• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


Bush, bin Laden, BCCI and the 9/11 Commission


When George W. Bush’s first choice to head an “independent” probe into the Sept. 11 attacks–suspected war criminal Henry Kissinger–went down like a bad pretzel, he quickly plucked another warm body from the stagnant pool of Establishment worthies who are periodically called upon to roll out the whitewash when the big boys screw up.

Kissinger’s replacement, retired New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, was a “safe pair of hands,” we were assured by the professional assurers in the mainstream media. The fact that he’d been out of public life for years–and that he hadn’t collaborated in the deaths of tens of thousands of Cambodians, Chileans and East Timorese–certainly made him less controversial than his predecessor, although to be fair, Kissinger’s expertise in mass murder surely would have given the panel some unique insights into the terrorist atrocity.

But now it seems that Kean might possess some unique insights of his own. Fortune Magazine reports this week that both Kean and Bush share an unusually well-placed business partner: one Khalid bin Mahfouz — perhaps better known as “Osama bin Laden’s bagman” or even “Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law.”

Kean, like so many worthies, followed the revolving door out of public service into lucrative sweetheart deals and well-wadded sinecures on corporate boards. One of these, of course, is an oil company–pretty much a requirement for White House work these days. (Or as the sign says on the Oval Office door: “If your rigs ain’t rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’!”) Kean is a director of Amerada Hess, an oil giant married up to Saudi Arabia’s Delta Oil in a venture to pump black gold in Azerbaijan. (The partnership is incorporated in a secretive offshore “tax haven,” natch. You can’t expect a worthy like Kean to pay taxes like some grubby wage slave.)

One of Delta’s biggest backers is the aforesaid Mahfouz, a Saudi wheeler-dealer who has bankrolled some of most dubious players on the world scene: Abu Nidal, Manuel Noreiga, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. Mahfouz was also a front for the bin Laden family, funneling their vast wealth through American cut-outs in a bid to gain power and influence in the United States.

One of those cut-outs was Mahfouz factotum James Bath, a partner in George W.’s early oil venture, Arbusto. Bath has admitted serving as a pass-through for secret Saudi money. Years later, when Bush’s maladroit business skills were about to sink another of his companies, Harken Energy, the firm was saved by a $25 million investment from a Swiss bank–a subsidiary of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BBCI), partly owned by the beneficent Mahfouz.

What was BCCI? Only “one of the largest criminal enterprises in history,” according to the U.S. Senate. What did BCCI do? “It engaged in pandemic bribery of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas,” says journalist Christopher Bryon, who first exposed the operation. “It laundered money on a global scale, intimidated witnesses and law officers, engaged in extortion and blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and prostitution.” Sort of an early version of the Bush Regime, then.

BCCI’s bipartisan corruption first permeated the Carter Administration, then came to full flower in the Reagan-Bush years. The CIA uncovered the bank’s criminal activities in 1981–no great feat, considering how many of its own foreign “associates” were involved, including the head of Saudi intelligence, Kamal Adham, brother-in-law of King Faisal. But instead of stopping the drug-runners and terrorists, the agency decided to join them, using BCCI’s secret channels to finance “black ops” all over the world.

When a few prosecutors finally began targeting BCCI’s operations in the late Eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush boldly moved in with a federal probe directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. The U.S. Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably “botched”–witnesses went missing, CIA records got “lost,” all sorts of bad luck. Lower-ranking prosecutors told of heavy pressure from on high to “lay off.” Most of the big BCCI players went unpunished or, like Mahfouz, got off with wrist-slap fines and sanctions. Mueller, of course, wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the post in July 2001–by George W. Bush.

In the late 1990s, U.S. authorities identified Mahfouz as a major financier of his brother-in-law’s extracurricular activities. He denied it, but the spooked Saudis put him on ice, charging him with, of all things, bank fraud. He’s now under “house arrest”–or rather, “palatial mansion arrest”–but still wheeling and dealing with Kean and Delta and other worthies. Indeed, one of Mahfouz’s hirelings–the director of a Pakistani bank he owns–sits on the advisory board of our old friend the Carlyle Group, cheek by jowl with the firm’s most celebrated shill: George Herbert Walker Bush.

Somehow we doubt that worthy Kean will poke very hard at the nexus of intersections between his own business partner, Mahfouz, and the bin Ladens, the Bushes, the Saudi royals, Saddam, the CIA and BCCI. We’ve only scratched the surface here, but even this cursory glance makes the current world crisis look less like some grand geopolitical “clash of civilizations” and more like a nasty falling out among thieves, with rival mafias–who sometimes collude, sometimes collide–now duking it out for turf, cloaking their murderous criminality with pious rhetoric about freedom, security, jihad and God.

CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He can be reached at: cfloyd72@hotmail.com


Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid