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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-05-07 12:33 PM
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So Many Dark Things we Don’t Know about
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Edited on Sun Aug-05-07 12:42 PM by Time for change
I walked into El Presidente’s office two days after he was elected and congratulated him… I said “Mr. President, in here I got a couple hundred million dollars for you and your family, if you play the game – you know, be kind to my friends who run the oil companies, treat your Uncle Sam good.” Then I stepped closer, reached my right hand into the other pocket, bent down next to his face, and whispered, “In here I got a gun and a bullet with your name on it – in case you decide to keep your campaign promises.” I stepped back, sat down, and recited a little list for him, of presidents who were assassinated or overthrown because they defied their Uncle Sam: from Diem to Torrijos – you know the routine. He got the message. – John Perkins, quoting an anonymous source in his new book, “The Secret History of the American Empire – Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption”.

I’ll get back to the above excerpt from Perkins’ book in a little while. But first I’ll talk a little bit about Will Pitt’s (hope he returns to DU) recent intriguing and somewhat cryptic post titled, “I’m sticking with the Dems, and I’m a good progressive. Here’s why that’s true”.

Discussing how bad things are in our country today, Pitt focuses a good part of his post on our military industrial complex. Starting with World War II, he says:

From then on, right up to this day, a significant foundation of our economy was the preparation for and fighting of wars. The defense contractors who got rich in WWII became wealthy beyond imagination, and their influence grew even more… By 1960, the private apparatus of war production was a kingdom unto itself. The loop of self-justification was set, and it became a frictionless machine that devoured tax dollars and turned out weapons to make sure we always needed weapons and would keep paying those tax dollars to get them…. Corporations with human rights, enriched by war and the permanent establishment of the wartime economy, made rich again by 25 years of war, and by 1976 legally able to use their vast wealth to buy and control the entire government. These are the super-citizens, who have all the rights you have and ten million times more power to press those rights.

To make the point of how ingrained into the heart of our nation this system is, Pitt says:

It comes down to this. Any politician of either party who reaches national stature has, at some point before, signed on the dotted line agreeing to support and maintain this situation. The Democrats do this just as the Republicans do. Every president since Kennedy has done this. On this all-important point, there is truly no difference between the parties.

A book that I recently finished reading, “House of War – The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power”, makes a similar point. Written by James Carroll, the son of a three star U.S. Air Force General, the main theme of the book is that the Pentagon has become a tremendously powerful entity unto itself, beyond the control of anyone, even American presidents. In the last pages of his book, Carroll says:

The Pentagon defines America’s reach across the world, and for countless millions that reach is choking… The Pentagon is now the dead center of an open-ended martial enterprise that no longer pretends to be defense. The world itself must be reshaped… The Pentagon has, more than ever, become a place to fear.

Both Pitt’s post and Carroll’s book ring very true to me. And yet, the scope of power at issue is so vast that I can barely comprehend it, and so many more questions are raised than answered. Why can’t a U.S. president exert control over the Pentagon, all of whose employees report directly or indirectly to him? Even after reading Carroll’s excellent “National Book Award” winning book, I still couldn’t comprehend that. And why, as Will Pitt says, do all political candidates who reach national stature have to “sign on the dotted line agreeing to maintain and support this situation”? Is it simply because our corporate news media will rip them to shreds if they don’t? Or is it something darker than that. Perkins’ book suggests that it’s something darker than that.

What John Perkins has to say about this

Most people may be more familiar with John Perkins as the author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” than as the author of the book I refer to at the beginning of this post. Perkins describes the role of an economic hit man as follows:

Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.

The EHMs are responsible for the first phase of what is usually a two phase strategy. The EHM tries to get a country’s leader(s) to play ball. In general, only when the leader refuses to cooperate are extreme measures such as assassination or overthrow resorted to. As Perkins explains, overthrowing a government, through assassination or otherwise, can be extremely risky. Therefore:

No sane person assassinates a head of state without first trying to bring him around. No politician or CIA agent would consider it. Not even the most hardened mafiosos would do that. It is simply too risky. And too messy.

Perkins’ anonymous source who provided the opening quote of this post was also an EHM. He confided the above quoted exploit to Perkins (who had already published “Confessions”) because he was disgusted with the whole business, though he didn’t know how to safely quit, and he needed someone to talk to about it.

Thoughts on the accuracy of Perkins’ claims

Not surprisingly, Perkins has been called a (gasp) “frothing conspiracy theorist”. But what he has to say is hardly based on “theories”. He worked as an EHM for many years, on many different projects in different countries. He has extensive personal experience with how the system works.

And anyhow, it’s not like the idea of our government having its hands in the overthrow and assassination of foreign leaders is hard to believe. The CIA overthrew Mohammed Mossadeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister Iran in 1953; it overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1954; it overthrew Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile in 1973; it participated in the overthrow of Achmad Sukarno in Indonesia in 1965; as described by William Blum in his article, “A Concise History of US Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present”, the United States intervened in eleven different South and Central American countries during the Cold War; and the Church Committee interim report published in 1975 determined that “American officials encouraged or were privy to coup plots which resulted in the deaths of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.

