Wednesday, May 23, 2007

U.S. Foreign Lobbying, Terrorism Influencing Post-9/11 U.S. Military Aid and Human Rights

WASHINGTON -Lobbying by foreign governments and concerns over terrorism have dramatically shifted U.S. military assistance programs in the post-9/11 era, according to a year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The change in priorities often came at the cost of human rights and fiscal accountability, according to "Collateral Damage," which makes public for the first time a comprehensive accounting of the 50 percent increase in U.S. military aid since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Center investigation found that controversial U.S. allies recruited into the global war on terror, such as Pakistan, Indonesia and Djibouti, received billions in additional, new military aid, often times with little oversight by Congress. In some countries, human rights have suffered as authoritarian regimes are rewarded for their strategic and political importance.

Meanwhile, foreign governments such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Ethiopia spent millions lobbying Congress, the White House and the Pentagon to secure record amounts of U.S. military aid in an often chaotic policymaking environment. Washington lobbying and aid dollars have reshaped policies towards countries ranging from Djibouti in Africa, Pakistan and Thailand in Asia, Poland and Romania in Europe, to Colombia in South America.

The investigation combines original in-country reporting and an analysis of thousands of foreign lobbying records and data from dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests from the State and Defense Departments. The "Collateral Damage" Web site features browsable information on U.S. military assistance, foreign influence expenditures and human rights abuses.

"Collateral Damage" represents a full year's worth of extensive international investigative work by 10 reporters working on four continents, digging through 40,000 records," said Executive Director Bill Buzenberg. "We've found massive transfers of funds from our country that have taken place with very little Congressional oversight or public discussion."

As part of this series, the Center over the next three weeks will be releasing regional groupings of stories examining foreign lobbying, new details on cases of "extraordinary rendition" and the human rights impact of U.S. post-9/11 military aid in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.


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