FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tom Lantos’ Big Lie

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

 

More articles by:

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

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail