Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spent ye

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Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spent ye

Postby admin » Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:37 pm

Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spent years investigating, and here's what's known.
By David Cay Johnston
May 22, 2016

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Donald Trump, Mayor Ed Koch, and Roy Cohn attend the Trump Tower opening in October 1983. | Getty

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.

But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

Why did Trump get his casino license anyway? Why didn’t investigators look any harder? And how deep did his connections to criminals really go?

These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figures—not only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.

Neither Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks, nor Jason Greenblatt, the executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, responded to several emailed requests for comment on the issues raised in this article.

Here, as close as we can get to the truth, is what really happened.

***

After graduating in 1968 from the University of Pennsylvania, a rich young man from the outer boroughs of New York City sought his fortune on the island of Manhattan. Within a few years Donald J. Trump had made friends with the city’s most notorious fixer, lawyer Roy Cohn, who had become famous as lead counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Among other things Cohn was now a mob consigliere, with clients including “Fat Tony” Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, the most powerful Mafia group in New York, and Paul Castellano, head of what was said to be the second largest family, the Gambinos.

This business connection proved useful when Trump began work on what would become Trump Tower, the 58-story high-rise where he still lives when he’s not at his Florida estate.

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Anthony 'Fat Tony' Salerno, boss of the Genovese Crime Family, is photographed leaving the U.S. federal courthouse in Manhattan, New York, on February 28, 1985 after his arraignment for two counts of racketeering. | Getty

There was something a little peculiar about the construction of Trump Tower, and subsequent Trump projects in New York. Most skyscrapers are steel girder construction, and that was especially true in the 1980s, says John Cross of the American Iron & Steel Institute. Some use pre-cast concrete. Trump chose a costlier and in many ways riskier method: ready-mix concrete. Ready-mix has some advantages: it can speed up construction, and doesn’t require costly fireproofing. But it must be poured quickly or it will harden in the delivery truck drums, ruining them as well as creating costly problems with the building itself. That leaves developers vulnerable to the unions: the worksite gate is union controlled, so even a brief labor slowdown can turn into an expensive disaster.

Salerno, Castellano and other organized crime figures controlled the ready-mix business in New York, and everyone in construction at the time knew it. So did government investigators trying to break up the mob, urged on by major developers such as the LeFrak and Resnick families. Trump ended up not only using ready-mix concrete, but also paying what a federal indictment of Salerno later concluded were inflated prices for it – repeatedly – to S & A Concrete, a firm Salerno and Castellano owned through fronts, and possibly to other mob-controlled firms. As Barrett noted, by choosing to build with ready-mix concrete rather than other materials, Trump put himself “at the mercy of a legion of concrete racketeers.”

Salerno and Castellano and other mob families controlled both the concrete business and the unions involved in delivering and pouring it. The risks this created became clear from testimony later by Irving Fischer, the general contractor who built Trump Tower. Fischer said concrete union “goons” once stormed his offices, holding a knife to throat of his switchboard operator to drive home the seriousness of their demands, which included no-show jobs during construction of Trump Tower.

But with Cohn as his lawyer, Trump apparently had no reason to personally fear Salerno or Castellano—at least, not once he agreed to pay inflated concrete prices. What Trump appeared to receive in return was union peace. That meant the project would never face costly construction or delivery delays.

The indictment on which Salerno was convicted in 1988 and sent to prison, where he died, listed the nearly $8 million contract for concrete at Trump Plaza, an East Side high-rise apartment building, as one of the acts establishing that S &A was part of a racketeering enterprise. (While the concrete business was central to the case, the trial also proved extortion, narcotics, rigged union elections and murders by the Genovese and Gambino crime families in what Michael Chertoff, the chief prosecutor, called “the largest and most vicious criminal business in the history of the United States.'')

FBI agents subpoenaed Trump in 1980 to ask about his dealing with John Cody, a Teamsters official described by law enforcement as a very close associate of the Gambino crime family. The FBI believed that Cody previously had obtained free apartments from other developers. FBI agents suspected that Cody, who controlled the flow of concrete trucks, might get a free Trump Tower apartment. Trump denied it. But a female friend of Cody’s, a woman with no job who attributed her lavish lifestyle to the kindness of friends, bought three Trump Tower apartments right beneath the triplex where Donald lived with his wife Ivana. Cody stayed there on occasion and invested $500,000 in the units. Trump, Barrett reported, helped the woman get a $3 million mortgage without filling out a loan application or showing financials.

In the summer of 1982 Cody, then under indictment, ordered a citywide strike—but the concrete work continued at Trump Tower. After Cody was convicted of racketeering, imprisoned and lost control of the union, Trump sued the woman for $250,000 for alteration work. She countersued for $20 million and in court papers accused Trump of taking kickbacks from contractors, asserting this could “be the basis of a criminal proceeding requiring an attorney general’s investigation” into Trump. Trump then quickly settled, paying the woman a half-million dollars. Trump said at the time and since then that he hardly knew those involved and there was nothing improper his dealings with Cody or the woman.

***

There were other irregularities in Trump’s first big construction project. In 1979, when Trump hired a demolition contractor to take down the Bonwit Teller department store to make way for Trump Tower, he hired as many as 200 non-union men to work alongside about 15 members of the House Wreckers Union Local 95. The non-union workers were mostly illegal Polish immigrants paid $4 to $6 per hour with no benefits, far below the union contract. At least some of them did not use power tools but sledgehammers, working 12 hours a day or more and often seven days a week. Known as the “Polish brigade,” many didn’t wear hard hats. Many slept on the construction site.

Normally the use of nonunion workers at a union job site would have guaranteed a picket line. Not at this site, however. Work proceeded because the Genovese family principally controlled the union; this was demonstrated by extensive testimony, documents and convictions in federal trials, as well as a later report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

When the Polish workers and a union dissident sued for their pay and benefits, Trump denied any knowledge that illegal workers without hard hats were taking down Bonwit with sledgehammers. The trial, however, demonstrated otherwise: Testimony showed that Trump panicked when the nonunion Polish men threatened a work stoppage because they had not been paid. Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a labor fixer and FBI informant, who told him to fire the Polish workers.

