last updated: August 10, 2011
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1111 14th St NW, Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 783-0483
About (as of 2011)
As one of the leading business associations in the United States, American Turkish Council (ATC) is dedicated to effectively strengthening US-Turkish relations through the promotion of commercial, defense, technology and cultural relations. Its diverse membership includes Fortune 500, US and Turkish companies, multinationals, nonprofit organizations and individuals with an interest in US-Turkish relations. Guided by member interests, ATC strives to enhance the growing ties between the US and Turkey by initiating and facilitating efforts to increase investment and trade between the two countries.
Selected Principals (as of 2011)
- Richard Armitage: Chairman, Board of Directors
- James Howard Holmes: President (since 2004)
- Daniel Pipes: Former Board Member
The American Turkish Council (ATC), the U.S.-based counterpart to the Turkish-U.S. Business Council, is a "bilateral business council" that aims to foster commercial relations between the United States and Turkey. ATC is “one of the leading business associations in the United States … dedicated to effectively strengthening U.S.-Turkish relations through the promotion of commercial, defense, technology and cultural relations.” It grew out of the "consolidation of the Turkish desk of the U.S. Chamber [of Commerce] with the American Friends of Turkey."
In July 2011, ATC’s board chairman Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush, visited Anakara to meet with high-level officials. Expressing U.S. support for Turkey’s fight against terrorism, Armitage also addressed the souring of relations between Turkey and Israel in the wake of the 2010 killing by Israeli commandos of activists taking part in a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. According to one news report, “Asked about Turkish-Israeli relations, Armitage said this issue is something that needs to be solved between the two countries, adding it is important for Turkey, which he said has undertaken an effective role in the region, to cooperate with regional countries and its neighbors. He also added that a second flotilla should not set sail to Gaza after the Mavi Marmara tragedy.”
According to its web site, "As one of the leading business associations in the United States, the American Turkish Council (ATC) is dedicated to effectively strengthening U.S.-Turkish relations through the promotion of commercial, defense, technology, and cultural relations. Its diverse membership includes Fortune 500, U.S. and Turkish companies, multinationals, nonprofit organizations, and individuals with an interest in U.S.-Turkish relations. Guided by member interests, ATC strives to enhance the growing ties between the United States and Turkey by initiating and facilitating efforts to increase investment and trade between the two countries."
Current ATC board members include Richard K. Douglas of General Electric, Mounir Ghaly of Northrup Grumman, Mitchell Hadad of Sikorsky Aircraft, Joseph T. McAndrew of Boeing, and Christopher Lombardi of Raytheon. ATC's advisory board also includes representatives of a number of high-powered defense, pharmaceutical, consulting, and technology firms, including the Carlyle Group and the Cohen Group. Daniel Pipes is a former ATC board member.
After years of maintaining a relatively low public profile, the American-Turkish Council was thrust into the media spotlight as a result of allegations made by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds regarding suspect activities of council members. According to a September 2005 Vanity Fair article, Edmonds alleged that one of her FBI colleagues with close ties to the ATC routinely refused to translate conversations of close associates in the council. The FBI, which had been targeting members of the council as well as officials at the Turkish Consulate in Chicago as part of a counter-intelligence investigation, eventually fired Edmonds when she complained about her colleague's negligence, arguing that she was having a "disruptive effect" on their investigation.
David Rose, the author of the Vanity Fair piece, wrote that some of the FBI wiretaps involved conversations among council members and Turkish officials about bribing elected officials and "contained what sounded like references to large-scale drug shipments and other crimes." The FBI wiretap targets boasted "that they had a covert relationship with a very senior politician indeed-Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information." Rosen considers this an explanation for Hastert's about-face in 2000 recanting his initial support for House resolution calling for recognition of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.
In September 2005, another influential figure connected to ATC, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, tried to block a congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide. Writing as "Chairman of the American-Turkish Council," Scowcroft argued in a letter to Hastert: "Whatever people individually decide on the merits of these resolutions, it is important to note the real world consequences of their adoption. When the French Senate passed such a resolution, it cost France over $1 billion in cancelled contracts and lost business opportunities. Enactment of genocide language would jeopardize our ability to achieve strategic interests with Turkey and in the region. Furthermore, it is quite likely that the business interests of several of our American members would be jeopardized by passage of such prejudicial legislation. The American-Turkish Council strongly believes that the events about which H. Con. Res. 195 and H. Res. 316 speak are matters for historians to decide-not politicians. Unfortunately, these resolutions express, as matters of law and fact, issues that remain widely disputed by scholars, historians, and legal experts.”
Some writers argue that ATC is part of a U.S. effort to maintain a tight grip on the so-called New EuroAsia, a region that includes "the 'Stans’, Ukraine, Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech, Croatia, and Poland." National security blogger John Stanton, who considers ATC one of the most powerful NGOs in the United States, argues that through groups like ATC, U.S. elites hope to ensure steady access to oil supplies, markets for weapons, control of countries like Russia and Iran, and a counter-balance against the growing influence of the European Union. Pointing to the impressive corporate and policy elite membership of the ATC and similar associations (like the American-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce), Stanton claims, "theirs is the voice that matters and is the one that is heard on television and radio networks through the mouths of news-readers, senators, congressmen, presidents, and military leaders. It is in and through such Associations that U.S. political, economic, and military policy is made and the American public subsequently 'educated' to support policies that are not, and could not, be debated in public because of their illegality, audacity, complexity, and, arguably, necessity."
ATC is a member-funded organization. Corporate have included Bechtel, Boeing, BP, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, Frito Lay, General Atomics, General Dynamics, GE, Hyatt, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Pepsi, Pfizer, Raytheon, Textron, United Defense, United Technologies/Sikorsky, Archer Daniels Midland, BAE Systems, Bank of America, and the Cohen Group, Delta Airlines, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Shell, Turkish Airlines, and Vestel Defense Industries. ATC has also counted on a long list of non-corporate sponsors, including the American Enterprise Institute, the America-Georgia Business Development Council, the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian-Turkish Business Council, the Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institute, Georgetown University, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs , the Brookings Institution, the Eisenhower Institute, the Nixon Center, the U.S.-Algeria Business Council, the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-Greece Business Council, the U.S.-Russia Business Council, and the University of Chicago.
The bribery scandal seems to have hit ATC's balance sheet. On its 2009 990 Form, it reported it was $127,397 in the hole, with $80,000 of its debt incurred in that year alone.