Council for the National Interest

Who we are

Phone: (540) 338-2494


Address: The Council for the National Interest

PO Box 2157

Purcellville, VA 20134

Mission | Founders | Staff | Board of Directors


CNI seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is CNI’s goal to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of foreign countries and their partisans.

The Council for the National Interest Foundation (CNIF) is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides information and analysis on the Middle East, its relationship to the United States, and about policy formation regarding this region. Its primary focus is on Israel-Palestine. All donations to CNIF are fully tax deductible.

The Council for the National Interest (CNI) is a 501 (c) 4 non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for Middle East policies that serve the national interest; that represent the highest values of our founders and our citizens; and that work to sustain a nation of honor, decency, security, and prosperity. Donations to CNI are used in political lobbying efforts; they are not tax deductible.


Congressman Paul Findley, Founder

findleyAuthor, speaker and pundit Paul Findley served in the United States Congress for 22 years representing central Illinois. Before his Congressional service, Mr. Findley served as a Naval officer with the Seabees in the Pacific in World War II, followed by work as  a newspaper editor in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Mr. Findley is the author of the best-selling book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, first published in 1985 and most recently updated in 2003. This was the first book to expose the power of the Israel Lobby throughout the United States: in Congress, academia, and the press. A reviewer noted:

“Because he questioned blind American support of Israel, the lobby deprived a conscientious Illinois congressman of the seat he occupied for 22 years. In doing so, it freed Paul Findley to write the most powerful expose to date of Israel’s abuse of American trust, a book which may prove Admiral Moorer’s prediction to him that ‘the American people would be goddam mad if they knew what goes on.'”

Mr. Findley is also the author of Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts About the U.S.-Israeli Relationship. Richard Curtiss, Executive Editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and a former career Foreign Service Officer, called the book: a “treasure trove of information about Palestine, Israel, and the latter’s relationship with the U.S.”

Curtiss went on to state: “All Americans who are serious about tipping U.S. policy back toward even-handedness in the Middle East will find this book useful, in fact essential…. Use of Findley’s clearly organized and carefully indexed facts will make readers highly effective in convincing their countrymen that, collectively, Americans have been too gullible for too long.”

Mr. Findley is also the author of A. Lincoln, the Crucible of Congress, Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam, and The Federal Farm Table.

Mr. Findley has received numerous distinctions, among them:

1942 election to Phi Beta Kappa, Illinois College; 1972 Logan Hay Award; Abraham Lincoln Association; the 1976 Estes Kefauver Memorial Award; the 1977 Elijah Lovejoy Award; the 1978 Commander’s Cross, Order of Merit, highest civilian award of the Federal Republic of Germany; 1980 Laureate of Lincoln Academy, State of Illinois, 1986 human understanding award by EAFORD; Honorary doctorate degrees—1969 Lindenwood College, 1973 Illinois College, 1988 Lincoln University, 1997 MacMurray College.

Congressman Paul “Pete” McCloskey, Founder


Attorney, law professor, decorated Marine veteran, and author Pete McCloskey served in the U.S. Congress for 16 years representing central California.

Mr. McCloskey received the Navy Cross, Silver Star and two Purple Hearts as a Marine rifle platoon leader in the Korean War.  From 1953 to 1960 he commanded a Marine Reserve Rifle Company at San Bruno, California.  As a Lieutenant Colonel, he volunteered for service in Viet Nam in November, 1965, but was not called.  He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1974 with the rank of Colonel.

While in Congress he initiated the effort to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1969, and made the first House speech suggesting the impeachment of Richard Nixon for obstruction of justice in June, 1973.  He played a leading role in enacting the Capital Gains Tax Reduction Act in 1977 and in abolishing the Renegotiation Board in 1978, the first government agency abolished in 22 years.

He served six years as Congressional Delegate to the International Whaling Conference, and as Congressional Advisor to the Law of the Sea Treaty  Delegation.  He was the Republican Co-Chairman of the first Earth Day in 1970, and ran for the Presidency in 1972, challenging President Nixon’s Viet Nam War policy. He was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the U.S. Commission on National and Community Service in 1990.

In 1999 and 2000 he served on the Department of Defense Advisory Board for the Investigation into the No Gun Ri incident at the start of the Korean War in 1950. With Lewis Butler he organized The Revolt of the Elders in late 2004, to challenge the Republican House leadership’s action to change the ethics rules to protect then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, an action that led to DeLay’s resignation.

Mr. McCloskey attended South Pasadena High School, graduating in June, 1945, and enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Discharged in 1946, he worked his way through Stanford University as a garbage collector, laborer, hod carrier and law librarian, graduating from Stanford Law School in 1953.

