Senate Hearing on Foreign Agents Registration Act
Grant Smith, Antiwar.com
July 18, 2017
Alleged Russian meddling in the US electoral process will be the subject of a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Wednesday. The hearing is titled “Oversight of the Justice Department’s (Non) Enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act: Lessons from the Obama Administration and Current Compliance Practices.” In 1938 the U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act to mandate disclosure of the activities of non-diplomatic foreign agents in the United States propagandizing for war, swinging public opinion, and obtaining foreign aid and other economic benefits through congressional lobbying without disclosing that their activities were conducted on behalf of foreign principals.
The first panel of witnesses for Wednesday’s Senate hearing will include Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Justice Department Adam Hickey, Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI Bill Priestap and Inspector General of the Justice Department Michael Horowitz.
Second panel witnesses include Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, an outfit which circulated the now infamous dossier of allegations made against Donald Trump by a British spy. William Browder, a Russian market investment expert from Hermitage Capital Management, who has now deemed Russia “absolutely uninvestable” will also testify. According to reports, Browder knows Natalia Veslnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. to peddle opposition research on Hillary Clinton.
Panel Chairman Chuck Grassley may ultimately conclude that the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has failed and that unregistered Russian foreign agents are taking over America. If so, he will be half right, but not the first such senator to express concern. Grassley should consider what happened after a more extensive Senate FARA inquiry was launched 55 years ago.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman JW Fulbright became convinced that unregistered Israeli foreign agents were a serious matter in 1961. A classified staff report worried that:
“In recent years there has been an increasing number of incidents involving attempts by foreign governments, or their agents, to influence the conduct of American foreign policy by techniques outside normal diplomatic channels….there have been occasions when representatives of other governments have been privately accused of engaging in covert activities within the United States and elsewhere, for the purpose of influencing United States Policy (the Lavon Affair).” Continue reading