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IRI Feedback: COHA's Closet of Dubious Stories

Letter To The Editor

COHA's Closet of Dubious Stories

This latest installment about IRI and its Chairman, Senator McCain, is a repackaging of baseless conspiracy theories - some borrowed from others.

COHA fails to tell readers that the work of IRI is identical to the work of the National Democratic Institute and both have been funded by Democratic and Republican administrations.

COHA quotes Ghassan Atiyyah as saying he parted ways with IRI over his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. If COHA had asked IRI they would have learned that IRI staff in Iraq were also critical of U.S. government efforts. This also fails to explain that after Mr. Atiyyah completed work for the grant, IRI recommended him to the National Endowment for Democracy for further funding.

Without offering any evidence COHA claims IRI is 'skewing public opinion in order to yield a desired outcome." This is a complete fabrication. COHA's infatuation with a former employee of IRI, Stanley Lucas, conveniently overlooks key pieces of the story which would essentially reverse COHA's conclusions: two separate full-scale USAID Inspector General investigations found no evidence that IRI's Haiti programs were responsible for the 'overthrow of the country's democratically-elected President."

Regarding the April 2002 Venezuela episode COHA tries to paint a negative picture of IRI's work, all of which is baseless. The only mistake that was made was the statement by Mr. Folsom and IRI has said that for years.

The general assertion that John McCain's foreign policy views are shaped by IRI suggests how little COHA knows about broader global policy- making. The Senator hardly needs IRI to shape and extend his foreign policy knowledge.

If COHA wishes to provide serious analysis, it would be preferable to start with real facts - not misleading items from COHA's closet of aging and parochial stories.

Lisa Gates - IRI

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