Monday, October 25, 2004

Overseas Voters, Iran Attack, Immigrants, Massad,

1) This certainly jives with the experience of one of

our list readers in Istanbul...:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/salon/0,14779,1335573,00.html

-------
Suppressing the overseas vote
Record numbers of Americans abroad have registered,
but bureaucratic snafus may prevent many from
actually voting.
Alix Christie
Monday October 25 2004
The Guardian

Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat is pumped. Two weeks ago,
sitting in an internet cafe on Munich's Odeonplatz,
the software marketer who crafted a hugely successful
voter registration website, pulls up numbers that show
a remarkable spike in Americans overseas mobilising to
defeat George W Bush. Between her site and another out
of Hong Kong, Democrats have
registered 140,000 new voters, 40% of them from swing
states - and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Americans abroad, roused to a boiling fury by a Bush
doctrine that has smeared America's good name across
the globe, are looking like the "silent swing vote" in
several key battleground states. Overseas registration
for both parties is up by 400% over 2000; estimates
put the tally of possible civilian votes as high as 2
million.

Then the panicked emails start flooding in. Today,
less than two weeks before the tightest presidential
race in memory, untold thousands of overseas voters
still have not received their ballots - and clearly
won't be able to get them back in time. Late primaries
and legal challenges to Ralph Nader's appearance on
the ballot delayed mailings from half the battleground
states. In swing states, including Florida, Ohio and
New Mexico, different versions of the ballot have gone
out, sowing wild confusion. In Pennsylvania alone, at
least three versions were mailed overseas, in
successive, chaotic waves - with Nader and without
him, plus a blank one-size-fits-all ballot with no
names at all.

Activists now fear that huge numbers of Americans
overseas - both military and civilian - may be as
disenfranchised as they were in 2000, when anywhere
from 10 to 40% of overseas ballots, depending on the
county, just plain never showed up. But, far from
helping civilians, the Federal Voting Assistance
Programme (FVAP) has dragged its feet. A small
liaison office based in the Pentagon, the FVAP
provides voting materials to the departments of
defence and state for soldiers and civilians abroad,
and preaches overseas election law to thousands of
local election officials back home...


2) This strikes me as far-fetched, and a bit of
internet myth-making along the way -- especially
because most of the information gathered by the writer
is of a general nature and proves nothing specific.
That said, if it happens, you read it here first. If
nothing else, this article shows the sort of tensions
rising around the elections. Also, while the scenario
seems unlikely this week, it is the scenario that I
personally expect to eventually unfold should Bush be
pre-elected:

October 20, 2004
Lebanon Wire
A Bush pre-election strike on Iran 'imminent' White
House insider report "October Surprise" imminent
By Wayne Madsen

According to White House and Washington Beltway
insiders, the Bush administration, worried that it
could lose the presidential election to Senator John
F. Kerry, has initiated plans to launch a military
strike on Iran's top Islamic leadership, its nuclear
reactor at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, and key
nuclear targets throughout the country, including
the main underground research site at Natanz in
central Iran and another in Isfahan. Targets of the
planned U.S. attack reportedly include mosques in
Tehran, Qom, and Isfahan known by the U.S. to
headquarter Iran's top mullahs.

The Iran attack plan was reportedly drawn up after
internal polling indicated that if the Bush
administration launched a so-called anti-terrorist
attack on Iran some two weeks before the election,
Bush would be assured of a landslide win against
Kerry. Reports of a pre-emptive strike on Iran come
amid concerns by a number of political observers that
the Bush administration would concoct an "October
Surprise" to influence the outcome of the presidential
election.

According to White House sources, the USS John F.
Kennedy was deployed to the Arabian Sea to coordinate
the attack on Iran. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
discussed the Kennedy's role in the planned attack on
Iran when he visited the ship in the Arabian Sea on
October 9. Rumsfeld and defense ministers of U.S.
coalition partners, including those of Albania,
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Latvia,
Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Poland, Qatar,
Romania, and Ukraine briefly discussed a very "top
level" view of potential dual-track military
operations in Iran and Iraq in a special "war room"
set up on board the aircraft carrier. America's
primary ally in Iraq, the United Kingdom, did not
attend the planning session because it reportedly
disagrees with a military strike on Iran. London
also suspects the U.S. wants to move British troops
from Basra in southern Iraq to the Baghdad area to
help put down an expected surge in Sh'ia violence in
Sadr City and other Sh'ia areas in central Iraq when
the U.S. attacks Iran as well as clear the way for a
U.S. military strike across the Iraqi-Iranian border
aimed at securing the huge Iranian oil installations
in Abadan. U.S. allies South Korea, Australia, Kuwait,
Jordan, Italy, Netherlands, and Japan were also left
out of the USS John F. Kennedy planning discussions
because of their reported opposition to any strike on
Iran.

In addition, Israel has been supplied by the United
States with 500 "bunker buster" bombs. According to
White House sources, the Israeli Air Force will attack
Iran's nuclear facility at Bushehr with the U.S.
bunker busters. The joint U.S.-Israeli pre-emptive
military move against Iran reportedly was crafted by
the same neo-conservative grouping in the
Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office that
engineered the invasion of Iraq.

Morale aboard the USS John F. Kennedy is at an
all-time low, something that must be attributable to
the knowledge that the ship will be involved in an
extension of U.S. military actions in the Persian Gulf
region. The Commanding Officer of an F-14 Tomcat
squadron was relieved of command for a reported shore
leave "indiscretion" in Dubai and two months ago the
Kennedy's commanding officer was relieved for cause.

The White House leak about the planned attack on Iran
was hastened by concerns that Russian technicians
present at Bushehr could be killed in an attack, thus
resulting in a wider nuclear confrontation between
Washington and Moscow. International Atomic Energy
Agency representatives are also present at the Bushehr
facility. In addition, an immediate
Iranian Shahab ballistic missile attack against Israel
would also further destabilize the Middle East. The
White House leaks about the pre-emptive
strike may have been prompted by warnings from the CIA
and the Defense Intelligence Agency that an attack on
Iran will escalate out of control. Intelligence
circles report that both intelligence agencies are in
open revolt against the Bush White House.

White House sources also claimed they are "terrified"
that Bush wants to start a dangerous war with Iran
prior to the election and fear that such a move will
trigger dire consequences for the entire world.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative
journalist and columnist. He served in the National
Security Council (NSA) during the Reagan
Administration and wrote the introduction to Forbidden
Truth. He is the co-author, with john Stanton of
"America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush
II." His forthcoming book is titled: "jaded Tasks: Big
Oil, Black Ops, and Brass Plates." Madsen can be
reached at Wmadsen777@aol.com

Copyright©1999-2004 Lebanonwire®.com


3) Apropos Iranian nukes:

TEHRAN, Oct. 24 - Iran on Sunday rejected a proposal
by Britain, Germany and France to suspend its uranium
enrichment program and urged those countries to offer
a "more balanced" proposal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/25/international/middleeast/25iran.html?ex=1099719980&ei=1&en=4a18fe1def40a333


4) More on election tensions, now tied up with an
immigration roundup:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/102404A.shtml


At the Department of Homeland Security, an immigration
unit has detained 120 foreigners so far this month on
charges of being in the country illegally, including
some who are named in databases of criminal or
terrorism suspects, officials said yesterday. At the
FBI, about 2,000 counter-terrorism agents have been
assigned the task of conducting interviews and
following up on leads, with instructions to report to
24-hour call centers in each field office. The
disruption plan "is intense up to the election, but
they're keeping command posts operational for longer
than that," one official said. The person in charge of
the campaign is Patrick Cook, who was summoned to FBI
headquarters the day after Bush's briefing, officials
said. Reassigned on the spot from his job as a senior
official in the Washington field office, Cook moved to
the FBI's Strategic Information Operations Center with
a mandate to run the national disruption plan. "They
told him his whole job is to prevent an attack before
the inauguration," said a sympathetic colleague who
works elsewhere. "Which is like being told, 'Make the
sky turn purple.'"...


5) ACLU initiative concerning above-reference
immigration round-up:

Thursday, October 21, 2004 PRESS CONTACT: Stella
Richardson, ACLU-NC 415-621-2493 Cell 415-845-3042

ACLU-NC SUES FBI AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SEEKING
RECORDS OF ONGOING QUESTIONING OF MUSLIMS IN NORTHERN
CALIFORNIA

FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces May Be Violating


the Constitutional Rights of Immigrants and U.S.
Citizens


SAN FRANCISCO -- The ACLU of Northern California,
under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), today
filed a lawsuit seeking expedited processing and
release of FBI and other Department of Justice
documents pertaining to the ongoing investigation,
interviews and questioning of Muslims and U.S.
citizens of Middle Eastern descent in Northern
California.

The ACLU-NC is concerned that the questioning by FBI's
Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF's) of immigrants and
U.S. citizens may violate their First Amendment rights
and have a chilling effect on the exercise of
constitutional rights. The JTTF's are made up of state
and local officers working with agents of the FBI and
officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE).

The ACLU's lawsuit charges the federal government with
stalling the release of public records that would
reveal the scope, purpose and policies behind
controversial tactics currently being pursued
throughout Northern California by the FBI's JTTFs.

The documents sought by the FOIA request would (among
other things) reveal the scope of JTTF operations in
Northern California and whether the FBI's JTTFs have
any written policies that -

· Control the maintenance, storage, use and
destruction of the sensitive religious, political and
personal information gathered in these interviews;

· Ensure that state and local officers do not violate
stronger California constitutional rights and local
policies while operating under Attorney General John
Ashcroft's drastically loosened intelligence
guidelines for the FBI; and,

· Ensure the rights to lawfully practice one's
religion or to express dissent from government
policies are not, by themselves, appropriate subjects
for law enforcement inquiry.

"It's time for the FBI to come clean about this
unprecedented campaign and the activities of their
JTTF's in our state," said John Crew, an attorney for
the ACLU of Northern California. "If they want the
public to believe these interviews are truly
voluntary, why won't they publicly release policies
requiring officers to respect the constitutional right
of individuals to refuse answer these chilling
questions? If the right to have an attorney present
during the questioning will be respected, why do they
resist quickly releasing policies that say that?"

The ACLU-NC based its lawsuit on regulations that
require expedited treatment of FOIA requests when
substantial due process rights are at stake or when
the request concerns a matter of widespread and
exceptional media interest in which there are possible
questions about the government's integrity which
affect public confidence.
The FBI refused to expedite the processing of the FOIA
request, saying there was "no particular urgency" to
inform the public about its activities. In 2003, the
typical time for the FBI to respond to Freedom of
Information Act requests without expedited treatment
was 370 to 558 days, according to the Department of
Justice.
"The ACLU-NC filed the lawsuit today because the
government has given us no other alternative," said
Amitai Schwartz, ACLU-NC cooperating attorney. "We
hope that this lawsuit will lead to the release of
government documents that will shed light on the FBI's
activities in Northern California."

The ACLU and other legal, community and religious
organizations in Northern California have received
multiple reports in recent weeks of members of the
FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces showing up by
surprise at the homes, workplaces and mosques of local
Muslims.

Sometimes working in teams of three -- an FBI agent, a
so-called "special federal officer" (actually local
law enforcement), and an ICE agent - JTTF officers
have, according to reports, pressured subjects to
immediately answer prying questions about religious
beliefs, practices and associations as well as
political views. Individuals politely asserting their
right to have an attorney present have nonetheless
faced pressure to immediately comply with the FBI
JTTF's requests for this sensitive, personal
information.

"No one should have to answer questions about the
places they worship at or their views on the conflict
in Iraq," said Shirin Sinnar, President of the Bay
Area Association of Muslim Lawyers. "It is simply not
the job of government to be probing into First
Amendment activity."

The ACLU encourages individuals who are contacted by
the FBI to seek legal advice before agreeing to
respond to questions. The National Lawyers Guild has
made available a free legal hotline at 415-285-1041.

For a copy of the complaint visit www.aclunc.org


For a copy of the FOIA request, visit --
http://aclunc.org/911/041005-foia-request.pdf


6) This isn't attracting much attention in the US, but
the broader implications of this development are
fairly severe:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57363-2004Oct23.html?referrer=email

Memo Lets CIA Take Detainees Out of Iraq
Practice Is Called Serious Breach of Geneva
Conventions

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2004; Page A01

At the request of the CIA, the Justice Department
drafted a confidential memo that authorizes the agency
to transfer detainees out of Iraq for interrogation --
a practice that international legal specialists say
contravenes the Geneva Conventions.

