Washington, DC - March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club


"..a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."

-George Washington, Farewell Address




The following list is not final.  Additional speakers are being added to the list so check back frequently for updates.  Some keynote and panel speakers may not be announced until the day of the event.

Elected Representatives

Paul Findley served the 20th District of Illinois during eleven terms from 1961 to 1983.  Findley wrote the very first book to analyze the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions from the perspective of Congress. Carefully documented with specific case histories, "They Dare Speak out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby" reveals how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections. First published in 1985 and reprinted several times since, the book criticizes the undue influence AIPAC exerts in the Senate and the House and the pressure AIPAC brings to bear on university professors and journalists who seem too sympathetic to Arab and Islamic states or too critical of Israel and its policies.  Findley is co-founder of the Council for the National Interest.

Intelligence Community

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a regular contributor to in a column titled “Smoke and Mirrors” and is a Contributing Editor who writes a column called “Deep Background” on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues for The American Conservative magazine. He has written op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain, has appeared on “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, National Public Radio, and local affiliates of ABC television. He has been a keynote speaker at the Petroleum Industry Security Council annual meeting, has spoken twice at the American Conservative Union's annual CPAC convention in Washington, and has addressed several World Affairs Council affiliates. He has been interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Britain's Independent Television Network, FOX News, Polish National Television, Croatian National Television, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, 60 Minutes, and Court TV. He prepares and edits a nationally syndicated subscription service newsletter on September 11th issues for corporate clients. Giraldi is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the U.S. government in the Middle East.

Raymond McGovern is a retired CIA officer who holds an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham University, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and who is a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990.  In the 1980s he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President's Daily Brief. He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement.    McGovern's current work includes commentating on intelligence issues and in 2003 co-founding Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.


Paul Pillar retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Professor Pillar also served in the National Intelligence Council as one of the original members of its Analytic Group. He has been Executive Assistant to CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence and Executive Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and from 1997 to 1999 was deputy chief of the center. He was a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution in 1999-2000. Professor Pillar is a retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and served on active duty in 1971-1973, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Dr. Michael Scheuer served in both the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the Directorate of Operations (DO) during his 22-year career with the CIA. Dr. Scheuer held various positions including Senior Adviser for the Usama Bin Laden Department, Chief of the Southwest/Southeast Asia Counternarcotics Operation, and Chief of the Sunni Militant Unit. Dr. Scheuer is the author of Imperial Hubris. Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of the United States, as well as numerous journal articles.


Defense Community

James J. David is a retired Brigadier General, and a graduate of the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969. General David commanded a Chaparral-Vulcan Air Defense Artillery battery and received one of Europe's highest awards for missile battery proficiency when his missile battery scored a perfect score in its annual service practice on the Island of Crete. After his active duty tours, General David commanded the 429th, and the 434th Chemical Detachments in Chamblee, Georgia, United States Army Reserves. The 434th Chemical Detachment received unit honors when it was later mobilized and served in the first Gulf war. His decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Medal with Overseas Ribbon and bar, the Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Bronze Star Medal.

News Media/Blogs

Jeffrey Blankfort is a journalist and radio programmer. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He currently hosts a twice monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California where he now lives. Blankfort was a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine, a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East and editor of its publication, the Middle East Labor Bulletin (1988-1995).

Allan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist, associate editor of The Lincoln Review and the editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. He is a contributing editor to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Brownfeld served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland. Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as The Houston Press, The Richmond Times Dispatch, the Washington Evening Star, and The Cincinnati Enquirer.  His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have also appeared in such journals as The Yale Review, The Texas Quarterly, the North American Review, Orbis and Modern Age. Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference.

Janet McMahon is the managing editor at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She earned her B.A. in English at Reed College and has a graduate diploma in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. She is an expert on the Israel lobby and pro-Israel political action committees (PACs). She co-edited Seeing the Light: Personal Encounters With the Middle East and Islam, and Donald Neff's 50 Years of Israel, both compilations of feature articles from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In addition to her editorial duties, she has written special reports on Israel and Palestine, and has contributed articles to special issues of the Washington Report on Iran, Tunisia, Cyprus and Libya.

Nonprofits / Public Policy and Media Research

Grant F. Smith is the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) in Washington, DC. He is the author of two unofficial histories of AIPAC–America's Defense Line and Foreign Agents, as well as the books Divert, Spy Trade, Deadly Dogma, Visa Denied and editor of the book Neocon Middle East Policy. Before joining IRmep, Smith was senior analyst and later program manager at Yankee Group Research, Inc. in Boston. He has a bachelor's degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in International Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jeff Stein of the Washington Post designated Smith “a Washington D.C. author who has made a career out of writing critical books on Israeli spying and lobbying.” Nathan Guttman of The Jewish Daily Forward recognizes Smith as leading a public effort to “call attention of the authorities to AIPAC's activity and demands public scrutiny of the group's legal status.” John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago claims “Grant Smith's new book is a major step forward in correcting that problem. He provides a fascinating–and disturbing–account of how I. L. Kenen laid the groundwork for AIPAC, the most powerful organization in the lobby.”

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest, created by ambassadors and former Congressmen in 1989 to counter special interest lobbying, and executive director of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit organization she founded following an independent investigation as a freelance journalist to the West Bank and Gaza in early 2001. She writes and speaks widely on Israel-Palestine, and is considered the foremost analyst on media coverage of the region. Her articles have appeared in Censored 2005, The Encyclopedia of Palestine-Israel, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, CounterPunch, Editor & Publisher, The Link, and other books and publications. She has given two briefings on Capitol Hill, presentations at the Asia Media Summit in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, conferences in the West Bank, Harvard Law School, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, Georgetown, and elsewhere. Alison has received national awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Council for American Islamic relations (CAIR), and in 2004 was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College. The award cited her as a: “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. She is the first woman in history to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha.” The New York Times reported of her presentation: “When the speech ended, Ms. Weir was met with thunderous applause, and across the room there was a widespread sense of satisfaction that someone was saying what needed to be said.” Former US Senator Tom Campbell stated: “Ms. Weir presents a powerful, well documented view of the Middle East today. She is intelligent, careful, and critical. American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.” The Salem-News called her “the most well-known U.S. activist in exposing Israel.”


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