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Regime Change Regime_change, remainder of article.
Federal Reserve court record. Remove Saddam, erase history On November 1, 2001, George W. Bush issued an Executive Order declaring that in light of the "national emergency" of 9/11, the release of papers from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies would remain sealed---even though the release of these documents is mandated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. As a former Bush business partner and US ally, Saddam Hussein is in a position to provide living testimony to decades of treasonous Bush crimes and violations of international law committed by the United States. Manuel Noriega was in the same position before the US invaded Panama in 1989. Even as the Bush administration bullies, intimidates, blackmails, threatens and bulldozes its way towards its war in Iraq, this subtext cannot be dismissed. In his CNN interview, Bush hissed that "there is nothing redeeming" about Saddam Hussein. Is there anything redeeming about George Herbert Walker Bush, the man who is connected to virtually every major political crime in the past forty years ? Is there anything redeeming about the illegitimately installed George W. Bush, whose totalitarian administration (and the financial Empire that it represents) has committed more willfully criminal acts, more mass destruction, and more irreversible damage to the rule of law (and the fabric of civil society), in a shorter time, than any regime in modern history ? IV The American Empire and business of Iraq Despite its status as a rogue nation, Iraq has been lucrative conduit for covert transnational trade for over a decade. In fact, the United Nations, and American companies connected to the Bush oligarchy, have been among some of Saddam Hussein's best customers. This trade, carefully hidden behind rich propaganda smoke, has continued, with White House encouragement, throughout the post-9/11 "war on terrorism"---even as plans for the invasion of Iraq continue to unfold. Trading with (and stealing from) "the enemy" Since its creation in 1996, US oil companies have used the UN Oil for Food Program as a means to steal billions of dollars of Iraqi oil and reap significant profits. Through the exploitation of this program (in which Iraq has been forced to sell its oil at below-international market price, in exchange for humanitarian aid) US companies such as ChevronTexaco, Exxon-Mobil, BP-Amoco, Valero, Clark and Marathon-Ashland have purchased cheap oil for resale through Russian, European and Chinese traders and intermediaries. These companies have made billions from this scheme for years. As revealed by UN correspondent Carola Hoyos www.truthout.org/docs_01/02.23D.Cheney.Circumvented.htm , US corporations have channeled business through European and other subsidiaries, "many of which do little more than lend their name to the transactions, the companies are treated as European, rather than US applicants." Leading US oil service companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Flowserve, Fisher-Rosemount and others have worked through the UN via French, Belgian, German, Indian, Swiss, Bahrainian, Egyptian and Dutch subsidiaries. General Electric has done business with Iraq, even as jets and battleships have attacked Iraq, with GE weapons. Under Dick Cheney, Halliburton (via its subsidiaries Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump) has helped rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, and reportedly earned an additional $1 billion by illegally exporting oil through black-market channels. Iraq has also been a customer of Schlumberger (on whose board sits another fierce proponent of the Iraq war, former CIA Director John Deutch). Still other companies have been authorized to do business directly with Iraq since 1997. According to a Middle East Economic Development report, the companies included Bayoil, Mobil (now ExxonMobil), Texaco (now ChevronTexaco) and Coastal Corporation (now part of El Paso Corporation). As revealed in a penetrating report by Margie Burns www.buzzflash.com/contributors/2002/10/04_Oil.html (Buzzflash, 10/4/02), "despite the Bush administration's bellicose attempt to link Iraq to international terrorism, Iraqi sales and US imports of Iraqi oil remained high, with no sign that the White House considered this a security breach." Burns also detailed the following : * America imported about 290 million barrels of crude oil from Iraq in 2001 according to the Department of Energy, about 795,000 barrels per day, making Iraq America's sixth-largest supplier in 2001. The US was "the main market for Iraqi crude" according to the Middle East Economic Survey. * Forbes estimated that US companies purchased 70% of Iraq's oil in 2001, and named ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, BP-Amoco and Marathon among the purchasers. * The London Times reported in January 2001 that BP and ExxonMobil were buying oil from Iraq as soon as Bush entered the White House, in spite of the problems involved with corruption and public relations. The Bush State Department issued a letter urging US companies not to pay too much, nor yield to Baghdad's shipping surcharges. * According to the American Petroleum Institute, US companies imported an average 611,000 barrels per day from Iraq from January through June of 2002, making Iraq America's fifth-largest supplier of oil in the first half of 2002. * Iraq transports millions of barrels of oil openly via pipeline through Turkey, and tankers supplying US companies uplift most of their Iraqi shipments at Ceyhan---with the full knowledge