Monthly Archives: September 2008
September 17, 2008
As the slime of the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign engulfs the world like a tidal wave of sewage, the calculating political manipulators behind the Republican ticket, and their end game, have received scant attention. If recent polls are to be believed, the election (if it is not already stolen) may already be over.
The Turd Blossom’s son
The McCain-Palin dirty tricks campaign is the work of Republican operative Steve Schmidt.
Schmidt is a protégé of Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove. He has elevated several of the most toxic individuals on earth to positions of global power. He is also a counselor to Dick Cheney. It was Schmidt who successfully spearheaded the lobbying efforts behind the confirmations of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. And it was Schmidt’s manipulation of image, celebrity and popular disgust that installed actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as the do-nothing governor of California.
The Rove filth playbook — media manipulations, intimidation, lurid character attack techniques, corruption, falsification and lying, cynical appeals to the most foul aspects of the American psyche — is something that Schmidt has clearly mastered, and it is being enthusiastically applied to McCain-Palin as part of a long-term extremist agenda.
As described in Paul Alexander’s Machiavelli’s Shadow: “The Rove scorched earth approach to political campaigns is a reflection of a willingness to perform whatever ruthless, unethical acts necessary to transform America into a fascist regime.
“Once he [George W. Bush] reached the White House, as part of his effort to achieve a permanent Republican majority, he would put into place a plan that included a corruption of the state and federal governing systems that bordered on the diabolical, a scheme that went so far to create a sort of government within a government to carry out its actions. But in order to achieve what he wanted he had to win elections, and to win elections, in true Machiavellian style, he would do or say whatever he had to, no matter who got damaged in the process, no matter how badly.”
Alexander quotes longtime Texas Republican strategist Mark Sanders: “[Rove] immediately started putting together a plan for what was essentially the Third Reich of the Republican majority in this country. That was absolutely his plan, a Republican majority domination not just of the US House, the US Senate and the presidency, but also state legislatures across the country. This was not just a pie-in-the-sky dream that Karl had. He wanted to see the Republican Party rule for the next 30 to 40 years.”
Rove’s choreography of George W. Bush’s political career proved that it was possible to elevate a mentally ill and willfully stupid criminal to world power, and, along the way, harness the ignorance of the American masses with a completely manufactured image, appeals to fear, appeals to right-wing evangelical fanatics (via cultural and moral “wedge issues”), and other rude distractions from reality, and from the issues.
To the Rove formula, Schmidt adds insidious new elements that tap even further into the lowest aspects of the modern American mass psyche: the “politics of personality.” The stuff of Hollywood tabloids and gossip rags, and lowbrow reality television programs.
Schmidt secured the governorship of California for Schwarzenegger by projecting the unqualified actor’s Hollywood action hero persona, along with a manufactured aura of being a maverick outsider fighting against an establishment.
McCain-Palin is an Arnold Schwarzenegger sequel, with extreme violence, and a murderous female assassin, as its star.
Sarah Palin: irritant
Far from being the desperate, hasty, unvetted “hail Mary” on the part of John McCain, the selection of Sarah Palin, “Caribou Barbie,” the self-described “pit bull in lipstick” is a diabolical master play on the part of Schmidt and the right wing.
The Palin element has revitalized a dead McCain campaign, while creating anxiety and confusion across Obama-Biden and the Democratic Party. By design, Palin, not McCain, is essentially the head of the ticket, its star, its attack poodle.
She is crass and vindictive, psychotic, willfully stupid, criminal, crass, zealously loyal to more powerful masters, a world-class narcissist, an egomaniac, and a vengeful hatemonger — a female George W. Bush and a perfect Republican tool.
The vast wasteland of her mind, combined with a mean, sadistic and crazed fanaticism (see The Palin theocracy and Sarah Palin’s Ties to the Christian Right) appeals to the right-wing base. But her appeal goes beyond that.
No one better represents, and appeals to, the demise of mainstream American society than Palin. Nobody better embodies the ignorance, stupidity, self-importance, and brash emptiness that appeals to the widest swath of today’s American wasteland.
Palin’s mental illness and crass stupidity were clearly exposed in her ABC interview with Charles Gibson. Palin recited, in robotic fashion, the propaganda talking points she was told to repeat ad nauseum (by Schmidt). Asked by Gibson if nuclear war with Russia was a possibility with a McCain-Palin administration, she happily replied “Perhaps so!”
A nuclear holocaust and all-out world war. Just like that.
She is clearly unqualified, and deeply and openly corrupt. Her activities in Alaska are brimming with scandal, abuses of power, and vicious vendettas. She is a secessionist and a wild-eyed Creationist, who three times asked city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons if she was okay with censoring books, even sending her a letter (later rescinded) that she was going to be fired.
None of this matters, by Steve Schmidt’s calculations. He knows that the America the McCain-Palin machine needs to wrap up doesn’t read, doesn’t know about the world, and doesn’t care about her qualifications; only her “maverick,” “pit bull” image — and her measurements. (There is no question that sex appeal is a factor.) The qualifications of George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t matter, either.
Sarah Palin is someone out of a bad reality television program, a living lampoon. And she’s “hot” — she will get the vote of untold numbers of men, who do not give a damn on this basis alone.
Palin is honey to all of them: the “Wal-Mart” drones, the right-wing Christian Dominionist fringe, the gun-toting white trash survivalists, the militant Hillary Clinton “PUMAs,” the right-wing thugs.
The Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu, another favorite of Rove (and therefore Schmidt), delighted in the use of irritants to confuse, harass and sow disorder among adversaries.
Palin is an irritant, brought in to pester, aggravate, annoy, the victims of her crass, shrill attacks.
Palin’s gender has been used as both a weapon of mass destruction, and as a defensive shield. She can attack Obama and the Democrats, but she has been protected from any sort of counterattack, thanks to the deer-in-headlights mentality of her opponents, as well as a free pass from the media. It doesn’t matter, in the Schmidt-Rove calculation, that Palin is an insult to women, and also an insult to women who identify with Hillary Clinton. All that matters is it’s working.
Palin is not only being used as a distraction. There is “strategery” involved. She has turned an easy and orderly Obama conclusion into a race against the clock. As an unknown, a complete mystery when her out-of-left field selection was announced, the Democrats have been racing against the political clock to gather enough information to even come up with a counter-strategy. So far, there is no evidence of one.
It is not clear at this point if the more mature neocon manipulators behind the larger John McCain machine (Henry Kissinger, William Kristol, Iran-Contra figure Robert McFarlane, Brent Scowcroft, George Shultz, etc.) approve of Palin, or the prospect of having to stage-manage another George W. Bush, should McCain secure the White House and die or become incapacitated before his term ends. But Palin in any office, on any level, is nightmarish.
If there is a rational plan behind the Palin selection, it is the one put forth by Mike Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon. It involves the central question, oil: “The selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s running mate is terrifying. It would be good news if McCain were just out of his mind or desperate. Remember Dan Quayle? Quayle was also a lightweight. But in Quayle’s case there was little to suggest what his influence in Indiana could do for the Bush I administration.
“In Palin’s case what she can do for a McCain administration is all too obvious. She can help turn Alaska into one giant oil field quickly and without any concern for the environment. She can redefine the term ‘fast track.’ She knows the state and can wheel and deal in the places that will most quickly open up protected areas for drilling. Damn the torpedoes … That realization was instantaneous for me. Then came the second epiphany. McCain is acting as if the election is irrelevant and it just may be. The Republicans did steal the last two didn’t they?
“Is this one already so far in the bag that McCain doesn’t care what she does to his national ticket?”
Sarah Palin will be the next president of the United States. If not in the next few years, then at the next opportunity. The world will have Steve Schmidt’s manipulations to thank for it.
The McCain “war hero” lie
John McCain’s tepid presidential effort was falling apart under the management of the (equally unsavory) strategist Charles Black, and appeared doomed in the wake of the Democrat’s euphoric convention.
In recent weeks, going into the successful Republican convention, Schmidt and Co. has united the fractured Republicans (with Palin), while orchestrating a massive Roveian tidal wave of the most transparently outrageous swift boating gutter attacks against Obama and fear-mongering, and sharpening, simplifying, and dumbing down the McCain image to its most basic:
McCain=War Hero and prisoner of war. McCain=Maverick.
Other pithy campaign themes include “Drill, baby, drill,” and regurgitated “war on terror/9-11” slogans.
Both of McCain’s false character labels have served as one-word talking points on the campaign trail, to be repeated endlessly like a blunt instrument on the collective skull of the American population. It is also being used as protective shield, with McCain crying, “You can’t attack me because I was a POW” to all forms of criticism and inquiry.
Schmidt’s stage and media management has successfully silenced discussions about the darkness of McCain: his temperament (irrationality, penchant for rage, bizarre outbursts, etc.), his corruption, and his criminal connections.
Douglas Valentine, a foremost authority on war history, and the author of The Phoenix Program, wrote the most incisive and thorough analysis of John McCain in the following piece:
In this thoughtful and on-target expose, Valentine demolishes the “war hero” myth, while exposing the McCain psychology.
Valentine points out the following:
1. McCain is the scion of a family of military elites. His career has been one of privilege.
2. McCain is no war hero, he is a war criminal, who bombed “gooks” on some 22 Navy bombing missions, boasting about himself, and the killing, without remorse, according to a psychologist who interviewed McCain in 1970.
3. McCain was likely a willing collaborator, who quickly and routinely (over three years) offered up specific classified information to his captors. This specific information resulted in key military defeats for the US, and untold American deaths. Two of McCain’s fellow POWs, Ted Guy and Gordon “Swede” Larson have long expressed doubts that McCain was tortured.
4. McCain was a “professional psywar stooge,” who collaborated in psychological warfare offensives aimed at American servicemen.
5. McCain has persistently lied about his experience, to political advantage across his subsequent civilian career. Meanwhile, his detractors, including fellow POWs who knew him, and other Vietnam veterans critical of his posturing, have been ignored, but not discredited. If there is a man who deserves to be legitimately “swift-boated,” it is McCain.
According to Valentine, “This is the lesson of McCain’s experience as a POW: a true politician, a hollow man, his only allegiance is to power. The Vietnamese, like McCain’s campaign contributors today, protected and promoted him and in return, he danced to their tune.”
Valentine credits strategist Mark Salter for creating the original McCain myth, “casting him as a modern Teddy Roosevelt, ‘the war hero turned domestic reformer.’ In large, the Salter strategy has worked. The American media accepts McCain’s war hero myth as gospel and, in so doing, bolsters the ‘straight talk’ image so essential in politics.” Further, Valentine notes, “it’s not the collaboration that makes John McCain unfit for office; it’s the fact that he has managed to rewrite his collaboration into political capital. ‘He’s a war hero, respect him, or die.’ . . . In his current presidential campaign, he’s cozying up to the hate-mongering Christian right he once criticized. He’s reversed positions on so many issues that his Democratic rivals have assembled his contrasting statements into ‘The Great McCain Versus McCain Debates’ . . . This essential dishonesty, this lie of the soul, is a sign of a larger lack of character . . .
“McCain is not some principled leader, not a maverick cowboy fighting the powerful. He’s a sycophant. He believes in nothing but power and will do anything to attain it. He explodes in anger when challenged because, when a criticism hits too close to home, it goes straight to his deep-seated shame.”
McCain’s political career is full of skeletons, and continuous corruption. Among them, McCain was a member of the infamous Keating Five, a member of Congress who received bribes for covering up the savings and loan scandal, and blocking investigations. The S&L Scandal, a CIA/Mafia operation connected to the Bush faction, looted $2 billion in taxpayer money. McCain was also an Iran-Contra liar, one of Oliver North’s most passionate defenders. An airplaine used by McCain and his lobbyist was used to fly the Saudi royal family out of the US, after 9/11.
There is strong evidence that the conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia was set up by provocateurs, lobbyists working for McCain, sent in by McCain, and the Bush-Cheney administration. Routed Georgian forces were caught crying for McCain’s help.
Steve Schmidt and the rest of the McCain apparatus will make sure that none of this factual history becomes campaign fodder.
Deer in the headlights
Flushed with euphoria from their successful Denver convention, Obama-Biden and the Democrats were promptly kicked repeatedly in the private parts by the McCain-Palin-Schmidt machine and the corporate media that the right wing almost fully controls.
While the swift boating has gone largely unanswered, Obama-Biden have refused to respond to the attacks, while also refusing to criticize the “great American war hero McCain and his great service,” and refusing to go after Palin.
At the same time, Steve Schmidt has stolen, literally ripped, the Obama “change” theme from under Obama-Biden’s feet. Nobody except Obama’s people care that they stole it.
Everything important about McCain and Palin are off the table, just as the impeachment of Bush-Cheney has been kept off the table by the spineless Dem leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. Joe Biden, presumed to be the feisty fighter on the Obama ticket, has been silent and invisible. He has already promised to be nice to Palin.
At a recent appearance, Obama tried to laugh off the swift boating, saying to the audience, “they must really think you’re that stupid.” What Obama doesn’t seem to grasp is what Schmidt/Rove does: the election will be decided by the genuinely stupid. The people who have no interest in polite, long-winded, rational discussions of nuanced policy.
The playbook that successfully stole the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections has not changed. (The 2006 contest was ceded to the Democrats; Bush-Cheney bet that the Dems would not successfully challenge them on any major issue, and have won that bet.) Schmidt understands that the Democratic faction still hasn’t learned to win either the rhetorical fight, or prevent the entire charade from being stolen electronically (Republican companies still control elections), and through intimidation, theft of voting rolls, and purges.
Also, in what appears to be another calculated Republican trick, just in time for the election, the Bush-Cheney administration has stolen Obama’s thunder by redeploying forces from Iraq to Afghanistan (as suggested for months by Obama), ramping up the “war on terrorism” in Pakistan (as suggested by Obama). Obama who has now proclaimed that Bush’s Iraq “surge” was “successful beyond his wildest dreams.”
Does Obama-Biden have anything left to talk about, with just two months left?
Past the brink of madness
Should the right-wing successfully secure White House power for the mentally ill, warmongering John McCain, and the demented, willfully stupid, fanatical Sarah Palin, humanity will face a horror even worse than Bush-Cheney.
For all of its brutality and vileness, Bush-Cheney was, at its core, a criminal apparatus charged with a campaign of pillage that it carried out like a team of mafia assassins.
By contrast, McCain and Palin are two irrational individuals with deranged, pathological psyches, backed by a massive and rapidly growing fanatical theocracy with visions of murderous world destruction.
It is not clear at this time if the more seasoned, rational elites have control of this machine, or if a fanatical Rove/Schmidt theocratic faction within the neocon faction is truly on the verge of an unprecendented coup.
It is even less clear if its counterweight, the establishment neoliberal faction behind Obama, with its more obvious Wall Street backing, will even get a sniff at the White House, or survive another stolen election. The battle between the two corporate war factions will pave the way towards a certain horror.
With the world facing an energy crisis, world war over resources, an economic system on the verge of collapse, and other unprecedented catastrophes, is the American empire about to be handed over to typical fist-in-velvet glove neoliberals, or even more openly fascist regime in the eleventh hour, to complete the war and homeland militarization started with Bush-Cheney?
DOUGLASS K. DANIEL
September 18, 2008
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday that paying more in taxes is the patriotic thing to do for wealthier Americans. In a new TV ad that repeats widely debunked claims about the Democratic tax plan, the Republican campaign calls Obama’s tax increases “painful.”
Under the economic plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less – the vast majority of American taxpayers – would receive a tax cut.
Although Republican John McCain claims that Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposals.
“We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people,” Biden said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Noting that wealthier Americans would indeed pay more, Biden said: “It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”
September 18, 2008
The vetting of Sarah Palin for the McCain campaign by an Iran-Contra alumnus brought an epiphany. (See “The Man Who Vetted Palin,” CounterPunch, September 8, 2008.) The American people’s inability to control this crime spree we call the Bush administration is not because we’re lazy, narcissistic or willfully blind to human rights violations, as much of the world now views us. It’s because we’ve been misidentifying this crime spree as “the Bush administration.” What we’re clearly confronting is the Iran-Contra Alumni Association masquerading as the Executive Branch, replete with domestic spying, dark ops, fake journalists, fake news reels, press intimidation, protester arrests, infiltration and torture. Their latest maneuver is the woman with zero foreign policy experience a heart beat from taking that 3 a.m. call. A call which, of course, they’ll answer for her as they have done for Bush II.
