Thursday, June 27, 2013

CSIS Scholar Under Investigation by DOJ

James E. Cartwright, the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and currently the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), is reportedly the target of a Justice Department investigation into an alleged leak of classified information about a covert US cyberattack on Iran's nuclear program.

On September 20, 2011 CSIS announced that Cartwright had joined the think tank as the first chair of the then new program in defense policy studies at CSIS.

Here is what The Cable had to say about the Harold Brown Chair and Cartwright at that time:
Cartwright's new chair is named in honor of Harold Brown, who served as secretary of defense from 1977 until 1981 in President Jimmy Carter's administration. Like Brown, Cartwright built a reputation throughout his career for being critical of the Defense Department bureaucracy and pushing for policies that other high-level officials disagreed with. Cartwright's 2009 advocacy for a smaller surge in Afghanistan than that requested by his bosses, Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, led to a falling out between him and the Pentagon leadership.
President Barack Obama had promised Cartwright a promotion to chairman of the Joint Chiefs, but later reneged when a whisper campaign against Cartwright -- reportedly coming from within the Pentagon -- made the choice politically difficult.

CSIS was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world for security and international affairs by the University of Pennsylvania annual think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 5th best think tank in the world.

Taiwan's Deep Connections to AEI

Eli Clifton of The Nation has a new piece titled "The Secret Foreign Donors Behind the American Enterprise Institute," which details the money it has received from Taiwan and others.  Here are some highlights:

  • The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has emerged as one of the Beltway’s most consistent advocates for the sale of advanced fighter jets to Taiwan. Previously undisclosed tax filings reveal that while issuing research reports and publishing articles on US-Taiwan relations, AEI received a $550,000 contribution from the government of Taiwan, a source of funding the think tank has never publicly acknowledged.
  •  In 2009, AEI, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, received the contribution from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s equivalent to an embassy.
  •  AEI’s “schedule of contributors,” a form typically not intended for public disclosure but acquired through a filing error, names TECRO as the organization’s fourth-largest contributor during the 2009 tax year, following Donors Capital Fund ($2,000,000), Paul Singer ($1,100,000) and the Kern Family Foundation ($1,071,912). The US Chamber of Commerce contributed $473,000, making it AEI’s seventh-largest donor.
  •  In 2009, the same year in which Ma hosted the delegation from AEI and the think tank reported the $550,000 contribution from TECRO, AEI employees issued a number of written products praising Taiwan’s government and urging the White House to approve arms sales to the island state.
  •  In a November 3, 2009, article for, AEI resident fellow Daniel Blumenthal, the current director of the think tank’s Asian Studies group, slammed the Obama administration’s Asia policy for “the absence of any agenda on Taiwan.”

The article questions whether or not AEI needs to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) as representing the interests of a foreign government.  There are numerous think tanks that receive foreign money, and to my knowledge, no think tank has ever filed under FARA.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on think tanks, FARA, and foreign lobbying.

Third Way Wins Think Tank of the Year Award

The Prospect magazine's annual think tank awards results are in for 2013.  Here are some highlights:
  • Third Way won the best think tank of the year for North America.  The Brookings Institution was the runner-up for best North American think tank of the year.
  • The Instituto Bruno Leoni won best European think tank of the year.  The Centre for European Policy Studies was the runner-up for best European think tank of the year.
  • The Resolution Foundation won best United Kingdom (UK) think tank of the year. 
In 2012, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) won best think tank of the year for North America.

Interestingly, the Third Way, a Washington, DC-based think tank founded in 2005, is not even mentioned in the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Think Tank Quickies #69

  • AEI launches Center on Higher Education Reform (CHER).
  • New think tank aims to solve end of life issues.
  • Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to move to pro-life think tank? 
  • Worldviews Conference 2013 in Toronto, Canada has panel on coverage of research findings from higher education and think tanks. 
  • Atlas Leadership Academy: Financial planning for your think tank. 
  • New public policy think tank, The Policy Scotland Centre, launched at Glasgow University. 
  • Stephen Bosworth, former US Special Envoy to North Korea, to head US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Cato Institute's Home Study Course.
  • Foundation for the Future (FFF): The Role of Think Tanks in Supporting Dialogue and Consensus Building discussion to be held in Amman, Jordan July 2-4. 
  • Video: Heritage scholar vs. 10-year-old. 
  • On think tank polarization.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Turkey Blames AEI for Protests

Turkey's pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafa, seems to suggest that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is partly responsible for the recent protests in Turkey.