He served as President of the Palo Alto Bar Association (1960), President of the Conference of Barristers of the State Bar of California (1961) and as a Trustee of the Santa Clara Bar Association (1964-67).  He has taught Legal Ethics and Political Science at both Stanford and Santa Clara Universities.  He has served as a Trustee for the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Population Action Institute, and the U.S. Marine Corps Academy in Harlingen, Texas.  He serves on the Advisory Council to the American Land Conservancy.

He has written four books:  Guide to Professional Conduct for New Practitioners, California State Bar (1961); The U.S. Constitution, BRL(1961); Truth and Untruth, Simon & Shuster (1971); and The Taking of Hill 610, Eaglet Books, (1992).

A documentary film was made about Pete McCloskey, narrated by Paul Newman. Watch the trailer:


Alison Weir, President


Alison Weir is a former journalist and the founder of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the Israel-Palestine conflict, specializing in statistical analysis. Weir writes and speaks widely about Israel-Palestine, with particular focus on media coverage. Her articles on the subject have been published in anthologies both in the U.S. and abroad and in diverse online and print publications. Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: How the U.S. was used to create Israel, was published in 2014.

In 2001, as the struggle between Palestinians and Israel heated up, Alison Weir left her job as editor of a weekly newspaper and traveled alone to the Palestinian territories. There, she made her way through the West Bank and Gaza, without a guide or a flak jacket, eager to learn what the conflict was all about.

She spoke with Palestinians and Israelis; interviewed mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, hospital workers, teachers. She rushed to the scenes of violence, notebook and camera in hand, and observed Middle East reality first-hand. And she was amazed by what she learned: That the truth of the conflict, on the ground, bore almost no resemblance to the stories told in US media.

Weir came home determined to change that. She began to speak and write on the topic and soon founded If Americans Knew, a nonprofit dedicated to accurately informing Americans. More recently, she also accepted a position as president of the Council for the National Interest. In addition to disseminating transparently sourced data, news, and analysis, If Americans Knew has completed seven in-depth statistical studies of US media coverage of Israel-Palestine.

Drawing on her background as both a civil rights activist and Peace Corps volunteer and the child of a military family, Weir has striven to provide a clear-sighted view of the issue that is free of partisan perspectives or preconceptions and that relies exclusively on facts-based analysis. She believes that open-minded examination of all available evidence, informed by universal principles of human rights, self-determination and justice for all people, is the only way to truly understand the conflict. Thus exposing the truth is, she believes, the best and only hope for justice and, therefore, peace for Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, and indeed the world.

Weir has spoken all over the United States, including two briefings on Capitol Hill, presentations at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (one broadcast nationally on C-Span), at World Affairs Councils, and at numerous universities including Harvard Law School, Columbia, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Georgetown, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Vassar, the Naval Postgraduate Institute, Purdue, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia. She has given papers at various international conferences, lectured in Ramallah and at the University of Qatar, presented at the Asia Media Summits in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and given speaking tours in England and Wales.

Weir has also written widely on Israel-Palestine, the US connection, and media coverage. Her essays and articles have appeared in a number of books and magazines, among them The New Intifada (Verso), Censored 2005 (Seven Stories Press), Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Rienner), The Washington Report on Middle East AffairsSan Francisco Bay View newspaper, CounterPunch, and The Link.

Weir has received various awards and in 2004 was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society, founded in 1845 at Illinois College. The award cited her as a “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. The first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history.”

She is currently completing a book on the history of US-Israel relations.

Note: Alison is NOT the British historian, who shares the same name.

Watch a public access program about Alison Weir:

Philip Giraldi, Executive Director

Philip-Giraldi-cia-300x200Philip Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support. Since 1992 he consulted for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients.

Mr. Giraldi was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish.

His columns on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues regularly appear in The American Conservative magazine, Huffington Post, and 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 other international and domestic broadcasters.


Ambassador Edward Peck, Chairman Emeritus

peckEdward Peck served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (U. Alexis Johnson) in the Nixon Administration, January 1971. He was Chief of Mission in Baghdad (Iraq, 1977 to 1980) in the Carter Administration and later held senior posts in Washington and abroad. He also served as a Foreign Service Officer in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, and as Ambassador in Mauritania. At the State Department he served as Deputy Director of Covert Intelligence Programs, Director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs and as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. He served as deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan Administration. He is president of Foreign Services International, a consulting firm that works with governments, businesses and educational institutions across the world.

Edward Peck argued against invading Iraq prior to the March 2003 invasion. He argued, in part, “when you take out Saddam Hussein, the key question you have to ask then is, what happens after that? And we don’t have a clue. Nobody knows, but it’s probably going to be bad. And a lot of people are going to be very upset about that, because that really is not written into our role in this world is to decide who rules Iraq.” Peck has been highly critical of U.S. policy toward Israel, arguing through the Council for the National Interest that the U.S. should be more even handed in its Middle East policy. He argues that while Hezbollah could be considered a terrorist organization, it is no more terrorist than Israel or the U.S. itself. He supports a dialogue with Hezbollah. He claims that in 2000, at the Camp David talks, Israel offered the Palestinians “12 little Bantustans.”

