Saturday, July 03, 2004
... Bush's appointment of John Negroponte as America's first ambassador to Iraq is grim news for Iraqis looking forward to freedom. Negroponte was Reagan's ambassador to Honduras who covered up the murders by right-wing death squads. This ambassador of death helped contribute to the genocidal terror waged by the Reagan administration in Central America. A report on the terror in Guatemala states: "In 626 massacres government forces completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroyed their dwellings, livestock and crops." Additional proof that Reagan was waging a genocidal war in Guatemala comes from the statement of a fundamental minister visiting the Reagan White House after his return from Guatemala: "The Army doesn't massacre the Indians. It massacres demons, and the Indians are demon possessed; they are communist."
Negroponte will now be free to set up right-wing death squads in Iraq and will be helped by some of the worst thugs that South America has to offer. Blackwater USA, a military contractor has hired mercenaries from Chile for security duty in Iraq. Blackwater began recruiting in Chile in the fall of 2003 and the first group consisted mostly of former Chilean military members trained under the fascist regime of Pinochet. The military under Pinochet was responsible for torturing and murdering thousands of citizens during his regime. ...
published by the Illinois Times, July 1
... Although the interim prime minister is a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, who later conducted anti-Hussein terrorist operations on behalf of the CIA, his selection as leader of a "free Iraq" is being hailed by President Bush as a great victory in the war on terror.
According to several former intelligence officials interviewed by the New York Times this month, the CIA-financed political group run by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in the '90s "used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Iraq" in an attempt to sabotage and destabilize Hussein's regime.
With such a record, it is perhaps not strange then that Allawi, who built his exile organization with defecting Iraqi military officers, is already proclaiming the need to delay elections scheduled for January and impose martial law. On Monday, Bush said coalition forces would support such a call for martial law. ...
... Without a shred of evidence, European and domestic critics have frequently derided the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq as an "oil grab" driven by U.S. corporations such as Halliburton. They ignore the reality that the leading opponents of war at the U.N. Security Council--Russia and France--had vast oil interests in Iraq, protected by the Saddam Hussein regime. The Oil-for-Food program and its elaborate system of kickbacks and bribery was also a major source of revenue for many European politicians and business concerns, especially in Moscow. ...
One of Baker’s first tasks was to tour Iraq’s main creditor nations, presumably to arrange debt write-offs in exchange for access to Iraqi oil.
Among the countries he visited were France and Russia, both opponents of the war, whose companies had their Iraqi contracts torn up last year by the CPA. Now Russia’s Lukoil has been invited to renovate oil assets on the Iraqi West Qurnah oil field. In March Shell and the French oil multinational Total, moored off Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, received the first oil pumped from Kirkuk.
Among the banks offered future oil revenue in exchange for short-term credit to the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council is BNP Paribas.
French fries must be back on the menu. ...
The scandal involves kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime by Iraqi and foreign companies. Hussein is alleged to have skimmed billions of dollars by tacking on surcharges to oil sales. Following the sanctions imposed against Iraq in the wake of the first Gulf war, the U.N. oversaw the program to supply the country with food in exchange for oil.
Keep an eye on this one.
In keeping his name secret, the author was more concerned about following agency protocol than his safety, according to a story that appeared in the Boston Phoenix this week. The newspaper identified the spooky author as Michael Sheuer.
Are there multiple Michael Sheuers? Is he operating safe houses or cottage-industry front companies in the D.C. burbs? Is he a polygamist? Would you hire this man as an Internet/public relations consultant?
research by Cryptome:
MICHAEL F SCHEUER 2002 Cherri Dr FALLS CHURCH, VA 22043
SCHEUER, M 2002 Cherri Dr Falls Church, VA 22043-1343 (703) 442-4899
MICHAEL F SCHEUER 2110 Paul Edwin Ter FALLS CHURCH, VA 22043
MICHAEL F SCHEUER 4426 34th St ARLINGTON, VA 22206
The newspaper story is based on an anonymous British military officer quoted in an article in Defence Analysis magazine.
by Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder, June 29:
Iraq is worse off than before the war began, GAO reports
WASHINGTON - In a few key areas - electricity, the judicial system and overall security - the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report released Tuesday.
The 105-page report by Congress' investigative arm offers a bleak assessment of Iraq after 14 months of U.S. military occupation. Among its findings:
-In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces.
-Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with another $10 billion about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations. ...
[Read the GAO report]
... Sixteen rocket warheads found last week in south-central Iraq by Polish troops did not contain deadly chemicals, a coalition spokesman said yesterday, but U.S. and Polish officials agreed that insurgents loyal to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorist fighters are trying to buy such old weapons or purchase the services of Iraqi scientists who know how to make them.
The Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad said in a statement yesterday that the 122-milimeter rocket rounds, which initially showed traces of sarin, "were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals." ...
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has donned a hard hat and tucked a hammer in his belt, performing a version of the Village People's hit "YMCA" at the conclusion of Asia's largest security meeting.
Secretary of State Colin Powell
in different Village Idiot Costume
Tradition dictates that the meeting wrap up with a night of song and dance, provided by the diplomats themselves.
In 1997 Madeleine Albright, then secretary of state, bowled over the ministers when she performed a musical skit dressed as Evita Peron.
On Friday, Powell danced alongside five other U.S. officials sporting costumes that included an Indian headdress.
The group blasted out a version of the 1970s disco classic, to the delight of foreign ministers from across the Asia-Pacific and Europe.
"President Bush, he said to me: 'Colin, I need you to run the Department of State. We are between a rock and a hard place,'" Powell and his colleagues sang to the tune of the disco classic.
Friday, July 02, 2004
"Dr." Frank "Jingo" Luntz,
GOP bunko artist
Here's the verbatim transcript of the first page of the memo:
PRINCIPLES OF PREVENTION & PROTECTION
IN THE WAR ON TERROR
The overwhelming amount of language in this document is intended to create a lexicon for explaining the policy of “preemption” and the “War in Iraq.”
However, you will not find any instance in which we suggest that you use the actual word “preemption,” or the phrase “The War in Iraq” to communicate your policies to the American public. To do so is to undermine your message from the start. Preemption may be the right policy, and Iraq the right place to start. But those are not the right words to use.
Your efforts are about “the principles of prevention and protection” in the greater “War on Terror.”
Please do not underestimate the importance of these rhetorical nuances. Let us understand the stark reality of public opinion which provides the context for this language research. Like it or not, the situation in Iraq is the poster-child for the War on Terror. It is today’s ground zero. You must develop a better way to talk about Iraq in the greater context of the War on Terror. Here are the five essential message points:
WHAT MATTERS MOST
1) “9/11 changed everything” is the context by which everything follows.
No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11.
2) The principles of “prevention and protection” still have universal support and should be addressed prior to talking about Iraq.
3) “Prevention at home can require aggressive action abroad” is the best way to link a principle the public supports with the policies of the Administration. “It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington.”
4) “Terrorism has no boundaries, and neither should efforts to prevent it.” Talk about how terrorism has taken the lives of the British, the Spanish, Italians, Germans, Israelis, innocents from all across the globe. Remind listeners that this is truly an international challenge. “Americans are not the only target.”
5) “The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.” Enough said.
A watchdog group says it will file a complaint with federal election officials, accusing two conservative organizations of illegally helping Ralph Nader's (search) presidential campaign, possibly with support from President Bush's (search) re-election campaign.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington planned to file its complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. It says the Oregon Family Council (search) and Citizens for a Sound Economy (search) violated election laws last week by telephoning people and urging them to help Nader get on Oregon's ballot in November.
Spokesmen for both groups denied wrongdoing.
CONCORD, N.H. - The former head of a Republican consulting group has pleaded guilty to jamming Democratic telephone lines in several New Hampshire cities on Election Day two years ago.
The jamming involved more than 800 computer-generated calls and lasted for about 1 1/2 hours on Nov. 5, 2002, the day voters decided several races, including a close Senate contest between outgoing Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and GOP Rep. John E. Sununu, who won by fewer than 20,000 votes.
The lines that were jammed were set up so voters could call for rides to the polls. Democrats say the jamming was an organized, statewide effort that may have even affected the outcome of some local races.
The scandal revolvese around Perry's support of a quarter-million-dollar contract that he pushed through in December 2003, which used money from the state lottery pool to pay for a Las Vegas law firm to write a proposed bill on slot machines.
Local attorney and former Democratic state representative Doug Harpool said he will lodge a formal complaint Monday with the state Ethics Commission against Gov. Bob Holden's re-election campaign and local Holden fund-raiser Sam Hamra.
The complaint will allege "that the campaign has exceeded the campaign (funding) limits by diverting contributions through party committees," Harpool said.
At issue is a letter Harpool received this week from Hamra, another Springfield attorney.
In the letter, dated June 22, Hamra encouraged Harpool to donate money to Democratic political party committees, which would then "forward" the funds to the Holden for Governor campaign.
In the letter, Hamra described the practice as "perfectly legal and ethical," but Harpool, who served in the Missouri House from 1982 to 1992 and helped rewrite the state's campaign finance laws, disagrees.
Not wanting a repeat performance of 2000, nine U.S. lawmakers have petitioned the United Nations to monitor the presidential election in November.
Coupled with rising interest rates and oil prices, the stock market took a hit on Friday. The Dow fell more than 50 points and the Nasdaq eight.
The good news for the Bush administration is that, with the unemployment rate stuck at 5.6 percent, federal extended unemployment benefits can be postponed. The extension doesn't take effect until the unemployment rate reaches six percent. Of course, people whose unemployment benefits have already been exhausted don't show up on the unemployment rolls. In this respect, they're like "enemy combatants;" laws don't apply to either category because officially these people don't exist. Now you see em, now you don't. It's magic.
NEW YORK -- U.S. news networks agreed to let the American military censor out certain images of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s court hearing Thursday in Baghdad, one in a bizarre series of events surrounding coverage of the session.
American and Iraqi officials did not want any footage shown of Iraqi guards or court personnel, and they asked broadcast and cable news nets to honor this request.
But the situation took an unexpected turn even before the hearing began, when U.S. officials ordered CNN and Al-Jazeera, the pool camera crews, to disconnect their audio equipment. Officials said it was the wish of the Iraqi judge.
... But here's the most puzzling thing about the forthcoming release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's indictment of the CIA: chairman Pat Roberts says that "intelligence agencies did not rely enough on 'human intelligence' gathering after 1998," and this is what caused most of our problems.
But surely this misses a very large elephant in the room? It's not that we failed to rely on human intelligence, it's that we relied on the wrong human intelligence. Namely, Ahmed Chalabi's human intelligence. ...
Eliminating the 9/11 commissioner's words made it easier for O'Reilly to make the case that the New York Times and other news outlets were exaggerating the commission's findings that concluded there were no ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida.
The guys who came up with this radical idea in 1791 were revolutionaries. Millions of modern Americans think they went too far.
An annual poll conducted by the American Journalism Review indicates that Americans support of the First Amendment rights to free speech has bounced back to pre-9/11 ratings. That's the good news.
The bad news is that 30 percent of Americans still believe that they are afforded too much freedom of speech.
The thought crossed my mind after the Treasury Department stopped by and browsed my blog repeatedly a couple days ago.
Maybe these government bureaucrats didn't have anything better to do. With a holiday weekend on tap, I know they won't be dropping by this afternoon -- because it's Friday.
I know this from working as a reporter. It's impossible to reach anybody on Friday afternoon. They're in a meeting or out to lunch. Weekends in office-world start at noon on Friday.
This theory of mine has since been confirmed by the site meter on my blog. For marketing purposes, the site meter gauges the high and low tides in my little backwater of cyberspace. Surf is up at Media Mayhem on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after lunch. I'm presuming that's when more desk jockeys take a little break from the rigors of whatever pointless task they're forced to carry out to pay the rent.
Our dedicated civil servants, at the various Treasury Department agencies, IRS, ATF, and Secret Service, aren't any different. They, too, need a little down time, a bit of stress relief from fighting terror and tedium.
Nonetheless, in the Kafkaesque world of post-constitutional America, these bureaucrats could potentially be carrying out orders to monitor me as a "belligerent."
Fancy that. I don't mind being labeled a belligerent, mind you, but I am a bit apprehensive about the ramifications of such a designation.
I heard the word used by a right-wing law professor from Pepperdine University (Malibu U) the other night, when he was being interviewed on the PBS News Hour.
According to the Malibu U law prof's interpretation of recent Supreme Court rulings, the president has the absolute power to deem anybody an "enemy combatant" or "belligerent." Thus, acting at his discretion, the president can order the indefinite imprisonment of any citizen of the United States without cause.
Hmm. bye-golly, that sounds un-American or something. Or is it just me?
Looking on the bright side, more liberal legal scholars have opined that the rulings favor the accused because they allow their legal counsels to belatedly petition the court for some kind of due process. Never mind that the people being thrown in jail haven't been legally accused of anything. Also, forget the fact that they can languish in cages for years before they see a court room.
In a sense, this isn't a whole lot different than the way things operate already. Believe me, there are plenty of people in St. Louis jail, at this very moment, who haven't been charged with anything. And they've been there for weeks or months. If traffic offenders can be incarcerated for months without receiving due process, what's so wrong with putting away a belligerent for years without a trial?
In a recently released memo, we've learned that the president also believes he has the right to torture people at his discretion in violation of U.S. and international laws. Technically, this means the president claims to have the legitimate power to sodomize prisoners, but, in his infinite wisdom, he has chosen not to invoke his authority -- yet.
The rest of us are just supposed to trust the judgment of the president, who executed more prisoners as governor of Texas than any other person in United States history. Sure, there are those nasty little rumors that the president has been invoking divine right and telling subordinates to get fucked in the same breath. But he was probably just having a bad day. That's what Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said, after Vice President Dick Cheney told him to "go fuck yourself" last week.
I like to think of the Bush administration's more shining moments. Earlier this week, during a speech in Istanbul, the president commended Turkey for showing the world that democracy and Islamic beliefs were compatible. He then advised the rest of the Muslim world that the cheap, tawdry images of the U.S. projected by Madison Avenue and Hollywood should not be mixed up with America's own democratic values.
All of which reminds me that Bob Dylan is now doing Victoria's Secret lingerie ads. Yes, the times they-are-a-changing. I remember, in the surreal days following 9/11, a Victoria's Secret televised gala that invoked God, country and women's underwear in one fell swoop. At the crescendo of the performance, a scantily-clad model spread her wings and flew up to the ceiling and started doing somersaults in mid air. While not exactly a religious revelation, I have to admit that the stunt was a riveting spectacle and damn-fine entertainment.
Bush didn't point out this specific example of America's dysfunctional identity in Turkey this week. Nor, in his Istanbul speech, did the president mention that his re-election campaign has just put out a video comparing his political opponents to Adolph Hitler.
Meanwhile in Iraq, the Pentagon is molding that nation's fledgling media in the image of the U.S. version of a free press, awarding Harris Corp., a defense contractor, a nearly $100 million contract to oversee the "rebuilding" of the Iraqi media infrastructure. Whether the Iraqi government will create a propaganda organization such as the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence remains uncertain. But there are signs the Iraqis are starting to understand how to control the news.
At yesterday's hearing for ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, the only Iraqi reporter was ejected from the court room before the proceedings started. The reporter bitterly complained that the interim Iraqi government was already denying him and the Iraqi people their rights.
Nevertheless, credit should be given to the Iraqi government for moving swiftly to arraign Saddam. The right to a speedy trial is one of the pillars of the U.S. Constitution that has been undermined lately. Maybe the U.S. should follow Iraq's example and allow hundreds of "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo to be given their day in court.
As we all are aware, although never elected, President Bush likes to extol the virtues of freedom and democracy. In that sense, he's similar to Iyad Allawi, Iraq's new interim prime minister.
The Iraqi Governing Council, a body of elitists, granted Allawi power; and another body of elitists, the U.S. Supreme Court, bestowed authority on Bush. Perhaps the U.S. media should make it a practice to call Bush "interim president," from now until the November elections.
Under the current interpretations of the law, an enemy combatant or belligerent is anybody who poses a threat to the imperial power of the interim president. If Bush is re-elected, look for a boom in new prison construction.
from Newsday, July 2:
WASHINGTON -- While the U.S. Supreme Court's enemy combatant decisions this week were a clear rebuke to the president, some lawyers say they are also a confusing, conflicting mischance not likely to help anyone involved win their freedom any time soon.
The one clear result of the three decisions is that eight justices told the Bush administration it does not have unlimited power to hold someone as an enemy combatant without judicial review.
But the court ducked on a technicality what many consider to be the most important case - that of Jose paddle, a U.S. citizen who was arrested in the United States and who remains in military custody without trial.
The court also refused to decide whether the president on his own has the constitutional power to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy combatant. Instead, the court held, without a majority being able to agree on a rationale, that a vote of Congress authorizing the use of force against those responsible for the septa. 11 terrorist attacks gave him that authority, even though the resolution passed by Congress does not mention detention. ...
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Annan spokeswoman Marie Okabe announced the resignation Friday afternoon.
Baker was appointed in March 1997 and has been working with the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known as Minurso, to help settle the territory's status.
The mission was established in 1991 after years of fighting between Western Saharans and Morocco following Spain's withdrawal from the territory in 1976.
Last year the United Nations released a suggested peace plan, backed by the Security Council as an "optimum political solution," between Morocco and the POLISARIO Front that would have given Baker, as Annan's personal envoy, responsibility for a referendum determining whether the people of Western Sahara chose independence or integration with Morocco.
...The film's (Fahrenheit 9/11) odd reluctance to address the issue of neo-conservatism affects its coverage of the drumbeat for war. The film offers not a word about the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, the Office of Strategic Influence, the Redon Group, or the little shop of liars run by Ahmed Chalabi. (For more on these topics, see here.) Neither, if memory serves, does Moore see fit to mention the Plame scandal or the Niger uranium lie. ...
[Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, national private sector employment. In Jan. 2001, there were 111,560,000 private sector jobs. In Feb. 2004, there were 108,594,000 private sector jobs. This is a difference of 2,966,000 private sector jobs.]
BURLINGTON, Vt., June 21 (UPI) -- In the Reagan Era, it was known as public diplomacy. The Bush administration calls it strategic influence. What both terms describe is the U.S. government's ability to influence mass perceptions around the world and, when necessary, at home.
If you don't think it's been going on for years and continues to this very moment, well, then, it's working.
As the Iraq war began, we did get a peak behind the curtain. Word leaked out that a new Pentagon office of strategic influence was gearing up to sway leaders and public sentiment by disseminating sometimes false stories. Facing censure, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounced and disbanded it. A few months later, however, he quietly funded a private consultant to develop another version. The apparent goal was to go beyond traditional information warfare with a new "perception management" campaign designed to "win the war of ideas" - in this case, against those classified as a terrorists. ...
Once you realize that managing perceptions is standard procedure, some news stories take on a different meaning. Last year, for example, a popular storyline about post-war resistance in Iraq was that only a few Saddam loyalists and dead-enders were involved. Meanwhile, the opposition was sending videotaped messages, saying things like, "We are not followers of Saddam Hussein. We are sons of Iraq." More recently, a central assumption has been that, whatever problems we now face, leaving without "winning" would be worse.
Another approach is warping the facts to promote spin. Thus, in January, USA Today could headline a story, "Attacks Down 22 Percent Since Saddam's Capture." Actually, the number of troops killed went up 40 percent during that period, but the U.S. military sources making the news preferred to focus on the number of incidents.
Or just fabricate the news -- from the Al Qaida-Saddam link to WMDs. And when something goes wrong? It's simple: just misplace the blame. Thus, when photos of soldiers humiliating Iraqi prisoners came to light in May, the first line of defense was to call it an aberration -- people somehow operating outside the chain of command -- and ignore reality. ...
New York Times, June 30, 2004
... During the singing of "God Bless America" in the seventh inning, an image of Cheney was shown on the scoreboard. It was greeted with booing, so the Yankees quickly removed the image.
Rumor monger Matt Drudge reports Kerry is considering Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket. The buzz is that Kerry feels she would be the best spokesman for health care.
Smart Money says this choice is a long shot. Clinton has too much baggage. The right-wingers would have a field day if she's selected for the vice presidential spot.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q Do you believe that the hand of God is guiding you in this war on terror?
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I think that God -- that my relationship with God is a very personal relationship. And I turn to the good Lord for strength. And I turn to the good Lord for guidance. I turn to the good Lord for forgiveness.
But the God I know is not one that -- the God I know is one that promotes peace and freedom. But I get great sustenance from my personal relationship. That doesn't make me think I'm a better person than you are, by the way. Because one of the great admonitions in the Good Book is, don't try to take a speck out of your eye if I've got a log in my own.
With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party.
Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.
"We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."
"It's going to be big," agreed one operator at a midtown escort service.
Charging from $300 to upwards of $1,000 for an hour of companionship and a whole lot more, escorts said they can always count on conventioneers for big business.
... Apparently under the mistaken assumption that reporters in the rest of the world are as ill-informed and pliable as the stenographers who "cover" the White House, Bush's aides scheduled a sit-down interview with Carole Coleman, Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public television network.
Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries - her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Department's Web site.
Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.
She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless "answers" that satisfy the White House press corps - at one point, he mumbled, "My job is to do my job" - she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions. ...
Just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
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Managing Director, Telecom & Media, US Buyout: Bruce E. Rosenblum, age 50
Managing Director, Automotive, European Buyout: Heiner Rutt
Managing Director, European Real Estate: Eric E. Sasson
Managing Director, US Real Estate: Mark J. Schoenfeld
Managing Director: James C. Shevlet
Managing Director: Gary P. Stevens
Managing Director, US Real Estate Funds: Robert G. Stuckey
Managing Director, Technology & Business Services, US Venture: Allan C. Thygesen
Managing Director, Investor Relations and Fundraising, Asia Pacific: David T. W. Tung
Managing Director, Aerospace & Defense and Technology & Business Services, US Buyout: Claudius E. (Bud) Watts IV, age 42
Managing Director, Asian Buyout: Xiang-Dong (X.D.) Yang
Managing Director, European Buyout: Glenn A. Youngkin, age 37
Managing Director, Telecom & Media, Asian Buyout: Gregory M. Zeluck
Managing Director, US High Yield: Michael J. Zupon
Director, European Communications: Katherine Elmore-Jones
VP Corporate Communications: Chris Ullman
In 1987 T. Rowe Price director Edward Mathias brought together David Rubenstein, a former aide to President Carter; Stephen Norris and Daniel D'Aniello, both executives with Marriott Corp.; William Conway Jr., the CFO of MCI; and Greg Rosenbaum, a VP with a New York investment firm.