Trump knew the Polish brigade was composed of underpaid illegal immigrants and that S&A was a mob-owned firm, according to Sullivan and others. "Donald told me that he was having his difficulties and he admitted to me that — seeking my advice — that he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that 'I think you are nuts,'" Sullivan testified at the time. "I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains." In an interview later, Sullivan told me the same thing.

In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to violate a fiduciary duty, or duty of loyalty, to the workers and their union and that the “breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in his breach.” The judge did not find Trump’s testimony to be sufficiently credible and set damages at $325,000. The case was later settled by negotiation, and the agreement was sealed.

***

While Trump’s buildings were going up in Manhattan, he was entering a highly regulated industry in New Jersey – one that had the responsibility, and the means, to investigate him and bring the facts to light.

From the beginning, Trump tried to have it both ways. While he leveraged Roy Cohn’s mob contacts in New York, he was telling the FBI he wanted nothing to do with organized crime in Atlantic City, and even proposed putting an undercover FBI agent in his casinos. In April of 1981, when he was considering building a New Jersey casino, he expressed concern about his reputation in a meeting with the FBI, according to an FBI document in my possession and which the site Smoking Gun also posted. “Trump advised Agents that he had read in the press media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City,” the FBI recorded. “Trump also expressed at this meeting the reservation that his life and those around him would be subject to microscopic examination. Trump advised that he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City but he did not wish to tarnish his family’s name.”

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Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Crime Family, is photographed arriving for the trial on February 27, 1985 at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Manhattan, New York City. | Getty

Part of the licensing process was supposed to be a deep investigation into his background, taking more than a year for would-be casino owners, but Trump managed to cut that short. As he told the story in The Art of the Deal, in 1981 he threatened to not build in Atlantic City unless New Jersey’s attorney general, John Degnan, limited the investigation to six months. Degnan was worried that Trump might someday get approval for a casino at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, which could have crushed Atlantic City’s lucrative gaming industry, so Degnan agreed to Trump’s terms. Trump seemingly paid Degnan back by becoming an ardent foe of gambling anywhere in the East except Atlantic City—a position that obviously protected his newfound business investment as well, of course.

Trump was required to disclose any investigations in which he might have been involved in the past, even if they never resulted in charges. Trump didn’t disclose a federal grand jury inquiry into how he obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan. The failure to disclose either that inquiry or the Cody inquiry probably should have disqualified Trump from receiving a license under the standards set by the gaming authorities.

Once Trump was licensed in 1982, critical facts that should have resulted in license denial began emerging in Trump’s own books and in reports by Barrett—an embarrassment for the licensing commission and state investigators, who were supposed to have turned these stones over. Forced after the fact to look into Trump’s connections, the two federal investigations he failed to reveal and other matters, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement investigators circled the wagons to defend their work. First they dismissed as unreliable what mobsters, corrupt union bosses and Trump’s biggest customer, among others, had said to Barrett, to me and other journalists and filmmakers about their dealings with Trump. The investigators’ reports showed that they then put Trump under oath. Trump denied any misconduct or testified that he could not remember. They took him at his word. That meant his casino license was secure even though others in the gambling industry, including low-level licensees like card dealers, had been thrown out for far less.

This lapse illustrated a fundamental truth about casino regulation at the time: Once the state licensed an owner, the Division of Gaming Enforcement had a powerful incentive not to overturn its initial judgment. State officials recited like a mantra their promise that New Jersey casinos were the most highly regulated business in American history, more tightly regulated than nuclear power plants. In Temples of Chance I showed that this reputation often owed less to careful enforcement than to their willingness to look the other way when problems arose.

***

In 1986, three years after Trump Tower opened, Roy Cohn was disbarred for attempting to steal from a client, lying and other conduct that an appellate court found “particularly reprehensible.”

Trump testified that Cohn, who was dying from AIDS, was a man of good character who should keep his license to practice law.

This was not the only time Trump went to bat publicly for a criminal. He has also spoken up for Shapiro and Sullivan. And then there was the case of Joseph Weichselbaum, an embezzler who ran Trump’s personal helicopter service and ferried his most valued clientele.

Trump and Weichselbaum were so close, Barrett reported in his book, that Weichselbaum told his parole officer about how he knew Trump was hiding his mistress, Marla Maples, from his first wife, Ivana, and tried to persuade Trump to end their years-long affair.

Trump’s casinos retained Weichselbaum’s firm to fly high rollers to Atlantic City. Weichselbaum was indicted in Ohio on charges of trafficking in marijuana and cocaine. The head of one of Trump’s casinos was notified of the indictment in October 1985, but Trump continued using Weichselbaum—conduct that again could have cost Trump his casino license had state regulators pressed the matter, because casino owners were required to distance themselves from any hint of crime. Just two months later Trump rented an apartment he owned in the Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan to the pilot and his brother for $7,000 a month in cash and flight services. Trump also continued paying Weichselbaum’s firm even after it went bankrupt.

Weichselbaum, who in 1979 had been caught embezzling and had to repay the stolen money, pleaded guilty to two felonies.

Donald Trump vouched for Weichselbaum before his sentencing, writing that the drug trafficker is “a credit to the community” who was “conscientious, forthright, and diligent.” And while Weichselbaum’s confederates got as many as 20 years, Weichselbaum himself got only three, serving 18 months before he was released from the urban prison that the Bureau of Prisons maintains in New York City. In seeking early release, Weichselbaum said Trump had a job waiting for him.

Weichselbaum then moved into Trump Tower, his girlfriend having recently bought two adjoining apartments there for $2.4 million. The cash purchase left no public record of whether any money actually changed hands or, if it did, where it came from. I asked Trump at the time for documents relating to the sale; he did not respond.

As a casino owner, Trump could have lost his license for associating with Weichselbaum. Trump has never been known to use drugs or even drink. What motivated him to risk his valuable license by standing up for a drug trafficker remains unclear to this day.

Trump, in his phone call to me, said he “hardly knew” Weichselbaum.

***

The facts above come from court records, interviews and other documents in my own files and those generously made available by Barrett, who was the first journalist to take a serious investigative look at Trump. Our files show Trump connected in various deals to many other mobsters and wise guys.