In May 2010, Peck was among the pro-Palestinian activists in the Gaza flotilla trying to break through Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Peck was not harmed in Israel’s raid; he reported he was brought to Israel “at gunpoint” and expelled the same day for “having illegally entered Israel”; he flew to Newark, New Jersey.

Senator James Abourezk

abourezkJames Abourezk is a former Democratic United States Representative and United States Senator as well as serving in the United States Navy during the Korean War.. He represented South Dakota in the U.S. Senate from 1973 until 1979 and served in South Dakota’s second district in the House of Representatives between 1971 and 1973. In 1974, Time magazine named him one of the 200 Faces for the Future.

Senator Abourezk has degrees in civil engineering and in law and is currently a senior partner in Abourezk Law Offices, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is the author of Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate and the co-author of Through Different Eyes: Two Leading Americans — a Jew and an Arab — Debate U. S. Policy in the Middle East.

Dr. Hassan Fouda

foudaDr. Hassan Fouda is former Assistant Director, Global Research and Development, Pfizer, Inc. and was a Board Director of Tandem Lab, a Scientific Research Organization based in Salt Lake City Utah.   Currently, he serves as a Board Director of The Tree of Life Foundation and as a Board Director of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

John Whitbeck

John Whitbeck is an international lawyer who writes frequently about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Since 1988, his articles on the Middle East have been published more than 600 times in more than 80 Arab, Israeli and international newspapers, magazines, journals and books. In 1993, his “Two States, One Holy Land” framework for peace was the subject of a three-day conference in Cairo, attended by 24 prominent Israelis and Palestinians, including four Knesset members, under the sponsorship of The Middle East Institute (Washington), and his “condominium solution” for sharing Jerusalem in a context of peace and reconciliation has been published more than 50 times in various lengths and languages. He is a graduate of Harvard College (1968) and Harvard Law School (1973).

Peter Viering, Secretary & Treasurer

Peter B. Viering is an attorney in Stonington, Connecticut.  For five years he served as lobbyist and public affairs officer in Connecticut for the parent organization of The Christian Science Monitor.  In 2003, Viering served as coordinator for Admiral Thomas Moorer’s Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Viering has made six trips to the Middle East, serving as a member of American observer delegations to Palestinian presidential and legislative elections in 2005 and 2006.

Zainab Elberry

Zainab Elberry is a business professional active in numerous local and national civic organizations. She is cited in Who’s Who In the World, 1997-2002; Who’s Who In America, 1996-2002; Who’s Who of American Women, 1996-2002; Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, 1997-1998; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, 1997-1998; and Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America, 1992. She received the Recognition Award, National Association of Professional Saleswomen; A Certificate of Appreciation, Mayor of Nashville; A Special Contribution Award, US Council of the International Year of Disabled Persons; The Outstanding Service Award; and other awards.

Ms. Elberry has served as a board member of numerous civic associations, among them the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs; the Advisory Board of the Women’s Fund, a standing committee of the Nashville Community Foundation; the Advisory Board of ‘Celebration of Cultures’; the International Cultural Association of Nashville; the United Nations Association; the Middle Tennessee Community AIDS Partnership; the Belle Meade Mansion; the Nashville International Cultural Heritage; and the International Year of Disabled Persons. She was Facilitator and one of first graduates of Study Circles of the Nashville Coalition Against Racism (NCAR); a member of the NCAR’s Multicultural Outreach Committee for Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and Temples; nominated for membership in Leadership of Tennessee, 1994; National Association of Professional Saleswomen; and a charter member, CABLE, the Nashville Professional Women’s Association.

Daniel McGowan

Daniel McGowan is a Professor Emeritus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the founder of Deir Yassin Remembered, a not-for-profit human rights organization seeking to build a truth and reconciliation center at Deir Yassin 1,400 meters north of Yad Vashem, the most famous Holocaust museum in the world..

Past Board Members

Ambassador Robert Keeley, former chair

keeleyAmbassador (ret.) Robert Vossler Keeley had a 34-year career in the Foreign Service of the United States, from 1956 to 1989. He served three times as Ambassador: to Greece (1985-89),Zimbabwe (1980-84), and Mauritius (1976-78). In 1978-80 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, in charge of southern and eastern Africa.

From November 1990 to January 1995 Ambassador Keeley served as President of the Middle East Institute in Washington, a private, non-profit educational and cultural institution founded in 1946 to foster greater understanding in the United States of the countries of the Middle East region from Morocco to Central Asia.