They pooled their experience along with a load of money from T. Rowe Price Associates, Alex. Brown & Sons (now Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown), First Interstate (now part of Wells Fargo), and Pittsburgh's Mellon family to form a buyout firm Named after the Carlyle Hotel in New York, the firm opted to make Washington, DC, its headquarters so it wouldn't get lost in the crowd of New York investment firms.
The company spent its first years investing in a mish-mash of companies, using Norris' and D'Aniello's Marriott experience to focus primarily on restaurant and food service companies (including Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's).
In 1989 it wooed the well-connected Frank Carlucci, who had served as President Reagan's secretary of defense, to join the group.
Soon thereafter, Carlyle began making more high-profile deals. That year it acquired Coldwell Banker's commercial real estate operations (sold 1996) and Caterair International, Marriott's airline food services (sold 1995).
Carlucci helped redirect the firm's focus to the downsizing defense industry. Among its targets were Harsco Corp. (1990), BDM International (1991), and LTV Corp.'s missile and aircraft units (1992). Carlyle helped overhaul their operations and make them attractive (for the right price) to the industry's elite, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
As the company's reputation grew, so did its cast of players. Among its new backers were James Baker and Richard Darman (both Reagan and Bush administration alums) and investor George Soros, who chipped some $ 100 million into the Carlyle Partners L.P. buyout fund.
With the help of its "access capitalists" such as Baker and Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal (whom the firm helped add to his fortune in a 1991 Citicorp stock transaction), Carlyle made deals in the Middle East and Western Europe (including a bailout of Euro Disney) in the mid-1990s.
While the firm continued to be a side in the iron triangle, acquiring such defense companies as aircraft castings maker Howmet in 1995, it picked up a grab bag of holdings, such as natural food grocer Fresh Fields Markets (1994; sold 1996); the quick turnaround helped build Carlyle's war chest. The firm also began investing in industrial-cleanup companies, seeing increased government spending as a major opportunity for profit.
As Carlyle's esteem rose, so did the number of its investors. In the late 1990s the firm launched buyout funds targeting Asia (closed 1999), Europe (closed 1998), Russia, and Latin America. At home, it faced a dwindling number of opportunities as the long-running bull market drove up prices and more investors chased fewer deals. Among those was its partnership with Cadbury Schweppes to buy the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Texas and merge it with its own American Bottling Co.
Carlyle began the new century by launching Carlyle Asset Management Group, selling its stake in Le Figaro to Socpresse, acquiring Rexnord and a majority stake in CSX Lines. Extending its reach, the company partnered with GMT Communications Partners and acquired Casema in 2003. The firm went on to buy automotive parts manufacturer United Components from UIS, Inc. the same year.
from Associated Press
AMMAN, Jordan -- Lawyers on a team set up to defend Saddam Hussein watched their client's court appearance on television Thursday, complaining they were kept in the dark about the proceedings and asserting the deposed Iraqi leader cannot get a fair trial.
"The tribunal being put in place by the Americans is a disguised execution squad," said French attorney Emmanuel Ludot. "These judges are still under the shock of emotion and pain," he said. Saddam "will either be judged in fear or in vengeance."
Ludot and the others watched the proceedings from the Jordanian capital ..
from Jane's Defence Weekly, July 3, 2002:
Boeing-led team that includes BAE Systems, Harris Corp, Rockwell Collins and TRW is awarded US Defense Department contract, valued at as much as $2 billion, for common tactical radios for Army, Air Force and Marines (M)
We wanted to avoid barfing our chicken.
Isikoff is the Newsweek reporter who ferreted out insider gossip about President Bill Clinton's tryst with Monica Lewinsky. Unlike some journalists, Isikoff doesn't have to lower himself to such tasks because he is already a slithering invertebrate.
In his latest "investigation," Snakeman is aiming to discredit Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, claiming that the documentary strays from the facts.
The fact is Isikoff's employer Newsweek has sales riding on the success of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in some respects. On Jan. 12, reporter Walter Pincus of the Washington Post reported that Harris Corp., a Melbourne, Fla.-based defense contractor, had received the $96 million Pentagon contract to oversee the Iraqi media, including print and broadcast journalism.
Usually, Isikoff and Pincus would never cross each other because they work for sister publications and pander to the same insider Beltway sources. But sometimes, on rare occasions, even the most fawning, obsequious reporters manage to trip each other.
Pincus let this much slip: As a part of this massive propaganda effort, Harris subcontracted al-Fawares, a Kuwaiti publisher, to handle the print side. Al-Fawares, coincidently, also has the contract to print Newsweek in Arabic.
If anybody were to suggest a relationship between Isikoff's attacks on Michael Moore in Newsweek and the $96 million Pentagon propaganda program being carried out by Harris Corp. in Iraq, it would be pooh-poohed as conspiracy nonsense. Moreover, the fact that the online version of Isikoff's story is running on the MNBC web site is just a random coincidence, too. NBC's owner, General Electric, a major defense contractor, would have no interest in discrediting Moore -- would it?
Like Moore, Gary Webb, a former reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, found himself under attack by his less-bold peers in the mid-90s for a series that linked the CIA-controlled Nicaraguan Contras with the crack cocaine epidemic in East L.A.
The Washington Post and New York Times both trashed Webb for shoddy reporting. The criticisms led to Webb's firing. When I interviewed him by phone a year or so later, the reporter had been forced to take a job as a public affairs officer for a California state agency.
It didn't matter that Congressional and CIA investigations later confirmed the facts of his story. It was too late. His career had been destroyed.
But this time, Isikoff might find the tables turned. Michael Moore has more money to defend himself than Webb.
Isikoff's allegation that Moore errored in reporting the details of the connections between George H.W. Bush, the president's father, and Saudi Arabian ties to the Carlyle Group are a canard.
Ever faithful to his masters, Isikoff is apparently aiming to deflect some of the heat from the Bush clan. Unfortunately for him, his arguments on the exact timing of when the Saudis gave more than $1 billion to a Carlyle subsidiary are beside the point. George the Elder may not have been technically paid by Carlyle at that particular moment in time, but many of his henchmen were, including his former chief of staff James Baker.
Instead of wasting his time slamming Moore, Isikoff should spend more of it looking into Baker and his buddies in Houston -- the role of Texas oil and banking in cozying up to the Saudis and the parrts they both played in promoting the war in Iraq.
... The only journalist working for an Iraqi publication, Sadiq Rahman of the newspaper Azzaman, was ordered out of the courtroom by the judge 10 minutes before the hearing began. One Iraqi working for the pan-Arab Shaq al-Awsat newspaper was allowed to attend.
"Unfortunately, they are already being unfair to Iraqi journalists," Rahman said afterward, noting that U.S. television reporters were allowed inside in addition to the pool. ...
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2004:
Excerpted from Kevin Phillips' book, "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush," published by Viking Penguin:
... Eldest son George W. Bush made his first Middle East connection in the late 1970s with James Bath, a Texas businessmen who served as the North American representative for two rich Saudis (and Osama bin Laden relatives) -- billionaire Salem bin Laden and banker and BCCI insider Khalid bin Mahfouz. Bath put $50,000 into Bush's 1979 Arbusto oil partnership, probably using Bin Laden-Bin Mahfouz funds.
In the late 1980s, after several failed oil ventures, the future 43rd president let the ailing oil business in which he was a major stockholder and chairman be bought out by another foreign-influenced operation, Harken Energy. The Wall Street Journal commented in 1991, "The mosaic of BCCI connections surrounding Harken Energy may prove nothing more than how ubiquitous the rogue bank's ties were. But the number of BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken -- all since George W. Bush came on board -- likewise raises the question of whether they mask an effort to cozy up to a presidential son."
Other hints of cronyism came in 1990 when inexperienced Harken got a major contract to drill in the Persian Gulf for the government of Bahrain. Time magazine reporters Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, in their book "The Outlaw Bank," concluded "that Mahfouz, or other BCCI players, must have had a hand in steering the oil-drilling contract to the president's son." The web entangling the Bush presidencies was already being spun. ...
December 24, 1997
Key players in Aitken libel case named in Saudi writ for pounds 141m
by Owen Bowcott and Jamie Wilson
Three leading characters in Jonathan Aitken's failed libel action against the Guardian feature in a writ lodged at the High Court by the former minister's Saudi sponsor demanding the return of pounds 141 million.
Prince Mohamad Bin Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, one of the king's richest sons, is seeking the cash from 27 named individuals and companies, including Said Ayas, his former personal assistant who was a close business associate of Mr Aitken.
The two other witnesses from the libel trial named in the writ are Mark Vere Nicoll, an old Etonian lawyer, and Leonard Lugsdin, a Canadian business consultant, both of whose court statements defended the disgraced minister's business dealings with Saudi Arabia.
Also named in the document is Abdel Rahman, a nephew of Said Ayas whom Mr Aitken used to construct a fanciful story about the confusion over payment of his bill at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in September 1993.
Mr Aitken claimed his wife paid for the weekend, but his case against the Guardian collapsed this year when it was revealed she was not in Paris on the day in question.
The writ, lodged on December 9, details a network of offshore companies and European bank accounts used by the Saudi royal family and their senior business advisers. It comes amid rumours that the Saudi royals may be short of funds.
Said Ayas, who is godfather to one of Mr Aitken's children, was placed under house arrest by Prince Mohamad earlier this year but was reported to have escaped in October wearing women's clothing. He had denied stealing money, claiming the missing cash was used to settle the prince's gambling debts.
In the writ, Said Ayas is accused of conspiring to "defraud or use unlawful means to divert monies" from Prince Mohamad's account between 1985 and 1997. An appendix details hundreds of alleged bank transactions around the world over the 12-year period.
One payment of more than $ 6 million in May 1986 was to Hyde Park Holdings, a Panamanian-registered company once under investigation by US authorities for suspected Iran-Contra weapons sales. The company and Said Ayas denied involvement.
Another cheque made out to Said Ayas in September 1990 was for $ 450,000 in cash. Coincidentally, a payment of $ 168,000 to Said Ayas from the prince's account in the Banc de la Mediterranee appears for September 17, 1993, the weekend that Mr Aitken stayed at the Paris Ritz and met Said Ayas.
The writ also seeks a declaration from several companies that four flats in Hyde Park Gate, London, are owned by Prince Mohamad. One of the flats is the home of Said Ayas's family.
This month a separate writ, understood to have been issued by another member of the Saudi royal family, demanded millions in commissions from Rolls-Royce in connection with the pounds 20 billion Al Yamamah arms deal.
Neither Mr Vere Nicoll, Mr Lugsdin nor Mr Ayas could be contacted yesterday.
New York Times, March 18, 1988
Two 1983 business school graduates successfully completed their first big tender offer yesterday.
Clifford Press, 34, and Laurence Levy, 31, who have formed Hyde Park Holdings, went after the High Voltage Engineering Corporation of Massachusetts with a $100 million hostile bid and wound up with 94 percent of the company's stock.
Kind of confusing, huh?
Washington Post,Dec. 18, 1986:
... Swiss officials, who asked to remain anonymous, said today that one of the companies cited by the new Swiss order was an "affiliate" of Lake Resources. Another firm was said by these officials to be an affiliate of Stanford Technology Trading Group International, a California-based company controlled by Secord and Hakim.
The authorities identified the third company as Hyde Park Holding and Investment. Sources said the Hyde Park account was believed controlled by Khashoggi, and used to funnel arms payments in and out of the original Lake Resources account controlled by North.
Sources familiar with the new U.S. Justice Department request indicated that Khashoggi and Ghorbanifar, who reportedly initiated contacts with Iranian officials, were two of the six individuals whose accounts were frozen.
Two others, the sources said, were Canadians, probably two Toronto businessmen, Donald Fraser and Ernest Miller, who reportedly acted as partners with Khashoggi in financing one U.S. arms shipment to Iran last summer.
The sources did not identify the remaining two individuals involved in today's order.
A source close to Khashoggi said yesterday that Fraser and Miller did not personally provide financing for the Iranian arms deal but arranged it through two financial institutions -- Vertex Finances SA, a Cayman Islands corporation that includes Fraser among its directors, and Euro Comercial Finances BV, a Netherlands corporation that lists Miller as a director.
According to records in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City against the Khashoggi-owned Triad America Corp., Khashoggi borrowed $ 21 million from Vertex in late 1985 or early 1986. The documents also show Euro Commercial made a $ 9 million loan to Triad America.
But there are no loan documents or written agreements to substantiate Khashoggi's financing of the arms deal, the source said. As a result, the source said, Khashoggi is uncertain how to recover between $ 12 million and $ 13 million he says he is still owed from the arms transactions.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Faith Ryan Whittlesey today denied a report in a Zurich newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger, that she may have been involved in helping North while he was setting up his banking operations in Switzerland.
"Prior to reading news accounts of the Iran arms-contra incident, I had no knowledge of it," Whittlesey said in a statement. "I had no involvement in it."
Whittlesey said she had had a "limited association" with North when she worked at the White House as an assistant to the president before coming here in May 1985.
"I was not directly involved in his work at the time," she said, "nor have I been at any time since." ..."
December 19, 1986,
THE WHITE HOUSE CRISIS;
LAWYER FOR COMPANY DENIES ANY LINK TO IRAN
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18
A lawyer for a Panamanian company owned by Saudi Arabian interests denied today that he was in any way involved in the sale of arms to Iran.
The attorney, M. Vere Nicholl, said in a telephone interview from London that the Panamanian company, Hyde Park Holdings, was organized last March to conduct a real estate deal in London but that the deal never materialized. Mr. Nicholl also said that Hyde Park Holdings had no bank accounts in Switzerland.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department asked the Swiss Government to freeze a number of additional bank accounts in connection with the Iranian purchases, including a company called Hyde Park Holdings, according to American and Swiss officials.
Law enforcement officials had declined to identify the location of Hyde Park Holdings, but had said that investigators had found information showing a wider involvement by Saudi Arabian interests in the financing of the arms deal through the use of offshore entities in places like Panama and elsewhere. Officials today declined again to provide more information on the Hyde Park Holdings company whose account the Justice Department is seeking to freeze.
The Panamanian Hyde Park Holdings is headed by Said Mohammed Ayas, described by associates as a business adviser to Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, a son of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Nichol, who said he was an attorney for Prince Fahd and Mr. Ayas, said Hyde Park Holdings was owned by Mr. Ayas and his wife, who is also listed as an officer of the company. Mr. Nichol at first said Mr. Ayas ''is a business manager'' for Prince Fahd, but then said the relationship between the two men no longer existed.
Law enforcement officials investigating the Iran arms deal had been looking into two companies with similiar names - Hyde Park Square Corporation and Hyde Park Holdings - but it was only the latter whose name had been submitted to the Swiss. Mr. Nicholl said he knew nothing about Hyde Park Square Corporation.
US Business Directory
HYDE PARK HOLDING INC
595 MADISON AVE # 35
NEW YORK, NY 10022-1643 UNITED STATES
TEL: 212-644-3450 FAX: 212-644-6262
COUNTY: 36061 NEW YORK
POPULATION: 500,000 PLUS FF
PRI-SIC: 671901 HOLDING COMPANIES (NON-BANK)
LOC-SALES: 2,500,000 - 4,999,999 DD
EXECUTIVES: CLIFFORD PRESS, OWNER
AD-SIZE: REGULAR LISTING
LOAD-DATE: January 23, 2004
Drop by anytime, MM is open 24/7.
The Pentagon has awarded a $96 million contract to a U.S. communications equipment maker to run Saddam Hussein's old television and radio network, now called al-Iraqiya, for the next 12 months, the chairman of the company said last week.
Harris Corp., based in Melbourne, Fla., will operate the national newspaper formerly run by Hussein's son Uday, in addition to running the broadcast network, said Howard L. Lance, chairman of the company.
When Hussein's government fell in April, the state-run broadcast stations and newspaper were seized. In the months since, they have been run by a U.S. defense contractor, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).
Under SAIC direction, the stations have not drawn viewers and listeners because their content was considered too pro-United States. In addition, there has been turnover in the non-Iraqi management and turmoil within the Iraqi staff, many of whom were holdovers from the previous dispensation. The day before Hussein was captured last month, 30 Iraqi reporters and producers were fired, and al-Iraqiya did not get the news of his arrest on the air for almost 24 hours.
Lance said last week he and two partners hope soon "to have up and running a high-quality news and entertainment network."
The partners are the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. (LBC) and a Kuwaiti publishing and telecommunications company, Al-Fawares. Harris will manage the project and supply the equipment. LBC will be the source of the electronic programming and will conduct training.
Running the newspaper and training its journalists will be handled by Al-Fawares, which publishes a newspaper in Kuwait and prints Newsweek in Arabic.
Although the Pentagon contract runs for a year, there is some question about what will happen to the newspaper and stations -- collectively known as the Iraq Media Network (IMN) -- when the Coalition Provisional Authority turns over sovereignty to a new Iraq government, scheduled for July 1. Lance said last week he did not know what was going to happen, but he pledged to make the network a "high-quality" organization, whether it becomes state-run or remains under Pentagon control after July. ...
... Far more common these days, however, is coy under-statement. One advertisement from Harris Corporation, a big US defence electronics company that Plessey of the UK was prevented from taking over by the Pentagon on security grounds, ran under the heading Dropping In Unannounced. The product in question was an electronic black box enabling a pilot to fire at enemy air defences from far enough away to avoid placing himself in danger. ...
from the New York Times, May 26, 2004:
... Mr. Berg went home in February but returned to Iraq in March, expressing confidence about getting work from the Harris Corporation, a company based in Florida that had a $96 million contract to rebuild Iraq's media industry. Jan Bosman, the regional program manager in the north for the Iraqi Media Network, said Mr. Berg went to his office in Mosul in late March looking for work. Mr. Bosman said Mr. Berg seemed casual about the security situation in the country, traveling by taxi and staying in local hotels.
On Dec. 14, the day after Hussein's capture, Chalabi was among four opposition leaders who won U.S. permission to confront the fallen dictator inside his cell. It was a public relations master stroke that cast Chalabi as Hussein's rival and conqueror.
"This was a coup," said an aide to a Chalabi rival. "We couldn't get our guy within 100 miles of Saddam."
But Chalabi may be getting too much exposure in the United States and appear too dependent on the Bush administration. "Chalabi took the wrong approach by wanting it too much, " said Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
During his Washington trips, Chalabi has been assisted by political consultant (Francis) Brooke and K. Riva Levinson of the Washington public relations firm BKSH & Associates. Brooke insists that neither he nor Levinson is paid, and that they are helping as "friends" of the wealthy businessman.
Levinson, whose firm is headed by longtime Republican insider Charles Black, is described on her firm's website as the Iraqi National Congress representative in Washington since 1999. She has worked with the INC in Baghdad since Hussein's ouster, according to the website, and is using her Iraqi contacts to open an office for her firm in Iraq.
Brooke, 42, who got his start in politics working with Jimmy Carter aide Hamilton Jordan, acknowledges that he lives in a Georgetown, Va., home that is owned "by some part of the Chalabi family business empire." Brooke said he began working with Chalabi after meeting him in 1990 in London and becoming convinced that Hussein should be overthrown.
He said Levinson's firm was paid $25,000 a month under a State Department contract, which lapsed in July, to support the INC. But he insisted that Chalabi had no need to finance a public relations or lobbying effort in the United States, because of his large circle of friends and official contacts.
Lobbying in Washington is a sensitive topic for Chalabi, and the source of his funds has been in some dispute. Supporters say he pays his own way, the beneficiary of a family financial empire. But Chalabi's critics charge that his money is not all from legitimate sources.
In 1992, a Jordanian court convicted him in absentia of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from Petra Bank, the country's largest, which he founded and ran for 12 years before its collapse. Chalabi disputes the charges.
More recently, the Iraqi National Congress was suspected of using U.S. aid for lobbying and other unapproved purposes. After an inspector general's report, the State Department at one point cut off the funding. It was resumed in 2002
Mr (Francis) Brooke, who is an evangelical Christian, has worked with Mr Chalabi since 1990 - first as a consultant paid by the CIA and most recently as a consultant for BKSH and Associates, a company run by Charlie Black, a Republican Party veteran.
Reports from Iran suggest that Mr Brooke acted as an intermediary between Washington and Teheran, passing letters between the two governments, which do not have bilateral relations.
Yesterday, Mr Brooke could not be reached for comment, although a colleague in Baghdad said that the arrest warrant was part of a politically-motivated campaign to discredit Mr Chalabi and his followers.
Mr Brooke has boasted of engineering the war on Iraq by providing America the evidence it was seeking on weapons of mass destruction. "I'm a smart man," he told The New Yorker magazine last week. "I saw what they wanted, and I adapted my strategy."
Among the records held by Mr Chalabi in his Baghdad headquarters - which were stripped during a raid last month - he claimed to have material relating to the scandal-hit oil-for-food programme run by the United Nations during Saddam's rule.
Last night, it emerged that on the same day as the raid, computer files belonging to the British consultant investigating the oil-for-food scandal were destroyed by hackers and a back-up databank in his Baghdad office wiped out.
Claude Hankes Drielsma, a British businessman and long-time acquaintance of Mr Chalabi, accused America and Britain of mounting a "dirty tricks" campaign to obstruct his inquiry. "I think you have to expect this to happen with events of the magnitude of those we are dealing with," he said.
His report on oil-for-food, written for the international accounting company KPMG, was due to be released in three weeks but its publication has been delayed for at least three months, he said. ...
... The US communications equipment company Harris Corporation announced on 29 September 2003 that it had won a 100m-dollar contract from the Pentagon to run Iraq's domestic broadcasting infrastructure for the next 12 months.
Florida-based Harris operates the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), comprising two TV stations, one for 24-hour news and the other for entertainment, and two FM radio stations, with one focusing on news. The contract also requires Harris to transform the national newspaper Al-Sabah, sponsored by the CPA, "to a significantly higher level of quality" and to increase its readership. "This is a tremendous, historic opportunity for us to be part of something that really helps the Iraqi people. It will replace their antiquated system with a world-class network," said Youssef Sleiman, managing director of the Iraq Initiative for Harris, in remarks quoted by Reuters news agency.
The IMN was to be modelled on public service broadcasters like the BBC and America's PBS, but within months the credibility of the network was called into question. International agencies reported squabbles between its US and Canadian advisers and complaints from its Iraqi journalists about "American censorship". ...
After seeing Michael Moore's last film, Bowling for Columbine, I remember thinking that things didn't seem to come as easily for me. In the film, Moore walks into then-NRA President Charleston Heston's Beverly Hills manse supposedly unannounced and has a sit-down with the aging actor.
When I tried to interview him in the back hallway of an airport hotel in 2000, I was assaulted by two members of his honorary security detail. My attackers, shoved me outside the building and as off-duty St. Louis police officer Merle McCain had me in a headlock, an unidentified accomplice tried to rip my tape recorder out of my hand.
