Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Hunting of the President 

A new documentary is out on Richard Mellon Scaife's Clinton bashing campaign, which was code named "The Arkansas Project."

Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 30:

by Colin Covert

For a fascinating political thriller double bill, plan to see both "The Hunting of the President" and "The Manchurian Candidate" this weekend. Both are cautionary tales about the power of unprincipled, well-financed conspirators to disrupt America's democratic process. Both are well-made, but for my money, the incendiary "Hunting" is far scarier. It really happened.

Based on the 2000 best-seller by investigative reporters Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, "The Hunting of the President" is unabashedly partisan. Longtime Clinton friend Harry Thomason (producer of TV's "Designing Women") wrote and directed it with Nickolas Perry.

It is also thoroughly researched, chronologically organized, and well-argued, methodically making a persuasive case that there indeed was "a vast right-wing conspiracy" to hound Clinton from office by any means fair or foul. In a scheme code-named the Arkansas Project, conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife paid sources and reporters to comb the state for lurid rumors that could be leaked, nonstop, to the mainstream press.

Bill Clinton is at the center of "The Hunting of the President. "It was, essentially, a very-well-funded smear campaign," admits David Brock, a former conservative pundit turned media watchdog who wrote stories for the Arkansas Project before exposing the project. ...

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Richard Mellon Scaife, Rex Armistead and the Death of Paul Kangas 

Washington Post, March 15, 1999:

Conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife has a private investigator digging into the background of a man who killed himself in a bathroom outside Scaife's office, to see if he was being stalked by the man.

Steven R. Kangas, 37, who championed liberal causes with a Web site titled "Liberalism Resurgent," died of a gunshot wound to the head on the 39th floor of One Oxford Center on Feb. 8. Scaife did not run into Kangas on the day of his death.

For the last month, private investigator Rex Armisteadof Mississippi has been traveling the country to investigate Kangas.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Scaife is interested in whether Kangas was after him because Scaife funded conservative causes, including giving a magazine, the American Spectator, $ 1.8 million to investigate President Clinton.

Scaife has questioned the finding of suicide in the death of White House aide and former Arkansas lawyer Vincent W. Foster Jr. Scaife has said Foster's death is the "Rosetta stone" of the Clinton administration.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where Scaife is publisher, reported that Kangas posted a message on the Internet six days before his death blaming Scaife for all of Clinton's troubles.

"Clinton is, in my mind, a moderate Republican, and it is only the insanity of Richard Mellon Scaife that is causing them to go after this man," Kangas wrote.

Kangas's Web site also criticized Scaife, the Knights of Malta and Katharine Graham, chairman of the executive committee of The Washington Post Co.

Kangas recently had sold his share of a gambling business in Las Vegas.

On Feb. 8, building engineer Don Adams checked a men's room down the hall from Scaife's office and found Kangas alive and lying on the floor.

Adams asked "Are you okay?" and Kangas mumbled something in return, police said.

Adams went for help, and when he returned he found Kangas seated on a toilet with a gunshot wound to the head, according to a police report.

Police said they found a pistol Kangas had bought two weeks earlier in Las Vegas. He had $ 14.63 in his pockets and his backpack contained 47 rounds of ammunition and a copy of Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

Kangas's blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent. In most states, a driver is considered drunk at 0.10 percent.

Kangas's mother, Jan Lankheet, said One Oxford Center officials showed her a videotape indicating her son was in the building nearly nine hours before Adams found him.

"We still don't know if Steve was running or if he was after somebody," Lankheet said.

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Kangas on Mellon Scaife 

Paul Kangas allegedly committed suicide outside of Richard Mellon Scaife's offices in Pittsburgh on Feb. 8, 1999.

The CIA to the rescue

In the mid-1970s, at this historic low point in American conservatism, the CIA began a major campaign to turn corporate fortunes around.

They did this in several ways. First, they helped create numerous foundations to finance their domestic operations. Even before 1973, the CIA had co-opted the most famous ones, like the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations. But after 1973, they created more. One of their most notorious recruits was billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. During World War II, Scaife's father served in the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. By his mid-twenties, both of Scaife's parents had died, and he inherited a fortune under four foundations: the Carthage Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Scaife Family Foundations and the Allegheny Foundation. In the early 1970s, Scaife was encouraged by CIA agent Frank Barnett to begin investing his fortune to fight the "Soviet menace." (18) From 1973 to 1975, Scaife ran Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world. Shortly afterwards he began donating millions to fund the New Right.

Scaife's CIA roots are typical of those who head the new conservative foundations. By 1994 the most active were:

Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Carthage Foundation
Earhart Foundation
Charles G. Koch
David H. Koch
Claude R. Lambe
Philip M. McKenna
J.M. Foundation
John M. Olin Foundation
Henry Salvatori Foundation
Sarah Scaife Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation

Between 1992 and 1994, these foundations gave $210 million to conservative causes. Here is the breakdown of their donations:
$88.9 million for conservative scholarships;
$79.2 million to enhance a national infrastructure of think tanks and advocacy groups;
$16.3 million for alternative media outlets and watchdog groups;
$10.5 million for conservative pro-market law firms;
$9.3 million for regional and state think tanks and advocacy groups;
$5.4 million to "organizations working to transform the nations social views and giving practices of the nation's religious and philanthropic leaders." (19)

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Death at One Oxford Centre 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 19, 1999:

by Dennis B. Roddy

Almost three months after he shot himself to death in a Downtown office building and touched off a flurry of conspiracy theories, Steve Kangas, a seeming loner, has left behind an unexpected survivor: the Internet Web site on which he espoused liberal politics and attacked conservative causes.

An obscure former Army intelligence analyst who had quit his job with a betting company in Las Vegas, Kangas was 37 when he shot himself in the head in a bathroom on the 39th floor of One Oxford Centre - just down the hall from the offices of one of the conservative figures he had criticized: billionaire publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.

On his Web page, Kangas called Scaife one of the "overclass," and echoed widely disseminated theories that Scaife, who has spent millions on organizations that have attacked President Clinton, was the leader of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."

Now, the World Wide Web page that Kangas created and spent his final days upgrading is continuing without him. Despite his father's attempts to close Kangas' account with a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Internet company, an anonymous donor has put up money to keep Kangas online while newfound fans download the site's contents and get ready to put together "mirror" sites that will keep Kangas online long after his death.

To date, four such sites have gone online, carrying his "Liberalism Resurgent" as it looked the day Kangas died.

"It's a fairly popular page," said Matthew Kaufman, president of Tycho Networks, which owns Scruz.Net, the Internet service provider that hosts Kangas' page.

Kaufman declined to say who is funding the page's continuing presence on the Web but said Kangas' account at Scruz.Net was due to expire soon. Because no one has come forward with either a subpoena for records, any leftover e-mail that might contain clues about Kangas' motives will likely be lost, according to Kaufman.

One online acquaintance of Kangas, Jason Gottlieb, a first-year law student at Columbia University, said several Internet friends had e-mailed him about plans to finance Kangas' account to preserve the page. At the same time, Gottlieb has started his own Web page chronicling events surrounding Kangas' death.

"One of our first reactions was: 'Oh my God, if he's dead he's not going to pay his bill and this wonderful Web site is going to be lost forever,'" Gottlieb said.

"Steve was very, very respected among liberals, not because he was a great intellectual, but because he was trying to get out sincere activism in a very serious way," said Mike Huben, a Boston computer programmer who worked with Kangas developing "Liberalism Resurgent."

Huben's relationship with Kangas is emblematic of how relationships work in the world of the Internet. The two collaborated regularly via e-mail, with Huben critiquing Kangas' writings. They spoke by telephone occasionally. They never met face-to-face.

The page consisted of long essays and question-and-answer files that Huben said were to provide Internet discussion group users quick answers to counter conservative arguments.

Although Kangas criticized Scaife in two entries, the site shows little evidence of what Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review characterized as an "obsession" with the publisher.

One entry spun its own conspiracy theory about the CIA's role in creating an "overclass" in which Kangas included Scaife. The other repeated assertions that Scaife funded a right-wing conspiracy against Clinton.

Huben said he and several others in left-of-center groups had downloaded the material from "Liberalism Resurgent" and, the minute the plug is pulled, will put Kangas back online.

"Fortunately, we seem to be in the clear legally, since the pages have an encouragement (in writing) for people to reproduce them noncommercially, at the bottom," said Huben.

Kangas' mother, Jan Lankheet, still angry with some media depictions of her son as a probable assassin, seemed satisfied with the prospect of his Web page continuing.

"There's something to be said for that. Now that he's dead, may his work live on after him," she said.

The prospect of perennial versions of "Liberalism Resurgent" doesn't sit as easily with Lankheet's former husband and Kangas' father, Robert Esh. A self-described conservative Christian, Esh asked Tycho to close his son's account several weeks ago and said he'll permit the mirror sites only if they include a 2-1/2 page statement he has written, criticizing his son's politics and explaining his own theories of the suicide.

Those theories include a suggestion that Kangas' life spun apart because he rejected belief in God, relying instead on "humanistic psychology" that fed a combination of despair and bad judgment that led him to kill himself.

Esh, who signs the statement "The father of a much-loved Prodigal Son that never came home," said he believes Kangas killed himself near Scaife's office to saddle the publisher with an unexplained death similar to that of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster.

"He knew this would cast a shadow over his enemies' future efforts that would never be fully dispelled," Esh writes. "In life, his Web site was not seen by many and not taken that seriously. But as of today it has drawn so much attention it's hard to log on. Could it be that he had the foresight to realize that what he would never be able to achieve in life, he would be able to hopefully achieve in death?"

Foster's 1993 suicide in a suburban Washington, D.C., park became the focus of repeated stories in Scaife's newspaper. The stories questioned whether Foster's death was a suicide, despite repeated official findings to the contrary.

The Tribune-Review, reporting Kangas' death, strongly suggested that he had gone to Pittsburgh to kill Scaife. Rex Armistead, a private investigator who worked on the Scaife-funded "Arkansas Project" that dug for negative information on Clinton, was assigned to investigate Kangas. He searched Kangas' apartment and questioned friends and co-workers in an effort to find out whether he had planned to shoot Scaife.

Esh said Armistead told him last week "there's no evidence either way."

Neither Armistead nor Scaife's lawyer, H. Yale Gutnick, returned telephone calls by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seeking comment.

The full details surrounding Kangas' final days remain murky. Pittsburgh police last month said they were continuing to investigate the death, but they have not released a report and have not sought records of his computer account in California. Additionally, Esh, Kangas' father, said he has not been contacted by investigators.

An original police report mentioned a gunshot to the left side of Kangas' head, and an ambulance report also said Kangas had a bullet entry wound on the left side of his head.

An autopsy by the Allegheny County coroner's office, however, left little doubt that Kangas shot himself through the roof of his mouth and that the bullet lodged in the left lobe of his brain. Tests on his hands for gunpowder residue later showed a small amount, most of it on his left hand, suggesting it was gripping the barrel of the gun when he shot himself.

Kangas' own family also received confusing information. Initially, his mother, Lankheet, said she was told her son had a copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in his knapsack.

In fact, Kangas had two books on American politics with him.

"I don't know where I got that idea," Lankheet said later.

A partial explanation might lie in Kangas' Web site, where he included extensive quotations from Hitler's book, all designed to debunk right-wing politics. Lankheet now thinks she misunderstood a message that her son might have had a copy of "Mein Kampf" in his apartment, where he put together his Web page.

"That was one of the ways of understanding how people were controlled," Huben said. "He read it for the same reason people read Machiavelli."

From the Get Go: Wingnuts Target Heinz 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 7, 2004:

by Dennis B. Roddy

Now that her husband, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, is locked into the Democratic presidential nomination, an assemblage of right-wing groups is gearing up to target Teresa Heinz Kerry, depicting her as a temperamental political spouse and financier of radical groups.

Some of the organizations, such as Citizens United and The Center for the Study of Popular Culture, previously took aim at former first lady and now Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Heinz Kerry, who inherited an estimated $700 million from her first husband, the late Sen. John Heinz, and who heads one Heinz family foundation and sits on the board of another, has faced increasing scrutiny from conservative groups. Her husband's emergence as the near-certain nominee now appears to have focused more attention on her. ...

Earlier, Matt Drudge, a frequent channel for conservative attacks, had published a rumor -- later knocked down -- that John Kerry had engaged in an affair with an office intern. The woman said she was never an intern in his office nor involved with him romantically. ...

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Shove It, Scaife 

You probably have heard about Teresa Heinz's encounter with a reporter at the Democratic Convention. She accused him of misquoting her and told him he could "shove it." Due to lousy reporting, however, you're probably not aware of the context of the incident. The reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review was a hired gun for billionaire Republican Richard Melon-Scaife -- the rightwing publisher who fueled much of the Whitewater, Monica Lewinski and Vince Foster attacks during the Clinton administration.

Alternet, July 29:

by Max Blumenthal

Colin McNickle, the political wife-beater for billionnaire Richard Mellon-Scaife's right-wing attack machine, has set his sights on Teresa Heinz-Kerry – good thing she's willing to stand up to it. ...

McNickle came to Boston as an agent provocateur. ...

The dustup occurred after Heinz-Kerry gave a speech to the Pennsylvania delegation denouncing "some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." McNickle approached her and asked what she meant by "un-American activities," in effect accusing her of McCarthyism. Heinz-Kerry denied using the phrase "un-American activities" and stormed off. Yet when Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell pointed out to her that McNickle was a reporter from the Tribune-Review, Heinz-Kerry returned to him with a rebuke. "You're from the Tribune Review?" she asked McNickle with a face tightened with rage. "That's understandable. You said something I didn't say. Now shove it." ...

McNickle's provocation of Heinz-Kerry represents the latest manifestation of a poisonous dirty tricks campaign Scaife has financed to undermine Heinz-Kerry, a fellow Western Pennsylvania philanthropist whom he considers his rival. And now that Heinz-Kerry has been thrust into the national spotlight by her husband's presidential candidacy, Scaife's smears are likely to intensify. ...

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Snap Judgment: Turban + Camera = Terrorist 

Boston Globe, July 30:

A Boston College student leader who wears a turban and full beard in accord with his Sikh religion says he was detained and interrogated for seven hours Saturday night by Secret Service agents for doing nothing more than taking photographs of the campus.

Sundeep Sahni, a senior with a double major in computer science and finance, said the Secret Service agents, who were staying on campus during the Democratic National Convention, suggested that he was a criminal, searched him and his car for weapons and bombs, and even had him sign a release form during the ordeal that gave them access to his psychiatric records. ...

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Some Call It Treason 

War and Piece/Los Angeles Times, July 30:

... More than $600 million in cash from Iraqi oil money was spent with insufficient controls. Senior U.S. officials manipulated or misspent contract money. Millions of dollars' worth of equipment could not be located, the report said

The Times has reported on several cases in which a small circle of former Republican administration officials had drawn scrutiny for their actions in Iraq, including a deputy undersecretary of Defense under investigation by the FBI in connection with a telecommunications contract. In another case, officials have said, a former senior U.S. advisor conducted negotiations with a family connected to Saddam Hussein to form a new Iraqi airline . . .

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The Legacy of William Casey 

Consortium News, July 31:

by Robert Parry

... The key institutions that are intended to supply the U.S. government and the American people with accurate information – the intelligence community and the news media – have become "broken toys" largely incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities, a predicament that has worsened during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

There's also still little understanding of the systemic nature of the problem. The 9/11 Commission, for instance, proposed creating a new National Intelligence Director inside the Executive Office of the President, apparently unaware that the worm of "politicized" intelligence bore into the CIA when Ronald Reagan named his campaign director, William J. Casey, as CIA director in 1981 and put Casey in the Cabinet. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com "CIA's DI Disgrace."]

The other serious problem is that the many U.S. news outlets have become little more than propaganda conveyor belts for the Bush administration. Even when Bush is caught misleading the American people, as he was in hyping the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the potent conservative news media sees its job as protecting Bush's flanks, not holding him accountable. ...

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Reagan on the Bush Bund: "They Traffic in Big Lies"  

Esquire, September 2004:

by Ron Reagan

... Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on. ...

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In Lieu of Flowers, Kick Bush's Ass 

Channel 10, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., July 30:

A South Florida woman who died this week had an unusual last request. Instead of flower or contributions in her name to a charity, she asked those who loved her to try to make sure President George W. Bush is not re-elected.

Joan Abbey, shown here before her death, wanted most of all to have President George W. Bush lose the November election. ...

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Nobody Believes the New York Times Anymore 

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July-August 2004:

by Herbert L. Abrams

By June 3, 2003, according to a Harris Poll, 35 percent of Americans believed that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been found in Iraq, while 10 percent were not sure; in October, 30 percent were still persuaded, although six months of searching had failed to uncover any such weapons. How could so many have been convinced in the face of the total absence of evidence?

Selected comments from New York Times reporter Judith Miller's dispatches from December 2001 through June 2003 provide part of the answer. [1]

Miller, with a special knack for writing what the Pentagon liked to read, was the sole reporter embedded with the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which operated Mobile Exploitation Teams (MET Alpha, MET Bravo) hunting for WMD in Iraq. Her stories, which were widely reprinted or reported in other newspapers, on cable TV, and on talk radio, helped convey the impression to the nation that illicit weapons had been found in Iraq, supposedly validating the decision for war.

As she and others have explained, Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi expatriate, was the source of much of her information; some of the time she credited him directly. [2] She had mentioned him much earlier: In an interview in 1998, shortly after Operation Desert Fox (four nights in which the United States and Britain bombed numerous targets in Iraq), she said that Chalabi told her he had been given only "a few hours' notice" of the impending attack. [3] ...

Democratic Convention Donors 

Click below for a list of donors to the Democratic National Convention.

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Release from Hell 

Reuters, July 30:

Two Frenchmen described as hell Friday their more than two years of detention in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, their lawyer said after meeting them for the first time.

Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi had concerns "about the interrogation techniques and medical experiments" at Guantanamo, Jacques Debray said outside the headquarters of the DST domestic intelligence service where the two men were being questioned.

A letter from Sassi said "bizarre" medicines had been given to inmates at night and that one caused some prisoners to break out in spots, Debray told reporters. He gave no other details.

"Each of (the two men) used the same expression, 'We have emerged from hell'," Debray said. ...

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Voodoo Economics for the 21st Century 

I viewed a PBS interview with a group of voters last night who were asked about John Kerry's acceptance speech. One of the Republicans in the pack, who claimed to be an economist of sorts, kept saying that Kerry's proposals "didn't add up." It was his single talking point. Whatever was asked about Kerry he replied with the same three words. Here's what really doesn't add up:

Burnt Orange, July 30:

The Bush Administration is bragging that the record $420 billion deficit isn't nearly as big as the $477 billion to $525 billion predicted earlier this year by the administration. This is idiocy at its finest.

