Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR#368 Harken Unto Me, Part II; The Ties that Bind, Part V

MP3 One Seg­ment

This pro­gram con­tin­ues analy­sis of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal rela­tion­ships under­ly­ing the 9/11 attacks. Of para­mount inter­est in this broad­cast is the Harken Ener­gy com­pa­ny, one of W’s unsuc­cess­ful and eth­i­cal­ly ques­tion­able busi­ness ven­tures. The focal point of recent debate con­cern­ing Bush’s sale of stock, Harken embod­ies the eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ship between the petro­le­um indus­try, Sau­di Ara­bia and the ter­ror­ist milieu of Osama Bin Laden and 9/11. While the nation­al inter­est is in direct con­flict with the Saudi/oil/Bush eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ship, note the sim­i­lar­i­ty between the fail­ure of the Unit­ed States to sup­port the Trea­sury depart­men­t’s attempts at inter­dict­ing the eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ships under­ly­ing the Third Reich, and con­tem­po­rary attempts to under­mine rules aimed at inter­rupt­ing ter­ror­ist fund­ing net­works. Those net­works have direct con­nec­tions to peo­ple involved in the Harken sto­ry.

1. The broad­cast begins by fur­ther devel­op­ing the rela­tion­ship between the Saud­is, Bin Laden’s ter­ror­ist milieu and the petro­le­um indus­try. “It has been said too often that Osama bin Laden is a ‘crea­ture’ of the CIA, for the sim­ple rea­son that the Unit­ed States had con­tributed, indi­rect­ly and tem­porar­i­ly, with­out a doubt, to his rad­i­cal cause by financ­ing and sup­port­ing the Muja­hedeen rebels against the Sovi­ets in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. But Amer­i­ca’s sup­port for Bin Laden, was in large part the invol­un­tary con­se­quence of its own ambi­tions in the region. Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s’­sup­port, on the oth­er hand, was a cal­cu­lat­ed pol­i­cy, clear and unam­bigu­ous, con­cern­ing its brand of Islam in the world. In light of these rev­e­la­tions, Osama bin Laden appears, above all, to be a prod­uct of Wah­habism and an instru­ment of the Sau­di king­dom. And both con­tained con­verg­ing ele­ments that linked them per­ma­nent­ly.” (For­bid­den Truth; Jean-Charles Bris­ard & Guil­laume Dasquie; Copy­right 2002 [SC]; Thun­der’s Mouth/Nation Books; ISBN 1–56025-414–9; p. 92.)

2. The Sau­di atti­tude toward the Amer­i­can response to the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks demon­strates the regime’s trou­ble with regard to Osama bin Laden. The king­dom’s refusal to allow Amer­i­can forces to use its air­bas­es in order to attack Afghanistan illus­trates the mutu­al tol­er­ance that exists between Sau­di Ara­bia and bin Laden. Sau­di Ara­bia has yet to coop­er­ate with the Unit­ed States in its cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tions for fear of pro­vok­ing fun­da­men­tal­ists in the king­dom. And Osama bin Laden was care­ful to ‘spare’ the king­dom, even though he attacked its atti­tude in his ear­ly writ­ings.” (Idem.)

3. We speak freely of ‘state-spon­sored ter­ror­ism’ such as that of Libya and Iran, while Sau­di Ara­bia is spared from the black­lists for the sim­ple rea­son that it is essen­tial in the inter­na­tion­al oil scene. With­out this stroke of luck it would prob­a­bly appear high on the lists.” (Ibid.; p. 93.)

4. Antic­i­pat­ing the focus of the remain­der of this broad­cast, the dis­cus­sion illu­mi­nates, among oth­er insti­tu­tions, the BCCI-an insti­tu­tion deeply involved with the devel­op­ment of the Bush/Harken/Bin Laden milieu. “Osama bin Laden is only an emblem­at­ic fig­ure in the major reli­gious and finan­cial issues and inter­ests that under­lie the future of even the Sau­di regime. The net­works that sup­port him are well estab­lished-whether the BCCI, the Islam­ic banks, or the so-called human­i­tar­i­an orga­ni­za­tions-and it is quite unlike­ly that they will dis­ap­pear with bin Laden.” (Idem.)

5. “The real issue is else­where now, and depends on our capac­i­ty to call into ques­tion Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s polit­i­cal and finan­cial sup­port of the world’s fun­da­men­tal­ist move­ments. It is a heavy bur­den, but if the West does not step in, such sup­port will con­tin­ue and take root per­ma­nent­ly.” (Idem.)

