The Jamestown Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank associated with right-wing actors that monitors security trends in a host of countries stretching from Eurasia to Africa. According to its website, the foundation's mission is "to inform and educate policy makers and the broad policy community about events and trends in those societies which are strategically or tactically important to the United States and which frequently restrict access to such information." The organization prides itself on using "indigenous and primary sources" and it claims that its material is "delivered without political bias, filter, or agenda." At various times in its history, however, the group has been dogged by allegations that it secretly works with the CIA or governments allied with the United States.
Founded in 1984, the foundation was originally dedicated to supporting Soviet dissidents and defectors; it has since expanded into other programs and regions. Although it maintains a special focus on the Caucasus region, Jamestown produces reports and dispatches on developments in countries ranging from China to Nigeria. It produces several in-house publications, including China Brief, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Hot Issues, Terrorism Monitor, and North Caucasus Weekly. It also publishes Militant Leadership Monitor, a subscription-based publication that profiles militant leaders from all over the world.
Jamestown's work in the Caucasus region became the subject of scrutiny in April 2013 when Russian news sources reported that key Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev—an ethnic Chechen who was raised in the United States but reportedly visited with Islamic militants in the restive Russian state of Dagestan—had attended Jamestown-funded workshops in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in 2011. The workshops were hosted by an organization calledthe Caucasian Fund (sometimes rendered as Fund for the Caucasus or the Kavkazsky Fund), which has an office in Boston and has been linked to the Georgian government.
Documents released by the Georgian Interior Ministry in 2013 suggest that at the time of Tsarnaev's alleged visit, the Georgian government was actively training and ferrying militants into neighboring Dagestan as part of its rivalry with Russia, with whom it fought a brief war in 2008. Some observers have speculated that the Jamestown-sponsored workshops may have been part of this effort. Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has denied the claims.
Jamestown has also denied any connection to the alleged program, but it has involved itself with controversial anti-Russian initiatives in the past. Jamestown president Glen Howard is the former executive director of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, a largely neoconservative-led campaign aimed at undermining Russia by bolstering U.S. support for militant nationalist and Islamist movements in the North Caucasus.In a 2005 statement, Howard echoed the claims of leading neoconservatives like William Kristol in denying that the Chechen separatist movement was fundamentally Islamist, telling the Washington Post: "The Russians are trying to treat Chechen separatism through the prism of 9/11 and terror rather than as a nationalist movement that has been defying Kremlin rule for 200 years." The committee is now known as the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus and operates under the aegis of Freedom House. Jamestown has published some of the group's works in the past.
Origins and History
William Geimer, a leading Cold Warrior close to the Reagan administration, founded the Jamestown Foundation in 1984 after the high-profile defection of Arkady Shevchenko, the Soviet undersecretary general to the United Nations. Geimer had been working closely with Shevchenko, and established the foundation as a vehicle to promote the writings of the former Soviet diplomat as well as those of Ion Pacepa, a former top Romanian intelligence officer. With the help of Geimer and the foundation, both defectors published bestselling books.
CIA Director William J. Casey, a leading figure in right-wing national security organizations, backed the formation of the Jamestown Foundation, agreeing with its complaints that the U.S. intelligence community did not provide sufficient funding for Soviet bloc defectors. The new organization enabled defectors to earn extra dollars—in addition to their stipends from the CIA—by lecturing and writing.
According to the foundation, Jamestown "rapidly became the leading source of information about the inner workings of closed totalitarian societies." At first, the institute focused on the Soviet bloc, but its attention later expanded to China and more recently the Middle East. It boasts that its analysis "contributes significantly to policymakers engaged in addressing today's new and emerging threats, including that from international terrorists."
Eulogizing Geimer, who died in 2002, longtime Jamestown board member and former Central Intelligence Agency director R. James Woolsey observed: "He had an enormous impact on our national security efforts. As the Soviet Union began to collapse, Bill was one of the first to foresee that the instability brought about by that dissolution might result in rogue groups more difficult to deal with and potentially more of a threat to freedom than the USSR, which is precisely the situation we face with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida."
In the 1990s, Woolsey—who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns—took on the case of former KGB major Viktor Sheymov, who believed that the CIA had not adequately compensated him for his intelligence work. Woolsey managed to arrange a secret settlement with the CIA in this case.
Since the Cold War's end, the Jamestown Foundation has become increasingly linked to neoconservative and right-wing institutions, many of whose scholars have contributed to Jamestown publications. Among the authors of Jamestown publications are Freedom House's Nina Shea, the National Institute for Public Policy's Keith Payne, the Hoover Institution's John Dunlop, the Heritage Foundation's John Tkacik, the American Enterprise Institute's Nicholas Eberstadt, former Hudson Institute scholar Laurent Murawiec, and Gary Gambilli, former editor of the Middle East Forum's Middle East Intelligence Bulletin's.
Arthur Waldron—a Jamestown board member and adviser to neoconservative outfits like Family Security Matters—and John Tkacik have issued alarmist calls about the purported new China threat. For his part, Waldron has criticized "China's directionless transition." He charges that China has followed a dangerous path of instituting economic reform, whereas it should have followed the Russian model of first "introducing freedom and democracy." He advocates that the United States keep China in check if it "misbehaves" with regard to Taiwan, and implies that China is a terrorism-enabling country because it has failed to exert sufficient pressure on North Korea. Similarly, Tkacik recommends "prescribing Beijing with some of its own medicine"—meaning that it should use the same heavy-handed threats against North Korea that it uses mistakenly against Taiwan.
Jamestown's post-9/11 emphasis on terrorism and Islamic totalitarianism can be seen in articles by Murawiec and Gambill, among others. Murawiec, like Daniel Pipes, forecasted the imminent turn to Wahhabism in Egypt, depicting the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, with its 5,000-6,000 professors, as if it were the next bastion of Islamic fundamentalism. Gambill dedicated a report to Iraq and Syria, attempting to link the two through the terrorism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Leadership and Funding
Jamestown's current president is Glen Howard. Howard previously worked at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as an analyst, and has served as a consultant for the Department of Defense, the National Intelligence Council, and "major oil companies operating in Central Asia and the Middle East," according to his Jamestown biography.
Other Jamestown staff members include China Brief editor Peter Mattis and Eurasia Daily Monitor editor Matthew Czekaj. Jamestown's senior fellows include Valery Dzutsev, Willy Wo-Lap Lam, Roger McDermott, Michael W. S. Ryan, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Ulph, and Mairbek Vatchagaev.
The foundation's board includes both centrist and ideologically hawkish figures. Its chairman is Willem de Vogel, a former director of Computer Associates International, Inc. who settled out of court under after a federal investigation for insider trading. Its vice chairman is James H. Burnley. Other members include former CIA director Michael Hayden, former diplomat Matthew Bryza, Brookings scholar Bruce Riedel, Georgetown terrorism scholar Bruce Hoffman, Family Security Matters columnist Kathleen "KT" McFarland, and Center for Security Policy adviser Michelle Van Cleave, among others. Dick Cheney and Marcia Carlucci, wife of Frank Carlucci, are former board members.
Between 1985 and 2003, Jamestown Foundation received close to $3.5 million from right-wing foundations like Smith Richardson and two of the Richard Mellon Scaife foundations—Carthage and Sarah Scaife—which together contributed over $2.9 million of this amount.
According to Jamestown Foundation's 2010 IRS 990 Tax Form, it received $5.9 million in support between 2006 and 2010. In 2010, it received $1.4 million in financial support and had expenses totaling $1.1 million.