Dec 10, 2018
The National Endowment for Democracy is a private foundation -
that receives millions of our tax dollars - that pays groups to
work to change the governments of other countries. In this episode,
hear highlights from a hearing during which the president of this
creepy organization and the presidents of two organizations that it
funds - which are controlled entirely by members of the Republican
and Democratic parties - will give you some insight into what kind
of work they are doing manipulating information and interfering in
elections in other countries around the world.
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Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World, Senate Foreign
Affairs Committee, June 14, 2018.
Timestamps & Transcripts
15:35 Representative Edward Royce
(CA): At home, we must maintain the decades-old bipartisan
consensus that democracy is a core element of U.S. foreign policy.
That is why it’s important to have the National Endowment for
Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the National
Democratic Institute here today, and that’s why it’s important that
Congress continues to adequately fund these institutions.
- 24:30 Representative Edward Royce
(CA): I’m pleased to welcome our distinguished guests here
on the panel, including Mr. Carl Gershman, who has served as
president of the National Endowment for Democracy since its
founding in 1984. He’s a long-time friend of this committee. He’s
respected worldwide for his work, especially in his efforts to help
peaceably end the Cold War and transition countries from behind the
Iron Curtain to democracy, and he’s done this through
nongovernmental action. Before his time at NED, he was the senior
counselor to the United States representative to the United
Nations, where he worked on international human rights issues.
- 25:21 Representative Edward Royce
(CA): Mr. Daniel Twining is the president of the
International Republican Institute, and previously he served as the
counselor and director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall
Fund of the United States. He also worked here in Congress. He
worked here as a foreign policy advisor to Senator John
- 25:45 Representative Edward Royce
(CA): And we have Mr. Kenneth Wollack. He is president of
the National Democratic Institute, and he has co-edited the Middle
East Policy Survey and written regularly on foreign affairs for the
Los Angeles Times.
- 27:26 Carl Gershman: I’d call
your attention, for example, to some recent events, among them the
remarkable democratic transition in Gambia; the fall of the corrupt
Zuma government in South Africa; the stunning victory of democracy
in Malaysia, and the freeing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim;
the equally stunning triumph of democracy in Armenia; and the
successful local elections in Tunisia that are, in my view, a
decisive step forward in the Arab world’s first democracy. These
are just a few of the examples that I could give of recent
democratic advances. There is Slovakia, interesting developments in
Ethiopia. Even in a country like Uzbekistan, we can see some
glimmerings of some opening.
- 31:07 Carl Gershman: Other examples
include the support that NED has given in Ukraine to the
Anti-Corruption Action Center that has tirelessly led the campaign
for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption court. And
I’m pleased to report that just last week the Ukrainian parliament
at long last approved legislation to create such a court.
- 37:25 Daniel Twining: In Europe, the
Kremlin is deploying a sophisticated information-warfare campaign
to undermine democratic institutions, erode citizen trust in
democracy, and wedge apart the transatlantic alliance. This form of
warfare is particularly insidious—this political warfare—because it
uses core features of democracy against us—exploiting our free
media, manipulating false information, undermining confidence in
electoral systems. IRI’s Beacon Project is engaged in a big line of
work to leverage our relationships for European political parties
and civil-societies groups to track Russian misinformation,
including in many local languages, and then to coordinate political
responses to that.
- 31:46 Carl Gershman: The last
example is the nonpartisan training conducted by four NGOs in
Tunisia of new candidates who participated in last month’s local
elections. Of the 235 individuals who were trained, 112 won seats,
and 25 were at the heads of their electoral lists.
- 41:46 Kenneth Wollack:
Authoritarian regimes are using digital tools to advance their
interests, including electoral espionage and the dissemination of
disinformation, to skew electoral outcomes, disrupt democratic
discourse, discredit democratic institutions, and fuel ethnic and
social divisions. NDI has responded by providing cybersecurity
support; assisting efforts of civic, media, and political groups to
detect, expose, and combat this information; and conducting new
types of public-opinion research to identify populations that are
most susceptible to Russian disinformation and develop messages
that can build resilience. In cooperation with IRI and NED, NDI is
helping to launch a new effort with democracy groups, civil-society
organizations, civic-tech partners, political parties, and a global
network of four million citizen election monitors to interact more
regularly with the technology companies.