One intelligence official familiar with the operation
said the CIA has used the March draft memo as legal
support for secretly transporting as many as a dozen
detainees out of Iraq in the last six months. The
agency has concealed the detainees from the
International Committee of the Red Cross and other
authorities, the official said. [...]



7) One of our readers, anonymous but London-based,
spews his bile concerning the elegance of US
democracy:

Well Bush - despite getting less than 50% of the
votes, and only (on aggregate) about 20% of the
country voting for him, as acted as if he had a
massive land-slide victory.

This has cut US society in two, with debates being
typified by polar extremes - 'Pro-life', anti gay,
pro-assault rifles... all that good right-wing stuff.

He's also hurting the US economy, although big
business is doing well enough.

Also - if I only knew people like you, I would not
understand how Bush becomes President - but I've been
to the States, and frankly the levels of intolerance,
hate, blind patriotism (over xenophobia) are
astounding.

The shit the American right wing comes out with... who
cares if Gay people get married, I'd be more worried
about the fact I have to pay $30,000 for my kid to get
a degree... and still fork out for health insurance.

It annoys me that Americans will fly the flag, brag
about being the best - and ignore shit social
conditions, which frankly are a joke for the world's
super-power. The fact Cuba has lower infant mortality
is not a reason to cuss communism and point out other
faults, but should spark horror that a small blockaded
nation gives its citizens better health care than the
USA.

I'm fed up with America, I used to like it - now it's
some god-damn awful country like Israel which always
plays the victim card, whilst blowing crap out of
civilians world over. Yet, people are convinced 100%
that they are the best.

The US lacks any introspective analysis, not enough
stand back and say "The US could be great, hey lets
look at our own problems and try and sort them out".

We've got f'king right wing Christians in the White
House...arrrggghhhhh.... For me, any religious
political party is bad news - Christian, Muslim,
Jewish - whatever...

And all this fucking conservative literature - that
bitch Anne Colutier (how to talk to liberals if you
must) - like Liberal is some dirty word... I thought
being liberal was a good thing...

Who is going to stop them? They are poision... they
are scum - they want to hate and divide and stamp on
people's rights.

They are not democratic - the Rublicans love
democracy, but only if everyone agrees with them.
Democrats disagree, therefore they must be subversive
anti-Amerians.

And saying this seems trivial and simplistic - but how
is it that crap can make the New York Times best
seller.

The presidential elections are a joke - "Well I'm
going to win in Iraq", "Well me too, but I'm going to
win it better".... and I know that whoever wins will
determine events in my country and planet.

Oh man... it's so depressing, and I know Bush is going
to get another four years as the stupid, frightened,
ignorant people in the middle states are going to vote
for him, "Coz he's keeping us safe from A-rabs and
Muslims who want to take away our freedom.

They fail to notice Ashcroft has taken away more
freedoms than the USSR managed, more than Bin Laden
could ever dream of.

I'm stopping now... but I think Europe should accept
US citizens as political refugees!

Then people are 'free' to order French Fries, and
French wine....instead of Freedom Fries and Freedom
wine. Idiots.

Better Cheese eating surrender monkeys than
gun-totting, tobacco chewing Nazis.

I'm going to jail for this.... but although many
Americans feel that what happens in America is their
business and is not for the rest of the world to
comment on, the simple fact is that what happens does
impact massively on the world, negatively or
positively, and so like it or not - people are going
to react to what the US does.

But the way the UK and US are carrying on, it's a
matter of time before some bastard plants a nuke in DC
or London... or a dirty bomb or something nasty.

I hear New Zealand is nice this time of year.


8) Wolf Packs For Truth [remember that Bush ad
showcased last week?]

http://www.wolfpacksfortruth.org/


9) Here's some UK images to check out:

www.anyoldicon.com


10) Juan Cole on Joseph Massad's current fight over
academic freedom and Daniel Pipes' intimidation at
Columbia University [see http://www.monabaker.com/ for
further information on this topic]:

www.juancole.com
Defending Massad

Those who care anything for freedom of speech and
academic integrity should please rise to the defense
of Professor Joseph Massad at Columbia University. A
concerted campaign has been gotten up against him by
the American Likud, aimed at getting him fired.

