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Microphones-2-.jpg This article is part of the Propaganda Portal project of Spinwatch.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a US government-funded private entity whose activities are designed to support US foreign policy objectives. It has been accused of doing today what the CIA did during the Cold War – supporting political parties in foreign countries that suit US interests.[1] To these ends the NED funds organisations such as Internews in attempts to foster "regime change" and "democracy promotion".[2]

Internews views itself thus:

"The association fosters independent media in emerging democracies, trains journalists and station managers in the standards and practices of professional journalism, produces innovative television and radio programming and Internet content, and uses the media to reduce conflict within and between countries. Internews programs are based on the conviction that vigorous and diverse mass media form an essential cornerstone of a free and open society."[3]

Many countries in which the NED's family of organisations work are aware of the ambiguous status of these organisations and something of a backlash against them has occurred in which Internews has been caught up. The Educated Media Foundation (formerly Internews Russia), was raided by employees of the Department of Economic Security of the Interior Ministry of Russia, who carried out a seizure of financial documentation. These investigative activities, according to the official explanation, were in connection with the January 2007 detainment at an airport of the head of the Educated Media Foundation Manana Aslamazyan with 9,500 Euros that she had not declared to customs.[4]

The Educated Media Foundation "had been seeking to teach Russian journalists how to do real reporting", says a supportive blog with alarming neo-colonial candour.[5] But any serious investigative journalist would take one look at the funding of the organisation (NED, US Agency for International Development, etc. – see "Funders" below),[6] the make-up of its board and their connections to past US propaganda operations (Hill and Knowlton, National Security Council and so forth – see "People", below) and unambiguously declare it — not that there is credible denial — part of the US government's covert operations, soft power and public diplomacy.

The Hoover Institution has a somewhat brash version of what the Russians might have been worried about:

"Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities—democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, and so on—but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews, and several others, to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries, and the George Soros–funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same."[7]

The Hoover Institution also argues that American democracy assistance groups do not carry out the will of the Bush administration and that (despite National Security Council members being on Internews etc.)[8] "policymakers at the White House and the State Department have had almost nothing to do with the design or implementation of American democracy assistance programs."[9] But this claim is contradicted by a number of accounts, including one which describes how US President George W. Bush held a 35-minute meeting with some of Putin's more vocal critics in his hotel minutes before he attended a Victory Day parade in Red Square (at the invitation of Mr Putin) back in 2005:

"The meeting, described by one of those who attended as an "important sign to Mr Putin that America is interested in the development of independent society in Russia", let Mr Bush hear from organisations working in the fields of human rights, media freedom and environmental issues in Russia. Manana Aslamazyan, from the media support group Internews Russia, said Mr Bush told them the US was ready to support their work. "He said that we need to work for more democracy in Russia," she said."[10]

Aslamazyan does have the support of the US Congress-funded radio and communications propaganda organisation Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In an interview with them, she said:

"All the international resources we received and spent were received with the authorization of the Russian government, and went through special government commissions that exempt these resources from taxation. They certainly knew the nature of our work. We kept regular records. All of them have been filed with these commissions. It seems to me that they're simply mistaken. I want to think that some groundless suspicion arose. It's a mistake, and it will soon be resolved."[11]

The Washington Post (which has ties to the NED),[12] quoting the Russian authorities, stated that "During the investigation it was revealed that the following money transfers by foreign organizations were made to the bank account of 'Educated Media' during the period of December 2006 to March 2007: 70,000 euros from Internews Europe Association (France) and $300,000 from Financial Service Center (USA). However, there is no data on spending those amounts." They note that Internews Europe is an organization affiliated with the Educated Media Foundation adding: "The Financial Services Center is the U.S. State Department disbursing office that makes overseas payments for U.S. agencies with foreign operations, according to a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman." The report adds:

"The $300,000 was a scheduled disbursement from the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to U.S. officials and Aslamazyan. Since 2004, USAID has given approximately $8 million to the Educated Media Foundation and its predecessor organization, Internews Russia. From 1998 to 2004, the United States provided almost $30 million to Internews U.S., some of which was sent to the organization's Russian arm. The embassy spokeswoman said the U.S. government is satisfied that the grant money was spent properly. She noted that Educated Media, like all recipients of U.S. grants, is subject to annual independent audits and is required to submit regular financial and programmatic reporting. "Internews has complied with all of these requirements and has had no material negative findings against them," the spokeswoman said."[13]

In the 60s, following revelations by Ramparts magazine concerning the Congress for Cultural Freedom, The Washington Post's John Harwood wrote of the the U.S. Central Information Agency's disinformation program that begun late in the 1940s and early 1950s. This program eventually involved most of the major private institutions in American life: "It was not enough for the United States to arm its allies, to strengthen government institutions, or to finance the industrial establishment through economic and military programs," wrote Harwood. "Intellectuals, students, educators, trade unionists, journalists and professional men had to be recruited directly through their private organizations."[14]

The Washington Post article includes a chart, "This is How the Money Goes Round," upon which the accompanying chart and the following description is based.

