FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tom Lantos’ Big Lie

by BEN TERRALL

California Congressman Tom Lantos has never been accused of understatement. But he may have set a new personal record for bombast when, as quoted in the September 30, 2002 edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, he told Minister of Knesset Colette Avital, “My dear Colette, you won’t have any problem with Saddam. We’ll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we’ll install a pro-Western dictator, who will be good for us and for you.”

After U.S. activists publicized the story, Lantos called it a “total fabrication”. He added, “I am amused by the comments Ha’aretz attributes to me, because they fly in the face of my lifetime of work. I am a firm supporter of democracy.”

Since I have been working with Lantos’ anti-war/pro-civil liberties challenger Maad Abu-Ghazalah, I e-mailed MK Colette Avital for clarification. I received the following response:

” I can confirm that the story is accurate. In fact, I myself was surprised and pained by Congressman Lantos’ comments. Since he is a friend of Israel and I have had a long friendship with him, I did not want to react to his denial, or to further embarrass him. Sincerely, Colette Avital, M.K.”

For readers of John MacArthur’s excellent “Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War,” this latest duplicity comes as no surprise. MacArthur details how, as Chairman of the Human Rights Caucus in 1990, Lantos helped organize hearings at which the infamous “baby incubator” invention was peddled to the U.S. congress and public. Lantos introduced a Kuwaiti woman who claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers killing babies by ripping them from incubators in a Kuwait hospital. He neglected to mention that the young woman was the Kuwaiti Ambassador’S daughter and her testimony had been manufactured by public relations firm Hill and Knowlton, under contract to the Kuwaiti Royal Family. Hill and Knowlton thoughtfully provided rent-free office space and financial support to Congressman Lantos’ Human Rights Foundation.

As point man among the Democrats for Bush II’S war plans, Lantos worked equally hard in recent hearings to sell the younger Bush’S insane “pre-emptive” war, seeming physically unable to stop making overheated references to Nazi Germany and World War II on a daily basis. He outlined his vision by saying, “I foresee the total crushing of extremist Islamists and their allies,” adding Bush’s campaign should go on as long as it takes “to destroy all terrorist groups” and to create “regime changes in countries that harbor them.”

This enthusiastic cheerleading for global carnage has generated a backlash of support for Abu-Ghazalah, a Palestinian-American running in protest of post-September 11 warmongering and crackdowns on civil liberties. As an American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) activist, Abu-Ghazalah also opposes Lantos’ lock step support for IDF attacks on Palestinian civilians (during the bloody siege of Jenin last April, Lantos said that the U.S. should 3let Israel finish the job2). But Lantos has ignored Abu-Ghazalah’S challenge to debate the merits of war on Iraq; when a reporter asked him what he thought of Maad’s characterization of him as a “war hawk,” Lantos huffed, “I won’t dignify that with a response.”

Given the advantages in name recognition and fund raising machinery accorded an 11-term congressman, Lantos also won’t dignify his constituents with many home district appearances. His time not taken up with pro-war blustering in Congress has largely been spent helping his daughter Katrina Swett’s campaign in New Hampshire’s 2nd district. As reported in Roll Call, Lantos registered his own re-election campaign as a political action committee in New Hampshire, and since June has given more than $34,000 to New Hampshire politicians, some of whom have then sung Swett’S praises. Democratic colleagues in Congress who received money from Lantos have also contributed thousands to the Swett campaign.

Like his commitment to installing a new dictator in Iraq, none of this shows much evidence that Lantos is “a firm supporter of democracy.” Indeed, he is one of only two Northern California Representatives (with Ellen Tauscher) to buck the overwhelmingly anti-war sentiment of the voting public. Activists in the Bay Area’s 12th District have held bi-weekly demonstrations outside the armchair warrior’S San Mateo base, noisy, spirited affairs that have included a sit-in where 9 people were arrested and a visit from an official UN B.S. inspector, whose detector found alarmingly high levels of B.S. emanating from the direction of Lantos’ office. The most recent protest involved a contest for potential Saddam replacements in which participants got their pictures taken on a mattress with a Lantos lookalike (these and other visual manifestations of Citizens for Regime Change in San Mateo / San Francisco can be viewed at <www.insanereagan.com>).

As with the broader U.S. public, people in the 12th district are beginning to catch on that regime change starts at home. But the day when we don’t have Tom Lantos to kick around anymore cannot come soon enough.

BEN TERRALL can be reached at: bterrall@igc.org

 

Ben Terrall is a writer living in the Bay Area. He can be reached at: bterrall@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail