BUSH I, TO HUSSEIN: "Drop more bombs on Iran's cities."
- Guns, Oil and Bank
Gut Check in the Labyrinth
By CHRIS FLOYD
With fresh indictments last week, the UN oil-for-food
scandal took an unexpected turn into the Labyrinth --
the tangled skein of war profiteering and state
terrorism that has seen the Bush Family's lust for
blood money emerge in three of the darkest criminal
episodes in modern American history: Iran-Contra,
Iraqgate and the BCCI affair.
Texas oil baron David Chalmers of Bayoil and his
partners were hit with criminal charges for allegedly
cutting deals with Saddam Hussein in the notorious
skim operation that outflanked UN sanctions and
diverted funds intended for humanitarian relief.
Prosecutors were shocked -- shocked! -- to find such
collusion and corruption in the oil business.
Of course, the fact that three U.S. presidents -- the
two George Bushes and their new best pal, Bill Clinton
-- actually brokered massive backroom oil deals for
Saddam that dwarfed Bayoil's petty chiseling, plus the
fact that Saddam's nation-strangling thievery has
since been eclipsed by the epic rapine of Bush II's
Babylonian Conquest, in no way mitigates the
seriousness of the Chalmers indictment. But somehow we
doubt you'll be seeing those august statesmen sharing
leg irons with old Davy anytime soon.
Chalmers is a longtime denizen of the Labyrinth. In
the mid-1980s, he joined up with Chilean gun-runner
Carlos Cardoen, the Financial Times reported. Cardoen
was a CIA frontman used by Presidents Ronald Reagan
and Bush I to funnel cluster bombs and other weapons
secretly to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.
At Reagan's direct order, Saddam received U.S.
military intelligence, billions of dollars in credits
and a steady supply of covert "third-country" arms to
sustain his war effort, even though the White House
was fully aware of Saddam's "almost daily use" of
illegal chemical weapons, The Washington Post
reported. Later, Bush I, as president, would also
mandate the sale of WMD material to Saddam, including
anthrax -- long after Saddam notoriously "gassed his
own people" at Halabja.
As in the present UN scandal, Saddam paid for his
covert cluster bombs with oil. Chalmers would move the
actual black stuff and broker its sale for the CIA and
Cardoen, taking a cut in the process. Since 1999,
Chalmers has been doing the same thing on behalf of
Italtech, owned by another crony in the old Cardoen
gun-running scheme. The Texas baron must be aghast to
find himself in hot water for an activity that was
once blessed at the highest levels. Perhaps he
neglected to cross the requisite Bushist palms with
sufficient silver -- or else, as with many a Bush
minion, he's just been tossed overboard as chum for
the sharks when he's no longer of any use.
But let's be fair. Helping Saddam kill people with
chemical gas was not the only reason why Reagan and
Bush I aided their favorite dictator. They had bigger
fish to fry -- using the Constitution as kindling for
In 1986, George Bush I visited the Middle East with a
secret message to be passed to Saddam via Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak: "Drop more bombs on Iran's
cities." How do we know this? From the sworn testimony
of Howard Teicher, the National Security Council
official who accompanied Bush and wrote the official
"talking points" for the trip. Ostensibly, Bush urged
this mass killing of civilians as a strategy to halt
Iran's gains at the front. But as The New Yorker
reported -- 13 years ago -- there was another layer to
this covert plot.
A fierce aerial offensive by Saddam would force Iran
to seek more spare parts for its U.S.-made planes and
anti-aircraft weapons, inherited from the ousted Shah.
Bush was already waist-deep in the Iran-Contra scam,
which involved selling Tehran U.S. military goods
through back channels, then funneling the secret
profits to the Contras, the gang of right-wing
insurgents and CIA-trained terrorists in Nicaragua.
Congress had forbidden U.S. aid to the Contras, so
Reagan and Bush used the mullahs (and Central American
drug lords) to run their illegal terrorist war. More
innocent deaths in Iran meant more backdoor cash for
the Contras. A win-win situation!
When Bush I became president, he clasped Saddam even
closer, sending him billions in U.S.-backed
"agricultural credits" through BNL, an Italian bank
tied up with BCCI -- the international "financial
consortium" that was actually "one of the largest
criminal enterprises in history," according to the
U.S. Senate. BCCI laundered money and financed arms
dealing, terrorism, smuggling and prostitution, while
corrupting government officials worldwide with bribes
As Bush well knew, Saddam was using the BNL cash for
arms, not food; indeed, that was the point of the
exercise. When some honest U.S. officials threatened
to unravel the BNL gun-running scam, Bush appointed
Cardoen's own lawyer to a top Justice Department post
-- overseeing the investigation of his former boss.
Under heavy White House pressure, the case was quickly
whittled down to the usual "bad apple" underlings
carrying out some minor fraud.
But perhaps Papa Bush was just being fatherly.
Earlier, another BCCI offshoot bank had bailed out one
of Bush Junior's many business failures with $25
million in cash. That deal had been brokered by
mysterious Arkansas tycoon Jackson Stephens, one of
the Bush family's biggest campaign contributors.
Curiously enough, Stephens was also a top moneyman for
another leading politician: Bill Clinton. When Clinton
took office, he obligingly deep-sixed the continuing
probes into BCCI, Iraqgate and Iran-Contra.
That's how the system really works. All the guff about
law, democracy and morality is just cornball for the
yokels back home -- and for the cannon fodder sent off
to die in the elite's commercial and dynastic wars.
The Labyrinth -- that knotted gut of blood and bile --
has poisoned us all.
Chris Floyd is a columnist for The Moscow Times and a
regular contributor to CounterPunch. His book, Empire
Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime, is
available at www.globaleyefloyd.com. He can be
contacted at cfloyd72@....
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Oh, for those good old days when the worst thing a sitting US President could do was merely disgrace his office. tpb
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Privilege, lack of a mother's love and the frittering away of an excellent education bred him;
Alcoholism, inadequacies, false friends, false bravado and false idols fed him;
Ubiquitously distrustful and obsequious advisers led him;
Fear and self-loathing will end him.
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"It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." --Henry Ford
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