Murdocracy in America,
International Thuggery

excerpted from the book

Robbing Us Blind

The Return of the Bush Gang and the Mugging of America

by Steve Brouwer

Common Courage Press, 2004, paper


Constitution of the Knights of Labor, 1869

The alarming development and aggressiveness of great capitalists and corporations, unless checked, will inevitably lead to the pauperization and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses.

Jim Hightower, former Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Texas

The corporations don't have to lobby the government any more. They are the government.

25% of the people of Texas had no health insurance in the year 2000.


International comparison of per capita health care costs - 1998

USA $4,270
Germany $2,400
Canada $2,250
Sweden $2,120
France $1,820
Japan $1,780
Italy $1,660

Health care outcome: mortality and longevity (comparison of all countries)

1960 1990 1997

U.S. rank in infant mortality 12th 21st 24th

U.S. rank in longevity of males 17th 21st 22nd

U.S. rank in longevity of females 13th 17th 20th

Thomas Jefferson, 1816

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws our country.

Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president, June 27, 1936

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face ~ of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor-other people's lives.

Abraham Lincoln, 1864, in a letter to a friend

As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

E. Digby Bartzell, sociologist

The main function of an upper v class is the perpetuation of its power in n the world of affairs, whether in the bank, the factory, or in the halls of the legislature ...

Benito Mussolini

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power."

Albert Einstein, 1949

... private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult and in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There is only one thing in this world, and that is to keep acquiring money and more money, power and more power. All the rest is meaningless.

The neo-conservatives are a small group of highly active political operatives-William Kristol, John Podhoretz, and Fred Barnes are three directly employed by Murdoch-who want U.S. conservatism to be an activist agent for international change. They are not too concerned with lowering taxes or keeping government out of the average citizen's life, which are two of the more standard conservative values, but are very interested in promoting conservative Judeo-Christian values and American style capitalism around the world. They see activist government as a plus, but are not so interested in the traditional government activism of the liberals. The neo-conservatives are the most aggressive practitioners of a long-standing American policy: fusing the strength of the U.S. government with American economic culture to overwhelm other nations, then requiring them to play by our free-trade capitalist rules and abandon their other economic and social priorities.

A key intellectual reference point to the neo-conservative thrust within the Bush administration is The Weekly Standard, a small, sprightly journal of political advocacy run by William Kristol, who was chief of staff for Dan Quayle during the Bush I years. The Weekly Standard was founded in 1995 by Rupert Murdoch for the express purpose of developing a new, more aggressive conservative voice. The editorialists and writers maintain very close relationships with the White House, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and other conservative foundations. Often The Weekly Standard will produce an essay or editorial about a proposed government course of action, only to have it followed up by a policy statement at the White House or a longer, expository article in The Wall Street Journal. This is especially true of foreign policy issues.

For example, The Weekly Standard, at the very same time it was virulently attacking President Clinton about his sex life, was relentlessly prodding him to attack Iraq. With help from various scholarly-looking representatives from the right-wing think tanks, they kept a myth alive for the last five years of the Clinton presidency and into the 21st century-they insisted that there was a madman in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein, who was intent on destroying the United States. They linked the threat of the "Demon Iraq" neatly to the need to support Israel. They said that Israel was entitled to deal very harshly with the Palestinians, who, according to the editors, did not necessarily deserve their own land and nation. This new Israeli aggressiveness would require a similar display of determined force by the United States according to the neo-cons. The logical course of action then, was for the United States to arm itself sufficiently to assume its rightful place at the top of a new imperial order. In the neo-con view of the world, American hegemony would be benign, but wielded with a stern hand, and would assure that world oil supplies were stable and world markets open for business.

Neo-conservatives are so expansionist that they believe the government and the military can be hyper-aggressive agents of promoting American power all over the world, but especially in the Middle East. Godfather of the movement, Norman Podhoretz, wrote in the September 2002 issue of his journal Commentary that the list of the regimes "that richly deserve to be overthrown and replaced should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya... the Saudi royal family and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority....provided that the United States has the will to fight World War IV, 'the war against militant Islam' to a successful conclusion, and provided too, that we then have the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties." (Norman is the father of John Podhoretz, who was editor of The Weekly Standard before Murdoch moved him to the position of editorial page editor at The New York Post. )

Murdoch's band of neo-cons developed some of the highest profiles of anyone in the media business because they had the distribution power of the mighty News Corporation behind them. In the 1990s Fox News became a favorite of right-wing heavyweights on Capitol Hill because it linked The Weekly Standard with the ultra-conservative publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, Commentary, and The Washington Times. Among themselves, Rush Limbaugh, and a never ending stream of conservative pundits who appeared on the screen and on the printed page, they helped the right wing of the Republican Party attain a dominant public voice that it used to harass the Clintons unmercifully while simultaneously pushing the Democratic polity to the center-right.

columnist Eric Boehlert of Salon

Who needs a vast right-wing conspiracy when you've got a vast right-wing network?