The above list includes only the episodes for which good documentary evidence exists. Who knows how many similar episodes have gone undocumented? Perkins supplied two more in his book – the two plane crash deaths of Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldos of Ecuador, in 1981 shortly after Ronald Reagan took office. Manuel Noriega tried to introduce evidence of the assassination of Torrijos, at his trial in 1991, but the evidence was not allowed to be introduced because it would have violated the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Assassinations within the United States

A common theme to the above noted foreign assassinations is that most of the victims were trying to do right for the people of their country, and in so doing they posed a major threat to entrenched interests. Well, foreign leaders aren’t the only ones who pose threats to entrenched interests. Yet, many Americans who don’t have much trouble acknowledging our government’s assassination of foreign leaders nevertheless consider its assassination of our own leaders or other citizens of our country to be in the realm of “conspiracy theories”. But consider the following:

John F. Kennedy
A few months before he was assassinated, John F. Kennedy gave a great and radical speech on behalf of peace that probably seemed terribly threatening to the military industrial complex. Here are some excerpts:

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament -- and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitude -- as individuals and as a Nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every… thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward -- by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the Cold War and toward freedom and peace here at home.

First let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many of us think it is unreal. But that is dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable -- that mankind is doomed -- that we are gripped by forces we cannot control…

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.

There is no single, simple key to this peace -- no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of solving problems.

Six weeks later, Kennedy announced to the American people the first nuclear test ban treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. He then undertook secret negotiations with Fidel Castro in an attempt to come to an accommodation with him. And, he began talking with his close associates about pulling out of Vietnam.

Kennedy was killed about four months after his speech. Officially, his death was the work of a lone gunman, shooting him in the back of the head from a book depository in Dallas. Suffice it to say that, in addition to a wealth of other evidence pointing towards a conspiracy, all ten physicians who treated him at the hospital on the day of his assassination have said that either the throat wound or the head wound that killed him, or both, entered him from the front.

Martin Luther King
Though Martin Luther King is well known for his heroism and leadership in our nation’s civil rights efforts, he is much less well known for his advocacy in the latter part of his life on behalf of the poor and on behalf of world peace – probably because our national news media considered those topics to be more threatening to entrenched interests. On behalf of economic justice:

He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" -- including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow…

King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power. "True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

And with regard to U.S. foreign policy:

King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." …From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them. In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The official story of his assassination does not mention any plots on the part of entrenched interests, though that official story has been widely questioned.

Paul Wellstone
Paul Wellstone in 2002 was probably the greatest thorn in the side of the Bush Administration and entrenched interests in general of any U.S. Senator. Had he lived, many thought it likely that, starting in 2003, he would have initiated a serious Senate investigation into the September 2001 terrorist attacks against our country. He died in a small plane crash just weeks prior to the 2002 mid-term elections, as it was becoming evident that he would win a third term to the U.S. Senate. It was thought at the time that a Wellstone victory in Minnesota would result in Democratic control of the Senate for the next two years (which would have been the case had Max Cleland not been defeated in Georgia in an obviously fraudulent election).

According to this article, “None of the typical causes of a small plane accident—engine failure, icing, pilot error—appear to have been involved.” Evidence suggests that both engines were running when the plane hit the ground. The plane had passed through the icing altitude without apparent difficulty, and it was cleared for approach to the airport. Both pilots were very experienced and skilled. The Beechcraft model in which Wellstone was flying has an excellent safety record. Though visibility was limited, it was well above the minimum required.

There had been no problems until shortly before the crash. Witnesses say that the plane hit the ground at an almost vertical angle, and the crash was followed by an “extreme post-crash fire”.

21st Century deaths of some other inconvenient persons
J. H. Hatfield wrote a scathing biography of George W. Bush, called “Fortunate Son”, which was published while Bush was running for President in 2000, and which detailed illegal Bush business dealings and a cocaine conviction that was expunged from official records. I read his book with great interest in early 2001, and shortly thereafter I was dismayed to hear of Hatfield’s “suicide” in a hotel room. When he died Hatfield was working on a new edition and had said that Bush allies threatened the lives of his family. Sander Hicks, in January 2003, announced that he was making the suicide notes available to forensics experts, to compare with handwriting samples that Hicks had acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, in order to arrive at an independent verdict in the case. I could not find any more recent information on this.

Cliff Baxter was a former Vice Chairman of Enron, and one of the few high level Enron executives who had tried to prevent Enron’s illegal activities. It was felt by many that his testimony could be devastating to top Enron officials and might even provide a vital link between Enron and the Bush Administration. Baxter, 43, was found shot to death in his car on the morning of January 25, 2002, near his home in Sugar Land, Texas. He had spoken with a friend recently about the fact that he felt he needed a body guard. As this article explains, local authorities quickly called his death a suicide, without a serious investigation or even an autopsy. But hours later, the local Justice of the Peace, Jim Richard, reversed his decision not to order an autopsy, citing intense public interest. This article discusses the autopsy findings and provides a copy of them. It notes that although the autopsy states “suicide” as the cause of death, no evidence is given to support that conclusion. It also goes into detail about how the physical findings are much more suggestive of murder than of suicide. And finally, it notes that Baxter would have had no need for ratshot, the ammunition used to kill him, and that ratshot is the perfect murder ammunition, since it leaves no evidence capable of matching the gun to the ammunition.

