Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy. [See the item immediately below.] Next month, Freedom’s Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States, according to several benefactors of the group. [...] Mr. Sembler, who is on the board of directors of the American Enterprise Institute, said the impetus for Freedom’s Watch “came out of A.E.I.” last winter. He said that at an institute event in December 2006 he listened to retired Gen. Jack Keane and Frederick W. Kagan, an A.E.I. scholar, talk about the need for a troop increase in Iraq, a plan adopted by Mr. Bush in January. “I realized it was not only what we needed to do,” Mr. Sembler said, “but we needed to articulate this message across the country.”As the commenter who brought this to our attention said: "Presumably the American Enterprise Institute's credibility is so depleted by the Iraq fiasco that the neocons thought it best to start from scratch."
Mr. Pariser, of MoveOn, said his group’s grass-roots membership — it claims 3.3 million members — was the envy of Freedom’s Watch. “I think people see that Freedom’s Watch is a few billionaires, and not a large, mainstream constituency,” he said. Mr. Blakeman denied the accusation that Freedom’s Watch is a White House front group. “I don’t need their help,” he said of his former colleagues at the White House. “I don’t seek their help. And they don’t offer it.” Mr. Blakeman is a long-time friend of Ed Gillespie, the new counselor to Mr. Bush who succeeded Dan Bartlett. Mr. Blakeman said that he speaks with Mr. Gillespie, but that they are careful not to discuss the activities of Freedom’s Watch.Mr. Blakeman "led the Bush-Cheney campaign’s public relations effort during the 36 days of the deadlocked election. He left the White House in January 2004," according to the Times. The other high muckety-muck in Freedom's Watch (Is it a diamond-encrusted Patek Phillipe?) is Ari Fleischer, the former Bush admin mouthpiece, who continues his job as a spinmeister, but now at a private sector salary. Lots of innovation & wealth creation there.
Mr. Fleischer said Freedom’s Watch was not coordinating with the White House and had an agenda beyond the Bush administration. “On Jan. 21, 2009, what will these critics say when we are still here, doing the same thing?” he said. “We will still be here after George Bush is gone.”Mr. Fleischer, we'll be saying that, in exchange for a few hundred thousand dollars a year, you're a parasite & toady, enabling the wealthy in their ignoble quest to plunge this nation into perpetual war. Just as we've always said, you sad little bastard.