American Enterprise Institute

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The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) was founded in 1943 and is located in Washington, DC.

It is often called the Godfather of Washington neoconservative lobby groups and is America's richest, largest and most influential think tank. It was regarded as one of the George W. Bush administration's closest allies.

It has the CEOs of both pharmaceutical giant Merck and of The Dow Chemical Company, as well as the Vice President of Exxon, among the many corporate figures on its Board of Trustees.[1] Several leading lights of the Bush administration, most notably Vice President Dick Cheney, directly connect to AEI, which also shares its address with Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and the neoconservative publication Weekly Standard. Like PNAC, the AEI was regarded as a promoter of President George W. Bush's war agenda, including the war in Iraq. More recently it has defied corporate funders in pushing for a more aggressive stance against Iran. There is a crossover in staff between the AEI, the PNAC, and the Bush Administration. Worryingly for its critics, the AEI is, along with the Heritage Foundation, the most cited of the American think tanks.

AEI and the Bush Administration

AEI has emerged as one of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy.[2] More than twenty AEI alumni and current visiting scholars and fellows have served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions.[3] Former United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar, and Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a senior fellow.[4]

AEI-Brookings Nexus

AEI is often cited as rightwing counterpart to the centrist Brookings Institution. In 1998, AEI and Brookings established the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies.[5] In 2006, the two organizations jointly launched the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.[6]


AEI is closely associated with the neoconservative movement in American politics.[7] Irving Kristol, widely regarded as the movement's founder, is a Senior Fellow at AEI. Other current or former AEI staff who are prominent neoconservatives include John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik and Richard Perle.

Areas of Interest

Foreign policy

In May 2003, the AEI were co-sponsors (along with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute) of an all-day conference on Iran. The speakers are reported to have all been strongly pro-Israel, with many of them calling for the US to replace the Iranian regime[8].


The AEI is one of the leading climate sceptic think tanks in the US. A host of its "experts" write on climate-related issues, including James Glassman, who attacked the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that, "The main problem with Kyoto, is that it is a drastic solution to a problem that may not exist".[9]

The experts dismiss climate change, the need for any action that will hurt the US economy and also the corresponding need to increase CAF standards. The AEI has also brought to Europe Bjorn Lomborg, the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, to attack the Kyoto Protocol.

James Glassman works extremely closely with Dr. Sallie Baliunas, one of the world's most prominent climate sceptic scientists, who is a co-host of Glassman's Tech Central Station. In May 2001, Reps. John Peterson, R-Pa., and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., sponsored a special briefing for Capitol Hill Representatives and Staff on The Unsettled Science of Global Climate Change, with a video documentary produced by Tech Central Both Glassman and Baliunas appeared at the briefing .

The following month, Glassman interviewed Baliunas for the American Spectator magazine and then the two jointly wrote an article for the Weekly Standard arguing that "Bush is Right on Global Warming." He also appeared as a panellist at an AEI event called US Climate Policy, along with Robert Litan, from the AEI-Brookings Institute Joint Center, and known climate sceptic Gregg Easterbrook amongst others. The key-note speaker was another climate sceptic US Senator Chuck Hagel.

By January 2002, Baliunas had become a co-host of Tech Central Station, which is jointly funded by Exxon, and in the Summer of 2002, Glassman and Baliunas attacked the move by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee headed by Senator Jeffords. Called Bill S.556, it would have set limits for carbon dioxide emissions. The Pair labelled it a "Backdoor Kyoto", saying that: "At stake is nothing less than the health of the U.S. economy - critical at a time of sluggish business, high unemployment and a terrorist threat that requires increased production and stability" .

Over a year later the two were working again to try to scupper US domestic initiatives on climate. In October 2003 Senators McCain and Joseph Lieberman tried to introduce the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 (S. 139) to establish mandatory greenhouse gas reductions in the United States. Glassman and the "Tech Central Station Science Foundation" mobilised against the CSA undertaking a cost analysis prepared by Charles River Associates. Glassman put forward himself and arch climate sceptic Dr. Sallie Baliunas, from the George C. Marshall Institute forward for comment as "TCS experts" .

Said Glassman: "The cost analysis of McCain-Lieberman reinforces what we've come to learn about global warming policy measures since Kyoto. We do know that they'll be very costly and damaging to the U.S. economy, and we don't know if they'll have any measurable effect on the earth's climate" .

Between 1-12 December 2003 there was the ninth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 9 in Milan, The month before, the AEI held a meeting on climate and Kyoto. The speaker's list is extremely interesting and shows some of the key climate sceptics together, including Glassman, Baliunis, Roger Bate and Margo Thorning, from the American Council for Capital Formation. A month earlier Thorning's data had been used by President Putin's economic advisor Mr Illarionov to argue against Russia's ratification of Kyoto.

