Donna Catches On to FDD

It took more than six years, but at least one Democrat enlisted after 9/11 by the hard-line neo-conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) seems finally to have caught on to the fact that its agenda is something other than what its name suggests. In a statement released by her office Monday, Democratic consultant and frequent television political commentator Donna Brazile “strongly condemn[ed]” what she called a “misleading and reckless ad campaign” undertaken against 17 Democratic lawmakers by the FDD for their opposition to the Protect America Act and resigned from its Board of Advisers.

“The organization is using fear mongering for political purposes and worse, their scare tactics have the effect of emboldening terrorists and our enemies abroad by asserting our intelligence agencies are failing to do their job. I am deeply disappointed they would use my name since no one has consulted me about the activities of the group in years.”

Of course, fear-mongering is exactly FDD’s stock in trade, as it has been from the very beginning, something of which Brazile unfortunately appears to unaware, claiming, as she does, that, “due to the influence of their funders, in the last few years, FDD has morphed into a radical right wing organization that is doing the dirty work for the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans.” If she had been paying attention, she would have seen from the moment she signed on that FDD’s messages — particularly concerning virtually anything from the Arab or Islamic worlds — were designed to create fear, starting with the TV ad that ran in 2002 which clearly sought to confuse the viewer into believing that somehow Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden were all part of the same threat. Indeed, FDD, the best profile for which is found on Right Web, has acted primarily as a front for the Likudist founders of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), the same group that is also behind the Freedom’s Watch about which I have posted here and here. Cliff May, FDD’s president since its founding Sep 13, 2001, served previously as RJC’s vice chair.

Might Brazile’s resignation prompt other self-identified Democrats, such as certified Friend of Bill (FOB) former Amb. Marc Ginsberg or Amb. Max Kampelman or Rep. Eliot Engel, to reconsider their own association with FDD (which, incidentally, also sponsors the Committee on the Present Danger)? (I won’t even mention the possibility that “Distinguished Advisors” Sen. Joseph Lieberman or James Woolsey might want to disassociate themselves, let alone Zell Miller.) How about Republicans who might be somewhat less partisan or less Likudnik in their policy preferences, like Jack Kemp, one of the two surviving members of FDD’s board of directors? (The other two are Steve Forbes and the late Jeane Kirkpatrick.) Or former Secretary of State George Shultz, who co-chairs the CPD along with Woolsey)? The full roster of FDD’s many boards, staff members and associates — already heavily weighted to the extreme right — can be found here.

What I found particularly intriguing about Brazile’s statement — other than her naivete about what FDD has been all along — was her assertion that FDD “would use my name since no one has consulted me about the activities of the group in years.” One would think that an organization dedicated to “defending democracies” would try to keep its associates, let alone its leadership, informed of its activities. But apparently that has not been the case. Also intriguing is the fact that she blames the group’s evolution on its the “influence of (its) funders” whose identities, however, she fails to disclose. In the interests of transparency — which all can agree are essential for democracy — perhaps the group will see fit to identify them.

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Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.