When CIA Director William Burns was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the prominent D.C. think tank employed at least 20 undisclosed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, a Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) investigation has discovered.
Expert profiles on Carnegie’s website, however, do not disclose the ties of these individuals to the CCP, with the DCNF only revealing the connection after going through hundreds of Chinese-language, Communist Party branch records and personnel profiles from more than a dozen groups linked to the CCP.
Burns’ term as head of Carnegie, from 2015 to November 2021, coincided with a higher state of concern from the FBI regarding the CCP carrying out “malign influence operations” against key American institutions, with FBI Director Christopher Wray warning in July 2020 that the CCP seeks to “influence our policymakers” and “manipulate our public opinion” by exploiting the “openness” of our society.
Steve Yates, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president, told the DCNF that “it’s pretty much a fatal cul-de-sac that [Burns] finds himself in. Either he appears to have allowed government-linked experts from a hostile power to affiliate with an organization boasting many former and future U.S. appointees or he didn’t know or bother to check — a remarkable lapse in operational security for a highly-cleared former U.S. official and pretty disqualifying for a director of Central Intelligence.”
Yates emphasized that “if you can’t track who was in your think tank, running a much larger intelligence agency is the wrong line of work.”
Yates pointed out that it is standard Chinese policy that “if any Communist Party members have easy access to any sensitive information whatsoever, they’re certain to get a visit from Chinese intelligence. They will have no choice but to gather and disclose on a regular basis going forward.”
Although most Carnegie-employed CCP members were hired before Burns’ tenure began, the think tanks also brought on at least four CCP members during his presidency.
Even if Burns was unaware of this, ignorance is no excuse, Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden said.
“Nonprofits and think tanks like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars," he told DCNF. "These organizations have the monetary resources and the manpower to properly vet their donors and their employees, yet they choose not to because both go hand in hand.”
Gooden stressed that “it would not surprise me if the nonprofit sector has knowingly turned a blind eye to CCP members in exchange for donations or political favors.
"If the reports of CIA Director Burns’ CCP contacts are true, there should be a full investigation into whether his ties to China disqualify him from government service.”
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