If I took a class and made a 57% average in it I failed. If I retake it the next semester and make a 59% average I don't get to brag that I improved, that I did better than expected. I still failed. The Bush Administration is spending half a trillion bucks more than it takes in. Anyone who has been in debt before know it isn't something to brag about and letting our country sink into massive debt is shameful. ...

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Mo Gov Exploits Donor Loophole 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 29:

Gov. Bob Holden's campaign got about $400,000 this month through a back-door channel that lets donors skirt the $1,200 limit on donations to statewide candidates.

The money came from 28 local Democratic Party committees across the state. Where did they get it? Primarily from labor unions representing government employees and auto workers. Also chipping in were trial lawyers, developers and a nursing home owner.

"It's a legal loophole," said Sen. Wayne Goode, D-Pasadena Hills, who wrote the original campaign finance law. "It just wasn't written tightly enough."

The money is helping Holden buy crucial television time for ads as he battles Auditor Claire McCaskill in a tight race for the Democratic nomination for governor. The election, which is Tuesday, is considered too close to call. ...

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Duh, We Already Know This 

CNN Money, July 29:

Americans' overall income shrank for two consecutive years after stocks plunged in 2000, the first time that has effectively happened since the current tax system was put in place during World War II, according to a published report Thursday.

The New York Times, reporting data from the Internal Revenue Service, said gross income reported to the agency fell 5.1 percent to $6.0 trillion in 2002, the most recent year for which data is available, down from $6.35 trillion in 2000. Because of population growth, average income fell even more, by 5.7 percent, and adjusted for inflation the decline was 9.2 percent. ...

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Wild Thing in Baltimore 

WBAL, Channel 13, Baltimore, July 29:

... "The first thing that came to mind is surely everybody's going to think this is a Chupacabra," Devin Macanally said. "But it is so odd because it has no hair."

The Chupacabra is part of Mexican folklore. It supposedly kills other animals by sucking the blood out of them. ...

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Hey, Why Not Follow the President's Example? 

Reuters, July 29:

A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better. ...

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Nancy Reagan Just Says No 

Capitol Blue, July 30:

The widow of former President, and Republican icon, Ronald Reagan has told the GOP she wants nothing to do with their upcoming national convention or the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush.

Nancy Reagan turned down numerous invitations to appear at the Republican National Convention and has warned the Bush campaign she will not tolerate any use of her or her late husbands words or images in the President’s re-election effort. ...

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Rumor of Zarqawi's Capture 

Aljazeera, July 30:

Reports in Kuwait on Friday said a man assumed to be Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured near the Syrian border.

The report claimed that the man was captured during a joint operation by U.S. occupation forces and Iraqi police, Al Siyasah newspaper, quoting Iraqi sources, said Friday. ...

[read more]

The Bush Gang and the Politics of Cocaine 

Drugs and the US Government

Convergence Magazine, Christic Institute,
by Alfred McCOy

Covert operations rely on lliances with drug smugglers. In 1972, Alfred McCoy documented this relationship in his groundbreaking study, The Politics of Heroin in Souheast Asia. The C.I.A. attempted to prevent its publication, and it has since disappeared from most libraries. Now a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, McCoy has expanded his study to include evidence from cover wars fought on almost every continent. Published by Lawrence Hill Books, to which the Christic Intitute is grateful for permission to reproduce the following excerpt, this
revision is titled, The Politics of Heroin: C.I.A. Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. For details on how to order Prof. McCoy's book and other resources on drugs and covert operations, please contact the Institute at the address listed at th end of this article.

Few in official Washington are willing to discuss the imposition of controls over C.I.A. covert operations to ensure that the United States does not continue to protectdrug lords. Over the past 40 years American and allied intelligence agencies have played a sig- nificant role in protecting and expanding the obal drug traffic. C.I.A. covert operations in key drug-producing areas have repeat- edly restrained or blocked D.E.A. efforts to deal with the problem. [The D.E.A., or Drug Enforcement Administration, is the nation's chief law enorcement agency in the war on drugs.]

The list of governments whose clandestine services have had close relations with major narcotics traffickers is surprisingly long-- Nationalist China, Imperial Japan, Gaullist France, French Indochina, the Kingdom of Thailand, Pakistan and the United States. Instead of reducing or represing the drug supply most clande stine agencies seem to regulate traffic by protecting favored dealers and eliminating their rivals.

Indeed, if we review the hisory of postwar drug traffic, we can see repeated coincidence between C.I.A. covert action assets and major drug dealers. During the 1950s the C.I.A. worked with the Corsican syndicates of Marseilles to restrain communist influence on the city's docks, thereby, strengthening the criminal milieu at a time when it was becoming America's leading heroin supplier. Si- multaneously, the C.I.A. installed Nationalist Chinese irregulars in northern Burma and provided them with the logistic support that they used to transform the country's Shan states into the world's largest opium producer.

During the 1960s the C.I.A.'s seret war in Laos required alliances with the Hmong tribe, the country's leading opium growers, and various national political leaders who soon became major heroin manufacturers. Although Burma's increased opium harvest of the 1950s supplied only regional markets, Laos' heroin production in the late 1960s was directed at U.S. troops fighting in South Viet- nam. Constrained by local political realities, the C.I.A. lent its air logistics to opium transport and did little to slow Laotian heroin shipments to South Vietnam.

When U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in the early 1970s, South- east Asian heroin followed the GIs home, capturing one-third of the U.S. drug market in the mid-70s. Ater protracted complicity in the marketing of opium and heroin, the C.I.A. emerged from Laos with an entire generation of clandestine cadres experienced in using na cotics to support covert operations.

During the 1980s, the C.I.A.'s two main covert action opeations became interwoven with the global narcotics trade. The agncy's support for Afghan guerrillas through Pakistan coincided wit the emergence of southern Asia as the major heroin supplier for the Eu- ropean and American markes. Although the United States maintained a substantial force of D.E.A. agents in Islamabad dring the 1980s, the unit was restrained by U.S. national security imperatives and did almost nothing to slow Pakistan's booming heroin exports to America.

Similarly, C.I.A. support for the Nicaraguan contras has sparkedsustained legations, yet unconfirmed, of the agency's complicity in the Caribbean cocaine trade. Significanty, many of the C.I.A. covert warriors named in the contra operation had substantial ex- perience in the Laotian secret war.

Surveying C.I.A. complicity in the narcotics trade over the past four decades produces several conclusions. First, agency alliances with Third World drug brokers have, at several key points, amplified the scle of he global drug traffic, linking new production areas tothe world market.

Protected by their C.I.A. allies, these drug brokers have been allowed a de facto immunity from investiga- tio during a critical period of vulnerability while they are forg- ing new market linkages. Of equal importance, the apparent level of C.I.A. compl icity has increased, indicating a growing tolerance for narcotics as an informal weapon in the arsenal of covert warfare. Over the past 20years, the C.I.A. has moved from transport of raw opium in the remote areas of Laos to apparent complicity in the bulk transport of pure cocaine directly into the United States or the mass manufacture of heroin for the U.S. market. Finally, America's drug epidemics have been fueled by narcotics supplied from areas of major C.I.A.
operations, while periods of reduced heroin use coincide with the absence of C.I.A. activity.

In effect, American drug policy has been crippled by a contradiction between D.E.A. attempts to arrest major traffickers and C.I.A. protection for many of the world's drug lords. This contradicion between covert operations and drug enforcement, seen most recently during Pakistan's heroin boom of he 1980s, has recurred repeat- edly. The C.I.A.'s protected covert action assets have included eille's Corscan criminals, Nationalist Chinese opium warlords, the Thai military's opium overlord, Laotian heroin merchants, Afghan heroin manufacturers, and Pakistan's leading drug lords.

Although there are problems in many C.I.A. divisions, complicity with the drug lords seems limited to the agency's covert operation units. In broad terms, the C.I.A. engages in two types of clandestine work: espionage, the collection of information about pres- ent and future events; and covert action, the attempt to use extralegal means -- assassination, destabilization or secret war- fare--to somehow influence the outcome of tose events. In the cold war crisis of 1947, the national security ac that established the C.I.A. contained a single clause allowing the new agency to perform ``other functions and duties'' that thepresident might direct--in effect, creating the legal authority for the C.I.A.'s covert operatives to break the law in pursuit of their objectives. From this vague clause has sprung the entir C.I.A. covert action ethos and the radica l pragmatism that have encouraged repeated alliances with drug lords over the past four decades.

With the demise of the cold war in 1989-1990, it might now be possible to impose some controls over the C.I.A. A small reform of the national security legislation would close down the C.IA.'s covert action apparatus, which is no longer necessary, without weakening the agency's main intelligence-gathering capabilities. Regulation of the C.I.A.'s covert operations might thus deny soe future drug lord the political protection he needs to flood America with heroin or cocaine.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Politics of Dope 

Interview with Alfred McCoy
November 9, 1991

by Paul DeRienzo

Alfred W. McCoy is professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Educated at Columbia and Yale, he has spent the past twenty years writing about Southeast Asian history and politics. Mr. McCoy participated in Causes and Cures: National Teleconference on the Narcotics Epidemic Saturday, November 9 1991, at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

PD: How did you come to write The Politics of Heroin; CIA Complicity In The Global Drug Trade?

AM: In 1971 I was a graduate student doing Southeast Asian History at Yale University. An editor at Harper & Row, Elisabeth Jakab, read some articles
in a volume I had edited about Laos, which made some general references to the opium trade in Laos.