He didn't get it.
By the time they let me go, Heston and his entourage had departed in their limousines. That will probably be the last time I'll ever see Charleston Heston. He looked bewildered, as his handlers guided him down the hall, a likely sign that the Alzheimer's had already kicked in. When I was a kid, I remember seeing him give a tennis exhibition on the street downtown in front of Famous-Barr.
In my most recent brush with the Hollywood legend, I had one witness that I could identify. As I was being strangled to death by officer McCain, I could see another guy named Moore staring at me. His name is John Moore.
In the mid-1990s, I did a cover story for the Riverfront Times on the burgeoning right-wing militia movement in Missouri. Moore was the leader of the First Missouri Volunteers. He called himself "Colonel Moore," an honorary title, I assume, akin to Kentucky Colonel Harlan Sanders of KFC fame. When he served in the Army, Moore held the rank of sergeant and he was involved in psychological operations. After being discharged from active duty, he continued to serve in a psy/ops Army Reserve outfit, headquartered on South Kingshighway behind the St. Mary Magdalene Bowling Alley.
On more than one occasion in the 1990s, Moore disrupted public gatherings by spreading disinformation. In one case, he told a group opposed to the Times Beach dioxin incinerator that there was a secret military base located beneath Times Beach. In another instance, broke up a panel discussion on electronic privacy rights by giving a rambling speech about a conspiracy to enslave the American public by fluoridating water.
Moore had a weekly radio show on WGNU-AM in which he broadcast his right-wing rants. His web site included an image of the United nations flag being burned.
I don't believe St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed page editor Eric Mink has ever written about the propaganda spewed by "Col." Moore, whose name doesn't have the same cachet as the famous film director.
In today's Post-Dispatch, Mink commended Michael Moore, the writer and director of Fahrenheit 9/11, for being an extraordinary film maker. And in the next breath, he turned around and called him a huckster among other things. Mink also said Moore, a one-time editor of the alternative Michigan Times, wasn't a reporter, and anybody who thought they came out of the film thinking they knew the truth was a fool.
Mink, of course, isn't a reporter himself. He's a former TV critic. I think that sums up his career pretty well. I'd be willing to bet he's never been choked half to death in the course of his distinguished career for the Daily News and Post-Dispatch. Like Michael Moore, Mink could probably waltz right into Charleston Heston's house, too. But chances are the story that Mink wrote would not be quite the same as Moore's slant.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 29 — The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading had deserted the military because he was emotionally traumatized, and was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, a Marine officer said Tuesday.
The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base and ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.
The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell.
"It was very disturbing to him," the officer said. "He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys."
... Well, that's rich, isn't it? Christopher Hitchens crawling out of a bottle long enough to denounce Michael Moore as a coward. I can't imagine anything more uplifting, except maybe a zoo baboon humping the foot of a medical school cadaver. ...
All journalists are cowards. Hitchens knows it, I know it, everybody in this business knows it. If there were any justice at all, every last goddamn one of us would be lowered, head-first, into a wood-chipper. Over Arizona. Shoot a nice red mist over the whole state, make it arable for a year or two. A year's worth of fava beans and endive for the children of Bangladesh: I dare anyone in our business to say that that wouldn't represent a better use of our rotting bodies than the actual fruits of our labor. ...
I've been around journalists my entire life, since I was a little kid, and I haven't met more than five in three-plus decades who wouldn't literally shit from shame before daring to say that their job had anything to do with truth or informing the public. Everyone in the commercial media, and that includes Hitchens, knows what his real job is: feeding the monkey. We are professional space-fillers, frivolously tossing content-pebbles in an ever-widening canyon of demand, cranking out one silly pack-mule after another for toothpaste and sneaker ads to ride on straight into the brains of the stupefied public. ....
One friend I know describes working in the media as shoveling coal for Satan. That's about right. A worker in a tampon factory has dignity: He just uses his sweat to make a product, a useful product at that, and doesn't lie to himself about what he does. In this business we make commodities for sale and, for the benefit of our consciences and our egos, we call them ideas and truth. And then we go on the lecture circuit. But in 99 cases out of 100, the public has more to learn about humanity from the guy who makes tampons.
I'm off on this tangent because I'm enraged by the numerous attempts at verbose, pseudoliterary, "nuanced" criticism of Moore this week by the learned priests of our business. (And no, I'm not overlooking this newspaper.) Michael Moore may be an ass, and impossible to like as a public figure, and a little loose with the facts, and greedy, and a shameless panderer. But he wouldn't be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all. ...
If even one reporter had stood up during a pre-Iraq Bush press conference last year and shouted, "Bullshit!" it might have made a difference. ...
... Hitchens in his piece accuses Moore of errors by omission: How come he isn't writing about the CNN producers who every day show us gung-ho Army desert rats instead of legless malcontents in the early stages of a lifelong morphine addiction?
Yeah, well, we don't write about those people, because they're just doing their jobs, whatever that means. For some reason, we in the media can forgive that. We just can't forgive it when someone does our jobs for us. Say what you want about Moore, but he picked himself up and did something, something approximating the role journalism is supposed to play. The rest of us—let's face it—are just souped-up shoe salesmen with lit degrees. Who should shut their mouths in the presence of real people.
October 1, 2003
SPIES "R" US
MIKE BAKER HAD BEEN a field intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency for 14 years when, in 1998, he sat down in a London pub with Nick Day. Like Mr. Baker, Mr. Day, too, was a spy -- he worked for Britain's MI-5 -- looking to come in from the cold.
Together they decided to take what they knew and sell it on the open market -- not as traitors, but as capitalists. They retired from intelligence work and formed a company called Diligence LLC, providing other companies "with the highest quality information analysis and due diligence support, even in the most difficult of operating environments." Think of them as Spies "R" Us.
They struggled for a few years and then got their big break: George W. Bush was elected president and declared war on Iraq. Now, with billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts up for grabs, lots of companies want to go to work in Iraq. But how to handle those tricky geopolitical issues and avoid getting shot? Diligence LLC is there to help.
Last summer, Mr. Baker formed a strategic alliance with another company looking to cash in on Iraqi reconstruction. He became a principal with New Bridge Strategies, LLC, which describes itself as "a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq." New Bridge Strategies will do your lobbying and legal work, identify opportunities and Iraqi partners, perhaps even find you investment capital and, through Mr. Baker's firm, provide "on-the-ground support" in Iraq.
How can New Bridge Strategies make these claims? Simple. The company is wired to the gills, chock full of former key players in current and former Republican administrations. Having spent years working to obtain influence, they are now peddling it to the highest bidders. Among its principals:
* Joe M. Allbaugh, chairman and director, also former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Bush administration. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Allbaugh was his chief of staff, before leaving to run Mr. Bush's presidential bid.
* Ed Rogers, vice chairman and director, a former top staffer for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, now a partner (with former Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour) in a top Washington lobbying firm.
* Lanny Griffith, director, also a partner in the Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbying firm and also a veteran of the first Bush White House.
* Richard Burt, director, and ambassador to Germany in the Reagan administration. He is also chairman of Diligence LLC, whose advisory board includes William H. Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA.
What's going on here is a new twist on an old phenomenon: people cashing in on their government service. It is practiced by both Republicans and Democrats. What's new is an attitude of brazenness. In the old days, lobbyists whispered about their connections in the hush of boardrooms or at expensive restaurants. Now they boast on their Web sites about their influence and the money to be made peddling it.
"I was amazed at the courtship," former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, recently told the Christian Science Monitor, in explaining the offers he had received. "Three law firms and a public relations firm, all of whom were talking (salary) numbers beyond what I had dared to dream."
