him "the Chinese had hacked the Aspen Institute."
"I said that was fine, and maybe they will read all of our reports and that will be good," Isaacson said in an email to HuffPost. "But then the agent called back a couple of weeks later and said, 'OK here are all your passwords that they got.' And I realized it was both scary and felt like I had been violated. It made me angry."
Founded in 1950, the Aspen Institute hosts seminars, programs and conferences on public policy issues. Board members include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Walt Disney chief executive Michael Eisner and billionaire conservative David Koch.
The hackers' identities and motive remain unclear. Aspen Institute employees regularly exchange emails with contacts around the world, including China, India and the Middle East, Nichols said.
"The hackers seem to think we knew something they wanted to know," Nichols said.
Nichols said he cleaned malware from the employees' computers and told them to change their passwords. But he said the nonprofit organization lacked the resources to prevent future attacks.
"We don't have the money to pay for a forensic team to find this sort of thing," Nichols said. "We don’t have the manpower. I've got one network administrator and he's juggling email and firewalls. He's very busy."
Nichols said the Aspen Institute installs antivirus products from Symantec on its employees' computers. But the software didn't catch the hackers, Nichols said, because the malware was custom-written to evade detection.
"With the software we've got, we're finding the obvious stuff, but we're not finding the stuff that's really well-crafted," Nichols said.
Nichols said he encourages employees to be more careful when checking email.
"The best thing you can do is teach staff to think, 'Does this email look legit?'" Nichols said. "People have gotten more cautious about clicking on links. But people are in a rush and assume some messages are from friends and don't think before clicking. And sometimes it's too late."
Nichols said the cyberspies most likely hacked Aspen Institute employees through what is known as a "spear phishing attack." In such attacks, hackers send targeted emails to employees that appear to come from a trusted source, like a friend or colleague, but contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, download malware onto victims' computers and allow hackers to remotely spy on their activities.
In 2011, the security firm McAfee published a report that identified a five-year cyber-espionage operation that targeted 71 companies, governments, and non-profit organizations around the world. Though it was not named in the McAfee report, one of those organizations was the Aspen Institute, Nichols said.
Security experts said they considered that operation the work of Chinese hackers. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking.
The Aspen Institute is not the only think tank to admit being hacked recently. Last month, the Center for American Progress said its computer network was targeted by Chinese hackers, but gave few details.
Sean Henry, a former FBI cybersecurity official, has said think tanks make valuable targets for cyberspies because they provide policy research for federal agencies, and their employees often join the government and work on classified data.
"These organizations aggregate very valuable data, and that's exactly the kind of information that foreign intelligence services are looking for," Henry told USA Today last year.

The Aspen Institute was recently ranked as the 41st best think tank in the US according to the annual University of Pennsylvania rankings.

Here is yesterday's Think Tank Watch post on Chinese hackers targeting think tanks.  It notes a variety of think tanks have been hacked, including CSIS, AEI, Brookings, CFR, and CAP.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Think Tanks Targeted by Chinese Cyber Spies

It is no secret that many think tanks are targeted by cyber spies.  Below is what today's Washington Post says.  It quotes scholars from two think tanks - Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) - which have both been hacked.
Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them.
The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.
“The dark secret is there is no such thing as a secure unclassified network,” said James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which has been hacked in the past. “Law firms, think tanks, newspapers — if there’s something of interest, you should assume you’ve been penetrated.”
“They’re trying to make connections between prominent people who work at think tanks, prominent donors that they’ve heard of and how the government makes decisions,” said Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, which also has been hacked. “It’s a sophisticated intelligence-gathering effort at trying to make human-network linkages of people in power, whether they be in Congress or the executive branch.”

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on cyber spying which notes that the Brookings Institution has been the target of cyber spying.

Here is another Think Tank Watch post which notes that the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) was attacked by Chinese cyber spies.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) was also recently hacked.

In other think tank hacking news, the Washington Post has just reported that Philip Mudd, a Senior Research Fellow at the New American Foundation (NAF), had his email hacked.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BPC Beefs Up Its Bipartisan Chops with Sen. Snowe

Former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will be joining the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington, DC-based think tank founded in 2007 by Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker (R-TN), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Bob Dole (R-KS), and George Mitchell (D-ME).

Here is the BPC press release, which says that she will be joining the think tank as a senior fellow.  She will co-chair BPC's newly formed Commission on Political Reform (CPR).

Here is the BPC press release about CPR.

The following people will be the co-chairs of CPR:
  • Tom Daschle, Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (D-SD); Co-founder, BPC 
  • Dan Glickman, Former U.S. Representative (D-KS) and Secretary of Agriculture; Senior Fellow, BPC 
  • Dirk Kempthorne, Former U.S. Senator (R-ID), Governor and Secretary of the Interior; President and CEO, American Council of Life Insurers 
  • Trent Lott, Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R-MS); Senior Fellow, BPC 
  • Olympia Snowe, Former U.S. Senator (R-ME); Senior Fellow, BPC
The following will be the members of CPR:
  • Hope Andrade, Former Texas Secretary of State (R) 
  • Molly Barker, Founder, Girls on the Run (a transformational learning program for 8 to 13-year-old girls) 
  • Henry Bonilla, Former U.S. Representative (R-TX); Partner, the Normandy Group 
  • John Bridgeland, Former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council; Former Director, USA Freedom Corps; President and CEO, Civic Enterprises 
  • John Donahoe, President and CEO, eBay Inc. 
  • Susan Eisenhower, Chairman of Leadership and Public Policy Programs, Eisenhower Institute; President, Eisenhower Group, Inc. 
  • Floyd H. Flake, Former U.S. Representative (D-NY); Pastor, Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral 
  • Mark D. Gearan, Former Director, Peace Corps; President, Hobart and William Smith Colleges 
  • Heather Gerken, J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law, Yale Law School 
  • Michael Gerson, Former Speechwriter for President George W. Bush; Columnist, The Washington Post 
  • Charles Gonzalez, Former U.S. Representative (D-TX) 
  • Jennifer M. Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan (D) 
  • Antonia Hernandez, President and CEO, California Community Foundation 
  • Karen Hughes, Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Worldwide Vice Chair, Burson-Marsteller 
  • Victoria Kennedy, Co-founder, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate 
  • Chris Marvin, Managing Director, “Got Your 6” (a campaign to bridge the gap between the military and civilians); Afghanistan War Veteran, U.S. Army
  • David McIntosh, Former U.S. Representative (R-IN); Partner, Mayer Brown LLP 
  • Eric L. Motley, Ph.D. Former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush; Vice President, the Aspen Institute
  • Deborah Pryce, Former U.S. Representative (R-OH); Principal, Ice Miller Whiteboard 
  • Reihan Salam, Lead Writer, National Review Online’s “The Agenda” 
  • Kurt L. Schmoke, Former Mayor of Baltimore (D); Vice President and General Counsel, Howard University 
  • Margaret Spellings, Former U.S. Secretary of Education (R); President and CEO, Margaret Spellings and Company 
  • Diane Tomb, President and CEO, National Association of Women Business Owners 
  • Ronald A. Williams, Former Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc; Founder, RW-2 Enterprises, LLC 
  • Elaine Wynn, Director, Wynn Resorts
On February 11, 2013, BPC announced that it was launching a new Immigration Task Force - co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell.

Best New Think Tanks of 2013

Following are the best new thinks tanks established in the past 24 months, according to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings:
  1. Google Ideas (US)
  2. Economic Strategies for the 21st Century, or e21 (US)
  3. Macdonald-Laurier Institute, or MLI (Canada)
  4. Econwatch Society of Political Analysis (Germany)
  5. Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, or IDEAS (Malaysia)
  6. Arab Thought Forum, or ATB (Jordan)
  7. Casablanca Institute (Morocco)
  8. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research (UAE)
  9. Centre Africain des Estudes Asiatiques, or CAEA (Morocco)
  10. Audace Institute Afrique, or AIA (Ivory Coast)
Here is the previous Think Tank Watch post on the best new think tanks of 2012.  That list, which has some overlap with the 2013 list, was based on think tanks that were established in the past 18 months.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CNAS Names Former CSBA Official as New CEO

The musical chairs at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) continues.  Here is what The Cable's Josh Rogin reports:
Undersecretary of the Navy Bob Work has been selected as the new chief executive office of the Center for a New American Security,The Cable has learned.
The board of directors of CNAS, the think tank begun in 2008 by former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, chose Work at their meeting Tuesday to fill the void left by Nate Fick, who stepped down last November to become CEO of Endgame, Inc., a cyber security firm. A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but The Cable obtained the press release in advance. Work begins work at CNAS on April 22.
Work's selection completes the reorganization of the CNAS management team. President Richard Fontaine, former advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), replaced John Nagl last May. Nagl left to be a research fellow at the Naval Academy's history center and then subsequently announced he would leave Annapolis to become the headmaster at the Haverford School for boys. CNAS also recently acquired Shawn Brimley as vice president and director of studies.
Robert Work has previously worked at the think tank Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), first as a senior fellow for maritime affairs, and later as the vice president for strategic studies.

The Cable notes that CNAS Board Chairman Richard Danzig is expected to leave CNAS soon. Kurt Campbell will become the new CNAS Chairman.

Here is the official CNAS press release on Bob Work.

The Great Think Tank Bubble?

Ken Silverstein, Fellow at the the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a contributing editor to Harper's, just wrote a piece for the New Republic on the fact that "think tank salaries are looking more and more like lobbyist salaries."

Here are some of my favorite lines:
  • Think-tanking and lobbying have come to look more and more alike. Just like lobbyists, think tanks can frame policy debates and generate political pressure—for the right price.
  • Outgoing Heritage president Ed Fuelner received nearly $1.2 million in 2011, according to the group’s tax filing. If DeMint gets the same compensation—and one expects he’ll get more—it would amount to a raise of about 700 percent from his $174,000 annual take as a senator.
  • In addition to Feulner, at least 19 other officials [at Heritage] cleared $200,000, including former attorney general Ed Meese ($420,000), former congressman Ernest Istook ($303,000), and former labor secretary Elaine Chao ($290,000).
  • AEI’s 2011 tax filing shows Dick Cheney received $210,000 for toiling an average of one hour per week as a board trustee.  Poor John Bolton, a senior fellow, took in roughly the same as Cheney even though those same tax documents say he spends 60 hours per week on AEI work.
  • There are plenty of well-respected scholars at prominent Beltway think-tank positions. But supporting such large organizations requires the same ceaseless fundraising that politicians conduct when running for reelection—and the same sort of ignoble temptations.
  • Nowadays if donors don’t like the results they get, they are increasingly inclined to move their money to more compliant think tanks, or to more expressly political operations. “Think tanks are competing with consulting firms, law firms, Super PACS, lobbyists and advocacy groups,” says James McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. “That puts pressure on think tanks to be more responsive to donors.” The new buzz term among private and public donors is “high impact philanthropy,” McCann says.
  • “Think tanks have become more like PR and lobbying shops than research organizations,” says Steve Clemons, a former executive vice president at the New America Foundation. “That they’re lesser regulated than lobbyists makes them especially attractive to some funders.”

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on think tank salaries, which will be updated soon.

Monday, February 18, 2013

AEI To Get New Headquarters

Think tank row is going to get a bit more crowded soon.

Massachusetts Avenue between 17th St. and 18th St. in Washington, DC, home of the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), and other think tanks, will be getting a new, conservative neighbor.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI), currently located at 1150 17th St., NW, will be moving to 1785 Massachusetts Ave., NW, the current home of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Here is what the Washington Post reports:
AEI, which was founded in 1943 and advocates for right-leaning public policies, will move to the Dupont Circle building from 1150 17th St. NW, where it occupies the top three floors, but is in need of more space in which to grow.
“This is a vital step for AEI and our unyielding mission,” AEI President Arthur Brooks said in a statement. “Our growing community of world-class scholars and staff need a building equal to their talent. This property gives us an ideal facility to enhance our expanding programs. We’ll be excited to call it our new home.”
The statement was issued jointly by AEI and the National Trust. The organizations declined to share the sales price because the final details of the deal are still being finalized.
Before AEI moves into the Dupont building, National Trust needs to find a new home.
Here is a statement from AEI about its new home.

AEI was just rated as the 20th best think tank in the world by the University of Pennsylvania's annual think tank rankings.  It was also rated as the 7th best think tank in the US.

