Category Archives: NGO’s
November 5, 2012 By Lee DeCovnick
B.H. Obama has issued 139 executive orders since becoming president. Some are fairly benign; many are deeply troubling, specifically as to the wholesale consolidation of emergency powers into the office of the presidency. The newest executive order is a breathtaking assault on entire sections of Constitution and the rights, freedoms, and liberties of all Americans, carefully hidden within the stultifying and banal language of bureaucratic doublespeak.
On October 26, 2012, eleven days before our national election, with tropical depression Sandy bearing down on thirteen East-Coast states and the Libyan disaster still a smoking morass of obfuscation, cover-ups, and unanswered questions, the White House’s Friday news dump included EO 13629. Titled “Establishing the White House Homeland Security Partnership Council,” this EO should chill the freedom-loving souls of all Americans.
Not surprisingly, the MSM has not mentioned EO 13629 — not anywhere. No mention in the NY Times, the Washington Post, or on any of the alphabet news and cable networks. The blogosphere, liberal and conservative (except Hannity), has had almost no mention of EO 13629. This EO was purposefully buried by the White House and ignored by the alternative press.
Have I got your attention? Then I’ll invite you to leave American Thinker for a couple of minutes and read the EO for yourself (only 1,232 words), and then return here.
All right, show of hands — who almost fell asleep digging through the tons of gravel to find the nasty gems? Yeah, me too. It takes a very close reading of this EO to understand what is actually going on here.
Let’s first look first at paragraph three:
The National Security Strategy emphasizes the importance of partnerships, underscoring that to keep our Nation safe “we must tap the ingenuity outside government through strategic partnerships with the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and community-based organizations. Such partnerships are critical to U.S. success at home and abroad, and we will support them through enhanced opportunities for engagement, coordination, transparency, and information sharing.” This approach recognizes that, given the complexities and range of challenges, we must institutionalize an all-of-Nation effort to address the evolving threats to the United States.
A couple of things stand out. The EO quotes “The National Security Strategy,” an Orwellian document released by the White House in May of 2010 that advocates, in so many words, the end of American sovereignty and the ascendancy of a U.N.-based “transnational government.” It’s most famous line includes “We are now moving beyond traditional distinctions between Homeland and National Security.”
What to make of the line “… we must institutionalize an all-of-Nation effort to address the evolving threats to the United States”? What an eerie phrase: “all-of-Nation.” A Google search shows that phrase was also used in the “National Strategy For Biosurveillance,” a tyrant’s Christmas wish list, that was a July 2012 White House document, and Presidential Policy Directive 8, a FEMA directive on National Preparedness from March of 2011. Odd and troubling coincidences, to say the least.
Bottom line: the National Security Strategy encourages partnerships with non-governmental organizations, foundations, and community-based organizations. Got it.
So what exactly is the EO plan for these partnerships?
There is established a White House Homeland Security Partnership Council (Council) to foster local partnerships — between the Federal Government and the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, community-based organizations, and State, local, tribal, and territorial government and law enforcement — to address homeland security challenges.
The actionable clause: “to address homeland security challenges.” We’ll get to the chest-beating 900-pound gorillas in the room in a moment, but two significant items immediately demand our attention.
Did you notice that “homeland security” was not capitalized? It is usually referred to as the “Department of Homeland Security.” The usage in the EO of homeland as noun, but not a proper noun, is not a mistake. Yellow-highlight that line; we will return to it later. Also, the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are not specified as necessarily being of American origin or even of a pro-American outlook. They could also refer to foreign NGOs, as these are prominent progressive political activist groups that are strongly supported by the American-hating Byzantine bureaucracies of the U.N. and EU.
Let’s move on. Membership of this Council is quite specific and requires a surprisingly narrow skill set:
… the Council shall be composed of Federal officials who are from field offices of the executive departments, agencies, and bureaus (agencies) that are members of the Steering Committee established in subsection (c) of this section, and who have demonstrated an ability to develop, sustain, and institutionalize local partnerships to address policy priorities.
So Council members must come from the field offices of the executive departments and have demonstrated an ability to develop, sustain, and institutionalize local partnerships. Council members, except those whose agency already deals with security issues, evidently are not required to have a background in security, law enforcement, criminal justice, or the judiciary system; all that is required is an ability to develop and institutionalize partnerships. Is the council carefully recruiting government bureaucrats who can train, mold, and imprint a bureaucratic mindset onto these partners for the Council’s purposes? If not, what is meant by “institutionalize”? And why are the recruited members supposed to be selected from “field offices” rather than the usual Potomac swamps?
Closely reading this EO feels like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, blindfolded. Perhaps that was that the intent.
Let’s go on. Okay, these White House Council members are selected by the Steering Committee. Huh? What Steering Committee?
