Talk:Cato Institute

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"Between 1985 and 2001, the Institute received $15,633,540 in 108 separate grants from only nine different foundations:"

This does not indicate how much funding the Institute received from other sources. It implies but does not state that all its funding came from nine foundations, which is not accurate. Cato for instance solicits sponsorship from the public as well, as can be seen on their Web site at

HMMMMMMMMMMMMM .. First, of all, does propaganda have to be "bad" to qualify as propaganda?

Secondly, the point of the statement "Between 1985 ... etc.," was to make the point that only nine separate foundations have given a total of $15,633,540, which does not in any way exclude the possibility that others may have donated as much or more.

However, the number of donations per tax year (1997 through 2001) can be examined at and search for CATO Institute (or any other non-profit).

For example, for tax year 2001, only five separate entities (names and other identifying info removed) donated a total of $5,283,420. This was categorized as the majority number of contributors. An additional $10,978,162 was contributed by "miscellaneous contributors", which, I believe, makes the case that only a few major entities contribute a significant sum to CATO.

AI 4/14/03 16:07 (EST)

Relocated two statements:

  • "representing about 5 percent of Cato's total budget" - referring to the $15,633,540 contributed by the nine foundations.
  • "On average, corporate funding accounts for about 10 percent of Cato's revenue"

No sources cited for these statements but happy to include them if they can be verified. Will have a look for Cato's budget breakdown but its not on their website -- bob

-- relocated material from the last posting. While there is some useful material in here that should be added to the story it makes the article unreadable by adding it in toto - esp since the original document is online and can be linked to -- bob

Tobacco Funding to Cato Institute

Cato Institute President letter:
Jan 17, 1995

Mr. Thomas C. Griscom
Executive VP - External Relations
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company
401 North Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27102

Dear Mr. Griscom:

Just a note to add my thanks to those of Bob Borens for the generous $50,000 contribution from RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in support of the Cato Institute's Regulatory Rollback and Reform project. We are delighted to have RJ Reynolds as a significant corporate supporter of the institute and look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. ...

Cordially, Edward S. Crane

[Letter regarding Cato Institute conference, "Making Sense of Safety"] Date: 20 Feb 1991
Length: 2 pages

Solicits Philip Morris funding in the amount of $5,000.00 for Cato Institute conference "Making Sense of Safety." States that content will include risk measurement, perception of risk, occupational safety, ETS, legal drugs and legal/insurance issues.
Named Person: Golab, Thom
Named Organization: Cato Institute
Philip Morris Companies Inc. (Parent company of Philip Morris USA, Kraft, Miller) America's seventh-largest industrial enterprise in 1993, owns Kraft, Miller Brewing, General Foods, and more.

Page 1:
February 20, 1991


Mr. Roy E. Marden
Manager, Industry Affairs
Philip Morris Companies
120 Park Avenue, 25th Floor
New York, New York 10017
Dear Roy:
AS you may be aware from seeing the latest issue of Requlation magazine, the Cato Institute will hold a conference, "Making Sense of Safety," on March 21-22. The purpose will be to present viable policy alternatives for dealing with safety issues. Conference panels will address such topics as: the measurement of risk, perceptions of risk, occupational safety, environmental tobacco smoke, legal drugs, and legal and insurance issues. I have enclosed a copy of the program for your review.
I am writing to ask that Philip Morris consider a special one-time $5,000 grant for partial funding of this timely event. As a Sponsor recognize the significant impact the Cato Institute's work has on the debate of key issues by Washington policymakers. ...

Page 2:
.. I urge you to consider this request for a one-time grant of $5,000 to partially fund the safety conference, in addition to your yearly contribution. ...

Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
Roy E. Marden, director

Board of Directors:
Roy E. Marden Roy E. Marden is director of The Heartland Institute, an independent, nonprofit research center founded in 1984 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Marden is Manager of Industry Affairs at Philip Morris Companies Inc. in New York City. His responsibilities include managing company responses to key public policy issues; directing corporate involvement with industry, business, trade, and public policy organizations and determining philanthropic support thereto; lobbying; developing economic and public policy position papers for senior management; and representing the Philip Morris Chairman and CEO in external coalitions and business associations.

Policy Organizations Comments to EPA Date: 26 Jul 1990
Length: 1 page
Type: Memo
Recipient: Parrish, Steven
Site: - Bliley/Commerce Committee site - set of 39,000
Copied: Borelli, Tom
Marden, Roy
Nelson, Jack
Author: Winokur, Matthew N.
Author (Organization): Philip Morris

DATE: July 26, 1990

I spoke with Roy Marden and he will contact Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, The Washington Legal Foundation, and the Washington University Center for the Study of American Business in the hopes that he can persuade them to provide comments to EPA. He asked for and I gave him our four point one pager. I know Tom is already working with Roy on the Heritage Foundation. I have volunteered you, Tom or myself if Roy feels we need to offer face to face briefings.

In addition, I have contacted the National Chamber Foundation and will be contacting the National Foundation for Independent Business.

Cato Institute Center for Constitutional Studies A Proposal to Lorillard, Inc. Date: 1999 (est.)
Length: 12 pages

Request for $25,000 to Cato Institute from Lorillard

It Is Our Pleasure to Be Able to Support the Work That Is Being Done by the Cato Institute.
Date: 21 Feb 1995
Length: 1 page

Public Affairs Management Plan Progress Report Date: Mar 1991
Length: 15 pages

Characteristic: CONFIDENTIAL Tobacco Institute

A TI consultant presented a paper on ETS, with specific reference to the EPA ETS risk assessment, at a Cato Institute symposium entitled "Making Sense of Safety."

Scientific consultants continued work on an ETS white paper to be circulated to prominent researchers for review and possible co- authorship.

