I Just Traced Invisible Children Back To Watergate

It’s a provocative headline, but I’m entirely serious when I say that at least one Invisible Children staffer has ties to a multinational private intelligence agency. Skip to the bottom if you like, but please read it.

I was pretty busy with one thing and another last week so I didn’t get a chance to chime in on Invisible Children’s incredibly sus Kony 2012 campaign. If you miraculously haven’t heard anything about it, you can start with the excellent riposte at Visible Children, then some Actual African People, then the DSG’s heirs apparent at Demand Nothing.

As you’ll see one of the things that’s now coming out is the organisation’s … unorthodox approach to budgeting, with more money going to ‘awareness programs’ than actual operations in Africa. And unusually among non-profits, they seem to have an offshore account in the Cayman Islands.

Well, I finally got around to digging locally (with a tip from a friend) and found there’s an Invisible Children in the UK too — company no. 06679805, first incorporated in 2008. Its directors are Robert Bailey, Margie Dilenberg, Ben Keesey, James McMurtry, Laren Poole, Jason Russell – all staff listed on the US non-profit’s website – and one David Kelly DePauw Young, a UK resident.

Their paperwork with the UK Charities Commission is nearly a year overdue, but here’s what appears to be their return for the year ending June 2010, courtesy of Naadir Jeewa.

It’s pretty dull reading in and of itself – the worst is some sloppy bookkeeping in the itemised travel section – but I had some questions about the £39,518.47 in donations and £10,000 in grants at the very top of the table. Because the thing is, Invisible Children clearly doesn’t do any door-to-door fundraising in the UK and its website channels all online donations through a third-party, StayClassy. Nor is there any mention of any UK operations in Invisible Children’s 990 filing for that year in the US — even the section explictly asking “At any time during the calendar year, did the organization have an interest in, or a signature or other authority over, a financial account in a foreign country (such as a bank account, securities account, or other financial account)?”

And of course there’s the question of why they have a UK office in the first place. Which is where things got really interesting.

Invisible Children in the UK is registered to Baldon House, Marsh House, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX449LS — which just happens to be the same address given by David Young, the director we mentioned earlier. That’s not so strange in itself; plenty of people work from home. But just look at the home – a seventeenth-century grade II listed manor in a part of Oxford where the average house price is more than half a million pounds.

So now the question becomes, who is David Kelly DePauw Young? Could he be the son of David R. Young, founder of private intelligence agency Oxford Analytica? Young Sr.’s 2004 Reuters lecture seems to confirm it:

“Finally, from our own home, Baldon House, here in England, carved in the marble fireplace 200 years ago is the motto of the family that lived there at the time.  It reads, “Verite sans peur” — ‘Truth without fear.’ 

So presumably Young the Elder would not be afraid for you to learn that his biggest claim to fame is as a member of the Nixon administration’s National Security Council back in 1970 — one of the original ‘plumbers’ charged with hushing up the Watergate conspiracy.

All of which makes his son’s involvement in an organisation urging military aid in central Africa even murkier than before. A heart of darkness, if you will.

One Comment on “I Just Traced Invisible Children Back To Watergate”

  1. […] piece fleshing out my previous post — first printed in The Morning Star, […]

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