We can’t counter this massive operation with Code Pink, despite my undying gratitude for their bravery and brains. We need to give the pink slips to the Iran-Contra gang. We need a full blown Congressional Committee on Corruption in the Federal Government – a truth commission with subpoena power. And we need the hearings to air live, for however long it takes, to get to the bottom of this syndication of crime.
Here’s five top questions the Committee can put on its priority list: did the Iran-Contra gang shake down Bush II for keeping the secrets of Bush I; did Bush II just decide on his own to reward the Iran-Contra gang for not writing tell-all books and for demonstrating they value loyalty over lawfulness. Why did Senator McCain call Iran-Contra central casting to round out his campaign? Why are these lawyers that hold the secrets to Iran-Contra vetting Federal candidates and judges?
Here’s a look at the amazing reemergence of the cast of recycled characters from Iran-Contra days:
Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense: On December 6, 2006, the United States Senate voted 95-2 to confirm Mr. Gates, despite the fact that he occupies a full chapter, Chapter 16, in the “Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters.” Mr. Gates spent 26 years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). When the Iran arms sales and illegal diversion of funds to the Contras and other unknown pockets were taking place right under his nose, he was the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. Despite his murky history, he was recycled as Director of the CIA by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, who, let’s not forget, was also a former Director of the CIA.
The Independent Counsel’s report concedes that while there was not enough evidence to indict Mr. Gates for his role in Iran-Contra, the Independent Counsel, Lawrence E. Walsh, heavily implies Mr. Gates lied about what he knew and when he knew it.
During the 2006 confirmation hearings, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) questioned Mr. Gates about his role in Iran-Contra and Mr. Gates obfuscated, to say the least. Here are excerpts:
LEVIN: It is no secret that I voted against Dr. Gates’ nomination to be director of central intelligence in 1991. I did so because I thought that he had been less than candid about the role that he played in the Iran-Contra affair. As I have said before, however, I, for one, intend to take a fresh and fair look at Dr. Gates’ record…However, you gave a number of further explanations about these events and your lack of memory. You said that the matter had been investigated exhaustively by the Intelligence Committee. The key figures in the affair were interviewed or testified and affirmed that they had not shared important information with you… However, there was one thing that you said in support of your answer which troubled me, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to comment on it. And that’s when you said that the Iran-Contra independent counsel, after seven years of investigation, could not find a single witness to testify that my role in the matter was other than I described it…
GATES: Sure. I think the short answer, Senator, is: In the very short time that I had to prepare the answers to the questions that came from the committee, that it seemed, without having access to any of the documents or the records that I had seen before, that the best way to answer this current committee’s question was simply to refer to the note to the response that I was invited to place in the record of the Iran-Contra report.
And the sentence that you quoted in terms of not finding any other witnesses was the central part of a three- or four-, I think, sentence response that I wrote to the report of the Iran-Contra independent counsel.
In other words, Mr. Gates refused to answer the question about his role in Iran-Contra while applying for one of the most important jobs in the United States; a job where he will take over for the train wreck left by Donald Rumsfeld to continue a war that has thus far cost hundreds of thousands of lives along with the credibility of the United States and left us a financial basket-case.
Mr. Gates assertion “that the Iran-Contra independent counsel, after seven years of investigation, could not find a single witness to testify that my role in the matter was other than I described it…” is more than a little problematic. The Independent Counsel did, indeed, find someone, namely Richard Kerr, a CIA colleague of Mr. Gates at the time. Here’s the relevant passage from the Independent Counsel’s report:
“…the evidence was clear that Gates’s statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support [Oliver] North’s activities without informing North’s superiors or investigating. …In the end, although Gates’s actions suggested an officer who was more interested in shielding his institution from criticism and in shifting the blame to the NSC than in finding out the truth, there was insufficient evidence to charge Gates with a criminal endeavor…”
Fred Fielding, White House Counsel: Mr. Fielding was appointed White House Counsel to President George W. Bush on January 9, 2007. Mr. Fielding was White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1986, a period which saw secret Presidential “findings” that led the U.S. intelligence apparatus to illegally thwart the will of Congress with secret arms sales to Iran and illegal diversion of arms proceeds to the Nicaraguan Contras as well as millions in unaccounted for funds. The Contras were a U.S. funded mercenary army to a large degree, similar to Blackwater in Iraq. Mr. Fielding was a part of Blackwater’s legal team before becoming White House Counsel according to Legal Times. Blackwater is under criminal investigation over a Baghdad shooting by its armed guards that left 17 Iraqis dead.
During the period that Mr. Fielding was giving counsel to President Reagan, according to the International Court of Justice “the President of the United States authorized a United States government agency to lay mines in Nicaraguan ports; that in early 1984 mines were laid in or close to the ports of El Bluff, Corinto and Puerto Sandino, either in Nicaraguan internal waters or in its territorial sea or both, by persons in the pay and acting on the instructions of that agency, under the supervision and with the logistic support of United States agents; that neither before the laying of the mines, nor subsequently, did the United States Government issue any public and official warning to international shipping of the existence and location of the mines; and that personal and material injury was caused by the explosion of the mines…”
The man who admits in his autobiography, A Spy for All Seasons, that he was the mastermind behind planting mines in the ports of a country with which we were not at war is Duane R. “Dewey” Clarridge. This act was viewed as an act of terrorism by many. Mr. Clarridge was a career employee at the CIA. His major posts included chief of the Latin American Division, chief of the European Division and Chief of the Counterterrorism Center. On November 26, 1991, a federal Grand Jury indicted Mr. Clarridge on perjury charges as part of the Independent Counsel’s investigation. On December 24, 1992, George H.W. Bush pardoned Clarridge while his court case was ongoing. According to Clarridge, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, he was to be hired as a national security deputy in the Bush administration in 2001 but opposition arose (reported elsewhere as Democratic opposition).
John Negroponte: On January 5, 2007, John Negroponte was appointed Deputy Secretary of State after the President had previously appointed him to three other posts, including Director of National Intelligence, a post invented by the Bush administration. (On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed another of his notorious Executive Orders, Executive Order 13470, putting the Director of National Intelligence office and its budget under the direct control of the President of the United States, making it the “head of the Intelligence Community” and making the CIA subordinate to it.)
Negroponte was Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He has been widely linked to turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras during that time, overseeing a Contra staging operation in the country, and falsifying reports to Congress on the existence of death squads operating in the country.
Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor: In the first term of Bush II, Mr. Abrams held the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs. On February 2, 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Abrams to the posts of Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.
Mr. Abrams also occupies a full chapter in the Independent Counsel’s report, Chapter 25. Mr. Abrams held numerous posts in the Reagan administration, most notably Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs beginning in July 1985. He became the chief cheerleader for aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Mr. Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding information in the Iran-Contra matter and admitted the following: he withheld from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) his knowledge of Oliver North’s Contra activities. He also admitted that he withheld from HPSCI the fact that he had solicited $10 million in aid for the contras from the Sultan of Brunei. That would be the same $10 million that ended up in a private bank account and has yet to be adequately explained. There is, of course, the typo explanation offered by Mark Belnick, a lawyer who assisted in the Senate investigation of Iran-Contra but was later himself tried in a 9-count indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for stealing millions from Tyco International while General Counsel. Mr. Belnick was acquitted. Mr. Abrams was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on December 24, 1992.
This is just a small sampling of the Iran-Contra gang that found an equal employment opportunity waiting for them in jobs requiring background checks and security clearances in the Bush administration.
Equally troubling, Senator John McCain appears to be adopting a similar mind set. In addition to Arthur B. Culvahouse, the man who vetted Sarah Palin and read a treasure trove of classified Iran-Contra documents as White House Counsel to President Reagan, the McCain-Palin campaign web site lists another of their advisors as Robert (Bud) McFarlane. Mr. McFarlane is Chapter 1 in the Independent Counsel’s report. On March 11, 1988, Mr. McFarlane pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress about Oliver North’s Contra activities and foreign solicitation of funds. On December 24, 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned him.
What’s Bud McFarlane doing for the McCain campaign? He’s part of a “Truth Squad.” (Memo to Truth Squad: Focus your sights on Sarah Palin’s $40 Billion natural gas pipe dream that exists only on paper and in Republican convention speeches to 37 million Americans.)
McCain has also signed on Theodore (Ted) Olson to be Co-Chair of his Justice Advisory Committee to vet future Federal judges for lifetime appointments. Mr. Olson was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan administration. During this time, he became the target of a different Independent Counsel investigation. Alexia Morrison investigated Mr. Olson for a potential coverup of Environmental Protection Agency conduct. No charges were brought. He then became President Reagan’s personal attorney representing him in the Iran-Contra matter, spending much time refusing to turn over documents. Mr. Olson is also the attorney who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, securing the 5 to 4 decision that put George W. Bush in the White House. Mr. Olson was appointed Solicitor General in the first term of George W. Bush.
The off balance sheet secrets that Wall Street has hidden away under this administration’s free market madness are now imploding and saddling our children with trillions more in national debt. The secrets that the Iran-Contra gang have hidden away for two decades are an equally dangerous brew, especially if they are now influencing the selection of Federal candidates and judges and creating new rogue operations to ensnare our country in more preemptive attacks.
Dark secrets and democracy cannot live side by side. The American people have waited long enough for the truth.
September 25, 2008
‘Cut his mike,’ producer suggests
The Keating Five scandal, and John McCain’s role in it, has received relatively little mention in presidential campaign coverage, and at least one Fox News host seems dedicated to keeping it that way.
Appearing Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, radio host Mike Papatino tried to remind viewers about McCain’s intervention with federal regulators on behalf of real estate mogul Charles Keating, who was trying to avoid regulations of a savings and loan he owned during the S&L crisis of the 1980s.
F&F’s Steve Doocy told Papatonio to “pipe down,” called him “rude” and demanded he “cut it out.” A show producer could be overheard saying “cut his mike.”
As Papatonio tries one last time to explain the details of the Keating Five scandal, Doocy again cuts him off.
“This is not the History Channel,” he says.
Papatonio’s apparent crime was interrupting fellow guest Michael Reagan, the conservative radio host, who was arguing that it would be unfair to judge McCain based on his actions 20 years ago.
“It has everything to do with what’s happening today,” Papatonio said before being told to pipe down.
Regardless of whether Papatonio was being rude, preserving an orderly debate certainly could not have been Doocy’s goal in silencing the guest. Not two minutes before his admonition that Papatonio was “being rude,” Doocy repeatedly interrupted his guest to deliver talking points that might as well have been written by the McCain campaign.
At least three times Doocy interrupted Papatonio as he argued that McCain’s political gambit to “suspend” his campaign and delay Friday’s debate was more a response to his flagging poll numbers than an attempt to fix the economic crisis. Doocy wasn’t buying it.
“If Barack Obama wants to do so much for the economy, why doesn’t he go to his day job and work in the us senate?” he asked Reagan, cutting off Papatino’s argument.
The following video was posted Thursday on Go Left TV.
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
A former Iraqi official estimated yesterday that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes.
Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, an arm of the Democratic caucus, that an Iraqi auditing bureau “could not properly account for” the money.
While many of the projects audited “were not needed — and many were never built,” he said, “this very real fact remains: Billions of American dollars that paid for these projects are now gone.”
He said a report that went to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials was never published because “nobody cares” about investigating such cases. Many investigators, he said, feared for their safety because 32 of his co-workers have been murdered.
Adhoob said he reported the abuses to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an agency charged by Congress with helping to root out cases of waste, fraud and abuse in the nearly $50 billion U.S. reconstruction effort. SIGIR spokeswoman Kristine Belisle said her agency continues to “actively follow up” on Adhoob’s information, but she would not discuss ongoing investigations.
Adhoob was one of three Iraqi men who testified before the Democratic panel yesterday. Abbas S. Mehdi, a former Iraqi official who held a cabinet-level post, told of widespread corruption. And an Iraqi American who for five years has been a senior adviser to Defense and State department officials in Iraq testified in silhouette by video from an undisclosed location because, he said, he feared for his safety. In a modified voice, he said Iraqi government officials worked with al-Qaeda terrorists at the Baiji refinery to steal oil to sell on the black market.
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who chairs the committee, said that “taxpayers have been bled dry with massive misuse of public dollars.”
“It is all pretty sobering,” he added later. “Our country cannot continue to be blind or oblivious to what is happening.”
Adhoob, who worked for three years at the Iraqi agency and oversaw 200 investigators and other employees, said he had a “firsthand, up-close look at corruption” and eventually had to flee the country because of death threats. He said his agency — the Commission on Public Integrity, which U.S. government officials say is the equivalent of the FBI — estimates that an additional $9 billion in U.S. funds was lost because of corruption and waste. Because the $13 billion figure came from the Iraqi auditing bureau and the $9 billion figure came from Adhoob’s agency, Dorgan’s staff members said there could be some overlap.
Adhoob’s agency has been accused of pursuing investigations against political rivals.
In one scheme described by Adhoob, Iraqi Defense Ministry officials helped set up two front companies that were to buy airplanes, armored vehicles, guns and other equipment with $1.7 billion in U.S. funds. The companies were paid, but in some cases they delivered only “a small percentage” of the equipment that had been ordered and, in one case, delivered bulletproof vests that were defective and could not be used.
The companies also overcharged for military helicopters and tried to deliver aircraft that were more than 25 years old, he said. Instead of demanding the money back, Adhoob said, the Defense Ministry renegotiated with the companies for “a series of mobile toilets and kitchens — which have never been delivered.”
Adhoob said some of the investigations conducted by his agency and others uncovered “ghost projects” that never existed or instances in which Iraqi and U.S. contractors did poor-quality work. In one case, $24.4 million was spent on an electricity project in Nineveh province but an oversight agency found that it “existed only on paper.”
Investigations by Iraqi oversight agencies also found that some of the money sent to the Defense Ministry was diverted to al-Qaeda in Iraq, Adhoob said, and deposited into banks in Jordan and elsewhere.
SEE ALSO: # 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
# 24 Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
# 6 The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (FULL LIST AT BOTTOM)
After Downing Street, July 6, 2007
Title: “Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?”
Author: Michael Schwartz
AlterNet, September 17, 2007
Title: “Iraq death toll rivals Rwanda genocide, Cambodian killing fields”
Author: Joshua Holland
AlterNet, January 7, 2008
Title: “Iraq conflict has killed a million, says survey”
Author: Luke Baker
Inter Press Service, March 3, 2008
Title: “Iraq: Not our country to Return to”
Authors: Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail
Student Researchers: Danielle Stanton, Tim LeDonne, and Kat Pat Crespán
Faculty Evaluator: Heidi LaMoreaux, PhD
Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century—the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.
ORB’s research covered fifteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. Those not covered include two of Iraq’s more volatile regions—Kerbala and Anbar—and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work. In face-to-face interviews with 2,414 adults, the poll found that more than one in five respondents had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, as opposed to natural cause.
Authors Joshua Holland and Michael Schwartz point out that the dominant narrative on Iraq—that most of the violence against Iraqis is being perpetrated by Iraqis themselves and is not our responsibility—is ill conceived. Interviewers from the Lancet report of October 2006 (Censored 2006, #2) asked Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died. Of deaths for which families were certain of the perpetrator, 56 percent were attributable to US forces or their allies. Schwartz suggests that if a low pro rata share of half the unattributed deaths were caused by US forces, a total of approximately 80 percent of Iraqi deaths are directly US perpetrated.
Even with the lower confirmed figures, by the end of 2006, an average of 5,000 Iraqis had been killed every month by US forces since the beginning of the occupation. However, the rate of fatalities in 2006 was twice as high as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or over 300 Iraqis every day. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.
Schwartz points out that the logic to this carnage lies in a statistic released by the US military and reported by the Brookings Institute: for the first four years of the occupation the American military sent over 1,000 patrols each day into hostile neighborhoods, looking to capture or kill “insurgents” and “terrorists.” (Since February 2007, the number has increased to nearly 5,000 patrols a day, if we include the Iraqi troops participating in the American surge.) Each patrol invades an average of thirty Iraqi homes a day, with the mission to interrogate, arrest, or kill suspects. In this context, any fighting age man is not just a suspect, but a potentially lethal adversary. Our soldiers are told not to take any chances (see Story #9).
According to US military statistics, again reported by the Brookings Institute, these patrols currently result in just under 3,000 firefights every month, or just under an average of one hundred per day (not counting the additional twenty-five or so involving our Iraqi allies). Thousands of patrols result in thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths and unconscionably brutal detentions.
