Independently launched in May 2010 by independent journalist Allen McDuffee, Think Tanked is a blog specializing in original reporting and analysis of the influence of think tanks in the politics of Washington and beyond. Think Tanked and McDuffee joined The Washington Post in May 2011.

Do think tanks matter?

Not so long ago, an editorial in Britain’s News & Star suggested that, “Think tanks, in case anyone was wondering, are bodies of academics who answer the questions nobody asked. Governments listen to them – in preference to thinking for themselves.”

Perhaps think tanks work differently in Britain, but in Washington, think tanks are highly influential in the development of policy and political ideas, even if they are not the subject of much reporting or study.

Over the past several years, 2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has attempted to rehabilitate his reputation at the American Enterprise Institute. Michele Flournoy and Kurt Campbell, the co-founders of the relatively new Center for a New American Security, are now senior Obama administration appointees at the Pentagon and the State Department.The case for the invasion of Iraq was planned by governmental and private sector neo-conservatives at the Project for the New American Century well before Sept. 11, 2001. And the State Department’s motto of “Smart Power” was developed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies over the course of a few years.  

Just these examples suggest that somebody is asking the questions think tanks answer, but who and why? Just as important: which think tanks are choosing to answer them? And what are the relationships between governments and think tanks?

These are just a few of the guiding questions for Think Tanked.

About Allen McDuffee

Allen McDuffee is a New York-based politics writer. Part reporter, part investigative journalist, part blogger, Allen has written for The Nation, Huffington Post, AlterNet, Raw Story, New York Observer, In These Times and Truthdig, among others.

Allen has recently been awarded funding from The Nation’s Investigative Journalism Fund and is a two-time fellow at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism.

For more than seven years, Allen worked at Washington, DC think tanks and private political consulting firms. He has also spent time in Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestine for work and for pleasure.