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FTR #485 Interview with Robert Parry and Lucy Komisar

Record­ed Novem­ber 11, 2004
REALAUDIO

This broad­cast cov­ers a range of top­ics. Fea­tur­ing the work of pre­mier jour­nal­ists Robert Par­ry and Lucy Komis­ar, the pro­gram begins with Robert’s dis­cus­sion of the gross irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the 2004 elec­tion process. A sharp dis­crep­an­cy between the exit polls (gen­er­al­ly viewed as very reli­able) and the ulti­mate elec­tion results is among the indi­ca­tors that the 2004 elec­tion was tam­pered with in a seri­ous way. Robert’s Con­sor­tium News (www.consortiumnews.com [1]) was one of the few media out­lets to report and ana­lyze the dis­par­i­ties in the vot­ing sta­tis­tics. For doing so, they were brand­ed as “spread­sheet-wield­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists” by the Wash­ing­ton Post. Robert points how char­ac­ter­is­tic this is of the so-called “lib­er­al news media.” Far from being lib­er­al, they are in fact very conservative—often dis­hon­est­ly so. After high­light­ing the Repub­li­cans’ devel­op­ment of a well-financed media/think tank nexus fol­low­ing the humil­i­at­ing defeat of Water­gate. This appli­ca­tion of what the CIA calls “per­cep­tion man­age­ment” is essen­tial to the suc­cess of the GOP and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Next, the show turns to the sub­ject of the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal. Robert and his col­league Bri­an Barg­er first report­ed the exis­tence of Oliv­er North’s back-chan­nel sup­port net­work for the Con­tras, and fresh­man Sen­a­tor John Ker­ry led the con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion of its oper­a­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, Ker­ry basi­cal­ly “cracked” the Con­tra-cocaine con­nec­tion and endured the open ridicule of the media estab­lish­ment for doing so. Lucy Komis­ar joined the pro­gram at this point and detailed the oper­a­tions of the BCCI, high­light­ing the bank’s pro­found involve­ment in the intel­li­gence and finan­cial scan­dals of the ‘80’s. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance is the bank’s links with the Afghan muja­hadeen and peo­ple and insti­tu­tions linked to Osama bin Laden. And the milieu of the BCCI is the milieu of the Bush fam­i­ly. Lucy high­lights John Kerry’s cen­tral role in pur­su­ing the BCCI affair. As was the case with the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal, Ker­ry led the way. After Lucy reviews the fun­da­men­tals of the Octo­ber Sur­prise sto­ry, she dis­cuss­es the Clearstream net­work and its appar­ent involve­ment in that case. The pro­gram con­cludes with Lucy and Robert point­ing out how the same cast of char­ac­ters fig­ures in the inter­re­lat­ed intel­li­gence-relat­ed scan­dals run­ning through the last two decades.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: An appar­ent PLO con­nec­tion to the Octo­ber Sur­prise; the role of Khalid bin Mah­fouz in the BCCI scan­dal; Bin Mahfouz’s links to Islam­ic char­i­ties that have fund­ed Al Qae­da; Lucy’s syn­op­sis of the role of off­shore bank­ing havens in world affairs; the media establishment’s trash­ing of Gary Webb for his sto­ry about the Contra/Cocaine traf­fic; the active obstruc­tion and media crit­i­cism Ker­ry received for his inves­ti­ga­tion of BCCI; cur­rent FBI chief Robert Mueller’s cov­er-up of U.S. gov­ern­men­tal com­plic­i­ty in the BCCI case.

1. The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of The Wash­ing­ton Post’s unfair (and frankly ludi­crous) char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Robert Parry’s Con­sor­tium News [1] as “Spread­sheet-wield­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists” for their cir­cum­spect, judi­cious exam­i­na­tion of the anom­alies in the vote count in the 2004 elec­tion. Specif­i­cal­ly, Robert not­ed the dis­crep­an­cy in the exit polls (which showed Ker­ry win­ning) and the ulti­mate results of the elec­tion. Robert encap­su­lates the infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in the sto­ries pre­sent­ed below. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the fact that Repub­li­can Dick Mor­ris observed that it was extra­or­di­nary to blow even one exit poll, let alone polls in all six swing states. (Mor­ris then pro­ceed­ed to spin a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that main­tained that Ker­ry sup­port­ers were more “chat­ty” than Bush sup­port­ers.) Consortium’s work on the elec­tion was cov­ered in these sto­ries:

2.


Big Medi­a’s Democ­ra­cy Dou­ble Stan­dards

By Robert Par­ry
ConsortiumNews.com
Novem­ber 23, 2004

The Wash­ing­ton Post and oth­er lead­ing Amer­i­can news­pa­pers are up in arms about the legit­i­ma­cy of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion where exit polls showed the chal­lenger win­ning but where the incum­bent par­ty came out on top, amid com­plaints about heavy-hand­ed elec­tion-day tac­tics and pos­si­bly rigged vote tal­lies.

In a lead edi­to­r­i­al, con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [2]

Wash­ing­ton Post’s Slop­py Analy­sis [3]
By Sam Par­ry
ConsortiumNews.com
Novem­ber 12, 2004

The Wash­ing­ton Post and the big media have spo­ken: Ques­tions about Nov. 2 vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties and George W. Bush’s unusu­al vote tal­lies are just the rav­ings of Inter­net con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists.

In a Nov. 11 sto­ry on A2, the Post gave con­tin­ue orginal arti­cle [3]

Evi­dence of a Sec­ond Bush Coup? [4]
By Robert Par­ry
ConsortiumNews.com
Novem­ber 6, 2004

The­o­ret­i­cal­ly at least, it is con­ceiv­able that sophis­ti­cat­ed CIA-style com­put­er hack­ing – known as “cyber-war­fare” – could have let George W. Bush’s cam­paign trans­form a three-per­cent­age-point defeat, as mea­sured by exit polls, into an offi­cial vic­to­ry of about the same mar­gin.

Whether such a scheme is fea­si­ble con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [4]

Bush’s ‘Incred­i­ble’ Vote Tal­lies [5]
By Sam Par­ry
ConsortiumNews.com
Novem­ber 9, 2004

George W. Bush’s vote tal­lies, espe­cial­ly in the key state of Flori­da, are so sta­tis­ti­cal­ly stun­ning that they bor­der on the unbe­liev­able.

While it’s extra­or­di­nary for a can­di­date con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [5]

[For details on the Flori­da turnout in 2000, see MSNBC [6]. For details on the 2004 Flori­da turnout, see CNN [7].]

3. Next, Robert high­lights the myth of the “lib­er­al news media”. Despite the drum­fire from con­ser­v­a­tive media pun­dits about the media hav­ing a lib­er­al bias, the fact is that the media have an overt con­ser­v­a­tive bias. Although the major­i­ty of reporters and staffers are rel­a­tive­ly lib­er­al, they do not exer­cise edi­to­r­i­al author­i­ty over the media out­lets. That author­i­ty is exer­cised by pow­er­ful peo­ple who real­ize a cor­po­rate agen­da that could be described as con­ser­v­a­tive, if not out­right reac­tionary. He notes that, fol­low­ing the Water­gate scan­dal, the Repub­li­cans and their con­ser­v­a­tive reporters put togeth­er a vast, right-wing media machine. This media appa­ra­tus, in turn, was close­ly affil­i­at­ed with a series of right-wing think tanks that gen­er­at­ed many of the “ta

lking points” and the par­ty line on key issues that were trum­pet­ed by the right-wing media estab­lish­ment.

4. The dis­cus­sion then turns to the sub­ject of the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal. Robert Par­ry and his col­league Bri­an Barg­er broke the sto­ry of the Oliv­er North back chan­nel intel­li­gence oper­a­tion that sup­port­ed the Nicaraguan Con­tra rebels. Fol­low­ing the down­ing of Eugene Hasenfus’s plane in 1986, the full extent of the scan­dal broke.

5. A major focal point of the pro­gram is the fact that fresh­man Sen­a­tor John Ker­ry “took the point” in expos­ing the fact that a con­sid­er­able amount of the Contra’s finances were derived from cocaine traf­fick­ing. Ker­ry was brand­ed a “randy con­spir­a­cy buff” for his trou­ble. Robert Parry’s arti­cle for Salon.com:

How John Ker­ry exposed the Con­tra-cocaine scan­dal [8]
By Robert Par­ry
Salon.com

Derid­ed by the main­stream press and tak­ing on Rea­gan at the height of his pop­u­lar­i­ty, the fresh­man sen­a­tor bat­tled to reveal one of Amer­i­ca’s ugli­est for­eign pol­i­cy secrets. Octo­ber 25, 2004: In Decem­ber 1985, when Bri­an Barg­er and I wrote a ground­break­ing sto­ry for the Asso­ci­at­ed Press about Nicaraguan Con­tra rebels smug­gling cocaine into the Unit­ed States, one U.S. sen­a­tor put his polit­i­cal career on the line to fol­low up on our dis­turb­ing find­ings. His name was John Ker­ry.

Yet, over the past year, even as Ker­ry’s hero­ism con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [8]

6. At this point in the broad­cast, Lucy Komis­ar joins the dis­cus­sion. One of the insti­tu­tions that was cen­tral­ly involved in the Iran-Con­tra machi­na­tions was the BCCI. Lucy high­lights that Bank’s involve­ment with Oliv­er North’s net­work, as well as the Rea­gan and Bush admin­is­tra­tions’ use of the bank to arm Sad­dam Hus­sein. After not­ing that BCCI was used to laun­der mon­ey for ter­ror­ists and drug deal­ers, Lucy also notes the involve­ment of the BCCI with the fund­ing of the Afghan muja­hadeen. Among the prin­ci­pals of the BCCI were peo­ple such as Sau­di banker Khalid bin Mah­fouz. Mah­fouz was heav­i­ly involved with the Muwafaq Foun­da­tion, an Islam­ic char­i­ty alleged­ly involved with fund­ing Osama bin Laden and Al Qae­da. Lucy recent­ly pub­lished a very impor­tant sto­ry on the BCCI, set­ting forth the piv­otal role of John Ker­ry in expos­ing the scan­dal. As was the case with the Contra/Cocaine case, Ker­ry “walked point” with the BCCI case and was repu­di­at­ed for doing so. In addi­tion, con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees and gov­ern­ment agen­cies that should have coop­er­at­ed with Kerry’s inves­ti­ga­tion failed to do so. Lucy’s arti­cle is repro­duced below:

The Case That Ker­ry Cracked [9]
By Lucy Komis­ar
AlterNet.org
Post­ed Octo­ber 22, 2004

As a sen­a­tor, John Ker­ry was a tena­cious inves­ti­ga­tor and exposed BCCI, an inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal bank, and its mur­der­ous clients. The expe­ri­ence should serve him well in deal­ing with the inter­na­tion­al threats we face today.

One gets an eerie sense of déjà vu watch­ing John Ker­ry bat­tle the Bush clan. He’s done it once before, against the old man, Pres­i­dent Bush’s father, though many vot­ers have prob­a­bly for­got­ten. That bat­tle involved the first Bush administration’s attempt to put the lid on an inves­ti­ga­tion that con­nect­ed a world­wide crim­i­nal bank to nar­co-traf­fick­ers, ter­ror­ists, and to Mid­dle East mon­ey men who helped the Bush fam­i­ly make piles of cash. Those links con­nect to peo­ple now on the U.S. post‑9/11 ter­ror­ist list.