Iraqis’ attempts to escape the violence have resulted in a refugee crisis of mammoth proportion. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration, in 2007 almost 5 million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which had fled since 2003. Over 2.4 million vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, up to 1.5 million were living in Syria, and over 1 million refugees were inhabiting Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Gulf States. Iraq’s refugees, increasing by an average of almost 100,000 every month, have no legal work options in most host states and provinces and are increasingly desperate.1
Yet more Iraqis continue to flee their homes than the numbers returning, despite official claims to the contrary. Thousands fleeing say security is as bad as ever, and that to return would be to accept death. Most of those who return are subsequently displaced again.
Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail quote an Iraqi engineer now working at a restaurant in Damascus, “Return to Iraq? There is no Iraq to return to, my friend. Iraq only exists in our dreams and memories.”
Another interviewee told the authors, “The US military say Fallujah is safe now while over 800 men are detained there under the worst conditions. . . . At least 750 out of the 800 detainees are not resistance fighters, but people who refused to collaborate with occupation forces and their tails.” (Iraqis who collaborate with occupation forces are commonly referred to as “tails of the Americans.”)
Another refugee from Baghdad said, “I took my family back home in January. The first night we arrived, Americans raided our house and kept us all in one room while their snipers used our rooftop to shoot at people. I decided to come back here [Damascus] the next morning after a horrifying night that we will never forget.”
1. “The Iraqi Displacement Crisis,” Refugees International, March 3, 2008.
UPDATE BY MICHAEL SCHWARTZ
The mortality statistics cited in “Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month?” were based on another article suitable for Project Censored recognition, a scientific investigation of deaths caused by the war in Iraq. The original article, published in Lancet in 2006, received some dismissive coverage when it was released, and then disappeared from view as the mainstream media returned to reporting biased estimates that placed Iraqi casualties at about one-tenth the Lancet estimates. The corporate media blackout of the original study extended to my article as well, and has continued unabated, though the Lancet article has withstood several waves of criticism, while being confirmed and updated by other studies (Censored 2006, #2).
By early 2008, the best estimate, based on extrapolations and replications of the Lancet study, was that 1.2 million Iraqis had died as a consequence of the war. This figure has not, to my knowledge, been reported in any mass media outlet in the United States.
The blackout of the casualty figures was matched by a similar blackout of other main evidence in my article: that the Bush administration military strategy in Iraq assures vast property destruction and lethality on a daily basis. Rules of engagement that require the approximately one thousand US patrols each day to respond to any hostile act with overwhelming firepower—small arms, artillery, and air power—guarantee that large numbers of civilians will suffer and die. But the mainstream media refuses to cover this mayhem, even after the Winter Soldier meetings in March 2008 featured over one hundred Iraq veterans who testified to their own participation in what they call “atrocity producing situations.” (see Story #9)
The effectiveness of the media blackout is vividly illustrated by an Associated Press poll conducted in February 2007, which asked a representative sample of US residents how many Iraqis had died as a result of the war. The average respondent thought the number was under 10,000, about 2 percent of the actual total at that time. This remarkable mass ignorance, like so many other elements of the Iraq War story, received no coverage in the mass media, not even by the Associated Press, which commissioned the study.
The Iraq Veterans Against the War has made the brutality of the occupation their special activist province. The slaughter of the Iraqi people is the foundation of their demand for immediate and full withdrawal of US troops, and the subject of their historic Winter Soldier meetings in Baltimore. Though there was no mainstream US media coverage of this event, the live streaming on Pacifica Radio and on the IVAW website reached a huge audience—including a vast number of active duty soldiers—with vivid descriptions of atrocities committed by the US war machine. A growing number of independent news sites now feature regular coverage of this aspect of the war, including Democracy Now!, Tom Dispatch, Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches, Informed Comment, Antiwar.com, and ZNet.
UPDATE BY MAKI AL-NAZZAL AND DAHR JAMAIL
The promotion of US general David Petraeus to head CENTCOM, and General Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, provoked a lot of anger amongst Iraqis in both Syria and Jordan. The two generals who convinced US and international society of improvement in Iraq do not seem to have succeeded in convincing Iraqi refugees of their success.
“Just like the Bush Administration decorated Paul Bremer (former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority), they are rewarding others who participated in the destruction to Iraq,” stated Muhammad Shamil, an Iraqi journalist who fled Iraq to Syria in 2006. “What they call violence was concentrated in some parts of Iraq, but now spread to be all over the country, thanks to US war heroes. People are getting killed, evicted or detained by the thousands, from Basra (South) to Mosul (North).”
Other Iraqi refugees seem to have changed attitudes regarding their hopes to return. Compared to when this story was published in March 2008, the refugee crisis continues to deepen. This is exacerbated by the fact that most Iraqis have no intention of returning home. Instead, they are looking for permanent residence in other countries.
“I decided to stop dreaming of going back home and find myself a new home anywhere in the world if I could,” said thirty-two-year-old Maha Numan in Syria, “I have been a refugee for three years now living on the dream of return, but I decided to stop dreaming. I have lost faith in all leaders of the world after the surges of Basra, Sadr City and now Mosul. This seems to be endless and one has to work harder on finding a safe haven for one’s family.”
Iraqis in Syria know a lot more of the news about their country than most journalists. At an Internet café in Damascus, each of them calls his hometown and reports the happenings of the day to other Iraqi refugees. News of ongoing violence across much of Iraq convinces them to remain abroad.
“There were four various explosions in Fallujah today,” said Salam Adel, who worked as a translator for US forces in Fallujah in 2005. “And they say it is safe to go back! Damn them, go back for what? For roadside bombs or car bombs?”