She decided this would be a great idea for a book and asked me to do a background book on the heroin plague that was sweeping the forces then fighting in South Vietnam. We later learned that about one third of the United States combat forces in Vietnam, conservatively estimated, were heroin addicts.

I went to Paris and interviewed retired general Maurice Belleux, the former head of the French equivalent of the CIA, an organization called SDECE [Service de Documentation Exterieure et du Contre-Espionage]. In an amazing interview he told me that French military intelligence had financed all their covert operations from the control of the Indochina drug trade. [The French protected opium trafficking in Laos and northern Vietnam during the colonial war that raged from 1946 to the French defeat in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu.]

The French paratroopers fighting with hill tribes collected the opium and French aircraft would fly the opium down to Saigon and the Sino-Vietnamese mafia that was the instrument of French intelligence would then distribute the opium. The central bank accounts, the sharing of the profits, was all controlled by French military intelligence.

He concluded the interview by telling me that it was his information that the CIA had taken over the French assets and were pursuing something of the same policy.

So I went to Southeast Asia to follow up on that lead and that's what took me into doing this whole book. It was basically pulling a thread and keep tucking at it and a veil masking the reality began to unravel.

PD: What was the CIA's role in heroin trafficking in Southeast Asia?

AM: During the 40 years of the cold war, from the late 1940's to this year, the CIA pursued a policy that I call radical pragmatism . Their mission was to stop communism and in pursuit of that mission they would ally with anyone and do anything to fight communism.

Since the 1920's the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations, and the United States have prohibited opium and cocaine products from legal sale. These products had already emerged as vast global commodities with very substantial production zones and large markets, large demand for those commodities both in the third world and the first.

The historic Asia opium zone stretches across 5,000 miles of Asian mainland from Turkey to Laos along the southern borders of the Soviet Union and the southern border of communist China. It just so happened that one of the key war zones in the cold war happened to lay astride the Asian opium zone.

During the long years of the cold war the CIA mounted major covert guerilla operations along the Soviet-Chinese border. The CIA recruited as allies
people we now call drug lords for their operation against communist China in
northeastern Burma in 1950, then from 1965 to 1975 [during the Vietnam war] their operation in northern Laos and throughout the decade of the 1980's, the Afghan operation against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Powerful, upland political figures control the societies and economies in these regions and part of that panoply of power is the opium trade. The CIA extended the mantle of their alliance to these drug lords and in every case the drug lords used it to expand a small local trade in opium into a major source of supply for the world markets and the United States.

While they were allied with the United States these drug lords were absolutely immune to any kind of investigation. If you're involved in any kind of illicit commodity trade, organized crime activity like drug trafficking, there is only one requisite for success, immunity, and the CIA gave them that. As long as they were allied with the CIA, the local police and then the DEA stayed away from the drug lords.

Finally, if there were any allegations about the involvement of their allies in the drug trade, the CIA would use their good offices to quash those allegations.

This meant that these drug lords, connected with the CIA, and protected by the CIA, were able to release periodic heroin surges, and [in Latin America] periodic cocaine surges. You can trace very precisely during the 40 years of the cold war, the upsurge in narcotics supply in the United States with covert operations.

PD: How does the CIA's policies affect drug interdiction? I've spoken for
example to former Drug Enforcement Administration officer Michael Levine, who has expressed anger that he was pulled off cases because he got too close to someone who, while being a big trafficker, was also an asset of the CIA.

AM: Mike Levine speaks from personal experience. In 1971 Mike Levine was in Southeast Asia operating in Thailand as an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA]. At the same time I was conducting the investigation for the first edition of my book.

Mike Levine said that he wanted to go up country to Chiangmai, the heroin capital of Southeast Asia at that point, the finance and processing center and hub of an enterprise. He wanted to make some major seizures. Through a veiled series of cut outs in the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, instructions were passed to his superiors in the DEA, who told him he couldn't go up and make the bust. He was pulled off the case.

He said it wasn't until he read my book a number of years later that he understood the politics of what was going on and he realized why he had been pulled off. All of the upland drug lords that were producing the narcotic, the heroin, were in fact CIA assets. Now he understands it.

That is not just a single incident, so let's go back to basics. What is the institutional relationship between the DEA an the CIA? The Federal Bureau of
Narcotics [FBN] was established in 1930 as an instrument of the prohibition of narcotics, the only United States agency that had a covert action capacity with agents working undercover before World War II. During the war when the OSS [Office of Strategic Services] was established, which is the forerunner of the CIA, key personnel were transferred from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to train the OSS officers in the clandestine arts.

That close institutional relationship between the DEA [direct descendant of the FBN] and the CIA continues up to the present day. The long time head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a man named Harry Anslinger, who headed that bureau from 1930 until his retirement in 1962, was a militant anti-communist who spent a lot of his time in counter-intelligence operations. There's a very close relationship between the two agencies.

During the cold war the main priority abroad for the United States government was anti-communism, and whenever theCIA mounted an operation, every other U.S. agency was subordinated to the CIA's covert operations.

That meant that when the CIA was running one of its covert action wars in the drug zones of Asia, the DEA would stay away. For example, during the 1950's the CIA had this ongoing alliance with the nationalist Chinese in northern Burma. Initially mounting invasions of China in 1950-51, later mounting surveillance along the border for a projected Chinese invasion of Southeast Asia. The DEA stayed out of Southeast Asia completely during that period and collected no intelligence about narcotics in deference to the CIA's operation.

Let's take two more examples that bring it right up to the present. [First] the Afghan operation: from 1979 to the present, the CIA's largest operation anywhere in the world, was to support the Afghan resistance forces fighting the Soviet occupation in their country. The CIA worked through Pakistan military intelligence and worked with the Afghan guerilla groups who were close to Pakistan military intelligence.

In 1979 Pakistan had a small localized opium trade and produced no heroin whatsoever. Yet by 1981, according to U.S. Attorney General William French
Smith, Pakistan had emerged as the world's leading supplier of heroin. It became the supplier of 60% of U.S. heroin supply and it captured a comparable section of the European market. In Pakistan itself the results were even more disastrous.

In 1979 Pakistan had no heroin addicts, in 1980 Pakistan had 5,000 heroin addicts, and by 1985, according to official Pakistan government statistics, Pakistan had 1.2 million heroin addicts, the largest heroin addict population in the world.

Who were the manufacturers? They were all either military factions connected with Pakistan intelligence, CIA allies, or Afghan resistance groups connected with the CIA and Pakistan intelligence. In May of 1990, ten years after this began, the Washington Post finally ran a front page story saying high U.S. officials admit that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar [leader of the Hezbi-i Islami guerilla group], and other leaders of the Afghan resistance are leading heroin manufacturers.

This had been known for years, reported in the Pakistan press, indeed in 1980 reported in McClean's magazine. In fact in 1980 a White House narcotics
advisor, Dr. David Musto of Yale University, went on the record demanding that we not ally with Afghan guerilla groups that were involved in narcotics. His advice was ignored and he went public in an op-ed in the New York Times.

Another example: Let's take the cocaine epidemic. In 1981 as cocaine began surging north into the United States, the DEA assigned an agent named Tomas Zepeda, in June 1981, to open up an office in Honduras. By 1983 Zepeda was collecting very good intelligence indicating that the Honduran military were taking bribes to let the aircraft through their country to come to the United States.

Zepeda was pulled out of Honduras and that office was closed by the DEA. They didn't open another office in Honduras until 1987 because Honduras was a frontline country in the contra war. If Zepeda's reports about involvement of the Honduran military had been acted upon, the DEA would have been forced to take action against the Honduran military officers who were working with the CIA to protect the contras.

In short, there was a conflict between the drug war and the cold war. Faced with the choice, the United States government chose the cold war over the drug war, sacrificing a key intelligence post for the DEA in Honduras.

The same thing happened in Afghanistan. During the 1980's from the time that heroin trade started, there were 17 DEA agents based in Pakistan. They neither made nor participated in any major seizures or arrests. At a time when other police forces, particularly Scandinavian forces, made some major seizures and brought down a very major syndicate connected with former president Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan.

PD: What is the role of banking in the heroin trade? What, if any, are the connections to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal.

AM: There have been three times in the past 15 years in which the CIA's money transfer activities have surfaced. The first came in the late 1970's when the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS, investigated a Nassau bank called the Castle Bank. It's a very interesting bank. It was set up by a man named Paul Helliwell, a very senior CIA operative who had retired from the agency. He set up this bank and it grew into a Latin American network of banks. It was used by the CIA to launder money.

In essence, what appears to emerge from the investigation of the Castle Bank in the late 1970's, was that the CIA did not want to move operational funds for covert operations through normal banking channels, where they could be uncovered, either by the United States or abroad, where they could come to the knowledge of opponents of the agency.

They preferred to work through allied banks. Banks that were secure, that were a little bit loose in their accounting procedures. When the Castle Bank was uncovered, the IRS announced a major investigation of the bank's money laundering activities. Suddenly the IRS cancelled the investigation and the Wall Street Journal was told by informed sources in the IRS that the CIA had blocked the investigation.

As soon as Castle Bank collapsed, a small merchant bank based in Australia, operating offshore between Australia and southeast Asia, suddenly mushroomed
into a global network of banks, acquiring Latin American and European structures that had belonged to Castle Bank. This bank in Australia called the Nugan-Hand Bank began very quickly in the late 1970's, to acquire a board of retired U.S. intelligence officials, either CIA or various military intelligence services.