" Institute representatives attended eight ETS/IAQ scientific meetings. In addition to the Biometrics Society meeting, the Harvard University workshop on risk assessment and the Cato Institute seminar...

Tobacco Issues and the 104th Congress Date: No date
Length: 20 pages

Page 10:
... In fact, at a CATO Institute forum in October 1994, the biostatistician who co-authored the EPA report downplayed the health risks of ETS by stating "the relative risk of ETS is not terribly high." ...

Infotopics Media Monitoring From Tdc No. 8 August 1994 Advisory Panel to FDA Claims That Nicotine Is Date: Aug 1994
Length: 26 pages

Page 2:
The FDA's attempt to regulate nicotine is part of a trend towards supplanting individual responsibility with government regulation, claims William Nisskanen, editor of the US Cato Institute's Public Interest magazine, in an article suggesting that state lawsuits against tobacco firms to recover health-care costs may not yield the desired result (page 14).

Page 11:
William Nisskanen, editor of the Cato Institute's Public Interest magazine, says the Food and Drug Administration's stated goal of attempting to declare nicotine a drug with stricter controls is part of a trend toward supplanting individual responsibility with government regulation. [Create Footnote]

Untitled [Federal Regulatory Reform] Date: 23 Jan 1995
Length: 2 pages

Type: MEMO
Recipient (Organization): Executive Committee
Copied (Organization): Committee of Counsel
Management Committee
Copied: Senior Staff
Author: Chilcote, S.D. 1
Characteristic: CONFIDENTIAL

Page 1:
The Tobacco Institute

Samuel D. Chilcote, JR. President

TO: The Members of the Executive Committee
FROM:Samuel D. Chilcote, Jr.

January 23, 1995

Last week, federal regulatory reform was the subject of two congressional events and a CATO Institute Policy Forum. ...

Page 2:
... On January 20, The Cato Institute held a policy forum on risk assessment to explore the regulatory reforms offered in the House Republican Contract with America. Speakers discussed the need to replace federal regulatory agencies' current science policy "that has nothing to do with science" with various forms of peer review and privatization of the risk assessment process.

Steve Malloy, President, Regulatory Impact Analysis Project, accused regulatory bodies of exercising value judgments over science. ...

Fred Smith, President, Competitive Enterprise Institute, cautioned against legislation requiring agencies to do more analysis. "Agency staff are overburdened and don't have the expertise to conduct risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis," Smith added.

Rep. John Mica (R-FL) was scheduled to discuss prospects for regulatory reform in the 104th Congress; however, due to a floor vote, he was not able to make his presentation. ...

Tobacco Lines Date: 31 Jul 1997
Length: 6 pages

Page 4:
... On 7/30, the Heritage Foundation and the American Lung Assn held a forum on the tobacco settlement, entitled, "Warning: The Tobacco Deal May Be Hazardous To America's Health." ... The Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies is holding a policy forum on 8/5 entitled, "Tobacco Settlement: Sweetheart Deal, Health Imperative, or Legal Extortion?" Speakers include William Novelli, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Attorneys General of Alabama and New York, and Roberty Levy, Cato Institute. ...

Cato Institute: "Libertarian" in a Corporate Way: January/February 1998 Date: 01 Jan 1998

In the autumn of 1997, when Rupert Murdoch joined the board of directors at the Cato Institute, the announcement went unreported in major news outlets. . .

In recent years, the Cato Institute has become one of the most cited and quoted think tanks in U.S. news media. . .

One of the interests that Murdoch shares with the Cato Institute is tobacco. Murdoch sits on the board of directors of Philip Morris. Murdoch publications such as TV Guide reap enormous profits from cigarette ads. And Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting is cozy with Philip Morris subsidiary Miller Brewing Co., which has boosted its advertising account with Fox to about $75 million per year for sports and prime-time programs.

Although news reports and media commentaries often include the Cato Institute's assessments of tobacco-related issues, Cato's direct ties to tobacco rarely get mentioned. For years, the list of Cato's large contributors has included Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.

As it happens, Cato is a fierce tiger when it comes to advocating for oppressed tobacco firms. . .

But Levy, whose title is "senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute," has consistently received respectful media coverage -- without reference to the links between the tobacco industry he defends and the think tank that employs him.

Cato & Fraser Institutes Attack EPA Report and CDC Statistics: [Item Undated] Date: 01 Jan 2000

The tobacco industry's latest attack on the science used by tobacco control agencies has been launched via the Canadian think tank, the Fraser Institute, and the Washington D.C. based Cato Institute. . .

The Cato Institute also has particularly strong ties to the tobacco industry. According to Public Citizen Congress Watch, an article in the Wall Street Journal reported that Phillip Morris donated over $100,000 to the Institute and it received another $50,000 from R.J. Reynolds. . .

Over the years, the tobacco industry has consistently tried to use its size, wealth and legal resources to influence individuals as well state and local governmental bodies. It has also created 'front groups,' such as the National Smoker's Alliance, to make it appear that it has more allies than it does.15 Thus, it is no surprise when the tobacco industry gives thousands of dollars to conservative think tanks who publish materials discrediting the science used by federal agencies to estimate deaths caused by smoking and the effects of secondhand smoke.

Both the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute are non-profit organizations that claim to be non-partisan public policy research institutions. But it is clear from their recent publications that, as folk wisdom teaches us, "he who pays the piper calls the tune."
Publication Name: Tobacco Control Resource Center
Named Organization: Cato
Subject: Society

January/February 1998
Media Moguls on Board
Murdoch, Malone and the Cato Institute

... Smoking hired guns


is surrounding the term expert with quotation marks inflammatory?

Even when, in the spirit of equal derision under dutiful processes of critique, i surround the term with them whenever refering to the talking heads that tanks offer up to the media?

Was this intended to infer i hold a predjudice against Cato? Rather laughable proposition, given my short history on this website as a sometimes blathering defender of libertarianism.

i actually believe that Leon Hader is one of the best think tank experts regarding the midle east in the last twenty years, and i have often agreed heartily with the assesments of Ivan Eland, but it is extremely questionable from a libertarian standpoint that a person who would proudly display, like a orange spot on a male orangutan's butt, his previous experience as a reagancomc policywonk as proof of his expertise would be allowed to publish anything whatsoever under the colour of libertarianism, especially subject matter having to do with the destruction of the core libertarian principle: the government should just leave us the f--k alone! Certainly the case with the use of secret supeonnas to acquire library reconds of inidviduals is a utterly unlibertanian point of view.

Am I some sort of rip van winkle who slept through the constitutional ammendment process when the 5th ammendment wording of "In All Criminal Cases" was changed? If so, was it harder to ammend that the 6th ammendment's wording of "In all criminal prosecutions"? I seem to have slept through that process also. And please tell me, when was the 8th ammendment simply deleted?

--Hugh Manatee 01:42, 16 Mar 2005 (EST)

Raimondo on the NeoJacking of Cato blog - Thu Sep 22, 2005
The War Party Conquers Cato?

A few months ago, Mark Brady, over at the Liberty and Power blog, noted that the libertarian Cato Institute had not published or posted anything about the Iraq war since the beginning of the year. Hmmmmm, I thought: an ill wind blows. It wasnâ??t a good sign for the venerable libertarian thinktank, which opposed Gulf War I, and â?? despite a few wobbles â?? stood up against the second Iraq war. However, I knew that a growing neocon contingent within Cato â?? including longtime apparatchik [Tom Palmer, and policy analyst Brink Lindsay â?? supported the war, with Palmer coming out in a special Cato brochure calling for the military â??defeatâ? of the insurgency, and traveling to Iraq to â??adviseâ? the National Assembly and campaign for the â??Islam is the lawâ? Iraqi constitution. In this context, the sudden involuntary departure of defense policy director Charles V. Pena, the respected defense policy analyst and staunch anti-interventionist, paints a troubling picture of an institution in the throes of a pro-war purge.

The earlier (voluntary) departure of Ivan Eland, who is now with the Independent Institute â?? and a regular columnist â?? was a portent of things to come, and Pena's departure is but the latest sign that Cato is going over to the War Party. As one observer put it: â??Fortunately, Ted Carpenter and Chris Preble are still there but who knows what their future is. I think the jury is still out, but it's hard not to read between the lines.â?

According to a source at Cato, Pena was told that the institute needed to cut staff to close a 7-figure budget deficit. Yet only one other person (not a policy director and not someone in the defense and foreign policy department) was let go (at the end of August). Curiously enough, the day after he was RIF'ed (yes, thatâ??s the term they used: â??reduction in forceâ?) Cato President Ed Crane announced the promotion of no less than 4 people at Cato (with each presumably receiving a raise) and the hiring of a new director of government affairs. Also, there's been plenty of talk about adding 3 floors to the building -- to accommodate a larger staff.

Whatâ??s going on at Cato is not a â??reduction in force,â? but a betrayal of libertarian principle. Pena, a senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, has been a strong advocate of withdrawing from Iraq â?? a position that Cato is now dropping. This is typical of the Cato crowd: their opportunism has always been beset by bad timing. At the dawn of the Republican-led anti-government revolution, they were telling the world they were â??low tax liberals.â? Now that the majority of Americans have turned against this war, the Cato bigwigs are lining up with the neoconservatives who want to â??stay the course.â?

These people, in short, are perpetual losers, who are constantly two steps behind the Zeitgeist and care only about sucking up to Power. They believe that selling out the vitally important principle of a noninterventionist foreign policy is a necessary step on their road to respectability. The reality is that, by aligning themselves with the War Party, which is on the brink of crashing and burning, along with the colonial regime in Iraq, they are consigning themselves to oblivion â?? and a richly deserved one, at that.

I am reminded of what Murray N. Rothbard said of the Catoites back in the 1980s, when they were trying to pass off libertarianism as "low-tax liberalism": "They have sold out for a mess of pottage," he wrote, "without even getting the pottage in return."

UPDATE: Whoa! The mail is flying in over this one! (Libertarians love gossip.) At least one emailer informs me that I might not have the whole story: while it is true that others were promoted over Pena, it seems that one of them was the heroic Justin Logan, whose blog is a delight (sure, we disagreed about the Yushchenko affair, but now that I've been proven right, who cares?). Logan is a hardcore -- and very knowledgeable -- opponent of interventionism, and he's a good writer, too.

I am also reminded that good old Ed Crane hates the neocons, and that they couldn't find a more formidable enemy than the chief cog in the "Crane Machine."

So, while the neos have a foothold in the biggest bastion of libertarian opposition to the Warfare State in the Imperial City, they haven't conquered it -- yet! In any case, we're watching them very closely -- and you can bet they know it.

still no antiwar CATO positions mentioned

it's all well and good to point out CATO's antimarket regulation veiwpoints. Any org that considers itself to be libertarian should be unabashedly antimarket regulation.

It is a disservice to focus only upon that. Another foundational view of true libertarians is a staunch opposition to any and all restraints upon immigration. A free market must have a free labor force. If capital is free to move across international borders, while labor is not, then there can be no free market, as labor is enslaved by arbitrary geopolitical barriers. CATO has a history of opposing any restrictions on immigration. Has this changed?

CATO also has a long history in opposing US imperialism.

See: Bush lies and deceptions: The Pakistani Exception#Cato_Institute_-_Pakistan:_1986-2000 for a decent list of their analysis of jus the Pakistan situation over the years.

This also indicates a strong libertarian tilt.

The article posted above mentions that CATO hasn't been adamantly opposed to the Iraq War in 2005. This is an indication that their libertarian values have been hijacked, and Raimondo expands upon it.

Just attacking CATO's non-regulation views without discussing how it is an obvious function of libertarionism, and then pointing out their funding isn't really the best way to publish a stub about them.

I've liked CATO for a very long time, but my focus has generally been on international issues that are not market related, and I have to admit that my predilection to libertarianism is weakest in the market related aspects, but that is only because many libertarians refuse to understand that a corporation is not a person under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment, and to posit this is an obscene insult to the concept of liberty:

Fourteenth amendment: Section 1
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It is the fact that many libertarians believe that a fictional business construct, the purpose of which is to shield investors from the true liability risks that naturally flow from ownership, can rightfully be construed to be a person in possession of the rights of humans in a courtroom.

This is where one of the great dangers from libertarianism lies.

more ravings- xcuse me

--Hugh Manatee 10:21, 26 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Edit Notes

  • I have relocated this from the article page. I read it and though "so what?" Aside from being rather dated now, this doen't really add much unless we were going to have a section on the evolution of their website. --Bob Burton 05:45, 10 January 2008 (EST)
In November 2002, shortly after Cato was named the "Best Advocacy Website" by the Web Marketing Association, the Alexa ratings service issued a report saying that it was "the most popular think tank site over the past three months," receiving a total of 188,901 unique visitors during the previous month of September.[1]

Staff vs. Scholars

Bob Burton changed all instances of "scholar" to "staff." This doesn't seem right to me. In the first place, not all of Cato's scholars are on staff. Bob Levy, for example, is a non-resident senior fellow at Cato, and I imagine he's not paid by them, as he's independently wealthy. A number of others are college professors or journalists who do occasional research or writing for the institute but aren't on their payroll. So "staff" isn't really an accurate descriptor.

As for "scholar," it seems to me that that's an accurate term to describe policy analysts, senior fellows, policy directors, and adjunct scholars. Their role is to develop expertise on public policy topics and then communicate that expertise in a way that's accessible to a general audience. Although their research tends to have a somewhat less academic/more accessible tone than the research of a typical professor at a university, their basic activities are very similar. They do a lot of reading, they attend conferences, and they write articles and longer papers based on the expertise they've developed.

My friend Justin Logan, for example, is a scholar in Cato's foreign policy shop. You can see a list of his work here. He's done in-depth studies on Taiwan's defense budget, military strategy in Iran, and proposals for a nation-building department in the Pentagon. When I've visited his office, it's been piled high with books and papers on the topics he's writing about. "Scholar" seems like as accurate a description of his role as any.

Thanks. Binarybits 16:56, 12 January 2008 (EST)

Further Edit notes

I'll address the detail of the staff vs scholar point when a post some consolidated edit notes after I have been through the page. In the meantine I have relocated the 2005 financial data here after updated the article to include to the 2006 data. (The 2005 data may be of interest for possible future use in a page on Cato's finances).--Bob Burton 15:15, 13 January 2008 (EST)

According to its 2005 annual report, the Cato Institute had 2005 expenses of $17.2 million and revenue of $22.4 million.[1] The report notes that 83% of Cato's income that year came from individual contributions, 11% from foundations, 2% from corporations, and 4% from "programs and other income" (e.g., publication sales, program fees).

A ravening claim that a creeping bias has infected the Cato stub

I've just spent a bit of time (February 17, 2008) in the versioning of the Cato stub, and believe it has been affected by a creeping bias, which falsely portrays Cato as having been a staunch defender of Civil Liberties Post 911. There is a gaping multi-year time-frame when Cato went derelict on defending civil liberties. They seem to have reformed a bit, but that does not make them deserving recipients to a positive spinning of the truth. If Cato is truly a libertarian think-tank and not an astroturfing shill for corporations, they will accept the lumps they have coming to them, and admit their errant ways. An integral part of supporting liberty and being free is to accept the responsibility which flows as effects from action.

I am making a presentation of my claims of bias on this discussion page, and am more than willing to listen to opposing points of view. I would prefer being wrong in this instance. Once upon a time I held Cato's foreign policy and civil liberty wonkage to be some of the finest in America, and because of that, was willing to have an open mind about their economic studies. Economic and civil liberties have a great deal of correlation. They can be properly analogised as being the flip sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. "Libertarianish" is not a word, and being a Friend of Liberty is much much more than succumbing to avarice and gluttony at the all you can chisel smorgasborg of greed.

And while I am ravening about libertarianism, I will to add that a little squirt of a Republican South Texas Congressman driven by fervent religious dogmatism, pronouncing contradictory campaign positions depending on the composition of his audience; whose real motivation for returning to original Constitutional understanding is to utterly destroy the 13th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution is not, simply because of his adamant anti-war posturing, a libertarian. He does not walk on water. He is most assuredly not an honest and and honourable man. Here are two facts:

  • Politicians have lied, they do lie, and they will lie.
  • Ron Paul is a long-term Republican Politician.

Ironically, this puts me more in line with Cato's position about Ron Paul that the rest of those who claim to be libertarian, but hey, I walk my own path.

direct pointer to bias in the stub

I Specifically point to, the December 30, 2007 edit by Binarybits which removed the link to Roger Pilon's lovely little expression of apologetics for the Patriot Bill. [2] It also fails to mention just who the hell Pilon is, and exactly what revered position of wonkitude he holds at Cato.

Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs; B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies, and Director, Center for Constitutional Studies
Roger Pilon is the founder and director of Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies, which has become an important force in the national debate over constitutional interpretation and judicial philosophy. He is the publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review and is an adjunct professor of government at Georgetown University through The Fund for American Studies. Prior to joining Cato, Pilon held five senior posts in the Reagan administration, including at State and Justice, and was a National Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Cato's Pilon bio

He holds a major position within the Cato Institute, was an appointee of the Reagan Administration to "five senior posts", as well as being a fellow at The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Based on these facts alone, his libertarian political worldview should rightfully be questioned, and it is not proper to skip these niceties when glossing over his anti-libertarian product promulgated under Cato Credentials. The one short press release previously noted, which was removed from the stub is not an isolated incident penned in understandable vengefulness just after 911. Recently published on the Cato website is:

Roger Pilon, "Listening to the Enemy", Cato Institute, originally published as a Wall Street Journal Op/Ed on January 28, 2008.

Julian Sanchez, contributing editor for Reason [3], posted a scathing critique of Pilon's WSJ piece on his personal blog, Notes From the Underground:

January 29, 2008, Rogering the Constitution
I can already hear the talking point: "Even the libertarian Cato Institute thinks the president needs to be able to tap your phone without a warrant..." That will doubtless be the upshot of this phenomenally disappointing Wall Street Journal op-ed by Roger Pilon on the ongoing debate over reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I'm not sure whether it makes matters better or worse that, when Cato's legal VP takes the wrong side on the major civil liberties controversy of the day, he does it with an array of pretty poor arguments. [4]

Timothy B. Lee; an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute [5], has also posted a critique of Pilon's defense of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 at his shared personal blog, The Technology Liberation Front:

Too much smarmy dissembling in the civil liberties section

In line with the organization's libertarian principles, Cato scholars have been vocal in defense of civil liberties in the face of encroachments by the Bush administration.

HOGWASH! Cato basically rolled-over after 911 for several years. There are a very few notable exceptions, and Lynch's amicus briefs in detainee hearings are worthy of note, but after that rousing claim of Cato's unyielding support for civil liberties in the face of the Bush Administration's encroachments, why are most of the footnotes for this section pointers to CATO content published in late 2005, or later? One footnote even notes a book which is utterly irrelevant to the claim that CATO has defended civil liberties with vigor.

A quick investigation of the footnotes in the section indicates that Cato has not been in the face of the Bush administration's encroachment of civil liberty since 911:

  • Note 4: a page of links with some likely documents supportive of the argument that CATO defended civil liberties, I'll check it later.
  • Note 5: July 17, 2006 - irrelevant, because it's dated almost 5 years post-911
  • Note 6: A senseless link to a Roger Pilon book published in 2000 with the following well known anti-libertarian reviewers praising it: Michael Novak, Henry J. Hyde and Richard L. Thornburgh. Although not usable in an article, the Thronburgh link is at least notable in this discussion, because of Roger Pilon v. United States Department Of Justice; a DC Appellate court decision in Pilon's favor regarding a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. The case details Pilar's Reagan era employment investigation as a possible source for the dissemination of classified data, and subsequent clearing of the allegations. The case continues detailing the release of internal documents alleging he was the source, which is where he grounded standing to sue the government on privacy violations. The leaked data about him was published:
James Rowley, "Thornburgh Overruled Aides in Awarding Ex-Employee $25,000", A.P. WIRE, Oct. 15, 1990.
Yet Thornburgh's critique is directly referenced.
  • Note 7: December, 2005 -again, of doubtful utility for proving that Cato has been a tireless defender of civil liberties, as it came four years too late...
  • Note 8: Fall 2005 - See above

other notable references

Cato Civil Liberties Studies

The published Cato Civil Liberties Studies indicate almost a 5 year gap post-911 in the referencing of Bush Administration's running roughshod over civil liberties.

Cato Briefing Papers

The gap is 4 years in their briefing papers section, and note that the 2001 article is the same as the Civil Liberties Studies above.

Policy Analysis

Most of these are not directly related to domestic civil liberties, but what is interesting is that in the Presidential election year of 2004 little dissent against the policies of GW Bush can be found in them, and the total number was a scant three total. Policy Analysis 520 Page 5, states that, "Though generations of advocates have called information privacy a "right," the better view is that it is not. Privacy is a condition people maintain by exercising personal initiative and responsibility.". A less than rousing defense of civil liberties, which opens the door for a direct assault upon Griswold v. Connecticut, which is a foundational SCOTUS case regarding the extent of government's reach into the private affairs of it citizens. Policy Analysis 526 was in support of the Bush Administration's policies.

Legal briefs

These do provide evidence that Cato Institute was defending civil liberties. I have not yet read all of the to offer up analysis just how strong and unqualified this defense was. The first brief was in 2004, which is not necessarily the fault of Cato Institutes's, since they can only file briefs in case that are actively being heard.

  • Donald H. Rumsfeld v. Jose Padilla and Donna R. Newman, as Next Friend of Jose Padilla, Brief of Amicus Curiae, June 1, 2004 (PDF, 112 KB)Addressing the scope of the president's power to designate citizens as "enemy combatants" and hold them in solitary confinement, without access to an attorney, and without access to the civilian court system.
  • Yaser Esam Hamdi and Esam Fouad Hamdi, as next friend of Yaser Esam Hamdi, v. Donald Rumsfeld, et al., Brief of Amicus Curiae, June 1, 2004 (PDF, 91 KB) Addressing the scope of the president's power to designate citizens as "enemy combatants," and hold them in solitary confinement, without access to an attorney, and without access to the civilian court system.
  • Salim Ahmed Hamdan v. Donald H. Rumsfeld, January 6, 2006 (PDF, 81 KB)Salim Hamdan is a prisoner at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was initially taken into custody by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and then flown to the naval base in June 2002. According to government officials, Hamdan was involved with the Al Qaeda terrorist network, but Hamdan denies that allegation. One year later, in July 2003, President Bush declared his intention to put Hamdan on trial before a military tribunal. Hamdan was then moved from the general inmate population to solitary confinement. The military lawyer that was assigned to defend Hamdan promptly challanged the legality of the military tribunal and that legal challenge reached the Supreme Court for a resolution. President Bush argues that he has the "inherent power" to set up a special military court and try any person that he believes to be involved in terrorism. In this friend-of-the-court brief, Timothy Lynch argues that if the president chooses to try a person for a war crime, an offense that typically carries a death sentence, he cannot deny the accused the benefit to trial by jury. The brief serves as a reminder that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, both in times of peace and war.
  • Boumediene v. Bush, August 29, 2007 (PDF, 139 KB) This brief argues that the Military Commission Act, which purports to withdraw the jurisdiction of federal courts over certain habeas corpus petitions, is unconstitutional. By way of background, the Bush administration has argued that if it decides to house prisoners in facilities that are not on U.S. soil, such as the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, federal courts will lack jurisdiction to consider claims of wrongful imprisonment. This brief urges the Supreme Court to reject that argument. The habeas writ cannot be abrogated in the absence of a "rebellion" or "invasion." Since Congress has not invoked either of those exceptions to the general rule, the Military Commission Act is unconstitutional insofar as it attempts to revoke federal court jurisdiction over petitions for writs of habeas corpus.

Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at Cato Institute.

Contrast and Comparison

Independent Institute

Independent Institute Wonks

Both Eland and Peña are Cato wonk refugees, and were Cato's first team in the production of libertarian foreign policy analysis for many years. This too need be considered as a part of the whole picture.

  • Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute, list of articles
  • Charles V. Peña, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, List of commentaries
  • Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute List of Commentaries
Independent Institute Articles
Independent Institute Sponsored Events

I may decide to add more content to this

There is much more I can dig for both in the Internet Archives, and other libertarian commentary, not of Cato Origin, which was active throughout the period that Cato was largely silent. Just the same, I am going to place a bit of a challenge on Binarybits' talk page now.

--hugh_manateee 18:17, 25 February 2008 (EST)

Edit note

I have relocated this from the article page pending discussion.

However, it became increasingly clear that Cato staff were unwilling to change their views to reflect the interests of their corporate donors, and as a result, corporate support for the institute has plummeted in recent years, reaching a low of 2 percent of its budget in 2005. For example, Cato once received significant support from pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Pfizer. However, in 2004, the Institute published a paper arguing in favor of "drug re-importation," a proposal strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. [2] It is perhaps not surprising that Cato's most recent annual report does not include any donations from drug companies. Cato once received support from financial services companies, but the list of contributors in their 2006 annual report suggests that this is no longer true. [6] Cato's support from energy conglomerates also appears to have declined, with only Exxon Mobil Company and the American Petroleum Institute giving to the Institute. And the corporate funders who continue giving to Cato represent a very small fraction of the institute's budget. For example, ExxonMobil gave $30,000 during 2002—about a fifth of a percent of the Institute's revenues that year. [7]

The central theme of the way this par is written is that a) corporate support isn't much anymore; b) Cato staff advocate views critical of current or potential sponsors and c) what corporate funding they do get doesn't matter much anyway. In essence, it is to downplay the role of corporate sponsors and potential conflicts of interest. Some specific queries are:

  • "corporate support for the institute has plummeted in recent years, reaching a low of 2 percent of its budget in 2005."
  • "plummeted in recent years" - what is the evidence for this?
  • "reaching a low of 2 percent of its budget in 2005." what was it before? It is important that figures be both in the actual amounts as well as percentages. Some organizations maintain the dollar value of corporate $ at the same time that they decline as a percentage of the overall budget.
  • "For example, Cato once received significant support from pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Pfizer." When was this? How much? What for?
  • "However, in 2004, the Institute published a paper arguing in favor of "drug re-importation," ... was Cato receiving any funding from any pharma or other companies that stood to benefit/lose at the time? What is the ref for the paper referred to?
  • "Cato once received support from financial services companies, but the list of contributors in their 2006 annual report suggests that this is no longer true. [8]" - which companies? what for?
  • "Cato's support from energy conglomerates also appears to have declined, with only Exxon Mobil Company and the American Petroleum Institute giving to the Institute." Declined from...? Who else used to sponsor them? And what for?
  • "For example, ExxonMobil gave $30,000 during 2002—about a fifth of a percent of the Institute's revenues that year. [9]" - the percentage is rather irrelevant. What is more relevant is what Exxon gave the money for and what Cato did with it? For example, lets assume Cato made various statements criticising the need to take action on greenhouse gas emissions. Did they disclose Exxon's funding at the time of those statements? --Bob Burton 05:10, 27 February 2008 (EST)

And some more:

" In the wake of the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, Cato began to receive significant support from corporations who hoped giving to Cato would help them to influence the new Republican Congress." How do we know this?
  • I rewrote the ACLU mention as it at best illustrates a couple of passing links between one individual (albeit the President) and Cato. The way that it was previously written overstated the connection.
  • "Famed First Amendment litigator Floyd Abrams was featured in Cato's Letter, a quarterly pamphlet distributed by Cato. [10] - I'm afraid this doesn't mean anything to me. And as he's not a Cato staffer, listing one article contributed by one person doesn't really make a strong point.

and more:

