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government | political theory selection 2004

Here's a quick rundown on Kerry's stance on some major issues...

Someone in another thread asked about something like this. Hope it helps. If you navigate the site you can see info from the others too (but Nader isn't added yet).
Plus... 22.Feb.2004 22:33


...Kerry is a member of "Skull and Bones" along with upperclassman George W. Bush; "Skull and Bones" being a secret Yale society based on satanic ritual and collusion to corrupt government for their own personal gain and lust for greed.

He also takes some stands on the 22.Feb.2004 23:38


environment, patriot act, and international issues (according to the above CNN site) that are far better than Bush's ideology. I'm pleased to see his stand on a number of issues, although of course they won't go far enough--but probably as far as Americans will go at this time. I would like to see someone give a shit about animal rights--Kerry doesn't, but then neither does Nader. Kucinich would be the only one who might--he's a principled vegan. I don't know how the Skull and Bones issue affects Kerry's policy--do you, or are you just throwing that out? What does S and B pragmatically do to his policies?

what Skull and Bones does 23.Feb.2004 01:51

Alexander Berkman

What Skull and Bones does is hang out and drink beer and perform bizarre sophomoric fratboy rituals. But it also initiates youths into lifelong old boy networks of backscratching insiderism. You really think it's just some complete oddity and coincidence that Kerry and GW are 16th cousins? That they're both fraternity brothers in the same fraternity?

You can tell a lot about someone by whom they associate with. There's an altogether unseemly overlap between Kerry's and GW's associations. The Kerry camp has opened its doors at the highest levels to some of the most dubious associates of the Bush dynasty. One of them, the man said to be first in line for Secretary of State, testified some time ago in Congress in favor of sending US military "aides" to help guard Occidental's oil pipelines in Colombia, on the grounds that Al Qaeda is hiding out there in leagues with the FARC. He later had to retract his statements. Kerry is heavily tied into the same geopolitical interests as GW: big oil, military industrial, etc.

cnn = not too useful 23.Feb.2004 02:04

Alexander Berkman

This one you've referred us to is exactly the sort of stuff that's NOT very useful: what Kerry has been saying in the last couple nanoseconds, or the last fluffy political questionnaire he filled out. What people need to make informed judgments about Kerry is more elaboration on the actual votes he's cast, legislation he's introduced, political, business, and family associations he's had, etc.

Unfortunately, you can't expect much more than this from a source like CNN. You need to be reading things like Counterpunch, Mother Jones, The Nation, etc, for this.

hypocritical fool 23.Feb.2004 08:21


Kerry voted for the patriot act, the war in Iraq....if fact he helped terrorize other democrats into voting with him. He said he would be the first to stand up and speak out if the president went to war without UN approval. He never spoke up.

To me Kerry is worse than a draft dodger, because he went to war, he saw the horrors of war, he spoke out about it afterward...and then he goes and sends his brothers to war on a lie. Wasn't he paying attention? Oh that's right, he was fooled. He IS a fool, if he can't read a newspaper article now and then. IMCers knew the evidence was a big joke BEFORE the war.

skull and bones....well how do you think Kerry has been getting the publicity he has? There have been reported strong arm tactics of Kerry supporters at caucuses. Skull and Bones members are spread out through the media, judiciary, etc. They are well connected and have been working to put eachother in positions of power for many years now. They have finally just about gotten complete control of everything, That is why we are in this mess. Skull and bones vs. skull and bones....does anyone else wonder how we ended up with this choice?

here's a less quick, more substantive "rundown" 23.Feb.2004 10:56

Alexander Berkman

February 10, 2004

They'll Never Call Him a Radical (or Even an Alternative)
The Many Faces of John Kerry

"A man defined by inner conflicts."

That's how the Boston Globe described John Kerry in a five-part series in June 2003. "The gung-ho Vietnam hero turned articulate antiwar protester; the shaggy-haired liberal rebel turned feisty prosecutor; a politician whose core beliefs included a skeptical view of government," wrote the Globe.

Sounds familiar? Someone wrote a book about it in the 1800s--it's called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During his 19 years as a career politician and Washington insider, Kerry has never let a little thing like principle get in his way. He's made a career out of balancing between the Democratic Party's conservative and the liberal wings.

That's why, last week in Greenville, S.C., Kerry declared that he was going to "hold Bush accountable" for the war in Iraq. But just as easily, he could boast to his Republican critics, "I have voted for the largest defense budgets in the history of our country."

Kerry has taken several liberal positions during his career, only to take them back years later. Since 1984, when he won his first campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, Kerry backed canceling weapons systems, such as the B-1 bomber, B-2 stealth bomber, the Apache helicopter and the Patriot missile. Kerry now calls those positions "ill-advised, and I think some of them are stupid in the context of the world we find ourselves in right now, and the things that I've learned since then."

In the 1980s, Kerry harshly criticized Ronald Reagan's order to invade the tiny island nation of Grenada in 1983. Today, he says: "I was dismissive of the majesty of the invasion of Grenada. But I basically was supportive. I never publicly opposed it."

Kerry voted against the congressional resolution authorizing military force in Iraq in 1990. But after Washington's quick victory, Kerry did a quick turnaround and became a supporter of the war. Kerry's own office could hardly keep up with the changes.

At one point, it mailed out letters to constituents that voiced both positions. Likewise, in October 2002, Kerry voted to give congressional authorization for Bush's invasion of Iraq, only to criticize the war afterward.

To listen to Kerry criticize the civil liberties-shredding USA PATRIOT Act today, you'd never know that he voted for the legislation in 2001. "We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night," Kerry says today. "So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft."