There was, for example, Felix Sater, a senior Trump advisor and son of a reputed Russian mobster, whom Trump kept on long after he was convicted in a mob-connected stock swindle. And there was Bob Libutti, a racehorse swindler who was quite possibly Trump’s biggest customer at the casino tables at the time. Libutti told me and others about arrangements that went beyond the “comps”—free hotel rooms and services, for example—that casinos can legally give to high-rollers. Among these was a deal to sell Trump a less-than-fit horse at the inflated price of $500,000, though Trump backed out at the last minute. Libutti accused Trump of making an improper $250,000 payment to him, which would have cost Trump his license. The DGE dismissed Libutti as unreliable and took Trump at his word when he denied the allegations. (Libutti was a major figure in my 1992 book Temples of Chance.)

Some of the dealings came at a remove. In Atlantic City, Trump built on property where mobsters controlled parts of the adjoining land needed for parking. He paid $1.1 million for about a 5,000-square-foot lot that had been bought five years earlier for just $195,000. The sellers were Salvy Testa and Frank Narducci Jr., a pair of hitmen for Atlantic City mob boss Nicky Scarfo who were known as the Young Executioners. For several adjoining acres, Trump ignored the principal owner of record and instead negotiated directly in a deal that also likely ended up benefiting the Scarfo mob. Trump arranged a 98-year lease deal with Sullivan, the FBI informant and labor fixer, and Ken Shapiro, described in government reports as Scarfo’s “investment banker.” Eventually the lease was converted into a sale after the Division of Gaming Enforcement objected to Sullivan and Shapiro being Trump’s landlords.

Trump later boasted in a sworn affidavit in a civil case that he made the deals himself, his “unique contribution” making the land deals possible. In formal hearings Trump later defended Sullivan and Shapiro as “well thought of.” Casino regulators thought otherwise, and banned Sullivan and Shapiro from the casino industry. But the Casino Control Commission was never asked to look into FBI reports that Trump was involved, via Shapiro, in the payoffs at the time of the land deals that resulted in Mayor Michael Mathews going to prison.

Thanks in part to the laxity of New Jersey gaming investigators, Trump has never had to address his dealings with mobsters and swindlers head-on. For instance, Barrett reported in his book that Trump was believed to have met personally with Salerno at Roy Cohn’s townhouse; he found that there were witnesses to the meeting, one of whom kept detailed notes on all of Cohn’s contacts. But instead of looking for the witnesses (one of whom had died) and the office diary one kept, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) took an easier path. They put Trump under oath and asked if he had ever attended such a meeting. Trump denied it. The inquiry ended.

Taking Trump at his word that he never met with the mobsters in Cohn’s townhouse saved the casino investigators from having to acknowledge their earlier failure—that from the start, they had never properly investigated Trump and his connections to criminals. They certainly had the leverage to push harder if they chose. Indeed, two of the five Casino Control commissioners in 1991 declared that the DGE showed official favoritism to Trump. Commissioner David Waters complained that DGE did not go nearly far enough in seeking a $30,000 fine against Trump for taking an illegal loan from his father, which could be grounds to revoke Trump’s casino licenses. Waters called it “an outrage that the Division of Gaming Enforcement would take this position and fail to carry out what I understand to be its responsibility to enforce the provisions of the Casino Control Act.”

***

Even after he got his license, Trump continued to have relationships that should have prompted inquiries. For example, he made a deal to have Cadillacs dolled up with fancy interiors and exteriors beginning in 1988, marketing them as Trump Golden Series and Trump Executive Series limousines. The modifications were made at the Dillinger Coach Works, which was owned by a pair of convicted felons, convicted extortionist Jack Schwartz and convicted thief John Staluppi, who was so close to mobsters that he was invited to the wedding of a mob capo’s daughter. New York liquor regulators proved tougher than those in New Jersey, denying Staluppi, a rich car dealer, a license because of his rap sheet and his extensive dealings with mobsters, as Barrett’s former reporting partner Bill Bastone found in public records. So why did Trump repeatedly do business with mob owned businesses and mob-controlled unions? Why go down the aisle with an expensive mobbed-up concrete firm when other options were available?

“Why’d Donald do it?” Barrett said when I put the question to him. “Because he saw these mob guys as pathways to money, and Donald is all about money.”

From a $400 million tax giveaway on his first big project, to getting a casino license, to collecting fees for putting his name on everything from bottled water and buildings to neckties and steaks, Trump’s life has been dedicated to the next big score. Through Cohn, Trump made choices that—gratuitously, it appears—resulted in his first known business dealings with mob-controlled companies and unions, a pattern that continued long after Cohn died.

What Trump has to say about the reasons for his long, close and wide-ranging dealings with organized crime figures, with the role of mobsters in cheating Trump Tower workers, his dealings with Felix Sater and Trump’s seeming leniency for Weichselbaum, are questions that voters deserve full answers about before casting their ballots.

David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times reporting on the American tax system. Since 2009 he has taught the business, property and tax law of the ancient world at Syracuse University’s law and graduate business schools.
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:32 pm

Partners in POWER: The Clintons and Their America (EXCERPT)
by Roger Morris

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Roger Clinton's locally famous name began to appear in the narcotics files of local and federal law enforcement agencies in the first weeks of 1984, and some officers believed there had been even earlier reports that were subsequently purged. It was in the late spring of that year, as Virginia remembered, that she first learned that twenty-seven-year-old Roger was in trouble for drug dealing, though "Bill had known for weeks that this moment was coming." What her sons had actually known and done, however, and for how long, not even Virginia was prepared to face.

Roger's dissolution had posed a potential embarrassment since Clinton's first term in the mansion, though each time the episode was fixed or covered up. After Roger was arrested in 1981 for ignoring repeated speeding tickets, the governor quietly arranged for his release to the custody of a relative who chaired the state's Crime Commission. Clinton had already appointed his half brother to, of all things, the Crime Commission's Juvenile Advisory Board, though Roger would soon be removed for nonattendance. There was another troublesome arrest, this time for drunk driving and possession of narcotics, in March 1982, on the eve of Bill's carefully orchestrated announcement for reelection. Containment required intense intervention behind the scenes, and after a year of maneuvered postponements the charges were discreetly dropped. "The sheriff’s office and the prosecutor succumbed to political pressure," one journalist wrote after the fact. "They leaned till they cracked," said a lawyer who knew the case. Knowing what lay in store for them if they brought charges, local authorities generally continued to look the other way through 1983 as Roger repeated his father's pattern of public drunkenness and brawls.