This par really is more appropriate for Cato's own website. There are elements of it that can be incorporated into a reworking of the "Nanny State" section.
Cato staff have long been critical of government efforts to prevent activities that some members of society consider immoral or unhealthy, including drinking, smoking, gambling, prostitution, using currently illegal drugs, over-using prescription painkillers, eating fatty foods, and driving without a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet. Cato staff argue that these choices should be left up to individuals, and that the state should neither encourage nor penalize those who choose to engage in them. As a result, Cato staff oppose the war on drugs, laws against prostitution, smoking bans, high alcohol and cigarette taxes, "fat taxes," lawsuits against the manufacturers of cigarettes and fatty foods. On all of these issues, they argue that the choice to engage in these issues should be up to the individual, not the government. Moreover, they argue that third parties, such as doctors or fast food restaurants, should not be held responsible for their customers' choices.

and this is unqualified and largely unreferenced puffery on one Cato individual. see above comment

A particularly influential critic of government paternalism is former Cato policy analyst Radley Balko. He has documented the rise of "no-knock" raids as part of the war on drugs. His arguments were cited in the Supreme Court case of Hudson v. Michigan. Balko has also argued that the DEA's war on over-use of prescription painkillers has led to doctors being too afraid of prosecution to give their patients adequate doses. He also helped bring to national attention the plight of Richard Paey, a parapalegic who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain [11].
Balko has also been a fierce critic of other government efforts to control individuals behavior. He has opposed government efforts to prevent online gambling. He has written extensively about proposals to impose a "fat tax" to discourage the consumption of fatty foods.

These sections may be better rewritten and weaved in elsewhere. I'll return to these when the tobacco section is finished.

Cato staff are also fierce critics of government restrictions on pornography. In a 2001 Policy Briefing, Cato staffer Tom W. Bell argued that government restrictions on pornography were not only "constitutionally suspect," but also unnecessary in light of filtering technologies that allowed parents to protect their children from pornography without restricting the freedom of adults to seek out pornographic material if they wished to do so. [12]
Cato staff have also warned about the rise of a neoprohibitionist movement seeking to restrict adults freedom to consume alcoholic beverages. A 2005 policy analysis by Radley Balko documented the rise of this movement, [13] and a 2007 article by Brandon Arnold noted that the legacy of prohibition lives on in Maryland. [14]

--Bob Burton 01:17, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Further Edit Notes=

I have relocated this off the article page. I'm wary of taking this at face value and citing this as evidence that Cato is a critic of corporate interests. Some think tanks are happy to take money from one company to attack another. Given Cato's routine lack of disclosure, we aren't to know which company, if any, funded the study.--Bob Burton 00:20, 6 March 2008 (EST)

A 2006 study attacked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law that is widely viewed as benefiting large media companies at the expense of ordinary consumers. [3]

Civil Liberties

The article currently says:

While Cato's in-house authors wrote on a range of post-September 11 topics, principally the foreign policy implications, it wasn't until June 2002 that Cato raised its voice over Bush's new domestic anti-terrorism laws.

I don't understand how this conclusion was reached. See, for example, here, here, here, and here. The apparent methodology of looking at studies is obviously flawed because it takes several months to write, edit, and print a study. It's obviously not surprising, then, that Cato didn't publish any 9/11-related studies in 2001. The article suggests that publishing a paper on civil liberties every 18 months is a sign of not taking the issue seriously, but there are hardly any issues where studies have been published more frequently than that. For example, the article belabors Cato's work on tobacco issues, but certainly Cato has done more work on civil liberties than smoking in the last 7 years. Binarybits 00:05, 8 May 2008 (EDT)

Edit note

The section below was removed from the article page as it made specific claims but was entirely unreferenced.--Bob Burton 04:09, 13 April 2009 (EDT)

The Cato Institute always supports the interests of it's funding corporations. For example it's spokespersons will frequently disseminate misleading information about the U.S. Postal Service which is beneficial to the interests of Fred Smith and Federal Express. While they may not appear to be politically aligned this is due to the fact that they act primarily as an advocacy group for their funding corporations, which are listed at the bottom of this page.

Climate Change

Apologies if this has already been addressed. First, the current section on "Cato and Climate Change" is supported by a single reference from the Center for Public Integrity. The Center for Public Integrity is tied to the Podesta Group, which operates the global warming activist site The source article is, at best, poorly researched. I find it rather disconcerting the author fails to provide even a single link or external reference supporting the article's conclusions.

Second, it's odd that there's no mention of Patrick Michaels on this page. I suggest we remove the current sentence in the climate change section and replace it with the following: "Patrick J. Michaels is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. An outspoken global warming skeptic, Michaels is the target of many e-mails revealed in the Climategate scandal."

Your input is appreciated. -- Sue B 04:53, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

"Recently, Koch Industries has become an aggressive opponent of climate legislation and a major funder of climate skeptics, including the Cato Institute." The sentence was restored without comment. With all due respect, I think this particular claim and the rather questionable reference supporting it deserve further consideration. has now posted a correction at the bottom of the "Behind the Climate Skepticism Curtain" op-ed. As the freshly added correction states, "An article the Center originally posted on Sept. 30, 2008, 'Global Warming: Heated Denials,' stated that in 2006, the Koch Foundation gave $5.3 million to 'global warming skeptic groups.' In addition to their global warming-related work, these groups, such as the Pacific Research Institute, the Media Research Center, and the Mercatus Center, are concerned with an array of other issues, including free enterprise, personal responsibility, and health care." Certainly Cato belongs in this category as well.
There's no citation for the claim that Koch Industries has increased funding for Cato. In fact, looking at the 2008 Annual Report, Koch Industries is not listed as a corporate sponsor, nor is any Koch Foundation listed as an institutional sponsor. The only connection is able to draw is that Cato relied on the Koch family "in its early years." I suggest we move the above sentence to the discussion on the Koch Industries page, if it belongs in the wiki at all. As always, your input is appreciated -- Sue B 17:00, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph includes the statment, "Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and Charles Koch, the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries. [2] Koch industries is the largest privately owned company in the United States. Though diversified, the company amassed most of its fortune in the oil trading and refining." The only source for this assertion is a link to page. In reviewing the source page, however, ExxonSecrets doesn't show where they got this information. In fact, next to Charles Koch, Founder the references area is notably blank.