During his 19-year career in the Senate, Kerry has also taken positions that are far from liberal. In 1992, he warned an audience at his alma mater, Yale University, about a "culture of dependency...We must ask whether [social disintegration] is the result of a massive shift in the psychology of our nation that some argue grew out of the excesses of the 1960s, a shift from self-reliance to indulgence and dependence, from caring to self-indulgence, from public accountability to public abdication and chaos."

"The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms," he said. Kerry's position was in line with the one that Bill Clinton was peddling with his call for "personal responsibility."

Kerry also supported Clinton's welfare "reform," which tossed millions of poor people off the welfare rolls, or forced them into low-wage jobs. And Kerry can also take credit for helping to push through Clinton's 1994 crime bill, which expanded the federal death penalty and included money to put 100,000 more cops on the street.

In 1994, Kerry took his conservative rhetoric up a notch after the Republican victory in congressional elections--arguing that Democrats were being punished for suggesting too-liberal policies, like universal health care.

Kerry also has a bad habit of bending the truth to play up his liberal credentials. During his 1984 campaign, he proudly described in campaign literature how he "joined the struggle for voting rights in the South," leaving the impression that he'd actually gone to the South. In reality, however, his work registering Black voters in Mississippi never went beyond the Yale campus.

When he needs to appeal to an antiwar audience, Kerry will pull out his history as a Vietnam War veteran who came home to oppose the war. After serving two tours in Vietnam, Kerry did become a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). But he was by no means a radical.

Kerry refused to speak at the VVAW's January 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation, a series of hearings in Detroit in which soldiers spoke out against the atrocities that they witnessed in Vietnam. But he did agree to appear at a well-publicized Senate committee hearing--and put himself at the head of a demonstration organized later that year in Washington, D.C.

During the protest, veterans tossed their medals at the White House. Kerry kept his medals--but tossed his ribbons and medals that other soldiers had given him.

Only a few months after grabbing the spotlight, he left the organization. "I resigned and left [the VVAW] because the agenda of some of the folks within the veterans' movement ultimately became confused and went way beyond just trying to end the war," said in an interview with the Boston Phoenix. "There was a lot of rhetoric about every social ill and evil there was." As his "yes" vote last year on Bush's Iraq war shows, Kerry has moved "way beyond" any antiwar past that he might have had.

This man is no alternative

"I'VE GOT news for the HMOs and the big drug companies and the big oil companies and influence peddlers," Kerry declared in a speech last week in St. Louis. "We're coming and you're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out!" But if anyone knows where the influence is peddled, it's John Kerry.

While his patrician family's wealth had largely faded by the time that John was a teenager, they did "scrape up" enough to send the boy to a series of Swiss and New England boarding schools. That was followed by his father's alma mater, Yale, where he was a member of the same elite Skull and Bones society that George Bush was.

He counted among his close friends Fred Smith, who would later found Federal Express, and Richard Pershing, the grandson of the famous First World War general. He dated Jacqueline Kennedy's half-sister, Janet Auchincloss, and once hobnobbed with JFK sailing on Narragansett Bay.

Today, Kerry--the richest member of Congress--is worth an estimated $550 million, according to Forbes magazine. This is due in large part to the fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz, the widow of Republican Sen. and ketchup tycoon John Heinz. So while he's in Washington, Kerry lives in an elegant Georgetown house and has the option of using a private jet to get away at one of the Heinz vacation homes.

Federal election laws limit how much Kerry can use of his wife's fortune to finance his own campaign. But she can get around that by buying "issue ads" which don't mention the candidate.

And Teresa isn't the only connection that John "I'll take on special interests" Kerry has made in Washington. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, during this election cycle, Kerry took in $531,251 from the health care industry. This makes him one of the top four recipients of such money, just behind Bush, Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman.

Kerry was among the top 10 recipients of money from the airline and automotive industries, with donations totaling $87,925. By the way, Kerry is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which influences laws governing these industries.

Elizabeth Schulte writes for the Socialist Worker.

John Kerry and special interests... 23.Feb.2004 11:03

dueling articles

Republicans call John Kerry a hypocrite for vowing to cleanse the White House of special interests. They make three arguments. The first is very weak. The second is pretty weak. The third is strong, but it contradicts the first two.

The first argument is the simplest: Kerry takes money from special interests, too. Last week, the Bush campaign released a Web video titled "Unprincipled, Chapter 1." Kerry, the video charged, takes "more special interest money than any other senator." That's based on a January 31 Washington Post story, which noted that Kerry "has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years."

But the Post figure is misleading because it ignores the fact that Kerry has largely eschewed money from political action committees (PACs), a major source of funds for most of his colleagues. When you combine money from paid lobbyists and PACs--which makes sense, since they're both conduits for "special interests"--Kerry actually ranks ninety-second out of 100 U.S. senators. That doesn't make him pure, but it makes him purer than most serious candidates for the White House. And it puts him on a different planet from President Bush, who accepted more money from lobbyists last year alone than Kerry has in the last 15.

The second argument is that Kerry is a hypocrite not just because he has received money from special interests but because he has repaid them with favors. In a February 7 column, New York Times columnist David Brooks noted that Kerry urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to help a woman with ties to the Chinese military list her company on the U.S. stock exchange--and got a fund-raiser in return. Brooks says Kerry also supported a contracting loophole for the insurance company American International Group, which repaid him with donations. The Post, ABC News, and the Center for Public Integrity have cited similar stories.

Let's stipulate that Kerry has occasionally helped out his financial backers--sometimes at the public's expense. Brooks says this makes Kerry's attack on special interests "phony." But virtually every governor or member of Congress--which is to say, virtually every presidential candidate--has raised money from people with an interest in legislation and at some time or another has written a letter, or voted for a bill, on their behalf. In the 2000 GOP primary, Bush even argued that anti-special interest crusader John McCain was tainted by "all those fund-raisers with lobbyists" he had held during his years in the Senate. And Bush was partially right.

