The BAE Bribes Funded Covert Ops

Man, this is one big paragraph. Makes you want to, um, breathe.

But here’s the key point of the paragraph–the description of how BAE bribes to Bandar bin Sultan and others were laundered through some offshore accounts and then used to fund covert ops.

Remember, that the real story behind the BAE "Al Yamamah" scandal is that, under the arms-for-oil barter deal, the British accumulated well-over $100 billion, in off-the-books, offshore funds, that have been used to finance covert operations, for the past 23 years (the deal was first signed in 1985, and has been regularly updated ever since).

After which said long breathless paragraph goes onto insinuate that the BAE bribes might be tied to 9/11.

The other nagging matter around the BAE case is that Prince Bandar "inadvertently" helped finance the 9/11 attacks, through funds provided by him and his wife to two Saudi intelligence operative in California, who, in turn, bankrolled two of the hijackers.

Now, before we focus too closely on the 9/11 insinuation, first let’s consider a few other details. 1985, when these funds were set up, was actually before BCCI, the Pakistani bank that both the CIA and the Saudis used to launder money for covert ops, folded. I’m curious whether any of the "usual hedge funds, etc. in places like the Cayman Islands, BVI" in which the Saudis dumped their bribe receipts were BCCI accounts? And did they move from there to Riggs Bank, where the Saudis and General Pinochet were subsequently laundering their money?

Also, I’d sure like to know which covert ops these bribes funded. I’ve got one surefire guess though: the March 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. After all, Mark Thatcher (Maggie’s kid) was involved in both: He was convicted for investing the plane the South African mercenaries used in their coup attempt (though he was given the favor of claiming it was just a big oversight). And he was cohabitating with the front companies involved in some of the bribery.

Early on, it was evident that BAE was discretely funneling money back into the kingdom by paying inflated rates for military construction projects to local contractors connected to members of the royal family. In addition, under the the Al-Yamamah offset arrangements, BAE was obliged to invest a percentage of its profits in Saudi Arabia, which was done through joint ventures with similarly well-connected local companies. Two key beneficiaries of these deals were Wafic Said, a Syrian-born businessman close to Sultan,[3] and Muhammad Safadi, a Lebanese businessman close to Sultan’s son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasser. Both became billionaires as a result.

While BAE steadfastly denied rumors that it had paid bribes in connection with Al-Yamamah, during the 1990s a number of smaller British arms companies acknowledged paying commissions to Saudi middlemen in order to win subcontracts. However, with the notable exception of a $98 million payment by the arms company BMARC,[4] most were small-scale and all were technically legal, as British anti-corruption legislation explicitly forbidding bribery of overseas officials did not come into force until 2002. More controversial was evidence that Saudi money was finding its way back to defense industry executives and British political figures. For example, Mark Thatcher (son of the former prime minister) and then-BAE chief Richard Evans were found to be living in luxurious residences owned by front companies registered at the same address (49 Park Lane) as Said’s offices in London.[5]

Here’s a post I did last year speculating that all this would come together.

The whole BAE thing blew up again last week while I was visiting. The short version is that Bandar Bush bin Sultan got caught with his hand in a very large cookie jar–to the tune of billions. But you’ll recall that I suggested we’d be hearing more about this scandal back back in December. Today, Isikoff and Hosenball reveal that this may relate to the Riggs Bank scandal from a few years back (though keep in mind–it’s Isikoff, so all the usual caveats about misleading half-truths apply).

Hundreds of pages of confidential U.S. bank records may be the missing link in illuminating new allegations that a major British arms contractor funneled up to $2 billion in questionable payments to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The BBC and Guardian newspaper reported last week that BAE Systems made "secret" payments to a Washington, D.C., bank account controlled by Bandar, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States who is now the kingdom’s national-security adviser. The payments are alleged to be part of an $80 billion military-aircraft deal between London and Riyadh. Last week British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged that his government shut down an investigation into the payments, in part because it could have led to the "complete wreckage" of Britain’s "vital strategic relationship" with Saudi Arabia. Before the U.K. closed the inquiry, British investigators contacted the U.S. Justice Department seeking access to records related to the Saudi bank accounts.

And you remember the Riggs bank scandal, don’t you? Where Bush crony Joe Allbritton and uncle Jonathan Bush oversaw a bank that was laundering money for Augusto Pinochet, Equatorial Guinea, and … the Saudis? Or rather, Bandar Bush bin Sultan? Riggs was a regular old BCCI, it turns out, only no one really bothered to investigate why it was laundering money for some of the biggest creeps in the world.

So let me just throw out a few more datapoints:

  • Riggs leads to Equatorial Guinea, the same place where Margaret Thatcher’s son–one of the main beneficiaries of the BAE bribery–sponsored a coup … now where do you suppose he got the money to sponsor that coup?
  • Cheney and Bandar have been freelancing on foreign policy of late. Of course, Congress is not paying for that free-lancing.

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

So where do you think Cheney and Bandar are getting the money?

Okay, I’m getting closer on that funding the Equatorial Guinea coup. So why would the Saudis want to fund a coup against one of the rising new state sources of petroleum? And if they’re willing to fund a coup against one country with tons of petroleum, might they fund coups against other countries with tons of petroleum?

I feel some breathless paragraphs coming on.

Okay. Now to 9/11.

Remember the reason why the Poodle spiked the British investigation into BAE’s bribery?

Via AmericaBlog, the Guardian reports that Bandar bin Sultan, adoptive member of the Bush family, is alleged to have threatened Tony Blair to convince him to spike the investigation into BAE-related bribery of Bandar.

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday’s high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family. [my emphasis]

Now, it appears that Bandar threatened to "hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists" in the UK–I don’t think this suggests that Bandar was going to direct terrorists to attack the UK. Here is what the Poodle said about the meeting:

The critical difficulty presented to the negotiations over the Typhoon contract … All intelligence cooperation was under threat … It is in my judgment very clear that the continuation of the SFO investigation into al-Yamamah risks seriously damaging confidence in the UK as a partner … I am taking the exceptional step of writing to you myself

And here is what the British Ambassador (to Saudi Arabia, I guess?) said to the Serious Fraud Office:

We had been told that ‘British lives on British streets’ were at risk … If this caused another 7/7, how could we say that our investigation was more important? … If further investigation will cause such damage to national and international security, [the head of the SFO] accepted it would not be in the public interest.

I’ll leave it at that.

Just one more thing. As you read Tim Shorrock’s book on how much of our intelligence we’re outsourcing, take note of how often he talks about BAE. For example, BAE was one of the founding members of INSA, the organization about which one intelligence veteran wondering,

"if INSA has become a way for contractors and intelligence officials to create policy in secret, without oversight from Congress."

BAE is one of those corporations working with our intelligence agencies to outsource intelligence to companies that largely escape Congress’ oversight. Feeling breathless yet?

