January 26, 2012
The State Department and NGOs are outraged by a decision made by Egypt’s military regime to bar six Americans from leaving the country. The move comes a month after Egypt raided and closed the offices of 17 nongovernmental organizations and the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House.
Egyptian military raided NGOs and so-called pro-democracy organizations in December.
“We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“The public prosecutor has searched 17 civil society organizations, local and foreign, as part of the foreign funding case,” the official news agency MENA quoted a prosecutor’s office as saying in December. “The search is based on evidence showing violations of Egyptian laws including not having permits.”
The NGOs and so-called pro-democracy organizations funded by the United States cried foul over the raids. Freedom House President David J. Kramer, who was a senior State Department official during the George W. Bush administration, said the raids were part of “an intensive campaign by the Egyptian government to dismantle civil society through a politically motivated legal campaign aimed at preventing ‘illegal foreign funding’ of civil society operations in Egypt.”
“It is the clearest indication yet that the [ruling] Supreme Council of the Armed Forces … has no intention of permitting the establishment of genuine democracy and is attempting to scapegoat civil society for its own abysmal failure to manage Egypt’s transition effectively,” he said.
Freedom House’s work is linked to the selective “democracy promotion” efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental foundation created by the Reagan administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1983. USAID allegedly shares “a close working relationship with the CIA.”
USAID stands accused of working to undermine governments in a number of countries, including Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Uruguay, Sri Lanka and Eritrea.
“USAID has long been a conduit for CIA funding to subversive activities overseas and a front for CIA intelligence gathering,” writes Ajit Randeniya for a Sri Lankan website. “USAID is the collaborator and executor of CIA plots, and secret plans of the State Department. Its role is to act as an instrument of CIA penetration into civil society by enabling the ‘legitimate’ funding aimed at promoting U.S. foreign policy abroad and influencing internal politics of foreign nations.
According to Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, “A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” In short, NED works behind the scenes to overthrow foreign governments.
The International Republican Institute is a NED component run out of the State Department. It is associated with Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and a number of Bush-era neocons. McCain chairs the organization.
McCain voiced “alarm and outrage” at a “new and disturbing turn” which included a travel ban on Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NED’s Egypt director.
The U.S. State Department’s top human rights official, Michael Posner, has declined to comment on the travel bans Egyptian officials have yet to formalize in writing.