National Endowment for Democracy

Inside America’s meddling machine- NED, the US-funded org interfering in elections around the globe by Max Blumenthal and Thomas Hedges ·August 20, 2018

Filmed inside the Capitol, this Grayzone special explores the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a taxpayer-funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington’s agenda.

Founded in 1983 by then president Ronald Reagan, the National Endowment for Democracy became an international vehicle for the neoconservative agenda. Its founding cadre were Cold War ideologues who were, like so many early neoconservative operatives, former Trotskyists who once belonged to the Social Democrats, USA organization.

Over the years, the NED and its partner organizations have weaponized civil society and media against governments that stand in the way of right-wing, free market parties and corporate interests.

In 2014, in partnership with the libertarian tech billionaire Peter Thiel, Halvorssen launched the deliberately provocative “Hack Them Back” campaign to disrupt inter-Korean peace talks.

The NED’s first success was the defeat of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua’s 1990 elections, replacing it with the neoliberal party of Violeta Chamorro.

Since then, the NED’s advanced US interests in countless countries: it helped swing a Russian election for Boris Yeltsin in 1996, it drove a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, it orchestrated a successful one in Haiti in 2004, and another one in Ukraine in 2014, which paved the way for neo-Nazis to move into the mainstream.

Philip Agee, the late CIA whisteblower, described the work of the NED as a more sophisticated version of the old-fashioned covert operations that Langley used to engineer. “Nowadays, instead of having the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process by inserting money here and giving instructions secretly and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, NED.”

Agee’s words were openly confirmed by Allen Weinstein, a former Trotskyist and founding member of the NED. Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Since then, NED funding has almost quadrupled. In the past four years alone, the organization has directed at least 4 million dollars into parties and media outfits in Nicaragua.

That prompted an NED funded publication — the Global Americans — to boast of the role the group played in “laying the groundwork for change” in Nicaragua, where violent protests attempted to topple the country’s elected president, Daniel Ortega. The article went on to say that “it’s becoming more and more clear that U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”1)2)

NED Global Propaganda Operations

Bellingcat 3)

The website Bellingcat promotes itself as a collective of digital sleuths who “pledge allegiance to truth and evidence and abide by the principles of transparency and accountability.” Its self-described “groundbreaking investigations,” especially those aimed at Russia and Syria, have led to fawning Western media endorsements of its claim to be an “intelligence agency for the people.”

But Bellingcat’s carefully crafted public image as an “open source” outlet is belied by its extensive NATO government ties and a conspicuous pattern of conduct in line with its state sponsors’ interests. Bellingcat has hauled in grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government-funded CIA cutout. Leaked documents reported by The Grayzone revealed that Bellingcat has collaborated with a UK Foreign Office operation that aims to “weaken Russia.”

Bellingcat has also been a regular source of interventionist material on Syria, the target of a decade-long, multi-billion dollar proxy war waged by the US, UK, and their allies. This includes participating in a nearly two-year campaign to whitewash a scandal at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons OPCW — one of the most shocking and well-documented pro-war deceptions since the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A series of leaks has exposed how top OPCW officials censored findings which undermined US-led allegations of a Syrian government chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Together with its NATO state sponsors, Bellingcat has worked to bury the cover-up and denigrate two OPCW whistleblowers who challenged it from the inside.

Bellingcat’s disinformation efforts resulted in an embarrassing debacle late last year, when the outlet was caught publishing fraudulent material about one of the dissenting OPCW scientists.

Now, emails obtained by The Grayzone reveal that Bellingcat has engaged in more subterfuge than was previously known.

Messages sent months before the “Bellingcat Investigation Team” released its bogus article show that Bellingcat was not the sole author of the now-discredited piece published in its name. It also was not the first one.

The communications show that someone outside the Bellingcat organization composed portions of the fraudulent material that ultimately appeared on Bellingcat’s website. An external author even drafted questions that Bellingcat sent to multiple recipients. Bellingcat’s duplicitous conduct took place in the midst of a poorly coordinated effort involving HuffPost UK and the BBC – two outlets that also enjoy close ties to the British state.

The target of the Bellingcat-led smear campaign is Dr. Brendan Whelan, a 16-year OPCW veteran and member of the mission that deployed to Syria in April 2018 to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Douma. 4)5)

Back to top