6. “We have long closed our eyes to this sit­u­a­tion in order to pro­tect the secu­ri­ty of our Sau­di ally, allow­ing the seeds of fun­da­men­tal­ism to grow and become uncon­trol­lable. We refrained from putting any kind of pres­sure on a pow­er that still today defends the inde­fen­si­ble, and allowed it to exist polit­i­cal­ly, mate­ri­al­ly, and finan­cial­ly.” (Idem.)

7. “Next, the pro­gram takes up Bush’s role in Harken’s ques­tion­able deals. “In ear­ly 1989, George W. Bush and his fel­low board mem­bers at Harken Ener­gy Corp. were pre­sid­ing over a com­pa­ny that was head­ed south in a hur­ry. The Dal­las-based oil firm had lost mil­lions of dol­lars plac­ing bad bets on com­mod­i­ty futures. Debt was pil­ing up; red ink was begin­ning to flow.” (“Bush OK’s Deal Like Enron’s” by War­ren Vieth; Los Ange­les Times; 7/12/2002; p. A13.)

8. “Harken’s exec­u­tives came up with a nov­el plan to ease the pain. They would sell a small chain of Hawai­ian gas sta­tions called Alo­ha Petro­le­um to a group of investors that includ­ed Harken’s chair­man and one of its direc­tors. The buy­ers would pay $1 mil­lion up front, but the accoun­tants would record an imme­di­ate $7.9‑million prof­it, enough to erase most of Harken’s loss­es for the year.” (Idem.)

9. “They made a point of seek­ing the approval of direc­tors who were not par­tic­i­pants in the investor group. Bush, a mem­ber of the board­’s audit com­mit­tee, signed off on the deal, accord­ing to Harken doc­u­ments. So did the com­pa­ny’s out­side audi­tor, Arthur Ander­sen & Co.” (Idem.) In this con­text, one should remem­ber that, just as the Harken deal with Alo­ha resem­bled Enron’s oper­a­tions, Arthur Ander­sen was Enron’s accoun­tant.

10. “But the gov­ern­ment chal­lenged and ulti­mate­ly over­turned the account­ing method used by Harken to post a gain on the sale. Alo­ha was sold a sec­ond time, and the new buy­er extract­ed big con­ces­sions from the com­pa­ny. The ini­tial prof­it record­ed on the sale mor­phed into a big loss. In the midst of all the maneu­ver­ing, Bush sold most of his Harken stock in June 1990.” (Ibid.; pp. A1-A13.)

11. “Based on a review of pub­licly released Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion fil­ings, meet­ing min­utes, mem­os and cor­re­spon­dence from that peri­od, there is no evi­dence that Bush, or any of the oth­er direc­tors, raised objec­tions or expressed con­cern about the Alo­ha deal. Experts on cor­po­rate gov­er­nance say that as an inde­pen­dent direc­tor and one of only three mem­bers of the audit com­mit­tee, Bush was in a posi­tion to exer­cise an impor­tant over­sight role but appar­ent­ly failed to do so.” (Ibid.; p. A13.)

12. “An audit com­mit­tee’s pri­ma­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty is to ensure that the com­pa­ny’s out­side audi­tors con­duct a thor­ough exam­i­na­tion of the finan­cial records with­out inter­fer­ence from offi­cers and employ­ees.” (Idem.)

13. “The Alo­ha sale was so sim­i­lar to what Enron Corp. did to hide its loss­es that Harken could have served as a mod­el for the now-dis­graced com­pa­ny, one account­ing expert said. ‘The peo­ple at Enron could have gone to school on this thing,’ said Alfred King, for­mer man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Man­age­ment Accoun­tants, vice chair­man of Mil­wau­kee-based Val­u­a­tion Research Corp. and for­mer advi­sor to the Finan­cial Account­ing Stan­dards Board.” (Idem.)

14. “‘They sold to them­selves and record­ed a prof­it,’ King said. ‘That’s exact­ly what Enron did on a num­ber of those off-bal­ance-sheet trans­ac­tions. On this one trans­ac­tion at lest, it’s almost iden­ti­cal.’ ” (Idem.)

15. “Still, account­ing experts, secu­ri­ty law spe­cial­ists and polit­i­cal ana­lysts say there is enough sim­i­lar­i­ty between events at Harken and Enron to keep Bush on the defen­sive about his own actions a decade ago and under­mine his cred­i­bil­i­ty as a cor­po­rate reformer.” (Idem.)

16. “Indeed, Bush would not have been allowed to serve on Harken’s audit com­mit­tee if the reform pro­pos­als he out­lined this week had been in effect then. The pres­i­dent says audit pan­el mem­ber­ship should be lim­it­ed to out­side direc­tors. Besides sit­ting on Harken’s board, Bush had a con­sult­ing con­tract with the com­pa­ny. Accord­ing to account­ing experts, that qual­i­fies him as a cor­po­rate insid­er.” (Idem.)