AEI's move to think tank row will mean that you can walk to the #1 (Brookings), #2 (CEIP), #7 (AEI), and #12 (PIIE) best think tanks in the US in about one minute.  A true think tank hoppers' delight.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) used to be housed within CEIP at 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, but it moved several years ago to 1777 F Street, NW.  Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) new think tank, The McCain Institute, is housed within the CFR building in DC.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is expected to move to its new headquarters, located at 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW, later this year.  CSIS is currently located at 1800 K Street, NW.  While not on "think tank row," it is certainly a lot closer.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #39

  • SIPRI: Top 100 arms sales decreased in 2011.
  • Koch-funded charity passes money to free-market think tanks in states.
  • New PIIE President Adam Posen on Charlie Rose. 
  • Obama's Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, to head Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to speak at CSIS. 
  • PIIE's conference on "Abenomics."
  • Dr. James McGann on the tremendous influence of Brookings. (Korean) 
  • Eamonn Fingleton: "Is Brookings Americas most idiotic think tank?" 
  • Cato's Jim Harper on the LSE review of Think Tanks in America by Thomas Medvetz
  • SCMP: "Public research fund should stay out of government think tank's hands."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Atlantic Council Releases Donor List

The Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS) released a document last week that details the foreign governments, businesses, and other that have funded the think tank.

The document was released after Senate Republicans demanded the financial information from Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who is Chairman of ACUS.  Here is a letter requesting information about ACUS funding.

A letter dated February 8, 2013 says that Hagel's position as Chairman of ACUS has been on a pro bono basis since he got that position in February 2009.

As for funding, the document says that ACUS does not make public a comprehensive list of all its donors.  ACUS says is publicly acknowledges corporate donors of $5,000 or more.  ACUS attached a list of foreign corporate donors to the Council over the past five years.  That list contains 102 corporations.

The document also includes a list of "foreign government entities" that have funded ACUS over the past five years.  That list contains eight entities:
  • State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR)
  • DEPA Public Gas Corporation (Greece)
  • JP Transnafta (Serbia)
  • Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) (Turkey)
  • Istanbul Natural Gas Distribution Co. (IGDAS) (Turkey)
  • Turkey Army College
  • The Electricity Generation Company (EUAS) (Turkey)
  • Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) (Turkey) 
Lastly, the list includes foreign governments that have funded ACUS over the past five years.  That list contains 16 governments:
  • Bahrain
  • European Commission
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Luxembourg
  • Montenegro
  • NATO
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The list can be found here.

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin discusses the Atlantic Council memo and writes about Hagle's "complicated ties."  In another post, she quotes a "disgusted" Senate staffer as saying that "the fact that the Atlantic Council is unable to simply release the Schedule B from their Form 990s over the last five years suggests they are concealing donors that could sink the nomination."

The Free Beacon notes that some Senate Republicans are not happy with the Atlantic Council's "limited disclosure."

The Free Beacon reports that multiple foreign corporations that have bypassed or attempted to bypass US or EU sanctions against Iran are funding ACUS.

The Free Beacon also suggests that Hagel has "nefarious" ties to Kazakhstan and Chevron via ACUS.

In a Washington Post opinion piece, former Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), who has served on the ACUS Board, comes out in defense of Hagel.

ACUS was recently rated as the 17th best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings. It was also ranked as the 19th best think tank in the world in terms of best external relations/public engagement program.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day, From Think Tank Land

Yes, even think tankers pause on Valentine's Day to reflect about life and love.  Here are some thoughts from think tank land:

Writes Vincent Smith, Visiting Scholar at American Enterprise Institute (AEI):
Valentine's Day is here again, and every lover who buys his or her significant other a box of candy will pay just a little bit more for the privilege.  This is because sugar quotas guarantee sugar cane and beet producers and sugar processors higher returns that they would obtain if they faced genuine competition from the global market.
You can learn more at AEI's American Boondoggle.

Here is a 2009 piece from AEI's Kevin Hassett on true love.

Here is what Tyler Cowen, General Director of the Mercatus Center, and Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, has to say:
Love actually rings in at $43,842.08, according to, which has calculated the price tag of the typical modern relationship – from a one-year courtship, followed by a one-year engagement to the wedding day.
Betsey Stevenson of the University of Michigan and Justin Wolfers, a Nonresident Senior Fellow, Economics Studies at the Brookings Institution, penned a piece today titled "Valentine's Day and the Economics of Love" that has a slightly happier tone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #38

  • Cato's response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
  • Alejandro Chafuen on supporting think tanks.
  • ITIF tells Americans that their broadband is really great.
  • AEI scholars on the State of the Union address.
  • On Atlantic Council's donors and its intellectual independence.
  • The role of think tanks in Arab transitions. 
  • Cato's Kindle contest
  • Wilson Center's Iranian business
  • Secret funding of anti-climate change think tanks in the US? 
  • Check out the new CEIP website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Onion: Pope to Join Catholic Think Tank (Joke)