On June 15, 2013, that newspaper had a front-pager laying out a detailed report of how the Taksim Square revolts were pre-planned by neocons at AEI.  [Forbes notes that there was not a single source or quote in the article.]

That information comes as Turkey's intelligence service, the National Intelligence Service (MIT), has launched a comprehensive investigation to uncover foreign links to the protest.

Frontpage Mag says that the choice of AEI seems a bit random.  "AEI is not exactly your obvious choice for a coup plot. And [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan appeared there back in 2004."

Michael Rubin, a Resident Scholar at AEI, says that the newspaper has accused him personally of leading a cabal of former officials to plan the Istanbul unrest.

The Washington Free Beacon says that Rubin was sued by Erdogan in 2010 following the publication of a report alleging widespread financial corruption among Erdogan cronies.

The newspaper says that the plot was hatched during a secret meeting in February.  AEI's Danielle Pletka weighed in on the Turkish reports, and said that there was no meeting.

So what does AEI have to say about Turkey?  Here is what Michael Rubin said last year in a post titled "Turkey's Useful Idiots":
It doesn’t take much for Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to show his true colors. He’s been known as a man of strong opinions since his tenure as mayor of Istanbul. He has dragged a journalist to court for the crime of depicting him in a cartoon as a cat entangled in a ball of string. More Turkish journalists now sit in prison than their Chinese and Iranian counterparts. It is no wonder that Turkey now ranks below even Russia in press freedom.
In 2011 Michael Rubin said that Turkey "no longer stands for freedom."  Here is a piece that Michael Rubin wrote in May 2013 titled "The Coming Collapse of US-Turkey Relations."  Here is a 2011 piece from Michael Rubin titled "Erdogan's Turkey in Not a Friend."  Here is a piece from Michael Rubin from 2008 which says that Prime Minister Erdogan has become the "Turkish Vladimir Putin."

Monday, June 24, 2013

AEI Scholar Spars With Senate Republican Leader

On Friday (June 21) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) at an event titled "Washington's Ongoing Assault on Free Speech."

During the question and answer session, Sen. McConnell has some fighting words to say to AEI resident Scholar Norm Ornstein.  Here is how the Huffington Post described the exchange:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the American Enterprise Institute on Friday to give a speech on the First Amendment, but the most memorable moment was his awkward exchange with Norm Ornstein, a centrist political pundit who has apparently irked McConnell over the years.
Ornstein, also an AEI scholar and congressional expert, was among those who rose to ask McConnell a question after his speech. As soon as he identified himself, McConnell let him have it.
"I've enjoyed dueling you, Norm, over the years. You've been consistently wrong on almost everything," McConnell said to laughs. "I've always wondered, you know, who eats lunch with you over here?"
Ornstein still hadn't asked a question yet as McConnell kept going.
"Actually, some of the worst things that have been said about me over the years have been said by Norm Ornstein," he continued. "You've been entirely wrong on virtually every occasion. I'm glad to see you. What's on your mind?"
Ornstein then got in his question: He asked McConnell about remarks he made in 2000 on NBC's "Meet the Press" in defense of disclosing donor details in politics, and noted that eight Supreme Court justices similarly ruled in the Citizens United case that there should be disclosures of all kinds in politics. As he continued, McConnell interrupted to say Ornstein's question wasn't accurate.
Those justices didn't defend disclosures "as a matter of constitutional interpretation," McConnell said. "I'm sure that if we passed a statute [in Congress] they wouldn't strike it down." As for his own past defense of disclosures, McConnell said one would have to go back to the 1980s to find a time when he defended disclosures for 501(c)4 nonprofit groups, something he says he was wrong to defend before.
"I made a mistake. I was wrong. I've been consistent for 25 years," McConnell said. "The Supreme Court left that up to Congress to decide."
Ornstein also asked if McConnell believes that groups like Organizing For America and Crossroads GPS are social welfare groups, which is a requirement for qualifying as a 501(c)4 nonprofit. McConnell briefly responded -- he said he agrees with the interpretation the IRS has used for 50 years -- but then took aim at Ornstein. Again.
"Let me tell you what Norm is really for," McConnell said. "If Norm had his way, he would push the private sector all the way of out the process of getting elected ... A total government takeover of the whole process, from the time you file to the time you're sworn in. And of course what kind of Congress is that likely to produce? The kind that wants to grow the government because the government would be in charge of how you got there."
"So make no mistake about it: Norm is a good, old-fashioned, far-left guy," McConnell added. "I like him. He's fine. He's been wrong for as long as I can remember. And it's great to see you here. I've been wanting to spar with you for years."
One of the reasons McConnell may have beef with Ornstein is because he recently threw his support behind the idea of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) invoking the so-called "nuclear option" and reforming Senate filibuster rules in response to high levels of GOP obstruction. Ornstein also blames Republicans like McConnell for unprecedented obstruction in his book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Reid even cited Ornstein last year during a spat with McConnell as proof that Republicans are behind Senate gridlock.