Other people present at the conference were Art Green from Exxon Mobil and Gerd-Rainer Weber, from the German Coal Mining Association. Weber is a member of ESEF (See below). Paula Dobriansky, under secretary of State for global affairs, who gave the key-note speech. Dobriansky, who is another of the Project for the New American Century signatories, was an adjunct fellow at the right-wing Hudson Institute (see below) She was also Bob Dole's 1996 Presidential Campaign, Foreign Policy Coordinator. Dobriansky attacked the Kyoto Protocol both at the conference and in The Financial Times, ten days later. On 4th December Russia announced it would not sign Kyoto in its present form. In the words of its opponents, Kyoto is dead.

The irony of the continuing sceptics was all too apparent in an article published on Tech Central Station on 8th January and written by Roger Bate. "It said that "The truth is that we still don't know that the warmer summers of recent years are due to man's handiwork. The variation could be natural and there's no saying that the current trend will continue. "

This was the same day that an international team of scientists published the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world in the scientific journal Nature. They predicted that over the next fifty years climate change could drive a quarter of land animals and plants - some one million species - into extinction .

In February 2007, a number of sources, including the British newspaper The Guardian reported that the AEI had sent letters to scientists, offering US$10,000 plus travel expenses and additional payments, asking them to critique a consensus report on global warming by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The letters alleged that the IPCC was "resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work" and asked for essays that "thoughtfully explore the limitations of climate model outputs."[10][11][12] According to the Guardian article, the AEI received $1.6 million in funding from ExxonMobil. The article further notes that former ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees.

Criticism of NGOs

In June 2003 AEI held a day-long seminar on 'NGO influence and accountability', subtitled "Nongovernmental Organizations: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few"[13] Among the speakers at the Washington seminar was Gary Johns of the Institute of Public Affairs which had launched a corporate newsletter called NGO Watch two years earlier. Other contributors included Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Roger Bate of AEI, IEA, ESEF, IPN, SDN etc. According to Bate, "NGOs definitely provide benefits in the short run. But I would argue in the long run their influence is nearly always malign, either through their own political acts directly or via aid agencies." Some commentators saw a profound irony in that fact that AEI is itself an "unelected" NGO with a truly remarkable degree of influence.

Following on from the seminar, AEI and the Federalist Society launched NGOWATCH.ORG[14] - 'an effort to bring clarity and accountability to the burgeoning world of NGOs'. The writer Naomi Klein describes it as "a McCarthyite blacklist, telling tales on any NGO that dares speak against Bush administration policies or in support of international treaties opposed by the White House." Its launch, Klein noted, coincided with a push by the Bush administration to get NGOs "to do a better job of linking their humanitarian assistance to U.S. foreign policy" - an effort overseen by USAID and its director Andrew Natsios.[15]

AEI also produces The American Enterprise, "an influential policy magazine" which, like other AEI publications, is "distributed widely to government officials and legislators, business executives, journalists, and academics; its conferences, seminars, and lectures are regularly covered by national television."[16]


The AEI have published various articles over recent years which advocate introducing property rights and market principles in water policy. An AEI scholar, Roger Bate wrote a book titledAll the Water in the World. In the book Roger Bate argues 'water markets introduce flexibility, reduce waste, allow fairer distribution and more rational development of new resources, and therefore smaller environmental impacts'.

The AEI also hosted an event, on World Water Day, to discuss the book The Water Revolution: Practical Solutions to Water Scarcity , authored by Kendra Okonski and published by the International Policy Network. Roger Bate, Andrew Morriss of Case Western University and Kendra Oskonski all discussed the findings of the book which argued:

'Millions of people around the world lack access to clean, affordable water—a problem that has been greatly exacerbated by poor policy choices. In many countries, government subsidies and excessive regulation have created perverse incentives resulting in a diminishing supply and a poor quality of water. In nations where opposition to the private provision of water is prevalent, public-sector water infrastructure is typically decrepit and failing'[17].

Pro-Biotech work

In June 2003 AEI hosted a conference entitled, "Biotechnology, the Media and Public Policy", which brought together probably the largest gathering of leading GM lobbyists assembled outside of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conventions.[18]

Papers that developed out of several of the contributions to the conference were subsequently published in The American Enterprise (March 2004) under the heading "Biotech Bounty".[19] These half-dozen articles included:

  • Let Them Eat Precaution By Jon Entine, an AEI fellow who tells his readers that 'It's high time genetically modified products got their fair shot in the marketplace.'
  • Reaping the Biotech Harvest By Lester Crawford, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates GM foods in the US although, in reality, it is currently largely a voluntary process.
  • How Much Should We Worry about Biotech?[20] By Tony Gilland. Gilland is part of the LM network. His piece trots out the standard LM line about 'the worrying European trend of emotional and psychological, rather than rational, responses to concerns about biotechnology'.
  • Battle for Biotech Progress[21] By Patrick Moore - "A Green activist warns that the anti-science, anti-human obstructions of environmentalists must be resisted." Not everyone would recognise someone who helps front a Canadian logging industry-financed group as the AEI's "a green activist" but the article typically trades on Moore's previous connection with Greenpeace, even though it ended nearly two decades ago. Moore writes, 'Imagine an advertising campaign that showed graphic images of blind children in Africa, explained Vitamin A deficiency, introduced Golden Rice, and demonstrated how Greenpeace's actions are preventing the delivery of this cure. Imagine another ad that showed impoverished Indian cotton farmers, explained Bt cotton, and presented the statistics for increased yield, reduced pesticide use, and better lives for farmers - followed by the clear statement that activists are to blame for the delayed adoption of the technology.'
  • Technology That Will Save Billions From Starvation[22] By CS Prakash and Gregory Conko. Prakash and Conko founded the AgBioWorld campaign. Conko works for AEI's young cousin the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) which has Dow Chemical among its funders. AgBioWorld has had links to Monsanto's PR operations, particularly its Internet PR firm Bivings Group. Aaron deGrassi of the Institute of Development Studies exposed in a report on GM crops and Africa[23] how Prakash had promoted the benefits of Monsanto's GM sweet potato project in Kenya when he had no actual knowledge of the data. The recent publication of that data has shown the project has been a complete failure with the GM sweet potato outperformed by the conventional sweet potato that it was supposed to be replacing because of its "miserable" performance.

The timing of the AEI's conference and of "Biotech Bounty" fitted perfectly into the Bush administration's trade agenda and its WTO case on GMOs - a case that it could not get one African country to support (Egypt initially leant its name then withdrew), even though it was launched in the name of Africa. The principal orator at the launch was CS Prakash.

Key Personnel

Links to the Bush Administration

On 26 February 2003 President George W. Bush was the keynote speaker at the American Enterprise Institute. He enthused that, at the AEI, "some of the finest minds of our nation are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my administration has borrowed twenty such minds. I want to thank them for their service."[24]

One of them was his Vice President, Dick Cheney, who is a signatory of the original PNAC document and was a Visiting Fellow at the AEI 1993–2000. Lynne Cheney, his wife, is a a senior fellow at the AEI. Treasury Secretary John Snow was also at the AEI, although briefly. Paul O'Neil an ex-AEI board member, is also a secretary of the Treasury. AEI's ex-Vice President, John Bolton is the Under-secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Bolton has been described as "the administration's designated treaty killer. Since his nomination (which was opposed by Secretary of State Colin Powell), Bolton's reputation as a rabid opponent of international agreements and loose-lipped critic of foreign regimes has become the stuff of legend, at times hampering the State Department's ability to undertake negotiations".

Other AEI Republican alumni include Lawrence B. Lindsey, now an Assistant to the President for Economic Policy; Director, National Economic Council. Richard Perle, considered one of AEI's top stars - a hawk's hawk - is yet another PNAC signatory is an AEI scholar and was Chairman of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon until he resigned in March 2003. Both the AEI and PNAC are linked into the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which was the center of the PR campaign to invade Iraq in 2003. Perle is a member of that Committee.

President Bush's ex-speech-writer, David Frum, is there too, as is R. Glenn Hubbard, having served for two years as chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Other AEI staff serve on government commissions. Leon Kass chairs the President's Council on Bioethics. Michael Ledeen and Arthur Waldron are on the U.S.-China Security Review Commission, and Allan Meltzer, Eric Engen, and Kevin Hassett advise congressional committees on economic policy.

Dave Wursmer, Vice-President Dick Cheney's Middle Eastern Advisor at the Vice President's office is an ex-AEI scholar and described as a "neocon ideologue". He is married to Meyrav Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies at the right-wing Hudson Institute .

A quick look at the AEI events looks at the ongoing close ties between the AEI and the Republican Administration. In early January 2004, Bush and Cheney's 04 Campaign manager, Ken Mehlman addressed the AEI, as did the U.S. Secretary of Education, Rod Paige.