The most prominent example, the former Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby, became the legal council of Nugan-Hand Bank. The bank was founded by Frank Nugan, an insecure and incompetent Australian lawyer, and by Michael John Hand, a man with a high school degree who had gone to Vietnam with the Green Berets. He had served in Laos in the 1960's as a contract CIA operative, fighting with three of the people who became very prominent in the CIA's privatized operations, Thomas Clines, Theodore Shackley and Richard Secord, all very big names in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Michael John Hand was the one who worked with William Colby as legal counsel. One of their big operations was to buy a former U.S. naval base in the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean. Australian police investigators who examined that contract, drawn up by William Colby for Michael John Hand, concluded that the plausible explanation they could discover for that contract was to establish a way-station for cocaine smuggling between Colombia and the United States.

We do know the bank was pioneering in the smuggling of heroin between Southeast Asia and Australia. In the late 1970's Australia had very strict banking laws, and anytime you got foreign exchange you had to account for it. The Nugan-Hand Bank helped Australian organized crime figures get their money overseas so they could buy heroin and ship the heroin back to Australia.

The Australian police investigators documented that Michael John Hand worked very closely with Australia's top criminal drug traffickers to finance the first shipments, the pioneering shipments, of heroin to Australia from Southeast Asia.

In 1980 that bank went belly-up and it collapsed, Frank Nugan committed suicide, and then a really amazing event occurred. Thomas Clines, the former CIA chief of station from Laos, a man of great prominence in the Iran-Contra scandal, flew to Sydney, Australia and exfiltrated Michael John Hand, who disappeared in the United States and was never seen since.

Then we come to BCCI. Although we haven't gotten to the bottom of it by any means, we haven't even begun to ask the questions, much less get the answers. BCCI mushroomed in the 1980's and seemed to serve as a similar conduit as Castle Bank and Nugan-Hand Bank. The Manchester Guardian published an expose saying that the CIA paid its operations in the United Kingdom through BCCI, and it's known that the CIA paid the Afghan guerrillas, who were based in Pakistan, through BCCI.

There's one rather large question that nobody is asking about BCCI. It's a Pakistani bank, it booms during the 1980's, in exactly the same period that Pakistan emerges as the world's largest heroin center. We know the Pakistan military officers involved in the drug trade had their accounts with BCCI. There's a three way relationship that really cries out, screams, demands, a congressional investigation.

Kerry Investigated Contra Drug Running 

from John Kerry's Senate report on the Bush-Reagan support of Contra cocaine smuggling:


John Hull was a central figure in Contra operations on the Southern Front when they were managed by Oliver North, from 1984 through late 1986.[94] Before that, according to former CostaRican CIA station chief Thomas Castillo's public testimony, Hull had helped the CIA with military supply and other operations on behalf of the Contras.[95] In
addition, during the same period, Hull received $10,000 a month from Adolfo Calero of the FDN--at North's direction.[96]

Hull is an Indiana farmer who lives in northern Costa Rica. He came to Costa Rica in mid-1970's and persuaded a number of North Americans to invest in ranch land in the northern part of the country.[97] Using their money and adding some of his own, he purchased thousands of acres of Costa Rican farm land. Properties under his ownership, management or control ultimately included at least six airstrips. To the many pilots and revolutionaries who passed
through the region, this collection of properties and airstrips became known as John Hull's ranch.

On March 23, 1984, seven men aboard a U.S. government owned DC-3 were killed when the cargo plane crashed near Hull's ranch, revealing publicly that Hull was allowing his property to be used for airdrops of supplies to the Contras.[98] But even before this public revelation of Hull's role in supporting the Contras, officials in a variety of Latin American countries were aware of Hull's activities as a liaison between the Contras and the United States government. Jose Blandon testified, for example, that former Costa Rican Vice President Daniel Oduber suggested he (Blandon) meet with Hull in 1983, to discuss the formation of a unified southern Contra command under Eden Pastora.[99]

Five witnesses testified that Hull was involved in cocaine trafficking: Floyd Carlton, Werner Lotz, Jose Blandon, George Morales, and Gary Betzner. Betzner was the only witness who testified that he was actually present to witness cocaine being loaded onto planes headed for the United States in Hull's presence.

Lotz said that drugs were flown into Hull's ranch, but that he did not personally witness the flights. He said he heard about the drug flights from the Colombian and Panamanian pilots who allegedly flew drugs to Hull's airstrips. Lotz described the strips as "a stop for refuel basically. The aircraft would land, there would be fuel waiting for them, and then
would depart. They would come in with weapons and drugs." Lotz said that Hull was paid for allowing his airstrips to be used as a refueling stop.[100]

Two witnesses, Blandon and Carlton recounted an incident involving the disappearance of a shipment of 538 kilos of cocaine owned by the Pereira or Cali cocaine cartel. Teofilo Watson, a member of Carlton's smuggling operation, was flying the plane to Costa Rica for the Cartel. The plane crashed and Watson was killed. The witnesses believed that the
crash occurred at Hull's ranch and that Hull took the shipment and bulldozed the plane, a Cessna 310, into the river.Carlton testified that the Colombians were furious when they discovered the cocaine missing. He said they sent gunmen after Hull and in fact kidnapped a member of Hull's family to force the return of the cocaine. When that failed
they became convinced that Carlton himself stole the cocaine and they sent gunmen after him. The gunmen dug up Carlton's property in Panama with a backhoe looking for the lost cocaine, and Carlton fled for his life to Miami.[101]

Gary Betzner started flying for Morales' drug smuggling network in 1981. Betzner testified that his first delivery of arms to the Contras was in 1983, when he flew a DC-3 carrying grenades and mines to Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador. His co-pilot on the trip was Richard Healey, who had flown drugs for Morales.[102]

Betzner said the weapons were unloaded at Ilopango by Salvadoran military personnel and an American whom he assumed worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Betzner testified that he and Healey flew the plane on to Colombia where they picked up a load of marijuana and returned to their base at Great Harbor Cay in the Bahamas.[103]

According to Betzner, the next Contra weapons and drugs flight took place in July 1984. Morales asked him to fly a load of weapons to Hull's ranch and to pick up a load of drugs. Betzner flew a Cessna 402-B to John Hull's ranch. According to Betzner, he was met at the airstrip by Hull and they watched the cargo of weapons being unloaded, and cocaine, packed in 17 duffel bags, and five or six two-foot square boxes being loaded into the now-empty Cessna. Betzner then flew the plane to a field at Lakeland, Florida.[104]

Yet another guns for drugs flight was made two weeks later. On this trip, Betzner said he flew a Panther to an airstrip called "Los Llanos," about ten miles from Hull's properties and not far from the Voice of America transmitter in northern Costa Rica. Betzner testified that Hull met him again and the two watched while the weapons were unloaded and
approximately 500 kilos of cocaine in 17 duffel bags were loaded for the return flight to Florida.[105]

Hull became the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in the spring of 1985. In late March 1985, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Feldman and two FBI agents went to Costa Rica to investigate Neutrality Act violations by participants in the Contra resupply network that were also under investigation at the time by Senator Kerry. Both the Feldman and Kerry inquiries had been prompted in part by statements made to reporters by soldiers of fortune imprisoned in Costa Rica who alleged John Hull was providing support for the Contras with the help of the National Security Council.[106]

Feldman and the FBI agents met with U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, Lewis Tambs, and the CIA Chief of Station, Thomas Castillo,who told him John Hull knew Rob Owen and Oliver North and gave the impression that Hull had been working for U.S. interests prior to March of 1984. In addition, one of the embassy security officers, Jim Nagel, told one of the FBI agents accompanying Feldman, that regarding Feldman's inquiries, "... these were agencies with other operational requirements and we shouldn't interfere with the work of these agencies."[107] When Feldman attempted to interview Hull, Feldman learned that Hull was told by the embassy staff not to talk to him without an attorney present.[108]

Feldman concluded that U.S. Embassy officials in Costa Rica were taking active measures to protect Hull. After Feldman interviewed two of the mercenaries, Peter Glibbery and Steven Carr, regarding their allegations of Hull's involvement in
criminal activity, Feldman learned that Kirk Kotula, Consul in San Jose, was "trying to get Carr and the rest of these people to recant their statements regarding Hull's involvement with the CIA and with any other American agency.[109] Feldman added "... it was apparent we were stirring up some problem with our inquiries concerning John Hull."[110]
Feldman concluded that because Hull was receiving protection from some US officials, that it would not be possible to interview him. Feldman therefore took no further steps to do so.[111]

In an effort to stop the investigation against him and to cause the Justice Department to instead investigate those urging an investigation of Hull, Hull prepared falsified affidavits from jailed mercenaries in Costa Rica to U.S. Attorney Kellner.

In the affidavits the mercenaries accused Congressional staff of paying witnesses to invent stories about illegal activities associated with the clandestine Contras supply network. The Justice Department ultimately concluded that the affidavits
had been forged. Kellner testified that he "had concerns about them and ... didn't believe them.[112]

To this day, the Justice Department has taken no action against John Hull for obstruction of justice or any related charge in connection with his filing false affidavits with the U.S. Justice Department regarding the Congressional investigations.

In the period in which he was providing support to the Contras, Hull obtained a loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for $375,000 which ultimately proved to have been obtained with false documentation.

