Established in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, the Center that bears their surname works in partnership with Emory University to fight for “human rights and the alleviation of human suffering,” and seeks “to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.” The Carter Center describes itself as “nonpartisan” and “neutral in dispute-resolution activities.” Located in a 35-acre park approximately two miles east of downtown Atlanta, over the course of its history the Center has been active in 65 countries around the world. Construction of its facilities was financed by private donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the the Pakistani-operated, Persian Gulf-funded Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), played a major role in helping the Carter Center get established. Indeed, he donated $500,000 to help set up the Center at Emory University, and later contributed more than $10 million to Mr. Carter’s various projects. According to the Washington Times, “BCCI’s origins were primarily ideological. Abedi wanted the bank to reflect the supra-national Muslim credo and ‘the best bridge to help the world of Islam, and the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists.'”
But over time, BCCI became involved in criminality on a massive scale. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the Bank’s transgressions included “fraud … involving billions of dollars; money laundering in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas”; “bribery of officials in most of those locations”; “support of terrorism, arms trafficking, and the sale of nuclear technologies”; “management of prostitution”; “the commission and facilitation of income tax evasion, smuggling, and illegal immigration”; “illicit purchases of banks and real estate”; and “a panoply of financial crimes limited only by the imagination of its officers and customers.” A number of the Bank’s officials had relationships with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Terrorism expert Rachel Ehrenfeld provides additional background on BCCI:
“By the time BCCI was shut down in July1991, it operated in 73 countries with a deficit of $12 billion, which it had managed to hide with wealthy Arab shareholders and Western luminaries. Among them [was] Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan of Abu Dhabi, who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Yasser Arafat and Palestinian terrorist groups, and who branded the United States: ‘our enemy number one.’ [Another was the] former head of Saudi foreign intelligence service, and King Faisal’s brother-in-law, Kamal Adham — who with another Saudi, the banker of the royal family, Khaled bin Mahfouz, staged BCCI’s attempt to illegally purchase the Washington-based First American bank in the early 1980s.
“True to its agenda, BCCI assisted in spreading and strengthening the Islamic message; they enabled Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, and helped the Palestinian leadership to amass a $10 billion-plus fortune, used to further terrorist activities and to buy more influence in the West.
“BCCI founders also supported the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to the Shah of Iran, and saw it as an opportunity to undermine Western influence in the Gulf. They assisted the revolution financially, reinforcing their position within the leadership of the Iranian revolution….
“Even after BCCI was indicted — and convicted -— for drug money laundering, Mr. Carter accepted $1.5 million from Abedi, his ‘good friend.'”
Today the Carter Center employs 150 full- and part-time workers who are based primarily in Atlanta, with some field representatives stationed in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and Central America.
The Carter Center’s programs fall broadly under two principal categories: Peace and Health.
1) Peace Programs: Says the Carter Center: “Peace with justice requires resolving conflict according to rules agreed to by all, beginning with the shared commitment to human rights and democratic values. Today, virtually all governments claim to share this belief. The Carter Center … seeks practical ways to narrow the gap between the rhetoric and realities of government policies in countries striving to overcome legacies of oppression and deadly conflict by building more just societies of their own.”
The Carter Center’s Peace Programs include the following:
a) The Democracy Program is the Center’s most well known initiative. It works for “the development of inclusive democratic societies and the empowerment of citizens through election observation, consensus-building for international standards for democratic elections, and democracy-strengthening activities in emerging democracies and regional organizations.” To date, the Carter Center has monitored more than 50 of what Jimmy Carter calls “troubled democratic elections, all of them either highly contentious or a nation’s first experience with democracy.” Since 2000, Carter Center delegations have overseen local and national elections in Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guyana, East Timor, Zambia, Sierra Leone, China, Kenya, Mozambique, Guatemala, Indonesia, Congo, and Ethiopia. In most of those cases, the Center opposed the use of independent exit polls to verify whether its assessments of the elections’ integrity were accurate.
In 1996 Jimmy Carter himself headed a Carter Center delegation that monitored the Palestinian Authority elections, pronouncing them “democratic,” “open,” “fair,” and “well organized.” These were the elections about which former CIA director Jim Woolsey — as cited in National Review by Jay Nordlinger — wrote: “Arafat was essentially ‘elected’ the same way Stalin was, but not nearly as democratically as Hitler, who at least had actual opponents.”