Later in the day, HuffPost Live interviewed Ornstein (video here) about the spat.  Ornstein said that he was surprised by McConnell going after him, but said that he would be happy to meet with McConnell for a friendly beer.  He also said that McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, should come too, since she is "more pleasant to be around."  Chao is a Distinguished Fellow at the rival conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein called the bizarre exchange the "think tank smackdown."

Perhaps Sen. McConnell is upset at Ornstein's close connection to the liberal Brookings Institution?  After all, Ornstein served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.  He also co-wrote a book with Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann on Congressional dysfunction called "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Donors of Libertarian Think Tank CEI

Who are the donors of the hard-partying libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)?  Here is what the Washington Post says today:
People have plenty of conspiracy theories about the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute — viewing it as an extension of the Koch brothers’ empire or a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil.
The truth turns out be a bit more complicated, as revealed by the companies and interest groups that sponsor its annual fundraising dinner, which took place Thursday night at the J.W. Marriott in Washington.
According to a copy of the dinner program provided by the group, the biggest single donor to the group is Google, which gave $50,000, while Facebook kicked in $25,000.
Other donations were more predictable, including $110,000 from the energy sector and the same amount from conservative foundations — three of which are associated with billionaires Charles and David Koch.
 The group ranks its donors according to the value of five metals — chromium, tungsten, nickel, copper and tin. The designations come from a bet between economist Julian Simon and ecologist Paul Ehrlich, who predicted that the metals would be more scarce in 2005 than in 1980, the year of the wager. (Ehrlich lost the bet.)
[CEI President Lawson] Bader convinced his mother, Jeannie, and his brother, Cole, to buy dinner tickets at $250 each.
When asked whether he thought his mother should have made a bigger donation, Bader replied, “No comment.”
Here are the donors who supported the annual dinner, listed by sector:
Murray Energy Corporation $45,000
Marathon Petroleum $25,000
Devon Energy $15,000
Phillips 66 $10,000
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity $5,000
American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers $5,000
Emerson Electric $5,000
Association of American Railroads $5,000
BNSF Railway $5,000
Canadian National Railway $5,000
CSX Corporation $5,000
Norfolk Southern $5,000
Union Pacific Corporation $5,000
Auto Industry
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc. $15,000
Ford Motor Company $5,000
Volkswagen Group of America $5,000
Altria Corporate Services $10,000
American Beverage Association $5,000
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States $5,000
Pepsico, Inc. $5,000
Foundations/Advocacy Groups
JP Humphreys Foundation $40,000
Claws Foundation $25,000
Koch Companies Public Sector $15,000
Charles Koch Foundation $10,000
Dunn’s Foundation $10,000
Americans for Prosperity $5,000
The Beach Foundation $5,000
Comcast-NBC Universal $10,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Association $10,000
News Corporation $10,000
Verizon Communications $7,500
The American Conservative $5,000
Motion Picture Association of America $5,000
White House Writers Group $5,000
Google $50,000
Facebook $25,000
Consumer Electronics Association $10,000
GTECH $5,000
Microsoft Corporation $5,000
PhRMA $25,000
Glaxo-SmithKline $15,000
American Optometric Association $10,000
Generic Pharmaceutical Association $10,000
Biotechnology Industry Organization $10,000
Monsanto $10,000Syngenta $10,000FMC Corporation $5,000
U.S. Chamber of Commerce $5,000
Construction/Real Estate
Miller & Long D.C., Inc. $5,000
Old Boston Restorations $5,000
MasterCard $25,000
Cash America $10,000
Credit Union National Association $25,000
National Association of Credit Service Organizations $7,500
American Bankers Association $5,000
Law Firms/Lobby/Consulting Firms
Bracewell & Giuliani $7,500
Baker & Hostetler LLP $7,500
DCI Group $5,000
Dezenhall Resources $5,000
Wiley Rein LLP $5,000
Ambassador C. Boyden Gray $25,000
Stanford Rothschild $25,000
Stephen Modzelewski $25,000
Fred Young $15,000
Jean Claude Gruffat $10,000
Robert Luddy $10,000
Jack France $7,500
Lester Weindling $5,000
Arcadio Casillas $5,000
James Curley $5,000
Forrest G. Hoglund $5,000
Angelo Puglisi $5,000

