Will Kerry Make a Stand?

From my vantage point in the nation’s capital, I am increasingly becoming confident that the Democrats will oust the Bush-Cheney regime from power this coming November. However, just winning the election is only the first step for the Democrats. There must be a thorough house cleaning, a purge, if you will, during the transition of power and after the January 20, 2005 inauguration. Of course, the Democrats will take over John Ashcroft’s Justice Department and Tom Ridge’s huge Homeland Security bureaucracy, both of which have become tremendous threats to our constitutional democracy. But just assuming control over Cabinet departments and other Federal agencies will not eliminate the scourge of the neo-con apparatchiks who have, for the past four years, cast an extremely unpleasant stench over America’s body politic. A total purge of the right-wing neo-con political opportunists, along with their hodgepodge fascist/Trotskyite/neo-imperialist political philosophy, must be one of the first goals of a new Democratic administration.

Howard Dean and his supporters had the fire in their bellies to purge the neo-cons from the government. His grass roots insurgent campaign was correctly focused on the extreme right-wingers who wormed their way throughout the Bush administration. That is the reason I joined up with the Dean campaign, although I wish the Governor had relied less upon paid political campaign managers (political hacks, who are, in effect, political prostitutes who sell themselves to the highest bidder) and more on the unpaid, but more avid and loyal, volunteers. I witnessed the futility of using highly compensated political mercenaries with the McCain campaign, for which I volunteered in 2000. Many of McCain’s paid staffers were long-time Republican National Committee insiders who were still chumming it up with their old friends who also happened to be working for Bush. How many campaign strategies and secrets were passed on to the Bush campaign over drinks at Washington’s Congressional Club (right next door to the Republican National Committee) is anyone’s guess, but the effect on the McCain campaign was as disastrous as Dean’s reliance on similar political harlots in his campaign. McCain surrounded himself with the pros and rarely listened to the volunteers. McCain’s insurgency campaign collapsed and, to make matters worse, a few years later he became a virtual cheerleader for the Bush neo-con platform and its worldwide hegemonic agenda.

When Dean began to challenge the neo-con agenda, including the corporate control of the media, he became a target of immediacy for the Washington elite. Big media began to paint him as unstable, unelectable, and non-presidential material. Of course, all of this was pure claptrap. The neo-con perception management art (telling the Big Lie long enough for it to become a Big Fact) won the day as assuredly as their Big Lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and the “Coalition of the Willing” became virtual facts.

Like many other Democrats, I saw John Kerry as the go-to candidate after it became apparent that Dean was not going to wrest the nomination. However, I have grown less confident about Kerry. He is better than Wesley Clark, who I accused of being a neo-con in sheep’s clothing. Who would have wanted to replace the bomber of Baghdad with the bomber of Belgrade? Clark’s past Balkans links to arch neo-cons like Richard Perle and Douglas Feith made his candidacy a ruse, regardless of his latter-day pronouncements about the foolishness of Bush’s Iraq caper. Clark originally supported both the war and Bush and wasted no time in personally lobbying Dick Cheney for airline passenger profiling contracts for Acxiom, a data-mining firm that shamelessly capitalized on 9-11 to maximize its profits and on whose board of directors Clark sat.

Kerry has been a Senator in Washington for 18 years. As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that investigated the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal, Kerry discovered what makes the Bush family tick: international underhanded deals, drug smuggling, illegal arms trafficking, support for dictators like Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, secret offshore banks accounts and CIA carve-out companies, and political assassinations. Yes, Kerry found out where all the “skull and bones” were buried (pun intended). Both Kerry and Bush evaded questions posed by Meet the Press’s Tim Russert about Yale’s super secret Skull and Bones fraternity, where both were initiated as members, along with Bush’s father and pro-Nazi grandfather, Prescott. This bi-partisan circle of elite Elies is exactly the reason why Mr. Kerry may not be the best person to replace Bush. He would not be worse. But would he be better? I have a gut feeling, based on some recent developments that Kerry might not provide a full purging of the neo-cons that many of us opposed to Bush so earnestly desire. Yes, I like all other Democrats, many independents, and more than a few Republicans, want to see Bush gone. But at what cost?

