Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Cheap Thrills Bush Buys Lies to Push His War

Cheap Thrills

by CHRIS FLOYD

Just how cheap and easy are the muckity-mucks of the Bushist Party? How much scratch does it take for a high official of the Regime to overrule his own intelligence officers and support the Potomac Empire’s propaganda line? What’s the going rate for selling out the United States Constitution and throwing in with the fomenters of aggressive war?

$20,500.

That’s what the Busha Nostra paid Thomas Rider, director of the Department of Energy’s intelligence agency in "bonuses" for services rendered in the mendacious maneuvering toward war, Paul Sperry of the archconservative WorldNet Daily reports.

Rider was named acting head of DOE’s intelligence service shortly before the Regime rolled out what White House chief of staff Andrew Card called, with admirable candor, the Bushist’s "new product": a "pre-emptive" war against Iraq. The PR campaign kicked off in September 2002–because "from a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August," Card helpfully explained to the NY Times.

One key to the kick-off was a gathering of intelligence brass from throughout the government to put together a "National Intelligence Estimate" on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. (They were still talking about "weapons," not "programs" or "materials" back in those innocent days of yore.) The report was slapped together at top speed: Congress was due to vote in October on Bush’s demand for a blank check to kill thousands of swarthy Arabs whenever he took the notion, so the NIE had to be ready soon–and it had to be really, really scary.

The Energy Department, of course, was expert in nuclear matters, and its voice would carry great weight when considering evidence that Saddam was preparing a mushroom-cloud casserole for the heartland of the Homeland. There was only one hitch: Energy’s senior intelligence officers agreed there was no such evidence. Whatever evil dreams might lurk in Saddam’s heart, they said, he had not "reconstituted his nuclear weapons program."

But Rider, a longtime "human resources" bureaucrat with zero experience in intelligence matters, had not been plonked down in this important post just to whistle Dixie–or to listen to a bunch of silly-billy experts. He had a job to do–and had already received a little pre-meeting sweetener bonus of $7,500 to do it. When the experts came forth with their analysis of the White House warmongers’ bogus evidence, Rider responded in true Bushist style: he told them to "shut up and sit down."

So the Energy Department threw its official weight behind the nuclear claims of the NIE, which was then duly forwarded to the trembly time-servers in Congress–who couldn’t wait to abandon their solemn constitutional duty to declare war (or not). They sent their slavish submission to the Supremely Appointed One, begging him to do as he pleased, whenever he pleased, with that big bad mushroom-man across the sea. The rest, of course, is history. (Or would be history, if the Bushists and their beavering sycophants in the national media didn’t spend so much time revising it.)

Rider, too, was history. Having done his solemn unconstitutional duty, the clueless placeman was paid off with an additional $13,000 "performance bonus" and sent out to graze on other government pastures. All in all, a remarkable bargain–especially when you consider that the Regime paid $30 million for the whack on the two Hussein brothers, while Rider played a key role in the death of thousands of innocent civilians in an unjust war. Who knows? By the time the Bushist looting party has wrung its last cent out of Iraq’s national wealth–using America’s own soldiers as sitting-duck decoys for the old Potomac bait-and-switch–the pay-off to Rider might turn out to be as cheap as a dollar a head.

Hey, these Regime guys weren’t CEOs for nothing!

Of course, Rider’s tale is but a sordid little sidelight in the global Grand Guignol that Bush is staging for the entertainment and enrichment of his extremist clique. But it’s an instructive example of how these particular racketeers operate: public service and private profit are viewed as a seamless (not to mention seamy) whole. And when truth will not serve their purposes, they are more than happy to lie–and pay–to get what they want.

This salient point should be remembered as the Regime rolls out a brand-new "product" come September: its report on the search for Saddam’s elusive WMD. The CIA hired former UN weapons inspector David Kay, one of the most gung-ho drumbeaters for the war, to find, well, something in Iraq: plans, pop-guns, vats of goo–anything that might be massaged into a one-day headline for the credulous mouthbreathers in the media ("White House: We Found WMD!"), before, like those fabled "trailers of mass destruction" Bush once cited so definitively, it all dissolves in a back-page mist of hedging, qualification, retraction and debunking.

It goes without saying that Kay is not exactly a disinterested party. Until last fall, when he went to work as an "independent" consultant touting the Bush war "product," Kay was vice president of Scientific Applications International Corporation, a secretive high-tech defense company that pockets billions of Pentagon dollars–and is hip-deep in the Iraq conquest. Any conclusion by Kay that discredits the Bush war would erode SAIC’s bottom line–not to mention the credibility of a certain well-paid drumbeater named David Kay. So there will be no such conclusion.

As always, it’s a rigged game–the only kind these jokers ever play.

CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His CounterPunch piece on Rumsfeld’s plan to provoke terrorist attacks came in at Number 4 on Project Censored’s final tally of the Most Censored stories of 2002. He can be reached at: cfloyd72@hotmail.com