We believe that as a U.S.-based organization our responsibility and potential for most impact is to address the abuses to which our own government contributes. We pursue this mission by exposing and seeking accountability for the abuses by governments in the region that receive U.S. support. We recognize, however, that changes in U.S. policies require far more than exposing and sanctioning wrongdoers.
That's why we also seek to reform the U.S. laws that allow these regimes to have influence over U.S. policies and legislators, including lax lobbying rules and conflict of interest laws. We strive to persuade our allies and friends in the foreign policy community to critically evaluate the methodology, analysis and recommendations the community has used to shape U.S. MENA policy, to ensure that it is aligned with the best interests of the American people and does not harm the people of the region.
Many abusive, unrepresentative, and unaccountable governments and government officials in the Middle East and North Africa rely on American diplomatic, financial, and military support to sustain their repression and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. To ensure continued U.S. support, they pay tens of millions of dollars every year to American lobbyists. These lobbyists meet with U.S. officials to urge them to maintain and even expand the support of governments they represent despite their serious records of human rights abuses. Some of them produce misleading informational materials that often cast their clients' abuses in a favorable light, and others omit any mention of abuses at all. Some U.S. lobbyists even represent foreign government officials and agencies directly involved in torture and other abuses. In DAWN's lobbyist hall of shame, we seek to put these lobbyists and the government officials who deal with them on notice that their work for brutal governments, agencies, and officials will be scrutinized and judged in accordance with domestic and international human rights laws and professional and ethical standards.
No tyrant can implement tyranny against an entire country on his own. He needs enablers who will implement his oppressive practices, even if it means abusing their fellow citizens. These agents often work in the shadows, where they mask their complicity in the guise of professionals exercising their duties in offices, courtrooms, police stations, and interrogation rooms. Some of these state agents go to great lengths to hide their identities even where domestic law requires disclosure, including by assuming fictitious identities. Sometimes this is justified in the name of protecting their security, but in many cases, they seek to conceal their abusive functions to avoid public shaming, particularly among colleagues or friends who believe them to be respectable officials.