While chairing the BCCI subcommittee, and before he married Teresa Heinz, Kerry would often sit at the bar at Capitol Hill’s Tex-Mex Red River Grill offering anyone who would listen to stories (even a second and third time) about what his investigation had discovered about the illegal activities of the Reagan-Bush administrations: the arms-for-drugs operations in Central America that involved Noriega; the later convicted Reagan officials John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Elliott Abrams, and Oliver North; Iranian con-man and neo-con hero Manucher Ghorbanifar; Saudi tycoon Adnan Khashoggi, who Perle recently attempted to lure into his Trireme Partners Middle East investment scheme; Gaith Pharoan, who was involved with Saudi billionaire banker Khalid Bin Mahfouz in business deals with George W. Bush’s Harken Energy and Bin Laden family investments in Texas; how Hill & Knowlton, the firm that concocted the phony story about Iraqi troops tossing babies from incubators during their invasion of Kuwait, was shilling for BCCI and providing regulators with false information about the bank’s business relationships; BCCI’s involvement in Pakistan’s nuclear program; its bankrolling of convicted arms dealer Sarkis Sarkenalian’s illegal weapons smuggling to Iraq in the 1980s; hawalah transfers that allowed Afghan mujaheddin to evade international financial surveillance mechanisms (including the pumping of millions of dollars of Saudi and Omani money into Usama bin Laden’s coffers in Afghanistan and Pakistan); and the 1980 “October Surprise” involving negotiations between Reagan campaign chief William Casey to delay the release of US hostages until after the U.S. election, thus sinking the prospects of President Carter. When BCCI’s illegal activities on behalf of the Bush family and their CIA friends around the world became the subject of criminal probes and media investigations in the mid-1980s, the Bushes, as they normally do, cut and run. BCCI collapsed and Enron took its place. After Enron served its purpose as a Bush slush fund, it, too, collapsed. The failure of BCCI and Enron had disastrous effects around the world and in the United States. Never mind, the Bushes won out. Innocent people suffered. It’s the Bush system.

Yes, Senator Kerry had the “whole enchilada” on the Bush family’s illegal conduct along with his cold bottles of Corona at the Red River Grill. But why doesn’t he talk about it now? Has he been co-opted? The late Texas Representative Henry Gonzalez often complained how his investigation of Bush and BCCI often ran into road blocks on the Senate side. Was Kerry one of the roadblocks? And if so, why? It is this gnawing feeling that not all is right with Kerry that prevents me from putting a “Kerry 2004” bumper sticker on my car.

And there are other reasons why I have growing angst about Kerry. Although the reported “liaison” of Kerry with an “intern” turned out to be totally bogus, the connections of the young woman are reasons for concern. Kerry was erroneously linked to an extramarital relationship with Alexandra Polier, a journalist who is originally from Malvern, Pennsylvania but once did some unspecified work for the British Parliament. However, it was later determined that Polier was dating an aide to Kerry, not the senator. Polier is engaged to Yaron Schwartzman, an Israeli-American living in Nairobi, Kenya with his Israeli parents. Schwartzman’s father is linked to some of East Africa’s most unsavory players. How Kerry could have let himself become embroiled in such an episode involving people with questionable business ties, to say the least, is incredible and frightening.

Yaron Schwartzman’s father, Joseph Schwartzman, is a wealthy businessman who owns, along with former Kenyan cabinet minister, Nicholas Biwott, H. Young Company, an engineering firm located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area. Biwott was a right-hand man of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. Biwott was accused of ordering the murder of former Kenyan Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, as well as a number of other human rights violations.

The elder Schwartzman reportedly never actually physically worked at the H. Young company’s offices at the Nairobi Industrial Park. He is also connected to the Sameer Investments Group Ltd., which has sought to invest in Rwanda. Sameer Group consists of Naushad Merali, a wealthy Asian Kenyan, and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to Kenya, Hameed Kidwai. According to the Rwandan government, President Paul Kagame has held at least one meeting with Schwartzman in Kigali and met with Schwartzman and Merali at the Sameer Industrial Park in 2000. French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has recently concluded, after a painstaking investigation, that Kagame was involved with the 1994 shooting down by Russian-made SAM missiles of the airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira home from a peace summit. The investigation turned up a shadowy operation involving former U.S. military and intelligence operatives and oil companies known as the International Strategic and Tactical Organization (ISTO). Twice, I was prepared to testify about who was behind the plane attack at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania. Twice, the U.S. State Department intervened with the tribunal to block my testimony. After the tribunal agreed to testimony, I received a very credible death threat: “your car won’t make it from Arusha airport to your hotel.” It is the way of Bush and his powerful friends to intimidate, to threaten, to smear. Kerry must show that he is willing to expose the vermin who surround Bush and not replace them with others who also have blood on their hands. Central Africa’s genocide occurred while Democratic foreign policy insider Richard Holbrooke was Madeleine Albright’s deputy UN ambassador and afterwards, when Albright was elevated to the post of Secretary of State..

