Tuesday 19th of January 2021

a troubling foundation...

clinton saudis

“The idea that you have foreign governments ... heavily involved in financing an institution that’s this tied to the secretary of state’s family — well, that appears to be something new.”


During and before the four years Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation run by her husband took tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and corporations.

Many of these donors had a lot riding on Clinton’s decisions. Saudi Arabia gave the foundation up to $25 million, and Clinton signed off on a controversial $29 billion sale of fighter jets to the country. Oil companies gave the foundation around $3 million, and Clinton approved a lucrative gas pipeline in the Canadian tar sands they’d long sought.

We've known the basics of this story for months now. But another media feeding frenzy over the foundation kicked off again on Monday, when the State Department was forced to release emails showing that the foundation’s leadership tried to land its top donors meetings with the secretary of state.

Clinton’s defenders say the new disclosures don't amount to much. Certainly, none of them offers proof that Clinton was willing to trade government favors directly for big contributions. Moreover, as Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum writes, most of the donors’ requests to see Clinton were actually turned down. 

Many of the donors she did meet with — people like the crown prince of Bahrain and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus — were more or less exactly the kind of people you would think would be able to get a meeting with a Cabinet secretary.

So if there was no quid pro quo, does that mean Clinton's conduct was aboveboard? I interviewed four experts this week — and their answer was that the Clinton really did risk dramatically escalating an already serious problem with money’s influence in politics.

The key to understanding why good government advocates are upset about the new revelations is to first get past the argument that Clinton Foundation donors were transactionally rewarded for their gifts.

This is not what my sources argued. Instead, the heart of their complaint was that the foundation’s contributors appear to have gained a greater ability to make their voices heard by Clinton’s State Department by virtue of donating to her husband’s private foundation.

This is why they see the new email disclosures as such a big deal. Talking with top government officials obviously isn’t the same as getting them to do your bidding, but doing so can help structure how they think, whom they turn to for advice, and, ultimately, what they decide to do. And the emails at least strongly suggest that foundation donors had a better opportunity to mold the secretary of state’s worldview than they would have otherwise.

Here’s what Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, told me:

Having the State Department opening its doors to foundation donors suggests that the people who are giving to this foundation will get consideration from the Clintons in the context of their work — in her case, the US diplomatic process and possibly more.

This risks creating an environment through which you think through problems, make decisions, and seek information when you’re trying to analyze complex situations. It takes a big effort to get beyond that.

Clinton might think, "These people are interesting, and they’re doing great work, and they’re helpful to me and my husband." That’s just human nature. But the basic, core problem here is that you’re creating a geography for your thinking that’s definitionally narrow — and based partly on who has money. They had the opportunity to present their case to the State Department in ways other people don’t.

Why it sure looks like foundation donors got easier access to the State Department

How do we know foundation donors really did get better access to Clinton’s State Department? Well, it’s impossible to prove — no Clinton staffer was stupid enough to write, "Thanks for giving $10 million to Bill! Now we can get coffee!"


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a quid for favours...

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated more than $10 million. Through a foundation, so did the son-in-law of a former Ukrainian president whose government was widely criticized for corruption and the murder of journalists. A Lebanese-Nigerian developer with vast business interests contributed as much as $5 million.

For years the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation thrived largely on the generosity of foreign donors and individuals who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to the global charity. But now, as Mrs. Clinton seeks the White House, the funding of the sprawling philanthropy has become an Achilles’ heel for her campaign and, if she is victorious, potentially her administration as well.

With Mrs. Clinton facing accusations of favoritism toward Clinton Foundation donors during her time as secretary of state, former President Bill Clinton told foundation employees on Thursday that the organization would no longer accept foreign or corporate donations should Mrs. Clinton win in November.


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mister president...

Mister President,

The crimes of 11 September 2001 have never been judged in your country. I am writing to you as a French citizen, the first person to denounce the inconsistencies of the official version and to open the world to the debate and the search for the real perpetrators.

