Op-Eds for Sale: "For years, rumors have swirled of an underground opinion "pay-for-play" industry in Washington in which think-tank employees and pundits trade their ability to shape public perception for cash. ..
A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients. Doug Bandow [also] writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service .. Copley News Service announced it is suspending Bandow pending its own review. ..
Bandow isn't the only think-tanker to have received payments from Abramoff for writing articles. Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist's clients. "I do that all the time," Ferrara says. "I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future." 10:54:56 AM
Ferrara, who has been an influential conservative voice on Social Security reform, among other issues, says he doesn't see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles. "It's a matter of general support," Ferrara says. "These are my views, and if you want to support them, then that's good." But he adds that at some point over the years, Abramoff stopped working with him: "Jack lost interest in me and felt he had other writers who were writing in more prominent publications," Ferrara says.
Ferrara's boss has a very different take on the Abramoff op-ed writing than did his peers at Cato. "If somebody pinned me down and said, 'Do you think this is wrong or unethical?' I'd say no," says Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation. Giovanetti says critics are applying a "naive purity standard" to the op-ed business. "I have a sense that there are a lot of people at think tanks who have similar arrangements."
Ferrara began working at the Institute for Policy Innovation after the period during which he wrote the op-ed pieces for Abramoff. Earlier, he worked at the activist anti-tax organization Americans for Tax Reform. .. He also wrote a 1998 book called The Choctaw Revolution: Lessons for Federal Indian Policy. Ferrara says the tribe paid him directly for his work on the book, which was published by the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation"
What the Troops Really Need: US nation-building assets are weak. "If you think that the $500 billion military is stretched thin, take a look at the anemic, $10 billion State Department. Most military officers crying for assistance in the field do not realize how small their diplomatic sister agency is. There are more musicians playing for the military services' bands than there are Foreign Service officers at State. This severe lack of capacity leaves the military with the bulk of the building, in addition to the clearing and the holding." 9:32:44 AM