George Soros is known for funding groups such as MoveOn.org that seek to manipulate public opinion. So why is the billionaire's backing of what he believes in problematic? In a word: transparency.
How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"?
That's right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program.
That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda.
Hansen even succeeded, with public pressure from his nightly news performances, in forcing NASA to change its media policies to his advantage. Had Hansen's OSI-funding been known, the public might have viewed the whole production differently. The outcome could have been different.
That's not the only case. Didn't the mainstream media report that 2006's vast immigration rallies across the country began as a spontaneous uprising of 2 million angry Mexican-flag waving illegal immigrants demanding U.S. citizenship in Los Angeles, egged on only by a local Spanish-language radio announcer?
Turns out that wasn't what happened, either. Soros' OSI had money-muscle there, too, through its $17 million Justice Fund. The fund lists 19 projects in 2006. One was vaguely described involvement in the immigration rallies. Another project funded illegal immigrant activist groups for subsequent court cases.
So what looked like a wildfire grassroots movement really was a manipulation from OSI's glassy Manhattan offices. The public had no way of knowing until the release of OSI's 2006 annual report.
Meanwhile, OSI cash backed terrorist-friendly court rulings, too.
Do people know last year's Supreme Court ruling abolishing special military commissions for terrorists at Guantanamo was a Soros project? OSI gave support to Georgetown lawyers in 2006 to win Hamdan v. Rumsfeld — for the terrorists.
OSI also gave cash to other radicals who pressured the Transportation Security Administration to scrap a program called "Secure Flight," which matched flight passenger lists with terrorist names. It gave more cash to other left-wing lawyers who persuaded a Texas judge to block cell phone tracking of terrorists.
They trumpeted this as a victory for civil liberties. Feel safer?
It's all part of the $74 million OSI spent on "U.S. Programs" in 2006 to "shape policy." Who knows what revelations 2007's report will bring around events now in the news?
OSI isn't the only secretive organization that Soros funds. OSI partners with the Tides Foundation, which funnels cash from wealthy donors who may not want it known that their cash goes to fringe groups engaged in "direct action" — also known as eco-terrorism.
On the political front, Soros has a great influence in a secretive organization called "Democracy Alliance" whose idea of democracy seems to be government controlled solely of Democrats.
"As with everything about the Democracy Alliance, the strangest aspect of this entire process was the incessant secrecy. Among the alliance's stated values was a commitment to political transparency — as long as it didn't apply to the alliance," wrote Matt Bai, describing how the alliance was formed in 2005, in his book "The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics."
Soros' "shaping public policies," as OSI calls it, is not illegal. But it's a problem for democracy because it drives issues with cash and then only lets the public know about it after it's old news.
That means the public makes decisions about issues without understanding the special agendas of groups behind them.
Without more transparency, it amounts to political manipulation. This leads to cynicism. As word of these short-term covert ops gets out, the public grows to distrust what it hears and tunes out.
The irony here is that Soros claims to be an advocate of an "open society." His OSI does just the legal minimum to disclose its activities. The public shouldn't have to wait until an annual report is out before the light is flipped on about the Open Society's political action.
Copyright © Investor's Business Daily 2007. All rights reserved.
Post Your Comments Here...