The news satire organization The Onion has done it again, breaking at hot story about the Pope accepting a Senior Analyst Position at a Catholic think tank.  Even though this is a joke, it is quite amusing:
Just hours after announcing his resignation from the papacy Monday, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that he had accepted a lucrative senior analyst position at a New York–based Catholic think tank, the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person. “My years at the Vatican have been tremendously rewarding, but the time has come for me to move on to new challenges, and after interviewing for a variety of different positions, the senior analyst job at the Westchester Institute seemed like the natural next step for my career,” said the 85-year-old Benedict, whose extensive résumé reportedly begins with the line “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of Apostles, 2005-2013.” “With my experience, I believe I can bring a unique perspective to today’s most important policy debates, whether it’s opposing homosexual behavior or denouncing the use of contraception in AIDS-stricken nations. I look forward to getting started this March.” Benedict added that he plans to maintain a good relationship with his soon-to-be former employer, just in case any worthwhile positions open up in the future.
Click here for a list from Wikipedia which documents when third parties have mistakenly cited The Onion as real news.

This is not the first fictitious think tank to be created in recent memory.  Check out this previous Think Tank Watch post on the Institute for Continuing Conflict.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kurt Campbell to Become Chairman of CNAS

Here is what Josh Rogin at The Cable is reporting:
Kurt Campbell, one of the key architects of the Obama administration's Asia "pivot," has left the State Department and is set to be the next chairman of the board at the Center for a New American Security, the think tank he helped found in 2008, multiple sources told The Cable.
Campbell will be joined on the CNAS board by Michèle Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, who was the founding president of CNAS when Campbell was the founding CEO. Campbell's last day at State was last Friday. Flournoy attended his goodbye party in the State Department's diplomatic reception room, where a hot topic of discussion was who will replace Campbell as the State Department's top Asia official.
Here is the current list of the Board of Directors at CNAS.  Richard Danzig is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors at CNAS.

In the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, CNAS was ranked as the 14th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 24th best security and international affairs think tank in the world.  It was ranked 25th in the world in terms of think tanks having the most significant impact on public policy.

It was also ranked 18th in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.  It was ranked as the 21st best think tank in terms of best use of media (print or electronic).  CNAS was also ranked as the 20th best think tank in terms of best external relations/public engagement program.

As Think Tank Watch previously reported, there has been speculation that Campbell's wife, Lael Brainard, a former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, could become the next US Trade Representative (USTR).

Think Tank Quickies #37

  • New Cambridge U. think tank: Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER).
  • Think tanks = Hotbeds for Anti-Semitism?
  • Next Heritage Foundation president a "skilled marketer."
  • GMF Mark Jacobson writes on myths about Obama's drone wars.
  • CAP shares plan to improve access to preschool education and child care with Obama Administration.
  • Petraeus buddy Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings praises Gen. John Allen.
  • Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon made several trips to Afghanistan sponsored by the International Security Assistance Force, which Gen. Allen commanded until this past weekend.
  • New PIIE President Adam Posen featured in New York Times magazine. 
  • Think tanks trying to reduce dependence on grants.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Incoming Heritage President Forms New Think Tank

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), President-elect of the Heritage Foundation, has just formed a new conservative think tank in South Carolina called the Palmetto Policy Forum.

Here is what the Charlotte Observer has to say:
DeMint, a Greenville Republican who spent 13 years in House and Senate, is investing $300,000 from his remaining campaign money to establish the Palmetto Policy Forum. He also will serve as chairman.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, DeMint said, “All over the country states are becoming the innovators of bold public policy” on topics including education, energy development and tort reform.
“The muscle behind these ideas is often coming from very innovative...policy groups” at the state level, DeMint said. “South Carolina can be one of those policy innovators.”
The Heritage Foundation, where DeMint is president-elect, is working with state-based policy groups around the country, he said.
Oran Smith, director of the Palmetto Family Council, will serve as a senior fellow contributing to legislative research at the Palmetto Policy Forum. Education, healthcare and infrastructure will be the first topics the forum tackles, Smith said.
Ellen Weaver, DeMint’s former state director, will become the forum’s president and chief executive on March 4 after helping with the transition of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a North Charleston Republican whom Gov. Nikki Haley appointed to fill DeMint’s seat last month.
DeMint will officially start as President of the Heritage Foundation on April 3, 2013.