In 1983, Hull and two associates, Mr. William Crone and Mr. Alvaro Arroyo approached OPIC for a loan to finance a joint venture wood products factory that would make wheelbarrow and ax handles for the U.S. market. In fact, according to testimony from Crone and OPIC officials, no contributions from Hull, Arroyo or himself were made to the joint venture. On the basis of the applica-tion, some supporting documentation and a site visit, on March 30 1984, OPIC advanced $375,000.[113]

By the end of 1985, after one interest payment, the loan lapsed into default, and OPIC officials began to recognize that the project was a fraud, and that Hull had made false representations in making the application to OPIC.[114] OPIC officials found that the money which was disbursed by their Agency was deposited in Hull's Indiana bank account and
the funds were withdrawn by Hull in cash. When OPIC inquired in 1986 as where the funds were going, Hull told OPIC officials that he would be using the cash to buy Costa Rican money on the black market to get a more favorable exchange rate.[115]

In fact, Costa Rica has a favorable exchange rate for foreign investment and the excuse Hull offered does not make sense. What appears to have happened is that Hull simply took the money, inasmuch as no equipment was purchased for the factory, no products were shipped from it, and Hull's partner, Crone, testified that he never saw the money. Indeed,
prospective purchasers complained that they paid Hull for products in advance but never received delivery.[116]

On the basis of the subsequent OPIC investigation of the loan to Hull's company, in April 1987, the case was referred to the Justice Department for a criminal fraud investigation.[117] While nothing has yet happened for almost two years, the Justice Department maintains the investigation is still ongoing.[118]

OPIC foreclosed on the properties which Hull had put up as collateral for the loan. Following the foreclosure to recover their monies, OPIC sold the property at auction. However, in order to prevent a sale far below the market price, OPIC bid at the auction and wound up purchasing its own property for $187,500.

OPIC then attempted to sell the property directly. An advertisement was placed in The Wall Street Journal which attracted a single offer from an investment banker in Philadelphia. An agreement was negotiated whereby the company purchasing the property from OPIC was required to make no down payment, and only to repay OPIC its $187,500 from the future proceeds of the sale of timber cut on the land. The corporation which purchased the property has no other assets other than the land. If the agreement is fulfilled by the purchasers of the land, OPIC will realize repayment of $187,500, half of the original $375,000 loaned to Hull.[119]

The Subcommittee also heard testimony investors who had allowed Hull to purchase property for them and then to manage the property, who testified that he did not deliver on his promises, he failed to purchase the properties he said he would, and in one case,took farm equipment off a farm he was paid to manage and converted it for his own use.[120]

In mid-January 1989, Hull was arrested by Costa Rican law enforcement authorities and charged with drug trafficking and violating Costa Rica's neutrality.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Gillespie Sleepless in Boston 

The Hill, July 29:

... Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is finding out that it’s not easy for a Republican to get a wink of sleep in Boston this week. And although the chairman is certainly working long hours, that’s not why it’s tough to get enough shut-eye.

Gillespie told The Hill he’s been woken at 3 and 4 a.m. by prank calls to his hotel room. Presumably the jokers are Democratic activists trying to distract Gillespie from his mission of rebutting the Democratic message. ...

[read more]

Get Behind the Mule 

the Rev. Al Sharpton speaking before the Democratic National Convention, July 28:

... Mr. President, as I close, Mr. President, I heard you say Friday that you had questions for voters, particularly African- American voters. And you asked the question: Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? Well, I have raised questions. But let me answer your question.

You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.

That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.

We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us.

Mr. President, you said would we have more leverage if both parties got our votes, but we didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats.

[read more]

The Real Matrix: Selling Information to Highest Bidder 

Reed Elsevier, besides spying on millions of Americans, owns Lexis-Nexis database.

Guardian, July 15:

Reed Elsevier moved to capitalise on growing demand for security information on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday with the $745m acquisition of database specialist Seisint.

The Florida company's main product, Accurint, provides online access and analysis of public records for government and legal clients. It also provides addresses and phone numbers across the world for logistics firm UPS.

Last year it emerged that privately owned Seisint was working with a dozen US states to produce a system called Matrix designed to scan publicly available information, cross-reference that data with state driving records and police files and produce a list of terrorist suspects.

This new application came under fire from civil liberties groups. Its dealings with the state of Florida also came under scrutiny last year when the St Petersburg Times reported that in 1987 Hank Asher, who went on to found Seisint, was granted immunity from prosecution after being named an unindicted conspirator in a drug smuggling case involving cocaine valued at $150 million.

He resigned from the board of the company in August as "part of a management transition plan". A spokeswoman for Reed said yesterday the company knew about his past. "He has had nothing to do with the company for some time." ...

Reed Elsevier reckons the global risk management sector was worth upwards of $ 5bn last year and has recorded annual growth of 7-9% over the past 10 years.

The Anglo-Dutch publisher plans to integrate Seisint into its LexisNexis information unit, which has a risk management arm, as it seeks to broaden its areas of expertise.

LexisNexis chief executive Andrew Prozes said: "Seisint is a strongly growing business and will significantly enhance LexisNexis's ability to offer the most powerful, fastest, easiest to use solutions in the rapidly growing risk management sector. The acquisition will accelerate LexisNexis's future revenue and profit growth."

One of the bedrocks of Reed's business is likely to come under fire from a committee of MPs this month. It is the world's largest publisher of scientific journals, a market that the science and technology select committee has been investigating for several months.

Next week the committee will publish its report which is widely expected to be critical of some of the practices of the big publishers including the way they sell journals to universities by "bundling" several titles together and tying institutions into long-term contracts.

[read more]

The July Surprise 

Just as predicted earlier this month, Pakistan has announced the capture of a high-level al-Qaida operative during the Democratic National Convnetion.

[read more]

Nixon Rat Fucker Goes After Kerry 

John E. O'Neill, a dirty trickster who worked for President Richard M. Nixon, has penned a hatchet job on John Kerry, Unfit to Command, which is published by Regnery, a wingnut publishing house. Regnery. O'Neill's career path leads straight to the Bush Bund, the Houston oil bunch and Enron.

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get him.

[read more]

Brits to Iraqi Families: Laws Don't Apply 

Associated Press, July 29:

London -- The British government expressed ''regret and sympathy'' for the deaths of civilians in Iraq, but argued in court Thursday that it would be impossible to apply domestic and European human rights laws in Iraq.

The government began presenting its side Thursday in a hearing sought by the families of six Iraqis allegedly slain by British troops. The families want the High Court to order an independent investigation into the deaths. ...

[read more]

British Tabloid: Saddam Suffered Stroke 

Daily Mirror (London), Jul 28 2004:

Ex-dictator's Lawyer Says He Had Brain Scan and Could Die

by Gary Jones

Amman, Jordan --Saddam Hussein has suffered a minor stroke and could die before his trial, his defence lawyers claim.

The multinational legal team is still awaiting permission to visit the deposed Iraqi ruler.

A letter demanding their doctor be given access to the former dictator was yesterday sent by Jordanian lawyer Mohammed al-Rashdan to Salem Chalebi, the head of the Iraqi prosecuting authorities. ...

[read more]

Chalabi-Sadr Love Fest 

Los Angeles Times, July 29:

by Alissa J. Rubin

The U.S. has encountered many surprises in its efforts to forge a democratic government in Iraq, but few have been more unexpected than the transformation of Ahmad Chalabi from patrician exile to deft populist.

Chalabi is a survivor. Snubbed by the Bush administration neoconservatives who once embraced him, and excluded from the interim government, he is building a grass-roots coalition of Shiite Muslim groups who lack a voice in the new Iraq.

At the same time, he's reaching out to Iraq's most prominent anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada Sadr, whose followers come mainly from Baghdad's urban underclass and the impoverished south of the country. Political analysts here believe that the new approach will eventually win support from a significant segment of Sadr's followers if Chalabi chooses to run for office — and, as expected, Sadr chooses to wield his power from the pulpit instead. ...

[read more]

Dildos Banned in Bama, Machine Guns Okay 

Boing, Boing: July 29:

A decision issued yesterday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Alabama doesn't have to lift its silly, arcane 1998 law banning the sale of sex toys. ... under this law one could stroll down Alabama's southern streets selling semiautomatic rifles and dildos, and be arrested for the dildos. ...

[read more]

The Doping of the President 

Capitol Blue, July 29:

President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

[read more]

Dem Donor's Mob Tie 

ABC News, July 28:

As Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards arrived in Boston today for the Democratic National Convention, so did the California man who is their single biggest contributor.

He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them. ...

In fact, Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing's friend and business partner — Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges.

Montemarano has a long criminal record and is known to organized crime investigators by his street name, Donnie Shacks.

"Donnie Shacks' main activity was murder. No question about it. That was his main function for the Colombo family and for organized crime in general. He was one of the top hit men in the New York area," said Joe Coffey, a former NYPD investigator. ...

[read more]

Bush, Kerry and the Origins of Iran-Contra 

The Washington Post, October 16, 1986:

Americans Linked to Deliveries; Salvadoran Officials Say Civilians Ran Flights to Contras

by Edward Cody

San Salvador -- Salvadoran military and civilian officials have acknowledged privately that U.S. civilians have been operating a resupply program from here for anti-Sandinista rebels and -- according to an official with direct knowledge of the subject -- the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador had personal contacts with the Cuban-American running the clandestine effort.

On at least one occasion, U.S. Ambassador Edwin Corr met over lunch with the Cuban-American, identified as Max Gomez who is also known as Felix Rodriguez or Gustavo Villoldo, the official said. The official did not say where in El Salvador or when the lunch took place but declared that Corr at the time was aware that Gomez was helping operate the resupply flights from here.

Corr was not available for comment.