The Board of Trustees

Council of Academic Advisers

The Council includes Jeremy Rabkin, Professor of Government Cornell University, a known climate sceptic and Elliot Cohen, described as the "most influential neocon in academe," and scholar of military affairs based at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. A signatory of Project for the New American Century and a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq .

Scholars and Fellows

The list includes[25]:



The AEI is one of America's richest think tanks. In 2002, it received some $18.22 million in income, of which 36 came from individuals; 23% came from corporations, and 22% from foundations. The remaining 19 per cent came from publications and sales.

Despite receiving much of its funding from major corporations, in 2007 it defied its funders to back a divestment campaign against Iran. The reason it was able to do it, Jim Lobe reports, is because

Far-right foundations, which lined up behind the neo-cons in the late 1980s, leaving the paleo-cons penniless, have provided a lot of support. Scaife-related foundations have given the think tank more than two million dollars since 2002; while the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has given well over three million dollars since 2003; and the Smith-Richardson Foundation almost as much. And the neo-conservatives themselves aren’t without means, either. The Kovner Foundation, presumably the AEI chairman’s main philanthropy, gave nearly 4.2 million dollars to AEI in 2002, more than 3.7 million dollars in 2003, approximately 2.3 million dollars in 2004, and 1.3 million dollars in 2005, according to tax filings reviewed by IPS. Even multinational corporations may find it hard to keep pace.[27]

Between 1985 and 2002, the AEI received some $29,928,933 in 243 grants from the following 10 conservative foundations:

  • Castle Rock Foundation
  • Earhart Foundation. The Earhart foundation was founded in 1929 by Harry B. Earhart using profits from his White Star Oil Company. Earhart became active in the 1980's, funding conservative think tanks and right-wing newspapers on college campuses It was During this time that it began funding the American Enterprise Institute. It has been reported that between 1995 and 2003, the Earhart Foundation awarded the American Enterprise Insitute $448,800 in grants.[28]
  • Smith Richardson Foundation. The Smith Richardson foundation was formed in 1935. One of its current Board of Governers, Christopher DeMuth is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, however it has supported the AEI since it first emerged.[29] It has funded the AEI with almost three million dollars.[30]
  • John M. Olin Foundation. The John M Olin foundation announced its closure in 2005. It was created in 1953 to promote 'American capitalism'.[31] It was also a funder of PNAC.
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Carthage Foundation. The Carthage Foundation is one part of the four Scaife Foundations, all of which heavily fund conservative causes.[32] It is alleged that in 1993, the chairman of Scaife Foundations, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Carthage gave $17.6 million dollars to 150 conservative think tanks. Scaife inherited his wealth from Mellon oil, industrial and banking fortune. At one time its largest holding stock was in Gulf Oil Corporation.[33].
  • Philip M McKenna Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose is to support the advancement of a free, prosperous, and well-ordered society based upon American civic principles, private enterprise, and the cultural heritage of Western civilization. [34]. The foundation is primarily concerned with public policy and education. It is reported to have donated $85 000 to the American Enterprise Institute. [35]
  • Scaife Family Foundation
  • JM Foundation
  • Donors Trust: $70,750 in 2013, $69,750 in 2014

Corporate supporters have included:

Between 1998 and 2003, the AEI received some $925,000 from Exxon Mobil.


  • Address: 1150 17th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036
  • Website:
  • Tel: 202-862-5800
  • Fax: 202-862-7177