CEI said that last year it raised a record $700,000 from the dinner.  CEI also said that its goal this year was to raise $1,000,000.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the keynote speaker at the event.  His father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), recently started his own think tank - the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.   Sen. Paul skipped the opening of his father's think tank.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "CEI Knows How to Party."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #68

  • Former government official Richard Williamson joins CNAS as Non-Resident Senior Fellow.
  • How can think tanks help Europe through its troubles?
  • Creating a network of think tanks to support free trade. 
  • Baku to host forum of ECO think tanks September 5-6. 
  • Would there really be a deficit of thought in a world without think tanks?
  • Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is "puny" in comparison to the "big liberal think tanks it duels."
  • Think tanks working on solutions for EU democracy.
  • Big ideas can be bad ideas - even in the age of think tanks.
  • Think tanks support food aid reform.
  • Do these four Delhi think tanks matter disproportionately in India?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First-Ever Ranking of Climate Think Tanks

The International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) has just released the first-ever ranking of the most world-renowned think tanks that conduct research in the field of climate change economics and policy.

According to the Executive Summary from ICCG, the new report ranks think tanks that specialize in the field of climate change economics and policy.  The same Executive Summary notes that "until today, rankings have been based mainly on opinion surveys (such as Dr. James McGann's annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings), or on bibliometric indicators."  This ranking, however, is based on "solid quantitative and analytical data."

The so-called 2012 ICCG Climate Think Tank Ranking is composed of a "Global" category (for think tanks headquartered outside of the US) and a "European" category.

The winner for the Global category is the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  The winner for the European category is the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3).

The top 10 climate think tanks in the Global Category are:
  1. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
  2. Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI)
  3. Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC)
  4. MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR)
  5. RAND Corporation
  6. Worldwatch Institute
  7. Resources for the Future (RFF)
  8. Climate Action Network - International (CAN)
  9. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
  10. Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC)

An award ceremony will be held on June 27, 2013 in Toulouse, France, where the two winners will be awarded a prize of 5,000 euros each and a commemorative plaque.

The annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings (mentioned above) do not have a category specifically for climate change think tanks, although it does have a category for top environmental think tanks.

The top 10 think environmental think tanks (both US and non-US) in the UPenn ranking are:
  1. World Resources Institute (US)
  2. Brookings Institution (US)
  3. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (US)
  4. Worldwatch Institute (US)
  5. Earthwatch Institute
  6. Stockholm Environment Institute (Sweden)
  7. Resources for the Future (RFF)
  8. Earth Institute (US)
  9. Chatham House (UK)
  10. Ecologic Institute (Germany)
The UPenn rankings also have a category for top energy and resource policy think tanks.

ICCG was founded in 2009 as a joint initiative of Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) and Fondazione Giorgio Cini.  ICCG is located on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, right in front of Saint Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.  Think Tank Watch will have to make a trip soon...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #67

  • Conservative think tank AEI endorses CEA nominee Jason Furman, a former Brookings scholar.
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew meets with Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).
  • Harvard's Center for Ethics asks 16 think tanks to disclose all corporate and foreign government donors; only one has said yes. 
  • Israel's Finance Ministry hits back at AEI tax study.
  • Daily Caller: "Heritage Foundation continues slog from think tank to activist group."
  • Heritage Foundation launches $100,000 ad campaign against immigration bill.
  • Peruvian President Ollanta Humala speaks at CAP.
  • NAF's Open Technology Institute (OTI) joins coalition demanding end to NSA spying.
  • ADB Chief: Asian think tanks must keep interacting with policymakers. 
  • First-ever China South Asia Think Tank Forum (CSATTF): report and analysis.