Raymond Lemme was the official from the Florida Inspector General’s office who was in the midst of investigating the election rigging charges of whistleblower Clint Curtis when he died. Curtis’ main allegation was that he was asked to write a computer program that would be capable of switching votes from one candidate to another, and which would be undetectable. Curtis also claims that Lemme had told him shortly before his death that he “had tracked the corruption all the way to the top”. Lemme was found dead in a Valdosta, Georgia, Knights Inn motel room on July 1, 2003. His arm was slashed twice with a razor blade, near the left elbow. The Brad Blog has thoroughly investigated this case and put forth several reasons to believe that it was not a suicide, as has been ruled by the Valdosta police.

Dr. David Kelly was a microbiologist and an expert in weapons of mass destruction. He had already blown the whistle regarding the exaggeration of British intelligence reports on the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as the Bush Administration was trying to make the case for invading Iraq. This DU article speculates that the Bush Administration may have had yet a great deal more to fear from Dr. Kelly’s telling what he knew of the Administration’s devious plans for building a case for war in Iraq. On July 18th, 2003, Kelly was found dead in a secluded lane in Harrowdown Hill, with his left wrist slit. His death was ruled a suicide, but Jim Rarey feels that there were many red flags that indicated otherwise.

Colonel Ted Westhusing, one of the Army’s leading scholars of military ethics, volunteered to serve in Iraq in order to enable him to better be able to teach his students, as described in this article. A few weeks before he died, he had received an anonymous complaint that a private contractor was cheating the U.S. government and committing human rights violations, including participating in the killing of Iraqi military personnel and civilians. Westhusing reported all this, but an official investigation found his allegations to be “unfounded”. Westhusing was very upset about these findings. Shortly thereafter, in June of 2005, Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base in Baghdad, with a gunshot wound to his head. The death was ruled a suicide. Shortly before his death he had expressed fear of being alone. His family and friends were troubled that he died “without a bodyguard, surrounded by the same contractors he suspected of wrongdoing. They wonder why the manager who discovered Westhusing's body and picked up his weapon was not tested for gunpowder residue.”

Gary Webb, the “investigative reporter who broke the story about the CIA's involvement with crack cocaine dealers in Southern California in the 1980’s”, was found dead in Sacramento in December 2004, from a gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled a suicide. This article notes that Webb had been receiving death threats and discusses the impossibility of a suicide victim shooting himself in the face twice.

On the inexplicable inaction of our Democratic leaders

Towards the end of his post, Will Pitt in explaining why he is sticking with the Democratic Party, makes two points which on the surface appear quite odd: Though acknowledging that the Democrats are “bought in” to the system he nevertheless provides a number of reasons for sticking with them; and he notes that Bill Clinton was the most radical president of the 20th Century and almost succeeded in taking the entrenched interests apart.

On the surface, those assertions of Pitt’s don’t appear to make too much sense. If the Democrats are “bought in” to the system, then why should we rely upon them to do good things for our country? And with respect to Clinton, what about NAFTA, "welfare reform", and the Telecommunications Act of 1996?

Interestingly, Perkins has a passage in his book that provides some support to Pitt’s apparently wild statement about Bill Clinton being the most radical president of the 20th Century. In a discussion of how today’s leaders risk being “brought down” if they go too far, his anonymous source says:

Clinton went too far in his efforts to revise world currencies and he posed a huge threat to future Republican campaigns – he was just too young, dynamic, and charismatic. So Monica was marched into the spotlight. Don’t you believe that Bush has a few women in his background too? But who dares talk about them?... There are many ways to assassinate a leader who threatens U.S. hegemony.”

As for why we should trust the Democrats, a party that has “bought in” to the system, that has after nine months failed to make significant progress towards ending the war they were elected to end, that has failed to attempt to remove from office the most lawless presidential administration in the history of our nation, and that has even facilitated Bush’s Constitutional violations by voting for laws to justify them …. Well, as Will Pitt says:

Things are so much worse than bad right now, so absolutely rotten and twisted and lethal that it almost defies description. The enemy we face is more than evil, and is stronger than anything ever seen upon the Earth, and has no morality or conscience, and is capable of any depravity if it keeps their power intact.

Many of us believe that leaders who threaten entrenched interests in our country face substantial personal risks, though none of us know the specific nature or the extent of those risks. I believe it is reasonable to suppose that our Democratic leaders know more about those risks than we do. Perhaps many of them – John Conyers, for example – very much want to do the right thing but are facing constraints and personal risks that we can only imagine.

It seems highly unlikely that these things will be fixed quickly. All we can hope to do is the best we can – one day at a time.
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