Read more here:

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CFR & Treasury Department Closely Linked

Muckety recently released this map showing the close relationship between the US Treasury Department and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Here is another similar Muckety map showing corporate connections to CFR.

Treasury Secretary Geithner to Join CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) announced today that former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will join CFR later this month as a Distinguished Fellow.  He will be based at CFR's headquarters in New York.

Here is what Reuters has to say.  Here is what the Los Angeles Times has to say.  Here is what the Washington Post has to say.

Here is what Matthew Yglesias at Slate has to say:
What that amounts to exactly and what it pays I couldn't say, in part because CFR currently doesn't seem to have anyone with the title "distinguished fellow" which I think we're supposed to understand to be more senior than "senior fellow." But Geithner will be in residence at CFR with an office and presumably doing some kind of writing.
Here is what Lloyd's has to say:
The move keeps Mr. Geithner, 51, plugged into Washington and New York power circles while giving him ample time to pursue other interests, such as public speaking and perhaps even penning a book. Many of his friends speculated that after four grueling years at the Treasury Department, Mr. Geithner would choose a low-key post for the next year or so that would give him plenty of flexibility.
CFR is an influential member-based organization that operates as sort of a think tank, hosting panels, speeches, and publishing reports on a range of current events.  Mr. Geithner has plenty of colleagues at CFR and would likely fit in easily. One of his mentors, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, is CFR's co-chairman.
Mr. Geithner was previously a Senior Fellow at CFR in 2011.

Here is a video of Geithner speaking at CFR on June 13, 2012.  Here is a transcript from a speech that Geithner gave at CFR on April 26, 2011.  Here is a transcript from a speech that Geithner gave at CFR on March 25, 2009.

CFR is not the only think tank that Geither has embraced.  For example, in August 2010 he gave a speech about tax cuts at the Center for American Progress (CAP).  In April 2012, Geithner gave a speech about the economy at the Brookings Institution.

It is possible that fellow former Cabinet member Hillary Clinton could also join CFR.  Clinton, who last week stepped down as Secretary of State, just gave her farewell speech at CFR several days ago.

Think Tankers Abound in 100 Most Influential People in Defense

Defense News recently released its annual 100 Most Influential People in US Defense list, which features numerous think tankers.  Here are some examples:
#1: Thomas Donilon - Before becoming National Security Adviser to President Obama, he was affiliated with the Brookings Institution.
#2: Leon Panetta - Before becoming Defense Secretary, he co-founed The Panetta Institute for Public Policy.
#23: Kurt Campbell - Before becoming Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, he co-founded the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
#25: Susan Rice - Before becoming US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), she was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
#41: Andrew Krepinevich - He is the President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA).
#42: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel - He is the Chairman of the Atlantic Council.
#43: John Hamre - He is the President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
#44: Richard Danzig - He is the Chairman of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
#45: Rudy deLeon - He is the Senior Vice President, National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress (CAP).
#70: Michele Flournoy - She is the Co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
#77: Todd Harrison - He is a budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA).
#78: David Berteau - He is the Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
#80: Loren Thompson - He is the CEO of the Lexington Institute.
#82: Chris Preble - He is the Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.
#92: Peter Singer - He is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
#96: Barry Blechman - He is a Co-founder of the Stimson Center.
#97: Larry Korb - He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP).
#98: Mackenzie Eaglen: She is a Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Gen. David Petraeus, who relied heavily on input from think tanks, is #100 on the list.

In related defense/think tank news, are think tanks biased toward the US Army?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Former Brookings Fellow to Become Next USTR?

Lael Brainard, a former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development program (2001-2009), has been named as a possible replacement for Ron Kirk, who is stepping down as the US Trade Representative (USTR).

Brainard currently serves as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

Her husband is Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  He is Co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  Campbell is expected to step down soon and he may return to CNAS.

Heritage Foundation Retreat Lacking "Big Shots"

Here is what Roll Call is reporting today in an article titled "Heritage Retreat Lacks Boldface Names," referring to the Heritage Foundation's annual Conservative Members Retreat:
Some of the House’s most prominent conservatives will huddle in Baltimore this week for The Heritage Foundation retreat, but two of the most notable names in the conservative movement are skipping the occasion.
Heritage President and CEO Jim DeMint, who recently resigned from the Senate to take the job, and House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the GOP’s recent vice presidential nominee, will not attend the three-day confab.
Retreat organizers wanted to host an address by DeMint, the former South Carolina senator, but decided not to out of an abundance of caution. Criminal law forbids former senators from influencing members for two years after leaving Congress.
“We’re handling him with kid gloves because we don’t want to put him in any situations where it’s technically legal, but it looks bad,” said Michael Franc, vice president for government studies at Heritage. “He has the ethical limits in terms of dealing with members that might be deemed as traversing the boundaries of ethics laws.”
The three-day retreat, which starts on Wednesday night, will lack the star power that appearances by DeMint or Ryan would have brought. Moreover, the schedule lacks big-name conservative speakers altogether.
Organizers reached out to several governors aligned with the conservative movement, but they all declined the invitation, according to a GOP congressional aide. Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, both former members of the Republican Study Committee when they were House members, had scheduling conflicts. Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels could not make it either.
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois will not attend the retreat.
Around this time last year, Roll Call had an article about the 2012 retreat titled "Heritage Retreat Hosts Wide Range of GOP."  That Heritage retreat took place in Philadelphia.  The 2011 retreat took place in Los Angeles, California.

Majority Leader Cantor Gives Major Speech at AEI

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will be giving a major policy speech today at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Although registration is now closed, one can watch it online here.

Rep. Cantor's office has issued a press release with some excerpts of the speech, which is being titled "Making Life Work."

AEI is one of Cantor's favorite think tanks to launch new initiatives and gives various speeches.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has also used AEI as a policy platform, such as when he gave this talk in September 2010 on Congressional reform at AEI.

In September 2012 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Marco Rubio used AEI to launch a legislative initiative related to higher education.

At an AEI event last year titled "The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise," Eric Cantor was one of the speakers.

Here is an interview that Nick Schulz, AEI DeWitt Wallace Fellow and Editor-in-Chief of, did with Rep. Cantor in April 2012.

In July 2011, Rep. Cantor held a conference call with AEI President Arthur Brooks on its quarterly National Council call.

In May 2010 it was reported that Rep. Cantor attended AEI's annual Irving Kristol Award ceremony.  The honoree of that event was Gen. David Petraeus.

AEI is not the only think tank platform that Cantor has used.  For example, he gave this May 2010 speech at the Heritage Foundation's President's Club meeting in which he delivered remarks on national security policy.  At that speech, it was reported that he was booed by the crowd when he rebuffed a questioner who suggested President Obama is a "domestic enemy."

Rep. Cantor also gave a January 2011 speech at the Heritage Foundation titled "How Federal Spending Undercuts Economic Freedom."

It was reported today that Rep. Cantor will not attend this week's Heritage Foundation retreat in Baltimore, Maryland.

As Think Tank Watch has previously noted, Rep. Cantor started his own think tank called the National Council for a New America.  That think tank has been in "suspended status" since 2010.

Update: Here is what Washington Post's Dana Milbank had to say about the Cantor event at AEI.

Monday, February 4, 2013

No Indian Think Tanks in Top 50 Rankings

Here is what the Hindustan Times just pointed out:
Not one Indian think tank figures in the Global 50 annual list for 2012 released by the University of Pennsylvania end-January. China beats India in this area as well and so do, in some specific cases, think tanks from such countries as Ethiopia, Cost Rica, Brazil, Egypt, and Argentina.  The best India has managed is the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) at Number 51.
Indeed, no Indian think tank makes the top 50 list in terms of the top 50 non-US think tanks worldwide.

As Think Tank Watch noted in this previous post, the Brookings Institution just opened up Brookings India, and it will be interesting to see whether that think tank can help India crack the top 50 in the next think tank rankings.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #36

  • On Clinton's farewell speech at CFR.
  • Center for Public Integrity: "Koch brothers pour more cash into think tanks."
  • Atlantic Council's Damon Wilson comes to the defense of Chuck Hagel. 
  • Brookings Senior Fellow Michael Doran says Hagel following a "flawed map."
  • Financial woes force Florida's Collins Center for Public Policy to close.
  • CSIS recommends revamp of US-China S&ED. 
  • Actor Bradley Cooper discusses mental health at CAP
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to speak at AEI.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to speak about foreign relations at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Former Rep. Ernest Instook (R-OK) broadcasting "Instook Live!" from the Heritage Foundation.