The French investigation turned up links between ISTO and Armitage and Associates (the firm once owned by Colin Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage) and Halliburton. Interestingly, these companies share the same office building at 1550 Wilson Boulevard in the Rosslyn business district of Arlington, Virginia. Around the corner is AES, a company that bills itself as the largest owner of power generation systems in the world and which is chaired by Richard Darman, the elder Bush’s Office of Management and Budget chief. After it took over the Republic of Georgia’s electric system, it forced blackouts throughout the country, thus undermining one-time U.S. ally, President Eduard Shevardnadze. Soon, Georgia erupted in mass protests, forcing Shevardnadze from power. He was replaced by a young, U.S.-trained lawyer who has welcomed a permanent U.S. military presence in his country to protect Halliburton’s Azerbaijan- to-Turkey oil pipeline. While it doesn’t hang a shingle from an office, ISTO certainly seems to maintain a major presence in Rosslyn. Kerry must ensure that his administration is composed of individuals who are not “bought and paid for” and will clean up these corrupt networks of influence peddling and illegal activities.

The double assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents and their staffs triggered a genocide in Rwanda that killed as many as 1 million people and follow-on invasions and genocide in Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo that killed 3 million more people. After all his experience in investigating BCCI, Kerry should have had better sense than allowing his name to become associated in the media with such people, even though there was two degrees of separation.

Sameer has been linked to Kenya’s official Goldenberg Inquiry into the affairs of Goldenberg International Limited, a company believed to have been involved in the smuggling of gold and diamonds from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo via Kenya. Other players involved in Kenyan diamond and gold smuggling include Sanjivan Ruprah, a Kenyan Asian associated with RUIM (Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli Mafia) smuggling activities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda, and Viktor Bout, a RUIM international arms smuggler who once assisted the Taliban in Afghanistan while Bin Laden was ensconced in the country planning for 9-11. Goldenberg is also alleged by Kenyan authorities to have used Mombassa’s Paradise Hotel as a front operation. The Israeli-owned hotel was blown up in 2002 in an alleged attack by Al Qaeda operatives. At the same time, Russian-made SAM missiles, later found to be inoperative, were fired at an Israeli charter plane taking off from Mombassa Airport.

Another Africa dilemma for Kerry involves his wife’s past activities with one of the most corrupt and bloodiest businesses in the world–the diamond trade. Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira Heinz Kerry is tied financially to one of Africa’s largest diamond enterprises. According to senior political sources in Washington, DC, Mrs. Kerry, who was married to the late Pennsylvania Republican Senator H. John Heinz III, is linked, through her late Portuguese father Jose’s investments, to the De Beers diamond cartel of South Africa. Although DeBeers has cleaned up its tarnished image since diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer took over the company founded by his family, the DeBeers company of the past was closely involved in apartheid South Africa’s most egregious activities, including arms smuggling and covert activities against the African National Congress. Mrs. Kerry was born to Portuguese parents in what was once Lourenco Marques, the capital of colonial Mozambique. After Senator Heinz died in a freak plane crash in 1991, Mrs. Heinz inherited the H. J. Heinz Company fortune. She married Kerry in 1995.

Mrs. Kerry is fluent in several languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian and she was once a United Nations translator for the UN Trusteeship Council in New York. Mrs. Kerry graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the Interpreters School of the University of Geneva. Her father, an oncologist and tropical disease specialist in Mozambique, was also reportedly invested in the southern African diamond industry and had ties to DeBeers. He and his Mozambican-born wife fled Mozambique for Porto, Portugal in 1975 when the country achieved independence under a Marxist government. Even before Mrs. Kerry married the wealthy John Heinz in 1966, her family’s fortune is said to have rivaled and even exceeded that of Heinz. Although Mozambique’s Marxist government nationalized Mr. Simoes-Ferreira’s property and finances in Mozambique, his investments in DeBeers in South Africa were untouched.