According to later testimony, including police stakeout video film, informers' hidden tape recordings, and his own statements to investigators, Roger Clinton had begun using cocaine in the late 1970s and was soon addicted. Eventually he was slave to a four-gram-a-day habit, snorting the drug some sixteen times during his waking hours and "getting close to a lethal dose," as a therapist told the court. He supported the addiction and a rakish lifestyle by dealing drugs himself, with contacts in New York winding all the way to the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia; he had, on occasion, walked smugly through Little Rock's small airport with what he described as "thousands of dollars" in cocaine hidden on his person. "I can get you a quarter pound," the half brother of the governor would be heard saying to a wired police informer in negotiations for $10,000 in cocaine during the early 1980s. "I can get you what you want if you come up with the cash." Yet it was clear from the evidence, too, that Roger Clinton was hardly one more petty drug dealer and addict. As his own trial and related ones revealed, the drug trade flourishing around him involved some of the most noted figures in Little Rock and around the state.


Arkansas's role in the contra war and in an arms-for-drugs supply network goes back to the early 1980s and the airport at Mena, Arkansas, discussed in this column two weeks ago. A federal investigation aided by the Arkansas State Police established that Barry Seal, a drug dealer working for the Medellin cartel as well as with the C.I.A. and the D.E.A., had his planes retrofitted at Mena for drug drops, trained pilots there and laundered his profits partly through financial institutions in Arkansas. Seal, at this time was in close contact with North, who acknowledged the relationship in his memoir. These were the years in which North was constructing his covert supply lines for the contras.

-- Chapters in the Recent History of Arkansas, by Alexander Cockburn


"I don't wannna tell ya too much, 'cause truthfully ya don't have a need to know. But Terry I been workin' with several federal agencies for the past couple of years as ya probably suspicioned. In the course of that business, a person can't help but run across some real sensitive information. It seems some major players in the Medellin Cartel, whom I personally know, ran across some knowledge that's very valuable to both the Republicans and the Democratic Party. Real national security stuff. It seems some of George Bush's kids just can't say no ta drugs, ha ha ha ha ...Well, ya can imagine how valuable information like that would be, can't ya? That could get ya out of almost any kind of jam." Seal paused for a moment then asked, "Ya ever play Monopoly? The information I got is so good it's just like a get-out-of-jail-free card ... ha, ha, ha, ha YEEHAWWWWW..."

-- Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA: How the Presidency was Co-opted by the CIA, by Terry Reed & John Cummings


"Seal was smuggling drugs and kept his planes at Mena," The Wall Street Journal reported in 1994. "He also acted as an agent for the D.E.A. In one of these missions, he flew the plane that produced photographs of Sandinistas loading drugs in Nicaragua. He was killed by a drug gang [Medellin cartel hit men] in Baton Rouge. The cargo plane he flew was the same one later flown by Eugene Hasenfus when he was shot down over Nicaragua with a load of contra supplies.

-- The Crimes of Mena, by Sally Denton and Roger Morris


"The Contras needed weapons for their rebellion against the Sandinistas. When the CIA approached the Contras in the early 80's they promised total support in weapons, training, and money required to sustain the operations. This is what prompted the Nicaraguans to begin open recruiting against the Ortega-led Sandinista government. But, as time went on, the U.S. renigged on their promise to the rebels. Not only did the U.S. cut money needed for medical and food supplies for the Contra camps, but they also refused to provide the weaponry needed to stay alive. This left the Contras in a hell of a spot. William Casey met with Adolfo Colero and it was decided that the Contras would get the much needed money and weapons in exchange for cocaine. Casey put Ollie North over the project. North, at the CIAs promptings, recruited Seal to oversee delivery of the products, and a man named Ramon Navarro (Medellin Cartel) to train the Contras in the manufacturing process. Colero was the "point man" for the Contras. He dealt with Washington and others as needed. Contra leader Enrique Bermudez was tasked with getting the cocaine kitchens built and protected. Bermudez had solicited three other Contra commanders to assist in this project. Their names are Commander Fernando, Commander Franklin, and Commander Marlan. Ramon Navarro supplied the cocaine paste and raw coca leaves to the Contras. The U.S. provided the equipment. It was delivered to the camps by Chinook helicopters (CH-47) out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky (159th Aviation Battalion). It was Barry's job to deliver the finished product and monies to destinations as dictated by Mr. North.

-- The Chip Tatum Chronicles: Testimony of Government Drug Running, by Chip Tatum


Only occasionally did a major news outlet seek to square this circle, such as during Noriega’s drug-trafficking trial in 1991 when U.S. prosecutors called as a witness Colombian Medellin-cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder, who, along with implicating Noriega, testified that the cartel had given $10 million to the Contras, an allegation first unearthed by Sen. Kerry.

-- The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death, by Robert Parry


Ledher Rivas was a member of MAS -- The "Death to Kidnappers" group (Spanish: Muerte a Secuestradores, MAS) is a non-state death squad run by Colombian drug traffickers for the limited purpose of countering and containing their main enemies, namely Colombian leftist revolutionaries, politicians, and the Colombian state. The group formed after the kidnapping of Jorge Luis Ochoa’s daughter….

MAS was founded in December 1981 by drug traffickers Carlos Ledher Rivas and Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez. The leader of the Medellín drug cartel, Pablo Escobar Gaviria (d. 1993), was also believed to be among the patrons of MAS. This group was originally directed particularly against guerrilla groups, such as M-19, that had been kidnapping drug kingpins for ransom. Eventually it became a right-wing death squad that targeted leftist politicians, students, and other activists. MAS is believed to function as an umbrella organization for a number of right-wing paramilitary groups of which 128 could be identified by 1988.

-- Inside the Dixie Mafia: Politics of Death, by John Caylor


Nazis and their sympathizers are rarely boring. At the very least, they are revolting and perhaps even ridiculous. At best, they are surreal. One such case is that of Carlos Lehder Rivas, [27] a former kingpin of the Medellin drug cartel of Colombia: neo-Nazi, multimillionaire drug lord, convicted felon, prosecution witness against former Panamanian President and Santeria practitioner Manuel Noriega, and huge John Lennon fan.

