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Friday, October 15, 2004

Sleaze Baker

I probably sound like some conspiracy theorist when I rant on about the "powers that be" who chose aWol to be our pResident and now have apparently decided that his time is up. Well, I guess I am a conspiracy theorist, but the conspiracies I suspect make a lot more sense than the ones we're expected to accept as common knowledge (that some guy hiding in a cave in the most technologically backward country in the world was able to mastermind a high-tech hijacking 8000 miles away, for instance, or that a dead amputee named Zarqawi is plotting and directing hundreds of bombings in Baghdad from a "safe house" in Fallujah). Compared to that nonsense, the idea that it was a cruise missile and not an airliner that hit the Pentagon, or that Dick Cheney planned 9/11, or that Laura Bush was on the grassy knoll on that fateful day in Dallas, all seem very plausible. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Anyway, I refer to the "powers that be" because I'm not sure exactly who they are. Bush is clearly working for someone (not us). First level theory would have it that he's working for Dick Cheney and/or Karl Rove. And I'm sure he is. But Dick and Karl are working for someone else. I guess the next level would be the big-money Repugs who have funded the think tanks and the right-wing takeover of the media: Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors family, Sun Yung Moon. But I suspect that they have been more enablers than planners; their money made it possible for the people really calling the shots to pursue their goals. As I see it, the closest I can get to who is really calling the shots is the investment firm known as the Carlyle Group. Founders of the Carlyle Group included George H.W. Bush and Osama bin Laden's father. Current members of the Carlyle Group team include numerous members of the cabinets of Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton, as well as former British PM John Major and assorted elites from business and government from around the world.

The person who may be the real heart-and-soul of the Carlyle Group, although it probably has no heart or soul, is James Baker III. Baker was Reagan's Chief of Staff from 1981 to '85 and Secretary of the Treasury from '85 through '89. He was Secretary of State for Bush Sr., and was the one who sent the message to Saddam Hussein that the U.S. had no interest in his dispute with Kuwait. More recently, Baker headed W's team which finalized the theft of the 2000 election in Florida. His law firm, Baker Botts, is defending the kingdom of Saudi Arabia against a lawsuit charging it with complicity in the 9/11 attacks. In addition to this, Baker is Senior Council for the Carlyle Group, and is W's envoy, supposedly on behalf of the U.S. government, trying to get other countries to forgive Iraq's massive foreign debt (so Bush can go ahead and give more money to Halliburton).

But, in a career filled with conflicts of interest, Baker's last two roles listed above conflict with each other. Because, according to Naomi Klein, the Carlyle Group is part of a consortium working under contract with Kuwait to make sure that Iraq's debts to Kuwait ARE repaid. In other words, as a government representative Baker is asking the French, Germans, Russians and others to give up their claims to Iraqi money, but as a representative of the Carlyle Group he is helping Kuwait to get their money.

For more details on the Carlyle Group, this page seems to have links about all of the scandals I've heard of so far.