- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Eli Lake’s hyperbolic hatchet job on Chas W. Freeman Jr. (“Foreign ties of nominee queried,”Page 1, Thursday) was riddled with errors, at least in regard to the nonprofit Middle East Policy Council.

Mr. Lake writes that in 2006, “11 donors contributed a total of more than $2.7 million that year.” However, the council’s 990 form for 2006 says no such thing. Line 1b, stating total contributions for 2006 (a very successful fundraising year, by the way) reads, “$841,459.” The $2.7 million figure Mr. Lake cites happens to be a cumulative of five years’ worth of donations from our Schedule A. The exact figure on the form is $2,015,275.

Over the past decade, scheduled contributions to the council from the Saudi government have amounted to less than one-twelfth of our annual budget of roughly $600,000. Hardly the windfall Mr. Lake suggests.

In the 1990s, the Saudi Foreign Ministry pledged annual support for a five-year period, which the ministry never provided - a pledge made before Mr. Freeman’s tenure with the council began. This past year, the council unexpectedly received a check for the arrearages. Most of the money went directly into an endowment account.

In 2005, the council received an unsolicited contribution from King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to a then-nonexistent endowment. The $1 million contribution opened the council’s endowment account. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, though a donor to the council, is not the source of the $1 million as Mr. Lake incorrectly states. Nor did Prince Alwaleed say “he had provided a gift of $1 million to the MEPC for its endowment.”



For the record, not once did any donor - governmental or private, domestic or foreign - ever ask Mr. Freeman or the council to do anything specific on his or its behalf. The Middle East Policy Council is not a lobby. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

JON ROTH

Acting executive director

Middle East Policy Council

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