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FTR #409 Let’s Make a Deal, Part 2

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This broadcast highlights deals (actual and hypothetical) involving major conflicts of interest on the part of key Bush administration players and/or allies. In addition to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s role as a director of the Swiss-based engineering firm that sold North Korea its light-water reactors, the program sets forth Barbara Bodine’s sabotaging of the late John O’Neill’s investigation of Osama bin Laden and Bodine’s subsequent position as temporary governor of Baghdad (a quid pro quo?). A major portion of the broadcast explores a line of inquiry opened in FTR#395. Was a deal cut with Saudi Arabia in which the US would use Saudi bases for the Iraq war and the Saudis would gain influence in post-war Iraq? Recent disclosure of bin Laden family connections with the Bechtel firm (which will be contracting for much of the Iraqi reconstruction) and the cosmetic nature of a much-promised Saudi cabinet shake-up suggest the possibility that such may be the case. One of the embodiments of the petro-dollar connection between the Bush and bin Laden families is the Carlyle Group. Instrumental in setting up the company’s key connections was Fred Malek, a close political ally of Richard Nixon and the elder George Bush. The broadcast also highlights the role of Karl Rove in expediting the sale of Silicon Valley Group to a Dutch holding company with strong connections to German companies that have dealt with the country’s enemies in the past. (An SVG subsidiary—Tinsley Laboratories—makes key optical components for the military’s satellite and surveillance systems.)

Program Highlights Include: The limited participation of Baath Party officials in the new Iraqi government; Malek’s role in purging Jews from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; Malek’s role in overseeing the Republican ethnics’ role in the 1988 campaign; Karl Rove’s introduction to politics as a dirty tricks specialist for Nixon aide Donald Segretti; Linda Tripp adviser Lucy Goldberg’s role as a dirty tricks specialist for the Nixon campaign in 1972 (Goldberg persuaded Linda Tripp to tape Monica Lewinsky’s conversations, leading to Clinton’s impeachment.)

1. The saber-rattling between the US and North Korea over nuclear arms has eclipsed the fact that US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was a director of the Swiss-based engineering company that sold North Korea its light-water reactors.

“Defense Secretary Rumsfeld rarely keeps his opinions to himself. He tends not to compromise with his enemies. And he clearly disdains the communist regime in North Korea. So it’s surprising that there is no clear public record of his views on the controversial 1994 deal in which the U.S. agreed to provide North Korea with two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for Pyongyang ending its nuclear weapons program. What’s even more surprising about Rumsfeld’s silence is that he sat on the board of the company that won a $200 million contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The company is Zurich-based engineering giant ABB, which signed the contract in early 2000, well before Rumsfeld gave up his board seat and joined the Bush administration . . .”

(“Rummy’s North Korea Connection” by Richard Behar; Fortune; 4/28/2003; p. 1; accessed at www.fortune.com .)

2.

“ . . . Rumsfeld declined requests by Fortune to elaborate on his role. But ABB spokesman Bjoern Edlund has told Fortune that ‘board members were informed about this project.’ And other ABB officials say there is no way such a large and high-stakes project, involving complex questions of liability, would not have come to the attention of the board. ‘A written summary would probably have gone to the board before the deal was signed,’ says Robert Newman, a former president of ABB’s U.S. nuclear division who spearheaded the project. ‘I’m sure they were aware.’”

(Ibid.; p. 2.)

3.

“Fortune contacted 15 ABB board members who served at the time the company was bidding for the Pyongyang contract, and all but one declined to comment. That director, who asked not to be identified, says he’s convinced that ABB’s chairman at the time, Percy Barnevik, told the board about the reactor project in the mid-1990’s. ‘This was a major thing for ABB,’ the former director says, ‘and extensive political lobbying was done.’”

(Idem.)

4.