17. “‘Hid­ing loss­es in part­ner­ships, play­ing games with account­ing not report­ing forth­right­ly trans­ac­tions as a poten­tial inside trad­er-it’s all eeri­ly rem­i­nis­cent of Enron,’ said Charles Lewis, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter of Pub­lic Integri­ty, a Wash­ing­ton research group. ‘This is not a cor­po­rate exec­u­tive who laid awake at night wor­ry­ing about com­ply­ing with fed­er­al laws, from all appear­ances,’ said Lewis, who has been crit­i­cal of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion.” (Idem.)

18. “Anoth­er trans­ac­tion at Harken would have vio­lat­ed Bush’s reform pro­pos­als as well: On Thurs­day, the White House con­firmed that Harken made two loans to Bush while he served on the board of direc­tors, a prac­tice that Bush now wants pub­licly held com­pa­nies to pro­hib­it.” (Idem.)

19. “The loans, total­ing $180,375, were made in 1986 and 1988 at a below-mar­ket inter­est rate to enable Bush to pur­chase Harken stock under an incen­tive plan for board mem­bers.” (Idem.)

20. “Sus­pi­cions about the Alo­ha Petro­le­um deal have been fueled by the fact that most of the prin­ci­pals refuse to talk.” (Idem.)

21. “Of the sev­en Harken direc­tors who served on the board with Bush, five declined to dis­cuss the deal or did not return calls seek­ing com­ment.” (Idem.)

22. “Exec­u­tives at Alo­ha, now a pri­vate­ly held com­pa­ny, also declined to com­ment. So did past and present offi­cials at Harken, Arthur Ander­sen and the SEC.” (Idem.)

23. One of the cen­tral ele­ments of the dis­cus­sion is Talat M. Oth­man, a close Bush fam­i­ly asso­ciate, direc­tor of Harken, mem­ber (with Bush) of the audit com­mit­tee and a key play­er in the Al Taqwa milieu. “For­mer direc­tor Talat M. Oth­man, who chaired the three-mem­ber audit com­mit­tee, said he did not recall the details of the Alo­ha sale or the com­pa­ny’s rea­sons for arrang­ing it. ‘I’m not sure that our moti­va­tion was to cre­ate instant prof­its,’ said Oth­man, a Pales­tin­ian who rep­re­sent­ed Sau­di investors who owned 13% or Harken’s stock. ‘It was a nor­mal part of the busi­ness to be buy­ing and sell­ing.” (Idem.)

24. “Harken acquired Alo­ha in 1986 when it bought a mul­ti-state gas retail­er called E‑Z Serve. When it announced its plan to sell 80% of Alo­ha in 1989, it said Hawaii was too far away from its oth­er gaso­line mar­kets and required too much man­age­ment atten­tion.” (Idem.)

25. Anoth­er of the sig­nif­i­cant play­ers in Harken was Alan G. Quasha. “But the new own­ers looked an awful lot like the old own­ers. The buy­ers were an investor group con­trolled by the fam­i­ly of Harken Chair­man Alan G. Quasha and includ­ed anoth­er Harken direc­tor, Jef­frey Laikind.” (Idem.)

26. “When Harken sold Alo­ha to Quasha’s group, it had agreed to retain lia­bil­i­ty for any envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems asso­ci­at­ed with the chain.” (Idem.)

27. The Aloha/Harken deal appears to antic­i­pate Bush’s deep con­cern with the envi­ron­ment. “In ear­ly 1990, it dis­cov­ered that the com­mit­ment would cost it dear­ly. Alo­ha’s new own­er had 20 gas out­lets test­ed and found that 11 had leaky under­ground tanks requir­ing expen­sive repairs. There were 21 sites still await­ing tests.” (Idem.)

28. On April 4, Trea­sury Sec­re­tary O’Neill met with pow­er­ful Islamist Repub­li­cans whose spheres of inter­est over­lap those of the insti­tu­tions and indi­vid­u­als tar­get­ed by the Trea­sury Depart­ment in a series of raids on 3/20/2002. (“O’Neill Met Mus­lim Activists Tied to Char­i­ties” by Glenn R. Simp­son [with Roger Thurow]; Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/18/2002; p. A4.)