So wrote columnist Eric Boehlert of Salon in November 2000. as he deftly pointed a finger at the Murdoch network's use of John Ellis on election night. He was making a good point: why should the right wing do its dirty work in secret if the Fox network can do it more effectively in public.

There is, however, a much larger issue, and a much larger network that lies behind Murdoch's astute positioning in the media markets. His methods would not work nearly so well in the United States, which is so much bigger than the British and Australian markets that he previously dominated, without the vast web of right wing institutions that were already functioning when he decided to move to the U.S. and become an American citizen. Rich, ultraconservative gentlemen like Murdoch have financed this collection of think tanks, university programs, and policy foundations for thirty years. They supply the intellectual voices that not only shout at the public on Fox TV, but also get plenty of time to quietly persuade the more moderate viewers of PBS and parade experts onto news programming at ABC, CBS, and NBC.

The formation of a vast and relatively open right-wing network began with a few very rich, ultra-conservative families in the 1950s. For instance, William F. Buckley, a Skull and Bones member at Yale in the 1940s, was so upset that left-leaning professors were allowed to teach there that he used the family oil fortune to found The National Review, the granddaddy of the ultra-right publications. Out in Indiana, Dan Quayle's grandfather, the billionaire Eugene C. Pulliam, built a right-wing newspaper empire centered in Indianapolis, then extended it to Arizona where he became an early backer of Barry Goldwater in the 1950s. At the time, however, these efforts did not generate widespread support for right-wing causes among the business community. This meant that "true believers," such as Dan Quayle's father, Jim, had to operate on the radical-right fringe in groups such as the John Birch Society.

A key moment for the ascendancy of much broader right-wing influence came in the 1970s. Big business was becoming quite disgruntled with the political behavior of the American public, and a Republican president was frustrated with the amount of public dissent that assailed him because of his conduct of the Vietnam War. In 1971, shortly before he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, Lewis Powell wrote an article for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled "Attack on the American Free Enterprise System." The Chamber stamped it with the label "Powell Memorandum" and circulated it with their newsletter/magazine, Washington Report, which they sent out to influential leaders in business and politics. Powell warned that the country was being infected with an anti-corporate, anti-American mood, and that big business was being criticized by a variety of "perfectly responsible elements of society who shaped opinion: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual community." Powell urged the business world "to stop suffering in impotent silence, and launch a counterattack" so that it could persuade the public of the value of the "free enterprise system."

The "Powell Memorandum" succeeded in getting immediate results. Joseph Coors, ultraright scion of the Coors Brewing Company, reported that he was "stirred up," and "convinced" that he and other leaders of corporate America had been "ignoring a crisis." Determined to fix the situation, he joined with Richard Mellon Scaife, the ultra-conservative heir of the Mellon clan, to fund the 1971-1972 start-up of the Analysis and Research Association in Washington, DC. This organization soon became the most influential of the right-wing think tanks and renamed itself the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation differs from other non-profit, public policy foundations because it spends a larger portion of its budget, about 60 percent, on putting out an explicitly political message. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Heritage Foundation, "more than other think tanks, has extended its political influence by spending more money on raising funds and promoting its thoughts than on researching them."

The Heritage Foundation has been joined by a raft of far-right vehicles designed to change public opinion, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, and the Manhattan Institute. They distinguish themselves from older, middle-of the-road foundations, such as Ford and Rockefeller, which are certainly not anti-business, by devoting a large proportion of their funds to openly conservative political causes. All are very well-funded by corporate money and big fortunes that favor ultra-right politics, such as the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Coors' Castle Rock Foundation, the Olin Foundation, and the J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust. The right-wing think tanks have been fantastically successful, for by the year 2000 their spokespeople were be found everywhere on television news and opinion shows, proudly holding forth and dominating coverage as the designated experts on almost any topic.