“The director recalls being told that Rumsfeld was asked ‘to lobby in Washington’ on ABB’s behalf in the mid-1990’s because a rival American company had complained about a foreign-owned firm getting the work. Although he couldn’t provide details, Goran Lundberg, who ran ABB’s power-generation business until 1995, says he’s ‘pretty sure that at some point Don was involved,’ since it was not unusual to seek help from board members ‘when we needed contacts with the U.S. government.’”

(Idem.)

5. Instrumental in sidetracking the late FBI agent John O’Neill’s investigation of Osama bin Laden; Republican “Old Person” Barbara Bodine later turned up as temporary US governor of Baghdad. Was this in exchange for her services in putting off O’Neill’s Yemen investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole?

“Barbara Bodine, who helped thwart FBI veteran John O’Neill back when he was hot on the trail of Osama Bin Laden before 9/11, has been named Governor of Baghdad. Surprised to hear it? Little wonder—this story was swept as far under the rug as the Bush administration could sweep it. I saw one story—in FOX news online, but that was quickly scrubbed. Why? Because within this story was a link to an article I wrote in 2001 detailing Bodine’s role in derailing the hunt for Bin Laden after the USS Cole tragedy. So, while we hear about ‘retired General Garner’ (who is, in fact a very un-retired CEO of a huge defense contracting company, SY Coleman), we haven’t heard the name Bodine mentioned until now.”

(“Cheryl Seal Special Report: Woman Who thwarted Hunt for Osama Bin Laden is Acting Governor of Baghdad?”; Cheryl Seal Report; 4/23/2003; p. 1; accessed via e-mail from a highly credible source.)

6.

“Yet Bodine arrived in Um Qusar on April 8. Here’s a link to the story citing her position as ‘mayor of Baghdad’ from a US Embassy site (as long as it remains unscrubbed. Scroll down to: www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/press/2003/april/0411 .)

(Ibid.; p. 2.)

7.

“Choosing a woman governor in a Muslim country was calculated to foment trouble with the conservative Shiites—worse, a woman skilled in coverups for rightwing bosses. There is already a conflict brewing between Bodine and Iraqi Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi, who says HE is the governor of Baghdad. This story was in the Washington Post today . . . but notice how extremely vague all references to Bodine are. The reporter does not come right out and say Bodine is, in fact, the designated Governor of Baghdad . . .”

(Idem.)

8.

“ ‘SMOKING GUN THREE: Was Bin Laden hunter John O’Neill a Casualty of the Bush Adminstration?’” Until he resigned, in August of 2001, John O’Neill was the director of antiterrorism for the FBI’s New York office. O’Neill had worked on the investigations of the first WTC bombing in 1993 and the attacks on the American embassies in Africa in 1998. He became one of the world’s top experts on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. O’Neill believed that ‘All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden’s organization can be found in Saudi Arabia.’ Yet the Bush administration blocked O’Neill’s efforts to investigate the Saudi ties to bin Laden. The main obstacles to investigating Islamic terrorism, asserted O’Neill, were US oil corporate interests and the played by Saudi Arabia in it.”

(Idem.)

9.

“For example, Bush blocked an FBI investigation of the bin Laden family and kept his family’s business ties to the bin Ladens as secret as possible. Among these business dealings were bin Laden investments in the Carlyle Group and connections between bin Laden and George W. Bush’s first oil companies. It must have truly enraged O’Neill if he knew that Osama bin Laden had flown to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by local CIA agent Larry Mitchell on July 12. O’Neill was very well aware of the warnings that came out in the summer of 2001. But it was obvious that he was considered more of a liability than an asset to the oil-obsessed Bush administration.”

(Idem.)

10.

“Back in 2000, O’Neill had been investigating the bombing of the USS Cole, for which he was sure bin Laden was responsible. However, the US ambassador to Yemen, one Barbara Bodine, hamstrung FBI efforts at every turn, publicly calling O’Neill a liar, refusing to allow his men to be armed with more than small handguns and, in general, crippling the investigation. Although Bodine claims she was trying to keep diplomatic relations running smoothly, her history shows otherwise.”

(Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

11. Bodine’s professional resume and past services rendered under the Reagan and Bush administrations is detailed in the article.

“Barbara Bodine has served primarily under right-wing old boys and in areas where their oil interests are being served. Under Reagan she served as Deputy Principle Officer in Baghdad, Iraq. Under Bush, Sr., she served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait and was there during the Gulf War. She has also worked for Bob Dole, and far more ominously, for Henry Kissinger. Now, under Bush, Jr., she is in Yemen impeding an FBI investigation that focused on the son of a Bush family business associate.”

(Ibid.; p. 3.)

12. Further developing Bodine’s role in the Cole affair, the story alleges that Bodine bears a measure of responsibility for the bombing itself.

“What makes Bodine’s actions toward O’Neill particularly despicable is that she was said to be in part to blame for the Cole disaster. Even though she had been warned that the risk of attacks on Americans in the Yemen area were extremely high at that time, the Cole entered port under the lowest grade of security permitted in the Middle East with no warning to the destroyer. A top military analyst for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency quit in protest the day after the bombing because of Bodine and General Anthony Zinn’s decision to allow the Cole to come into port.”

(Idem.)

13.

“In July, Bodine had O’Neill and the FBI barred from Yemen. About that time, O’Neill’s name had been proposed by Richard Clarke as Clarke’s successor as terrorism czar at the National Security Council. But a very mysterious incident that had happened nearly a year before was dredged up and used to blow that possibility out of the water. In November of 2000, at a retirement seminar in Tampa, O’Neill left his briefcase for a few moments in the convention room to go around the corner to use the phone. When he returned in a few minutes, the brief case, containing some papers considered classified, was gone. It soon turned up, but the incident was seized upon as an excuse to guarantee O’Neill would not get promoted. Was it a real theft? Or a set up to squeeze out the man who asked too many questions about Saudis and oil? O’Neill had finally had enough and quit.”

(Idem.)

14. In FTR#403, we examined the possibility that Saudi agreement to let the US use its bases in the Iraq war was in exchange for post-war influence in Iraq and the possible (partial) retention of Baath Party operatives. Although the Baath Party was formally barred from power shortly after the program was recorded, Baath officials had achieved some participation in the post-war government.

“Hundreds of Iraqi doctors, nurses and health workers demonstrated today against a decision by the American authorities here to appoint Ali al-Janabi, a senior Baath Party member, to be minister of health. The demonstration by doctors in starched white coats was the latest indication of rising concern over the enduring influence of some members of the party that was long the vehicle for Saddam Hussein to impose his terror on Iraq.”

(“Hussein Loyalists Rise Again, Enraging Iraqis” by Patrick E. Tyler; The New York Times; 5/8/2003; p. A1.)

15.

“A long-awaited cabinet reshuffle in Saudi Arabia has brought into the government only five new faces, disappointing liberals who had thought the reshape would herald the start of reform. The reshuffle kept in place Ali El Naimi, the oil minister, and the princes from the ruling al-Saud family who hold the strategic portfolios of defense, foreign affairs and the interior. ‘It is much less than everyone expected,’ said a western diplomat. ‘No key minister has been changed.’ He added that there had been speculation the reshuffle would mark the start of a process of reform that had been debated in newspaper columns and within elite circles in recent weeks . . .”

(“Saudi Cabinet Reshuffle Disappoints Liberals as Key Ministers Remain” by Heba Saleh; The Financial Times; 5/1/2003; p. 6.)

16. Disappointing many and (perhaps) foretelling a wave of reaction in Saudi Arabia, a long-promised shake-up of the Saudi cabinet proved to be largely cosmetic. (The day after this program was recorded, Saudi Arabia was hit by a coordinated series of attacks by Al Qaeda operatives. Taken in conjunction with the information in FTR#390, this suggests the distinct possibility that the Saudis gave the US the “left-hand turn signal” with regard to the well-documented Saudi-funding of Al Qaeda.)

“ . . . Many liberals, however, fear that reform if it comes, will be too little, too late. They say urgent steps are needed to deal effectively with the problems of a predominantly young society suffering from a host of ills ranging from unemployment to religious extremism.”

(Idem.)

17. As discussed in FTR#’s 395, 403 the possibility that the powerful and wealthy bin Laden family may get some of “the action” in the reconstruction of Iraq is one to be considered. The bin Ladens have capital participation in the Bechtel Corporation, which is contracting for much of the reconstruction business in Iraq.

“ . . .Now there is a new and demonstrable connection, but it is not the kind that the Bush Administration had in mind. In fact, it is more likely to fuel the speculations of conspiracy theorists than it is to put their fears to rest. It turns out that a money trail runs—albeit rather circuitously—from the lucrative business of rebuilding Iraq to the fortune behind Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden’s estranged family, a sprawling, extraordinarily wealthy Saudi Arabian dynasty, is a substantial investor in a private equity firm founded by the Bechtel Group of San Francisco. Bechtel is also the global construction and engineering company to which the U.S. government recently awarded the first major multimillion-dollar contract to reconstruct war-ravaged Iraq. In a closed competitive bidding process, the United States Agency for International Development chose Bechtel to rebuild the major elements of Iraq’s infrastructure, including its roads, railroads, airports, hospitals, and schools, and its water and electrical systems. In the first phase of the contract, the U.S. government will pay Bechtel nearly thirty-five million dollars, but experts say that the cost is likely to reach six hundred and eighty million during the next year and a half.”

(“Department of Connections: The Contractors” by Jane Mayer; The New Yorker; 5/5/2003; p. 35.)

18.

“When the contract was awarded, two weeks ago, the Administration did not mention that the bin Laden family has an ongoing relationship with Bechtel. The bin Ladens have a ten-million-dollar stake in the Fremont Group, a San Francisco-based company formerly called Bechtel Investments, which was until 1986 a subsidiary of Bechtel. The Fremont Group’s Web site, which makes no mention of the bin Ladens, notes that ‘though now independent, Fremont enjoys a close relationship with Bechtel.’ A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that Fremont’s ‘majority ownership is the Bechtel family.’ And a list of the corporate board of directors shows substantial overlap. Five of Fremont’s eight directors are also directors of Bechtel. One Fremont director Riley Bechtel, is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Bechtel Group, and is a member of the Bush Administration: he was appointed this year to serve on the President’s Export Council. In addition, George Shultz, the Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration, serves as a director both of Fremont and of the Bechtel Group, where he once was president and still is listed as senior counsellor.”

(Ibid.; pp. 35-36.)

19. The fact that Bechtel will be subcontracting much of the work to other firms also suggests the possibility that the bin Ladens may get some of the Iraqi reconstruction business.

“Although the Bechtel Group in San Francisco has been selected as the prime contractor for up to $680 million worth of reconstruction work in Iraq, a substantial percentage of that money–half or more, by some estimates—will actually flow to subcontractors, which are expected to rely heavily on Iraqi workers, government and company officials said yesterday. ‘Bechtel has told us that they plan on using Iraqi resources to the greatest degree possible,’ said Luke Zahner, a spokesman for the United States Agency for International Development, which awarded the contract on Thursday.”

(“Bechtel’s Subcontracts Are Expected to Include Non-U.S. Companies and Employ Iraqis” by Diana B. Henriques; The New York Times; 4/19/2003; p. B8.)

20. Another indication that the bin Ladens may profit from the Iraq reconstruction business is the fact that Middle Eastern firms are going to be participants in the Bechtel subcontracting.

“So far, the signs are encouraging. Bechtel Group Inc., the San Francisco infrastructure group that has landed a contract valued at $680 million has said it plans to hand much of its work to other companies, including those from the Middle East. Bechtel has a long history in the region and employs more than 1,000 workers in Arab countries.”

