Turning Point in History
and a Dark Day for Dick
by Jeffrey Steinberg and Edward Spannaus
Before Lyndon LaRouche took to the podium in Washington, D.C. on June 21 to deliver an international webcast address, he assured colleagues that his remarks would have historic significance. His promise was kept—and then some.
Washington sources have described the LaRouche broadcast (see transcripts), which fully exposed the role of Vice President Dick Cheney in the bungled attempt to cover up the "scandal of the century"—the BAE Systems $100 billion secret covert operations slush fund, built on a Saudi-British arms-for-oil deal known as Al-Yamamah ("the dove")—as the catalyst of a fundamental shift in world politics. What LaRouche's webcast immediately triggered was an avalanche of attacks on Cheney, which has already destroyed what was left of his political career as a key thug-asset of London-centered financial circles; and a fundamental split between certain U.S.-based political factions and the British.
The consequences of LaRouche's dead-on exposé of the Cheney-BAE nexus will also be felt on the 2008 Presidential elections, with all of the current crop of pre-candidates suddenly discredited for their cowardly evasion of this "scandal of the century."
In stark contrast to the evasive babblings of all of the "official" candidates, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) acted decisively on June 21—the day of the LaRouche webcast—by writing to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and demanding answers to a series of questions about the Justice Department's BAE probe. Senator Kerry, by taking up the BAE question, effectively inserted himself back into the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes, whether or not he formally decides to again seek the Democratic Party nomination. Kerry is remembered for being the only Senator to actually take up the dirty drug-money dimensions of the Iran-Contra illegal operations of the Reagan-Bush White House, with his 1987 Kerry Commission probe, which exposed the Oliver North White House links to Colombian cocaine cartels, in financing the Nicaraguan "Contras."
Cheney Takes the Big Political Hit
Washington sources have confirmed that a bipartisan group of leading political "elder statesmen" have been banging their heads against a brick wall for months, attempting to get the major American newspapers, particularly the Washington Post and New York Times, to take off the gloves against Cheney. These sources credit the LaRouche webcast with breaking the logjam. "LaRouche," one senior public servant gleefully explained, "shamed them into action. Without LaRouche's take-no-prisoners words, the Post never would have gone to press with the attack on Cheney."
The source was referring to the June 24-27, 2007 outsized series of front-page blasts at Cheney by Post writers Barton Gellman and Jo Becker. Most damning in the series was a detailed eyewitness account, in the first article, of Vice President Cheney's behavior on Sept. 11, 2001, as the South Tower of the World Trade Center began to collapse, and everyone around him was reacting emotionally to the mass carnage. "Cheney made no sound. 'I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed,' said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.
"Three people who were present," the Post account continued, "not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney. What they saw, they said, was extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power. While others assessed casualties and the work of 'first responders,' Cheney began planning for a conflict that would call upon lawyers as often as soldiers and spies."
Gellman and Becker concluded: "More than any one man in the months to come, Cheney freed Bush to fight the 'war on terror' as he saw fit, animated by their shared belief that al-Qaeda's destruction would require what the vice president called 'robust interrogation' to extract intelligence from captured suspects. With a small coterie of allies, Cheney supplied the rationale and political muscle to drive far-reaching legal changes through the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon."
In more blunt language, Cheney carried out precisely the "Reichstag fire" coup d'état that Lyndon LaRouche forecast a full nine months before 9/11, in a Jan. 3, 2001 international webcast, in which he branded Cheney the Hermann Göring of the incoming Bush Administration.
Enter, Sally Quinn
On June 26, the newspaper's website published an unambiguous editorial cry for Cheney's immediate ouster, signed by no less a Post icon than Sally Quinn, the wife of the Washington Post Corporation's vice president, and the paper's former executive editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. Under the headline "A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney," Quinn wrote: "The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising. As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party, including the presidential nominee, in next year's elections."
Quinn offered: "Cheney is scheduled this summer for surgery to replace his pacemaker, which needs new batteries. So if the president is willing, and Republicans are able, they have a convenient reason to replace him: doctor's orders."
Well-placed Washington sources report that there is now a mad scramble at the New York Times to trump the Post series with even more damning revelations about Cheney. It was this kind of media competition that created the political climate, during the early 1970s, that brought down Richard Nixon in Watergate.
Kerry's Bombshell Letter
By the time the Post series began, LaRouche had clearly linked the issue of Cheney's political survival to the unfolding of the BAE scandal. At the June 21 webcast, LaRouche had advertised the fact that Cheney was in "deep kimchee" with his London patrons, and that his failure to bury the BAE scandal would accelerate his political demise.
It was in this context that Senator Kerry's letter to Attorney General Gonzales, demanding firm action on BAE's alleged bribes to Prince Bandar, hit like a bomb.