In the late 1980s and ear­ly 1990s, Ker­ry fought con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [9]

7. In con­nec­tion with the dis­cus­sion of Lucy’s remark­able arti­cle, one should not fail to notice that the Jus­tice Department’s cov­er-up of the BCCI case was over­seen by Robert Mueller, now head of the FBI. We have not­ed that Mueller has also cov­ered up Oper­a­tion Green Quest. That inves­ti­ga­tion linked the milieu of the BCCI to the milieu of the fun­ders of Al Qae­da. The milieu of the BCCI is very close­ly linked to that of George W. Bush.
THE SCALE OF THE COVER-UP OF BCCI IS EXEMPLIFIED BY THE STARTLING FACT THAT, AS LUCY NOTES IN THE ARTICLE ABOVE, ONCE THE BCCI CASE BEGAN, SEVEN FIRES BROKE OUT IN THE FIREPROOF LONDON WAREHOUSES IN WHICH THE BANK’S RECORDS WERE STORED. IN ONE OF THOSE FIRES, FOUR FIREMEN DIED.

8. Next, Lucy explains the role in con­tem­po­rary busi­ness of the off­shore bank­ing and tax havens, of which BCCI is one.

9. The con­clu­sion of the pro­gram deals with the Octo­ber Sur­prise, the deal cut between the Reagan/Bush cam­paign and the Iran­ian Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ists to with­hold the U.S. hostages tak­en from the Amer­i­can Embassy until after Pres­i­dent Carter’s humil­i­a­tion and con­se­quent elec­tion defeat are assured. Lucy sum­ma­rizes the role of the Clearstream net­work in some of the finan­cial trans­fers involved in the Octo­ber Sur­prise.

10. Next, Robert Par­ry details his own expe­ri­ences cov­er­ing the Octo­ber Sur­prise sto­ry. After a Con­gres­sion­al task force dis­missed the alle­ga­tions, the sub­stance of the inves­ti­ga­tion was sub­stan­tive­ly ver­i­fied by dis­clo­sures com­ing by way of French intel­li­gence (specif­i­cal­ly Alexan­dre de Marench­es) and the files of the for­mer KGB. Nonethe­less, the main­stream media refused to acknowl­edge this crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant dis­cov­ery. Robert actu­al­ly found­ed Con­sor­tium News (ini­tial­ly) to pro­vide an out­let for this crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion.

11. A fas­ci­nat­ing aspect of the inves­ti­ga­tion con­cerns an appar­ent PLO con­nec­tion to the Octo­ber Sur­prise machi­na­tions. This is dis­cussed in the Con­sor­tium arti­cle pre­sent­ed below:

Arafat & the Orig­i­nal ‘Octo­ber Sur­prise’ [10]
By Mor­gan Strong
ConsortiumNews.com
Novem­ber 2, 2004

A top aide to Pales­tin­ian leader Yasir Arafat has dropped a new clue about the orig­i­nal “Octo­ber Sur­prise” mys­tery of 1980: the name of the Repub­li­can oper­a­tive who sought the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Organization’s help to block Pres­i­dent Jim­my Carter’s nego­ti­a­tions to free 52 Amer­i­cans then being held hostage in Iran.

Long­time Arafat con­fi­dant Bas­sam Abu Sharif said con­tin­ue orig­i­nal arti­cle [10]

[For more details, see Robert Parry’s new book, Secre­cy & Priv­i­lege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Water­gate to Iraq [11]: also see Robert Parry’s Trick or Trea­son: The Octo­ber Sur­prise Mys­tery. [12]]

12. In their con­clud­ing com­ments, both Lucy and Robert not­ed that the same cast of char­ac­ters crops up through­out a cou­ple of decades of scandal—from the Octo­ber Sur­prise, through the over­lap­ping Iran/Contra, BCCI and Iraq­gate scan­dals, right on up through the inves­ti­ga­tion into Osama bin Laden and 9/11. In all of these imbroglios, the same vil­lains and the same insti­tu­tions hold cen­ter stage.
IT IS THE SAME VILLAINOUS CAST OF CHARACTERS THAT DOMINATES THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND ITS ATTENDANT PERSONNEL AND INSTITUTIONS.