(“Arab Firms Want In on Iraq Action” by David Luhnow; The Wall Street Journal; 5/6/2003; p. 7.)

21. Next, the program reviews information from Miscellaneous Archive Show M24—available from Spitfire—concerning the Republican ethnic organization, a traditional repository for fascists and anti-Semites and (more recently) Islamofascists as well. M24 highlights the role of Bush (the elder) campaign aide Fred Malek’s role in purging Jews from the bureau of labor statistics. Malek went on to play a key role in George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign.

(“GOP Aide Got Data on Jews for Nixon” by Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward [Washington Post]; San Jose Mercury News; 9/11/1988.)

22. After leaving the Bush campaign over the controversy concerning his role in the Nixon administration, Malek went on to play a brief, but pivotal role in the development of the Carlyle Group, one of a number of business ventures joining the Bush and bin Laden families.

“Then in September 1988, the Carlyle Group would get an infusion of experience, and controversy, when Frederic V. Malek, a former personnel chief for President Nixon, signed on. Malek, nicknamed ‘The Ax’ for his days as Nixon’s strongman, managed [Carlyle executives Steven] Norris and [Dan] D’Aniello at Marriott in the early 1980’s. Close friends with George H.W. Bush, Malek had just been rewarded for coordinating Bush’s New Orleans convention with a position as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in August 1988 . . .”

(The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group; by Dan Briody; Jon Wiley & Sons [HC]; ISBN: 0-471-28108-5; pp. 9-10 of online excerpted segment.)

23. After discussing Malek’s departure from the Bush campaign, the broadcast delineates his (brief but pivotal) role with Carlyle.

“He knew that he was in danger and he knew immediately where to go. Norris called Malek the day the news hit the papers, and told him to calm down, and come over to the Carlyle offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. Malek had his motorcade sneak into the garage , so as not to be seen by anyone. ‘I’ve never seen a man so upset in my life,’ Norris recalls. ‘He was literally shaking.’ Norris set Malek up with an office adjoining his own, and Carlyle gave him a draw, or a salary, which Malek would theoretically have to earn back. Malek was by far the best connected of the nascent company. He brought with him deep relationships with the Bush family, the Saudi Arabian royal family and countless Washington insiders. Even with his freshly tainted reputation, he would go on to spearhead several big deals for the company, including an ill-fated buyout of Caterair, the Texas-based airline catering company that would hire George W. Bush. Though Malek’s stay at Carlyle would amount to nothing more than time on the lam, hiding out while the furor over his anti-Semitic actions died down, he did manage to set Carlyle up with a handful of high-powered Republican connections. He would soon return to public life to lead President George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 1991 . . .”

(Ibid.; pp. 10-11.)

24.

“ . . . Though brief, Malek’s time with Carlyle would ultimately change the face of the company forever. ‘I brought a little more name recognition, a little more gray hair,” recalled Malek in an interview for this book.”

(Ibid.; p. 11.)

25. Karl Rove has played an important role in the Bush administration, including his role in helping to slash taxes with Grover Norquist, the Islamist point man in the GOP ethnic organization. As noted in FTR#407, the twin strains of budget deficits brought on by Norquist’s tax-slashing mania and the military build-up occasioned by the attacks of his Islamist associates on 9/11 have seriously damaged the US economy. It is Mr. Emory’s view that this is, in all probability, not a coincidence.

“Even so, his friends say they assume he addresses those questions during his extensive private time with Mr. Bush. ‘They go the other way and keep Karl out of the room where, absent the critique, you’d want Karl in the room’ said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax reform a conservative group that works closely with Mr. Rove.”

(“Pushing an Agenda, Far From Iraq” by Adam Nagourney and Richard W. Stevenson; The New York Times; 4/5/2003; p. b1.)

26. Rove’s background as a dirty tricks specialist with Nixon aide Donald Segretti is not to be overlooked. Nor is his entrance into politics as a protégé of George H.W. Bush.