Senator Kerry reminded the AG: "It appears that U.S. officials have also been concerned about BAE's business practices for some years. In July 2002, a State Department memorandum noted persistent allegations that BAE Systems pays bribes to obtain business. The memorandum concluded that this volume of allegations about one company would have triggered a Department of Justice criminal division investigation long ago. More recently, in October 2006, a high ranking official at the Department of Justice indicated that foreign-owned companies, such as BAE, could be targeted by U.S. investigators: the Department will not hesistate to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, just as it does against American companies."
After reviewing news accounts of the BAE-Prince Bandar "illegal payments," Senator Kerry wrote, "Given BAE's prominent role within the U.S. defense industry, their pending application before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for approval of the Armor Holdings sale, and the serious nature of the allegations against the company, full disclosure of the facts is essential." Kerry then demanded formal answers to six questions, about current and past U.S. government probes of BAE. Among the questions that must have sent Gonzales and Karl Rove both scrambling for cover: "Was the Attorney General's office, or any other office or official in the Department of Justice, ever contacted by any other officials, agencies or departments of the U.S. government, including the White House, concerning this matter? If so please list any and all such contacts."
The Kerry letter ended, "I look forward to a reply no later than June 30, 2007."
In the same way that Senator Kerry's 1980s probe, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations, amounted to a declaration of war against the George H.W. Bush- and Oliver North-run "Enterprise," Kerry's June 21 letter to Gonzales was widely read in official Washington as a virtual declaration of war against London.
Five days after the Kerry letter went to the Attorney General, BAE Systems formally disclosed that it had been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that "it has commenced a formal investigation relating to the company's compliance with anti-corruption laws including the company's business concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
As reported elsewhere in this issue, the BAE admission that it was under American investigation produced a torrent of hysterical denunciations of the U.S. action and the bungling coverup attempt by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The London Independent of June 30, typically railed that the U.S. DOJ probe "could, in a worst-case scenario, lead to the extradition and prosecution of BAE's senior executives." The paper noted that the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is far more stringent than Britain's anti-corruption laws, and that enforcing the FCPA is a top priority of the DOJ Criminal Division head Alice Fisher.
Indeed, the Department's top corruption prosecutor, Mark Mendelsohn, a career DOJ professional who is now the deputy chief of the Fraud Section, has a well-established track record for successfully prosecuting foreign companies that have engaged in bribery on U.S. soil. Mendelsohn is also the Department's representative on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Bribery Working Group, an agency already probing the BAE case under the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.
Furthermore, the evidence about the BAE-Bandar relationship in the public record already points to crimes beyond the scope of the FCPA. According to Washington sources, the BAE-Bandar scheme constituted money laundering, under the 1997 U.S. law. An estimated $2 billion, which originated in Saudi Arabia, was passed through the Bank of England, and forwarded to Prince Bandar's accounts at the now-defunct Riggs Bank in Washington.
In 2003-04, the Department of Justice conducted an exhaustive probe of Riggs Bank, triggered by revelations that $50-70,000 had gone from Prince Bandar's account to two Saudis who were linked to a pair of the 9/11 hijackers. In February 2005, Riggs was fined $25 million for violating money-laundering laws, and pled guilty to violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act. During the course of the probe, the Department of Justice confiscated all of the banking records of the Saudi Embassy, spanning much of Prince Bandar's tenure as Ambassador to the United States. Those documents, sources indicate, could spell doom for both the Saudi prince and the Vice President, because they provide a detailed paper trail of how the "Al-Yamamah" funds were spent inside the United States.
Demands for Cheney's Impeachment
One of the clearest indications that politics in the United States has gone through a profound phase-change since the June 21 LaRouche webcast came on June 28, when ten-term Democratic Congressman James McDermott (Wash.) took to the House floor to call for Cheney to resign or face impeachment. "Madam Speaker," he began, "it is time for a new exit strategy, one that removes the Vice President of the United States from office, voluntarily, if he chooses, but by impeachment if he stonewalls." Citing the "dire situations in Iraq, Iran," the Congressman charged that Cheney "tramples on the Constitution like it was a doormat.... America would be best served by bringing forth articles of impeachment against the Vice President.... I believe the evidence is overwhelming.... Tonight it is time to say the impeachment option is on the table." McDermott signed on to H.R. 333, originally introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), spelling out a detailed bill of indictment for high crimes and misdemeanors by the Vice President.
In his remarks on the floor, Representative McDermott acknowledged his previous stubborn refusal to join the impeach Cheney effort. "As my constituents ... know, I have struggled mightily with this matter for a long time."
Indeed, when LaRouche Youth Movement members, backed by a crowd of angry constituents, demanded that McDermott endorse H.R. 333 at a May 31, 2007 town hall meeting in the district, he refused, claiming, "We can't do it, we don't have the votes, and they know we don't have them," parroting the line coming from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
In his floor speech on June 28, McDermott made it clear that he had gotten the message, boldly declaring, "I am adding my name to H.R. 333.... For the good of the nation, the Vice President should leave office immediately. Call it a medical condition, call it a political condition, call it what it is: the departure of a person who forgot that he works for the American people. The Vice President must either resign or face impeachment."