External resources


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  7. ^;,10538,527156,00.html
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  12. ^American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (2003) 2003 Annual Report, p37.
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  15. ^Source Greenpeace - data from company reports for 98, 00, 01, 02 - data not available for 99 and pre-98.
  16. ^Quoted by J. Pilger (2004) "The Case for Civil Disobedience" in Tell Me Lies - Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, ed. D. Miller, Pluto Press, p25
  17. ^
  18. ^L. Miller, J. Stauber, S. Rampton (2004) "War is Sell" in Tell Me Lies - Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, ed. D. Miller, Pluto Press, p47-50;
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  25. ^S. Rampton & J. Stauber (2001) Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future, Tarcher/Putnam, pp242-243, January; Burson-Marsteller (undated) Scientists for Sound Public Policy - Assessment Project and Symposium, Bates Numbers 2028363773-2028363791; E. Ong, and S. Glantz, (2000) 'Tobacco Industry Efforts Subverting International Agency for Research on Cancer's Second- Hand Smoke Study', The Lancet, Vol 355, pp1253-1258, 8 April; E. Ong, and S. Glantz, (2001) 'Constructing "Sound Science" and "Good Epidemiology": Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations Firms', America Journal of Public Health, Vol 19, No 11, pp1749-1757.
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  28. ^;,filter.all/scholar.asp
  29. ^J. K. Glassman (2001) "This Is No Time For Bush To Go Wobbly On Kyoto", National Post (Canada), 12 May, pD11
  30. ^B. Stempeck (2002) "Climate Change: Panel Debates Kyoto Alternatives, Renewable; Boosts", Greenwire, 9 April
  31. ^; http://www.Tech Central
  32. ^The Bulletin's Frontrunner (2001) "Today's Events In Washington", 24 May.
  33. ^J. Glassman (2001) "Global warming? Try Getting Out of the Sun, James Glassman Interviews Dr. Sallie Baliunas," The American Spectator, June; J. K. Glassman & S. l. Baliunas (2001) "Bush Is Right on Global Warming . . . not that Reporters Would Understand", The Weekly Standard, 25 June
  34. ^,filter./event_detail.asp
  35. ^for more details see:; J. K. Glassman & S. l. Baliunas (2002) "Turning up the Heat on CO2; Global Warming Bill Threatens Economy", The Washington Times, 4 July, pA19
  36. ^Business Wire (2003) "TCS Experts Available to Discuss the 'Climate Stewardship Act' on the Floor for Debate Tonight with a Vote Tomorrow Morning", 29 October
  37. ^Business Wire (2003) "CRA Report: Global Warming Legislation Would be Costly; New Report Shows McCain-Lieberman Legislation would Increase Costs for U.S Households", 29 October.
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  41. ^P. Brown (2004) "An Unnatural Disaster", The Guardian, 8 January;,3604,1118244,00.html




  1. "Board of Trustees", American Enterprise Institute website, accessed 28 April 2009
  2. "Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush's Foreign Policy", "Washington Post" [Online Edition], Retrieved April 9, 2006.
  3. George W. Bush, Speech to AEI, 26 Feb 2003
  4. "Scholars and Fellows by Name", American Enterprise Institute, retrieved July 5, 2007.
  5. "AEI-Brooking - About Us", "AEI-Brookings Joint Center", retrieved April 8, 2006.
  6. "AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project"
  7. Battle of the Washington think tanks 3 April, 2003
  8. Mearsheimer, J. & Walt, S. (2006) The Israel Lobby London Review of Books. Accessed 8th July 2008
  9. James K. Glassman, "It's No Time to Go Wobbly on Kyoto," Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2001, archived at Will Kyoto be revived?, NCPA website, accessed 20 April 2009
  10. Ian Sample, Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study, The Guardian, 2 February 2007
  11. AEI Critiques of Warming Questioned: Think Tank Defends Money Offers to Challenge Climate Report, Washington Post, 4 February 2007
  12. American Enterprise Institute, Untitled letter, ThinkProgress, 4 February 2007
  13. "We're Not from the Government, but We're Here to Help You: Nongovernmental Organizations: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few", event of 11 June 2003, American Enterprise Institute website, accessed 28 April 2009.
  14. "NGOWATCH.ORG" Global Governance Watch website, accessed 28 April 2009
  15. Naomi Klein, "Bush to NGO’s: Watch Your Mouth", Globe and Mail, 20 June 2003, accessed 28 April 2009
  16. "[American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research]",, accessed 28 April 2009
  17. AEI Events (22 March 2006) The Water Revolution: Practical Solutions to Water Scarcity Accessed 5th January 2010
  18. "Biotechnology, the Media, and Public Policy", event held 12 June 2003, American Enterprise Institute website, accessed 28 April 2009
  19. "Biotech Bounty", The American Enterprise Online, March 2004, accessed 28 April 2009.
  20. "How Much Should We Worry about Biotech?" Truth About Trade And Technology, 20 November 2002, accessed 28 April 2009
  21. "Battle for Biotech Progress", The American Enterprise Online, March 2004, accessed in web archive 28 April 2009
  22. "Technology That Will Save Billions From Starvation", The American Enterprise, 1 March 2004, accessed on AgBioWorld website, 28 April 2009
  23. Jonathan Matthews, "GM Crops Irrelevant for Africa", 18 September 2003, Institute of Science in Society website, accessed 28 April 2009
  24. Quoted by J. Pilger (2004), "The Case for Civil Disobedience", in Tell Me Lies – Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq, ed. D. Miller, Pluto Press, p25. Cited at "Deniers: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, AEI", website, accessed 28 April 2009
  25. "Scholars & Fellows", American Enterprise Institute website, accessed 28 April 2009
  26. AEI, "Michael Rubin, American Enterprise Institute, accessed on 27 November 2010
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