By defining special interest influence so broadly that it encompasses any person who could realistically seek the presidency, Bush's defenders erase any distinction between the president and his critics. But some politicians serve special interests more than others. And there are ways, however crude, to measure that. For most industries seeking subsidies, tax loopholes, or regulatory exemptions, there are watchdog groups trying to stop them. For example, when politicians do favors for oil, mining, or timber companies, environmental organizations usually object. When they do favors for pharmaceutical or telecommunication companies, consumer groups object. These organizations may not always espouse the right policies, but they are a good barometer of how beholden a politician is to corporate special interests.

As it happens, they don't consider Bush and Kerry to be equally corrupted. Kerry's lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters is 96 percent. By contrast, the League gave Bush its first ever "F." Gene Kimmelman, senior director of public policy and advocacy for the nonpartisan Consumers Union, chides Kerry for not aggressively supporting competition between cable companies (telecommunication firms are among Kerry's biggest funders). But he says that, "overall, he's been a strong consumer champion." The nonpartisan Consumer Federation gave Kerry a lifetime rating of 85. As for Bush, Kimmelman says his "administration has bestowed enormous benefits on the largest corporate entities at the expense of consumers' safety and pocketbooks."

But why aren't environmental and consumer groups themselves special interests? The third critique of Kerry is that his definition of special interests excludes those that support him. In a February 15 column titled "THE 1ST 28 QUESTIONS FOR KERRY," George Will wrote, "Other than denoting your disapproval, what does the adjective mean in the phrase 'special interest'? Is the National Education Association a special interest? The AFL-CIO? ... Is the National Rifle Association a 'special interest'? Is 'special' a synonym for 'conservative'?"

Will makes a good point. When Kerry refers to special interests, he is clearly referring to corporations. As he said on the night he won the Iowa caucuses, "I'm running to free our government from the grip of the lobbyists, the drug industry, big oil, and the HMOs. ... I'm running so you will have a president ... who will take on the powerful special interests." Will implies that, while Kerry may be opposed to these special interests, he is indebted to other ones--in particular, environmental groups and labor unions.

But, if Will's critique is correct, Brooks's must be wrong. You can't accuse Kerry of being just as beholden as Bush to "the oil companies, the HMOs, and the drug companies" (Brooks's words) and simultaneously accuse him of being beholden to the environmental, consumer, and labor groups that oppose those companies. The truth is that Bush, like most Republicans, is more influenced by corporate "special interests," and Kerry, like most Democrats, is more influenced by noncorporate "special interests."

You can argue that Kerry's selective use of the term is fair. After all, if an interest is "special" because it is narrow, then Bush's backers deserve the term more than Kerry's, since big companies represent a narrower group of people than labor, environmental, or consumer groups. (There are exceptions: The GOP-leaning National Rifle Association and Christian Coalition have broader memberships than the Democratic-leaning trial lawyers.)

But, ultimately, the semantics don't really matter. Rather than screaming about who is more indebted to special interests, the Kerry and Bush campaigns should simply admit that they have ties to different ones and defend their associations. The president, I suspect, would have the harder time.

Peter Beinart is the editor of TNR.


Kerry: the ultimate political opportunist 23.Feb.2004 11:53

Alexander Berkman

Kerry is a man who will turn on a dime to point whichever way the political winds blow. This is good for progressives if we can mobilize ourselves like never before to launch an effective assault on the GW fascism movement. But if not, and if the Kerry election succeeds in doing nothing more than taking the wind out of the sails of popular outrage, then Kerry will be a disaster for progressive politics. Which one would you bet on?

Here's more on Kerry's malodorous political and personal connections:

February 19, 2004

Purging the Neo-Cons
Will Kerry Make a Stand?

From my vantage point in the nation's capital, I am increasingly becoming confident that the Democrats will oust the Bush-Cheney regime from power this coming November. However, just winning the election is only the first step for the Democrats. There must be a thorough house cleaning, a purge, if you will, during the transition of power and after the January 20, 2005 inauguration. Of course, the Democrats will take over John Ashcroft's Justice Department and Tom Ridge's huge Homeland Security bureaucracy, both of which have become tremendous threats to our constitutional democracy. But just assuming control over Cabinet departments and other Federal agencies will not eliminate the scourge of the neo-con apparatchiks who have, for the past four years, cast an extremely unpleasant stench over America's body politic. A total purge of the right-wing neo-con political opportunists, along with their hodgepodge fascist/Trotskyite/neo-imperialist political philosophy, must be one of the first goals of a new Democratic administration.

Howard Dean and his supporters had the fire in their bellies to purge the neo-cons from the government. His grass roots insurgent campaign was correctly focused on the extreme right-wingers who wormed their way throughout the Bush administration. That is the reason I joined up with the Dean campaign, although I wish the Governor had relied less upon paid political campaign managers (political hacks, who are, in effect, political prostitutes who sell themselves to the highest bidder) and more on the unpaid, but more avid and loyal, volunteers. I witnessed the futility of using highly compensated political mercenaries with the McCain campaign, for which I volunteered in 2000. Many of McCain's paid staffers were long-time Republican National Committee insiders who were still chumming it up with their old friends who also happened to be working for Bush. How many campaign strategies and secrets were passed on to the Bush campaign over drinks at Washington's Congressional Club (right next door to the Republican National Committee) is anyone's guess, but the effect on the McCain campaign was as disastrous as Dean's reliance on similar political harlots in his campaign. McCain surrounded himself with the pros and rarely listened to the volunteers. McCain's insurgency campaign collapsed and, to make matters worse, a few years later he became a virtual cheerleader for the Bush neo-con platform and its worldwide hegemonic agenda.

