After more than a year of reporting and research, combing through thousands of foreign lobbying records and haggling with government officials of FOIA requests, the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a comprehensive resource on U.S. military aid and assistance in a post-9/11 era. The project combined the reporting of 10 investigative journalists on four continents with a powerful database, resulting in a single, easily accessible toolkit.
The overall findings included:
• Lobbying by foreign governments and concerns over terrorism have dramatically shifted U.S. military assistance programs.
• The change in priorities often came at the cost of human rights and fiscal accountability.
• Controversial U.S. allies recruited into the global war on terror, such as Pakistan, Indonesia and Djibouti, received billions in additional, new military aid, oftentimes with little oversight by Congress.
• Several former members of Congress have been hired by governments with dubious human rights records to lobby Washington to ensure continued funding of controversial U.S. military aid.
Citizen toolkits were an essential component in this product, including:
• A U.S. Military Aid Database that allows users to review a ranking of all recipient countries.
• An Influence Database that shows influence expenditures by the largest military aid recipients before and after 9/11.
• A Human Rights Database that shows human rights violations in six categories for military aid recipients for three years post 9/11.
• The Citizen’s Guide to Understanding U.S. Foreign Aid.
Judges said the report “set a new standard for what can and should be reported on the Internet. This vast, clear-eyed report details what many Americans have long suspected about recent governmental policy, and that it became source material for any number of other nationwide news organizations speaks to its clarity, relevance and scope.”
The “Collateral Damage” stories have received wide distribution internationally in newspapers and on the Internet.
Tagged under: FOI