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For The Record  

FTR #289 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

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NB: This RealAudio stream contains FTRs 288 and 289 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broadcast.

1. Resuming the topic of the powerful Vatican order called Opus Dei. Deeply involved in the elevation of Pope John Paul II, the organization has roots going back to Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship in Spain. Following the arrest of a key FBI counterintelligence agent for allegedly spying on behalf of Russia and the former Soviet Union, it emerged that the official (Robert Hanssen) was a member of Opus Dei. (“Was FBI Agent’s True ‘Loyalty’ to Opus Dei?” by Yoichi Clark Shimatsu; Jinn Magazine, March 5, 2001.)

2. “The search for a motive [for Hanssen’s alleged actions] is complicated by the fact that his colleagues say that Hanssen was fiercely anticommunist and a devout member of Opus Dei, an ultraconservative Catholic organization. He was a regular parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Church, in a Virginia suburb of the capital, where an elite congregation, which includes Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, attend traditional Latin masses.” (Ibid.; p. 1.)

3. Discussing the order and its history, Shimatsu relates its fascist antecedents, and also discusses evidence of a 1980s rapprochement between Moscow and the Vatican. (This rapprochement may have been a motive for the shooting of the Pope by Mehmet Ali Agca.) “Opus Dei, Latin for ‘Work of God,’ is a secretive lay group within the body of the Catholic Church, with more than 80,000 members worldwide. As the only personal prelature in the Church, it is an entity unto itself, separate from the diocesan structure. Founded in the late 1920’s by Spanish priest Jose Maria Escriva, Opus Dei assumed a political role from the start, openly siding with the Franco dictatorship. Its members served in cabinets while Spain was allied with Hitler and Mussolini. Opus Dei foundered in the wake of World War II, but regained impetus under Pope John Paul II, after providing crucial support for his papal candidacy. In the Polish pope, the group found a champion willing to back its harsh stance against abortion, birth control, its crusade against communism, the push for Catholicism as a state religion, and war on left-leaning liberation theologians within the Church. . . .Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, a powerful Opus Dei supporter, pursued a policy of reaching out toward Moscow with the aim of gaining Poland’s release from the Warsaw Pact. . . . Rivers of money, much of it provided by Bill Casey’s CIA, poured into Warsaw and Moscow, and the Vatican found ready support from the U.S. because the security establishment under President Ronald Reagan was packed with conservative Catholics, including Casey, Richard Allen and William Clark.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

4. Shimatsu then speculates about a possible motive for Hanssen’s alleged activities. “Hanssen’s most damaging activities in FBI counterintelligence coincided with these years, 1985-89. Secrets from America’s intelligence vaults could well have been part of the quid pro quo in the late Cardinal’s dance with Moscow. Certainly, the Vatican has had no qualms about violating American sensitivities. Indeed, it seems to reflect a Eurocentric triumphalism. The papal encyclical on labor rights slapped rampant materialism—that is, the immoral United States—as the ‘other’ great evil afoot in the world.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

5. The article also notes that FBI director Louis Freeh is also a member of the order. “Did Hanssen clear the path to the FBI directorate for his fellow Opus Dei member Louis Freeh? This possibility cannot be dismissed, nor should reluctance to interfere with a religious organization prevent a probe into Hanssen’s ties within Opus Dei.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

6. Following discussion of Hanssen’s relationship to Opus Dei, the program highlights a “legal” organization called the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy. An extreme right-wing consortium with enormous sway within the Bush administration, the organization has already made its influence felt. (“Judgment Daze” by Julian Borger; The Guardian; 3/26/2001.)

7. “Founded in 1982, the group set as its goals the ideological conquest of the nation’s law schools. Two decades on it has achieved an extraordinary degree of success. The Federalists’ law school chapters now offer graduates a faster route to the top, through clerkships in high-profile chambers and a powerful career network, than the mainstream professional body, the American Bar Association (ABA). They scored their greatest triumph last week, when President Bush stripped the ABA of its role as a vetting agency in the appointment of federal judges. The ABA had first been assigned the task by President Eisenhower as a means of setting minimum professional standards for the judiciary around the country. . . . The Federalists have now taken the ABA’s place in all but name. In President Bush’s first week, a task force was set up in the White house to rush through nominations for the 100 (out of a total of 862) federal judgeships in appeals and circuit courts.” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