Occasionally conservative foundations have supported new Social Darwinist research such as Charles Murray's influential book, The Bell Curve (lavishly funded by the Bradley Foundation and the Pioneer Fund). In this way they were emulating the race research funded by the old Robber Barons and Skull and Bones crowd a century earlier, when they were infatuated with eugenics and the good breeding techniques required to reproduce the upper class. But mostly they steered clear of the old racist claims to power, and instead chose to support new fields such as "Law and Economics". According to political and economic analyst Robert Kuttner, "these ideas are reinforcing of the laissez faire ideal and thus very congenial to society's most powerful.''

The Olin Foundation, in particular, distinguishes itself by funding academic programs in "law and economics", thus following the advice that Justice Powell gave in his memorandum to the Chamber of Commerce in the early 1970s- "buy the top academic reputations of the country to add credibility to corporate studies and give business a stronger voice on the campus.''

Olin Foundation money has flowed to the best universities, in particular to fund programs in "Law and Economics" at places such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Duke, MIT, Penn, and the University of Virginia, where they are "intended to strengthen the economic, political, and cultural institutions upon which ... private enterprise is based." The core values of Law and Economics reduce all human activity to the pursuit of individual self-interest in the marketplace, so that the law itself adheres to market and corporate values.

Because the Olin Foundation was interested in promoting more depth in political scholarship than the other conservative think tanks, it heavily backed significant conservatives in other academic programs, too-for example, in the humanities, Allan Bloom at the University of Chicago; and in politics and government, Samuel Huntington at Harvard. Huntington, who was a graduate school classmate of Henry Kissinger's and a fellow instructor with Zbigniew Brzezinski at Harvard in the early 1950s, shared with them an appreciation for the ways nations can gain hegemony through the exertion of military and diplomatic power. He was later picked to serve on the elite policy group, the Trilateral Commission, for whom he wrote one of his most famous comments in the 1970s: "Some of the problems of governance in the United States stem from an excess of democracy... needed instead is a greater degree of moderation in democracy." The problem was that Huntington's ideal of "moderation" was not democratic at all. "Truman," he wrote, "had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers.'' Always one with an ear for how the powerful wanted to exert their power, he anticipated the conflict between the United States and Islamic countries in his l990s book, The Clash of Civilizations, and cautioned the U.S. not to trust in conciliation and peaceful co-existence with these potential enemies.

Another major player on the far right is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which was a small, obscure policy institution until it was launched into prominence at the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. President Nixon's Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, decided AEI's conservative opinions could be helpful to the administration, so he hosted a $25 million fund-raising dinner for the organization in his private Pentagon dining room in 1971. The AEI was off and running, so that by 1980 its annual budget was higher than the moderate and centrist think-tank, The Brookings Institution, which had previously dominated Washington policy studies. Besides defending the Vietnam War and an aggressive American foreign policy, AEI backed corporations who were fighting government regulatory agencies and organized labor.

By 1981, when Reagan/Bush took office, several hundred corporations were contributing 40 percent of AEI's budget. John B. Judis, in his book, The Paradox of American Democracy, points out that top CEOs were recruited to fund-raising posts, "including Walter Wriston of Citibank, Willard Butcher of Chase Manhattan, David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, Thomas Murphy of General Motors, and Reginald Jones of General Electric." A host of foundations connected to rich conservative families also contributed mightily because, like the corporations, they felt it was necessary to inculcate a fresh view of the world in the American people. According to Judis, "This version of reality pivoted on a simple formula: government rather than business was responsible for America's ills-from inflation and high energy prices to the slowdown in growth and the rise in unemployment."

The American people had come through the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals with a deep distrust of the motives of American foreign policy and American business. Because the right-wing foundations endeavored to change these perceptions, they gradually won the trust of business leaders. The corporate executives had organized themselves, too, with encouragement from the Nixon White House in 1972, into a very powerful group, The Business Roundtable. The Roundtable had its origins in the "Construction Users Anti-Inflation Roundtable," a corporate group that was trying to lower construction costs by eliminating construction unions and forcing down the wages of skilled craftsmen. It turned into a lobbying group for 200 of the largest American corporations when the chairmen of GE and Alcoa met with Nixon's Treasury Secretary John Connally, his deputy Charls Walker, and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Arthur Burns to discuss a much larger business counteroffensive.

The government men urged the executives to bypass lesser powers, such as the broadbased Chamber of Commerce and the fragmented business and industry associations, and address their concerns directly to Washington. The idea was for big business CEOs to become powerful policy spokesmen themselves, appearing in person to tell Washington what they wanted. The stated purpose of the Business Roundtable was that "chief executives of major corporations should take an increased role in the continuing debates about public policy.'' In December of 2002, when George W. Bush and the rest of the gang became exasperated with Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill because of his opposition to some of the proposed tax cuts, they replaced him with John Snow, the CEO of CSX Corporation. Snow had acted as chairman of The Business Roundtable in 1996 and 1997.