We don't fire professors in the United States for
their views when we are in our right minds. It happens
when the US is seized with an irrational frenzy, as
during the McCarthy period. A researcher at the
University of Michigan was let go in the 1950s for
"tending toward Scandinavian economics."

You know, we really need a Political Action Committee
for professors. The American Association of University
Professors is a wonderful organization, but has mainly
moral authority (it can de-certify universities that
behave egregiously). There are hundreds of thousands
of teachers at community colleges, four-year colleges
and universities in this country, and they just let
themselves be walked all over by small single-issue
constituencies who don't want them teaching this, that
or the other thing.

Congress is increasingly a battleground on such
matters, and elected representatives tend to cave to
special interest groups if there is no money coming in
on the other side.

We don't have to be sitting ducks and put up with
this. There are lots of forces in US society that
would support the researchers. The debate over
attempts by creationists on the school board in Kansas
City to curtail the teaching of evolution has been
informed by city council concerns that such moves may
damage the city's biosciences initiative. It is
increasingly clear to a lot of Americans that they can
be ignorant and poor or they can cultivate science and
get rich. Likewise, a lot of Americans realize that
serious security thinking at the university level
requires a free-for-all in which you can't put some
subjects off limits for debate.

In the meantime, I urge academics and others to
boycott the United States Institute for Peace this
year, as long as extremist ideologue Daniel Pipes
serves on it. Bush put him on it despite the Senate's
refusal to confirm him. Pipes is leading the charge to
have US academics censored for daring speak out
against Ariel Sharon's odious predations in Palestine.
Sharon's state terrorism and expansionism is
endangering both Israel and the United States, and
puts both Jewish Americans and other Americans at
unnecessary risk. Those who attempt to stop criticism
of Sharon are in essence giving aid and comfort to
extremists of all stripes, who benefit from
polarization. In parlous times like the post-9/11
environment, demagogues grow powerful and American
values are endangered. Massad is the canary in the
mine shaft of American democracy.

posted by Juan @ 10/25/2004 06:03:00 AM


11) The stunning Arctic Refuge photographs of
Subhankar Banerjee vividly debunk Secretary of the
Interior Gale Norton's characterization of ANWR as
"flat, white nothingness." His exhibition at the
Smithsonian was moved from the Rotunda Gallery to a
hallway leading to a loading dock, without
explanation.

See his magnificent photographs here:
http://www.oriononline.org/pages/oo/gallery/index_gallery.html





Iraq's Debt, Iraqi Miltary, Spoof of Election -- from Nabil

1) Middle East Economic Survey


VOL. XLVII
No 42
18-October-2004

Carlyle Group Proposes To Collect Iraqi Debt For
Kuwait, Says The Nation

An article published in the latest edition of The
Nation examines the conflict of interest confronting
former US Secretary of State James Baker III in his
government role as Special Presidential Envoy on Iraqi
debt and in his private interest as a senior counselor
and equity partner in the Carlyle Group. Together with
the Albright Group (headed by former US Secretary of
State Madelaine Albright) and other international
firms, the Carlyle Group has formed a consortium, The
Nation alleges, for the purpose of persuading Kuwait
to allow the consortium to collect billions of dollars
of unpaid Iraqi debt on its behalf. In the process of
doing so, the consortium would reap substantial
financial benefits for itself.

Citing a copy of a 65-page confidential proposal and
relevant correspondence, The Nation says that the
Carlyle Group is seeking to “secure an extraordinary
$1bn investment from the Kuwaiti Government, with
Baker’s influence as debt envoy being used as a
crucial lever.” The Nation says that the “secret deal”
calls for the transfer of ownership of some $57bn in
unpaid Iraqi debts owed to the government of Kuwait to
a foundation created and controlled by the consortium.
Under the deal Kuwait would give the consortium $2bn
up front to invest in a private equity fund devised by
the consortium, with half of it going to Carlyle. (For
full article see website:
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041101&s=klein).