Circles of influence

Following the Watergate scandal, and investigations by the Church Committee of the Senate, the Pike Committee of the House, and the Rockefeller Commission, the CIA was becoming an embarassment, and Congress decided something had to be done and the US Congress created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), ostensibly set up to support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, nongovernmental efforts. As the NED's own history puts it:

"NED's creation was soon followed by establishment of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the National Republican Institute for International Affairs (later renamed the International Republican Institute or "IRI"), which joined the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI) as the four affiliated institutions of the Endowment. (FTUI was later reorganized as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, also known as the "Solidarity Center.")"[15]

Since the end of the Cold War,"democracy assistance" has become a key focus (and disguise) of this continuation: the U.S. Agency for International Development spent $649 million on democracy programs in 2000, a substantial increase from $165 million in 1991. [16]

Other western countries now have government foundations similar to NED, and they work collaboratively, e.g., the Canadian Rights and Democracy and the British Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Additional US agencies have joined NED and the CIA in this work, notably, the Agency for International Development (USAID) and United States Information Agency (USIA), which support and create foreign NGOs and media.[17]

". . . these public-private philanthropies have worked together to fund and direct overthrow movements. . . . The grantees' activities included destabilization, the creation of mobs preventing elected governments from ruling, chaos, and violence. Among those funded were the Civic Forum in Czechoslovakia, Solidarity in Poland, Union of Democratic Forces in Bulgaria, Otpor in Serbia, and, more recently, similar groups in the succession states of the USSR. Sometimes mobs (especially of young people) have been moved around from one country to another to give the impression of vast popular opposition. The NED, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, and the Soros philanthropies have been particularly active in these operations. Human Rights Watch (formerly Helsinki Watch) has nurtured opposition groups.[18]

The NED also branched out in 1994 with the creation of the International Forum for Democratic Studies: an centre for analysis of the theory and practice of democratic development worldwide and part of the Endowment structure and receiving funding from the NED appropriation, with additional provided by private foundations, which have also helped fund the Democracy Resource Center, a variety of research conferences on democratic themes, and a small fellowship program. The Forum also encompasses the Journal of Democracy, now published by Johns Hopkins University Press. A related development that emerged from NED's efforts to stimulate the promotion of 'democracy' has been the creation of the World Movement for Democracy, a "network of networks".[19]


Manana Aslamazyan: President, Educated Media Foundation(formerly Internews Russia) Aslamazyan has worked with Russian journalists sinece 1992.

According to her internews profile, together with Alexei K. Simonov she

"launched Russia’s first freedom of speech organization in 1991, the Glasnost Defense Foundation (GDF). In 1992, Aslamazyan began to work with Internews Network to organize events for newly formed independent TV stations around the former Soviet Union. She became its first foreign staff person and by 1994, was managing the Russian operation, which in 1997 registered as a fully independent Russian non-commercial organization. In 2006, in response to changing legislation and its increased focus on training, Internews Russia re-organized as the Educated Media Foundation (EMF)."

Internews Russia/EMF has been involved in numerous projects including the launch of Internews Russia/EMF’s Journalism School and the Russian-American Media Entrepreneurship Dialogue.

Aslamazyan serves on the boards of several Russian nonprofit organizations, Internews Network, and Internews International ( a collection of local Internews organizations around the world)and Internews Europe. Aslamazyan was part of the Russian Duma Committee on Information Policy, and from 2000 to 2004, the Federal Competition Commission of Ministry of Press, TV Broadcasting and Mass Media. She is a board member of the Academy of Russian Television and served for three years as a Vice-President of the National Association of TV and Radio Broadcasters (NAT).