The Carter Center also monitored the Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004 (which was designed to determine whether President Hugo Chavez should be recalled from office). According to the Center for Security Policy, the Chavez regime “delayed and obstructed the recall referendum process at every turn. Once the regime was forced to submit to such a referendum, moreover, it used a fraud-filled voting process to ensure victory. The government did everything — including granting citizenship to half a million illegal aliens in a crude vote-buying scheme and ‘migrating’ existing voters away from their local election office — to fix the results in its favor. The outcome was then affirmed and legitimated by … Jimmy Carter’s near-unconditional support. … Carter ignored pleas from the opposition and publicly endorsed the results, despite the fact that the government reneged on its agreement to carry out an audit of the results. Carter’s actions not only gave the Venezuelan regime the legitimacy it craved, but also destroyed the public’s confidence in the voting process and in the effectiveness of international observers.”
b) The Human Rights Program “intervene[es] on behalf of victims of human rights abuses; strengthen[s] the voices of human rights defenders internationally; and build[s] capacity for rule of law in partnerships with civil society, governments, and international organizations.” This program also calls for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
c) The Conflict Resolution Program focuses on “helping prevent deadly conflict, mediating differences, … ensuring that peace processes become irreversible at the invitation of parties to disputes, and assisting capacity building for conflict resolution in regional organizations.”
d) The Americas Program seeks to “improve[e] regional cooperation and the deepening of democracy within the Western Hemisphere; thwar[t] corruption; increas[e] transparency, and decreas[e] social inequities to ensure that free and fair elections lead to the consolidation of democratic institutions and rule of law.”
e) The China Program advises China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs on local elections practices, voter education, and data collection.
f) The Global Development Initiative aims to help developing countries “devise their own plans for sustainable development.”
2) Health Programs: According to the Carter Center, “Many of the most severe [physical] afflictions are entirely preventable. Yet people living in developing nations die or are disabled because they do not have access to the services they need to treat their illness or avoid infection entirely. Every day our experts show people how they can take steps to transform their own lives.” The Center’s Health Programs focus on eradicating infectious diseases; improving sanitation and hygiene; developing drug-distribution systems; strengthening health-care delivery infrastructures; increasing access to trained health personnel; improving agricultural techniques; and reducing “stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses.”
With an annual operating budget of $36 million, the Carter Center is supported by grants from many charitable foundations, including the Bank of America Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Freddie Mac Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Moriah Fund, the New York Community Trust, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Turner Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The four largest donations were from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — a $4 million grant in 2003; a $10 million grant, also in 2003; a $25 million grant in 2005; and a $10 million grant in 2006. From 2000 to 2003, the aggregate sum of foundation, corporate, and individual contributions to the Carter Center was more than $433 million.
The Carter Center has also been a longtime recipient of Arab funding:
Arab donations such as these are encouraged by Mr. Carter’s consistently pro-Arab, anti-Israel perspective regarding the Mideast conflict. There are no corresponding contributions from Israeli sources.
Additional Arab ties to the Carter Center can be found in the form of a few of its founders: the king of Saudi Arabia, Bank of Credit and Commerce International’s Agha Hasan Abedi, and Yasser Arafat‘s friend Hasib Sabbagh.
In December 2006, Kenneth Stein, a professor of Israeli Studies at Emory University and the first Executive Director of the Carter Center, stepped down from his position at the Center and issued a resignation letter in which he described Carter as an incompetent, a liar, and a fraud. Of Carter’s 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, whose title he classified as “too inflammatory to even print,” Stein said that it was “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments.” More troubling than Carter’s attacks on Israel, Stein noted, were his outright misrepresentations. In particular, Stein called attention to “meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book.”
On January 11, 2007, fourteen members of the Carter Center’s 200-person Board of Councilors, responsible for building public support for the Center, also resigned to protest Carter’s anti-Israel screed. “You have clearly abandoned your historic role of broker in favor of becoming an advocate for one side,” they wrote in their letter of resignation. “It seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy,” they added. “We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support.” Atlanta real estate developer Steve Berman, who was among those who resigned, said the Board members had “watched with great dismay” as Carter defended the book, especially as he implied that Americans were reluctant to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict because they feared a powerful Jewish lobby.
In fiscal year 2004-05, the Carter Center took in $172 million in donations.