- 44:23 Kenneth Wollack: Ukrainians can
point to concrete achievements in recent years. These include the
emergence of new political parties that have national reach and are
focused on citizens they represent rather than on oligarchs who
would finance them. Brought together by NDI in partnership with the
European Parliament, party factions in the Rada are overcoming deep
fragmentation to agree on procedures that will make it easier to
build consensus around reforms. In NDI programs alone, more than
45,000 citizens have engaged directly in the national reform
process and reaching more than 1.3 million citizens through the
- 45:05 Kenneth Wollack: Another story
of democratic resilience is unfolding in Syria. In northern Syria,
citizen groups are prioritizing community needs, and local
administrative councils are responding by providing critical
services. Fifty NDI governance advisors are working each day in 34
locations to advise citizen groups and administrative councils, and
bringing them together to solve problems.
- 49:19 Carl Gershman: But you’ve got
to build a defense against it, and a lot of the groups that we
helped stop fake news Ukraine and other groups like that are being
able to identify fake information. We have a dialogue—a very
ongoing dialogue—with the Internet companies to take down a lot of
incitement, a lot of fake news. We’re connecting our grantees with
the Internet companies. We have groups like Bellingcat, which is an
investigative journalist group. They use open-source information.
But they’ve identified the Russian general who provided the missile
that shot down the Malaysian airliner.
Wollack: But this a daily fight on the ground.
Representative Edward Royce (CA): A social media
fight? Wollack: Yes. To give you one example, the
Democratic Party of Serbia, two weeks before the local elections,
the Russians—presumably the Russians—had hacked their Facebook
page, put horrible content on it. The hackers then contacted
Facebook, told them to look at the site. Facebook immediately took
down the Facebook page. Now, the party didn’t know who to contact.
They had no contact with Facebook. They were able to contact us.
Our office in Silicon Valley managed to reach the
Facebook executives. They immediately took it down.
- 54:04 Representative Eliot Engel
(NY): The budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 requested a
$67 million for NED, which is a 60 percent cut from the amount
which is $170 million that Congress has appropriated yearly since
- 54:59 Carl Gershman: I mean,
there are, obviously, two fundamental problems with the OMB budget
request for fiscal 2019: the amount and separating us from the four
institutes. And both of these are devastating. I don’t even want to
get into now what we would have to cut. They’re devastating—utterly
devastating. It would virtually kill the whole program.
- 58:22 Daniel Twining: But in
Malaysia, IRI’s been working with the opposition there since 2002.
Malaysia was essentially a one-party majoritarian state. The ruling
party had ruled since 1957. It had gerrymandered all the districts,
given itself every advantage. But in this last election a month
ago, the opposition won for the first time in 60-something years,
and that was an example of playing the long game, right? We, the
United States, supported a democratic opposition that is now in
charge of this very strategic country right there on the front
lines of the South China Sea, right there on the front lines of the
Islamic world’s intersection with the rest of Asia, and that’s good
- 1:09:12 Representative Gregory Meeks
(NY): And Mr. Gershman, I’m a former board member at NED,
so I’ve seen firsthand the work that you and your dedication and
the bipartisan board of NED collectively working together to try to
make sure that we have a better world for all of us.
- 1:12:20 Kenneth Wollack: Our
engagement is not to spread falsehoods. It’s not to create fake
news. It’s not to try to disrupt the process. It’s not to try to
spur conflict in countries. What we’re trying to do is promote the
principles, values, processes, and institutions that are enshrined
in an intergovernmental organization. And our work is to try to
help people engage in the political process.
- 1:16:34 Representative Dana Rohrabacher
(CA):... did we or did we not involve ourselves heavily to
undermine the democratically elected government of Yanukovych in
Ukraine? And what did it bring us? It brought us turmoil and
conflict—that if we’d have waited and let that government be
elected, because of its flaws unelected, we would not be in this
situation today where the world is more likely to go into conflict
because of that. I don’t believe the Russians would’ve invaded
Ukraine had we not arrogantly involved ourselves to overthrow that
democratically elected government in Ukraine.
- 1:18:39 Representative Dana Rohrabacher
(CA): So, I’ve had my say. I know I’m making everybody mad
at me, but I had to say it.
- 1:25:59 Representative Brad Sherman
(CA): And I want to turn our attention to Yerevan and
Armenia. NED has allocated $1.3 million last year. Now we’ve seen a
real move toward democracy. Are you going to do more, given the
fluid situation there? Carl Gershman: Thank you
very much for that question, Mr. Sherman. Yes. The answer is yes.