Kathy Bushkin Calvin, Co-Chair, Executive Vice President and The United Nations Foundation. Formerly, a senior member of [[AOL Time Warner's executive team] ]and involved in its philanthropic activities with the company's corporate citizenship policies. Calvin joined America Online in 1997 following a management positions at Hill and Knowlton, U.S. News & World Report, and as a press secretary for Senator Gary Hart. Calvin currently serves on the boards of the International Women's Media Foundation, the Wolf Trap National Park, National Women's Law Center, International Radio & Television Society Foundation and Share Our Strength.

Greg Carr, Director: Carr Foundation: In 1986 Carr co-founded telecommunications firm Boston Technology. From 1996-1998 he was chair of Prodigy, a global Internet service provider. He also co-founded Africa Online in 1996 and served as its chair until 1998. He formed the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University in 1999, which seeks to "make human rights principles central to the formulation of good public policy in the United States and throughout the world." He sits on the boards of Internews, Physicians for Human Rights, Witness, and the Idaho Human Rights Education Center.

Lorne Craner, President: Craner is also President of the International Republican Institute, that describes itself as "a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing democracy, freedom, self-government and the rule of law worldwide." Craner was Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for Secretary of State Colin Powell. His internews profile states that:

"During this time, he contributed to the conception and implementation of President Bush’s approach to democratization in the Middle East, sharpened the Administration’s focus on human rights in Central Asia and initiated the first U.S. Government programs to advance democracy in China."[20]

Craner was Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 1992-93. From 1989-92, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, and he was Senator John McCain’s foreign policy advisor from 1986-89.

Wade Greene: Greene is a philanthropic advisor to the Rockefeller Family and Associates concentrating on issues involving international security, Russia, the environment, alternative energy, voter participation and the media. Greene has written extensively about these issues, including a book on arms control, and articles in The New York Times, Newsweek and Time magazines. He founded Nuclear Times magazine and is a member of the board of the League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Media Services. Greene is a former editor of Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine and the Saturday Review and wrote the report of the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs. He holds an MS from the Columbia University School of Journalism and a BA in social and economic institutions from Princeton University. He was also a Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford University and an Alice Patterson Fellow.

David Hoffman, President: Co-founded Internews in 1982,Hoffman has written widely about media and democracy, the Internet, in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He has also testified before US House and Senate committees on issues of press freedom and access to information.

He is Chair of the Management Committee for the Global Forum for Media Development. Hoffman was project director of the television series Capital to Capital in 1987-1990, produced in association with ABC News and Soviet State Television, and was project director for Internews’ broadcasts of the proceedings of the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for which Internews was awarded the European Commission’s ECHO Award for Broadcast Commitment in 1996. From 1980-1982 Hoffman was the editor of Evolutionary Blues, a journal of political thought on international conflict, the threat of nuclear war, and US-Soviet relations.

David Michaelis, Director of Current Affairs for Link TV in San Francisco. He has produced and directed documentaries on social-political issues for the BBC Channel 4 in the UK as well as for ARD and ZDF in Germany. With Internews, he created the first satellite two way link between Tunis and Jerusalem in October, 1993. Michaelis also helped to establish AMIN, the first Arab media site reflecting all media in the Middle East. In 2004 he produced the film "Occupied Minds," a joint Palestinian-Israeli personal journey through the occupied areas. In 2006 he was the lead interviewer for the film, "In the Name of the Victims," a documentary film that raises the issue of Holocaust survivors and their fight for justice 70 years after World War II.

Pat Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer: President of the Museum of Television and Radio, formerly the chief executive of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), in 1992, Mitchell became an executive in charge of original productions for Ted Turner’s cable networks. Mitchell is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Afghan Women's Council; the vice chair of the Sundance Institute Board; a founding member of Mikhail Gorbachev's global environmental organization, Global Green USA; an adviser to the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Harvard University; a member of the Mayo Clinic's Board of Trustees; and on the corporate boards Knight-Ridder, Inc., Bank of America, and Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy Studies Program : Pascual joined the Brookings Institute after a 23 year career in the United States Department of State, National Security Council (NSC), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Before joining Brookings, Pascual served as coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the United States Department of State in Sudan, Haiti, and Asia and Latin America.