When Dean began to challenge the neo-con agenda, including the corporate control of the media, he became a target of immediacy for the Washington elite. Big media began to paint him as unstable, unelectable, and non-presidential material. Of course, all of this was pure claptrap. The neo-con perception management art (telling the Big Lie long enough for it to become a Big Fact) won the day as assuredly as their Big Lies about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the "Coalition of the Willing" became virtual facts.

Like many other Democrats, I saw John Kerry as the go-to candidate after it became apparent that Dean was not going to wrest the nomination. However, I have grown less confident about Kerry. He is better than Wesley Clark, who I accused of being a neo-con in sheep's clothing. Who would have wanted to replace the bomber of Baghdad with the bomber of Belgrade? Clark's past Balkans links to arch neo-cons like Richard Perle and Douglas Feith made his candidacy a ruse, regardless of his latter-day pronouncements about the foolishness of Bush's Iraq caper. Clark originally supported both the war and Bush and wasted no time in personally lobbying Dick Cheney for airline passenger profiling contracts for Acxiom, a data-mining firm that shamelessly capitalized on 9-11 to maximize its profits and on whose board of directors Clark sat.

Kerry has been a Senator in Washington for 18 years. As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that investigated the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal, Kerry discovered what makes the Bush family tick: international underhanded deals, drug smuggling, illegal arms trafficking, support for dictators like Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, secret offshore banks accounts and CIA carve-out companies, and political assassinations. Yes, Kerry found out where all the "skull and bones" were buried (pun intended). Both Kerry and Bush evaded questions posed by Meet the Press's Tim Russert about Yale's super secret Skull and Bones fraternity, where both were initiated as members, along with Bush's father and pro-Nazi grandfather, Prescott. This bi-partisan circle of elite Elies is exactly the reason why Mr. Kerry may not be the best person to replace Bush. He would not be worse. But would he be better? I have a gut feeling, based on some recent developments that Kerry might not provide a full purging of the neo-cons that many of us opposed to Bush so earnestly desire. Yes, I like all other Democrats, many independents, and more than a few Republicans, want to see Bush gone. But at what cost?

While chairing the BCCI subcommittee, and before he married Teresa Heinz, Kerry would often sit at the bar at Capitol Hill's Tex-Mex Red River Grill offering anyone who would listen to stories (even a second and third time) about what his investigation had discovered about the illegal activities of the Reagan-Bush administrations: the arms-for-drugs operations in Central America that involved Noriega; the later convicted Reagan officials John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Elliott Abrams, and Oliver North; Iranian con-man and neo-con hero Manucher Ghorbanifar; Saudi tycoon Adnan Khashoggi, who Perle recently attempted to lure into his Trireme Partners Middle East investment scheme; Gaith Pharoan, who was involved with Saudi billionaire banker Khalid Bin Mahfouz in business deals with George W. Bush's Harken Energy and Bin Laden family investments in Texas; how Hill & Knowlton, the firm that concocted the phony story about Iraqi troops tossing babies from incubators during their invasion of Kuwait, was shilling for BCCI and providing regulators with false information about the bank's business relationships; BCCI's involvement in Pakistan's nuclear program; its bankrolling of convicted arms dealer Sarkis Sarkenalian's illegal weapons smuggling to Iraq in the 1980s; hawalah transfers that allowed Afghan mujaheddin to evade international financial surveillance mechanisms (including the pumping of millions of dollars of Saudi and Omani money into Usama bin Laden's coffers in Afghanistan and Pakistan); and the 1980 "October Surprise" involving negotiations between Reagan campaign chief William Casey to delay the release of US hostages until after the U.S. election, thus sinking the prospects of President Carter. When BCCI's illegal activities on behalf of the Bush family and their CIA friends around the world became the subject of criminal probes and media investigations in the mid-1980s, the Bushes, as they normally do, cut and run. BCCI collapsed and Enron took its place. After Enron served its purpose as a Bush slush fund, it, too, collapsed. The failure of BCCI and Enron had disastrous effects around the world and in the United States. Never mind, the Bushes won out. Innocent people suffered. It's the Bush system.

Yes, Senator Kerry had the "whole enchilada" on the Bush family's illegal conduct along with his cold bottles of Corona at the Red River Grill. But why doesn't he talk about it now? Has he been co-opted? The late Texas Representative Henry Gonzalez often complained how his investigation of Bush and BCCI often ran into road blocks on the Senate side. Was Kerry one of the roadblocks? And if so, why? It is this gnawing feeling that not all is right with Kerry that prevents me from putting a "Kerry 2004" bumper sticker on my car.

And there are other reasons why I have growing angst about Kerry. Although the reported "liaison" of Kerry with an "intern" turned out to be totally bogus, the connections of the young woman are reasons for concern. Kerry was erroneously linked to an extramarital relationship with Alexandra Polier, a journalist who is originally from Malvern, Pennsylvania but once did some unspecified work for the British Parliament. However, it was later determined that Polier was dating an aide to Kerry, not the senator. Polier is engaged to Yaron Schwartzman, an Israeli-American living in Nairobi, Kenya with his Israeli parents. Schwartzman's father is linked to some of East Africa's most unsavory players. How Kerry could have let himself become embroiled in such an episode involving people with questionable business ties, to say the least, is incredible and frightening.

Yaron Schwartzman's father, Joseph Schwartzman, is a wealthy businessman who owns, along with former Kenyan cabinet minister, Nicholas Biwott, H. Young Company, an engineering firm located in Nairobi's Industrial Area. Biwott was a right-hand man of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. Biwott was accused of ordering the murder of former Kenyan Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, as well as a number of other human rights violations.

The elder Schwartzman reportedly never actually physically worked at the H. Young company's offices at the Nairobi Industrial Park. He is also connected to the Sameer Investments Group Ltd., which has sought to invest in Rwanda. Sameer Group consists of Naushad Merali, a wealthy Asian Kenyan, and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to Kenya, Hameed Kidwai. According to the Rwandan government, President Paul Kagame has held at least one meeting with Schwartzman in Kigali and met with Schwartzman and Merali at the Sameer Industrial Park in 2000. French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has recently concluded, after a painstaking investigation, that Kagame was involved with the 1994 shooting down by Russian-made SAM missiles of the airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira home from a peace summit. The investigation turned up a shadowy operation involving former U.S. military and intelligence operatives and oil companies known as the International Strategic and Tactical Organization (ISTO). Twice, I was prepared to testify about who was behind the plane attack at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania. Twice, the U.S. State Department intervened with the tribunal to block my testimony. After the tribunal agreed to testimony, I received a very credible death threat: "your car won't make it from Arusha airport to your hotel." It is the way of Bush and his powerful friends to intimidate, to threaten, to smear. Kerry must show that he is willing to expose the vermin who surround Bush and not replace them with others who also have blood on their hands. Central Africa's genocide occurred while Democratic foreign policy insider Richard Holbrooke was Madeleine Albright's deputy UN ambassador and afterwards, when Albright was elevated to the post of Secretary of State..

The French investigation turned up links between ISTO and Armitage and Associates (the firm once owned by Colin Powell's deputy Richard Armitage) and Halliburton. Interestingly, these companies share the same office building at 1550 Wilson Boulevard in the Rosslyn business district of Arlington, Virginia. Around the corner is AES, a company that bills itself as the largest owner of power generation systems in the world and which is chaired by Richard Darman, the elder Bush's Office of Management and Budget chief. After it took over the Republic of Georgia's electric system, it forced blackouts throughout the country, thus undermining one-time U.S. ally, President Eduard Shevardnadze. Soon, Georgia erupted in mass protests, forcing Shevardnadze from power. He was replaced by a young, U.S.-trained lawyer who has welcomed a permanent U.S. military presence in his country to protect Halliburton's Azerbaijan- to-Turkey oil pipeline. While it doesn't hang a shingle from an office, ISTO certainly seems to maintain a major presence in Rosslyn. Kerry must ensure that his administration is composed of individuals who are not "bought and paid for" and will clean up these corrupt networks of influence peddling and illegal activities.

The double assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents and their staffs triggered a genocide in Rwanda that killed as many as 1 million people and follow-on invasions and genocide in Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo that killed 3 million more people. After all his experience in investigating BCCI, Kerry should have had better sense than allowing his name to become associated in the media with such people, even though there was two degrees of separation.

Sameer has been linked to Kenya's official Goldenberg Inquiry into the affairs of Goldenberg International Limited, a company believed to have been involved in the smuggling of gold and diamonds from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo via Kenya. Other players involved in Kenyan diamond and gold smuggling include Sanjivan Ruprah, a Kenyan Asian associated with RUIM (Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli Mafia) smuggling activities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda, and Viktor Bout, a RUIM international arms smuggler who once assisted the Taliban in Afghanistan while Bin Laden was ensconced in the country planning for 9-11. Goldenberg is also alleged by Kenyan authorities to have used Mombassa's Paradise Hotel as a front operation. The Israeli-owned hotel was blown up in 2002 in an alleged attack by Al Qaeda operatives. At the same time, Russian-made SAM missiles, later found to be inoperative, were fired at an Israeli charter plane taking off from Mombassa Airport.

Another Africa dilemma for Kerry involves his wife's past activities with one of the most corrupt and bloodiest businesses in the world--the diamond trade. Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira Heinz Kerry is tied financially to one of Africa's largest diamond enterprises. According to senior political sources in Washington, DC, Mrs. Kerry, who was married to the late Pennsylvania Republican Senator H. John Heinz III, is linked, through her late Portuguese father Jose's investments, to the De Beers diamond cartel of South Africa. Although DeBeers has cleaned up its tarnished image since diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer took over the company founded by his family, the DeBeers company of the past was closely involved in apartheid South Africa's most egregious activities, including arms smuggling and covert activities against the African National Congress. Mrs. Kerry was born to Portuguese parents in what was once Lourenco Marques, the capital of colonial Mozambique. After Senator Heinz died in a freak plane crash in 1991, Mrs. Heinz inherited the H. J. Heinz Company fortune. She married Kerry in 1995.

Mrs. Kerry is fluent in several languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian and she was once a United Nations translator for the UN Trusteeship Council in New York. Mrs. Kerry graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the Interpreters School of the University of Geneva. Her father, an oncologist and tropical disease specialist in Mozambique, was also reportedly invested in the southern African diamond industry and had ties to DeBeers. He and his Mozambican-born wife fled Mozambique for Porto, Portugal in 1975 when the country achieved independence under a Marxist government. Even before Mrs. Kerry married the wealthy John Heinz in 1966, her family's fortune is said to have rivaled and even exceeded that of Heinz. Although Mozambique's Marxist government nationalized Mr. Simoes-Ferreira's property and finances in Mozambique, his investments in DeBeers in South Africa were untouched.