29. The afore­men­tioned Talat Oth­man inter­ced­ed on behalf of some of the Islam­o­fas­cist ele­ments tar­get­ed on 3/20. Oth­man him­self was deeply involved with the Al Taqwa milieu and the Islamist ele­ments tar­get­ed on 3/20. “Among the Mus­lim lead­ers attend­ing [the meet­ing with O’Neill] was Talat Oth­man, a long­time asso­ciate and sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Bush’s fam­i­ly, who gave a bene­dic­tion at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia in August 2000. . . But he also serves [with Jamal Barz­in­ji] on the board of Amana Mutu­al funds Trust, an invest­ment firm found­ed by M. Yac­qub Mirza, the North­ern Vir­ginia busi­ness­man who set up most of the enti­ties tar­get­ed by the Trea­sury and whose tax records were sought in the raid.” (Idem.)

30. As hypoth­e­sized, the Grover Norquist/GOP/Islamist links are part of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s eth­nic out­reach pro­gram. “The case also high­lights con­flicts between the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s domes­tic polit­i­cal goals and its war on ter­ror. GOP offi­cials began court­ing the U.S. Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty intense­ly in the late 1990’s, seek­ing to add that eth­nic bloc to the par­ty’s polit­i­cal base.” (Idem.)

31. The meet­ing between O’Neill and the Islamists was described as high­ly unusu­al. “Bruce Zagaris, an asset-for­fei­ture lawyer, who rep­re­sents clients in sim­i­lar cas­es, said a meet­ing between Trea­sury offi­cials and any­one who might be asso­ci­at­ed with an enti­ty under inves­ti­ga­tion is very unusu­al. ‘It’s vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble [to arrange such a meet­ing], espe­cial­ly with the Trea­sury sec­re­tary,’ Mr. Zagaris said. ‘It’s very dif­fi­cult to even get phone calls returned.’ ” (Idem.)

32. The Amana net­work has numer­ous areas of over­lap with orga­ni­za­tions described as being impli­cat­ed in ter­ror­ism and the milieu of Al Qae­da. “Two non­prof­its affil­i­at­ed with Mr. Mirza and named in the search war­rant, the SAAR Foun­da­tion Inc. and the Her­itage Edu­ca­tion Trust Inc., held large blocks of shares in Amana’s mutu­al funds in 1997, accord­ing to SEC records. The SEC doc­u­ments and oth­er records detail­ing con­nec­tions between Mr. Oth­man and the Islam­ic Insti­tute [on the board of which Mr. Oth­man serves] and the raid­ed groups were com­piled by the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty News Ser­vice, a Wash­ing­ton based non­prof­it research group.” (Idem.)

33. Fur­ther details have emerged about the links between Al Taqwa and the GOP/Bush admin­is­tra­tion. “Mr. Oth­man also is on the board of Mr. Saf­fu­ri’s [and Norquist’s] Islam­ic Insti­tute, the GOP-lean­ing group that received $20,000.00 from the Safa Trust, one of the raid’s tar­gets. The pres­i­dent of the Safa Trust, Jamal Barz­in­ji, is a for­mer busi­ness asso­ciate of Switzer­land based investor Youssef Nada, whose assets were frozen last fall after the Trea­sury des­ig­nat­ed him a per­son sus­pect­ed of giv­ing aid to ter­ror­ists.” (Idem.)

34. A Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle pro­vid­ed fur­ther infor­ma­tion about some of the orga­ni­za­tions tar­get­ed in the raids. “These include Al-Taqwa Man­age­ment, a recent­ly liq­ui­dat­ed Swiss com­pa­ny the U.S. gov­ern­ment gov­ern­ment believes act­ed as a banker for Osama bin Laden’s al Qae­da ter­ror­ist net­work. . . Two peo­ple affil­i­at­ed with the com­pa­nies and char­i­ties are linked by records to enti­ties already des­ig­nat­ed as ter­ror­ist by the U.S. for alleged involve­ment in ter­ror­ist financ­ing. . . Jamal Barz­in­ji, an offi­cer of Mr. Mirza­’s com­pa­ny Mar-Jac and oth­er enti­ties, also was involved with Mr. Nada’s com­pa­nies in the 1970’s, accord­ing to bank doc­u­ments from Liecht­en­stein. A mes­sage was left yes­ter­day for Mr. Barz­in­ji at his address in Hern­don. Mr. Barz­in­ji and Mr. Tal­ib live across the street from each oth­er. A third busi­ness asso­ciate of Mr. Nada, Ali Ghaleb Him­mat (who also has been des­ig­nat­ed by the Trea­sury as aid­ing ter­ror­ism), is list­ed as an offi­cial of the Gene­va branch of anoth­er char­i­ty oper­at­ed by Mr. Mirza, the Inter­na­tion­al Islam­ic Char­i­ta­ble Orga­ni­za­tion. Hisham Al-Tal­ib, who served as an offi­cer of SAAR, the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Islam­ic Thought and Safa Trust Inc., anoth­er Mirza char­i­ty, dur­ing the 1970’s was an offi­cer of firms run by Youssef M. Nada, records show. Mr. Nada is a Switzer­land-based busi­ness­man whose assets have been frozen by the gov­ern­ment, and is alleged by U.S. offi­cials to be a key fig­ure in the Taqwa net­work. (“Funds Under Ter­ror Probe Flowed From Off­shore” by Glenn R. Simp­son [with Michael M. Phillips]; Wall Street Jour­nal; 3/22/2002; p. A4.)

35. Oth­man’s links to Bush are pro­found. “Mr. Oth­man has ties to the Bush fam­i­ly going back to the 1980’s, when he served with George W. Bush on the board of a Texas petro­le­um firm, Harken Oil & Gas Inc. Mr. Oth­man has vis­it­ed the White House dur­ing the admin­is­tra­tions of both Pres­i­dent Bush and his father George H.W. Bush.” (“O’Neill Met Mus­lim Activists Tied to Char­i­ties” by Glenn R. Simp­son [with Roger Thurow]; Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/18/2002; p. A4.)

36. Fur­ther detail­ing the back­ground of Oth­man, the broad­cast high­lights the con­nec­tions between peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with the Nugan Hand Bank and Oth­man. Among those was Harken oper­a­tor Alan Quasha, whose father advised Nugan Hand. (Nugan Hand was an Aus­tralia-based U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tion deeply involved with drug traf­fick­ing and covert oper­a­tions. “Harken Ener­gy was formed in 1973 by two oil­men who would ben­e­fit from a suc­cess­ful covert effort to desta­bi­lize Aus­trali­a’s Labor Par­ty gov­ern­ment (which had attempt­ed to shut out for­eign oil explo­ration.) A decade lat­er, Harken was sold to a new invest­ment group head­ed by New York attor­ney Alan G. Quasha, a part­ner in the firm of Quasha, Wes­se­ly & Schnei­der. . . William Quasha [Alan’s father] had also giv­en legal advice to two top offi­cials of the noto­ri­ous Nugan Hand Bank in Aus­tralia, a CIA oper­a­tion. After the sale of Harken Ener­gy in 1983, Alan Quasha became a direc­tor and chair­man of the board. Under Quasha, Harken sud­den­ly absorbed Junior’s strug­gling Spec­trum 7 in 1986. (“Bush Fam­i­ly Val­ue$: The Bush Clan’s Fam­i­ly Busi­ness” by Stephen Piz­zo; Moth­er Jones; September/October 1992.)

37. Oth­man also has links to Gaith Pharoan of the BCCI and, through him, to James R. Bath and the Bin Ladens. “Sheikh Abdul­lah Bakhsh, in turn, was a busi­ness asso­ciate of BCCI front man Gaith Pharoan; he bought a chunk of Harken’s stock and placed his rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Talat Oth­man, on Harken Ener­gy’s board of direc­tors.” (Idem.)

38. With Oth­man and Quasha embody­ing the con­ti­nu­ity between BCCI and Nugan Hand, it should not come as a great sur­prise that the demise of Nugan Hand and the gen­e­sis of BCCI are inex­tri­ca­bly linked. “There had been a pre­vi­ous Amer­i­can attempt to use a finan­cial facil­i­ty for covert oper­a­tions, but the Nugan-Hand bank oper­a­tion was exposed by the Aus­tralian media and was on its way to bank­rupt­cy by the late 1970’s. The Nugan-Hand bank unrav­eled along with [Edwin] Wil­son and Task Force 157, but not before it had estab­lished close work­ing rela­tions in Sau­di Ara­bia with both Aram­co and the Bech­tel Cor­po­ra­tion.” (The Secret War Against the Jews: How West­ern Espi­onage Betrayed the Jew­ish Peo­ple; John Lof­tus and Mark Aarons; Copy­right 1994 [SC]; St. Mar­t­in’s Press; ISBN 0–312-15648–0; p. 394.)

39. “As the old bank in Aus­tralia col­lapsed, the new one in Abu Dhabi was com­ing into being with the help of the British secret ser­vice, which used the same front men in anoth­er British colony, the Cay­man Islands. In this ‘tax haven,’ Nugan-Hand’s legal firm of Bruce Camp­bell & Com­pa­ny set up the Inter­na­tion­al Cred­it & Invest­ment com­pa­ny (ICIC) as a front for the BCCI.” (Idem.)


No comments for “FTR#368 Harken Unto Me, Part II; The Ties that Bind, Part V”

Post a comment