Pascual was coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia (2003) where he:

..."guided the development of regional and country assistance strategies to promote market-oriented and democratic states and to ensure that U.S. assistance reinforces American interests. He managed the allocation and implementation of approximately $1.1 billion in annual assistance. From October 2000-August 2003, Mr. Pascual served as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. He oversaw U.S. policy focused on promoting Ukrainian reforms critical to its integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Key priorities included strengthening grassroots democratic initiatives, promoting counter-terrorism and non-proliferation, and building a strong private sector."[21]

Pascual served as special assistant to the President and NSC senior director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia from July 1998 to January 2000. He advised the President on U.S. policy to advance security interests with Russia and reduce proliferation risks. From June 1995 to July 1998, Pascual was director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs at the NSC, responsible for economic policy and for Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. Prior to his work at the NSC, Pascual held several positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). From February 1994 to June 1995 he was deputy assistant administrator for Europe and the New Independent States. He oversaw budget and policy development for USAID’s annual programs of $1.2 billion in the region. In June 1992, Pascual became director of the Office of Program Analysis and Coordination for the New Independent States Task Force. He joined USAID in 1983 and served in Sudan, South Africa, Mozambique, and in Washington’s Africa Bureau.

Peter H. Pennekamp, Co-Chair Director: Pennekamp has been executive director of the Humboldt Area Foundation in California since 1993. Prior positions include vice-president of National Public Radio and program director for the National Endowment for the Arts, both in Washington D.C. Pennekamp has been a policy or grants panelist for the Ford, Rockefeller and David and Lucile Packard Foundations and for the National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Independent Television Service.

Sanford Socolow, Vice Chair, Executive Producer: Currently the executive producer of Cronkite Productions, Inc., a video production company founded and chaired by Walter Cronkite. Socolow was founding executive producer of "World Monitor" production of The Christian Science Monitor), a daily half hour news magazine concentrating on foreign affairs and personalities. Socolow worked at CBS News for 32 years from 1956-1988 and served at various times as the vice-president; deputy director of news; executive producer of the "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite"; executive producer of "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather"; and Washington Bureau chief during the Watergate crisis and the Ford and Carter presidencies.

Kim Spencer, President: Link TV: Having co-founded Internews in 1982, Spencer has served as executive producer, producer, and director of more than seventy hours of independent television programming, broadcast in many countries. Currently the President of Link TV, the nationwide US satellite channel that was co-founded by Internews in 1999.

Where Internews works as of 2004


Internews Network is primarily supported by grants. Funders have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Coxe- Otus Fund, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the GE Foundation, the Gregory C. Carr Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Science Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the United Nations Foundation, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the World Bank.[22]


  1. See, for example, the book by former US State Dept employee William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, first published 1995, revised edition, Zed Books, 2003, NEEDS PAGE REF
  2. source needed
  3. "About Us", Internews, 2004
  4. "An Open Letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin The Kremlin Moscow", Internews website, accessed October 2008. Note the organisations of the supporters and their relationship to Aslamazyan, particularly the Glasnost Defense Foundation, which she started.
  5. "More on the Educated Media Foundation Raid", La Russophobe, 24 April 2007, accessed October 2008
  6. source needed
  7. Michael McFaul (2005) "What Democracy Assistance Is ... and Is Not", Hoover Digest.
  8. needs source
  9. Michael McFaul, "'Meddling' In Ukraine: Democracy is not an American plot", Washington Post, 21 December 2004, accessed October 2008
  10. Nick Paton Walsh (2005), "Bush offers support to Putin's critics: US president takes advantage of Victory Day in Moscow to meet advocates of 'civil society' and democracy", May 10, The Guardian
  11. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2007) Russia: 'Common Attitude Of Suspicion' Behind NGO Struggles June 21.
  12. source needed
  13. Peter Finn (2007) "Russian Probe Shuts Media Foundation: Critics See Political Motive in Charges Against Group's Leader, Raid at Offices", Washington Post Foreign Service, June 29.
  14. John Harwood (1967) "O What a Tangled Web the CIA Wove," Washington Post, February 26. Quoted Enver Masud (2001) from "Millions Spent Subverting 'Enemies,' Stifling Dissent"
  15. David Lowe (2006) Idea to Reality: A Brief History of the National Endowment for Democracy.
  16. Millions Spent Subverting 'Enemies,' Stifling Dissent
  17. Enver Masud (2001) Millions Spent Subverting 'Enemies,' Stifling Dissent
  18. Joan Roelofs, "The NED, NGOs and the Imperial Uses of Philanthropy: Why They Hate Our Kind Hearts, Too,", May 13, 2006
  19. David Lowe (2006) Idea to Reality: A Brief History of the National Endowment for Democracy.
  20. Lorne Craner 2007 Internews Network Biography
  21. Carlos Pascual Internews 2007 Profile.
  22. source needed