In a criminal court, as the jury, we have to determine whether the suspect presented to us is guilty or not, and eventually, to decide what punishment he should receive. When we suffered the events of 9/11, the Bush Junior administration told us that the guilty party was Al-Qaïda, and the punishment they should receive was the overthrow of those who had helped them – the Afghan Taliban, then the Iraqi régime of Saddam Hussein.

However, there is a weight of evidence which attests to the impossibility of this thesis. If we were members of a jury, we would have to declare objectively that the Taliban and the régime of Saddam Hussein were innocent of this crime. Of course, this alone would not enable us to name the real culprits, and we would thus be frustrated. But we could not conceive of condemning parties innocent of such a crime simply because we have not known how, or not been able, to find the guilty parties.

We all understood that certain senior personalities were lying when the Secretary of State for Justice and Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, revealed the names of the 19 presumed hijackers, because we already had in front of us the lists disclosed by the airline companies of all of the passengers embarked - lists on which none of the suspects were mentioned.

From there, we became suspicious of the « Continuity of Government », the instance tasked with taking over from the elected authorities if they should be killed during a nuclear confrontation. We advanced the hypothesis that these attacks masked a coup d’état, in conformity with Edward Luttwak’s method of maintaining the appearance of the Executive, but imposing a different policy.

In the days following 9/11, the Bush administration made several decisions:

- the creation of the Office of Homeland Security and the vote for a voluminous anti-terrorist Code which had been drawn up long beforehand, the USA Patriot Act. For affairs which the administration itself qualifies as « terrorist », this text suspends the Bill of Rights which was the glory of your country. It unbalances your institutions. Two centuries later, it validates the triumph of the great landowners who wrote the Constitution, and the defeat of the heroes of the War of Independence who demanded that the Bill of Rights must be added.

- The Secretary for Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, created the Office of Force Transformation, under the command of Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, who immediately presented a programme, conceived a long time earlier, planning for the control of access to the natural resources of the countries of the geopolitical South. He demanded the destruction of State and social structures in the half of the world which was not yet globalised. Simultaneously, the Director of the CIA launched the « Worldwide Attack Matrix », a package of secret operations in 85 countries where Rumsfeld and Cebrowski intended to destroy the State structures. Considering that only those countries whose economies were globalised would remain stable, and that the others would be destroyed, the men from 9/11 placed US armed forces in the service of transnational financial interests. They betrayed your country and transformed it into the armed wing of these predators.

For the last 17 years, we have witnessed what is being given to your compatriots by the government of the successors of those who drew up the Constitution and opposed at that time - without success – the Bill of Rights. These rich men have become the super-rich, while the middle class has been reduced by a fifth and poverty has increased.

We have also seen the implementation of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski strategy – phoney « civil wars » have devastated almost all of the Greater Middle East. Entire cities have been wiped from the map, from Afghanistan to Libya, via Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who were not themselves at war.

In 2001, only two US citizens denounced the incoherence of the Bush version, two real estate promoters – the Democrat Jimmy Walter, who was forced into exile, and yourself, who entered into politics and was elected President.

In 2011, we saw the commander of AfriCom relieved of his mission and replaced by NATO for having refused to support Al-Qaïda in the liquidation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Then we saw NATO’s LandCom organise Western support for jihadists in general and Al-Qaïda in particular in their attempt to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic.

So the jihadists, who were considered as « freedom fighters » against the Soviets, then as « terrorists » after 9/11, once again became the allies of the deep state, which, in fact, they have always been.

So, with an immense upsurge of hope, we have watched your actions to suppress, one by one, all support for the jihadists. It is with the same hope that we see today that you are talking with your Russian counterpart in order to bring back life to the devastated Middle East. And it is with equal anxiety that we see Robert Mueller, now a special prosecutor, pursuing the destruction of your homeland by attacking your position.