Lehder's father was a German engineer who managed to emigrate to Colombia before the end of the war. Carlos Lehder himself was born in 1947, the product of a union between his German-born father and Colombian mother. His parents divorced shortly after Carlos was born, and his mother took him to New York City, where he eventually wound up selling pot in the Bronx as a teenager before getting arrested for grand-theft auto at the age of twenty-six. He had been stealing cars since he was eighteen.

By 1975, he was out of jail and back in Bogota. Three years later, and Carlos Lehder was one of the richest men in the world. He had understood that the key element in any narcotics operation was transportation, and -- with his newly acquired pilot's license -- he set up a marijuana transport system that was the marvel of South American criminal enterprises.

Not content with being a mere drug trafficker, however, Carlos Lehder decided he wanted to run the country. By 1983 he had formed a political party -- the Movimiento Civico Latino Nacional (MCLN) -- a rabidly nationalist, anti-American, anti-Communist, and neo-Nazi party in which Hitler was extolled as "the greatest warrior in history," [28] and Lehder's own open involvement in the drug trade was nothing less than a means of toppling the imperialist forces (the United States) and destroying their influence in Latin America. He opened a resort hotel, the Posada Alemana (German Inn), a pastiche of Bavarian-style architecture, with a statue of Lehder's idol, John Lennon, as centerpiece of the hotel's disco: a club which blared a constant stream of Beatles music at all hours of the day and night. The statue itself is worthy of attention for here Lennon is depicted in the nude, wearing only a Nazi helmet, holding a guitar, and with a bullet hole in his heart! How the peaceful, antiestablishment and pro-love pop singer and composer was linked with Nazism in Lehder's mind is anyone's guess; perhaps Mr. Lennon's marriage to a Japanese woman was enough to convince the drug dealer that Lennon's sympathies were with the Axis powers?

In any event, Lehder's many speeches to the press and to crowds of curiosity-seekers in his hometown of Armenia consistently invoke this theme of Nazism and the drug trade, equating cocaine with the atomic bomb: the secret weapon of the Nazis in their ongoing struggle against capitalism and American imperialism. Most DEA agents regarded these speeches as the ravings of a coked-up narcotraficante ... but then there was that little matter of a military coup in Bolivia, a coup masterminded by drug-runner and former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie with the assistance of a secret Masonic organization based in Italy.

***

At the end of the war, and with a price on his head and a warrant for his arrest, Barbie managed to find employment with American intelligence in Germany, specifically for the US Counter Intelligence Corps, or CIC. [32] As a Nazi turned informer and spy, Barbie entered into such illustrious company as Reinhard Gehlen, Otto Skorzeny, and SS Colonel Freddy Schwend. Barbie soon proved very useful to his American handlers, developing an intelligence network that extended from penetrations within French intelligence all the way to Eastern European emigre groups and intelligence services there.

But Europe got too hot for Barbie. Wanted by the French for war crimes committed in Lyon, Barbie knew his days of enjoying the patronage of his American superiors were drawing to a close. The Americans could not afford to let Barbie fall into French hands, for fear that he would reveal American intelligence operations against them. (To the Americans, the French intelligence service was riddled through with Communists and could not be trusted. They spent almost as much time spying on their Allies as they did keeping tabs on the Soviet Union.) So, they arranged his escape along the ratline to South America; and for this purpose they used the offices of a Croatian priest, Dr. Krunoslav Draganovic, himself a war criminal and Fascist (a member of the dread pro-Nazi Ustase) wanted by the Yugoslav authorities but who enjoyed the protection of the Vatican nonetheless. [33] …

After a series of adventures, Barbie found himself (and his entire family) a new home in Bolivia in 1951 with a visa made out in the name of Father Roque Romac (the pseudonym of yet another Croat war-criminal priest, a Franciscan who ministered to his newfound flock in the area of Cochabamba) and for a while Barbie was the perfect bourgeois businessman. Then, forming and cementing relationships with the underground Nazi cult in South America -- and among men such as Skorzeny, Freddy Schwend, Eichmann, and many others -- Barbie, as "Klaus Altmann," began to carve out a position of influence in the various shifting military regimes in La Paz. It will be remembered that Bolivia had been host to German immigrants for years before the war began, and was a target of US intelligence efforts (notably under Dulles) to neutralize their influence on Bolivia's political life. [35] Barbie fell in with the German emigre community, and -- linking up with wheeler-dealer Freddy Schwend and, eventually, Italian pro-Fascist terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie -- found himself a lucrative position as a lieutenant colonel in Bolivian Intelligence! [36]

Schwend and Barbie began running guns between Bolivia, Peru, and Chile using their contacts in the Kamaradenwerk (the informal association of ex-SS officers organized by Luftwaffe ace and Hitler pet Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel) and among the more fascist of the various Latin American governments who became their clients and, occasionally, their suppliers as well. The gun trade eventually led them into the drug trade, where the abilities of Barbie as a military organizer were enhanced by the arrival of Stefano delle Chiaie. Delle Chiaie enjoyed a serious reputation abroad as a master terrorist who had been responsible for a series of lethal bombings throughout Italy in the late sixties. He had also been involved in an aborted military takeover of the country in 1970, and had to flee Italy for the relative safety of Franco's Spain. It was in Spain that he met -- and cultivated -- "El Brujo," Argentina's own version of Rudolf Hess: Jose Lopez Rega, self-professed Rosicrucian, Peronista, mystical advisor to Isabel Peron, founder of the notorious AAA death squads ... and member of Propaganda Due, P-2, the supersecret Masonic society dedicated to the overthrow of the Italian government and its replacement by a Fascist regime. [37] Lopez Rega was an intimate of such men as P-2 founder Licio Gelli who spent many of the postwar years in exile in Argentina, plotting to restore pro-Fascist, anti-communist governments in South America as well as in Europe and using his own version of Hitler's "dangerous element," the initiatory secret society P-2, as his vehicle for bank manipulations and the subversion of governments.

As we shall see in the next chapter, delle Chiaie would also become involved with Michael Vernon Townley, the American terrorist and spy who planned and organized the assassination of former Allende minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Chile's secret police, DINA. Townley, of course, was a frequent visitor (and adviser) to Colonia Dignidad.

With all this talent cropping up in Bolivia, it was inevitable that the phenomenon known as "narco-terrorism" would be born. Elements of Italian, Argentine, and Bolivian mercenaries -- trained and led by former SS officers -- formed the security detail (known as the melodramatically nomenclatured Fiances of Death) for Bolivia's drug smugglers and even warded off violent attacks from Colombia's rival Medellin cartel. For some time it seemed that Barbie and his friends could not reach any higher and then came July 1980 and the Garcia Meza military coup, masterminded in part by Klaus Barbie and Stefano delle Chiaie and funded by Argentine intelligence and the shadowy P-2.

The coup ushered in a new period of severe and brutal military repression in the country, as perhaps could be expected of a government created and managed by drug smugglers, terrorists, Fascist cultists, and Nazi war criminals. Carlos Lehder's inspiration had obviously been the Meza/Barbie coup, and Nazi gatherings took place rather openly in La Paz complete with swastika banners and raucous singing of the "Horst Wessel Song" in Bolivian clubs and bars. Barbie continued as chief of "internal intelligence" and delle Chiaie went abroad to forge links between the government of Bolivia and such legendary homicidal madmen as Major Roberto D'Aubuisson of El Salvador, the man who ordered the assassination of Bishop Romero. At home, Barbie concentrated on removing all opposition to his growing narcotics trade ... with the approval and assistance of the government.

Eventually, though, the sadistic dream had to end. Delle Chiaie was fingered in the bombing, in August 1980, of the railway station in Bologna, Italy, in which eighty-four passengers died. He dropped from view, narrowly escaping capture. The foreign press had already identified Barbie as the "Butcher of Lyon" wanted by the French government. And, slowly, Barbie's spiderweb world began to unravel. A civilian government was elected in Bolivia by a population finally driven to outrage by the excesses of the Cocaine Army and in February 1983, Barbie was extradited to France to stand trial almost forty years after the end of World War II.

Barbie's story is instructive for two reasons. In the first place, it demonstrates the danger and continuing threat of the Nazi underground against political regimes all over the world. In the second place, Barbie remained a committed Nazi: a man who bought into the cult of Nazism with his whole heart and soul and who never, ever, lost faith with the religion of Hitler, Himmler, Hess, and Rosenberg. The racial conceits; the anti-Christian, pro-pagan ideology; the anti-Communist crusade ... it was all present in Barbie's reign of terror in Bolivia and included the other organizers of neo-Nazi intrigue, Skorzeny and Rudel.

Drugs, guns, murder-for-hire, military coups, instruction in Nazi torture and interrogation techniques, Nazi nightclubs and the "Horst Wessel Song" ... these are all the hallmarks of what is often mistakenly referred to as "neo-Nazism." There was nothing "neo-" about Klaus Barbie. He was the genuine article. And there was nothing "neo-" about Colonia Dignidad, the latest in a long line of concentration camps and cult centers courtesy of the Third Reich.

-- Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement With the Occult, by Peter Levenda


There was also more to know about Gomez. In November 1985, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned from an informant that Gomez’s two brothers had been large-scale cocaine importers, with one brother arranging shipments from Bolivia’s infamous drug kingpin Roberto Suarez.

Suarez already was known as a financier of right-wing causes. In 1980, with the support of Argentina’s hard-line anticommunist military regime, Suarez bankrolled a coup in Bolivia that ousted the elected left-of-center government. The violent putsch became known as the Cocaine Coup because it made Bolivia the region’s first narco-state.

By protecting cocaine shipments headed north, Bolivia’s government helped transform Colombia’s Medellin cartel from a struggling local operation into a giant corporate-style business for delivering cocaine to the U.S. market.

Flush with cash in the early 1980s, Suarez invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.

In 1987, Sanchez-Reisse said the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, other Argentine intelligence officers, veterans of the Bolivian coup, trained the Contras in the early 1980s, even before the CIA arrived to first assist with the training and later take over the Contra operation from the Argentines.

Inspector General Hitz added another piece to the mystery of the Bolivian-Contra connection. One Contra fund-raiser, Jose Orlando Bolanos, boasted that the Argentine government was supporting his Contra activities, according to a May 1982 cable to CIA headquarters. Bolanos made the statement during a meeting with undercover DEA agents in Florida. He even offered to introduce them to his Bolivian cocaine supplier.

Despite all this suspicious drug activity centered around Ivan Gomez and the Contras, the CIA insisted that it did not unmask Gomez until 1987, when he failed a security check and confessed his role in his family’s drug business. The CIA official who interviewed Gomez concluded that “Gomez directly participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement in illegal drug activity,” Hitz wrote.

-- The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death, by Robert Parry


New York and Medellin suppliers began extending credit to Roger Clinton on learning "who his brother was," Maurice Rodriguez, one of the middlemen, testified. Roger's frequent drug-buying trips to Manhattan reached a peak in the fall and winter of 1983 after Bill's reelection and as his popularity and power in Arkansas soared. On trial, the younger Clinton would deny or evade any implications that he was blackmailed or otherwise exploited by his drug connections to exert influence on the governor. "Both sides were 'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick' about that subject," said a government attorney who monitored the case. "They were all Arkansas lawyers and it was enough they had Roger. They didn't want the other cans opened." The potential for corruption was obvious. One state police tape recorded Roger being propositioned to persuade Bill Clinton to help remove a ban on new buildings in Hot Springs in return for a kickback from the profits on the sanctioned construction, but Roger denied ever having done anything improper.

Yet according to the local narcotics officers who made the tapes, video surveillance footage showed Roger discussing various payoffs of $30,000 to arrange government approval of sewer lines for a large development that was an interest of a close Clinton friend and major contributor, multimillionaire bond broker and later convicted drug dealer Dan Lasater. "I need $10,000 for my brother to take care of EPA regs and other environmental oversight problems," the officer quoted Roger as saying on the tapes, which were turned over to the state police, never to be presented at trial. City police officers who shot the tapes were told the portions dealing with imputed involvement of the governor had been forwarded to the Public Integrity office of the Justice Department in Washington early in 1984, but then they heard no more. "I guess they just got lost," one officer said bitterly a decade later.