8. Borger discusses the Federalists’ impact on the Bush administration and the Republican Party. “Many are veterans of earlier campaigns, such as Brett Kavanaugh, the young lawyer who served as chief investigator for Kenneth Starr, President Clinton’s inquisitor and nemesis and another key member of the Federalist Society. Mr. Starr, in turn, got the job of independent counsel from David Sentelle, a conservative circuit judge and early Federalist member. The lawyers acting for Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against the president and for Linda Tripp, who handed over secret tapes of Monica Lewinsky, were both Federalists.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

9. The article also sets forth the role of Federalists in the manipulation of the Florida vote count. “The Bush cause was argued by Ted Olson, the head of the Washington head of the Washington chapter of the Federalist Society, who is now Solicitor General. It was supported most fiercely on the Supreme Court by Antonin Scalia, one of the moving spirits behind the formation of the Federalists and a regular attraction at the society’s seminars and retreats for ambitious lawyers.” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

10. Borger also points out that Federalists occupy key cabinet positions in the Bush administration. “The fact that the energy and interior secretaries, Spencer Abraham and Gale Norton are both senior Federalists no doubt played a role. [In guiding Bush environmental policies.] James Bopp, another Florida veteran, is leading the legal fight against campaign finance reform.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

11. In discussing the radical right-wing nature of the Bush administration, the program underscores the fact that the Florida “recount” constituted a coup d état. “This is the most radical administration in living American memory. I use the word deliberately. Today’s right calls itself ‘conservative,’ but it is not that.” (“The Feeling of a Coup” by Anthony Lewis; New York Times; 3/31/2001; p. A27.)

12. The broadcast concludes with examination of an influential, but little known European business consortium. The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) wields decisive influence within the EU. (“The Quiet Knights of Europe’s Round Table” by Paul Betts; Financial Times; 3/20/2001; p. 10.)

13. “You would not imagine that this place saw the conception of a strategy that is set to be assessed by Thursday’s European Council meeting in Stockholm. That strategy, adopted by European governments and the European Commission at a council last year in Lisbon, drew largely on broad ERT recommendations. It exhorted the European Union to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.'” (Idem.)

14. The article also discusses the group’s extreme secrecy. “Secrecy has merely strengthened its critics’ conviction that the ERT is ‘a shadowy lobby group that has, for the past 15 years, exerted an iron grip on policymaking in Brussels,’ as The Guardian newspaper described it in a 1999 report. A particularly critical study, entitled ‘Misshaping Europe,’ which was published seven years ago, even suggested that ‘the political agenda of the EC [as the EU was then known] has to a large extent been dominated by the ERT.'” (Idem.)

15. “Founded in 1983, it grew out of the groupe des presidents formed in the 1960’s by a very select and small number of European business tycoons led by Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat.” (Idem.)

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #289 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates”

  1. This is fun: It turns out Antonin Scalia spent his last hours with a number of members from an Austrian-based secret-society dedicated to the Saint Hubert, the Catholic saint of deer hunting, whose conversion story is depicted on bottles of Jagermeister. So the next time you’re slamming that shot of Jager, you’re sort of celebrating one of Scalia’s secretly celebrated saints:

    The Washington Post
    Justice Scalia spent his last hours with members of this secretive society of elite hunters

    By Amy Brittain and Sari Horwitz February 24 at 7:37 PM

    When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 12 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s.

    After Scalia’s death Feb. 13, the names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort, along with details about Scalia’s connection to the hunters, have remained largely unknown. A review of public records shows that some of the men who were with Scalia at the ranch are connected through the International Order of St. Hubertus, whose members gathered at least once before at the same ranch for a celebratory weekend.

    Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes,” which means “Honoring God by honoring His creatures,” according to the group’s website. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. The Order’s name is in honor of Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and fishermen.

    Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter and C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who traveled to the ranch with Scalia by private plane, hold leadership positions within the Order. It is unclear what, if any, official association Scalia had with the group.

    “There is nothing I can add to your observation that among my many guests at Cibolo Creek Ranch over the years some members of the International Order of St. Hubertus have been numbered,” Poindexter said in an email. “I am aware of no connection between that organization and Justice Scalia.”