Monday, June 17, 2013

CAP Releases 250-Page Plan to Save the Economy

Another day, another think tank report on ways to "fix" the US economy.  The latest proposal comes from the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP).  Here is how the Washington Post describes it:

The 250-page report, “300 Million Engines of Growth,” appears to be the most comprehensive effort yet by a think tank of any ideology to bridge what was the most glaring economic policy divide of the 2012 election: the difference between how often candidates promised to restore middle-class prosperity and how rarely they offered detailed proposals to accomplish that.
CAP’s plan is filled with detailed proposals that loosely fit two broad themes — boosting the skills and earning power of middle-class workers and fostering an economic environment where good-paying jobs are plentiful.
The core of the plan is the notion that economies grow and thrive best when prosperity is broadly shared — a rebuke of the income and wealth inequality that the United States has seen widen over the past few decades and of the tax-cutting, deregulating policies that CAP economists blame for much of that widening.
Much of the plan is likely to be a conversation stopper for Republicans.
It includes a proposal to make it easier for workers to form labor unions, against which conservatives have fought hard. It also features a parade of new or increased taxes: on the carbon emissions from power plants, on financial transactions on Wall Street, on dividends and capital gains income, and even on the profits from the “big five oil companies.” CAP officials said they had not calculated the total amount of the tax increases contained in the plan.

The full CAP report in PDF can be read here.

The report was edited by Jennifer Erickson, Director of Competitiveness and Economic Growth at CAP, and Michael Ettlinger, who served as Vice President for Economic Policy at CAP.  Mr. Ettlinger is now Senior Director, Fiscal Policy Portfolio, at The Pew Charitable Trusts.  Contributions to the report came from a dozens of current and former experts and staffers at CAP.

NewsBusters said that the Washington Post (article mentioned/quoted above) gave "free publicity" to CAP's "tax-heavy" plan.

Business Insider's Josh Barro said that CAP's plan is "bad" and "micromanaged."  Here is what CAP's Jennifer Erickson had to say in response to Mr. Barro.

Center for American Progress (CAP) was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #66

  • Former White House Advisor Dan Restrepo joins CAP.
  • Brookings holds annual US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar.
  • Heartland Institute President Joeseph Blast talks about the challenges of running a think tank.
  • Azerbaijan alliance of think tanks (ADMA) gets down to work.
  • A new London think tank to launch: Centre for London.
  • Powerful hedge funders cut ties with Manhattan Institute.
  • Pakistan's Planning Commission to be made into a think tank.
  • Private sector to form joint China-India-Nepal think tank.
  • American Thinker: "The Center for American Progress' Willful Blindness."
  • Brookings study: 27.1% of Washington area jobs require STEM skills. 
  • David Petraeus awarded Chesney Gold Medal from RUSI.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Think Tanks Make the Comics

On June 8, 2013 the comic strip Non Sequitur had this to say about think tankers...

Gen. John Allen Joins #1 Think Tank Brookings

Retired General John Allen, former Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan, has joined the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow.

In early 2013, Allen was nominated to be NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, but he turned down the job after being dragged into the probe surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus' affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.  Allen has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Gen. Allen will affiliate with the Brookings new Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence (21CSI), which Think Tank Watch previously described as a "Mini-CIA."  The establishment of 21CSI was announced on March 12, 2013.

Gen. Allen recently published a report on future Afghanistan policy, along with Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon and former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, the co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).  Gen. Allen spoke about Afghanistan at a 21CSI event on March 25, 2013.  A video from that event can be watched here.

Gen. Allen is no stranger to think tank land.  He served as a Marine Corps Fellow to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and was the first Marine Corps officer inducted as a Team Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Moreover, he was advised by various think tankers while stationed in Afghanistan, including American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) Fred Kagan and his wife Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War.

So, what exactly does a "Distinguished Fellow" do?  Who are the other Distinguished Fellows at Brookings?  Here is how Brookings describes it:
Brookings’s distinguished fellows are individuals of particularly noteworthy distinction whose work across several fields of public policy puts them at the pinnacle of worldwide research and policy impact. Distinguished fellows are actively engaged in the life of the Institution, often with more than one of Brookings’s five research programs. In assuming the title, General Allen joins David Dreier, longtime chairman of the Rules Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives; Jean-David Levitte, former French ambassador to the United States; Sadako Ogata, former president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and United Nations high commissioner for refugees; Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China and Singapore and governor of Utah; Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. secretary of health and human services; Itamar Rabinovich, an Israeli diplomat, scholar, and university president; Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania; Thomas Pickering, a career U.S. ambassador and former under secretary of state for political affairs; and Javier Solana, former secretary general of NATO and the European Union’s high representative for foreign and security policy.

