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FTR #289 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

MP3 One Seg­ment [1]
RealAu­dio [2]
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.) [3]

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 [4] 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.)