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Armenia: Planned Presidential Election Exit Poll Creates Controversy, or...Who is the IRI? [View All]

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-07-08 11:26 PM
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Armenia: Planned Presidential Election Exit Poll Creates Controversy, or...Who is the IRI?
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I got this story from the Election Reform, Fraud, & Related News thread that tbyg52 poured her heart into posting. So please go and recommend it and then come back here and check out this story. :hug:

OK. If the notion of the US Government push for exit polls as means of lending legitimacy to elections wasn't already a bit dubious, if not lampoonable, read far enough into this article and start twitching a ways into it.

Allow me...

Armenia: Planned Presidential Election Exit Poll Creates Controversy

Emil Danielyan 1/07/08

The United States has offered to organize and finance a first-ever exit poll in Armenia as part of an effort to promote a free-and-fair presidential election on February 19. The initiative has been endorsed by the election favorite, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, while causing serious misgivings among his main challengers.

The main source of opposition candidates concern is the apparent willingness of US officials to rely on an Armenian polling organization with reputed close ties to the Armenian government. Its pre-election opinion polls have long been criticized as misleading by Armenian opposition and civic groups.


Preparations for the presidential ballot were high on the agenda of a December 4 meeting between Sarkisian and Joseph Pennington, the US charge daffaires in Yerevan. A government statement quoted the Armenian premier as welcoming the proposed exit poll. "We were very pleased at the prime ministers very positive response, and we hope to be able to do this," Pennington told reporters on December 17. He said the exit poll would "enhance the credibility" of official vote results.

The remarks came amid a growing debate over the credibility of an ongoing series of opinion polls financed by the US Agency for International Development and commissioned by the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI). Although the polls are nominally conducted by a Lithuanian affiliate of the Gallup Organization, it is the controversial Armenian Sociological Association (ASA) that has done the crucial fieldwork of interviewing citizens and submitting the resulting data to the US pollster.

Well who on Earth, er Washington, is the IRI??? According to their web-site.

* U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman
* Peter Madigan, Vice Chairman
* J. William Middendorf, II, Secretary - Treasurer
* Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, III
* Gahl Hodges Burt
* U.S. Representative David Dreier
* Lawrence Eagleburger
* Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
* Alison B. Fortier
* Mayor James Garner
* Janet Mullins Grissom
* U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel
* Cheryl Halpern
* William Hybl
* The Honorable Jim Kolbe
* Michael Kostiw
* Stephan M. Minikes
* Constance Berry Newman
* Alec Poitevint, II
* John F.W. Rogers
* Randy Scheunemann
* Joseph Schmuckler
* Brent Scowcroft
* Margaret Tutwiler
* Olin L. Wethington
* Richard S. Williamson
* Robert B. Zoellick

An impressive gathering, no doubt.

A few other notables, including Liz Cheney are indexed by NNDB:

And then there's...

Of course, no organization consulting on elections would be complete without the creative advice of Thomas Charles Feeney III. Not sure he's still there but he's listed by NNDB as the International Republican Institute Ambassador to Macedonian Government (1995).

I admit I wondered if Conny McCormack would show up in this story? She hasn't, except that her bio has her advising Armenian elections back in 1991.

So what brought these other folks together? Also from the IRI website:

Congress responded to President Reagans call in 1983 when it created the National Endowment for Democracy to support aspiring democrats worldwide. Four nonprofit, nonpartisan democracy institutes were formed to carry out this work IRI, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).

In its infancy, IRI focused on planting the seeds of democracy in Latin America. Since the end of the Cold War, IRI has broadened its reach to support democracy and freedom around the globe. IRI has conducted programs in more than 100 countries and is currently active in 70 countries.

SourceWatch says:

IRI's stated mission is to "support the growth of political and economic freedom, good governance and human rights around the world by educating people, parties and governments on the values and practices of democracy." However, it has also been linked to efforts to foment a violent military coup in Haiti. Max Blumenthal reports that Stanley Lucas is the program officer for the IRI's Haiti program.

Ooohhh! Looky!...:

International Republican Institute has received $105,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.

Let's cut to the chase.