In 1999, Mrs. Kerry, through her Heinz Family Philanthropies, attempted to broker a land development deal between an extreme right-wing Republican Texan billionaire and supporter of George W. Bush named James U. Blanchard III -- a past supporter of the right-wing Mozambican rebel group RENAMO and the pro-Bush Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC -- and the Mozambican government to develop a huge eco-tourist area south of Maputo to the Kwazulu Natal border of South Africa. The tourist mecca was to have included five star hotels and villas, floating casinos, golf courses, scuba diving schools, game fishing enterprises, and marinas. The deal collapsed after Blanchard died and some Mozambique politicians expressed their opposition to the deal. The area Blanchard and Mrs. Kerry hoped to develop was a primary zone of RENAMO guerrilla activity and includes one of Africa's last protected elephant areas, the Maputo Elephant Preserve. According to US intelligence sources, the area also attracted the attention of Zimbabwean diamond magnate John A. Bredenkamp, a former backer of RENAMO, who owns some of the same region's off-shore barrier islands, which he also hopes to develop into major resorts. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is planning to join with parks in neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe to form one of the world's largest parks, the "Transnational Park." It is this same area that attracted the interests of Blanchard and Mrs. Kerry and may have been an attempt to "privatize" one of Africa's last protected wildlife areas.

So with all the "ties that bind" the Kerrys to unsavory characters, whether accidental or intentional, one is reminded of the present dilemma with the crooked machinations of the Bushes, Cheneys, and their friends and associates. Kerry can do something to allay my fears about the aura, both perceived and real, that surrounds him and his friends. First of all, he can bring up on the campaign trail what he knows for a fact about the ties of the Bushes to international scams and scandals. Second, he must come clean about the Skull and Bones. Is whatever oath he took at "The Tomb" at Yale more important than the presidential oath of office? I think not.

Third, and most importantly, Kerry must commit to a purge from his administration of all neo-cons, whether of the Republican or Democratic persuasion. A number of hawkish Democrats, who are waiting in the wings, were singing from the same song sheet as the neo-cons in the Bush administration about invading Iraq and the mumbo jumbo about America's role as the world's only remaining superpower. Holbrooke, a supporter of the Iraq invasion, is rumored to be on the short list as a Democratic Secretary of State. Under no circumstances should he or Leon Fuerth (Vice President Gore's former national security adviser), Joe Lieberman, Jamie Rubin, Susan Rice, Wesley Clark, and other Democratic world interventionists be considered for any positions in a Kerry administration. Democrats who witnessed how the Bush regime embarked on a unilateralist foreign policy do not wish to see that policy replaced by a unilateralist-lite Democratic foreign policy.

Kerry should also make it very plain that there is no place in his administration for those who espouse a neo-conservative agenda. He must clean house of these individuals, both political appointees and career civil service and military, within the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, State Department, and National Security Council. Perle recently called for the heads of CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Intelligence Agency chief Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby to roll over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Kerry should make it plain and clear that his Justice Department and FBI will go after Perle and his friends, with criminal indictments, if necessary. He should leave no stone unturned to bring to justice those who lied about and profited from the invasion of Iraq.

If Kerry continues to conduct his campaign by stabbing around the edges of both Bushs' corrupt administrations, he plays into the hands of the elites who want to see business conducted as usual. These denizens of K Street, Wall Street, Georgetown, and Capitol Hill arrogantly consider themselves and their enterprises untouchably secure, no matter what political party is in power. Can or will Kerry be able to change this sad fact of life? Howard Dean did not think so. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who, like Kerry, knows an awful lot about Bush's past business connections to the Saudis and others who were also involved in the funding of Al Qaeda, from his own investigation of 9-11 as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, ran for President to change the status quo. He was the first candidate to drop out. Graham and Dean smelled a rat with the Bush administration and also knew that the elite class of Washington, of which Kerry is a charter member, was unlikely to set out the rodent traps to get to the bottom of the corruption of the present regime.

So Kerry has a choice. Act more like a populist or continue to waffle and evade on the Skull and Bones, his past business ties (especially through the "Boston Brahmin" Forbes side of his family), and what he knows about the Bush family's corrupt practices. If he chooses the former, he might light a little fire with would-be but skeptical supporters. If he opts for the latter, Senator John Edwards can pick up the populist/progressive ball and run with it. Kerry has not won the nomination yet and the March 2 Super Tuesday primaries will select one half of the Democratic convention delegates. People throughout the United States are tired of the elitism and secrecy that has overtaken Washington. Kerry has an opportunity to leave Beacon Hill and Georgetown and join with "We the People" and thus win the White House. Or John Edwards can tap into the angst of the American people, forget his outreach to conservatives, pledge to clean house in Washington, and pull off the upset of the century.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of "America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II."

Madsen can be reached at:  WMadsen777@aol.com

The New Republic 23.Feb.2004 12:36

tiring of this

Do the Right Thing
by Clay Risen

Post date 02.09.04

The rap on John Kerry is well known: He's an incorrigible panderer who constantly tilts with the prevailing political winds. But just over a decade ago, Kerry did the exact opposite, leading an investigation into money laundering at the shadowy Bank of Credit and Commerce International--better known by its infamous acronym, BCCI--in the face of overwhelming political pressure. The episode paints a picture of Kerry at once courageous and humane--and lends credence to the heroic persona his campaign is attempting to project.

For much of his Senate career, Kerry has appeared less interested in the practicalities of the legislative process than in the high-profile investigations his Senate seat gave him an opportunity to conduct. As The Boston Globe wrote last year, "By the late 1980s Kerry was running his senatorial office the way he had helped run the Middlesex district attorney's office a decade earlier." Indeed, one of Kerry's first investigations looked into CIA arms smuggling to Nicaraguan rebels, an effort that eventually mushroomed into the Iran-Contra scandal. Despite his early leadership on the issue, Kerry, still a freshman senator at the time, was left off the main Iran-Contra panel by Senate leaders wary of his doggedness. As a consolation prize, he was awarded the chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations in 1987.

Building on the work of a senior aide, Jack Blum, Kerry began that fall to investigate the financial dealings of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, and soon found that BCCI--at the time the seventh-largest bank in the world, with some $20 billion in assets--had been helping Noriega transfer funds offshore. Kerry's discovery couldn't have come at a better time. Just weeks afterward, U.S. Customs agents nabbed Amjad Awan, one of the Middle Eastern bank's key U.S. operatives. Meeting with what turned out to be an undercover Customs agent, Awan had discussed at length both the bank's role in laundering drug money and the intimate involvement in the bank's operations by one of Washington's top lawyers: Clark Clifford.

Clifford was the ultimate D.C. insider. A former defense secretary and a founding partner of the white-shoe firm Clifford and Warnke, he had served as an eminence gris to every Democratic president since Harry Truman. Late in life, he had decided to enter the banking world, and in the early 1980s he became chairman of First American Bankshares. (A partner in his firm, Robert Altman, became president.) Clifford was also, it turned out, BCCI's legal counsel. Which helps explain why he felt the need to pay Kerry a courtesy call in October of 1988. Sitting in an armchair in Kerry's office, Clifford elliptically assured the senator that, "[W]e are prepared to cooperate. We want to be helpful," according to the book Friends in High Places: The Rise and Fall of Clark Clifford.

But it turned out that Kerry's investigation was the least of Clifford's problems. The feds indicted BCCI on money laundering charges only weeks after the meeting, and by January 1990 the bank found itself with little choice but to cop a guilty plea as part of a plea-bargain deal. Then in May of that year, a story in a local D.C. magazine discussed, for the first time, the possibility that Clifford himself had financial ties to BCCI--in particular, that BCCI secretly owned First American, Clifford's bank, and had funneled him (and Altman) bribes throughout the 1980s. Kerry, whose own investigation had been ongoing, seized on the news, ultimately subpoenaing Clifford to appear before his commission.

And here is where the story, at least for Kerry, got interesting. One doesn't become the master of Washington without accumulating a few friends, and those friends now turned out in force to defend Clifford. Jackie Onassis, Ted Kennedy, and other Democratic bigwigs rushed to Clifford's side, pressuring Kerry to drop his investigation. Nor was it just liberals who defended the old Washington hand--Orrin Hatch verbally attacked Kerry on the Senate floor, insisting that the case was closed and that Kerry was merely grandstanding. One famous story has Kerry and an aide getting into a Capitol Hill elevator, where they were soon joined by an unnamed ranking senator. The senator turned to Kerry and, with just a hair's breadth between them, said, "What are you doing to my friend Clark Clifford?" Clifford himself went so far as to contribute money to Kerry's 1990 campaign; he even appeared, alone and unannounced, at the campaign's victory party. "Of all the races in the country," he told Kerry, "I thought yours was the most important." In the old days, this was all it should have taken to keep a tormentor at bay--nothing explicit, nothing threatening, just a wink and a nudge from a powerful operator.

But that wasn't the case with Kerry. Determined to get to the heart of the matter, he settled on a two-pronged strategy: First, he'd see to it that his committee amassed as much evidence against Clifford as possible. Then, since a Senate committee can't launch criminal proceedings, and since the Justice Department was dragging its feet, Kerry dispatched Blum to New York, where First American was headquartered, to convince District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to press criminal charges.

Kerry finally got Clifford into the hot seat--that is, before his committee--in October 1991, a full three years after the two first met in the senator's office. After fighting the Washington establishment for so long, it would have been reasonable for Kerry to milk the moment for everything it was worth. But by this point Clifford was in his mid eighties and, though healthy mentally, clearly degrading physically. When Clifford stonewalled, claiming he was unable to remember crucial names and dates, Kerry backed off. "He's an old man," he told his incredulous aides, who pleaded with him to move in for the kill. "He couldn't remember. I'm not going to humiliate an old man."

In fact, there was no reason to. Clifford was unlikely to tell the committee anything its investigation hadn't already turned up. And, in any case, it was rapidly becoming clear that Morgenthau's office would be pressing charges--thanks in large part to the work of Blum and Kerry's other staffers. Clifford and Altman were soon indicted, fingerprinted, and booked "like common criminals," Clifford later recalled. Before long, Clifford's firm, his pride and joy, collapsed around him. Clifford subsequently caught a break when Morgenthau's lead prosecutor bungled Altman's case so badly that the former First American president was acquitted, which ultimately helped Clifford avoid a trial himself. Nevertheless, thanks to Kerry and his committee, it was clear that Clifford had broken the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. His reputation was forever tarnished.

Not that Kerry's performance in the episode was entirely above reproach. Critics across the spectrum--and not just Clifford apologists--accused the senator of using his subcommittee as an ersatz court, with public opinion as its jury and self-aggrandizement as the goal. And Kerry wasn't always the coolest operator under fire--at one point during the BCCI hearings, he told a group of reporters that the Bush administration was trying to block his efforts by digging up dirt on him. Then there was the fact that Kerry himself had ties to BCCI, however inadvertently. As head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he had, it turns out, worked with a BCCI-linked banker, David Paul, to raise over $16 million in campaign contributions. (Kerry aides did not return calls seeking comment on this issue.) None of this mattered to the substance of the case, of course. But these moments did in some sense foreshadow flaws in Kerry's political persona that would become more apparent down the road.

One criticism of Kerry that doesn't wash, however, is that he took too much credit for his committee's work. It's true that Kerry didn't do the bulk of the work for his committee's investigation, which could never have happened without the efforts of Blum and others. On the other hand, generals rarely fight battles themselves, yet they still get credit for making the right decisions at key moments. And Kerry, at a time when all of Washington was pressuring him to do otherwise, clearly chose to do the right thing--first seeing to it that justice would be served, then refusing to heap unnecessary humiliation on a man who was, by then, broken in body and spirit. Kerry may or may not be the right Democrat to nominate for president. But he clearly does have it within him to do the right thing.

Clay Risen is an assistant editor at TNR.

Kerry the sphinx 23.Feb.2004 13:42

Alexander Berkman

I guess the point of it all is that Kerry has sometimes been inscrutable and mercurial. Perhaps under the right circumstances the maverick in him could come out, like it did in the Contra/CIA/drug running hearings or the Clifford affair. More likely though, a man like Kerry, once in the Oval Office and surrounded by the likes of Randy Beers and William Perry, both familiar fellow travellers in the elite circuits of the hard right political galaxy, would tend towards caution and "pragmatism." What does common sense suggest on this score? And what does his recent record suggest? The Clifford business and the Contra hearings were going on two decades ago. What has Kerry done for us lately? For that, read more below.

February 9, 2004
Will Skull and Bones Really Change CEO's
Inside John Kerry's Closet


Last month, some ninety environmentalists gathered in DC to consider what to do about the BushCo assaults on our nation's public ecosystems. The group, mostly paid staffers of one group or another, sat through a two-hour long report from the DC greens' "political expert." She regaled the group with strategies necessary "now that Dean has the nomination sewed up."

When told this tale, I thought, "Hey. If someone this clueless can get six-figures for such obviously lame assessments, maybe I should take a stab at it." So, here are my 2004 election year predictions:

1) Unless Skull and Bones desires a change in their CEO, it's Bush in a landslide. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will get the DLC nomination. And, then his real record will come out.

A friend recently wrote, "I just ran into a woman in (the organic grocery) who's been working on the Kerry campaign for 18 months, when I asked her what his political accomplishments are, she hesitated and said, "Well, I don't know, check out his website."

Save yourself the website search, here's a synopsis:

It's deplorable. Three-hundred-seventeen bills introduced. Seven passed. And four of those were ceremonial ones -- designating special days. Voted for the horrific Telecommunications Act (in fact, led the charge); voted for the illegal war/occupation; voted for the Patriot Act (in fact, helped draft parts of it when it was first drafted under Clinton); brags about voting for class war on poor moms and kids--Clinton's welfare "reform" -- need I go on?

Yes, I will. One of the few Bills he got passed was 1999's Plan Columbia, the phony Drug War's defoliation of the rainforest with toxic chemicals. Since the Plan was launched some 325,000 acres of South America's oldest democracy have been sprayed with toxins, yet there has been no drop off in cocaine imports to the US. In fact, according to the Harvard Political Review, Columbia's cocaine production increased 11%.

The multimillionaire John Kerry, who rails against "special interests" on the campaign trail, got more special interest PAC money than any other senator this last six years! And, he refused to accept voluntary spending limits.
Expect to see this GOP ad: Kerry at the helm of the "Scaramouche," his $750,000 speed boat (he paid cash!), with overdubs of Kerry's pontificating about "millionaires" and "overprivileged."

Then, we'll see ads of Mr. Forbes Heinz skiing at a palatial Aspen spa (they own it!). And, just wait until they trot out the ad with footage of Kerry exhorting Vietnam vets to throw their medals over the Capitol fence and then cut to Kerry's medals framed on his office wall. The creep actually threw fake medals while encouraging others to throw their real ones!

They may not even need to point out his lying over his narcissistic taking of poisonous injections of Botox - a lie not even necessary in these MTV days. When a Boston radio announcer asked him last week: "Can you categorically deny the reports that you have used Botox or other kinds of cosmetic surgery or cosmetic enhancements to your appearance?" Kerry responded, "Absolutely, I've never even heard of it." Very interesting, since his current heiress wife, Teresa Heinz, has been quoted in Elle magazine about her fondness for the stuff.

Speaking of Teresa Heinz, she heads up the Heinz Environmental Defense Fund. The fund's most prominent board members since 1995 is none other than Enron's Ken Lay. Enron's bank, Citigroup, has been a major contributor to Kerry's various campaigns. In 1995, Kerry cast the deciding vote to override Clinton's veto of the very bill used by Enron and Citigroup to conduct their now well-known consumer rip-offs. Can you just imagine if Dr. Judy Steinberg Dean was hanging out with Key Lay? How about Laura Bush?

2) Dick Cheney? The question here is: will he resign BEFORE or AFTER the election? If before, expect to see Rudy Guliani as vice-presidential candidate. If after, expect to see Elizabeth Dole reprise the Gerry Ford role. The other Cheney question is: how long before he is indicted on bribery charges?

3) Colin Powell? Expect to see Powell resign soon after the election for "health reasons."

4) Nixon Redux. Some time in 2006, Congress will begin exploring Impeachment proceedings for Bush. All sorts of charges will be leveled -- most true. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will play the hero role here as a member of the "Intelligence Failure" investigation commission. Expect the CIA to doggedly defend its turf and turn viciously on BushCo.
Heads will begin to roll over the security 'failures' of 9/11. The country will be in crisis mode. The heroines here will be the few, courageous 9/11 widows who refused to take the government hush money.

Then faced with possible treason charges, as well as Impeachment; Bush will resign, as will Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle et al. Then, again reprising the Ford role, President Dole will pardon the lot of them in the fine American sweep-it-under-the-rug tradition. "Our second long national nightmare is over."

Then, come 2008, it'll be Clinton v. Dole again. H. Clinton and E. Dole provided Dole can get by the right-wing assault in the Republican primary. (The Brahmins of Skull and Bones won't lick wounds for very long.)

How that all turns out will depend on whether or not there is a true progressive in the race.

But, for now, the real question for all those "Nader cost Gore" head-in-the-sand folks is: why are the Democrats throwing the election again?

MICHAEL DONNELLY is a zero-figure political prognosticator living in Salem, OR. He can be reached at  Pahtoo@aol.com