At the least, Roger Clinton put on an impressive show of his intimacy with the state's chief executive. Had he ever taken women for sex "over to your brother's place," a wired informer once asked him. "Yeah. There was the mansion and the guest house," Roger answered. "Oh, they love it." Even sketchy state trooper entry and exit logs at the governor's mansion would bear him out, showing him coming and going at the family quarters or the guest house, often accompanied by "females," "girl," or "a friend," at least thirty-six times after February 7, 1983, the height of his drug trafficking. The guards recorded visits within days of his July 1984 indictment and as late as January 13, 1985, only two weeks before his sentencing, when the registry showed "Roger in with two females to change for party." Commonly the logs might note "Roger and girl" going to the mansion for two hours or more during the night, then Roger moving to the guest house alone and leaving from there late the next morning, though with no further record of the whereabouts or eventual departure of "girl." ''They used the home of the governor as a whore hotel," said one narcotics investigator.

On one of the 1983-84 videotapes filmed by local narcotics officers, Roger Clinton was said to tell a supplier jauntily, "Got to get some for my brother. He's got a nose like a vacuum cleaner." Years later, after the suspicious murder of her husband, Jane Parks, the resident manager of an expensive Little Rock apartment complex, would tell Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Sunday Telegraph that during the summer of 1984 Roger Clinton had been a nonpaying guest there for two months. The governor was "a frequent visitor," the Telegraph reported. "There was drug use at these gatherings ... and she [Parks] could clearly distinguish Bill's voice as he chatted with his brother about the quality of the marijuana they were smoking. She said she could also hear them talking about the cocaine as they passed it back and forth." As at the mansion, there were said to be numerous women, often strikingly young. Tenants complained of the noise made by the partying Clinton brothers in B107.

There would be still others to substantiate similar accounts. A teacher and social worker named Sally Perdue would describe similar occasions in her late-1983 affair with Bill Clinton when he would smoke marijuana and use cocaine regularly, pulling joints out of a cigarette case and shaking cocaine out from a small bag onto a table in her living room. "He had all the equipment laid out, like a real pro," Perdue told a reporter. Still another witness, a convicted drug dealer and informant named Sharlene Wilson, who was a bartender at Le Bistro nightclub in Little Rock, testified to a 1990 federal grand jury in Arkansas that she had sold cocaine to Roger Clinton as early as 1979 and had watched, at both Le Bistro and at the infamous toga parties at the Coachman's Inn on the outskirts of the state capital, as Roger passed the drug to Bill, who "would often snort cocaine."

Roger Clinton's world had begun to unravel in the winter of 1983- 84. Beyond the savage addiction that left him so dissipated physically -- he had "eyes and nose like an announcement," a friend said later -- someone had stolen $8,000 of cocaine from his car, slashing the top of a new convertible Virginia had given him. Aghast at the vandalism, Virginia had started to call the police. But when Roger nervously insisted they could not report the incident, as she told the story later, she suspected and did nothing. Her other son apparently had no illusions. Roger Clinton would later admit that his drug creditors had threatened his mother and even Bill, though there is no record that the two half brothers ever discussed the problem. Instead of advising Roger to go to the proper authorities with his predicament or reporting the convertible slashing himself, the governor of Arkansas simply moved to get his drug-dealing relative out of town. According to an FBI report, Bill Clinton had swiftly gone to his friend and backer Dan Lasater, imploring him to find a place for Roger at his thousand-acre thoroughbred farm outside Ocala, Florida. "Clinton asked him [Lasater] to give his ne'er-do-well half brother Roger a job," said one summary of the FBI document. Lasater did just that. "Mr. Lasater remarked at that point that he owed the governor a lot of favors," John Fernung, the farm's manager, said afterward.

Roger not only took the job but asked Lasater to loan him the $8,000 he owed his drug connections, money the millionaire handed over as quickly as he had the job Bill Clinton requested. Cocaine dealers were "putting the heat on him and something might happen to his brother and mother," Lasater told the FBI Roger had said. If Ocala was intended to be more than a hideout, however, it was hardly the place for an addict's recovery. Those who worked there described the same sorts of wild drug parties for which Lasater was known in Little Rock. It was suspected that the racehorse trading business was being used as a mechanism for the laundering of drug money. On one holiday, according to a trainer and veterinarian, small pouches of cocaine were hung as favors on a huge Christmas tree, and an eager guest nearly set the house ablaze when he lunged for a packet and toppled the densely lit tree. "You could tell Roger Clinton was really strung out the whole while he was at the farm. I just remember he was always using, always saying he had been on the phone talking to his brother the governor, not worth a damn as hired help," recalled a senior employee. "I was told we were stashing him for some politician Mr. Lasater was working." At that, the favors from the contributor may also have gone beyond refuge and the $8,000. When Roger returned to Arkansas, eventually to face narcotics charges in Hot Springs, his team of defense lawyers would feature the same prominent attorney, William R. Wilson, Jr., who then represented Lasater and Company in Little Rock and who in 1993 would be appointed a federal judge by President Clinton. Assisting Wilson would be his partner, Stephen Engstrom, who would be called to aid Betsey Wright in countering state troopers' testimony about the president's alleged cover-up of his personal excesses in Arkansas.

The videotape and wire recording case developed against Roger Clinton by both local police and state investigators might well have been quietly quashed if not for dissident state police who schemed to get at least some of the evidence out. "Some troopers put it out on the street where it couldn't be ignored," said an investigator. "They took a real risk." One former federal prosecutor remembered clearly, "Roger Clinton was about to be swept under the rug by both the US attorney and the local boys, no question about it." In any case, in the spring of 1984 the younger Clinton was back from Lasater's Florida haven and was now the target of a federal grand jury investigation. By the time state police commandant Tommy Goodwin formally told the governor in June of the imminent indictment of his half brother -- "Goodwin knew of that investigation real early and had alerted Bill Clinton directly," said one officer -- the case was "already handled" by federal prosecutors, as Goodwin told a reporter later, insisting that the governor could not have interfered. "Just go ahead and handle it like you would any other case," Goodwin recalled the politician's stoic response.