Meanwhile, the Carlyle Group denied on 14 October that
it was ever a part of any consortium or proposal, but
in light of Mr Baker’s connection with President
George W Bush and his family, Carlyle’s statement is
being viewed as damage control as the US Presidential
election enters its final weeks. Other members of the
consortium include: Fidelity Investments, BNP Paribas,
Gaffney, Cline & Associates, Nexgen Financial
Solutions, and Emerging Markets Partnership. The
Kuwaiti Government has not issued any formal reply to
the story so far. According to The Nation, the
“Proposal to Assist the Government of Kuwait in
Protecting and Realizing Claims Against Iraq,” was
delivered to Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Shaikh
Muhammad al-Sabah, last January by Shahameen Shaikh,
chairman and CEO of International Strategy Group, the
company created by the consortium to manage the deal,
on the same day that James Baker happened to be in
Kuwait meeting with Kuwaiti leaders. According to Mr
Shaikh, the timing was a coincidence.

In correspondence between the consortium and the
Kuwait Foreign Ministry obtained by The Nation, the
consortium warns Kuwait that the debts due to it from
Iraq “are in imminent jeopardy,” and that world
opinion is beginning to favor debt forgiveness, which
it says is shown by President Bush’s appointment of Mr
Baker as his envoy to negotiate Iraqi debt relief. The
consortium has told Kuwait that it stands to lose the
$30bn in sovereign debt that Iraq owes it as well as
$27bn in war reparations stemming from the 1990 Iraqi
invasion. The consortium informs the Kuwaitis that
through its roster of high-level US and European
politicians, who have “personal rapport with the
stakeholders in the anticipated negotiations,” it is
able to “reach key decision-makers in the UN and in
key capitals.” The consortium has told Kuwait that if
it agrees to transfer the debts to the consortium’s
foundation, the consortium will use these personal
connections to persuade world leaders that Iraq must
“maximize” its debt payments to Kuwait, which would be
able to collect the money after 10 to 15 years. The
more the consortium gets Iraq to pay during that
period, the more Kuwait collects, with the consortium
taking a 5% commission or more, The Nation says.

“The goal of maximizing Iraq’s debt payments directly
contradicts the US foreign policy aim of drastically
reducing Iraq’s debt burden,” The Nation points out
and then goes on to ask the opinion of law professor
Kathleen Clark of Washington University, who states
that Mr Baker’s circumstances presents a classic
conflict of interest. “Baker is on two sides of this
transaction: He is supposed to be representing the
interests of the US,” Ms Clark said, “but he is also a
senior counselor at Carlyle, and Carlyle wants to get
paid to help Kuwait recover its debts from Iraq.”
After examining the documents obtained by The Nation,
Ms Clark said, “Carlyle and the other companies are
exploiting Baker’s current position to try to land a
deal with Kuwait that would undermine the interests of
the US Government.” Meanwhile, Jerome Levinson, an
international lawyer and expert on corruption at
American University described the proposed deal as
“one of the greatest cons of all time. The consortium
is saying to the Kuwait Government: ‘Through us, you
have the only chance to realize a substantial part of
the debt. Why? Because of who we are and who we know.’
It is influence peddling of the crassest kind.”
However, The Nation says that in speaking with the
Carlyle Group, the firm claims that neither it nor Mr
Baker wrote, edited or authorized the proposal to the
Kuwait Government, yet it acknowledged that Carlyle
had proposed a deal to the Kuwaitis that would give it
a $1bn investment.

Special Envoy Role

In his role as special envoy Mr Baker has
distinguished between sovereign debt and war
reparations saying that while sovereign debt may be
forgiven, reparations may not because that is under
the jurisdiction of the UN. As it now stands, Iraq
owes up to $200bn in sovereign debt and war
reparations, a figure that severely curtails the
country’s ability to rebuild itself or meet pressing
humanitarian needs. The Nation says that over the last
18 months Iraq has made reparations payments of
$1.8bn, more than Iraq’s education and health care
combined and more than the US has spent on
reconstruction. “Most of the [reparations] payments
have gone to Kuwait, a country that is about to post
its sixth consecutive budget surplus, where citizens
have an average purchasing power of $19,000 a year,”
The Nation says, adding: “Iraqis, by contrast, are
living on an average of just over $2 a day, with most
of the population dependent on food rations for basic
nutrition.” Reparation claims amounting to nearly
$50bn have been awarded by the UN and many claims
still remain to be assessed. These have an estimated
value ranging from $50bn to $130bn. The UN
Compensation Commission puts the figure for unresolved
claims at $82.6bn, only a portion of which is likely
to be awarded.