Our board, which meets later this week, is making Armenia what we
call a country eligible for contingency funds, which are funds set
aside for new situations and, obviously, what’s happened in Armenia
is very, very new. And we—I think there are several priorities that
have to be addressed. There are going to be quick elections that
have been called in Armenia, and those elections have to have
integrity to them to give legitimacy to the current Pashinyan
government. There is a parliament that oversees this, and
government officials are really new to the governing game. The
system has been controlled by a centralized authority for a number
of years and so a lot of training is going to have to be necessary
for some of the new government officials. And then, finally,
there’s going to be a big information war, the kind of issue raised
by Congressman Royce, and it is very essential in this period—and
this is what the groups that we help are doing—is to get people
reliable and independent information so they don’t make the
judgments based upon the disinformation that is going to be
promoted by the forces that have just been removed from power.
- 1:49:40 Representative Karen Bass
(CA): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I want to
welcome my colleagues from NED and IRI and NDI. And I’m a member of
the NED board, for my colleagues that are here on the committee,
and I have to say the work that NED does around the world is really
- 2:07:52 Representative Ted Poe (TX):
Globally, what do you personally see is the number-one entity that
is a threat to democracy worldwide? Is it China? Is it Russia? Is
it North Korea? Is it ISIS? Is it Iran? Pick one. Pick the one you
think is the threat. Carl Gershman: China.
Rep. Poe: China. Gershman: China.
Rep. Poe: Mr. Twining. Daniel
Twining: China. Rep. Poe: Mr. Wollack.
Kenneth Wollack: Russia. Rep.
Poe: Russia. Russia and China.
- 2:35:00 Carl Gershman And I
think it should not be forgotten: NED was created as an independent
institution so that even when you have problems, whatever the
problems are with the executive branch, our work continues
consistently. And I think that was a brilliant idea, and it’s in
the National Endowment for Democracy Act adopted by the Congress by
Dante Fascell in 1983, and I think it was brilliant to give the NED
that kind of independence so that we can go forward, regardless of
what the policies of the executive branch are at any particular
- 2:47:46 Carl Gershman: I take
pride in the fact that when we make grants to groups abroad, I take
pride that it’s with American taxpayer money. We try to protect
that money. We try to make sure that every single dollar is spent
well. But I take pride in the fact that that’s a demonstration of
the support coming from the American people.
Sound Clip Sources
News Interview: The Rules-Based
International Order Created by the U.S. is Being Torn Apart by the
U.S., CNN, June 10, 2018.
- 2:30 Sen. Diane Feinstein I mean we
have helped support this whole Democratic Atlantic community and
more or less forged it into a single entity. And I’ve been very
proud of that as an American.
Speech: Madeleine K. Albright
Gives Keynote Remarks at 2018 Albright Luncheon, National
Democratic Institute, YouTube, May 10, 2018.
- 10:50 Madeline Albright We are
employing every tool at our disposal from the use of focus groups
to the collection of more accurate data, to connections made
through social media, to the design of election observer missions,
to the drafting of model laws, to partnerships with regional bodies
and the United Nations, to the mobilization of public opinion from
around the equator and from pole to pole.
Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe
Biden, Council on Foreign Affairs, January 23, 2018.
- Joe Biden
- Richard Haass - President of the Council on Foreign
Joe Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example.
I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I
got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember
going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we
should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess,
the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that
there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a
commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take
action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said
they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah,
I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion
dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the
president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said,
I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said,
you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I
think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m
leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not
getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.
And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
Facebook, Google and Twitter Executives on Russian Election
Interference, House Select Intelligence Committee, C-SPAN,
November 1, 2017.
- Kent Walker
- Google Senior Vice President & General Counsel
- Colin Stretch
- Facebook Vice President & General Counsel
- Sean Edgett
- Twitter Acting General Counsel
- 59:39 Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL): I
submit to you that your efforts have to be more than just about
finding malicious and deceptive activity, that you have a
responsibility—all of you have a responsibility—to make sure that
we are not adding to the problem by not being as rigorous and as
aggressive as we can in terms of vetting the content and in terms
of making sure that we are being really dynamic in doing that.
- 1:57:39 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA):
RT, Russia Today, on your platform, has 2.2 million subscribers.
Fox News, on your platform, has 740,000 subscribers. CNN has 2.3
million subscribers. The Intelligence Community assessment that was
made public in January spoke about RT, and it said, “RT conducts
strategic messaging for Russian government. It seeks to influence
politics and fuel discontent in the United States.” So my question
to you is, why have you not shut down RT on YouTube?