International Republican Institute

The International Republican Institute (IRI) is one of the core institutional vehicles of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Cold War-era organization created by the Reagan administration to push democratization efforts and roll back Soviet influence around the world. Although officially non-partisan, IRI is closely aligned with the Republican Party. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain serves as IRI chairman, and Lorne Craner, the former assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights and labor in the George W. Bush administration, is IRI president.


The IRI is the indirect product of a democratic globalism effort spearheaded in the late 1970s by neoconservatives and their allies in the AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and in the two main U.S. political parties. This project, which aimed to create a quasi-governmental instrument for U.S. political aid that could replace the CIA's controversial efforts to do the same, came to fruition in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan proposed a new organization to promote free-market democracies around the world, the NED.


Like NED and the other core grantees, the early focus of IRI was Central America and the Caribbeana region that in the 1980s was the cutting edge of the Reagan administration's revival of counterinsurgency and counter-revolutionary operations. After the Soviet bloc began to disintegrate in 1989, according to IRI's website, the institute "broadened its reach to support democracy around the globe."


IRI's leadership spans the center right, far right, and neoconservative factions of the Republican Party. Most of its staff and board have links to right-wing think tanks, foundations, and policy institutes, while many also represent major financial, oil, and defense corporations. George A. Folsom, IRI former president and CEO, was a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition Team, serving on the Treasury Department task force. An international investment banker, Folsom was a leading member of the Scowcroft Group, an international advisory firm headed by Brent Scowcroft, President George H.W. Bush's national security adviser and current IRI board member. Also serving on the board are Paul Bremer, former special envoy to post-invasion Iraq; and Randy Scheuneman, a former board member of the Project for the New American Century and founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, two neoconservative-led pressure groups that helped push official and public support for the invasion of Iraq after the 9/11 terror attacks. IRI's vice president of strategic planning and Latin America expert is Georges Fauriol, the former director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he co-chaired with Otto Reich of the Americas Forum, a hemispheric network of like-minded policy professionals. Among Fauriol's other affiliations are his work with the right-wing Foreign Policy Research Institute and the USIA.


Attempted Coup in Venezuela. After the April 2002 aborted coup against Venezuela's President Hugo Chvez, many observers accused Washington of having been behind the attempted ouster. The Bush administration denied any U.S. involvement in the affair. However, one relatively clear connection emerged between the U.S. government and the anti-Chvez movement: millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money channeled through the IRI and other U.S. organizations that funded groups opposed to Chvez during the years preceding the April coup. Writer Mike Ceaser reported that in an April 12, 2002, fax sent to news media, IRI President George A. Folsom rejoiced over Chvez's removal from power. "The Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country," he wrote. "Venezuelans were provoked into action as a result of systematic repression by the government of Hugo Chvez." With NED funding, IRI had been sponsoring political party-building workshops and other anti-Chvez activities in Venezuela. "IRI evidently began opposing Chvez even before his 1998 election," wrote Ceaser. "Prior to that year's congressional and presidential elections, the IRI worked with Venezuelan organizations critical of Chvez to run newspaper ads, TV, and radio spots that several observers characterize as anti-Chvez" (Mike Ceaser, "As Turmoil Deepens in Venezuela, Questions Regarding NED Activities Remain Unanswered," Americas Program, December 9, 2002).


Raw Story has a few things to say. Actually, googling Raw Story and the IRI suggests they have a lot to say. Here's a tid-bit:


Crushing Kerry

In December 2004, IRI contracted with Tony Marsh and Lance Copsey of the media consulting firm Marsh, Copsey & Scott to set up a Baghdad Media Center on behalf of the U.S. State Department. Its stated purpose was to assist Iraqi political parties and candidates in the upcoming January elections.

Earlier that year, in January 2004, Marsh Copsey & Scott (now Marsh Copsey & Associates) had registered the domain name, which was used throughout the 2004 election for an anti-Kerry blog run by their senior account executive, Patrick Hynes. The site was heavily involved in promoting both the SwiftBoat Veterans and CBS Memos stories. It also encouraged readers to suggest other ways of discrediting John Kerry, and claimed to have inside sources of information on the Kerry campaign. Today, the blog is gone, but is still the main URL for the website of Marsh Copsey & Associates.


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