Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Cheap Thrills


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?


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:


Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017