Google and Twitter Executives on Russian Disinformation ,
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, October 31,
- Colin Stretch - Facebook Vice President and General
- Sean Edgett - Twitter Acting General Counsel
- Richard Salgado - Google Law Enforcement & Information
- 38:25 Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
(RI): And I gather that all of your companies have moved
beyond any notion that your job is only to provide a platform and
whatever goes across it is not your affair. Colin
Stretch: Senator, our commitment to addressing this
problem is unwavering. We take this very seriously and are
committed to investing as necessary to prevent this from happening
again. Absolutely. Whitehouse: Mr. Edgett?
Sean Edgett: Absolutely agree with Mr. Stretch,
and this type of activity just creates not only a bad user
experience but distrust for the platform, so we are committed to
working every single day to get better at solving this problem.
Whitehouse: Mr. Salgado? Richard
Salgado: That’s the same for Google. We take this very
seriously. We’ve made changes, and we will continue to get better.
Whitehouse: And ultimately, you are American
companies, and threats to American election security and threats to
American peace and order are things that concern you greatly,
correct? Stretch: That is certainly correct.
Edgett: Agree. Salgado: That’s
Subcommittee Hearing - The Collapse of the Rule of Law in
Venezuela, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 19,
- Luis Almagro
- Secretary General of the Organization of American States
07:15 Senator Marco Rubio: I also know
this, and I do not speak for the president, but I’ve certainly
spoken to the president, and I will only reiterate what he has
already said, and I’ve been saying this now for a number of days:
it is my—I have 100% confidence that if democracy is destroyed once
and for all in Venezuela on the 30th in terms of the Maduro regime,
the president of the U.S. is prepared to act unilaterally in a
significant and swift way. And that is not a threat; that is the
reporting of the truth.
Defense Secretary Nominee General James Mattis Says Russia is
Trying to Break NATO, US Senate, C-SPAN, January 12, 2017.
- John McCain: For seven decades, the United
States has played a unique role in the world. We’ve not only put
America first, but we’ve done so by maintaining and advancing a
world order that has expanded security, prosperity, and freedom.
This has required our alliances, our trade, our diplomacy, our
values, but most of all, our military for when would-be aggressors
aspire to threaten world order.
U.S. Strategy Against ISIS, Senate Armed Services Committee,
C-SPAN, December 9, 2015.
- 2:28:14 Sen. Lindsey Graham Here’s
what I’ve done. I make an offer to our president that I believe
this war is going to go on for a long time after his presidency; I
believe that they’re going to go wherever they can on the planet
and that we should stop them wherever necessary; and when it comes
to means, we should not limit this commander in chief or any other
commander in chief when it comes to means.
Speech: Gov. Howard Dean -
DemTools 2.0 Launch, NDI's DemTools Launch Event, December 9,
- 9:55 Howard Dean I’m incredibly proud
to be a member of the board of NDI, which is an incredibly
sophisticated organization that does not shrink from bringing
democracy to any corner of the Earth, including some we’re not
allowed in. We get there anyway.
Speech: Sen. Tom Cotton Says
US Should Shoot Down Russian Planes Over Syria, YouTube,
October 1, 2015.
Is the United States at a Crossroads? Domestic and Global
Dimensions, Wilson Center, May 15, 2015.
- 15:35 Jane Harmon Ukraine. You and I
were there together. Madeline lead the delegation - of course she
did - for the National Democratic Institute, which she chairs and
the International Republican Institute was also there during the
first Ukraine election in May of last year. And among other things
we met with the presidential candidates including Poroshenko and
Tymoshenko and we tooled around in Kiev and I also went to Odessa
to see how the voting was going.
Senator Dan Sullivan's Maiden Floor Speech, US Senate, C-SPAN,
January 27, 2015.
- 9:05 Sen. Dan Sullivan If the
executive branch continues to dither on America’s economic future,
Congress can and should act to expe- dite such projects. That is
what we are doing with Keystone, and that is what I will be
pressing the Congress to do for Alaska’s and America’s next great
en- ergy infrastructure project—the Alas- ka LNG project—which will
create thousands of jobs and provide clean and affordable energy to
Americans and our allies for decades.
Speech: Vice President Joe
Biden Opens 2014 NDI Democracy Award Dinner, National
Democratic Institute, December 11, 2014.
- 32:40 Vice President Joe Biden That’s
why in Ukraine, working alongside groups like NDI, with your
leadership, we’re providing to the Ukrainians, as we had to the
Iraqi’s, personnel from each of our departments teaching them how
to literally, as I said, write a budget, expertise from our Justice
Department, teaching them the tools that are available to ensure
that the court systems are free and transparent. We’re helping
Ukrainian officials develop laws and regulations that will
establish anti-corruption institutions within the government,
enable authorities to combat corruption more effectively. Our
militaries are working together to improve Ukrainian capacity to
provide it’s own defense and a military system that meets the
standards of democracies, while providing security assistance to
counter Russian aggression.
Speech: Thomas A. Daschle's
Speech to NDI's 30th Anniversary Dinner, National Democratic
Institute, December 16, 2013.
- 1:30 Tom Daschle Like many of you, -
by the mission of NDI. The realization that we have had one focus
now for 3 decades. And that focus is very simply to empower people
to be able to govern themselves more effectively. That’s what we
try to do.
Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Speech, Virginia Military Institute,
C-SPAN, October 8, 2012.
- 17:25 Mitt Romney Fortunately, we had
leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who
knew that America had to support friends who shared our values, and
prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.
Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its
responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our
friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We
defended our friends, and ourselves, from our common enemies. We
led. We led.
News Interview: CIA Admits
Orchestrating Syrian Coup of March 1949, BBC Interview,
Who will fix Facebook? by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, November
US, Ukraine in 'close discussion' for new lethal arms by Joe
Gould, Defense News, November 18, 2018.
Facebook purge: Here is the list of pages deleted by Facebook
by Patrick Brown, The Western Journal, October 13, 2018.
Catlett Marshall, United States General, by Forrest C. Pogue,
Encyclopedia Britannica, last updated October 12, 2018.
Article: Anti-Media shut
down by Facebook and Twitter by Caitlin Johnstone, The
Anti-Media, October 11, 2018.
Facebook purged over 800 U.S. accounts and pages for pushing
politcal spam by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, The
Washington Post, October 11, 2018.
Facebook tempts political backlash with massive purge of 810 pages
and accounts by Rhett Jones, Gizmodo, October 11, 2018.
The survivors of the Rohingya Genocide by Jason Motlagh,
Rolling Stone, August 9, 2018.
John McCain passes the torch at the International Republican
Institute by Josh Rogin, The Washington Post, August 3,
Exclusive: IMF backs Ukraine anti-corruption court plan by Marc
Jones, Reuters, July 25, 2018.
anti-corruption court law needs amending - IMF chief by
Reuters, June 19, 2018.
Independent candidates get most votes in Tunisia's municipal
election by Tarek Amara, Reuters, May 8, 2018.
Trump is gutting the National Endowment for Democracy, and that's a
good thing by Stephen Kinzer, The Boston Globe, March 14,
The Trump administration wants to dismantle Ronald Reagan's
'infrastructure of democracy' by Josh Rogin, The Washington
Post, March 4, 2018.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Royce announces retirement by
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, January 8, 2018.
What the United States did in Indonesia by Vincent Bevins, The
Atlantic, October 20, 2017.
Is John McCain's pick to lead the International Republican
Institute a strike against Donald Trump? by Timothy J. Burger,
Town & Country Magazine, August 10, 2017.
Confront authoritarianism by defending democratic values by
Carl Gersham , Journal Sentinel Online, October 22, 2016.
Russia adds International Republican Institute to growing list of
"undesirable organizations", International Republican
Institute, August 18, 2016.
Bernie Sanders is exactly right: The media is an arm of the ruling
class of this country by Brian Hanley, Huffpost, March 28,
Pro-democracy nonprofit is banned in Russia by Ivan
Nechepurenko, The New York Times, March 11, 2016.
Evil internet bill CISPA is back from the dead, cleverly titled
CISA by Kelly Weill, Daily Beast, October 28, 2015.
National Endowment for Democracy is first 'undesirable' NGO banned
in Russia by Alec Luhn, The Guardian, July 28, 2015.
Former Soviet states stand up to Russia. Will the U.S.? by Carl
Gershman, The Washington Post, September 26, 2013.
Russia wields hard power over Armenia by Anne Applebaum, The
Washington Post, September 20, 2013.
Article: Covert plan for
Panama may be wrong message to send the opposition, The Los
Angeles Times, August 14, 1988.
U.S. assembled a force in 1964 for possible use in Brazil coup
by David Binder, The New York Times Archives, December 30,
Oil discovery in Brazil expected to aid economy, The New York
Times Archives, December 9, 1964.
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Design by Only Child Imaginations
Music Presented in This Episode
Intro & Exit:
Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on
Music Alley by mevio)