It has been important, politically, for the Bush administration to claim that the situation in Iraq is improving. This claim has been assisted by a complicit corporate media. However, the 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria, and over 750,000 in Jordan, will tell you differently. Otherwise, they would not remain outside of Iraq.
Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009
- #1. Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation
- # 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
- # 3 InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business
- # 4 ILEA: Is the US Restarting Dirty Wars in Latin America?
- # 5 Seizing War Protesters’ Assets
- # 6 The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
- # 7 Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking
- # 8 Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly
- #9 Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify
- # 10 APA Complicit in CIA Torture
- # 11 El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
- # 12 Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind
- # 13 Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
- # 14 Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste
- # 15 Worldwide Slavery
- # 16 Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights
- # 17 UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights
- # 18 Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers
- # 19 Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
- # 20 Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
- # 21 NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option
- # 22 CARE Rejects US Food Aid
- # 23 FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
- # 24 Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
- # 25 Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer
By Jane Corbin
A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.
The BBC’s Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding.
A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.
The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.
While Presdient George W Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.
To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.
The president’s Democratic opponents are keeping up the pressure over war profiteering in Iraq.
Henry Waxman, who chairs the House committee on oversight and government reform, said: “The money that’s gone into waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, it’s egregious.
“It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.”
In the run-up to the invasion, one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth $7bn that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president.
Unusually only Halliburton got to bid – and won.
The search for the missing billions also led the programme to a house in Acton in west London where Hazem Shalaan lived until he was appointed to the new Iraqi government as minister of defence in 2004.
He and his associates siphoned an estimated $1.2bn out of the ministry. They bought old military equipment from Poland but claimed for top-class weapons.
Meanwhile they diverted money into their own accounts.
Judge Radhi al-Radhi of Iraq’s Commission for Public Integrity investigated.
He said: “I believe these people are criminals.
“They failed to rebuild the Ministry of Defence, and as a result the violence and the bloodshed went on and on – the murder of Iraqis and foreigners continues and they bear responsibility.”
Mr Shalaan was sentenced to two jail terms but he fled the country.
He said he was innocent and that it was all a plot against him by pro-Iranian MPs in the government.
There is an Interpol arrest warrant out for him but he is on the run – using a private jet to move around the globe.
He stills owns commercial properties in the Marble Arch area of London.
September 26, 2008
If McCain is elected in November, come January we will see a continuation of the neocon “clash of civilizations” agenda, likely culminating in an attack launched against Iran and possibly Syria. In order to stir up anti-Islam sentiment in the long and artificially elongated wake of September 11, 2001, and stampede voters into McCain’s camp, the neocons have released “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” a virulent and misleading propaganda DVD. As reported earlier this month, the DVD was targeted at nearly 28 million households in swing or “battleground” election states. It was inserted into more than 70 newspapers. The DVD was produced and distributed by the Clarion Fund.
As Ali Gharib, Eli Clifton, and Jim Lobe report, the DVD was a collaborative effort between a “group of hard-line US neoconservatives and former Israeli diplomats.” The Clarion Fund, tied closely to an Israeli organization called Aish Hatorah, teamed up with the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) to produce the video. Aish Hatorah, an Orthodox organization and yeshiva, shares an address with the Clarion Fund.
Like hard-line neoconservatives, EMET opposes any land concessions to Palestinians and takes other hard-line positions identified with Israel’s right-wing Likud Party and the ”Settler Lobby” there. EMET’s website says, “We regard ourselves as ‘intellectual revolutionaries’”….
EMET’s board of advisers includes a list of familiar neoconservative figures, as well as three former Israeli diplomats, including a former deputy chief of mission in Israel’s Washington embassy….
Notable members of the advisory board include prominent hard-line neoconservatives, including former US U.N. Amb. the late Jeane Kirkpatrick; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; and the Hudson Institute’s Meyrav Wurmser, the Israeli-born spouse of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former top Middle East adviser, David Wurmser.
Other prominent neoconservative members of the board include Center for Security Policy (CSP) president Frank Gaffney; former CIA chief James Woolsey; and Heritage Foundation fellows Ariel Cohen and Nina Shea, who has also served for years on the quasi-governmental US Commission for International Religious Freedom.
In other words, the usual neocon suspects, responsible for launching the manufactured war on terrorism and invading Iraq and facilitating the murder of well over a million Iraqis, are behind the video.
The “Obsession” DVD is an obvious effort to continue propagandizing the American public. “If you heighten the hysteria over national security or terrorism or do anything to make people more fearful, it’s clear they would trend toward McCain because that’s been his mantra throughout the campaign,” explains Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council for American-Islamic Relations. CAIR is petitioning the Federal Election Commission to investigate the Clarion Fund project.
As well, according to Ali Gharib’s research, the Clarion “Obsession” project has direct links to Israelis, most notably the twin Israeli-Canadian brothers Raphael and Ephraim Shore. “Foreign nationals and companies, and domestic tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofits are prohibited by federal election law from attempting to sway US elections at any level through either contributions to campaigns or advocacy,” notes Gharib.
Of course, this will not stop Clarion, same as it has not stopped AIPAC from directly influencing American elections and politicians. It appears the neocons will stop at nothing to see their agenda continue under a McCain administration, an agenda with a large target still on the to-do target list: Iran.
In this respect, McCain surely is McBush, or maybe that should be McNeocon. Obama, to be sure, is no friend of the Iranians, but the neocons, under a McCain administration, would have a better chance of reducing Iran to the chaos that is Iraq and most likely with a larger loss of life.