observers of the klepto-plutocracy that has, lazar-like,
long encrusted the American body politic were
not surprised to see the hoary name of the Bechtel
Group bobbing up in the swill of sweetheart deals
now being doled out by the Corrupter-in-Chief
for the "reconstruction" of his new
fiefdom in Iraq. Decades before its comrade in
cronyism, the Carlyle Group, made its meteoric,
Bush-assisted ascent to global prominence, Bechtel
had already perfected the dark art of milking
intimate government connections for fat, risk-free
week, while the notorious coward George W. Bush
--who walked away from his National Guard duty
during the Vietnam War, a criminal act known as
"desertion" when committed by lesser
mortals --was basking in the man-musk of a shipload
of sailors, reciting his usual lies about al Qaeda's
"alliance" with Saddam Hussein, and
weasel-wording his "victory" declaration
to avoid taking full legal responsibility for
the consequences of the war of aggression he had
unleashed, Bechtel was quietly pocketing a secret,
closed-bid, open-ended Iraq contract that could
give them almost $700 million in taxpayer money
before the 2004 election --with the alluring prospect
of untold billions to follow, Mother Jones reports.
more, as the New Yorker reports, this public largess
will also fill the coffers of a key Bechtel partner
in Saudi Arabia --a well-connected global conglomerate
that has also been a long-time financial partner
of both George Bush I and George Bush II: the
Bin Laden Group.
which has served Saudi royalty for more than 60
years, bristles with heavyweight kleptoplute connections.
During the 1980s, current Bush warlord Don Rumsfeld
acted as a paid shill for a Bechtel pipeline project
in the Middle East, operating with the blessing
of the Reagan-Bush administration's secretary
of state, George Schultz --Bechtel's former president
(and now "senior counsel" to the company).
Rummy conducted a passionate two-year courtship
of a certain Saddam Hussein, plying him with trinkets,
blandishments and sweetmeats to win his lordly
favor for a Bechtel-built line from Iraq to Jordan,
according to national security archives obtained
by the Institute for Policy Studies.
strenuous attempt to lay pipe with Saddam happened
to coincide with the latter's most extensive use
of poison gas in the Iran-Iraq war --gassing carried
out with the exemplary assistance of U.S. military
intelligence and technology provided by the Reagan-Bush
administration and its "special envoy"
to Baghdad: Don Rumsfeld. Meanwhile, another Reagan-Bush
crony, Attorney General Ed Meese, tried to bribe
the Israeli government with $700 million in secret
funds to put the kibosh on their opposition to
the Bechtel deal, the San Francisco Chronicle
reports. This skullduggery earned Meese an investigation
by a special prosecutor, but as the case lacked
the key element of any serious government crime
--oral sex with an intern --the probe was soon
the end, Saddam --who first went on the CIA payroll
back in the early 1960s, Reuters reports --balked
at Bechtel's billion-dollar price tag and rejected
the project. Now of course, in a fitting bit of
historical symmetry, the son of the CIA's most
famous director, George Bush, has handed Iraq
to Bechtel on a silver platter.
move will delight --and enrich --the Bush/Bechtel
buddies in the Bin Laden Group. As oft noted in
these pages, in the 1980s George W. Bush received
a helping hand for his floundering oil businesses
from the Saudi group's front man, Khalid bin Mahfouz,
who secretly cast bin Laden bread upon American
waters to win influence with well-connected kleptoplutes
--like, say, the wayward son of the former CIA
director and then-current Vice President.
Mahfouz is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia
for allegedly financing the holy-war hijinks of
the bin Ladens' own wayward son, Osama. Or to
be completely accurate, he's accused of financing
those holy-war hijinks after the Reagan-Bush CIA
finally stopped financing them. But despite his
confinement, Mahfouz (who is also Osama's brother-in-law)
is still a player in the kleptoplute nexus: for
example, he's currently a business partner of
former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean --the very
man whom George W. Bush has appointed to chair
the investigation of the September 11 terrorist
attacks allegedly ordered by, yes, that ex-CIA
employee and former executive of the Bin Laden
Group: Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden Group was also heavily invested in the
Carlyle Group, the "private equity"
firm (and major arms merchant) that, like Bechtel,
specializes in the sell-off of public services
and other government-insider deals. Carlyle's
best-known bagman, George Bush I, used to make
ritual pilgrimages to bin Laden family headquarters
in Saudi Arabia to procure their potent baksheesh.
When Carlyle's post-Sept. 11 orgy of war-profiteering
began drawing unwanted attention, however, the
bin Ladens cashed in their Carlyle chips and,
officially, ended the partnership.
they remain welded to Bechtel and will now reap
the fruits of the latest installment of the War
of the Wayward Sons --a conflict driven on both
sides by ludicrous and primitive religious passions
coupled with a voracious lust for power and loot.
Yet although this war has now engulfed the entire
planet, it is no "clash of civilizations"
or grand agon of world-historical forces. As shown
by the small sampling of connections above, it's
more of a dust-up in the boardroom, a falling-out
at the country club, a bit of bad blood amongst
a tiny clique of vicious predators threaded together
in a Byzantine web of kinship, corporate ties
--and complicity in generations of murderous crime.
Floyd is a columnist for the Moscow Times
and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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