Antitax activist Grover Norquist, a leader of the movement to recruit Republicans for top lobbying jobs, told the Monitor, "We can go to young people at Harvard, Yale and U-Mass and say, 'We're not just offering you low-paid service jobs. There's a rainbow at the end of the tunnel.' "
When it comes to Iraqi connections, the competition is fierce. BKSH & Associates, the lobby firm run by GOP strategist Charlie Black, touts its connections to Ahmed Chalabi (until recently a Pentagon sweetheart), who formerly headed the exiled Iraqi National Congress and is currently on Iraq's governing council. The law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld just hired retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of the U.S. Central Command and special Middle East envoy for President Bush.
And then there's former Republican House Speaker Bob Livingston of Louisiana, whose lobbying firm hired Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, an Iraqi lawyer who fled the country after helping engineer the rescue of Army PFC Jessica Lynch. Possible slogan: "He helped rescue Jessica, now let him rescue you."
At least some, and possibly quite a lot, of the $87 billion that Mr. Bush has asked Congress to appropriate for Iraqi reconstruction will wind up in the pockets of these firms or their clients. Capitalism is a wonderful thing, but it's tainted when it's based less on the brains in your head and the skills in your hands than on the names in your Rolodex. Government service should be an end in itself, not a way to get rich.
Brooke is president and Bartel is director of Boxwood Inc., a Virginia corporation that Brooke said received Pentagon funds for Chalabi's party. Another director is Aras Karim Habib, who served as the Iraqi National Congress's intelligence chief and is now a fugitive from an Iraqi arrest warrant. (Several press reports say the CIA has long considered him a paid agent for Iranian intelligence; he has denied it.)
Former drug czar and retired general Barry McCaffrey yesterday blasted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for overextending the American military. He also unapologetically called for a national-ID card, more surveillance of public spaces and billions of dollars more for homeland security and national defense.
Speaking to a group of security professionals and entrepreneurs at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, McCaffrey offered a sometimes stinging assessment of military and homeland-security needs.
The nation is safer as a result of the war in Iraq, McCaffrey said.
And though he praised Rumsfeld's energy and love of country, he said his "judgment is suspect, and he has trouble listening to other people's ideas."
Rumsfeld has ignored uniformed officers' advice that the Pentagon needs more active-duty combat troops. Citing North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots, "We're going off a cliff in a year," warned McCaffrey, who led the 24th Infantry Division during the 1991 Gulf War.
Like some former public servants, the retired four-star general now helps private-sector clients negotiate what he called the "Byzantine" labyrinth of government bureaucracy as a consultant. He's also an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an NBC analyst; he also sits on several corporate boards, including Fleishman-Hillard, a public-relations firm that organized yesterday's briefing of about 25 executives. ...
from the Irish Times, April 23, 2003
The armed guard at the former Mansour Hunting Club opens the gate just wide enough for a delegation of Iraqis in silk ties and expensive suits to walk out.
The rich men are leaving a meeting with Ahmad Chalabi, the founder of the Iraqi National Congress and a prominent character on the chaotic, nascent Iraqi political stage. But when I try to ask one of the men who they are, the guard shoos me away. The INC can be a secretive organisation.
As the rich men walk out, the unwashed poor of Baghdad's Shia slums try to push in. Open hands are extended through the wrought iron in a begging gesture. "We have no food. We have no money," one cries out. "We want to meet Dr Chalabi."
They're not likely to find a slot in Mr Chalabi's busy schedule.
Mr Chalabi is known as "Dr" for his degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago. Dozens of political parties have sprouted up around the capital in the past two weeks, but his is the most affluent.
The INC has received $ 1 million a month since 2000, voted by the US Congress and distributed by the State Department.
It claims to be the umbrella for most of the prominent former opposition groups, including the Kurdish KDP and PUK, the Shia "Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq", the Iraqi National Accord and the Constitutional Monarchy Movement.
But the real value of the INC to Washington is as an intelligence network and proxy militia. Three of the eight men arrested from Washington's "most wanted list" (of 55) have been apprehended by the INC and Mr Chalabi makes almost daily claims to know where Saddam Hussein and his sons have been hiding.
Mr Chalabi, who founded the INC in 1992, fell out with his CIA mentors in 1996, but he faithfully relays the views of his new master, the US Defence Secretary, Mr Donald Rumsfeld.
He has found it difficult to shake off a conviction for embezzlement in Jordan and, if you ask the average Iraqi in the street, most likely he hasn't heard of Mr Chalabi or says he will never vote for a man who didn't stay in Iraq and suffer.
"Chalabi is the dog of the USA," says graffiti near his office.
Mr Chalabi arrived in Baghdad with his own 1,700-strong private army - the Free Iraqi Forces. They carry assault rifles, wear US combat uniforms and FIF shoulder flashes.
Mr Chalabi, who founded the INC in 1992, fell out with his CIA mentors in 1996, but he faithfully relays the views of his new master, the US Defence Secretary, Mr Donald Rumsfeld.
He has found it difficult to shake off a conviction for embezzlement in Jordan and, if you ask the average Iraqi in the street, most likely he hasn't heard of Mr Chalabi or says he will never vote for a man who didn't stay in Iraq and suffer.
"Chalabi is the dog of the USA," says graffiti near his office.
Mr Chalabi arrived in Baghdad with his own 1,700-strong private army - the Free Iraqi Forces. They carry assault rifles, wear US combat uniforms and FIF shoulder flashes.
It's too late for the Free Iraqi Forces to fulfil the role of US cannon fodder, played by the KLA in Kosovo or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. It didn't fight in the war, but Mr Chalabi's spokesman, Mr Zaab Sethna, says it will eventually be integrated into a reformed Iraqi army, along with the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The Georgetown-educated Pakistani-born Mr Sethna, like Mr Chalabi, is a smooth talker, but the Rolex watch is too flashy in devastated Baghdad.
Mr Sethna first met Mr Chalabi when he was a public relations officer with the Rendon Group, the Washington firm which disgraced itself by fabricating the dead-babies-in-incubators story during Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.
"The Rendon Group had a contract to support the Iraqi opposition," Mr Sethna said of his meeting with Mr Chalabi. "It was a contract from the CIA, which we didn't know at the time. The INC and the CIA had a big, nasty split in the mid 1990s. I went with the INC."
Mr Sethna says all the right things about "building civil society and democracy in Iraq". At times, sitting in the manicured garden of the former Hunting Club, you almost forget where you are.
He even has an answer to the hardest question for Mr Chalabi. Has he the slightest hope of winning over millions of Iraqi Shias who follow the Najaf sheikhs?
"Most of the people who come to see us are from (the Shia slums of) ath-Thawra," Mr Sethna claims, not very convincingly. "That's half of Baghdad. These people have been despairing and oppressed for too long. It's very important to the INC to empower them."
In the immediate future, "de-Baathification is a very important process for us", Mr Sethna says.
The US doesn't have the means to assess the crimes of low to mid-ranking Baathists. That's where their Iraqi National Congress sub-contractors come in, with their "unrivalled intelligence network".
According to a report released by the US State Department earlier this year, there are 17 primary contracting companies working in Colombia, initially receiving some $ 3.5 billion.
The largest contracts have gone to companies like Lockheed Martin, DynCorp, and Northrop Grumman, but lesser-known firms like the Rendon Group (providing public relations support for the Ministry of Defense and Science Applications International Corp. (assisting in imagery analysis) are also here.
Big companies such as DynCorp, in charge of piloting planes that spray coca crops, and Northrop Grumman's California Microwave Systems (CMS), which operates counternarcotics missions, did not release the number of employees involved in their operations. But the report counts at least 190 contractors employed by "Plan Colombia," a US-backed antinarcotics and antiterrorism program, and estimates the risk to most of their lives as "low."