The opening of a long-delayed civil suit in a London courtroom; a brief, buried article on a judicial nomination; a fluctuation in the commodities market: three mundane, seemingly-unrelated items in the news last week that combined to give a fleeting glimpse of the ugly reality behind the frantic, diversionary fa?ade of the “civilized world.”
The London case involves our old friends, BCCI, the international bank that served as the front for a global crime ring involving top officials and Establishment worthies in dozens of “civilized” nations. BCCI ran guns to Saddam and other heavies, funded Pakistan’s illegal nuclear weapons program, laundered drug profits, peddled prostitutes, doled out bribes, served as a conduit for covert CIA operations–and, through its connections to the bin Laden family, gave George W. Bush a sweetheart loan of $25 million to bail out one of his many business failures.
One of the respectable organizations tainted by the ring was the Bank of England, which was the financial regulator for BCCI when the front finally collapsed in 1991–leaving its legitimate creditors some $11 billion in the hole. Not surprisingly, some of these victims filed suit against ye olde B of E, claiming that its oversight of BCCI left something to be desired. But successive British governments–including the plagiaristic poodle-led pack currently in power–have fought for years to quash the lawsuit, the Observer reports.
That’s because the trial could open a can of particularly grubby worms concerning the UK government’s extensive canoodling with BCCI. A host of worthies are expected to be grilled in the dock, including John Major, former UK prime minister and current business partner of George Bush I in yet another secretive international front that profits from war, weapons, violence, repression and the greasing of highly-placed palms: the Carlyle Group.
Even as the trial finally gets underway, British PM Tony “Bow-Wow” Blair is withholding crucial BCCI evidence, claiming it’s top secret. In fact, says Blair, the hidden juice is so red hot that even the law under which it has been declared secret must remain secret. An overreaction? Probably not–not when you consider the fact that BCCI was one of the chief conduits by which Western governments secretly armed Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction throughout the 1980s. This is not the kind of dirty laundry you want aired at the very moment you are waving the bloody shirt of war at, er, Saddam Hussein for, er, possessing weapons of mass destruction that, er, you and your allies sold to him in the first place.
The Italian bank BNL was one of BCCI’s main tentacles. BNL’s Atlanta branch was the primary funnel used by the first Bush Administration to send millions of secret dollars to Saddam for arms purchases, including deadly chemicals and other WMD materials supplied by the Chilean arms dealer Cardoen and various politically-connected operators in the United States like, weapons merchant Matrix Churchill. (As always with the Busha Nostra, geopolitics–in this case, helping Saddam wage aggressive war against Iran–and crony profits go hand in hand. Once the war was over and Iran was left a shattered hulk, with millions dead and displaced, the useful idiot Saddam was expendable, swiftly morphing from good buddy into budding Hitler.)
As soon as the BNL case broke, President Bush I moved to throttle the investigation. He appointed lawyers from both Cardoen and Matrix to top Justice Department posts–where they supervised the officials investigating their old companies. Meanwhile, White House aides applied heavy pressure on other prosecutors to restrict the range of the probe–especially the fact that Bush cabinet officials Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger had served as consultants for BNL during their pre-White House days as spear-carriers for yet another secretive international front that profits from war, weapons, etc., etc.: Kissinger Associates.
Which brings us to the judicial appointment. One of the White House aides who unlawfully intervened in the BNL prosecution was a certain factotum named Jay S. ByBee. Last week, said factotum was nominated by the current warmer of the Oval Office seat, George W. Bush, to a place on the federal appeals court–a lifetime sinecure of perks and power. Well done, thou good and faithful servant!
And the commodities connection? President Pretzel’s relentless hissy-fit for war on Iraq has of course goosed the price of gold enormously–and that’s set Bush Family coffers a-clinking. How so? In the waning days of his failed presidency, Bush I invoked an obscure 1872 statute to give a Canadian firm, Barrick Corporation, the right to mine $10 billion in gold from U.S. public lands. (U.S. taxpayers got a whopping $10,000 fee in return.) Bush then joined Barrick as a highly-paid “international consultant,” brokering deals with various dictators of his close acquaintance. Barrick reciprocated with big bucks for Junior’s presidential run. And in another quid for the old pro quo, last year Junior dutifully approved Barrick’s controversial acquisition of a major rival. (Barrick is also one of the biggest polluters in America, by the way.)
Thus every step toward war fills Bush pockets quite literally with gold. That’s the way they operate, these liars and thieves in thousand-dollar suits, these secretive fronts who profit from war, fear, blood and greasy palms. They arm the “monsters,” they disarm the monsters, making money both ways. Then they drape themselves with Bible and flag, like smug pimps promenading to church, singing “Glory Hallelujah” while the whole world burns.
CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org