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The Committee for the Free World (CFW), according to the August 1998 update by Group Watch, was founded in 1981 by Midge Decter who was the organization's executive director.

Group Watch wrote that the CFW had "tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) and began with funding of $125,000 from individuals and conservative foundations. Among the original funders were three of the major right-wing foundations": Scaife Foundations, John M. Olin Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

"In its initial press conference, the CFW said it planned to work for freedom 'in the world of ideas,' and planned to concentrate its efforts on books, newspapers, broadcasting networks, and in classrooms. It envisioned itself as an organization committed to the defense of the non-communist world 'against the rising menace of totalitarianism.' The group's intellectualism, democratic emphasis, and strident anti-communism [placed] the CFW in the arena of the numerous neoconservative groups formed preceding and following the election of former President Ronald Reagan.

"According to its brochure, the CFW [had] three purposes: to promote democracy; to keep the public aware of all threats to democracy; and to oppose the influence of those inside and outside of the U. S. 'who have made themselves the enemies of the democratic order.'

The CFW had "a speakers bureau ... and a monthly publication, Contentions. It claimed to have 400 members and to focus its activities in the U. K. and the U. S."

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