Mister President, not only are you and your compatriots suffering from the diarchy which has sneaked into power in your country since the coup d’état of 11 September 2001, but the whole world is a victim.

Mister President, 9/11 is not ancient history. It is the triumph of transnational interests which are crushing not only your people, but all of humanity which aspires to freedom.

Thierry Meyssan brought to the world stage the debate on the real perpetrators of 11 September 2001. He has worked as a political analyst alongside Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mouamar Kadhafi. He is today a political refugee in Syria.

Thierry Meyssan
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the wafty stench from the washington swamp...

Note: This is the editorial from the September/October 2018 edition of The American Conservative magazine.

This summer the media hive was buzzing around a hot courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stood trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion relating to his lobbying activities for Ukrainian political interests in the 2000s.

In the course of the highly publicized trial, prosecutors, with the help of Manafort’s fair-weather ex-partner Rick Gates, argued that the longtime Washington operative played fast and loose with the money he earned for his foreign consulting services, including parkingit in unreported accounts in Cyprus and buying Ukranian assets through a shell company in the Cayman Islands. And we’re talking a lot of money—$17 million over two years alone to flak for then-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who got thrown out of office anyway in 2014. Beyond that, Manafort spent a decade raking in millions not only from Yanukovych and his party, but associated spin-off clients, including a 2006 contract with a Russian businessman worth $10 million annually to help boost Vladimir Putin’s rep in Washington.

But to the salivating chattering class, the exploits of the dapper but much-depleted (he’s been behind bars and since convicted) Manafort are mere set pieces in a more sweeping narrative they hope will be confirmed at the end of this Robert Mueller-directed summer blockbuster: that Manafort played a starring role in the heretofore unproven Russia-Trump collusion scandal of 2016. 

But while the Russia-bedazzled press is focused on Manafort’s schemes, the rest of us toiling away in the Beltway know all too well that he’s just the algae bloom floating atop a much larger ecosystem, one in which foreign influence peddling is a multimillion dollar industry involving high-profile Republican and Democratic firms and countries with much worse human rights records than Russia. Interestingly, news reports in late July only fleetingly covered Mueller’s probe of three other Americans working with Manafort on behalf of Ukrainian interests, including Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta (brother of Clintonista John Podesta), former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, and former Republican representative Vin Weber.

That a revolving door of elected officials and bureaucrats would sell their skills and influence to the highest foreign bidder is anathema to most Americans. And we’re not just talking the Manaforts of the world, but a wide swath of familiar names, like John Boehner, Trent Lott, Richard Gephardt, Bob Livingston, and Tom Daschle. 

According to Ben Freeman of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, foreign entities spent over $400 million here in 2016—$1 out of every $8 spent on all lobbying, foreign and domestic, that year. (This is only what was registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but as we know with the case of Manafort, who was consulting “off the books” for years, there’s a lot more going on in these murky waters than we think.) According to Freeman, most lobbying is for maintaining foreigners’ stake in our Military-Industrial Complex, like keeping troops and bases overseas, and sustaining the flow of billions in aid and weapons. Not surprisingly the top spenders are Japan and Korea, with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and China not far behind. 

Sometimes it’s tied in with image polishing (Manafort earned his keep in the 1980s with dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko and Ferdinand Marcos as clients). In the last year the Saudi Kingdom has dumped millions on the Beltway to gin up good press for “reformer” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. More quietly, in 2017 the Saudis employed American firms to help kill JASTA (the Justice Against State Terrorism Act) which was pursued by 9/11 families because it would allow them to take the Kingdom to court for its alleged ties to the hijackers. Saudi money even paid (in some cases unwitting) U.S. veterans to lobby for their interests on Capitol Hill.

Recently, The Christian Science Monitor reported that out of the $11 million Saudi Arabia spent in 2015, most was to undermine the Iran nuclear deal. Resources were lavishly spent on top lobbyists like former GOP senator Norm Coleman. Trump withdrew from the deal this year, bringing the two countries ever closer to armed conflict.