But the fate of reparations is also in question as
many are beginning to consider the damage done during
the wars resting solely with Saddam Husain and not the
Iraqi people. The Carlyle/Albright consortium sees
this change in attitude as a political and public
relations problem and has informed the Kuwaitis that
if it is going to receive its reparations awards it
will need to cast them in a light that shows them not
to be a burden on Iraq but “as a key element in
working toward regional stability and reconciliation.”
In order to ensure that Kuwait does not lose its
sovereign debt and reparations payments, the
consortium proposes a “three-pronged strategy of
aggressive backroom lobbying, clever public relations
and creative investing and financing,” The Nation
says, and quotes the proposal as saying: “Any solution
for payment of the Unpaid Awards…must be politically
sellable as reinforcing stability and growth in the
Gulf and in Iraq. This proposal provides the strategy,
the architecture and the talent to achieve this goal.”


The proposal suggests a full-time lobbying offensive
directed at Security Council members, using Albright’s
connections, but also other “eminent” people
associated with the consortium like former US Senator
Gary Hart and former US Ambassador to the UN Jeane
Kirkpatrick. “We will first seek to preserve the 5% of
the revenues from Iraqi oil allocated as funding for
payment of the UNCC awards,” the proposal says, adding
that it will do this by making “discreet contacts at
top levels in key capitals of Security Council members
states and with influential representatives,” and
“interventions with UN senior staff to shape
presentations to the Security Council.”

Public Relations Front

On the public relations front, the proposal will
attempt to dispel the notion that reparations are
“diverting resources from rebuilding Iraq to a more
wealthy neighbor.” It suggests that Kuwait must first
assign its unpaid debts from Iraq to a private
foundation controlled by the consortium that will
manage an investment fund that will invest a portion
of reparations payments from Iraq to Kuwait back into
Iraq, such as buying Iraqi state-owned companies. By
doing this, the consortium concludes, the foundation
“establishes a humanitarian rationale for the US and
other countries to continue their support” for
reparations. It also suggests that $1bn of reparations
money be paid into a ‘Kuwait Environmental Restoration
Fund’ that would remind the world of “the gravity of
the environmental legacy facing Kuwait,” and to
“position Kuwait as the region’s environmental
leader.” The fund would be headed by Carol Browner,
former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and a principal in the Albright Group.

On investment and financing, the proposal says that in
order for Kuwait to maximize the value of its
compensation it would need to place another $2bn in a
Middle East Private Equity Fund. Of that $2bn, “$1bn
would be invested, by way of special agreement, in the
Carlyle Group equity funds,” for a period of at least
12 to 15 years, after which time the return on these
investments, plus whatever the consortium could secure
in reparations payments would be delivered to the
Kuwaitis. According to The Nation, it is an excellent
deal for the consortium. “Its members get to manage a
$2bn investment portfolio, collecting healthy
management fees as well as a percentage of interest.
They also will be paid a ‘retainer’ and 5% of any
debts the consortium gets repaid, and ‘a negotiated
percentage of the value of the returned to Kuwait
exceeding’ the pre-arranged amount.”

The article goes on to point out that ultimately,
because Iraq’s financial resources will be diverted to
Kuwait, the US taxpayer will be paying the bill for
Iraq’s reconstruction. Commenting on the scenario
proposed by the Carlyle/Albright consortium, The
Nation quoted Mr Levinson as saying: “Here you have
two former Secretaries of State seemingly proposing to
use their contacts and inside information to undercut
the official US Government policy,” while Ms Clark
said the proposal “lays bare how former high-level
government employees use their access in order to reap
financial benefits that appear to be enormous.”


2) NY Times on Iraqi Military:
Sat, 23 Oct 2004 16:33:47 +0000

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/21/international/21war.html?ex=1099414361&ei=1&en=f9c61ea381a61538


3) Comedy on Election:

http://atomfilms.shockwave.com/af/content/goodtobeindc_af



4) Salam Pax Blogger on DC Visit:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5044687-112564,00.html






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