In 1999, Mrs. Kerry, through her Heinz Family Philanthropies, attempted to broker a land development deal between an extreme right-wing Republican Texan billionaire and supporter of George W. Bush named James U. Blanchard III — a past supporter of the right-wing Mozambican rebel group RENAMO and the pro-Bush Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC — and the Mozambican government to develop a huge eco-tourist area south of Maputo to the Kwazulu Natal border of South Africa. The tourist mecca was to have included five star hotels and villas, floating casinos, golf courses, scuba diving schools, game fishing enterprises, and marinas. The deal collapsed after Blanchard died and some Mozambique politicians expressed their opposition to the deal. The area Blanchard and Mrs. Kerry hoped to develop was a primary zone of RENAMO guerrilla activity and includes one of Africa’s last protected elephant areas, the Maputo Elephant Preserve. According to US intelligence sources, the area also attracted the attention of Zimbabwean diamond magnate John A. Bredenkamp, a former backer of RENAMO, who owns some of the same region’s off-shore barrier islands, which he also hopes to develop into major resorts. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is planning to join with parks in neighboring Mozambique and Zimbabwe to form one of the world’s largest parks, the “Transnational Park.” It is this same area that attracted the interests of Blanchard and Mrs. Kerry and may have been an attempt to “privatize” one of Africa’s last protected wildlife areas.

So with all the “ties that bind” the Kerrys to unsavory characters, whether accidental or intentional, one is reminded of the present dilemma with the crooked machinations of the Bushes, Cheneys, and their friends and associates. Kerry can do something to allay my fears about the aura, both perceived and real, that surrounds him and his friends. First of all, he can bring up on the campaign trail what he knows for a fact about the ties of the Bushes to international scams and scandals. Second, he must come clean about the Skull and Bones. Is whatever oath he took at “The Tomb” at Yale more important than the presidential oath of office? I think not.

Third, and most importantly, Kerry must commit to a purge from his administration of all neo-cons, whether of the Republican or Democratic persuasion. A number of hawkish Democrats, who are waiting in the wings, were singing from the same song sheet as the neo-cons in the Bush administration about invading Iraq and the mumbo jumbo about America’s role as the world’s only remaining superpower. Holbrooke, a supporter of the Iraq invasion, is rumored to be on the short list as a Democratic Secretary of State. Under no circumstances should he or Leon Fuerth (Vice President Gore’s former national security adviser), Joe Lieberman, Jamie Rubin, Susan Rice, Wesley Clark, and other Democratic world interventionists be considered for any positions in a Kerry administration. Democrats who witnessed how the Bush regime embarked on a unilateralist foreign policy do not wish to see that policy replaced by a unilateralist-lite Democratic foreign policy.

Kerry should also make it very plain that there is no place in his administration for those who espouse a neo-conservative agenda. He must clean house of these individuals, both political appointees and career civil service and military, within the Pentagon, intelligence agencies, State Department, and National Security Council. Perle recently called for the heads of CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Intelligence Agency chief Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby to roll over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Kerry should make it plain and clear that his Justice Department and FBI will go after Perle and his friends, with criminal indictments, if necessary. He should leave no stone unturned to bring to justice those who lied about and profited from the invasion of Iraq.

If Kerry continues to conduct his campaign by stabbing around the edges of both Bushs’ corrupt administrations, he plays into the hands of the elites who want to see business conducted as usual. These denizens of K Street, Wall Street, Georgetown, and Capitol Hill arrogantly consider themselves and their enterprises untouchably secure, no matter what political party is in power. Can or will Kerry be able to change this sad fact of life? Howard Dean did not think so. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who, like Kerry, knows an awful lot about Bush’s past business connections to the Saudis and others who were also involved in the funding of Al Qaeda, from his own investigation of 9-11 as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, ran for President to change the status quo. He was the first candidate to drop out. Graham and Dean smelled a rat with the Bush administration and also knew that the elite class of Washington, of which Kerry is a charter member, was unlikely to set out the rodent traps to get to the bottom of the corruption of the present regime.

So Kerry has a choice. Act more like a populist or continue to waffle and evade on the Skull and Bones, his past business ties (especially through the “Boston Brahmin” Forbes side of his family), and what he knows about the Bush family’s corrupt practices. If he chooses the former, he might light a little fire with would-be but skeptical supporters. If he opts for the latter, Senator John Edwards can pick up the populist/progressive ball and run with it. Kerry has not won the nomination yet and the March 2 Super Tuesday primaries will select one half of the Democratic convention delegates. People throughout the United States are tired of the elitism and secrecy that has overtaken Washington. Kerry has an opportunity to leave Beacon Hill and Georgetown and join with “We the People” and thus win the White House. Or John Edwards can tap into the angst of the American people, forget his outreach to conservatives, pledge to clean house in Washington, and pull off the upset of the century.

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of “America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II.

Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com