The Steering Committee shall include a representative at the Deputy agency head level, or that representative’s designee, from the following agencies:
(i) Department of State;
(ii) Department of the Treasury;
(iii) Department of Defense;
(iv) Department of Justice;
(v) Department of the Interior;
(vi) Department of Agriculture;
(vii) Department of Commerce;
(viii) Department of Labor;
(ix) Department of Health and Human Services;
(x) Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(xi) Department of Transportation;
(xii) Department of Energy;
(xiii) Department of Education;
(xiv) Department of Veterans Affairs;
(xv) Department of Homeland Security;
(xvi) Office of the Director of National Intelligence;
(xvii) Environmental Protection Agency;
(xviii) Small Business Administration; and
(xix) Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Notice that this Steering Committee and thus the Council has no congressional or judicial representation — i.e., no representation from the other co-equal branches of government. No constitutional checks and balances. The EO sets no term limits, no overview process, and no restraints on policies, authority, and structures. Is it normal for the government to tightly integrate such group into the structure of government itself? Well, yes — on some social and political issues such as voter registration or global warming, as examples. But this EO goes far beyond the accepted governmental role in integrating such organizations because the purpose of this bastardized conglomeration is homeland and national security, not a typical social or political issue. This EO is simply a blank check to build an executive-branch bureaucracy that actually plans to transform and integrate selected extra-governmental NGOs, foundations, and community-based organizations into a robust and unaccountable national security hybrid.
Americans need to be continually vigilant — this EO could swiftly metatasize and do untold damage to our nation and its people. Anyone else think that this EO is flagrantly unconstitutional? It gets worse.
The Council shall be chaired by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism …
That would be John Brennan, a veteran CIA apparatchik, Obama’s loyal terrier, and America’s current “terrorism and drone” czar. Brennan supports reaching out to the “moderate elements” of Hezb’allah and has an exceptionally rocky relationship with the truth and reality in discussing this administration’s Middle East policies.
And more bad news:
At the invitation of the Chair, representatives of agencies not listed in subsection (c) of this section or other executive branch entities may attend and participate in Steering Committee meetings as appropriate.
That is Washington bureaucratese for the Obama czars. So, will the Steering Committee be well-represented with Obama’s hand-picked czars? Why not? No one will be looking.
Finally, what is the stated mission of the Council?
… advise the Chair and Steering Committee members on priorities, challenges, and opportunities for local partnerships to support homeland security priorities, as well as regularly report to the Steering Committee on the Council’s efforts …
And what are the homeland security priorities this Administration seeks to implement? In web searches through some nasty swamps, using homeland with a lowercase h, I stumbled on this site. An answer, not surprisingly, was found in a report from a George Soros-supported foundation, the Center for American Progress. This all but forgotten February 2008 report, “Homeland Security Policy Priorities for the Next Administration and Congress,” includes this “Key Action” item that was pretty interesting.
Create a civilian homeland security corps.
Finally the penny drops.
We recall this quote from Obama’s July 2, 2008 speech:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Let’s turn our attention to the pair of 900-pound gorillas sitting in the room, and why they are important.
First, our immediate concern should reflect that this EO’s bastardized security hybrid is hardly unique in modern history. The German Schutzstaffel, the infamous SS, and the Soviet KGB, Committee for State Security, both began as hybrid security organizations. They were deliberately created outside traditional governmental roles, exclusively for the consolidation and implementation of power on behalf of a single individual. We should not forget that Americans and their forefathers have experienced and soundly rejected such authoritarian abuses, such as the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism. But only the naive can believe that such a breakdown could not happen here in 21st-century America.
Second, the list of NGOs, foundations, and community-based organizations ripe for “institutionalization” would likely read like a Democratic who’s-who of hard-left organizations. Is there any doubt that this administration and its czars would seek partnerships with La Raza, ACORN and its renamed offshoots, Move On, PETA, the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, CAIR and other Islamic organizations, the Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, the SEIU, and the AFT and CTA?
As these groups may become institutionalized into a national security hybrid, new orders will come down from the council, and information will flow up to Washington.
The new homeland security corps primary mission would likely become the monitoring and reporting of unacceptable political and social activities — city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, house by house.
Could this corps become a latter-day Gestapo, heavily armed with cell-phone technology, linked databases, personal tablets, and bio-identification card readers?
We all can read this EO. Some may have different interpretations of what they have read. Considering the well-established trend of B.H. Obama’s cold disregard of constitutional checks and balances, and both the longstanding desire and a short-term need to create a White House framework for a domestic-security apparatus, EO 13629 may be forever linked in history with such infamous documents such as the Wannsee Protocol and the recently revealed files of the Spanish Inquisition.
