Thursday, April 01, 2004

Worth Revisiting, from 12/8/03 - James Baker's Swindle

Courtesy of Greg Palast is this gem about how James Baker III is lining his pockets, W's pockets and Saudi pockets while restructuring Iraq's sovereign debt:

...But our President is not going to let something as trivial as international law stand in the way of a quick buck for Mr. Baker. To get around the wee issue that Bush has no legal authority to mess with Iraq's debt, the White House has crafted a neat little subterfuge. The official press release says the President has not appointed Mr. Baker. Rather Mr. Bush is "responding to a request from the Iraqi Governing Council." That is, Bush is acting on the authority of the puppet government he imposed on Iraqis at gunpoint.

I will grant the Iraqi "government" has some knowledge of international finance; its key member, Ahmed Chalabi, is a convicted bank swindler.

The Bush team must see the other advantage in having the rump rulers of Iraq pretend to choose Mr. Baker; the US Senate will not have to review or confirm the appointment. If you remember, Henry Kissinger ran away from the September 11 commission with his consulting firm tucked between his legs after the Senate demanded he reveal his client list. In the case of Jim Baker, who will be acting as a de facto US Treasury secretary for international affairs, our elected Congress will have no chance to ask him who is paying his firm.… nor even require him to get off conflicting payrolls...

And then of course there was the 2000 election, from the same article.

Why is our President so concerned with the wishes of Mr. Baker's clientele? What does Bush owe Baker? Let me count the ways, beginning with the 2000 election.

Just last week Baker said, "I fixed the election in Florida for George Bush." That was the substance of his remarks to an audience of Russian big wigs as reported to me by my somewhat astonished colleagues at BBC television.

It was Baker, as consiglieri to the Bush family, who came up with the strategy of maneuvering the 2000 Florida vote count into a Supreme Court packed with politicos.

Baker's claim to have fixed the election was not a confession; it was a boast. He meant to dazzle current and potential clients about his Big In with the Big Boy in the White House. Baker's firm is already a top player in the Great Game of seizing Caspian Sea oil. (An executive of Exxon-Mobil, one of Baker Botts's clients, has been charged with evading taxes on bribes paid in Kazakhstan.)

This is just a taste of what you can find at Greg Palast's web site. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Palast, he was one of the first journalists to break the story of the purged FL voter rolls in 2000. His book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is excellent.

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