9:07 AM, Nov 21, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The U.S. State Department recently awarded a contract worth $541,250 to a foreign research firm to conduct public opinion surveys as part of an "Arab omnibus study" in at least eight foreign countries beginning this month. Significant portions of the justification documents were redacted, including the name of the firm awarded the contract (additionally, one entire page of the document is blacked out). According to the documents, the award was a "sole source" contract as market research found that no U.S. or other foreign firm could handle the assignment at a competitive cost.
The surveys are to include 1,000 adults and will be conducted in three waves. The first two will include six countries in November 2014 and April 2015, and the third will cover eight countries in July-August 2015. The survey results are to include twenty unique data sets. The documents do not details the nature of the questions to be asked, and the State Department did not respond to an inquiry about the questions to be asked and the countries where the surveys are to be conducted.
Although the State Department has not disclosed the exact nature or location of the studies, testimony given by Jeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary, bureau of Near Eastern affairs, to a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee in 201,1 includes this passage that appears to mirror the type of survey revealed in the above contract:
The continuous coverage of the Assad regime’s brutality in the pan-Arab media has decimated Assad’s standing on the Arab street. A recent poll by the Arab American Institute suggests that Assad has become a pariah in the Arab world. The poll, conducted in early October surveyed over 4,000 Arabs in six countries. Just three years ago, a region-wide poll of the same six countries asked respondents to name a leader, not from their own country, that they most respected. Bashar al Assad scored higher than any other Arab head of state. Today, however, the overwhelming majority of Arabs side with those Syrians demonstrating against the government (with support for them ranging from 83% in Morocco to 100% in Jordan). When asked whether Bashar al Assad can continue to govern, the highest affirmative ratings he receives are a mere 15% in Morocco and 14% in Egypt, with the rest in low single digits.
The Arab American Institute (AAI) poll cited by Feltman was conducted by AAI president James Zogby, who is also the managing director of Zogby Research Services that specializes in polling in the Arab world. (James Zogby is the brother of well known U.S. pollster John Zogby.) As previously mentioned, however, the documents accompanying the recently awarded contract have been carefully scrubbed to remove any mention of the contract winner, as well as the reasons that the winning firm was selected to the exclusion of all others, as these excerpts show:
It is unclear if the State Department played any role in previous surveys or if this contract represents the department's first foray into direct commissioning of polling in the Arab world. A search of the government contracting website fbo.gov did not turn up any comparable contracts in the past. An email to Zogby Research Services seeking comment was not returned.
'Chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.'
8:23 PM, Oct 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama addressed the growing Ebola crisis today in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
"As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority. This is not just a matter of charity -- although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region," said the commander in chief.
12:04 PM, Oct 3, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Forum at Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, Massachusetts last night, Vice President Joe Bidengave an extensive rundown of foreign policy challenges and crises that the world and the Obama administration are facing today.
1:18 PM, Aug 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The world is exploding, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week. But President Obama is going golfing -- again.
Via the pool report:
Admit it. You all made small-dollar bets that POTUS would be playing golf today. And ... you would be right! We are at the Farm Neck Golf Club at 1:13 pm. and POTUS is hitting the links again.
The White House sends the following: Partners:
2:32 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece of August 6 about “the surge of poisonous anti-Semitism around the world, particularly in Europe,” Andrew Nagorski had the temerity to note that “the president [Obama] has not prominently addressed the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, much less its pervasiveness in the Muslim world.” This is, of course, an understatement.
9:01 AM, Aug 13, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Fresh off a trip to India and Australia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed a group of Marines in San Diego, California Tuesday, and may have delivered a line that will show up in Republican campaign ads this election cycle.
12:00 AM, Jun 21, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
And we thought the bad old days of oil shocks were over. Embargoes, price spikes, gasoline lines in America, a sweater-bedecked president ordering the end of hot water in many facilities, collapsing retail sales as high gasoline and energy prices hit stores as much as a big tax increase would, economic stagflation, or worse. Well, it just might be that we were wrong to believe that danger to our continued prosperity has been removed with the death of theories about “Peak oil.”
11:38 AM, Jun 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Hillary Clinton says that the "American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world." She made the comments in a recent interview:
“Politics is so unpredictable, whoever runs has to recognize that the American political system is probably the most difficult, even brutal, in the world,” said Clinton.
10:41 AM, Mar 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
These days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has time on its hands.
12:32 PM, Feb 4, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Hard to blame anyone for wanting to get out of Washington and flee to some destination where the air is not polluted by politics. Understandable, then, that as Shane Goldmacher of Government Executive writes:
Remembering Pearl Harbor.9:25 AM, Dec 7, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
It has been 72 years and veterans of the attack are in their 90s, some of them taking tourists out to the memorial built over the sunken battleship Arizona, which is still leaking oil. Almost 1,200 men were killed and went down with that ship when a bomb found its magazine and blew it up. Total losses that day were over 2,500 killed, 1,000 wounded. Material losses amounted to 18 ships and nearly 300 airplanes destroyed or severely damaged.
9:15 AM, Sep 23, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
While Germany was engaging in peaceful elections and the United States was watching football – civilized societies being big on democratic rituals and sports – people in other parts of the world were relieving their frustrations in violence.
3:03 PM, Aug 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The United States will "close an unspecified number of embassies around the world" because of "security concerns," AFP reports. The closures will take place on Sunday.
The wire service adds:
11:46 AM, Feb 15, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an article titled, "Refusal to Lead," Republican senator Marco Rubio writes, "The biggest foreign policy problem facing the United States right now is not too much U.S. engagement, but the danger of a world in which we increasingly refuse to lead. There are few global challenges that can be solved without decisive American leadership."