108 replies
  1. TobyWollin says:

    EW – Jonathan Bush and Riggs Bank – hmmm(ok, I realize this is sort of reaching, but forgive me, I can’t resist) — Prescott Bush and Brown Bros./Harriman and Hitler. The other thing about BAE(and, full disclosure here, we have a unit of BAE right here in my home town – they are working on hybrid buses among other things)that I think these guys do work for the US military. I know the unit that they bought locally was GE in the 1970s(and doing heavy military hush hush stuff; you needed a high level security clearance), which was then bought by Martin Marietta and then Lockheed(becoming Lockheed Martin) and then that particular unit was sold to BAE. So, we’ve got a whole lot of people with very dirty hands all over the place.

  2. FormerFed says:

    Marcy, as Deep Throat said: “Follow the money”. Is there a modern day Smedley Butler around?

  3. JThomason says:

    The unveiling of subtext has been inevitable. I woke up the Wednesday slapping my forehead–what do we know about Saudi covert ops anyway?

  4. Bushie says:

    Outsourcing intelligence reminded me of Sidney Reilly aka Sigmund Rosenblum who sold information to the highest bidder. Just what we need, more bad intelligence, and agents provocateurs!

  5. MadDog says:

    Steve Coll, a Pulizer Prize winner and former managing editor of the WaPo, described in great detail in his book “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden” that the Saudis had an “arrangement” with the US to fund the mujahideen resistance to the Soviet invasion.

    One of Steve Coll’s points about this “arrangement” was that it allowed the US a level of “deniability” from both external sources (i.e. the Soviet Union), as well as internal sources (i.e. the US Congress and the American people).

    This would of course be during the term in office of the Repug Ronald Reagan whose Vice President was none other than George H. W. Bush. Seems like the usual Repug modus operandi. Money talks and BS walks.

    Steve Coll described how the Saudis supplied billions of dollars to the mujahideen resistance over the 10 years of the war. Enormous amounts “stuck” to the fingers of the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

    Two of the more well-known recipients of this “strategic funding arrangement” were of course, the Taliban, and Osama Bin Laden himself.

    If one were honest about the impetus for the current pushing and shoving in places like Lebanon, the paymasters again are the usual suspects, both the Saudis and the US. And it is highly likely that the delivery of the funding is “washed” through similarly private corporate mechanisms.

    Is Syria to be similarly “rewarded” for engaging in peace talks with Israel? How could they not be. Peace treaties are nice, but cash makes the world go round.

  6. yellowsnapdragon says:

    Is that an echo of Iran-Contra I hear?

    And. every day we learn something new about the knotted connections between contractors, spooks, and government. Follow the money.

  7. MadDog says:

    OT – From the AP:

    Mukasey defends author of so-called torture memos

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey is defending former government lawyers who drew up the legal basis of the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation methods against terror suspects.

    Mukasey told Boston College Law School graduates Friday that lawyers doing their part to protect the country in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks should not now be held liable or face criminal charges for doing so.

    Mukasey did not mention any specific lawyers by name…


    …At the Friday ceremony, Mukasey lambasted critics seeking to bring lawsuits or charges against the lawyers. “The rhetoric of these discussions is hostile and unforgiving,” Mukasey said in his prepared remarks…

    AG Mukasey has such a big heart. Apparently he’s willing to forgive and forget. What a sweetheart!

    Yoo-hoo, AG Mukasey, if you don’t remember the names, we’d be happy to help out.

    • PJEvans says:

      I bet he knows that if those lawyers are held liable, he’ll be next in line. His speech was really about protecting himself and his buddies in the WH.

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Feeling breathless yet?

    Not quite.
    But the image that popped into my head was of US government on life support, in extremis.

    This helps shed light on why BushCheney were willing to steal the 2000 and 2004 elections. Which circles back to questions about who funded those elections, how the money was laundered and found its way to GOP candidates.

    It also fits **perfectly** with BushCheney policies of subverting the DoJ, failing to fund FBI fraud investigators, support for globalization (as a means to ensure that capital could flow unrestricted and unregulated). This thuggish Ponzi scheme was aptly aided and abetted by the willing tools of FauxNewz, shock radio, and Pat Robertson’s evangelicals.

    Nancy Pelosi is correct in saying we ‘don’t know the half of it.’
    No time like the present to map the rest of it out.

  9. jackie says:

    I still think that Pelosi and Co had to go really carefully re; investigating Bush and Co..
    The Spiders Web runs really deep and wide, and too many folks who have tried before failed/died, were silenced so the ‘case’ has to be solid. I think we are getting there though.

    • bmaz says:

      Screw careful. It is the only duty they swear to perform in their oath to office. It was their duty, and they were, and are, completely derelict in their performance of it. I reiterate that “it is weak, shameless and traitorous leadership”. But that is just my opinion.

      • jackie says:

        The people we are trying to get to have been playing in the shadows since, at least, JFK, Iran Contra, etc etc. Dangerous people playing very dirty games. We are closer than we have ever been to dragging them (and their web of connections)into the light..It had to be done quietly and incrementally

        • bmaz says:

          Really? Why???? 51% of the people nationally supported at least the initiation of impeachment proceedings several years ago. You are very entitled to your opinion, but mine is that these so called leaders should have openly and notoriously done their job long ago, and maybe we would not have festered into the slimy pussball we now are. Being intelligent an incremental is one thing; being lugubriously timid, self serving and ineffectual is quite another.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s a chess game, bmaz, and it’s played with pieces that are handicapped.

          Imagine that every member of Congress who’s served more than 2 terms is dirty in some way; they’ve horsetraded to obtain a win of some sort at a minimum, in a way that compromises them.

          And the machine quietly records everything.

          Now imagine a scant majority, trying to press for impeachment, but the machine gradually releases its recordings, causing the scant majority to gradually be undermined and frittered away by the revelation.

          This is the problem: we need a seachange in Congress, all fresh blood, all uncompromised, but we cannot have that fast enough. How do we provide cover for the nominally dirty majority so they can prosecute the extremely dirty administration?

          Believe me, I’m up against that question. What are we to do?

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I know, I just like to carp from the back bench. I understand the parameters, but there is strength in numbers. The Congress, no matter what, has the numbers and the available voice. As a whole, heck, even just the Democratic caucus as a minority has numbers, look at what the Repubs consistently exhibit. And it is not just the Dems under any thumb that might so exist; or whatever forces may apply, the Republican membership has supplicated too. The one thing the founders did not contemplate is that the Congress would not, at a minimum root, at lest protect it’s own prerogative and power. Yet they have not. Whatever is held against them is no worse, nor more scandalous, than that which is held against the Administration. So it is not a lack of ability, it is a lack of will.

        • Rayne says:

          But the numbers are not merely those counted by the seats in Congress.

          The numbers include the mainstream media, which will prosecute this just as it did the Clinton impeachment — or I should say, they will punish those that they feel have wronged their patronage.

          That’s a serious problem; believe me, I am relishing the internecine warfare between Fox and NBC/GE for this reason. The more they are broken apart ideologically, the more they are likely to do better and real coverage of any possible effort to impeach or prosecute.