Alexis de Tocqueville

The manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up before our eyes is one of the harshest that ever existed in the world....If ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.

George W. Bush, 2001

We will export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of our great nation.

Only one nation has ever been found guilty of terrorism by the International Court of Justice the United States in 1986 Some of the men who ran this secret terror operation- North, Abrams, and Poindexter-were convicted of Iying to Congress about their activities.

Two of the above were invited to rejoin the rejuvenated Bush Gang in Washington in 2001, along with two other men-Negroponte and Reich-who helped them plan their past terroristic activities. The third criminal, Oliver North, was too busy with his Fox TV show, "War Stories," to rejoin the others.

In 1986, the Reagan administration disregarded international law and ignored the order from the International Court of Justice, part of the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to desist from its hostile activities. The U.S. continued sponsoring, training, and supplying arms to the Contras, the army it had created to carry out illegal attacks on the nation of Nicaragua Several years earlier the Nicaraguan people had launched a left-leaning, democratic revolution and freed themselves from the long, brutal, dictatorship of the Somoza family. The United States government had supported the Somozas for decades, just as it had backed a string of right-wing dictatorships throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

The Reagan administration also disregarded the laws of the United States of America, in particular those that the U.S. Congress had passed earlier in the 1980s forbidding U.S. assistance to the Contra forces. Nicaragua, a poor nation with only three million people, was badly hurt by the repeated terrorist acts-its main harbor was mined to discourage civilian shipping, its medical personnel were massacred at rural clinics, and its citizens were tortured and murdered by the U.S. sponsored terrorists.

When Oliver North, Elliot Abrams, and John Poindexter-all operatives in the President's National Security clique-were called before Congressional Committees, they lied about their involvement in the subterfuge in Nicaragua. Their crazy plot involved selling arms illegally to the mullahs of Iran so that they could raise secret funds to buy weapons for the Contras. As their activities were gradually uncovered, President Reagan denied all knowledge. This may have been true, for during his second term the President was sleeping through many meetings and not always attentive when he was awake.

The Vice-President, Bush I, claimed he was "out of the loop," too, and denied any involvement. But this was much more difficult to believe, since he was not getting senile and had been in regular contact with all of the perpetrators. Much later, long after his underlings were convicted, then freed, George H.W. Bush's diary entry concerning Iran/Contra became public. The entry for November 5, 1986 read:

"I'm one of the few people that know fully the details.... This is one operation that has been held very, very tight, and I hope it will not leak."

George Bush I, the only president of the United States who was ever the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency ...

Our war against Nicaragua was accompanied by even worse bloodshed, tortures, and massacres in Guatemala and El Salvador. In those countries, right-wing militaries trained and armed by the United States, and sometimes assisted by the CIA, slaughtered many thousands of people in order to suppress popular rebellions. For these small nations the toll was very heavy: an estimated 70,000 killed in El Salvador, 20,000 dead in the contra war in Nicaragua, 200 "disappearances" in Honduras, 200,000 people eliminated in Guatemala, most of them in the indigenous villages in rural areas. The Historical Clarification Committee, which met in the 1990s to review the human rights crimes committed in Guatemala, catalogued "626 massacres against Mayan villages."

The Reagan/Bush administration tried to claim it was backing the forces of democracy, but few believed this. One former Contra leader described their activities:

It is a gross fabrication to claim that the contras are composed of democratic groups.... As I can attest, the 'contra' military force is directed and controlled by officers of Somoza's National Guard.... During my four years as a contra director, it was premeditated policy to terrorize civilian noncombatants to prevent them from cooperating with the Government. Hundreds of civilian murders, tortures and rapes were committed in pursuit of this policy, of which the ~\ 'contra' leaders and their CIA superiors were well aware.

Edgar Chamorro, former member of the directorate of the main contra organization, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force.

The United States was not fighting terror in our hemisphere in the 1980s, it was the exponent and exporter of terror. The death and destruction in Central America was expedited by a small subgang of Bush operatives. It seems ironical in the extreme that these men, who were tarred and feathered with a fair amount of ignominy for their participation in this disgraceful chapter of American history, have been recalled to the center of power. Now they are being asked to help prosecute a war against terror. On the other hand, their recall can be seen as a sign of their rehabilitation.

For Abrams, Poindexter, Negroponte, and Reich, this return to power also constituted an endorsement of their past actions. As illegal as their actions were, they were effective in the end. The countries in Central America were subdued and pacified, and are not a source of irritation to the United States any longer. Their current governments are feeble attempts at democracy and their social structures and economies so shattered by war that they are worse off now, in Guatemala and Nicaragua especially, than they were before Bush Gang l began its intrigues twenty years ago.


The insular world of right-wing Washington, combined with the geopolitical imperatives of manning military installations and gathering information in all parts of the world, has over many decades produced men who live and breathe a covert version of "manifest destiny." They feel committed to advancing U.S. power no matter what obstacles they may face. In order to get the "bad guys," they think, it may be necessary to tear up the fabric of democracy. For such people, Admiral John Poindexter, Elliot Abrams, and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North were not misguided zealots, nor criminal soldiers, but true heroes who were not appreciated by their countrymen.

One of George W's first acts as president was to keep his father's papers, which were due to be released, locked away in secrecy.

Elliot Abrams

In the Reagan and Bush I administrations, Elliot Abrams served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs and later as assistant secretary of state for interAmerican affairs, supervising U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. In that capacity he constantly covered up the realities of Iran/Contra, oversaw much of the conspiracy, and lied about it to the press and Congress. Jim Lobe, of Foreign Policy in Focus, writes that "he clashed frequently and angrily with mainstream church groups and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who often accused him of covering up horrendous abuses committed by U.S.backed governments."

Journalist and film-maker Saul Landau reports that: "In his testimony to Congress, the scrappy Abrams made witness history when he declared: 'I never said I had no idea about most of the things you said I had no idea about.' The now 54 year old Abrams also explained in his autobiography that he had to inform his young children about the headline announcing his indictment, so he told them he had 'to lie to Congress to protect the national interest." He did not tell Congress about the horrific massacre in El Mazote, El Salvador, that he covered up for the Reagan administration by denigrating the work of very accurate reporters. Nor did he explain that U.S.-trained death squads had carried out 85% of the 22,000 "extra legal" killings in the country. Instead, Abrams defiantly told Congress how proud he was of the United States record in El Salvador: "The Administration's record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement."

During his forced absence from government, Abrams resided within the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center where he devoted a great deal of this energy to bolstering the arguments and political connections that kept elevating the right-wing, militarist agenda of Likud and its allies in Israel and the United States. Jim Lobe reported that "In Present Dangers, a book produced by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 2000, Abrams outlined a new U.S. Mideast policy that called for 'regime change' in Iraq and for cracking down on the Palestinian Authority. Foreshadowing the current U.S. policy based on superior military power, Abrams recommended that in the Middle East 'our military strength and willingness to use it' should be the 'key factor in our ability to promote peace." Elliot Abrams was rehired by Bush Gang II in 2001 as National Security Council senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations, and then, in the first week of December 2002, he was transferred within the NSC to the position of director of Middle Eastern affairs. Given his extremely aggressive posture in all his foreign policy dealings, this can be seen as a preparation for tenacious warfare, expediting the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, threatening Syria and Iran, and reassuring Israel about its superior position vis a vis the Muslim countries that surround it.

Otto Reich

In the 1980s, Otto Reich was chief of a department in the State Department that was ; called the Office of Public Diplomacy and staffed with CIA and Pentagon "psychological ; warfare" specialists. The function of the operation was to fool the American public about the nature of the conflicts in Central America by disseminating false information, discrediting reporters whose work the Reagan administration did not like, and using other means of mist leading propaganda. In short, the Office of Public Diplomacy was in the business of producing disinformation of the kind that is generally used to mislead an enemy during conventional warfare, except that during the unconventional and illegal Contra war it was being used to lie to journalists, Congressional committees, and the U.S. people. Reich "helped plant stories and opinion pieces praising the Contras in U.S. newspapers. It wasn't just the stories that were phony, so were the authors. Reich's office wrote them all." Congress, once it uncovered the illegal operations of this office, closed it down and Otto Reich barely avoided indictment.

Otto Reich was sent off as Ambassador to Venezuela after the Contra war, where he was able to secure the release of the jailed Cuban exile terrorist, Orlando Bosch. This man had been jailed for eleven years for his role in the worst instance of airline terrorism in the Western Hemisphere (up until September 11, 2001, that is). This was the bombing of a Cuban plane which killed all 73 civilians on board in 1976. The U.S. Justice Department had evidence of Bosch's involvement in more than 30 other terrorist acts, some of them committed within the United States, including a rocket attack on a Polish ship in Miami. With the help of Otto Reich and Jeb Bush, who was busy ingratiating himself with right-wing Cuban Americans in Florida, Bosch was pardoned by George Bush I in 1992.

In 2001, Reich rejoined the Bush Gang by taking over the Latin American desk at the State Department for just one year. The Administration used a special loophole that allowed for his temporary appointment without getting the approval of the Senate. This was because many Senators, such as Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, would have grilled him about his past activities and opposed his formal nomination. When the one year term expired, Reich was immediately appointed as a special Latin American envoy to the National Security Agency, another post that does not require congressional approval. This allowed him to keep pursuing his major preoccupation, which was the same as Abrams'-to overthrow regimes and control oil. The only difference was that Reich was assigned to raid and plunder in the Western Hemisphere (not the Middle East), where he was overseeing the destabilization of the government of Venezuela, the biggest American oil producer. He was also seeking to oust President Chavez, the democratically elected leader who was detested by the Bush Gang for his obstinacy and independent thinking, particularly on the issue of using Venezuela's vast oil revenues. Chavez had stated that he wanted to use the country's oil wealth to serve and educate the poor, who form the vast majority of the country's population.

Reich regularly met with Chavez's upper-class opponents in Washington to contemplate strategies, one of which was a constant barrage of attacks from the Venezuela's press and television, almost all of which are controlled by a right-wing business oligarchy. A military coup was engineered by the oligarchy in April 2002 after repeated consultations with Washington, but it failed. Then, in December of 2002, a large scale petroleum strike was engineered by state oil company executives in concert with a commercial business shutdown planned by the oligarchs and the rest of the upper class. Both actions failed to dislodge President Chavez. As of the spring of 2003, the Venezuelan upper class had failed in their coup attempts. The plots that Reich had helped initiate were as ill conceived as the Iran/Contra scandal and ended up as fiascos. The business shutdown in December hurt the middle class more than the poor, while the sabotage of the oil industry nearIy wrecked the economy and cost the country many billions of dollars. The oil shutdown also helped push the price of oil sky-high as the U.S.A. and the world braced for war in the Middle East.

John Negroponte

John Negroponte was never pursued by Congress for his old role as the ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, even though he was one of those responsible for coordinating aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and holding together the dictatorship of an assortment of Honduran generals. Although the level of brutality toward the people of Honduras was lower than in the war zones on either side of them, there were hundreds of assassinations and disappearances perpetrated by the ruling Honduran military's notorious Battalion 3-16, a U.S. trained unit; one of their victims was Joseph Carney, a Jesuit priest from the U.S. Negroponte's job was to keep silent about their atrocities and help cover them up.

The Bush Gang brought Negroponte back in 2001 as Ambassador to the United Nations, where he had the tricky task of feigning to work at diplomacy with the other member states while trying to make it possible for the United States to pursue its aggressive objectives without being constrained by the UN...

John Poindexter

Admiral John Poindexter was the National Security Advisor in the Reagan/Bush White House and the man who brought in a brash Marine, Oliver North, to assist him in schemes to attack and undermine the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. After being convicted of conspiracy, Iying to Congress, defrauding the government, and destroying evidence in the Iran-Contra scandal, Poindexter went off to work in civilian life. Trained as a physicist, he was able to immerse himself in computer applications concerning secrecy and spying and became vice-president of a software company that contracted to work with the Pentagon agency known as Defense Advanced Research Projects, or DARPA. In 2002, Poindexter was rehired by Bush II to head the Total Information Awareness Office of DARPA, which immediately developed at plan for super-computer surveillance of the nation's internet, phone, and fax lines, enabling it (among other things) to tap into computer databases to collect the credit, financial, medical and travel records of individual citizens. In 2003, when the U.S. Congress barred the program from spying on Americans, the Pentagon changed the name of the office to Terrorism Information Awareness and permitted it to keep exploring similar operations. At the end of July 2003, two Democratic Senators-Dorgan of North Dakota and Wyden of Oregon-exposed the next item in Poindexter's bag of tricks, a futures market for predicting terrorist acts called "Policy Analysis Market." Under the plan, Wall Street traders were about to sign up at a website that the Pentagon was operating with private partners; they were scheduled to begin trading futures on Middle East developments as of October 2003. This bizarre scheme was so embarrassing to Republican Senators and the Pentagon that Poindexter was immediately forced to resign.

Robbing Us Blind

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