Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

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The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a neoconservative think tank aand lobbying organization that claims to conduct "research and education on international terrorism — the most serious security threat to the United States and other free, democratic nations. FDD produces independent analyses of global terrorist threats, as well as of the historical, cultural, philosophical and ideological factors that drive terrorism, and which threaten democracies and the individual freedoms guaranteed within democratic societies." Their work is closely linked with that of the National Endowment for Democracy.[1] FDD was created two days after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ever since its creation, FDD has pushed for US wars against Iraq and Iran – Eli Clifton states that "In recent years, FDD has become one of the the premiere DC organizations promoting more aggressive actions against Iran."[2] Clifton adds:

"While FDD has a 10-year history of engaging in alarmist rhetoric and fear mongering — e.g. in 2002 FDD aired a series of ads conflating Osama bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein — and helped promote the “Bush doctrine” which led to the invasion of Iraq, its donors have, for the most part, hidden behind their anonymous contributions to the organization. The new documents should permit for greater scrutiny of the interests and individuals behind FDD’s hawkish presence in the Washington think tank world."[3]

FDD run the Long War Journal.

Origins of FDD

Daniel McCarthy expressed an enhanced view of FDD's origins in the November 17, 2003, issue of The American Conservative.[4]

In early 2001, a tightly knit group of billionaire philanthropists conceived of a plan to win American sympathy for Israel's response to the Palestinian intifada. They believed that the Palestinian cause was finding too much support within crucial segments of the American public, particularly within the media and on college campuses, so they set up an organization, Emet: An Educational Initiative, Inc., to offer Israel the kind of PR that the Israeli government seemed unable to provide itself.
At first, Emet floundered, without an executive director or a well-defined mission. But that changed after Sept. 11, and Emet changed too, into what is now the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The name is different, but the goal of influencing America's opinion-forming classes remains.
What makes all of this possible is the support the foundation receives from its billionaire backers. Its nearly $3 million annual budget comes from 27 major donors, most of whom are members of "the Study Group"--also sometimes called the "Mega Group" because of their sizeable contributions--a semi-formal organization of major Jewish philanthropists who meet twice a year to discuss joint projects.
Leonard Abramson was the point man for establishing Emet. He, Michael Steinhardt, and Edgar Bronfman were the foundation's board of directors at the time of its incorporation in the spring of 2001.

Funding Sources

Eli Clifton reports that the following billionaires/millionaires are the principal source of FDD funding[5]:

A Critical Assessment of the FDD

According to Jeffrey Blankfort, a Jewish anti-Zionist activist in California (former editor of the Middle East Labor Review, and victim of a spying operation directed against him by the ADL), the FDD:

For those of you who haven't heard of this "foundation," it is one of the most influential and powerful of the Zionist lobbies which changed its name and sprung into action immediately after 9-11. If you check its board, its advisors, you'll find a lot of familiar names, the neocons, of course, and some surprises, like the Democrat's ranking African-American spokesperson, Donna Brazile. It claims to have seven articles from FDD sources appear in the mainstream media every day and if you check its site, that appears to be the truth. That President Bush chose this group for the first of a series of speeches defending his Iraq policy is not an accident but a genuflection to the FDD's power. Another reflection of its power is the apparent unwillingness of the major media, such as the NY Times, to identify it for what it is.[6]

Jeffrey Blankfort suggests that the best assessment of FDD is that it is the successor of PNAC, as many of the PNAC-associated neocons now reside at the FDD.[7]

President Bush's address to FDD

On March 13, 2006, President George W. Bush addressed the FDD on the war in Iraq.[8]

Spinning FDD bias

Non-partisan, non-ideological

The FDD states the following on its website:[9]

"FDD is a tax-exempt, non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological institution. We do not seek to advance any political party or views."

The tax-exempt and non-profit claims are true. However, the non-partisan and non-ideological assertions are very suspect.

Directors, Fellows, Personnel

The following information was updated August 16, 2007.[10]

Board of Directors

Distinguished Advisors

Board of Advisors

Previously listed

Senior Fellows

Adjunct Fellows

Previously listed



Contact information

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
P.O. Box 33249
Washington D.C. 20033
Phone: 202 207-0190
FAX: 202 207-01915
Email: info AT

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. [1]
  2. Eli Clifton, Documents Shed Light On Those Underwriting The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies, Think Progress, 19 July 2011.
  3. ibid.
  4. Daniel McCarthy, "Most Favored Democracy. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies goes on offense," The American Conservative, November 17, 2003.
  5. Eli Clifton, Documents Shed Light On Those Underwriting The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies, Think Progress, 19 July 2011.
  6. Jeffrey Blankfort, 15 March 2006
  7. Jeffrey Blankfort, Takes on the World, Radio4All, 26 October 2011.
  8. "President Discusses Iraq to FDD," George Washington University, March 13, 2006.
  9. "Frequently Asked Questions About FDD," FDD website, accessed August 16, 2007.
  10. Biographies, FDD, accessed August 16, 2007.
  11. FDD: Senior Fellows: profile (Accessed: 3 December 2011).
  12. FDD: Staff: profile (Accessed: 3 December 2011).

External articles






External resources