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
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail