Markle Foundation:The Task Force on Security in the Information Age

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The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed in 2002 "to determine how best to make information discoverable and accessible to the right officials at the right time to enable improved decision making with regard to major security threats against our nation."[1]

Although the Markle Foundation Task Force claims that its purpose is to advance national security by promoting greater emphasis on information-sharing within government, it has been accused of being a covert lobbying group devoted to securing the transfer of taxpayer money to private information technology corporations.

Criticism

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Markle Foundation is supposedly prohibited from lobbying government officials. Nonetheless, it has been accussed of "actively and enthusiastically lobbying for more government spending on information technology. . . the increased expenditures and bureaucratic “reforms” advocated by the Markle Task Force are extremely beneficial to private contractors, which happen to be the very corporations and private interests represented in various official capacities by Task Force members and the Markle board of directors."[2]

Markle Foundation Co-Chair Zoe Baird-- who first became famous after her nomination for President Bill Clinton's U.S. Attorney General was withdrawn amidst disclosures that she employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny and failed to pay Social Security taxes-- has also been accused of having a conflict of interest by sitting on the board of Convergys Corporation, which has a General Services Administration (GSA) contract for homeland security. (read more here). A 2002 New York Times article also criticized Baird.


About the Markle Foundation Task Force

Mission and Guiding Principles

According to the Markle Foundation website, the task force's guiding principles include the following:[1]

  • To enhance and augment our nation's security while protecting the established civil liberties of all citizens.
  • To create a trusted information sharing environment that fosters sharing and collaboration among those with information pertaining to potential national security threats, where policies and technologies are developed in tandem, and where security is enhanced and civil liberties are preserved.
  • To transform the business processes within government by applying the strengths of networked technologies while mitigating their potential harmful applications.


Overview

From the Markle Foundation Task Force Report, October 7, 2002:[1]
"Protecting America's Freedom in the Information Age"

"The geographical boundaries of national security have changed. America has become a potential battlefield for major assaults. Yet, though our military has deeply integrated intelligence and information technology into war fighting, we have not developed a similarly sophisticated use of information and information technology to protect Americans from attacks at home.

"Information analysis is the brain of homeland security. Used well, it can guide strategic, timely moves throughout our country and around the world. Done poorly, even armies of guards and analysts will be useless. The Task Force that we had the privilege of chairing has reached some important conclusions to assist our nation in developing its information collection and analysis capabilities.

"The federal government is preparing to spend nearly $40 billion a year to protect the homeland. While this report takes no position on any pending legislation, the White House has developed the important concept of homeland security, the centerpiece of which is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But almost no dollars have been directed to creating the capacity for the sharing of information and integrating the way it is analyzed, so that out of information collection comes enhanced knowledge. Neither the White House nor the current appropriations pipeline for the new Department of Homeland Security have yet identified the money to turn information collection into knowledge.

"With even relatively small sums of money, however, tremendous gains can be made. The new Department of Homeland Security can be the central hub for decisions about what information needs to be collected and stored-- in the government or in the private sector-- and about where the information should be analyzed and how. The DHS can help develop rules for protecting the well-established liberties of our citizens when information is collected and used. And it can support meaningful research and development efforts. This report describes how. To protect our freedoms, our task-- as in previous generations-- is to craft the national framework that will draw on this generation's and this society's greatest strengths.

"To protect freedom, America's physical safety is essential. Protecting freedom also requires securing the values that define America, including the civil liberties and rights to privacy that make our country special. Rights go together with responsibilities in preserving the public order in which our values can flourish. When Americans feel they must start trading fundamental rights in return for more security, we will know our national security policies are failing. The rule of law is our strength.

"Fortunately, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, we have not yet begun to fight. We have not taken adequate and thoughtful advantage of the laws and resources that are already available. We have barely begun to create a serious domestic intelligence capability, one that learns from the abuses of the past and uses the powers that can already be brought to hand."


Markle Foundation Management

Zoë Baird President, Markle Foundation

Karen D. Byers Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer

Carol Diamond, M.D., M.P.H Managing Director, Health

Anna Nigido Director of Finance and Administration

Eric Rosenbach Managing Director, National Security

Stefaan Verhulst Chief of Research

Board of Directors

Zoë Baird President, Markle Foundation

John Gage Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Slade Gorton Of Counsel, K&L Gates LLP Former Senator and Attorney General for the state of Washington Lobbyist

Suzanne N. Johnson Vice Chairman Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

Lewis B. Kaden Chairman of the Board of Directors, Markle Foundation Vice Chairman Citigroup Inc.

Herbert Pardes, M.D. President and Chief Executive Officer NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and its Healthcare System

Edward F. Rover President of the Dana Foundation

Stanley S. Shuman Managing Director Allen & Company LLC


A complete list of the Markle Foundation's members and associates can be found here.

Past Markle Foundation Officers

Past and Present Markle Foundation Board Members

Contact New York Headquarters:
10 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
Phone: (212) 489-6655
Fax: (212) 765-9690

Washington office:
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 466-8880
Fax: (202) 467-0790

Website
http://www.markletaskforce.org/index.html

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age project page, Markle Foundation website, accessed September 16, 2010.
  2. Uncharitable Activities: Lobbying by the Markle Foundation for the Benefit of IT Companies and Other Private Interests, Foufouville.Com, May 26, 2010, accessed September 16, 2010.