and consent of the US federal government. Saddam's biggest business partner has, in fact, been the United Nations, and that the sale of Iraqi oil is its biggest program http://opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/ ?id=110002335 . The UN has been involved in some $55 billion in Iraqi oil trade. Combining Iraq's oil exports and aid imports, the UN oversees a flow of funds averaging about $15 billion a year, more than five times the UN's core annual budget. According to ABC News correspondent John Cooley http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/iraq010720%5Fcooley.html (ABC, 7/20/02), "American refiners' thirst for Iraqi oil has been ongoing" and that as much as 90 percent of the actual amount of Iraq's estimated 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) are going to Gulf coast refineries in the US. Oil industry sources told ABC "the US companies most heavily involved are Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Bayoil and Koch Petroleum, which use it in their refineries in Louisiana and Texas. Iraq's black market Saddam Hussein's regime has also been involved in a thriving black market in oil and other products with Turkey (a US ally), Jordan (another US ally) and other countries. This trade continued without challenge by the US or the UN. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer, "Washington knew all about the smuggling, but pretended it wasn't happening…what I couldn't understand was why the White House didn't intervene…It was almost as if the White House wanted Saddam to have a little walking-around money." Spectacular evidence of American participation in this black market was revealed in a lawsuit filed on October 31, 2002 by the European Union against RJ Reynolds Tobacco http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50913-2002Nov13.html (Washington Post, 11/14/02). For the past decade, according to this suit, "R.J. Reynolds and its subsidiaries illegally funneled millions of dollars worth of cigarettes into Iraq in direct violation of U.S. trade sanctions and has knowingly helped Russian organized crime and Colombian drug traffickers launder billions of dollars more." The suit, which is based on law enforcement resources of ten European countries, alleges that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his son, Uday, reaped millions of illicit dollars from the sale of cigarettes. As noted by Michel Chossudovsky in War and Globalisation , "the demarcation between 'organized capital' and 'organized crime' is blurred" in every corner of the New World Order. The war for the oil : rearranging the map, changing the rules Although US interests have profited from indirect Iraq trade, Russia, France and China have placed themselves into the "driver's seat", thanks to direct ties to Baghdad. Companies holding key oil exploration contracts include Lukoil (which has an exploration contract for the West Qurna oil field), Zarubezhneft, Slavnet and French oil giant TotalFinaElf (which has the largest position in Iraq, with exclusive negotiating rights to develop the Majnoon oil field). If UN sanctions were ever lifted, these non-US companies would dominate Iraqi oil exploration---a scenario that is obviously unacceptable to US elites. In one violent stroke, a US-engineered "regime change" in Iraq (and a simultaneous takeover of a Saudi Arabian monarchy on the verge of civil war) would eliminate Russian/French/Chinese competition, void existing contracts, destroy OPEC, and clear the way for the total control of the oil supply that the US wants and needs desperately. The Bush administration must act swiftly in order to resuscitate a US economy on the verge of collapse, and immediately secure control over the largest remaining oil reserves on the planet. (The cataclysmic end of oil, discussed above. in earlier,http://onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/Chin/102402/chin102402.html has been confirmed by world-renowned geologist Colin Campbell http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102302_campbell.html ) The best-case oil scenario for the US was neatly summarized by Robert Collier (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/02) : "The world's biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may be just around the corner, giving U.S. oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for decades to come. And it all may come courtesy of a war with Iraq…oil analysts and Iraqi exile leaders believe a new, pro-Western government would prompt U.S. and multinational petroleum giants to rush into Iraq, dramatically increasing the output of a nation whose oil reserves are second only to that of Saudi Arabia. Once production reaches its full capacity, they say, the enormous increase in supply could weaken OPEC, the oil producers' cartel led by Saudi Arabia, lower international oil prices for the foreseeable future and shift the balance of power among the world's major oil producers." As reported in the Dawn Newspapers http://www.dawn.com/2002/11/04/int14.htm (11/4/02), US surrogate Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress has already met with executives of three US oil multinationals to divide up Iraq's oil reserves. Chalabi, a leader of the Washington war lobby http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/Chin103102/chin103102.html , believes that the US should head a consortium to develop Iraq's oil. According to former CIA Director James Woolsey, "it's pretty straightforward. France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. If they throw their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them." Evidenced by last-minute back room deals and secret negotiations with Iraqi opposition leaders, Russian and French officials properly fear that existing drilling contracts will be voided with the removal of Saddam http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,805530,00.html . In a strange development in August, Russia and Iraq signed a ten-year economic cooperation agreement worth forty billion dollars. This deal, reported by Dmitry Chirkin (Pravda, 8/19/02), involves includes 67 contracts in the fields of oil and gas extraction, transportation, and communication. In effect, Russia closed a deal with an Iraqi regime that is widely believed to be on the verge of being toppled. Is Russia betting---hoping--- that the US will not entirely succeed with its plans ? Globalizers lick their chops over post-Saddam spoils Not surprisingly, Anglo-American corporate elites have already begun formulating plans to transform post-Saddam Iraq into another "investable emerging market" for US corporate capital. In one blueprint written by Ariel Cohen and Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr. of the Heritage Foundation http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1594.cfm ("The Road to Economic Prosperity for a Post-Saddam Iraq" 9/25/02),http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1594.cfm the planners foresee an Iraq "managed" by the United States (through the IMF, the World Bank and other "international governmental and non-governmental organizations") and opened up to "structural reforms", privatization, deregulation and foreign investment. This familiar recipe, by which nations throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa have been systematically stripped of their national sovereignity, to be controlled and exploited by Wall Street, is now being prepared for Iraq. It will be force-fed. In the words of Cohen and O'Driscoll, "privatization works everywhere". The painfully obvious end game On October 30, White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer declared that "the White House has no interest in controlling Iraq's oil reserves if the Bush administration decides to take military action to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." http://asia.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml ?type=topnews&StoryID=1659024 (Reuters 10/30/02) "That's not the way America works," he said. On the very same day, Oil and Gas International (10/30/02) issued a report directly refuting Fleischer. The report http://oilandgasinternational.com/departments/world_industry_news/oct02_meeting.html documents the fact that the White House and the US State Department have scheduled meetings with Iraqi opposition leaders to carve out Iraq's oil and gas reserves : "The Bush administration wants to have a working group of 12 to 20 people focused on Iraqi oil and gas to be able to recommend to an interim government ways of restoring the petroleum sector following a military attack in order to increase oil exports to partially pay for a possible US military occupation government - further fueling the view that controlling Iraqi oil is at the heart of the Bush campaign to replace Hussein with a more compliant regime." The White House is lying. That's the way the Bush administration works. V The pandora's box of infinite war These men should be equipped with weapons and should march slightly behind the innocent and gullible participants. ---Instructions for assassins in a CIA guerrilla warfare manual Earlier this year, in a typically vulgar display of crudeness, George W. Bush declared, "I made up my mind that Hussein needs to go. The policy of my government is that he goes. That's about all I'm willing to share." This report has attempted document the brutal underlying realities and programs that Bush and "his" cabal of Cold Warriors and covert operatives have done their best to obscure, hide, cover up, twist and distort. The looming invasion of Iraq is the next and most critical phase of the long-planned 9/11 War, a sequential conquest for control of the last remaining supplies of oil on earth. It is a war "on" but "of" terrorism, unprecedented in world history, to preserve an American Empire and the survival of its corrupt elites. It is an illegal war waged upon the fabricated pretext of a "war on terrorism" and in the name of 9/11---an atrocity that was carried out with the knowledge and complicity of the Bush administration to create the "massive and widely perceived direct external threat" needed to "fashion a consensus" for endless war. It is the fruition of the much-anticipated US domination of the Eurasian continent where approximately three-quarters of the world's energy wealth lies---"the globe's central arena" as defined by Zbigniew Brezezinski and other elite planners. According to the estimates of Medact (an organization of British health professionals) the war could claim at least 500,000 lives http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp ?id=ns99993043 . This horrifying estimate does not begin to address this war's potential magnitude. As articulated by Chossudovsky www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO210A.html , the conflict, once begun in earnest, is certain to engulf a much larger region, extending from the Mediterranean, and across the tinder box of the Middle East to Central Asia. It is likely to include the use of nuclear weapons. The conflict will expand if Russia and China are forced to become involved. The 9/11 War threatens civilization itself. As this report goes to press, a new round of UN "weapons inspections" has begun. This charade, designed to create the appearance of an international consensus, will delay, but not stop, the American rampage. In absence of suitable evidence implicating Iraq, evidence will be produced. In the absence of justifications, new pretexts will be manufactured, and old ones, dusted off and repeated. The head of UN inspections, Hans Blix, the man entrusted with deciding whether Iraq is harboring weapons of mass destruction, "cannot guarantee that his inspection teams does not include Western spies". http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp ?story=352870 On November 22, Richard Perle declared that the US would attack Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons (Daily Mirror, 11/22/02) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm ?objectid=12377231&method=full&siteid=50143 . Former defence minister and Labour backbencher Peter Kilfoyle said : "America is duping the world into believing it supports these inspections. President Bush intends to go to war even if inspectors find nothing. This makes a mockery of the whole process and exposes America'sreal determination to bomb Iraq." According to eyewitness reports, the OPEC region is already surrounded, and Iraq itself is brimming with US forces ready to strike. In a 1994 speech to the UN Business Council, David Rockefeller said, "We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order." Today, Rockefeller has his crisis. It will not be accepted. Sources Philip Agee, "Tracking Covert Actions into the Future" http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9810/msg00073.html Alexander's Oil and Gas, "US sets meeting on exploiting Iraqi oil after Hussein", October 30, 2002 www.oilandgasinternational.com/departments/world_industry_news/oct02_meeting.html Husayn Al-Kurdi, "The CIA in Kurdistan", December 1996 www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/dec96kurdi.htm Husayn Al-Kurdi, "What really happened in Iraq ?", October-September 1996 www.sonicnet/ doretk/Issues/96-10%20OCT/whatreally.html Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom, Media Messenger Books, 2002. Robert Baer, See No Evil , Crown Publishers, New York, 2002. 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Kenny Bruno and Jim Vallette, "Cheney & Halliburton : Go Where the Oil Is", Multinational Monitor, May 2001. www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Oil_watch/Cheney_Halliburton.html Andrew Buncombe, "Russia fears Bush will grab world's 2nd-biggest oil reserves", Telegraph, September 25, 2002. www.rense.com/general29/russw.htm Andrew Buncombe, "Blix admits risk of spies on team", Independent, November 17, 2002. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp ?story=352870 Margie Burns, "The enemy of my enemy is my customer", Online Journal, September 5, 2002. http://onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/Burns090502/burns090502.html Margie Burns, "Bush Donors : Saddam's Best Customers", BuzzFlash, October 4, 2002. www.buzzflash.com/contributors/2002/10/04_Oil.html Center for Cooperative Research, "Ulterior Motives". http://cooperativeresearch.org/wotiraq/Ulterior_Motives.htm Center for Cooperative Research, "Iraqi Opposition Groups". www.cooperativeresearch.org/wotiraq/Iraqi_opposition_groups.htm Center for Strategic and International Studies. 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German analysis. www.fsk.ethz.ch/teaching/SEMINAR/KEVSNI.HTM New Scientist, "Iraq war could kill 500,000", November 12, 2002. http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp ?id=ns99993043 Robert Parry, "History on the Ballot", Consortium News, November 5, 2000. http://www.consortiumnews.com/2000/110500a.html Scott Peterson, "In war, some facts less factual", Christian Science Monitor, September 6, 2002. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0906/p01s02-wosc.html Ryan Oblivion, "Blast to the Future : Iraqgate", American Politics Journal, February 20, 2001. www.americanpolitics.com/200102201Iraqgate.html Robert Parry, "Saddam's Green Light". www.consortiumnews.com/archive/xfile5.html Petroleumworld.com, "Iraq oil exports to US continue at a brisk pace-EIA", May 24, 2002. www.petroleumworld.com/story8135.htm Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "A Bigger Picture", From The Wilderness. December 27, 2001. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/dec2001_files/background_is_oil.html Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "What Will Be the Next Target of the Oil Coup ?" From The Wilderness January 29, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/01_29_02_what_next.html Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Is the Empire About Oil ?", From the Wilderness, August 27, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/080802_oil_empire.html Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Sizing Up the Competition-Is China The Endgame ?", From The Wilderness, October 1, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/cgi-bin/cop/7/auth/092502_endgame.html Vijay Prashad, "War in a Passive Voice", Counterpunch, October 12, 2001. http://www.pitt.edu/ leftists/prashad2.html Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, Yale University Press, 2001. Stephanie Reich, "Slow Motion Holocaust" : US designs on Iraq", Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 2002 Charles Recknagel, "Iraq : Exiled Officers Call for Overthrow of Saddam", August 31, 2002. www.referl.org/nea/features/2002/07/15072002161707.asp RISE Internet Story Exchange http://www.rise4news.net/ Scott Ritter, "Help Us To Stop The War" October 9, 2002. www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RIT210A.html Claudia Rosett, "Kofi Annandersen", OpinionJournal.com, September 25, 2002. http://opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/ ?id=110002335 Michael C. Ruppert, "The Best Enemies Money Can Buy", From The Wilderness, October 15, 2001. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/10_09_01_carlyle.html Michael C. Ruppert, "A Time For Fear", From The Wilderness, October 15, 2001. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/oct152001.html Michael C. Ruppert, "Across the Rubicon", From The Wilderness, October 1, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100102_across_rubicon.html Michael C. Ruppert, "Saudi Arabia : The Sarajevo of the 21st Century", From The Wilderness, August 21, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/cgi-bin/cop/7/auth/082102_saudi_arabia_1.html http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RUP208A.html Michael C. Ruppert, "One Foot off the Cliff", From The Wilderness, August 21, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/cgi-bin/cop/7/auth/082102_deployment.html Michael C. Ruppert, "Congress authorizes Bush to Attack", From The Wildnerness, October 11, 2002. www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/101102_congress_auth-bush.html Michael C. Ruppert, "Wheels Come Off U.S. War Plans For Iraq", From The Wilderness, October 28, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102802_wheels.html Michael C. Ruppert, "Colin Campbell on Oil", From the Wilderness, October 23. 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102302_campbell.html Jeremy Scahill, "The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet", Common Dreams, August 2, 2002. http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0802-01.htm Peter Dale Scott, "Is US Arms Buildup In Response to Crisis in Saudi Arabia ?" August 3, 2002. http://socrates.berkeley.edu/ pdscott/qfsaud.html Peter Dale Scott, "Preparations for another war : Iraq ?", March 18, 2002 http://socrates.berkeley.edu/ pdscott/qfiraq3.html Robin Shepherd, "US tempts Russia with profits of ousting Saddam", Times Online, September 13, 2002 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-413127,00.html Christopher Simpson, "Bankers, Lawyers and Linkage Groups" (from Splendid Blond Beast, Common Courage Press, 1995) http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Genocide/Bankers_Lawyers_SBB.html Sherman Skolnick. Numerous articles www.skolnicksreport.com Randy Stearns, "The CIA's secret war in Iraq", October 1998. www.defencejournal.com/oct98/cia_secretwar.htm Rodney Stich, Defrauding America, Diablo Western Press, 1994. Stratfor, "Uniting Jordan and Iraq Might Be Prime Post-War Strategy", September 30, 2002. www.stratfor.com/fib/fib_view.php ?ID=206509 Morgan Strong, "Bush's Iraq Lies", October 6, 2002. http://www.rense.com/general30/sdeee.htm Karen Talbot, "Backing up Globalization with Military Might", Covert Action Quarterly, Spring-Summer 2000. Joe Taglieri, "Bush Advisers Planned Iraq War since 1990s", From The Wilderness, October 1, 2002. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/100102_bush_advisors.html David Teather, "Bush gives CIA green light to kill Saddam", Guardian, June 17, 2002. www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/2002/0617cia.html Eric V. Thompson, "Major Oil Companies Operating in the Persian Gulf" http://www.virginia.edu/igpr/apagoilcompany.html United States Department of Defense, Contracts for August 5, 2002 http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2002/c08052002_ct404-02.html United States Energy Information Administration, "Iraq". www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/iraqfull.html United States Central Command. www.milnet.com/milnet/pentagon/centcom/chap1/stratgic.htm#USPolicy Ian Urbina, "Who Advises Bush and Gore on the Middle East ?", Middle East Report, Fall 2000. http://www.merip.org/mer/mer216/216_urbina.html Jonathan Vankin, Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Crimes, Paragon House, 1991. Ed Vulliamy/Paul Webster/Nick Paton Walsh, "Scramble to carve up Iraqi oil reserves lies behind US diplomacy", The Observer, October 6, 2002. http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,805530,00.html Jude Wanniski, "The Prince of Darkness", September 18, 2001. http://polyconomics.com/showarticle.asp ?articleid=1634 R. James Woolsey, "Blood Baath", Salon, September 24, 2001. http://www.tnr.com/092401/woolsey092401.html World Socialist Website, "Bush administration confirms plans for war against Iraq", February 16, 2002. www.wsws.org/articles/2002/feb2002/iraq-f16.shmtl------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright Larry Chin 2002. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement . The URL of this article is : http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHI211A.html
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One group of voters wrongly identified by the Republicans as registering to vote from false addresses: servicemen and women sent overseas. ******* For Greg Palast's discussion with broadcaster Amy Goodman on the Black soldier purge of 2004, go to http://gregpalast.com/armedmadhouse/palastDN6-14-06.mp3
Here's how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in envelopes marked, “Do not forward”, to be returned to the sender. These letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney campaign as "undeliverable." The lists of soldiers of "undeliverable" letters were transmitted from state headquarters, in this case Florida, to the RNC in Washington. The party could then challenge the voters' registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballot being counted.
One target list was comprised exclusively of voters registered at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. Jacksonville is third largest naval installation in the US, best known as home of the Blue Angels fighting squadron. [See this scrub sheet at http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=160156893&context=set-72157594155273706&size=o ]
Our team contacted the homes of several on the caging list, such as Randall Prausa, a serviceman, whose wife said he had been ordered overseas. A soldier returning home in time to vote in November 2004 could also be challenged on the basis of the returned envelope. Soldiers challenged would be required to vote by "provisional" ballot. Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party. The operation, of which the purge of Black soldiers was a small part, was the first mass challenge to voting America had seen in two decades.
The BBC obtained several dozen confidential emails sent by the Republican's national Research Director and Deputy Communications chief, Tim Griffin to GOP Florida campaign chairman Brett Doster and other party leaders. Attached were spreadsheets marked, "Caging.xls." Each of these contained several hundred to a few thousand voters and their addresses. A check of the demographics of the addresses on the "caging lists," as the GOP leaders called them indicated that most were in African-American majority zip codes.
Ion Sanco, the non-partisan elections supervisor of Leon County (Tallahassee) when shown the lists by this reporter said: “The only thing I can think of - African American voters listed like this – these might be individuals that will be challenged if they attempted to vote on Election Day.” These GOP caging lists were obtained by the same BBC team that first exposed the wrongful purge of African-American "felon" voters in 2000 by then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Eliminating the voting rights of those voters -- 94,000 were targeted -- likely caused Al Gore's defeat in that race.
The Republican National Committee in Washington refused our several requests to respond to the BBC discovery. However, in Tallahassee, the Florida Bush campaign's spokespeople offered several explanations for the list. Joseph Agostini, speaking for the GOP, suggested the lists were of potential donors to the Bush campaign. Oddly, the supposed donor list included residents of the Sulzbacher Center a shelter for homeless families. Another spokesperson for the Bush campaign, Mindy Tucker Fletcher, ultimately changed the official response, acknowledging that these were voters, "we mailed to, where the letter came back – bad addresses.”
The party has refused to say why it would mark soldiers as having "bad addresses" subject to challenge when they had been assigned abroad. The apparent challenge campaign was not inexpensive. The GOP mailed the letters first class, at a total cost likely exceeding millions of dollars, so that the addresses would be returned to "cage" workers. “This is not a challenge list," insisted the Republican spokesmistress. However, she modified that assertion by adding, “That’s not what it’s set up to be.” Setting up such a challenge list would be a crime under federal law. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws mass challenges of voters where race is a factor in choosing the targeted group.
While the party insisted the lists were not created for the purpose to challenge Black voters, the GOP ultimately offered no other explanation for the mailings. However, Tucker Fletcher asserted Republicans could still employ the list to deny ballots to those they considered suspect voters. When asked if Republicans would use the list to block voters, Tucker Fletcher replied, “Where it’s stated in the law, yeah.” It is not possible at this time to determine how many on the potential blacklist were ultimately challenged and lost their vote. Soldiers sending in their ballot from abroad would not know their vote was lost because of a challenge.
For the full story of caging lists and voter purges of 2004, plus the documents, read Greg Palast's New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.