The FARA Law

600px-US-DeptOfJustice-Seal_svg The "Foreign Agent Registration Act" (FARA) was designed to provide a data base in which are registered all those whose foreign employment or associations place them in a position to be offering policy advice to the government of the United States on behalf of a foreign government, party, institution, company or individual.  The FARA act is administered by the Department of Justice.  A failure to register constitutes a felony.  Concerned citizens may make complaints to the FARA staff of the Department of Justice, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or to their member of Congress with regard to individuals who may be in violation of the statute.

As I have stated in my CV (posted here at SST) at the personal request of Martin Indyk, I was registered under FARA for about five years as the representative of a Lebanese citizen business man and politician (unsuccesful).  I worked for the man in his industrial enterprises and also in his family charitable foundation.  The foundation funded vocational training and microcredit lending for small business creation in Lebanon, and provided funding for the US Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  This CFR project sponsored academic papers on the Arab/Israeli situation.  These were provided to the State Department among other agencies of government.  Because I worked for this foreign person our counsel recommended that I register under FARA to ensure compliance with the law.  This registration later became a great convenience to the neocon brethren who would cite it in calling to complain to editors and network executives about me, my views and/or foreign associations.  Whenever they sought to use this "tool" they always falsely claimed that I was a representative of a foreign government rather than an individual.  This calumny culminated in Indyk's call to me suggesting that I should admit my "foreign agent" status.  I was happy to do so.  I de-registered myself several years ago when I stopped working for the overseas principal.

I think the FARA law is an excellent statute.  It is not well administerd by the Justice Department.  It is always underfunded and is poorly operated as a system that should be quickly responsive to the public.  Nevertheless, the law provides an excellent opportunity for the government to distinguish between the "sheep and the goats."

A possible confusion of allegiances is a perpetual problem in a country still in the process of self-definition.  The United States can not afford to have its diplomacy and/or policy formulation reside in the hands of people of unknown associations.

I urge concerned citizens to require Department of Justice action or enquiries with regard to doubtful cases.  pl

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20 Responses to The FARA Law

  1. The “Lobby” never sleeps, has resources and influence, and will always “Vet” those who are critical of Israel policy.
    Congrats on being vetted.

  2. Leanderthal says:

    Dennis Ross should be singled out as one who should register. Who in an Arab state would take him seriously as an objective advisor, negotiator or moderator?
    I don’t understand Obama sometimes, when it comes to his appointments.

  3. Julio Sueco says:

    I find it curious that FARA in Swedish means danger.

  4. Jose says:

    Is Martin Indyk also registered as a foreign agent, who is also foreign born?
    I am amused that he would challenge your credentials while omitting his.
    Sad that your views which are usually right are not aired while the Neocons Nemesis which are usually wrong are everywhere.

  5. JohnH says:

    Yes, it would be nice if the Justice Department would require that Elliot Abrams be registered, not just as a foreign agent, but also as a convicted felon.

  6. chris says:

    here’s a useful link for those concerned:

  7. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Surely, any high falutin’ lawyer adept at the Black Arts (again, according to the commentator “RHH”) will have the wherewithal to create a credible legal strategy against the USDOJ re: FARA.

  8. par4 says:

    what leanderthal said

  9. Another statute essential to protection of our democracy (Republic) that somehow DOJ does not have the ability to staff or fund at the level needed. DOJ should be returned to a litigation only agency and divested of all other responsibilities. The rest can in most cases go to DHS for administration, probably including the FBI and DEA and even Bureau of Prisons. No serious oversight of DOJ has occurred in years allowing what I would term lawyers with freakish views of the Constitution and law to reach the upper most ranks without proper vetting. Eric Holder better be working night and day because as DOJ goes so goes our democracy. If you want a starter course read “Kennedy Justice” about DOJ in Kennedy years. Amazing how the public administration types and political scientists somehow overlook an organization that has had its budget increased by significant percentages since 1981 with little to show for it. E.G. the Bureau of Prisons has been running the largest public works project in US history for the last 30 years.

  10. J says:

    unfortunately ghw bush presidential ‘pardoned’ elliot abrams for his iran-contra crimes/conviction right before leaving the presidency.

  11. MRW. says:

    Gee, gotta recommend your even-handedness describing how some Brit comes over here, wags his finger at you, a decorated soldier and American public servant, gets the US government to jump through hoops according to his desire, then nabs an ambassadorship representing the US overseas.
    Well, since I can’t swear…time for a drinky-poo, as the Brits say.

  12. J says:

    Indyk was an Aussie with Aussie Intel before he became a U.S. citizen.

  13. patrick says:

    Col, Do you think Larry Franklin regrets his plea deal? It appears that his alleged co-conspirators are going to walk on their charges and he is facing 15 years in prison.

  14. Milton Arbogast says:

    In parallel, after 9/11 there was a movement to force Americans with dual nationality to declare themselves a citizen of only one country. This initiative got quite far in Congress and then hit a wall. It died without a sound.
    How many people in our government are dual-national Israel/United States?

  15. fanto says:

    I thought this was an Aussie and not a Brit wagging his finger; besides his name means some kind of bird (?turtle?)in one of the Eastern European languages

  16. jamzo says:

    what is the purpose of FARA?
    what benefit does it provide?
    it seems like a political trap
    a catch-22
    a damned if you do and damned if you don’t sitation
    a “foreign agent” is a bad guy in our movies and novels
    the law essentially says
    all you “foreign agents” must register even though we know only a few of you are “bad guys”
    maybe the problems the law creates are determined by the title “Foreign Agent Registration Act” (FARA)”
    maybe foreign agents and former foreign agents should “lobby” to have the act renamed
    maybe as the government policy consultant registration act
    registered policy consultants in active status, inactive status, resigned

  17. MRW says:

    Indyk said on a TV panel that he was born in Britain. Just did a google search. Said the same thing. He was Britain-born but Australia-raised.

  18. AIPAC and the “Christian” Zionist Lobby organizations, such as Hagee’s “Christians United for Israel” (CUFI-for which Google) should be required to register under FARA.
    This would then trigger a requirement to similarly register on Capitol Hill with Congress.

  19. harper says:

    Col. Lang, I wish to call your readers’ attention to the ample documentation that the Jewish Agency is an official, powerful branch of the Israeli government. Therefore, Dennis Ross’ role as chairman of one of their subsidiary organizations should have forced him to register as a foreign agent, under the FARA. He did not do this, and therefore, as Grant Smith, of the Institute for Research on Middle East Policy correctly points out, this should disqualify Ross for any official post in the U.S. government. If your readers wish to look further into the case of the Jewish Agency, and Ross’ affiliation, I refer them to Smith’s website,, which has a collection of U.S. government documents, pertaining to the Jewish Agency. Indeed, an earlier affiliate of the Jewish Agency, the American Zionist council, was forced to register as an agent of the Israeli government by then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. As the result, the group was disbanded, and replaced a short time later, by AIPAC, which does not have to logo affiliation with the Jewish Agency that Dennis Ross’ organization does. Your posting on Ross and the Jewish Agency front got me going on this, and Grant Smith provided an easy access to all the relevant documentation, which makes for fascinating reading. For example, did you know that the Jewish Agency has preview and veto power over all legislation, before it is presented to the Knesset for a vote? That comes right out of the Jewish Agency charter, which was disclosed to the U.S. Department of Justice through yet another FARA proceeding in the late 1960s. Let us recall the lessons of history, so we don’t repeat the mistakes.

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