“He’s America’s Joseph Goebbels. As a 21-year old young Republican in Texas, Karl Rove not only pimped for Richard Nixon’s chief political dirty tricks strategist Donald Segretti but soon caught the eye of the incoming Republican National Committee Chairman, George H.W. Bush. Rove’s dirty tricks on behalf of Nixon’s 1972 campaign catapulted Rove onto the national stage. From his Eagle’s Nest in the West Wing of the White House, Rove now directs a formidable political dirty tricks operation and disinformation mill.”

(“Exposing Karl Rove” by Wayne Madsen; Counterpunch; 11/1/2002; p. 1.)

27.

“Since his formative political years when he tried to paint World War II B-24 pilot and hero George McGovern as a left-wing peacenik through his mid-level career as a planter of disinformation in the media on behalf of Texas and national GOP candidates to his current role as Dubya’s ‘Svengali,’ Rove has practiced the same style of slash and burn politics as did his Nixonian mentor Segretti.”

(Idem.)

28.

“German opposition figures in the mid-1930’s often lamented the fact that they could have stopped the rise of the Nazis if only they had been more united in a common front when they had a chance. However, they fell prey to the media manipulation of Goebbels and fought among themselves more than they did against the menace from the far right.”

(Ibid.; p. 4.)

29. Reviewing information from FTR#311, the program highlights Rove’s role in facilitating the deal between SVG and ASM Lithography Holding, a Dutch company with important connections to key German corporations. In FTR#272, the view that this deal could compromise US national security is discussed at some length.

(“Rove’s Intel Meeting Didn’t affect Ruling, White House Says;” The Wall Street Journal; 6/14/2001p. A4.)

30. Next, the program examines information from FTR#272 about the proposed sale of the key Silicon Valley firm to the Dutch holding company, ASM Lithography.

(“Spy Tech: The U.S. Edge” by Alan Tonelson; San Jose Mercury News; 1/9/2001; p. B7.)

31. Silicon Valley Group Inc. has Tinsley Laboratories as a subsidiary.

(Idem.)

32. The latter “has been the sole manufacturer of many of the state-of-the-art mirrors and lenses in the high-powered cameras carried by America’s spy satellites-systems that the Clinton administration has called ‘among the most valuable national security assets.’”

(Idem.)

33. Mr. Tonelson worried “that ASM’s far-flung global operations and corporate alliances with companies like Germany’s Carl Zeiss and Schott Glass could make it more difficult to keep SVG/Tinsley’s advanced optics and lithography capabilities from migrating to unfriendly countries.”

(Idem.)

34. The role of the Zeiss and Schott works in the development of the Bormann Organization is the focal point of the next part of the discussion.

(Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC] Paul Manning; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 25.)

35. In addition to Malek and Rove, Luciane Goldberg had a background in the dirty tricks department of the Nixon adminstration. Goldberg had significant influence in getting Linda Tripp to tape and disclose her conversations with Monica Lewinsky—thus precipitating the Clinton impeachment.

“The deal died, but Goldberg stayed on the case, ultimately getting the news about Lewinsky to the Jones camp, setting in motion the perjury trap. Goldberg, who referred to herself as an ‘agent provacateur,’ was once a paid undercover operative for Richard Nixon, infiltrating the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern. Anthony Lukas, author of Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years quoted Goldberg as saying: ‘They were looking for really dirty stuff. Who was sleeping with whom, what the Secret Service men were doing with the stewardesses, who was smoking pot on the plane—that sort of thing.’ According to the New Yorker, Goldberg had harbored a hatred for Democrats since Nixon’s forced resignation, but she was also in it for fun and profit.”

(Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an ex-Conservative; by David Brock; Copyright 2002 by David Brock; Three Rivers Press [SC]; 1-4000-4728-5; p. 337.)