This sentence simply isn't supported by other evidence. See the articles at Wikipedia[15] or[16]

I suggest we remove the ExxonSecrets sentence. There's already a sourcewatch page for Koch Industries. Further, since Charles Koch was, at most, one of many conservative philanthropists who have funded the Cato Institute, where Koch Industries amassed its fortune is irrelevant to this page. -- Sue B 17:32, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Charles Koch (founder) ref & climate change ref

Both of the above articles mention Charles Koch as the initial funder of Cato. I reinstated the following with a ref from the Cato site:

Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and Charles Koch, [4] the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries; the largest privately owned company in the United States. Though diversified, the company amassed most of its fortune in oil trading and refining. [5]

IMO, the fact that the co-founder is also co-owner of the largest privately owned company and oil company in the U.S., rates at least a passing reference. The Cato/Koch family connection was also discussed in another removed sentence and reference, which I also reinstated:

Recently, Koch Industries has become an aggressive opponent of climate legislation and a major funder of climate skeptics, including the Cato institute. [6]

IMO, these connections are particularly relevant in light of climate change/oil issues.

Lisa, December 30, 2009

Considering Koch Foundation donations account for only a tiny fraction of all monies Cato receives, perhaps you should consider putting that paragraph on the Koch Industries page. -- Sue B 03:24, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Removed the "Koch Industries has become an aggressive opponent of climate legislation" sentence. See discussion above re Climate Change. -- Sue B 14:46, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Staff vs. Scholar

Was the staff vs. scholar point above ever addressed? "Scholar" is still a more accurate way to describe most of the people being discussed in this article, for the reasons I articulated above. Bob promised to address this but as far as I can see he never did. Binarybits 20:40, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

I've gone ahead and made this change in cases where some of the scholars in question are not staff. Binarybits 16:40, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Michaels WSJ op-ed

I have relocated the following par from the article page:

"Michaels, who has long faulted evidence pointing to human-driven warming, is the target of many e-mails revealed in the Climategate scandal. [7]
early in the section is identified as a a climate change skeptics -- stating that "has long faulted evidence pointing to human-driven warming" covers the same territory as well as suggesting that his various claims have been true (which at best would be hotly disputed).
the citation does not support the claims that he "is the target of many e-mails revealed in the Climategate scandal" - he refers to a couple. I'll add a copy of his article to the links section on his page.--Bob Burton 05:09, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Here are a couple alternate references supporting "Michaels is the target of many e-mails revealed in the Climategate scandal"
1) “Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I'll be tempted to beat the crap out of him." [8]
2) "messages mused about discrediting him by challenging the veracity of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin by claiming he knew his research was wrong." [9]
3) "Dr. Patrick Michaels, a professor with the University of Virginia and the state of Virginia’s state climatologist was targeted for his contrary opinion on anthropogenic climate change and his leading the charge against CRU for its destruction of raw climate data. In just this past October, Tom Wigley felt that going back to the educational institution that gave Michaels his doctorate might be useful. Rather than refuting Michaels’ opinions, Wigley wrote, 'Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels, PhD needs re-assessing?'" [10]
Hope this helps -- Sue B 18:42, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

"In effect, New Hope Environmental Services is a PR firm. Michaels' firm does not disclose who its clients are, but leaked documents have revealed that several were power utilities which operate coal power stations." Unless there's a reliable source for this, something other than a blog post written by the Podesta Group, I suggest it be removed. -- Sue B 18:29, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Removed the above sentence until a citation is provided. -- Sue B 16:07, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Between reverting your deletion and adding an expanded section, the SW site had a persistent problem that wouldn't allow my addition of the reference and other material to be saved. I have added the reference and expanded the material in the section.--Bob Burton 05:45, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to add the ref and expand. The information you added doesn't pertain to the Cato Institute. It would seem more applicable to Patrick Michaels and New Hope. May I suggest we move the section you added to the Patrick J. Michaels page? -- Sue B 14:43, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
I think we will have to agree to disagree on that. I'd prefer to let readers decide whether it is useful or not. While the funding is to Michaels firm, it is none the less relevant when people come across him with his Cato hat on, especially since he is listed as an expert on the Cato Institute website.--Bob Burton 19:57, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the prompt reply, Bob. Respectfully, I don't see any point in "agreeing to disagree." As you've stated, the funding is for Michaels' firm, not Cato. The link to the SW Pat Michaels and New Hope pages is sufficient for readers to find more information, should they choose. By including the funding sources for New Hope Environmental Services here, you're painting Cato with the same brush. Is it your intent to portray the Cato Institute as, in effect, a PR firm? -- Sue B 20:36, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
  4. Cato Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary, Cato Institute, May 2002
  5. Koch Industries, Inc. Company Description, Hoovers, accessed July 2009
  6. Te-Ping Chen Behind the Climate Skepticism Curtain: The Koch Family and the Cato Institute, Center for Public Integrity, April 2009
  7. Patrick J. Michaels How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus, Wall Street Journal, December 17 2009
  8. Climategate: University of East Anglia U-turn in climate change row
  9. Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute
  10. Concerted effort to silence dissenters revealed in Climategate messages