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The Cayman Islands Surrender: Progress on the real war on terrorism? Of course not!
December 14, 2002
By Susan Sigandres

Before he was booted, Paul O’Neill signed an agreement with the Cayman Islands about full cooperation with IRS investigations into money laundering and tax evasion. The Bush regime is making the world safe for money launderers, tax cheats and terrorists – as long as they’re his friends.

One of the keys to shutting down terrorist organizations like al Qaida is to uncover and dismantle their funding networks. This means that banks in tax havens will have to give up their clients’ secrets. The Bushies ignore this part of the “war” on terrorism: money laundering is more fun to get away with than to explain. The US corporatist “press” also ignores this angle: it’s not flashy and hot, it’s boring and ice cold. Just try making a snazzy news graphic out of a bank disclosure statement.

Yet, with so many tax havens perfectly willing to accept hard cash with no questions asked, tax havens are major obstacles in the search for terrorist funding. We must shut down the money funnels to terrorists if we’re going to shut down their activities. It’s a good move to focus on tax haven countries, where banks have records of how the money flows and who’s sending it where.

In November, former Treasury Secretary Paul “Kill the IRS” O’Neill signed an agreement with the Cayman Islands in which the Caymans agreed to fully cooperate with IRS investigations into tax evasion and money laundering by revealing information about secret accounts. Great news? Nah. There’s almost nothing new here; this is just a “formalization” of the information-sharing practice supposedly already in effect since the Poppy regime.

Now consider this: we all know how much stock George W. Bush and associates place on formal agreements, such as, for example, treaties. So how come they made it a point to sign this agreement?

Well, when it’s convenient, the Bush regime will tout this agreement and others like it as “real” progress in their “war” on bad guys – terrorists and tax cheats alike. But -- as usual, they’ll be lying. As usual, it comes down to Bush family interests and the Bush regime’s agenda. As usual, the real question is: “In what ways do George W. Bush, his family, his family’s associates and his rich supporters benefit?”

Here’s the scam with the Cayman Islands “agreement:”

It’s a shakedown. The Bush regime decides who will get investigated, of course. They can unleash the IRS with abandon on rich crooks whose support for the regime is deemed insufficient or not quite enthusiastic enough. It’ll help back up incoming racist majority leader Trent Lott’s corporatist shakedown by threatening to make life very difficult for naughty corporatists whose donations don’t heavily favor his party. (see “Lott Twists Arms,” Roll Call, September 19, 2002).

It’s a sop for the rich. The agreement doesn’t cover state taxes or the federal estate and gift taxes. So the self-proclaimed “state’s rights” gang in the Bush regime once again shows that it means by that phrase ‘states can go twist in the wind’ even in international matters, where federal action is required for effectiveness. And how about keeping those family fortunes hidden away safely and securely for the next generation of individuals who would be entirely worthless without big, fat bank accounts….like the Bushes, the Lays, the Cheneys, the Scalias, the Roves…the O’Neills.

It’s a reward for friends of the regime. The treaty doesn’t go into effect until January 2004. This gives George W. Bush, his family, his family’s associates and their benefactors plenty of time to move their millions into other tax havens – tax havens with which the US will somehow fail to sign treaties. Which ones might those be? Only the friends of the regime will know.

It’s a get out of jail free card. Now here’s something that is new: under this agreement, information about current investigations will be locked away – forever. Not even the IRS will be allowed access – ever. Of course this helps regime-friendly slime balls now being investigated, but it also is a huge enticement, a design to encourage a spirit of generosity among rich crooks who otherwise might find the Bush family too repulsive even for their own questionable lifestyle tastes.

It’s a diversionary tactic. The last thing the Bushies want is for too many people to get wise to the real intentions of its actions. So, the Bushies will use this agreement as part of its never ending quest to manufacture credibility. “You see,” they’ll say to us, “we’re tough on tax cheats and terrorists.” Yeah, sure. If this “agreement” never leads to public disclosure of terrorist funding networks, don’t be surprised. After all, such disclosure could “compromise” the “war” effort if too many Bush-friendly people get caught in bed with terrorists. They’ll have to drop their war on terrorism faster than they gave up on smokin’ out Osama! And don’t be too surprised either if some hapless corporate money launderer gets strung up by the eyeballs every time George W. Bush’s favorability number falls below 60 in a Wall Street Journal poll.

Since the sum total of the regime’s creativity falls well short of a typical Neanderthal’s, this is probably the same scam running with other tax haven “agreements” you’ll hear about if you read the foreign press. If you get your news from US corporate sources, now you know what they want you to believe – and what they don’t want you to know.

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