Sure, something smells in Alexandria, but the stink is wafting from over the Potomac. Unfortunately, this is a lesson no one seems to learn when they come to town to “clean things up”: you’ll never get rid of the Manaforts if you can’t see the swamp for the Tupelo trees.


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sponsors of senators...

In the wake of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Senate voted last week to advance a resolution ending U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. We are now awaiting a Senate floor debate and a motion to proceed, which could come as early as Monday.

While the measure passed, opposition from the Saudi lobby was fierce and strongly reflected in the vote. In fact, of the 37 senators who voted against the measure, 30 have received campaign contributions from lobbying firms working for the Saudis. In total, an analysis of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) records reveals at least $226,182 in campaign contributions reported by firms registered to represent Saudi Arabia that went to these 30 senators over the past two years. 

The top recipient of Saudi lobbying firm contributions among senators who voted against the measure was Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada, who received $27,150. Heller’s vote against the resolution on Wednesday was notable given that he had previously voted against an arms sale to Saudi Arabia and was a co-sponsor of legislation that would have prohibited the U.S. military from refueling Saudi warplanes. 

Heller’s haul from Saudi lobbyists was closely followed by Roger Wicker, Ted Cruz, and Roy Blunt, Republicans all, who have received $25,550, $23,000, and $19,250, respectively, from Saudi lobbyists over the past two years. On the campaign trail, Cruz called the possibility of the Saudi government ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi “troubling” and said “there should be real consequences for that.” His vote Wednesday was to block one of those consequences. 

Blunt, unlike Cruz, has been largely uncritical of the Saudis’ role in Khashoggi’s death. Recently, he rejected the Central Intelligence Agency’s reportedly “high confidence” assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Khashoggi, saying, “we don’t quite have all the information we’d like to have.”

Several of the senators who voted against the resolution received contributions from lobbyists on the same day they or their offices were contacted on behalf of the Saudis: Mike Crapo, John Boozman, Richard Burr, and Tim Scott.

To be sure, lobbyists and firms working for the Saudis have also made considerable campaign contributions to senators who voted for the measure. For example, Bob Corker, who voted for the resolution, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Saudis following Khashoggi’s murder and recently called the crown prince “out of control.” Yet a Hogan Lovells FARA filing shows that the firm’s Saudi lobbyists met with Corker on April 26, 2017, and a lobbyist at the firm made a $2,700 contribution to Corker’s campaign that same day. Two months later, Corker’s campaign also received a $1,350 contribution from a Hogan Lovells lobbyist.


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investigating the clinton foundation...


“Mr. Huber with the Department of Justice and FBI has been having an investigation — at least part of his task was to look at the Clinton Foundation and what may or may not have happened as it relates to improper activity with that charitable foundation, so we’ve set a hearing date for December the 5th,” he told Hill.TV previously.

That hearing was postponed until Thursday because of President George H.W. Bush's funeral service.

Meadows had wanted to quiz Huber on whether any of the Clinton Foundation’s tax-exempt money was used for personal gain, as well as a litany of other conservative allegations against Clinton, such as the State Department’s approval of a uranium deal with Russia.

The Oversight Committee, as with all other House panels, transfers to Democratic control next month because of the results of the midterm elections.

Huber's spokeswoman, Melodie Rydalch, confirmed that Huber wouldn't testify.

“Consistent with conversations between the department and the committee, Mr. Huber will not appear at the hearing,” she said.

The hearing will instead feature Tom Fitton, the head of the right-leaning Judicial Watch, a law professor and two tax professionals.

The purpose of the hearing, as the subcommittee announced, is to "discuss the management of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and how the designation impacts the programs and activities a nonprofit is allowed to conduct.” But the heading of the hearing is titled, “Oversight of nonprofit organizations: a case study on the Clinton Foundation.”


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