    An attorney for the Scalia family did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

    Two other private planes that landed at the ranch for the weekend are linked to two men who have held leadership positions with the Texas chapter of the Order, according to a review of state business filings and flight records from the airport.

    After Scalia’s death, Poindexter told reporters that he met Scalia at a “sports group” gathering in Washington. The U.S. chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus lists a suite on M Street NW in the District as its headquarters, although the address is only a mailbox in a United Parcel Service store.

    The International Order of St. Hubertus, according to its website, is a “true knightly order in the historical tradition.” In 1695, Count Franz Anton von Sporck founded the society in Bohemia, which is in modern-day Czech Republic.

    The group’s Grand Master is “His Imperial Highness Istvan von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria,” according to the Order’s website. The next gathering for “Ordensbrothers” and guests is an “investiture” March 10 in Charleston, S.C.

    The society’s U.S. chapter launched in 1966 at the famous Bohemian Club in San Francisco, which is associated with the all-male Bohemian Grove — one of the most well-known secret societies in the country.

    In 2010, Poindexter hosted a group of 53 members of the Houston chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, according to a Houston society publication. A number of members from Mexico were also part of the ranch festivities that included “three days of organized shoots and ‘gala’ lunches and dinners.”

    Poindexter told CultureMap Houston that some of the guests dressed in “traditional European shooting attire for the boxed bird shoot competition” and for the shooting of pheasants and chukar, a type of partridge.

    For the hunting weekend earlier this month, Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia traveled to Houston with his friend and U.S. marshals, who provide security for Supreme Court justices. The Post obtained a Presidio County Sheriff’s Office report that named Foster as Scalia’s close friend on the trip.

    Sheriff Danny Dominguez confirmed that a photograph of Washington lawyer C. Allen Foster is the same man he interviewed at the ranch the day of Scalia’s death.

    From Houston, Scalia and Foster chartered a plane without the marshals to the Cibolo Creek Ranch airstrip. In a statement after Scalia died, the U.S. Marshals Service said that Scalia had declined a security detail while at the ranch.

    The friend, Louisiana-born Foster, is a lawyer with the Washington firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. He is also known for his passion for hunting and is a former spokesman for the hunting group Safari Club.

    In 2006, Foster was featured in The Post when he celebrated his 65th birthday with a six-day celebration in the Czech Republic. He flew his family and 40 Washington friends there to stay in Moravia’s Zidlochovice, a baroque castle and hunting park. The birthday bash included “tours of the Czech countryside, wine tasting, wild boar and mouflon (wild sheep) hunts, classic dance instruction and a masked costume ball.”

    A secretary at Foster’s law firm said he is traveling in Argentina. The firm’s director of marketing, Mindee L. Mosher, said Foster was traveling and she would try to contact him. A woman answering a phone associated with Foster hung up when asked for comment.

    Planes owned by Wallace “Happy” Rogers III and the company of A.J. Lewis III left from San Antonio and arrived at the ranch just after noon Feb. 12. The planes departed the ranch about 30 minutes apart Feb. 14, according to flight records provided to The Post by FlightAware.

    Rogers owns the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in San Antonio. He has donated $65,000 to Republican candidates since 2008. Lewis is the owner of a restaurant supplier company, also based in San Antonio. He has given $3,500 to GOP candidates since 2007.

    Rogers and Lewis have both served as prior officers in the Texas chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus, according to Texas business records. Rogers spoke to a Post reporter briefly on the phone and confirmed that he was at the ranch the weekend of Scalia’s death. He declined to comment further.

    Lewis did not respond to several attempts for comment.

    The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office released an incident report to The Post on Tuesday that revealed Foster’s name as Scalia’s traveling companion and provided details about the discovery of his body.

    Law enforcement officials told The Post that they had no knowledge of the International Order of St. Hubertus or its connection to Poindexter and ranch guests. The officials said the FBI had declined to investigate Scalia’s death when they were told by the marshals that he died from natural causes.

    “The group’s Grand Master is “His Imperial Highness Istvan von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria,” according to the Order’s website.”
    Note that the John B. Poindexter isn’t the same Opus Dei-affiliated John Poindexter of Iran Contra fame. That would be quite a twist, although dying during a secret hunting excursion with a secret society with the Archduke of Austria as its Grand Master is a pretty good twist too!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2016, 8:27 pm

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