The Brookings Institution was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #65

  • The Free Beacon on CAP's "conflicts of interest."
  • John Ross, a former UK gov't official, becomes first foreign full-time senior fellow at a Chinese think tank.  He joins the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies (CIFS).
  • Chinese think tank of low quality?
  • CAP reverses course on federal deficit; CAP deals "major blow" to austerity.
  • Britain faces decade of austerity, warns two influential think tanks.
  • Heritage Foundation scholar Salim Firth accused of presenting misleading data/analysis to Senate Budget Committee; Wonkblog analyzes situation; Firth responds.
  • Krugman: Is Heritage "destroying its own usefulness?"
  • Heritage Foundation a "former think tank?"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Powerful Heritage Staffer Heads to the Hill

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has hired Michael Franc,The Heritage Foundation's Vice President of Government Relations, the think tank's top Capitol Hill hand.  According to his Heritage website, Franc is now a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Here is what Politico has to say:
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy — the man charged with counting  votes — is moving to beef up GOP leadership’s credibility with the right by hiring Mike Franc, The Heritage Foundation’s vice president of congressional relations.
The strategy: Franc’s close, personal relationships with conservative lawmakers combined with strong policy chops and the imprimatur of the Heritage brand will serve as a stamp of approval for a GOP agenda that’s been stymied.
Franc will be involved in both counting votes and policy advice — a job that should help leadership better tailor legislation to the realities of the conservative House. That will be key beginning this summer and fall for expected high-stakes fights over the budget, debt ceiling and immigration, not to mention any legislative response to the various Obama administration scandals.
Franc, who last worked on the Hill for Dick Armey, is a stalwart of the right and has served as an unofficial adviser to dozens of conservatives on Capitol Hill. He’s attended the conservative Republican Study Committee meetings for years, organized Heritage’s successful freshman orientation and routinely fields phone calls from lawmakers.
The mere mention of Franc elicited cheers from some of the best-known Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Franc has spent the bulk of his career at Heritage, where he ran House outreach before taking over the organization’s overall congressional outreach. He must be very eager to get back into House Republican leadership. In 2010, Franc made more than $250,000 from Heritage, according to tax filings. He’ll very likely make roughly half that in McCarthy’s office.

Heritage Foundation has deep connections to Congress.  On April 4, 2013, former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) succeeded Ed Fuelner as President of the think tank.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the world's best think tank in terms of use of the Internet and social media.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fmr. Brookings Scholar Susan Rice to Lead NSC

Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), will become President Obama's National Security Adviser, a move that replaces a former Brookings-affiliated official with a former Brookings scholar.

Amb. Rice will be replacing Tom Donilon, who used to serve on the Board of Directors at the Brookings Institution.  Perhaps Donilon will return to Brookings?

Rice was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution from 2002 to 2009.  There she focused on US foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security.  The various work she did while at Brookings can be found here.

Rice is also a former Board Member of the American Security Project (ASP).  She was also on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council.

Rice's replacement as UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, is semi-connected to Brookings.  Her husband, Cass Sunstein, is a Visiting Fellow of Governance Studies at Brookings.

It was recently announced that Jason Furman, another former Brookings scholar, would become Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

In other recent revolving door think tank news, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, has joined the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) as a Senior Advisor.

But that's not all.  Today, the Center for American Progress (CAP) named Matt Lee-Ashley, former Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of the Interior, as a Senior Fellow.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post (which is periodically updated) on Obama Administration officials who have stepped down and entered the think tank world.

Think Tank Quickies #64

  • "Ask CFR Experts" and live-streamed meetings now part of CFR's public outreach.
  • Thinking about think tanks in Turkey and Georgia. 
  • CAP names Matt-Lee Ashley, former Dept. of Interior official, as Senior Fellow.
  • PIIE President Adam Posen gives presentation at event sponsored by Japan's Cabinet Office.
  • New NED Report: Democracy think tanks in action.
  • Think Tank Fund (TTF) of Open Society Foundations grant: Think Tank Young Professionals Development Program
  • The case for data-focused think tanks.
  • Atlantic Council announces "Startup Dosti" Indo-Pak business plan competition. 
  • Wilson Center announces 2013-2014 Fellowship Class; NAF announces 2014 Fellows.
  • Azerbaijani Foreign Minister meets with heads of leading US think tanks.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Former Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) Joins CAP

The liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) announced this week that former Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) will join the think tank as a Senior Fellow for Economic Policy.

Miller will be joining many former Members of Congress who have recently joined think tanks, including Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), who just joined the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post (which is updated periodically) on Members of Congress who are connected to think tanks.

Center for American Progress (CAP) was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

Gov't Union Blasts Think Tank Letter on Defense Cuts

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal employee union, blasted a letter released yesterday by a group of 25 scholars from 10 think tanks which makes the case for major reform within the defense establishment.

AFGE, which represents 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia (DC), has long criticized defense worker cuts.

Here is what the AFGE press release says:
The recommendations of a group of think tanks, purporting to provide scenarios for cutting the budget of the Department of Defense, fail to meet the laugh test because they focus on massive, indiscriminate and destructive across-the-board cuts in civilian and military personnel, while in most cases leaving the more expensive and less efficient contractor shadow workforce intact, the nation's largest federal employee union said.
American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. blasted the plans as academically lazy and said it is financially disastrous to ignore growing contractor costs while recommending cuts ranging from 10 percent to more than 33 percent of the civilian workforce. The blatant failure to show balance and seriously analyze the true costs associated with various personnel recommendations invalidates the think tanks' findings, he said.
 "It seems easy to pick on the federal employee, labeling him or her as a faceless bureaucrat, because civilian personnel and the associated costs are the most readily identifiable," Cox said. "But transparency doesn't equate to what's most expensive. It is usually what you can't see that will kill you, and that is exactly what is happening with the shadow workforce of contractors, which has exploded since 9/11 and even before."
In Time Magazine, Nick Schwellenbach, Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst at the Center for Effective Government, also questions the report, quibbling with the baseline the scholars used for the Pentagon's civilian workforce.

Here is yesterday's Think Tank Watch post on the joint think tank letter, titled "Defense Reform Consensus."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Think Tanks Release "Defense Reform Consensus"

Today at noon a group of 25 think tank scholars from ten different think tanks released a joint letter called the "Defense Reform Consensus," which makes the case for major reform within the defense establishment.

The letter says that the Department of Defense urgently needs to close excess bases and facilities, reexamine the size and structure of the DoD civilian workforce, and reform military compensation.

The letter was addressed to:
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
  • Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee James Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKean (R-CA)
  • Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith  (D-WA)
  • Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Dick Durbin  (D-IL)
  • Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Thad Cochrane (R-MS)
  • Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense C.W. BillYoung (R-FL)
  • Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Peter Visclosky (D-IN)

The 25 think tankers who signed the letter were:
  • Gordon Adams, Stimson Center
  • David Barno, Lieutenant General USA (Ret.), Center for a New American Security
  • Nora Bensahel, Center for a New American Security
  • David Berteau, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Barry Blechman, Stimson Center
  • Shawn Brimley, Center for a New American Security
  • Thomas Donnelly, American Enterprise Institute
  • Mackenzie Eaglen, American Enterprise Institute
  • Paul Eaton, Major General USA (Ret.), National Security Network
  • Eric Edelman, Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Nathan Freier, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Mark Gunzinger, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
  • Christopher Griffin, Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Todd Harrison, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
  • Lawrence Korb, Center for American Progress
  • Andrew Krepinevich, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
  • Maren Leed, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Clark Murdock, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Michael O'Hanlon, Brookings Institution
  • Christopher Preble, Cato Institute
  • Russell Rumbaugh, Stimson Center
  • Jim Thomas, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
  • Kim Wincup, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Robert Work, Center for a New American Security
  • Dov Zakheim, Center for Strategic and International Studies

The full text can be read here.  A C-SPAN video of today's event can be viewed here.  A full-page copy of the letter was placed on page 5 of today's Hill newspaper.

The Examiner calls the letter an "extraordinary appeal" to Congress to cut defense waste.

Here is what Christopher Preble of Cato has to say about the letter.  He notes that participants in the letter "do not agree that the Pentagon's budget should be cut in the first place."

Some have asked why Heritage Foundation has not signed the think tank letter.

A previous Think Tank Watch post about the Defense Reform Consensus can be found here.

It is still unclear what impact the joint think tank letter may have, although Think Tank Watch will closely monitor the response.