The Nicaraguan rebel supply operation has been going on for a number of months from Salvadoran territory with the acquiescence of Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo, the Air Force commander, and others in the Salvadoran High Command, the Salvadoran military officials said. They and the other official declared that Gomez did not have an official function as a counterinsurgency adviser to the Salvadoran government in its war against leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, as stated Saturday by Vice President Bush.

The descriptions provided by these officials coincided in large measure with statements in Managua last week by Eugene Hasenfus, an American crewman captured by Sandinista soldiers after his C123 cargo plane was shot down over Nicaragua on what he said was a supply drop to the U.S.-sponsored rebels, or contras. Hasenfus, presented to reporters by Sandinista interrogators, said he believed he was working for the Central Intelligence Agency and that Gomez, whom he said he knew as Max Gomez, worked with the CIA.

Today Sandinista officials in Managua said that Hasenfus did not have direct knowledge of a CIA connection but had deduced it because the Miami-based air transport company he worked for had formerly done contract work for the CIA.

Those interviewed here said the U.S. civilians running resupply flights to contra units in Nicaragua were not personnel from the 55-man U.S Military Advisory and Assistance Group at the U.S. Embassy here. One official also emphasized that they were private citizens with no present connection to the U.S. government, but others were uncertain about that.

"They were not from the 55 advisers," a Salvadoran military official said in response to questions on this issue. "But I cannot say they were not with the U.S. Embassy because I do not know about that."

The Reagan administration in Washington, echoed word-for-word by the U.S. Embassy here, has repeatedly denied any U.S. government connection to those running the supply operation here for anti-Sandinista rebels. At the same time, it has refused to describe what the U.S. government knows about the program or who is paying for it.

The issue has received close scrutiny because U.S. law bars the administration from spending government money or using government personnel to move military supplies to the contra forces. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) charged yesterday in Washington that administration activities coordinated by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North on President Reagan's National Security Council raise "serious questions" about whether these restrictions have been violated.

An NSC spokesman later called Kerry's allegations "patently untrue."

Corr's lunch with Gomez, however, underlined a pattern of relations between the Reagan administration at several levels and what U.S. officials say was a private aid program to the contras.

Bush said he also met Gomez at least twice. According to Bush's office, Gomez was steered toward El Salvador in the first place by a Bush national security aide, Donald Gregg. Gomez, a Bay of Pigs veteran, had become acquainted with Gregg because both were CIA employes at one time, as was Gomez's partner in the Salvadoran-based supply operation, identified by Hasenfus as Ramon Medina. Bush is a former director of the agency.

Among the papers found in the wreckage of the plane shot down in Nicaragua was a business card from Frigate Captain Humberto Villalta, commander of the small Salvadoran Navy. Villalta said he had no idea how his card got aboard the plane. He suggested he may have given it to someone at a Friday evening "happy hour" at the Sheraton Hotel here or that it may have gone astray "from flowers at a funeral."

San Salvador's Ilopango Airport, where the operation reportedly was run, has been visited on an almost daily basis by U.S. personnel from the military assistance group for the last several years. In addition, a small group of civilian U.S. helicopter mechanics, most of them former servicemen, have been employed full-time by the Salvadoran Air Force to help maintain helicopters on the Air Force Base at Ilopango.

More broadly, the large amount of U.S. interest and U.S. military and economic aid in El Salvador has had as a practical result the regular presence of U.S. civilian and military officials in almost all Salvadoran installations, including Ilopango. With the aid and interest also has come a degree of U.S. influence that makes any continued activity as politically delicate as the contra supply operation unlikely without official U.S. blessing.

In this light, a military official expressed irritation at administration statements separating the U.S. government from the operation and, by refusing to comment further, suggesting the Salvadoran military was responsible.

A senior Salvadoran civilian official told reporters that President Jose Napoleon Duarte seems to be in a similarly difficult situation because he denied knowledge of Gomez or his activities on Friday, and the next day Bush said the Cuban American was a counterinsurgency adviser here with Duarte's knowledge.

Bush Sr. Denied Dope Charge by Kerry in 88 

New York Times, May 17, 1988:

Bush Assails Kerry on Drug Issue

Seattle -- Vice President Bush today accused Sen. John Kerry of disclosing potentially ''slanderous'' information implying that a Bush aide had knowledge of drug dealings involving the Nicaraguan rebels.

Bush, visibly angry, challenged the Massachusetts Democrat to produce evidence to support what the vice president said were unfair claims or stop making them.

Bush, the probable Republican nominee to succeed President Reagan, was responding to an article in Newsweek magazine in which Richard J. Brenneke, a former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, was quoted as saying that Donald T. Gregg, Bush's national security adviser, had been the Washington contact for supplying arms to the rebels, and that drug smugglers had helped finance the operation.

According to Newsweek, Mr. Gregg denied having any operational role in the arms supply effort.

The Iran-contra committees interviewed Mr. Brenneke at length and chose not to use any of his information in its final report, a former staff member said.

"I think it's slanderous," Mr. Bush said of the article, "and it's all been looked into." He challenged Senator Kerry "to show some evidence and stop leaking out information that is not fair or true."

Responding tonight, Kerry said: "Earlier this year, one Republican presidential candidate was accusing us of holding back information for political purposes," alluding to charges by Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas without naming him. "Now we have another Republican Presidential candidate who is accusing us of talking about information. Neither is true. The integrity of this investigation is above reproach, and we intend to keep it that way."

Bush aides said a committee headed by Kerry had examined allegations that the Nicaraguan rebels were involved in drug traficking and had questioned an associate of the vice president, Felix Rodriguez, who also is a former C.I.A. operative. Mr. Rodriguez apparently told the committee that neither Mr. Bush nor his aides had any knowledge of such drug dealings.

Bush's chief spokesman, Peter Teeley, suggested that Mr. Kerry was delaying public disclosure of the Rodriguez testimony while disclosing other information that appeared negative to the Vice President.

Kerry Testimony on Felix Rodriguez, aka, "Max Gomez" 

Boston Globe, July 25, 1992:

At Iran-Contra Trial, Kerry Says CIA Spymaster Lied to Congress

by Steve Power,

Washington -- The US government fired the opening salvo in its case against Clair George yesterday with more than three hours of testimony from Sen. John F. Kerry, who accused the former CIA spymaster of lying to Congress about his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair.

As the prosecution's lead-off witness, Kerry told a US District Court jury that George lied during an October 1986 appearance before Congress when he told the Foreign Relations Committee he did not recognize the name Max Gomez.

The man, whose real name was Feliz Rodriguez, was later revealed to be a key figure in the Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages deal and an associate of Oliver North, the White House aide who was also implicated in the coverup.

"I asked him if he knew who Max Gomez was and he said he did not," Kerry told the 13-member jury. "If we had known then that Max Gomez was Felix Rodriguez and that Rodriguez had connections to Oliver North, it would have opened a window on this that took considerably longer to open."

Kerry's testimony came after the prosecutor, Craig Gillen, told the jury that George "knew the full picture" about the secret supply network run by North. But when called to testify before Congress after a supply plane was shot down Oct. 5, 1986, George said that neither he nor the CIA had any knowledge of the operation.

In their opening arguments, Gillen portrayed George, the CIA's former deputy director of operations, as a liar who had obstructed justice. But his defense lawyer, Richard Hibey,defended his client as "a man of honor and responsibility" who in appearing to contradict himself may have "made honest mistakes."

George participated in a coverup, Gillen said, to protect a $100 million appropriation for Nicaragua's Contra rebels that had yet to win congressional approval. ...

Rodriguez ... had ties to Donald Gregg, who was then Vice President Bush's national security adviser. Gregg is now the US ambassador to South Korea. While Bush was vice president, Gregg arranged for Rodriguez to go to El Salvador, where he helped run North's covert Contra supply operation. ...

The government's case will pit George's credibility against that of another witness, Alan Fiers, a former CIA officer who ran a secret Central American task force that helped coordinate the illegal diversion of arms to the rebels. After Congress demanded to know more about the plane crash and the true identity of Max Gomez, Gillen charged, George directed Fiers to say they were still trying to determine more themselves when in fact the agency already knew.

That led to an inside joke at CIA headquarters, Gillen said, in which several CIA officials - including George and Fiers - began sporting buttons that said "Who is Max Gomez?" and "I am Max Gomez," Gillen said. He also said that, while under investigation by a federal grand jury, George allegedly tried to persuade Fiers to lie for him. ...

"After the trial's opening round, Kerry repeated his accusations against George to a crowd of reporters and said the case is one of many Washington scandals that have fueled "widespread public cynicism."

"He was asked very directly if the CIA had anything to do with the Contras. I don't believe he told the truth to our committee," Kerry said. "The big issue here is when is this country going to start telling the truth? If we can't get the truth, then we're subverting the Constitution."

Noriega Aid: "I Have Bush by the Balls" 

Guardian, May 17, 1988:

Bush Campaign Hit by New Contra Arms Claim

by Michael White

Washington -- Vice-President George Bush yesterday felt the Iran-contra noose tighten around his neck, with detailed allegations of a narcotics-funded 'Arms Supermarket' operating out of Honduras which involved CIA arms merchants, Israel's secret service, and close associates of Bush's private office.

In one version of the 1984-86 contra arms conduit, which preceded Colonel Oliver North's now famous sideline, Donald Gregg, former CIA agent turned vice-presidential national security advisor, was actually the Washington contact for the supply operation which was, in part, funded by the notorious Medellin cocaine cartel in Columbia.

Such claims, leaked from the tenacious sub-committee ionquiries of Senator John Kerry, of Massachusetts, are being derided by Bush supporters and Mr Gregg's key contact, Felix Rodriquez.

The Cuban-born covert operations specialist accuses the democratic senator of 'just playing politics and dragging out these wild charges' in election year.

Only last week Bush was said to have been briefed on the Panamanian drugs link as early as December, 1985. ...

Meanwhile, documented evidence from several sources - including meetings noted in Colonel North's voluminous diaries - undermines official claims to 'plausible denial.' Mr Gregg says he only became aware of the Iran-contra arms link in August, 1986, and even then did not inform his boss - a former director of the CIA - until later.

The account pieced together by Newsweek yesterday bluntly quoted an aide of the ubiquitous General Manuel Norgiega of Panama, as saying: 'I have Bush by the balls.'

With the White House busy trying to negotiate an amnesty-for-retirement deal with Noriega the threat may not be idle.

By wide 50-30 per cent margins, public opinion polls consistently confirm the impression that the Republican standard-bearer in the presidential election is not giving a frank account of what he knew on either the arms-for-hostages or the contra resupply dimension of the hydra-headed covert operation.

Typical of the way charges surface uncontrollably was last week's chapter: the New York Times reported that the then Panamanian ambassador, Mr Everitt Briggs, briefed Mr Bush on Noriega's drugs ties in December, 1985. Mr Briggs, now our man in Honduras, denied it or knowing of Noriega's record.

Three officials were duly found who remembered hearing Mr Briggs telling the same story to a congresisonal committee three weeks later.

Newsweek's revelation of an 'Arms Supermarket' suggests that some Dollars 20 million worth of unsold Eastern bloc weapons remain in a warehouse in San Pedro Sula, the industrial city on Honduras's Carribean coast. ...

It was the 1984 improvisation of a shadowy network, including Richard J. Brenneke, an Oregon businessman with Mossad and CIA ties, whose charges the Kerry Committee is leaking.

Brenneke, whose photostated letters purporting that he told Mr Bush of arms-for-hostage plans have long circulated in Washington, told the Kerry inquiry that the Medellin cartel financed some operations and used their own planes to fly arms in and drugs out after Congress cut off contra aid in 1984.

In his diary for July 12, 1985, Colonel North wrote: '(deletion) plans to seize all .. when Supermarket comes to a bad end. $14 million to finance came from drugs.'

Colonel North's distaste for some of those he was dealing with is well known, and may have prompted him to set up the conduit run by General Richard Secord - now indicted with him. Rodriquez was later to call that operation 'a bunch of crooks.'

The bottom line is the credibility of Rodriquez's claims that he did not tell his old CIA friend, Gregg, what was going on, though they spoke by phone regularly.

When the whole affair began to crack open with the downing of a CIA-funded supply plane over Nicaragua in October, 1986, Rodriquez's first phone call was to Gregg's office.

Gregg and his assistant, Colonel Sam Watson, who took the call (and still didn't tell Mr Bush, they say), and super-secretary Fawn Hall, are to be quizzed this week in the $26 million civil law suit brought by the journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, and the Christic Institute, in a parallel conspiracy charge.

When Kerry Calls the Bushes Crooks, He Knows What He's Talking About 

The Times (of London, January 30 1988:

CIA and Rebels Linked to Colombian Cocaine Cartel: Drug Dealers Implicate Bush in Contra Funds Scandal

by Martha Honey

San Jose, Costa Rica -- Three convicted criminals - a Colombian drug distributor a Cuban-American money-launderer, and a southern American pilot - have helped in recent months to piece together a connection between the Contras, the CIA and the world's largest cocaine cartel. The evidence is also at the heart of the arguments over whether US Vice-President George Bush, a presidential candidate, knew more than he has revealed about the secrets of what became the Iran-Contra scandal.

John Mattes, a Miami-based lawyer who first stumbled on the Contra-drug ties two years ago while defending a right-wing Cuban-American activist, says: 'There's been a marriage of convenience between the Contras and the coke smugglers. The smugglers had access to cash, planes, pilots. The Contras had access to intelligence, airstrips and most importantly, unimpeded access into the US. And that, to a drug smuggler, is worth all the tea in China.'

Colombia-born Jorge Morales, once a world speedboat racing champion, is now serving a jail sentence in the Metropolitan Correction Centre, Miami. He was one of the biggest drug importers and distributors in Florida, working for the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel, whose 'barons' have been at the center of the recent extradition and kidnap controversies in that country.

Morales says that in early 1984, just after he was indicted by a federal grand jury, two Nicaraguan Contra leaders, whom he knew worked for the CIA, came to his office. They offered a deal: they would help with his legal problems in return for financial and material support for the Contras.

Morales says that over the next two years he gave these Contra officials about $3.5 million in cash and a small fleet of aircraft. He also ferried arms down to the Contras and drugs back, using Contra airstrip, mainly in Costa Rica. Much of this story is corroborated by Gary Betzner, a pilot who flew for Morales.

Morales says that for several years the charges against him and his associates were, as he puts it, 'rather miraculously dropped'. Once the Iran-Contra scandal broke, however, he claims that he was 'dropped like a hot potato' and was reindicted.

Cuban-American Ramon Milian Rodriguez was once an even bigger drug network operator than was Morales. Milian is now imprisoned in Butner Federal Prison, North Carolina. Until his indictment in 1983 he was Florida's leading money-launderer - for both the Colombian cartel and the CIA.

Milian says he moved $2.5 billion annually into secret offshore bank accounts. In 1981 he was invited to President Reagan's inauguration in recognition of his sizeable campaign contributions to the Republican Party.

A college-educated, white-collar employee within the drug network, he first revealed his Contra connection last summer in secret testimony to a Senate subcommittee on narcotics. He said in a recent prison interview that just after his indictment in 1984, he was approached by Felix Rodriguez, a well-known fellow Cuban-American and long-serving CIA operative.

Milian says that Rodriguez made him an offer: in exchange for money for the Contra cause he would use his influence in high places to get the cartel U.S. 'goodwill'. 'Frankly, one of the selling points was that he (Rodriguez) could talk directly to Bush,' Milian said. 'The issue of goodwill wasn't something that was going to go through 27 bureaucratic hands. It was something that was directly between him and Bush.'

Bush had admitted having met Felix Rodriguez, but denies any connection with drug trafficking or the Contra supply network.

Another prisoner at Butner Prison is Michael Toliver, a fast-talking, quick-witted American pilot, who says he has flown drug missions for private operators, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and for the Contras.

Toliver says that he ws hired in 1985 by two Cuban-American Contra supporters whom he later identified as Felix Rodriguez and Raphael Quintero. Quintero is another veteran CIA operative, who was working with the suply flights out of El Salvador. Toliver says they offered him no legal help but money - usually $75,000 for taking a planeload of arms down and $150,000 for bringing drugs back from Central America.

These three prisoners - Morales, Milian and Toliver - were part of a network which generated millions of dollars to fuel the Contra was and line the pockets of some rebel leaders and their US hired advisers. The total amount raised through drug dealing in impossible to calculate, but the evidence indicates that it produced much more revenue than did the American's sale of arms to Iran.

Yet the Iran-Contra report, released by the congressional panel last month, barely mentions drug trafficking and, in fact, a memo in the appendix attempts to stifle any investigation into the links. The memo, written Robert Bermingham, a chief investigator for last summer's televised hearings, says: 'Despite numerous newspaper accounts to the contrary, no evidence was developed indicting the Contra leaders or Contra organizations were actually involved in drug trafficking.'

A handful of others in Congress disagree. Several committees have been looking into Contra-related drug trafficking and at least three earlier government studies give some details of these connections.

The Senate subcommittee on narcotics and terrorism, headed by John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is planning to have public hearings this year. His chief of staff, Mr Richard McCall, believes that there was a cover-up which involved officials in the White House and Justice Department.

Mr McCall says: 'That's what the Iran-Contra scandal was all about. A cover-up. A lot of powerful people were players in this and they had a lot of lose if this was uncovered.'

Bush Camp Broke Florida Voting Law in 2000 Recount 

New York Times, July 15, 2001:

by David Barstow and Don Van Natta Jr.

On the morning after Election Day, George W. Bush held an unofficial lead of 1,784 votes in Florida, but to his campaign strategists the margin felt perilously slim. They were right to worry. Within a week, recounts would erode Mr. Bush's unofficial lead to just 300 votes.

With the presidency hanging on the outcome in Florida, the Bush team quickly grasped that the best hope of ensuring victory was the trove of ballots still arriving in the mail from Florida residents living abroad. Over the next 18 days, the Republicans mounted a legal and public relations campaign to persuade canvassing boards in Bush strongholds to waive the state's election laws when counting overseas absentee ballots.

Their goal was simple: to count the maximum number of overseas ballots in counties won by Mr. Bush, particularly those with a high concentration of military voters, while seeking to disqualify overseas ballots in counties won by Vice President Al Gore.

A six-month investigation by The New York Times of this chapter in the closest presidential election in modern American history shows that the Republican effort had a decided impact. Under intense pressure from the Republicans, Florida officials accepted hundreds of overseas absentee ballots that failed to comply with state laws.

In an analysis of the 2,490 ballots from Americans living abroad that were counted as legal votes after Election Day, The Times found 680 questionable votes. Although it is not known for whom the flawed ballots were cast, four out of five were accepted in counties carried by Mr. Bush, The Times found. Mr. Bush's final margin in the official total was 537 votes. ...

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