  10. bobschacht says:

    I still think that Pelosi and Co had to go really carefully re; investigating Bush and Co..
    The Spiders Web runs really deep and wide, and too many folks who have tried before failed/died, were silenced so the ‘case’ has to be solid. I think we are getting there though.

    I do hope you’re right. I would love to see Nancy P. on TV in, say, September, with the entire WH senior staff being frogmarched off to jail in the background, explaining how the Dems had to be very careful, etc. on how to proceed, and that all the frogmarching in the background was evidence that their strategy (including putting impeachment off the table) was justified, etc. etc.

    However, I wouldn’t bet more than a nickel on that. No, wait, I’ll bet a dime! ’cause I know I’d lose that bet.

    Meanwhile, looks like Nancy has emasculated the entire Dem majority in Congress, and they are all acting like castrati.

    Bob in HI

    • jackie says:

      Of course, I’m possibly just being naive and hopeful!!
      But I do think there is far more going on in the background and the amount of stuff floating to the surface re; criminal/house/senate investigation is building up to a boiling point.. Once Rove is tipped over, I believe things will roll over quickly.

  11. bobschacht says:

    Who was it? Grover Norquist? When speaking of the Permanent Republican Majority, he said he didn’t want to get rid of all of them– he just wanted to reduce them to such a small minority that IIRC they would all be docile… Ah yes! here it is:

    the Grover Norquist Quotation Hall Of Fame, like the one about drowning government in the bathtub, and the one about bipartisanship being date rape, and the one about how Democrats will be much more docile after they’re neutered.

    Anyone have the original source?

    So, have they already succeeded in neutering the Democratic leadership? It seems like it.

    Bob in HI

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Bob, go look at Norquist’s entry at Wikipedia… and yeah, I know it can be changed in an instant, but here’s hoping some of the links are still there.

      Look at his client list — the Wikipedia entry is pretty much a bare-bones overview, but it won’t take you two minutes to spot some very ‘questionable’ associations. Then note he operated a business with Safavian (who then went on to ‘procure’ for the gov’t before he was indicted for golfing with Abramoff).

      I think that whole ‘drown government in a bathtub’ was just a line of bullshit for the fact that what he wanted to do was siphon off every potential source of investment, asset, or revenue from government and redirect that wealth to his ‘clients’. And he’s done one hell of a job.

      I hope there’s an orange jump suit in his future.

      • bmaz says:

        See, I don’t think those two are mutually exclusive in the least; in fact, I think the siphoning is simply the means to their greedy, limited vision drowning end. If you are gonna kill it, the life force has to go somewhere, might as well be their pocket lining in their opinion.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I absolutely agree with you — in spades!
          Norquist, Abramoff, Rove, and the rest couldn’t say, “Hey, you citizens who believe in Truth, Justice, and the American Way are easy marks. We’re going to laugh our asses off while we take you for every fucking dime we can, and we’ll laugh even harder when you HELP us do it by agreeing that government needs to be ‘drown’. The more you fools agree with us, the easier it is to fleece you.”

          But I think their first objective was to siphon wealth; their anti-government crock of shit was the means to that end. And it produced incredible wealth for their ‘clients’, and almost certainly more money than they could have made any other way.

  12. bmaz says:

    RANDIEGO ALERT – Hey randiego, you going to go see Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments at the Casbah in SD tomorrow night? Several knowledgeable people have opined that her new stuff is tempered a bit and absolutely killer.

    • randiego says:

      Thanks for the message! I don’t think we have plans tomorrow night – I heard the new stuff at the listening party she did.

      now all I have to do is sell it to my better half.

  13. RAMA says:

    I feel like I’m reliving the ’60s, ’70s, “80s, and ’90s at warp speed. We’ve gone right past Vietnam to Iran-Contra, and we’re still accelerating…

    • bmaz says:

      And that is what happens when you don’t put your foot on the throat of the beast, such as after Watergate and then Iran-Contra, nor apply the brakes (quaint little thing known as checks and balances) when the resurrected beast is up and gathering speed again. It is pitiful leadership and representation that permits this and doesn’t even have the honor and dignity to take and make a stand, even if it costs them their job. What the JAG lawyers have embodied at Guantanamo is what our elected officials owed us. Instead they were derelict failures. Let history so reflect, and not repeat itself again.

    • skdadl says:

      That’s exactly how I feel, exactly.

      Fantastic post, EW, and such a fine discussion. Among all the presumptuous and anti-democratic lines that people have quoted here (see Mukasey, Pelosi, etc), this line of Tony’s drives me wildest:

      It is in my judgment very clear that the continuation of the SFO investigation into al-Yamamah risks seriously damaging confidence in the UK as a partner

      That is their excuse for everything (and by “they” I mean our guys too, above all our obsequious guys). It’s their excuse for suppressing evidence that might free innocents or victims of torture. Omigosh, we wouldn’t want to offend [fill in the blanks], even if that means violating our own and everybody else’s laws, up to the level of committing or collaborating in war crimes.

  14. JohnLopresti says:

    Commencement* Mukasey. Elliot Abrams as National Security Council: 2002-present, and as Mr. Kenilworth at work in England.
    *Ain’t got time to review what was the outcome of the efforts of the profs who objected to the granting of the speech role to Mukasey there. The link is to the text of the formal remarks, there is plenty about terra but search for tort or torcha yields nil. He stirs an interesting image of the foolhardiness of law as an empty vessel filled with politics, maybe he did well in English comp class.

  15. masaccio says:

    Impeachment is the Constitutional remedy for an overreaching arrogant executive. Everyone who reads comments knows that I loathe John Yoo, but he is right to say that Congress has the tools to fight this pustulent administration, and it just won’t.

  16. SmileySam says:

    I wonder if it’s safe to say the Saudis are refusing to boost production until these charged are made to disappear ? If so, we are witnessing the largest case of international blackmail in history. While trying to see a bigger picture this is the only thing that makes any sense to me. ( that is not saying much since I am no expert ). One can only wonder if the Hedge Funds mentioned are also the same one driving up the price of Oil with speculation ? That would make this all the more evil.

    • emptywheel says:

      I was wondering that myself.

      And it’s probably worth mentioning the Alice Fisher resignation, on April 30. These FCPA prosecutions were her babies. I’m not sure what her last day was, but I do find it instructive that between the day she said she would step down and the day she stepped down (presumably) the top execs of BAE got detained and subpoenaed.

      • yellowsnapdragon says:

        Alice Fisher’s resignation clears up the nagging question in my mind about why the US gov would try to prosecute if Cheney, in particular, is involved. If Fisher was forced out for trying to do her job, well. . . there certainly exists a pattern of behavior within the administration for that kind of thing.

        It seems to me that BAE is a macro example of the same type of corruption as Duke Cunningham’s. We should look to the known details of the Dukestir’s case to explain the procedure for bribery, contracting, money laundering, etc. Was there any money from that story that found its way into a slush fund for covert ops?

        Fabulous thread.

        • emptywheel says:

          Not exactly–at least not that we know about (though remember that Wade and Foggo, IIRC, both have ties to Contra era ops).

          But when you consider this bribery involved CIFA–the Counter Intelligence Field Activity program that spied on Americans, and when you consider that Duke forced DOD to keep parts of thta contract in MZM’s hands, and when you consider MZM’s first contract was with Cheney, I think it might have been something slightly different. Thta is, simply the outsourcing of domestic spying to avoid the oversight that exposed COINTELPRO.

        • yellowsnapdragon says:

          Wade and Foggo, IIRC, both have ties to Contra era ops

          Holy crap. Didn’t know that.

          I agree that the purpose of the bribing may have been slightly different. But, the methods of moving money around, hiding graft, contracting quid pro quo, etc. in the Duke Cunningham case might be instructive of how exactly things are done here (and elswhere).

          Since those guys were involved in Iran Contra, maybe we should take another look at how that scheme operated too. The’ve probably been using the same (somewhat modified, perhaps upgraded) precedures for years.

        • freepatriot says:

          It seems to me that BAE is a macro example of the same type of corruption as Duke Cunningham’s.

          well, there’s one little difference

          the dukstir doesn’t have the blood of 3000 people on his hands

          sounds to me like we just tied george bush to the 9/11 hijackers

          with a direct link, if what I saw is true

          The other nagging matter around the BAE case is that Prince Bandar “inadvertently” helped finance the 9/11 attacks, through funds provided by him and his wife to two Saudi intelligence operative in California, who, in turn, bankrolled two of the hijackers

          so bandar bush “inadvertently” financed the attacks on the world trade center

          and the bush family has continued to do business with the man who financed the ATTACKS ON AMERICANS

          that’s a direct conection

          who gives a fuck about the word “INADVERTENT”

          george bush and the bush family continue to do business with the man responsible for murdering 3000 American citizens

          guess we can ask why we attacked Iraq instead of Saudi Arabia now


        • Hmmm says:

          I do sympathize, but with every respect, “inadvertent” could well matter. If I buy a car and unbeknownst to me the car dealer hates my mom, and uses the profit from the car to fund an operation to kill my mom, I can scarcely be accused of funding an attack on my mom. It’s called contempt for the client, something all contractors are very familiar with.

        • Hmmm says:

          Clarifying: Not that I assume that that’s what happened in the Bandar case, just saying until we know more, it’s a possibility. Hence my Q at #63, what did Bandar & spouse believe the payment was going for? (Not to mention that as a Californian I’m also concerned from a security POV.)

        • JThomason says:

          I think the broader question is what were Saudi intelligent operatives doing funding 9/11 hijackers, if this is true?

        • freepatriot says:


          the broader question is why is the bush family in business with the people who funded the attack

          and why is the bush family STILL in business with the people who funded the attack


        • Hmmm says:

          Sure, but the question then becomes: What does “Saudi intelligence operative” mean, i.e. does the operative act only in Saudi interests and at Saudi direction, or is there an independent will there? Maybe it’s because I just watched The Falcon and The Snowman, but an “Saudi intelligence operative” sounds like a potentially unreliable middleman with no particular national allegiances, who just happened to have been hired by the Saudi intelligence services b/c of some info available only through that operative. It wouldn’t be surprising if such a person were also in contact with numerous really bad guys, and/or have an independent agenda, that the client (Saudis) might not necessarily know about. I mean, the operative could even be out to frame the Saudis by creating a money trail. So with full respect to all who differ, I still think “inadvertent” remains in play until/unless we find out more, including but not limited to what Bandar & wife thought they were actually paying for.

        • JThomason says:

          I appreciate your caution. I mean its judicious. Its ironic that this circumstance illustrates the problem with the paradigm of culpability and punishment Bush sought to establish by condemning regimes that associated with or in which terrorists operated. You remember due process in foreign relations out the window and all. Rumsfeld called in a “new paradigm” in fact.

          This politically convenient method of finding guilt by association is difficult to downplay when the degrees of separation close on one personally. And of course it leaves the messy problem of collateral damage as well.

          Of course Bush & Co. never intended it to be a two way street but if one abandons a law enforcement paradigm the chickens will come home to roost sooner or later. I put that that under what goes around comes around. No one is suggesting that maintaining humanitarian standards was not work.

        • Hmmm says:

          Well, quite, and thanks for finding that way of framing it. Let us not fall prey to the same lapses of reasoning that we condemn in others. Hunches and inference are great because they help us find evidence, but truth comes only from evidence itself.

        • freepatriot says:

          when we’re talking about your mother, the word inadvertent is important

          when we’re talking about 3000 Americans, the word inadvertent isn’t as important as the word “UNSEEMLY” or the word “DISPICABLE”

          and THEN we have to add the part where you continued to do business with the car dealer that killed your mother

          if your mother was a country, we’d be talking TREASON pal

          see where this conversation is going ???

          has nothing to do with the word inadvertent (which I don’t buy anyway)

          did you fly the car dealer’s family out of the country right after the accident ???

          did you accuse another car dealer of being responsible, and then proceed to kill 4500 soldiers and millions of innocent civilians to cover up the deeds of the first car dealer’s actions ???

          the word “inadvertent” passed into irrelevancy the day we invaded Iraq

          there is A LOT to answer for about 9/11

          and those answers just indict george bush and his whole fucking party

          and the heading on the indictment reads TREASON AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES

  17. Rayne says:

    Yeah, that’s what I thought, I had read that very recently.

    It’s very difficult to tell what the end game is here, because there’s never an end. There’s simply no place to put the money right now if you have it to invest, so money move to the sure things like consumables (commodities like foodstuffs and oil), since people don’t stop eating regardless of market conditions.

    But on the other hand, if Royal Dutch Shell is right (and I’m on the fence about them) that there is plenty of oil, the other proposition that Saudis are gaming peak oil gets dicey and looks more like hostage-taking.

    Why would they game oil right now? They have the money to prop up the flagging investment banks and buoy the market, or do they simply want to shake the fleas out of the dog, making the situation so untenable that the largest economy in the world takes the flea dip voting differently in November?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      It seems like a lot of money coming into the US had to be ‘laundered’, and mortgage fraud (including large commercial property investments) would be a good way to do it.

      Then consider that the FBI tracked Eliot Spitzer, and indicted him just as he tried to protect the state government budgets from the BushCheney insistence that all the states fed mortgage regulations?

      Message: we refuse to fund the investigation — or prosecution — of mortgage fraud; we will destroy anyone who tries.

      Where else has money laundering via mortgages shown up? Can you say ‘Duke Cunningham’? His launderer, TommyK, is now sentenced — but it’s statistically improbable for TommyK to be the only GOPer who launders money via mortgage fraud.

      I have no clue what the ‘end game’ is, but belligerent WH claims that David Engels’ NBC interview with Bush was ‘unfairly edited’ underscores their increasing fear and desperation.

