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Shootout at the Marin Hot Tub Club

by Larry Chin

In a rare television appearance a couple of days ago, former (or some say still current) president George Herbert Walker Bush lashed out personally at John Walker Lindh, the American who took up arms with the Taliban. Shaking with rage, the elder Bush spit venomously about how he has “absolutely no sympathy” for the Taliboy teenager, and how sick he was of “liberal Marin County hot tubbers.”

The former CIA Director veered like a hijacked jetliner into ramblings about “liberal” critics alleging prisoner mistreatment (we can assume he was referring to “liberals” like the Red Cross and European government leaders who have a problem with Guantanamo), and the need to “get tough and get behind the military” (as if the mass goose stepping isn’t quite “getting” enough for his tastes).

Pure vindictiveness may explain some of the Carlyle Group senior adviser’s lust to see the young Taliboy’s neck in a noose. More likely, Poppy Bush is angry that his son, President W., is being confronted by a nemesis from his own dark Iran-Contra past: James Brosnahan.

James Brosnahan, former federal prosecutor and former member of the Lawrence Walsh Independent Counsel team, is John Walker Lindh’s attorney.

Recall that the elder Bush hated no one on earth more than Walsh. In his book Shadow, Bob Woodward describes how, during the height of the Walsh inquiry, Bush received a “Lawrence Walsh” doll as a gag Christmas gift from a member of his staff. Bush slammed the doll repeatedly against his desk, shouting, “Take that, Walsh!”

Recall that Bush and his minions did everything possible to obstruct Walsh’s investigation. Walsh’s team had discovered notes written by Caspar Weinberger which disproved Bush’s claim that he had been “out of the loop.” These notes proved that Weinberger had knowledge of $25 million in Saudi Arabian contributions to the Nicaraguan contras.

Recall that it was Brosnahan who spoke out against White House attacks against Walsh as blatant obstruction of justice. In a piece written by Robert Parry (from Mother Jones January 1993):

“It was all so transparent that I was disappointed more people didn’t pick up on the fact that all they were really trying to do was obstruct the trial of Weinberger. It was going to be a hell of a trial,” Brosnahan said. V”The full story would have been told, as it pertained to the [obstruction] counts of the indictment. They [senior Reagan-Bush officials] couldn’t have a trial. The cross- examination of Caspar Weinberger was going to be an event.”

According to Brosnahan, the trial would have shown that Weinberger knew as early as summer 1985 that President Ronald Reagan had personally authorized missile shipments to Iran in violation of the Arms Control Export Act, and that this potentially impeachable act was concealed by constructing a false record. “The August [1985] meeting [of Reagan’s National Security Council] discussed having Israel send the missiles to Iran and replenishing them out of U.S. stocks,” says Brosnahan. “Weinberger is responsible for all missiles. The Secretary of Defense is the guy.”

Another guy who stood to lose his exalted standing in Washington if the trial took place was General Colin Powell, who was Weinberger’s principal aide in 1985. In an affidavit, Powell said he “saw virtually all the papers that went in and out of [Weinberger’s] office” and thus would have had direct access to the evidence of missile replenishment. Early in the investigation, Powell gave conflicting accounts of his knowledge of Weinberger’s extensive personal notes, denying knowledge of their existence (when Weinberger was claiming he didn’t take any), and then saying in 1992 that the notes were no secret and describing them in detail (after Weinberger was forced to cough them up).

One of the prosecution’s star witnesses would have been White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, who finally would have recounted the frantic Oval Office scrambling to contain the scandal in November 1986, Brosnahan says. “Regan would say that when it broke, he denied things. But there came a point when he knew it was out of control. At some point, in December [1985] or January [1986], he wanted to get the whole thing out.”

In his notorious final act as president, George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger. He also pardoned the rest of his Iran-Contra gang. Elliott Abrams, his former assistant secretary of state for Inter- American affairs. Former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane. And CIA agents and friends Dewey Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George.

In defending John Walker, Brosnahan has vowed to fight the current Bush administration every step of the way. Brosnahan has many points to raise. For example, Walker Lindh joined the Taliban during a period in which the Bush (and Clinton) administration considered the Taliban to be an ally. And that the Bush administration handed over $100 million in aid to the Taliban, including a $43 million check in May 2001.

All of which, by objective reason, makes George W. Bush and his entire administration guilty of the same charges leveled against Lindh, including “providing material support” and “willfully and knowingly contributing goods and services to, and for the benefit of, the Taliban” and “supplying directly and indirectly goods and services to the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban.”

When faced with stress, scandal and opposition, Bush family members don’t like it. They wind up vomiting on the laps of Japanese officials, or having bruising Pretzel-gate fainting spells. And starting wars.

It is time for all of us to sit back, in our “liberal Marin County” hot tubs, and witness the spectacle of Bush vs. Brosnahan: The Sequel. And look out for dirty tricks.

Larry Chin is a freelance journalist and a columnist for YellowTimes.

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