Monday, September 22, 2008


"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power."
~ David Brin.

It looks like there will be Senate confirmation hearings next Wednesday (24 September) for the next US ambassador to Turkey, James F. Jeffrey, from ANCA:

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to closely scrutinize ten serious shortcomings in the Administration’s handling of the U.S. - Turkey relationship, during the September 24th confirmation hearing for James Jeffrey to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

In letters to panel Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) and other key Committee members, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian outlined the Administration’s failings, and encouraged strict scrutiny of the nominee in order to “ensure accountability for past errors, as well as to apply the lessons learned from these setbacks in charting a more productive and principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations.”

Who is James F. Jeffrey? You can get the official rundown of his career from the State Department:

James F. Jeffrey assumed the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs on August 21, 2006.

Ambassador Jeffrey, in collaboration with the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, will lead the Bureau's Iran Policy Team and coordinate Bureau public diplomacy and internal management, serving as Acting Assistant Secretary when the Assistant Secretary is traveling.

A career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, James Jeffrey served as He served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State for Iraq from August 2005 to August 2006. Amb. Jeffrey served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad from June 2004 to March 2005. From March to June 2005 Ambassador Jeffrey was U.S. Charge d'affairs to Iraq. He served as Ambassador to Albania from 2002-2004. Previously he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Turkey and Kuwait. Other assignments have included Deputy Special Representative for Bosnian Implementation, postings in the Department's European and Near Eastern Bureaus, and overseas service in Turkey, Bulgaria, Germany and Tunisia.

But what about his real career? For starters, Jeffrey is involved with the administration's efforts to manufacture consent for a war with Iran, from the Boston Globe:

The existence of ISOG (Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group) reflects an intensification of the Bush administration's planning on Iran. Syria, which has linked itself to Iran through military pacts, is a lesser focus for the group. Its workings have been so secretive that several officials in the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs bureau said they were unaware it existed.

[ . . . ]

ISOG was modeled after the Iraq Policy and Operations Group, set up in 2004 to shepherd information and coordinate US action in Iraq. ISOG has raised eyebrows within the State Department for hiring BearingPoint -- the same Washington-based private contracting firm used by the Iraq group -- to handle its administrative work, rather than State Department employees.

[ . . . ]

ISOG is led by a steering committee with two leading hawks on Middle East policy as chairmen: James F. Jeffrey, prinicipal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, who once headed Iraq policy, and Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser for "Global Democracy Strategy." Michael Doran, a Middle East specialist at the White House, steps in when Abrams is away. Elizabeth Cheney, the vice president's daughter, who was the former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, served as cochairwoman before she took a maternity leave earlier this year.

Okay, right there we have Jeffrey linked with the Bush administration's efforts for regime change in Iraq, which were based on lies ranging from accusations that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks to the WMD lies and the Niger yellow cake forgeries.

We also have Jeffrey linked to BearingPoint which has some very shady history. From Sourcewatch:

* In July of 2003, BearingPoint was awarded a contract by USAID worth $79.5 million to facilitate Iraq's economic recovery with a two-year option worth a total of $240,162,688.[2][3] Responsibilities in this contract include:

1. Creating Iraq's budget

2. Writing business law

3. Setting up tax collection

4. Laying out trade and customs rules

5. Privatize state-owned enterprises by auctioning them off or issuing Iraqis shares in the enterprises.

6. Reopen banks and jump-start the private sector by making small loans of $100 to $10,000.

7. Wean Iraqis from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program, the main source of food for 60% of the population.

8. Issue a new currency and set exchange rates. [4]

* In January 2003 BearingPoint won a $3.95 million contract financed by the World Bank to aid the Afghanistan government upgrade its accounting system.[5]

* In March of 2003, USAID awarded BearingPoint a $39.9 million contract to help rebuild the economy in Afghanistan.

[6] In November 2005, USAID awarded another contract, this three years and worth $45 million. [7] The overall worth of contracts in Afghanistan could be worth as much as $350 million. [8]

BearingPoint has also been involved in the drafting of the Iraq Oil Law for the benefit of Big Oil:

BearingPoint, a Virginia based contractor is being paid $240m for its work in Iraq, winning an initial contract from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) within weeks of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. A BearingPoint employee, based in the US embassy in Baghdad, was hired to advise the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on drawing up a new hydrocarbon law.

BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor.

The process of drafting the oil law has been particularly troubling. The timeline of which entities have seen the draft when suggests that Iraqi interests are not being considered first and foremost:

* Draft shown to US government and major oil companies – July 06

* Draft shown to the International Monetary Fund September 06

* Draft shown to Iraqi Parliament: February 07

The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all of its as yet undiscovered — reserves open to foreign control.

Not surprisingly, the Iraqi Oil Workers' Union and the Electrical Utility Workers' Union opposed the law and protested BearingPoint's involvement in the drafting of it. Antonia Juhasz also mentioned BearingPoint's role in the drafting of the Iraq oil law at the time of the Baker-Hamilton report:

WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

[ . . . ]

For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country's oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. The constitution is ambiguous as to whether control over future revenues from as-yet-undeveloped oil fields should be shared among its provinces or held and distributed by the central government.

This is a crucial issue, with trillions of dollars at stake, because only 17 of Iraq's 80 known oil fields have been developed. Recommendation No. 26 of the Iraq Study Group calls for a review of the constitution to be "pursued on an urgent basis." Recommendation No. 28 calls for putting control of Iraq's oil revenues in the hands of the central government. Recommendation No. 63 also calls on the U.S. government to "provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law."

This last step is already underway. The Bush administration hired the consultancy firm BearingPoint more than a year ago to advise the Iraqi Oil Ministry on drafting and passing a new national oil law.

Plans for this new law were first made public at a news conference in late 2004 in Washington. Flanked by State Department officials, Iraqi Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (who is now vice president) explained how this law would open Iraq's oil industry to private foreign investment. This, in turn, would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies." The law would implement production-sharing agreements.

As for BearingPoint's Afghanistan contracts:

USAID’s own March 13, 2007 announcement of the five year $218.6 million contract that will run through January 2012 states that it is for the purpose of: strengthening “the performance of ministries, businesses, non-governmental organizations, universities and local governments; establish(ing) permanent, sustainable capacity in the public, private and high education sectors; and build(ing) the skills of key personnel in the Afghan public and private sectors, through scholarship.”

For a company that is still correcting, according to the Washington Business Journal, its financial reports for accounting errors, whose revenues rose by 10 percent to $2.65 billion in 2006 over the previous year, a contract worth even $218.6 million must seem like a drop in the bucket. Still it adds up for a company which reaches out at every opportunity to take advantage of swelling its bottom line from US government outsourcing as a result of the downsizing of the US Foreign and Civil Service after the Cold War. It doesn’t hurt in filling the company’s coffers that BearingPoint,Inc. is close to the current administration and contributes to the Republican Party particularly in election years.

It's quite obvious that BearingPoint has not accomplished anything in Afghanistan for which it was paid. And what about those "accounting errors"? Would that be "accounting errors" like those of Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrel Lynch, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and, perhaps soon to be Washington Mutual and Wachovia? Behold the American way of doing business! Behold the failure of capitalism!

Jeffrey's other interesting link from the Boston Globe article is his close association with Mr. Iran-Contra himself, Elliot Abrams. Abrams' big deal is the promotion of "freedom" and "democracy" abroad, particularly in the Middle East. Of course, "freedom" and "democracy" only apply to American ruling elites. From Sourcewatch:

Hours before Bush's second inauguration in January 2005, the White House announced that Abrams would serve as Bush's deputy assistant and as the deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy under NSC Adviser Stephen Hadley, who had been Condoleezza Rice's deputy at the NSC when she was adviser. In his announcement of Abrams's new position, Hadley called Abrams one of the administration's strongest and most consistent advocates of American strength and the expansion of freedom worldwide.

Abrams is a key proponent of the "freedom and democracy" policy that Bush highlighted during his 2005 State of the Union Address, and has been an important figure in dealings with Israel. Prior to Rice's first trip to Israel as secretary of state, Abrams met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top adviser, Dov Weisglass, to establish the parameters of the Rice-Sharon meetings.

[ . . . ]

While Bush's supporters are generally pleased with the administration's strong backing of Israel, many criticize the State Department and Rice. Leading the attack has been Perle, who along with Feith, a former Pentagon undersecretary for policy, has worked with Abrams since the mid-1970s, when both worked for [Senator Henry "Scoop", D-WA] Jackson. In a Washington Post op-ed that coalesced conservative forces against Rice, Perle wrote that, having moved from the NSC to State, Rice is "now in the midst of—and increasingly represents—a diplomatic establishment that is driven to accommodate its allies even when (or, it seems, especially when) such allies counsel the appeasement of our adversaries" (June 25, 2006).

There we have James F. Jeffrey not far removed at all from the Prince of Darkness and "the stupidest fucking guy on the face of the earth", both of whom are tightly linked to the American Turkish Council (ATC). In turn, the ATC is so tightly linked to AIPAC that it's been referred to as the "mini-AIPAC".

The other person of interest who was involved with Jeffrey's ISOG was Dick Cheney's daughter, Elizabeth. Even now that she's out of public service, she's still doing a lot of footwork for ISOG, from the WaPo:

. . . judging from her remarks at AIPAC, Liz is one Cheney unhappy with key elements of U.S. Mideast policy, from Lebanon and the peace process to how the White House dealt with elections in the Palestinian territories. She was also critical of Israel's performance in the 2006 war in Lebanon, citing "Israel's inability, unwillingness to do what was necessary . . . to fundamentally deal a blow to Hezbollah."

"I think that getting back to a situation where our enemies in the region understand that America will stand up for its friends, that America will stand up for its principles and that we have red lines is critically important," Cheney told the friendly audience at AIPAC. "When those red lines aren't there, when our enemies like Iran and Syria begin to believe that they can act with impunity, you see situations like you have got in Lebanon today -- where Hezbollah now has a veto over that government, where Hezbollah will be able, I fear, to significantly continue its efforts to rearm in southern Lebanon, continue to threaten Israel and allow Iran a real chokehold on the region."

The big problem with Liz Cheney's AIPAC comments is that the US has no friends and fewer principles.

We'll be watching the news for more on Jeffrey and his confirmation hearings, both of which have been flying under the radar of official American state propaganda organs (i.e. the media). That fact alone makes me suspect that Jeffrey's appointment is something the regime doesn't want anyone to pay attention to.

Given the methods of the Washington regime, especially as regards the Middle East, "freedom", and "democracy", we should be prepared to expect the worst out of this appointment.

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