    • Hmmm says:

      Good question on the “Why now?”. Well, I would look at it through a rational lens, because fiscally the Saudis have always struck me as thoroughly level-headed. Saudi gaming of oil markets has at least two simultaneous but opposite effects on BushCo. On the one hand, it raises US domestic political pressure against the USG and R party. On the other hand, it multiplies profits in petroleum refining, wholesaling, distribution, and retailing. There is little if any evidence that BushCo cares much about hand #1 at this point, and hand #2 speaks for itself. In other words, maybe this price surge was agreed to by both the Saudis and BushCo, in order for them both to take record profits for as long as possible while they still know they can, because the next Administration, even if also R, may potentially have very different oil attitudes. Oil producing nations have gotta hate the new US anti-SUV phenomenon, from a revenue-projection POV.

      • JThomason says:

        Just how much of the strategy for the last 8 years was agreed upon with the Saudis through deep traditional family based back channels. That’s the real lingering subtextual question that the topic presents, even conceding that the plan has been for a “rational” exit if required.

  18. Rayne says:

    There’s a rather interesting piece in the current Foreign Affairs by Michael Ross, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California; I’m afraid I don’t know him well enough to trust him blindly, and this piece seems rather naive if educational for those who know little about the oil market and world economics. This bit, though, is the part that sets me to wondering (sorry, sizable quote, but it’s from a much larger, multi-page article):

    No single initiative will undo the oil curse and bring peace to oil-producing states, but four measures can help. The first would be to cut off funding to insurgents who profit from the oil trade. Oil-importing states could contribute by refusing to buy oil that comes from concessions sold by insurgents. Both the insurrection in the Republic of the Congo in 1997 and the 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea were financed by investors hoping to win oil contracts from the rebels once they controlled the government. A ban on oil stemming from these transactions, much like the ban on conflict diamonds, could help prevent such rebellions in the future.

    A second way to limit the effects of the oil curse would be to encourage the governments of resource-rich states to be more transparent. Their national budgets are unusually opaque; this facilitates corruption and reduces public confidence in the state, two conditions that tend to breed conflict. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an effort launched by nongovernmental organizations in 2002 and expanded by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, encourages oil and mining companies to “publish what they pay” and governments to “disclose what they receive.” This is a good idea, but it is not enough. Adherence to the EITI’s reporting standards is voluntary, and although 24 countries have pledged to adopt them, none has fully complied yet. It is important that they do and that the effort to promote transparency be expanded. Oil-importing states, such as the United States, should insist, for example, that energy companies also “publish what they pump” — that is, disclose from which countries their petroleum originates. This would give consumers the power to reward the most responsible companies. And that, in turn, would give companies an incentive to improve the conditions in oil-producing regions.

    [emphasis mine]

    Was Blair beaten back on EITI’s implementation by the Saudis?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      He may be a good source; I tend to stick with Iraq Oil Report, and the occasional traveling friend. I hear the investment opportunities in Dubai are said to be impressive. Small wonder.

      But Iraq Oil Report ought to be sold as an historical document of our times.

  19. rosalind says:

    fyi: the mothership is going down at 10pm PST to migrate servers. don’t know if this will affect ew’s place. supposed to be back up in a couple hours.

  20. freepatriot says:

    so we’re basically talking about treason here, right ???

    cuz if we are, I was right about three years back when I predicted that the repuglitard implosion would resemble the demise of the federalist party

    you don’t come back from a treason conviction

    • JThomason says:

      Its a suspicion to which Bush imagines he may not have to reasonably respond. But why the lack of prosecuting and pursuing Bin Laden and the presentation of a firm provable narrative explaining why so many Saudis were involved and how they are in fact traceable to Al Queda, if they are? Or a suggestion of holding the Saudis accountable for this involvement? Or an explanation of why in light of the obvious deep private ties that exist between Bush and the Saudis there was the evacuation of certain Saudis in the US immediately after the event? The exposed desire to conduct politically charged show trials doesn’t help in fostering a belief that the administration is interested in getting to the truth of the matter.

      It is also reasonable to expect these questions be answered. And if there was not active involvement why the “appeasement” of the Saudis without a confrontation of the reasonable suspicions the circumstance naturally give rise to especially in light of the apparent manipulations of Blair?

      The answers may not be simple but it may be prudent to provide more if there is a reasonable basis for the circumstances as they appear to exist at this point in time.

  21. numbertwopencil says:

    Um, this isn’t the first time a credible argument has been put together to suggest that Team Bush has access to a massive slush fund that’s cloaked by, ahem, national security concerns and used to influence elections, etc. Take a look at the Seagraves’s Gold Warriors. (There’s a nice review in the LRB by Chalmers Johnson here: In extreme short, the Seagraves put together a fairly credible narrative that the creation of the NSC, certain secret nuclear programs, and a significant part of the off the books operations of the CIA, were “authorized” by various “untitary executive” orders and funded by Japanese war booty. An amazing number of the players involved in the Truman era stuff are involved in 41 and 43/44’s administrations and, of course, various BCCI/Riggs players, like Clark Clifford and Marcos show up again and again. I’m not sure the Seagraves have worked out all of the details but they make a very convincing case for the Japanese war booty being using in, say, post-war Italian elections and certain Nixon era secret GOP operations. Take a look. I think Gold Warriors is still in print.

  22. prostratedragon says:

    Feeling breathless yet?

    Just copped a few weeks reading and Shorrock’s was not in the group, dammit. (As to drift, though, it’ll be a while before you run me down:)

    OT, I guess:

    Coarse Thinking and Persuasion

    We present a model of coarse thinking, in which individuals group situations into categories, and transfer the informational content of a given message from situations in a category where it is useful to those where it is not. The model explains how uninformative messages can be persuasive, particularly in low involvement situations, and how objectively informative messages can be dropped by the persuader without the audience assuming the worst. The model sheds light on product branding, the structure of product attributes, and several puzzling aspects of mutual fund advertising.

    [”|” means “conditioning on the fact that”]

    Mutual fund advertising?! Surely something else could have come to mind, even conditioning on the fact that it’s the NBER;>

  23. WilliamOckham says:

    There are a couple of really important points about this story that may not be obvious to everybody. BAE is a huge DOD contractor. They are sole supplier of Bradley APCs. They just got whacked this week by the DOD IG for poor security on the Joint Strike Force fighter jet project. The British version of our FPCA is essentially toothless.

    Busting foreign executives at the airport is a real hardball tactic. I hope the DOJ prosecutors know what they’re getting into.

    Finally, even over 20+ years, BAE and the Saudis sure laundered a lot of oil through the spot market. There must have been a bunch of London and Houston oil traders who knew what was going on. Not that any of those guys would have asked any questions, but still. It all seems pretty brazen.

    • watercarrier4diogenes says:

      Here’s the ‘money’ quote, or perhaps the ‘lack of money’ quote:

      Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

      “more…protesters showing up…than attending…” has to be galling to Dumbya and McBush.

      IRL is in Monaco this weekend. Massa & Raikonnen in the front row for Ferrari, Hamilton & Kovalainen in the second row.

      • bmaz says:

        If you ain’t at the front at Monaco, you ain’t in contention. Qualifying is everything there; very hard to overtake on that circuit. Heh heh, the IRL might have their own little wingding going this weekend silly!! Indy something or another I think….. All jesting aside, it is really Indy again with the IRL and CART reunited. Quite a motorsports weekend.

        • watercarrier4diogenes says:

          Very true, and I’ll be rooting for Danica Patrick to put to rest the chauvinism of the hard-core racing bloviators. She’s got a solid car and that’s all you can ask for, no matter who you are, in this race. The rest is skill and no small quantity of luck.

          As to Monaco, if the predictions of showers come to pass, it’s not a given that the pole car will win. On a sunny day, though, you’re absolutely right.

      • MarieRoget says:

        You have to appreciate that TBogg. When it comes to stuff like this he really has a way w/words:

        So they’ve gone from a catered event at the Convention Center to John McCain grilling up some burgers in somebody’s back yard while George Bush sets up the Slip ‘n Slide.

        Well, I’ve taken the dogs for their Sat. morning hikeathon & am finally getting out of Dodge for the day. Shaping up as an interesting wknd all ’round, isn’t it?
        Read you all later.

        • bmaz says:

          And no chance now to ask McCain and Bush about this assholiness:

          State health inspectors declared that Arizona’s nursing home for veterans was again putting its patients in immediate jeopardy after being called to the home on Thursday.

          State Department of Health Services director Susan Gerard said licensing inspectors arrived at the Arizona State Veteran Home in Phoenix after hearing that a patient who couldn’t care for himself was discharged, driven home and left to fend for himself.

          The inspectors concluded that the case was so egregious that they would not leave the facility and declared its patients in immediate jeopardy, Gerard said Friday. That’s the worst possible rating for a nursing home.

          I’ll bet they didn’t want to square up with the war protesters….

        • watercarrier4diogenes says:

          Especially when they’re outnumbered. Wonder what ‘put the DFH’s in a corral somewhere’ plan the SS had created for this one? How far out of sight would the demonstrators have had to be pushed?

          Or maybe there wasn’t going to be any such action because Phoenix PD was going to bill McSame for their efforts? (this is NOT a rumor, just my warped conjecture 8^)

  24. JThomason says:

    The other nagging matter around the BAE case is that Prince Bandar “inadvertently” helped finance the 9/11 attacks, through funds provided by him and his wife to two Saudi intelligence operative in California, who, in turn, bankrolled two of the hijackers. This sordid tale is spelled out in Philip Shenon’s admirable expose of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in the 2008 book, The Commission–The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.

    BAE In The News

  25. JThomason says:

    I realize that Marcy posted this in her piece above. It is breathtaking. All I can say is that the implications are stunning, even the next morning.

  26. Hmmm says:

    Lest the point be passed over: So what did Bandar and wife think they were paying the California Saudi operative for?

  27. wavpeac says:

    Do you think Obama has a clue?

    Or anybody in a position of power, who would care to save our constitution. I mean, we need to tell mom and dad about what is going on, but who do we run to?

    • Rayne says:

      We’re it.

      That’s the mistake I made for years, assuming that everything was running swimmingly and all I had to do was show up and vote.

      Wrong. There are no adults in charge — or at least, the adults who are supposed to be in charge are US.

      Look at what Marcy has done in the years that she’s been blogging. There was no road map for her, she simply did it.

      We’re going to have to do the same thing; at least, assuming an Obama win, we would have an administration that was already used to distributed power and to internet mediation.

      But if a McCain win, damn…but we are going to have to slog it out head-to-head with the old school in Congress and consciously work on a generational shift in their ranks towards representatives that are populist and truly believe in the power of direct representation.

      • bmaz says:

        I think thats about right to some extent. I don’t get the feeling that Obama and his group/administration is necessarily going to be as concerned about a lot of this stuff as we are, but they, and the wave of change they bring, would provide one hell of a lot of a better template and mechanism for us to get things done from. They may not actively carry the ball, but at least won’t be violently blocking and in fact will grease some skids. That is all the difference in the world.

    • emptywheel says:

      I used to believe strongly–and still believe, to a degree–that Clinton was a fairly well-intentioned person walking into the Oval Office. But on the first day anyone spends in the oval office, you get the briefing of … all this.

      And that turns almost everyone who receives the briefing into an amazingly cynical person, once they see that the power in this world is not–and will not–be exercised at the level of the state, but will be exercised by these networks of power controlling certain scarce resources and the means to do harm.

      THe one exception, I’ve always imagined, is Jimmy Carter.

      So we just have to make sure that Obama doesn’t believe him when they tell him at this meeting that the whole nation-state thing and the whole patriotism thing is just a naive fiction.

      • bmaz says:

        Jeebus. No kidding. That has got to be one sobering comeuppance after the ideals and ordeals to get yourself in that door. Even for those that are smart enough, like Clinton, to kind of understand, it has got to be an astounding eye opener.

        • watercarrier4diogenes says:

          Clinton no doubt got that same briefing, at a minimum later that day from Bill, and watched Bill pursue policies that enriched them personally despite that knowledge. Obama, with counsel from some of the brightest and best there are (think Samantha Powers, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, et al), and with the backing of that wave of new congresscritters joining Feingold, Dodd, Whitehouse, Conyers, and a host of others that have tried to stem the tide wherever they could, is very likely to act where the ‘loyal Bushies’ have chosen not to, while holding open their ‘trick or treat’ bags with vacuous childlike grins on their faces. I’ve seen nothing of Obama, from his first jobs out of Harvard Law to now, that even remotely resembles what Clinton was already known to be even in ‘92.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        The point about Carter is an important one. Because his domestic policy was only slightly left of center (for the late ’70’s), most liberals and progressives failed to understand (and continue to fail to understand) the real change he tried to bring to foreign policy. I know everybody’s feeling all nostalgic about Teddy Kennedy right now (and for some very good reasons), but his challenge to Carter was nearly unforgivable in my view. Kennedy helped bring us Reagan and Iran-Contra, the template for Dick Cheney’s adventurism for the last 7 years.

      • skdadl says:

        Memories of Ned Beatty’s chilling speech in Network.

        The thing is, we know — a lot of people know. So now all we have to do is … What is it we have to do again?

  28. SaltinWound says:

    Wheel, what worries me is what’s not in the briefing. If Obama is elected, will they really tell him everything? Or will be there be people in place to cover up past (and ongoing?) criminal activity? On the one hand, this Administration has built up the Executive Branch, but it’s hard for me to believe they would be completely transparent in terms of what a new President has access to.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. Now that they’ve outsourced it to contractors and set up a nice system where one can buy Congressmen (and let’s not forget that our own Murtha is one of the most corrupt pay to play Congressmen). And now that the Clinton era offers a model of what to do in the off years. No, they won’t tell him everything.