Egypt has denied licenses to eight US-based non-profit groups, saying they violated the country’s sovereignty. Many states are concerned that foreign government-backed NGOs are really agents for their sponsors, rather than independent action groups.
Among the organizations banned from continuing their work in Egypt are the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups.
Egyptian authorities warned that if the NGOs try to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.
Local media speculate that the rejection may be temporary, and licenses could be granted later, after the presidential election due on May 23 and 24.
Monday’s move revives a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on foreign-funded NGOs, which recently provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally US. In late December 2011, security forces raided offices of a number of groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.
In February, prosecutors charged 43 people with instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies following last year’s mass protests, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among them were citizens of the US, Germany, Serbia, Norway and Jordan.
In March, an Egyptian court revoked the travel ban for 17 indicted Americans following Washington’s threat to withdraw $1.3 billion annual military aid to Cairo. The decision provoked a wave criticism of the ruling military council in Egypt. Many activists accused them of betraying national interests under American pressure.
But shortly after the suspected Americans left the country, Cairo’s prosecutors decided to target more people allegedly involved in the case, who were not in Egypt when the charges against their colleagues were made. Egypt asked Interpol to issue “red notices” for 15 NGO workers, including 12 Americans, two Lebanese and a Jordanian.
On Monday, Interpol’s French headquarters announced that the Egyptian request had been turned down, because it contradicted rules that strictly forbid the organization “to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
Not so non-government
There may be a good reason why national governments in troubled countries mistrust US-funded NGOs. For instance, NATO’s intervention in Libya was partially justified by exaggerated reports of human rights organizations alleging that Muammar Gaddafi’s forces committed crimes against humanity and breached international law in other ways, reports RT’s Maria Portnaya. After the war some of them admitted to giving ungrounded reports.
Powerful NGOs like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International are supposed to be objective monitors and not take sides, but in reality they “enter into an excessively cozy relationship with for example the United States government, but also other powerful Western allies, over Libya and over other issues,” John Laughland from the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation told RT.
This is what happened in Libya and is now happening in Syria, he added.
“The equivalent, if you like, of the Libyan League of Human Rights, which is called the Damascus Centre for Human Rights, has played exactly the same role. They’ve alleged crimes against humanity. They’ve called for safe havens, and armed intervention in that country. And they are quite clear political lobbyists, who are trying to secure a military intervention against Syria along the lines of the one approved last year against Libya,” Laughland explained.
Another example is the group behind the Kony 2012 initiative. The California-based NGO Invisible Children is calling to stop the use of child soldiers and is promoting peace in the Ugandan civil war. But the same organization provided Uganda’s authorities with intelligence that led to the arrest of several regime opponents, as a US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks revealed.
“I’m willing to believe that was not the one time that Invisible Children provided information to the Ugandan authorities. What else do we not know, in terms of their relations with the Ugandan Government?” asks Milton Allimadi, Editor-in-chief of the Black Star News.
The viral video calling on a campaign to stop Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army appeared just months after President Obama decided to send 100 US military advisors to the region to help local governments remove Kony “from the battlefield”. Some human rights organizations criticized the move, saying among those receiving American aid is South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, which is known to exploit child soldiers just like Kony does.
NGOs are not currently held accountable for the information they publish, no matter how much collateral damage false facts may cause. Critics say some of those organizations actually pave the way for conflict rather than advocating peaceful solutions.
- Egypt Denies 8 US NGOs Permission to Operate in Country (voanews.com)
- Breaking news: the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights – MEA 2012 nominee (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- US is inciting Unrest through NGOs working under the cover of Human rights & Democracy in Egypt (jafrianews.com)
- US warns Egypt over detained NGO workers – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
The evidence? Among the reasons cited was McFaul’s work in Russia in 1992 for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S. pro-democracy organization the Russian television commentator alleged was “close” to U.S. intelligence agencies.
In another part of the world, Egypt recently took its long-term hostility to the NDI and other U.S. government-funded democracy-building groups to a whole new level.
Egyptian authorities raided the groups’ offices and placed travel bans on at least 19 U.S. citizens. The cases have been referred to criminal court.
For decades, U.S. organizations like the NDI, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House have promoted democracy and human rights around the world, from Russia and other former Soviet states to the nations swept by the “Arab spring” upheavals of the past year.
But some of their activities, such as monitoring elections and helping to develop political parties, are not universally appreciated in host countries. In nations where the transition to democracy is incomplete, the welcome mat can be quite small.
Governments in places like Egypt, which is still run by military rulers, and Russia, which has been dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for over a decade, often see democracy-building activities as a threat to their grip on power.
“Authoritarian regimes don’t like sharing power with their people – and they look for any excuse to distract from their problems at home,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress think tank who worked for NDI in the West Bank, Gaza and Cairo from 1995 to 1998.
And the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which sparked deadly sectarian warfare and messy American attempts to build an Iraqi democracy, sparked a decline in global trust in U.S. pro-democracy efforts, experts said.
“In the best circumstances – think sub-Saharan Africa – the U.S. used to be relatively trusted for its far-sighted engagement on all three development fronts – economics, politics and security,” said Paul O’Brien, vice president of policy and advocacy at Oxfam America, an international relief organization.
“As our overall global development agenda has become more short-term and politicized to achieve narrower national interests – think Iraq and Afghanistan – our pro-democracy agenda is less trusted too,” he said.
Some critics of U.S. democracy-building groups say hostility can extend beyond autocrats to average people who don’t want foreigners telling them how to run their lives.
“Egyptians have always been suspicious of outsiders meddling. In Egypt, such meddling is called the ‘invisible hand’ or ‘foreign fingers’,” said Paul Sullivan, a professor and Middle East expert at Georgetown University.
“Any organization that is there to work on the development of voting and political parties is leaving itself open to those suspicions and considerable risk – and not just from the courts and the police,” Sullivan said.
NDI president Ken Wollack denies his organization is meddling, or trying to foment revolution or regime change in any country. “We don’t support revolution” he said. NDI’s programs have always been intended “to support a democratic elections process that reflected the will of the people.”
“People can claim that it’s meddling, but it’s based on certain fundamental principles,” he said, including a universal declaration of human rights adopted by the United Nations.
In Egypt, he said, “Obviously it’s a delicate time, but I think that we’re hoping that through this challenging period that it ultimately will lead to a constructive dialogue between the authorities and groups like ours.”
“These (pro-democracy) organizations do not dictate what kind of leadership, or what kind of elections or the results of the elections,” said Senator John McCain, chairman of the board of IRI. “But they help with voter registration, with campaigning, with constitutions, with all the things that are the fundamentals of democracy,” McCain said in a Senate hallway.
BACKLASH DATING TO AROUND 2005
Since their founding under President Ronald Reagan, the NDI and IRI have worked in more than 100 countries around the world. They have loose ties with the two major American political parties, but are not funded by them. Freedom House is older, dating back to the 1940s.
The groups are known as “non-governmental organizations,” but get most of their funding from the U.S. government – largely from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The government funding has sometimes fueled the charge that they are an arm of the U.S. government, or stooges of its intelligence agencies.
Starting around 2005, a backlash emerged in some countries, especially Russia, but also in Central Asia, China and parts of Africa and Latin America, said Thomas Carothers, a leading authority on democracy promotion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“The backlash seems to have been at least in part a response to a new harsher perception of democracy promotion due to its close association with the war in Iraq,” Carothers said.
He cited former President George W. Bush saying the Iraq war “was all about democracy promotion – as well as the belief by some governments that the ‘color’ revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine were caused by U.S. assistance to political and civic actors in those countries,” he said.
However, he added, the U.S. efforts in Georgia and Ukraine “were at most a modest helping hand to domestic political actors who did the hard work and took the risks themselves.” Political tumult in Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade became known as the “Rose” and “Orange” revolutions, respectively.
AID, TIES WITH EGYPT THREATENED
The U.S. confrontation with Egypt over its treatment of pro-democracy groups is threatening longstanding U.S. ties with that country.
U.S. military aid to Egypt, about $1.3 billion annually in recent years, is in jeopardy, Congress and the Obama administration say. Lawmakers are furious with the Egyptians; Senator John Kerry called the idea that Americans would be prosecuted there a “slap in the face.”
A solution has not yet been found. But in the longer term, after the crisis with Egypt, the United States may want to re-examine how it funds pro-democracy groups, perhaps channeling more money to local ones in the countries concerned, suggested Julie Taylor, a political scientist focusing on Middle East at Rand Corporation.
“Egypt has its own civil society and human rights organizations that are very effective and they work on these same issues and they have greater legitimacy than the U.S. organizations. The presence of U.S. organizations ends up undermining the activities and security of domestic human rights and democracy promotion organizations in Egypt,” she said.
Carothers said U.S. pro-democracy groups can alleviate some of the concern in host countries by being as transparent as possible about their work and by being nonpartisan when they work with political parties competing in an electoral process.
“But given the inherent tensions between an authoritarian or semi-authoritarian government and the goals of outside democracy supporters, there will likely continue to be conflicts over such work,” he said.
- Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?…Seriously. (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)
- Egyptian raids on U.S. NGOs conducted ‘according to the law,’ judge says (news.nationalpost.com)
- Both International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Agitate Citizen Activists (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)