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #409 Let’s Make a Deal, Part 2”

  1. If you want to be the most powerful person on the planet you gotta kiss a lot of very powerful rings (funny how that works). Fred Malek has a ring. And Scott Walker has a pair of lips that have been doing a lot of talking about running for president. Some smooching is clearly in order:

    Bloomberg Politics
    Scott Walker is Out of Mitt’s Shadow—But Staying In the Spotlight Is A Challenge
    Jan 30, 2015 3:34 PM CST
    In a D.C. speech, the Wisconsin governor expands his presidential case.

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the breakout star of last weekend’s Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit, elbowing aside bigger names like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush to seize the 2016 Republican presidential spotlight. Walker had hoped to keep the spotlight by delivering a big speech in Washington on Friday. Instead, Romney seized it back.

    When he took the podium at the American Action Forum, Walker chose not to acknowledge the news that Romney, a major rival for the nomination, had bowed out of the race. Instead, he sketched out for the audience at the conservative think tank his vision of what post-Romney Republican politics might look like. Spoiler alert: It looks a lot like the old politics, but with a different guy at the top of the ticket. Walker touted a Wisconsin-centric, meat-and-potatoes, small-government conservatism garnished with a heaping portion of scorn for Washington, D.C. “As much as I love coming here, I love going home even more,” Walker said, calling Washington “68 square miles surrounded by reality.”

    Walker seemed particularly intent on guarding against the idea that a Midwestern governor might lack sufficient national security expertise to plausibly occupy the White House.

    “What I see here under this administration,” he said, “is a kind of this top-down, government-knows-best, tired old approach that hasn’t worked in the past and I don’t think will work in the future. And what I see in the states and from the people of this country outside of Washington is a craving for something new, for something fresh, for something dynamic.”

    What Walker was getting at, of course, was that the fresh face the country is seeking just may be his own. In this way, he echoed Romney’s call for “our next generation of Republican leaders” to step forward and reached for the baton.

    As one of more than a dozen Republicans with a plausible shot at the nomination, Walker is well aware that he must fill in his national profile. He got an assist from Fred Malek, the former Richard Nixon official and founder of the American Action Forum, who lobbed batting-practice softballs that allowed Walker to talk about his faith, his family, and his limited foreign policy experience.

    Walker seemed particularly intent on guarding against the idea that a Midwestern governor might lack sufficient national security expertise to plausibly occupy the White House. Malek had his back. “You command the [Wisconsin] National Guard,” he told Walker. “I wondered if you might want to comment on how you feel about the threat posed by ISIS and other entities abroad?”

    It turned out Walker did. “That’s a great question,” he replied. “You know, the interesting thing with that is, as a governor, not only do I and the other governors, the commanders in chief of our National Guard at the state level, which is a distinct honor and privilege … as a part of that, my adjutant general that I have in the Wisconsin National Guard is also my chief homeland security adviser. And on a fairly frequent basis he, along with members of the FBI, gives me and I presume other governors security threat assessments. So we go and get classified information—important confidential information—about threats not only to our state but typically within our region and across the country. Without violating the terms of any of those specifically, I just gotta tell you that for my children and others like them, I see on an ongoing basis legitimate concerns about the threat to national security, state by state and across this country. And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve said repeatedly, one of the most important things we need out of our leaders in Washington, particularly our commander in chief, is leadership.”

    Walker didn’t elaborate on his strategy to defeat ISIS, and his adjutant general wasn’t available to ask. Nor did he elaborate on anything else. After his speech and discussion with Malek, he ignored the throng of reporters and cameramen who managed to shout out just a single question: How did he feel about the news that Romney wasn’t running? Walker may have been peeved that Romney stepped on his speech. Or maybe his dislike of Washington extends to the press corps. In any event, there’s no doubt that he’s running: He shot out the door faster than Usain Bolt without offering any comment.

    Just keep kissing those rings Scotty. Precious commands it.

    Or, well, we’ll see. Don’t get your hopes up.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 31, 2015, 6:20 pm

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