      But if he does as he says–and really works to get us off ME oil and address global warming, certain centers of power will atrophy. Not right away, of course. Which is why we need to avoid another Carter thing from happening.

      • watercarrier4diogenes says:

        I’m kinda fond of this quote from the first Prez I was aware of, and admired:

        I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

        – Dwight D. Eisenhower

        Could Jan 20, 2009 be that day? I think there’s a good chance that it will be. Thanks to the efforts of EW and a host of others, Obama won’t be completely dependent on what that briefing contains for his understanding of what’s going on in the world today. In ‘77 or even in ‘93, that briefing may well have been the only peek behind the green curtain Carter and Clinton got.

        • bmaz says:

          Read the same over at Digby’s. My response was

          I have been looking at these same facts and figures as well. For the life of me, I don’t think much of these lobbying expenses, even though they have gone up significantly lately, are particularly about FISA. If they were really concerned about FISA, they would be expending exponentially more than this and they would be doing PSA type stuff to the public etc. like when they want deregulation actions and legislation. I am inclined to think the increase is simply due to the fact that it is a presidential election year and they must now spread money over two parties instead of just one and are also concerned about net neutrality, the new spectrum allocations, consolidation issues etc. I don’t think it’s FISA in more than a token sense; the telcos just are not that concerned ( I write here why I think that is ). It is all about the Bushies, not the telcos.

        • watercarrier4diogenes says:

          Which still makes me wonder just what Jello Jay’s being asked to do for their $$. I suppose he could be ‘Lieberman lite’ and is just acting on what he perceives is their behalf.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t mean to be callous, but I must say that it’s terribly naive to think that the expenses reported are all the expenses pertinent to the issues at hand.

          Corporations don’t have to disclose every nit and nat — like PR/marketing expenses, or internal legal expenses. We can’t see all the numbers and follow them down the rabbit hole.

          Is it possible that all the numbers are right there? Sure.

          But is it possible that there was a lot of other money spent on FISA, let alone all the other issues like white space protection and bandwidth auctions that we can’t see? Hell fucking yeah — and even a really great audit company might not suss it all out.

        • bmaz says:

          Excellent point; but I didn’t intend to infer any differently. The ancillary means of leveraging their money for influence you describe are extant irrespective of the current FISA situation. As are the lobbying expenditures being contemplated by Greenwald and Digby. But my point now and previously is that there is no known evidence nor indicator that there is any heightened out flow of resources commensurate with some aggressive desperate push by the telcos that you would expect if they were at anywhere near the risk that has been implied and bandied about by the Bush Administration and immunity advocates. Crikey the three main telcos, through their counsel, all wrote letters basically confirming it at one point. I understand what you are saying. but where is the evidence that any of those other modalities are elevated either? It just doesn’t really look like what we are being told it is.

        • Rayne says:

          Two things to consider:

          – Note the pattern of election expenditures by the Communications industry sector; you can drill down to the key telecoms by looking at subsets “Telephone Utilities” and “Telecom Services & Equipment”, then selecting the Contributors tab. Note the difference in campaign donations between 2000, 2004 and 2008; there’s clearly something going on.

          – Is pressure being exerted on Congress only in the form of on-the-books transactions? I’m not referring this time to money being recorded in other functions within the corporate accounts, but to off-the-book entities and extortion. Enron wasn’t the only company with off-the-book, offshore structures – they were the best example of extravagant use of such resources. If covert activities using telecoms have been ordered and funded by off-the-book, covert entities and funds, how do we know that these same resources haven’t brought to bear? Or that extortion, plain and simple, using the data gathered by the telecoms, hasn’t been applied? It can be pretty efficient; costs a lot less to send one guy into a key meeting and make a soft-spoken, veiled threat, than to pony up money for lots of lobbying staff and campaign donations.

          And now I’ve thought of a third rationale for all the money not being laid out where we can see it: perhaps the telecoms are simply hording cash against the claims they expect, resistance being seen as futile? Explains the trend in campaign donations; why give as much money as in the past to people you expect to indict you.

        • emptywheel says:

          Actually I would caution against defining this so narrowly as “comm tech.”

          At least in February, the nearest correlation between donations and Democratic votes in favor of the SSCI bill was donations from Lockheed Martin. All those Dems like Mikulski and Inouye who are otherwise sane who voted for it got LM donations.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think you’re looking at it backwards.

          Yes, the telecoms are named defendants in the suits, AT&T above all.

          But if you buy Tim Shorrock’s argument (that I’ve extrapolatd from) that one of the big points of immunity is to prevent people from knowing how big this is, how much contractors and the govt are cooperating, then you have to leave open the possibility that the vacuuming up is just the known front end of this.

          If you buy the Main Core idea, for example, then you go back to Betac as the contractor with the COG contract going back to Reagan. Well, Betac is now owned by Lockheed Martin.

          Also, the bidders for Groundbreaker–a parallel kind of NSA contract, albeit not covert, was usually a DOD contractor with the telecoms as subs.

  29. wavpeac says:

    I love this site. Thank you empty wheel for your words. I think you are absolutely right, and have often imagined what that first day must have felt like for the likes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. And I am shocked at the naivete regarding any democrat taking office and whether or not they are the type of visionary that can “see” this.

    I was over at dkos and just sick to my stomach over the whole “Hillary wants Obama to be assasinated thing.” Shocked at the way people fail to see the way they have fallen in love with their own emotions. I love this site because you are so disciplined and patient as you weave together facts and because you so carefully label your judgments and theories as such when you make them.

    I have problems with some of the stuff the Clintons did, but I believe their reputation is as much a result of republican contagious negative spin, as the Carter reputation was during the 80’s. (with kernals of supporting truth that makes them human and flawed leaders like all of us would be). I don’t know why people cannot see the larger picture which is that every powerful democratic leader has been so discredited as to barely retain an ounce of respect. This is purposeful. And it only works because so many people are willing to believe, to take short cuts, to hate and fear on command. It makes for perfect scapegoating.

    I think Obama is also a good man, I just hope he doesn’t look as evil as the Clintons before it’s all over. I pray that if he does, those gleefully smearing, without regard to fact, will see that the sword cuts both ways…that liberal judgments are no less theoretical than conservative judgments.

    Thanks for your hard work…I have patiently waited to see if you could bring this together with facts and you have done a great job. All I ever have is my “intuition” and while I appreciate this in myself, I am woefully aware that my feelings aren’t facts. I am driven to this site because you seek the facts, and you just won’t allow those judgments or theories to go uncontested. Sometimes it is infuriating. I worry for humanity because the truth won’t set you free, if you haven’t developed the skills to differentiate between what is real and what is theoretical. Bush/co and his power occurred because a majority of our population was unable to make this distinction for themselves.

  30. freepatriot says:

    it’s hard for me to believe they would be completely transparent in terms of what a new President has access to.

    I’m not really sure you want me to go there, but I could put on my ten gallon tin foil stetson and start a discussion on shit kicking, if ya want …

    first off, does Obama get to use the magic declassifying wand ???

    and are we gonna lock up all these corrupt assholes with faulty memory and defective morals, or are we gonna waterboard em on national television ???


    who wants to fuck with the next president ???

    (it gets worse from there)

  31. JohnLopresti says:

    I wonder if UK’s SFO remains reluctant to examine the BAE matter in a way that DoJ apparently continues to assess. Here’s the Telegraph article last week on the brief episode of detention in the Houston airport of Mr. Turner and companions. Also, perhaps Peter H. Goldsmith QC, probably had political reasons for prescinding from letting the expose case develop in the UK while he was ~AG, though he continues now in his lateralized position at Debevoise.

  32. masaccio says:

    Well, we are far enough O/T for me to throw this out:

    On the OIG report.

    WilliamOckham asked on an earlier thread about the redactions in the chapter on Al-Qahtani. I have been looking at that chapter, and I am pretty sure the missing word is transfer or transport. Most of the deletions to that point in the report relate to one of three things: detention locations other than Iraq, Bagram, and GTMO; techniques of interrogation used on specific people; and agencies, probably including the CIA and perhaps its personnel and divisions.

    When we get to Chapter 5 on Al-Qahtani, we see the redaction in question. Apparently the point of interviewing him was to see what he could tell people about the 9/11 attacks, since he was believed to be the twentieth hijacker. In line with the other redactions, we see CIA, or some other three letter word redacted, and more redactions of techniques and people. We get a real hint about the word transfer or transport from footnote 71, which specifically states that there was a proposal to move Al-Qahtani to Jordan or Egypt to allow them to use other techniques. This appears in the text at least once, at page 88. The use of SERE techniques is raised, and footnote 62 says that these include dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation, nudity and waterboarding. There are several other mentions of the use of waterboarding.

    There are several references to the intention of the military to very aggressive techniques, using words like relentless, and sustained attack (p. 90). Then there is this:

    According to the FBI, [its agents] had concerns not only about the proposed techniques, but also about the “glee” with which the would-be participants discussed their respective roles in carrying out these techniques and the “utter lack of sophistication” and “circus-like atmosphere” within this interrogation strategy session.

    This lead me to speculate that the key to the redaction is that the transfer in question is not the transfer to Jordan or Egypt, but to an American black site where US personnel or contractors would torture him. Since waterboarding is mentioned, and other techniques are deleted, I think there is a chance the redacted techniques may be even more medieval.

    There are two other interesting things. First, the whole discussion is in the context of deciding whether the FBI or the DoD would head up the interrogation. The FBI took the position that its techniques were best if they were given plenty of time for them to work, while DoD should take the lead if there was an immediate need for military intelligence. Once Al-Qahtani was captured, it seems obvious that FBI should take the lead, since their techniques had proven successful and accurate, given time. But the military just steamrolled them.

    The second thing is the porous memory of Alice Fisher, who “did not recall” much of anything. Other people told the OIG they talked to her, and she just doesn’t remember the substance of those discussions. There is a nice example on page 98.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks for this, masaccio. I planted my squash and flowers today instead of reading about torture. But I do plan to get back to it.

      One thing to note–when they talk about these techniques, they always say they’re the techniques that Abu Zubaydah underwent. Not Abu Zubaydah and KSM and al-Nashiri–the two other people who we know to have been water-boarded. Just Abu Z.

      Does that mean they did something to Abu Z that they didn’t do to KSM and al-Nashiri?

      • Rayne says:

        Did they threaten imminent death and use other false flag trickery they didn’t use on the other two — and in particular, abuse him because he’d been shot?

        Or was Abu Z different because he incriminated Saudi royals?

        Or some combination, or all of the above?

        Or were KSM and al-Nashiri somebody’s assets, while Abu Z was not?

  33. behindthefall says:

    Haven’t read the thread piece by piece, but has anyone brought up that incident where the military on the scene had Bn Laden in their sights, quite literally, in Afghanistan, asked for permission to fire, and were directed NOT to fire? THAT has always begged for a few hooks to tie it into the rest of the picture, to me at least.

  34. pdaly says:

    Via the Star Tribune, citizen Ed Felien wants Bush to be arrested in August 2008 when his plane lands in Hennepin County to attend the GOP convention in Minnesota. Felien, a former Minneapolis City Council memember and peace activist has petitioned the Hennepin County Attorney for a writ of mandamus. It amuses me that a community would try what Congress fails to do: hold Bush accountable. I doubt much will come of it, but if nothing else, the petition lists a bill of particulars that address illegal acts Bush has done against the local community.

    Whereas there is probable cause to believe George W. Bush is guilty of murder in the third degree through his wanton disregard of human life in his pursuit of profits for his family’s business, thereby ending the lives of Hennepin County residents David Day, Robert Dixon and Scott Modeen, and

    Whereas there is probable cause to believe that George W. Bush and the Saudi royal family have entered into a conspiracy to withhold oil supplies and raise the price of crude oil causing gasoline prices to dramatically increase in Hennepin County, and

    Whereas there is probable cause to believe that George W. Bush has acted in collusion with the opium warlords of Afghanistan and elements within the CIA to distribute heroin in Europe,the United States and Hennepin County,

    Therefore, the petitioner asks this court to order Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman to bring charges of Murder in the Third Degree, Section 609.195; Conspiracy to fix prices,Section 325D.51; and Conspiracy to distribute drugs, Section 609.228 against George W. Bush
    and present them to a Grand Jury so that a Grand Jury may return a Bill of Indictment and George W. Bush may be arrested and made to stand trial when his plane lands in Hennepin County at the end of August.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Ed Felien

    Minneapolis, MN 55407

    The petition, in addition to listing the above, takes a running stroll through the history of the OSS/CIA, Skull & Bones, Bush family ties to war profiteering with Nazis among other misadventures. Perhaps not the most helpful to the case at hand but nice of him to collect these things in one place to provide citizens some context.

  35. MarieRoget says:

    OT- Memorial Day wknd is being observed w/flags waving on every grave @ the Veteran’s Cemetery in Westwood CA, not far from where I live. Every wknd is a memorial one @ Arlington West on Santa Monica beach, where crosses & flag-draped coffins for all the dead service personnel from the ME war are placed in the sand before dawn.

    How to honor the fallen men, women, & children on all sides of this senseless conflict, to help the thousands wounded in body & mind, their devastated families? The only answer occurring to me this morning is to install leadership in DC dedicated to a thorough cleansing of the Fed Gov, solid Dem majorities in both House & Senate, & a subsequent reckoning w/consequences for all to see for those in BushCo who have brought our country such dishonor, & caused such misery these past eight yrs through their corruption, greed, & inhumanity.

    End of rant. For now.
    A Memorial Day vid link- music is Joe Strummer’s version of The Minstrel Boy, clips are from Baghdad ER, Life & Death in the War Zone, & Desert Sky:

    The Minstrel Boy

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