But dissidents in Goodwin's own ranks were convinced that Clinton would intervene and they managed to get details of the case to Hillary Rodham Clinton as well, counting on her to force the governor to keep his hands off as a political precaution. By the dissidents' account, the First Lady reacted exactly as they hoped, rushing to Clinton with her own report on Roger and ordering that he do nothing to warn his half brother or stave off the arrest, actions that might be exposed and used against them in the 1984 reelection campaign or later. "I don't think she ever knew how much coke Bill had snorted with Roger or how many girls they'd done together," said one state policeman, "but we knew she'd tell him to feed ole Roger to the feds for the sake of his career, and that's what he ended up doing." On August 2, 1984, as he later recounted to the press, Goodwin came to the capital to tell the governor that the indictment of Roger Cassidy Clinton on six counts of drug dealing and conspiracy was about to be announced. Clinton called a press conference for a brief statement with no questions, reading his remarks red-faced and "visibly shaken," as a reporter noted. "My brother has apparently become involved with drugs," he said with irony and hypocrisy only a few insiders could appreciate, "a curse which has reached epidemic proportions and has plagued the lives of millions of families in our nation, including many in our state."


The five waiting men were clearly taken aback when Governor Bill Clinton stepped from the vehicle with his aide, Bob Nash, and led the entourage into the World War II ammunition storage bunker that would serve as the meeting place.

In a low tone, Cathey turned to Terry and said: "Shit! I was afraid he'd show up. That'll certainly upset our agenda. I'm glad Johnson is here. He'll be able to handle him."

The waiting group of five had expected Nash, but not his boss, Arkansas' Commander-in-Chief, Bill Clinton. By his mere appearance, Clinton was risking exposure of his involvement in unauthorized covert operations. But he seemed desperate.

The meeting had been called at Camp Robinson, an Army facility outside Little Rock, to get some problems ironed out. In addition to the governor and his aide, the "guest list" included Max Gomez (Felix Rodriguez), John Cathey (Oliver North), resident CIA agent Akihide Sawahata, Agency subcontractor Terry Reed -- and the man in charge, the one who would call the shots. He called himself Robert Johnson.

Johnson had been sent from Washington to chair this very delicate operational briefing that would hopefully extricate the Agency from its entanglement in what was becoming a messy situation in Arkansas....

Cathey began the briefing.

"Governor Clinton," he said switching to his toastmaster tone, "I'm glad you could attend tonight's meeting with us. We're both surprised and honored. Bobby (Nash) didn't inform us you would be attending ... However, let's get down to it....

Terry viewed this meeting as his initiation into the inner circle. But this impromptu appearance by Governor Clinton, however, would expose Terry to yet more things that he had no "need to know." It would also confirm his suspicions that operations in Arkansas were being run with Clinton's full knowledge....

"Gentlemen," Cathey said, "this meeting is classified Top-Secret. The items discussed here should be relayed to no one who does not have an operational need to know. I repeat Top-Secret. There are to be no notes taken."...

Johnson, Cathey said, was the personal representative of CIA Director William Casey and had been sent to chair the meeting. Casey was too important to show his face, Terry assumed. But he felt honored, and yet surprised, to find he'd been dealing with someone so closely connected to the Director of Central Intelligence, the top of the intelligence pyramid.

"Thank you," Johnson said. "As Mr. Cathey mentioned, I am the emissary of Mr. Casey, who for obvious security reasons could not attend. We are at a major junction of our Central American support program. And I am here to tie up a few loose ends. As you are all aware, the severity of the charges that could be brought against us if this operation becomes public ... well, I don't need to remind you of what Benjamin Franklin said as he and our founding fathers framed the Declaration of Independence ..."

Cathey interrupted. "Yeah, but hanging is a much more humane way of doing things than what Congress will put us through if any of this leaks out." This marked the only time during the briefing that laughter was heard.

"This is true," Johnson replied. "And therefore, Governor Clinton, I'm going to find it necessary to divide this meeting into groups so that we don't unnecessarily expose classified data to those who don't have an absolute need to know. We can first discuss any old business that concerns either "Centaur Rose" or "Jade Bridge", and I think that you will agree that afterwards you and Mr. Nash will have to excuse yourselves ..."

Clinton was visibly indignant, giving the angry appearance of someone not accustomed to being treated in such a condescending manner.

"It seems someone in Washington has made decisions without much consulting with either myself or my aide here, Mr. Nash. And I'd like to express my concern about the possible exposure my state has as you guys skedaddle out of here to Mexico. I feel somewhat naked and compromised. You're right, there are definitely some loose ends!"...

Nash interjected: "Sir, Governor Clinton's concerns are that there may be some loose ends cropping up from the Mena operation in general. As you know, we have had our Arkansas State Police intelligence division riding herd on the project. And that has been no simple task. Even with some of our ASP officers undercover over there, we couldn't have gained any real inside knowledge had it not been for Mr. Reed's ability to report it directly to me. This thing about Barry Seal getting Governor Clinton's brother involved is what's got us all upset. I mean, as we speak, there's an investigation going on that could spill over onto some very influential people here in Arkansas, and people very close to the governor personally ..."

Johnson looked like he was getting irritated. Clinton had not been scheduled to be there and his original agenda now was being discarded.

"Hold on!" Johnson shot back. "Calm down! Mr. Casey is fully in charge here. Don't you old boys get it. Just tell me what has to be taken care of, or who needs to be taken care of, and I'll fix it for you!"

Johnson boasted to the group that Attorney General Edwin Meese, by arranging the appointment of J. Michael Fitzhugh as U.S. Attorney in Western Arkansas, had effectively stonewalled the ongoing money laundering investigations in Mena where the Contra training operations had been centered. It was his impression, Johnson said, that everything was now "kosher" and the "containment" was still in place. Operations "Rose" and "Bridge" had not been exposed because federal law-enforcement agencies had been effectively neutralized. But Johnson said he was now concerned that the "drug" investigation there might expand beyond his control and unmask the residue of black operations.

Now the meeting was starting to turn into a shouting match, Terry quietly observed that Clinton appeared on the verge of losing his well-rehearsed, statesman-like demeanor. Stopping investigations around Mena had helped the CIA and its bosses in Washington, but it had not solved any of the governor's local political problems. And these same problems were threatening to unveil the Mena operations.

It was the spring of 1986, just over a month after Barry Seal's assassination in Louisiana. Clinton was facing a very tough and dirty reelection campaign. His Republican opponent was certain to be ex-Governor Frank White, the only man who had ever defeated Clinton. The newspapers were filled with stories about Clinton's brother, who had been convicted and served time from federal drug trafficking charges, giving White the dirt he needed to launch a serious and damaging political attack.

Roger Clinton had "rolled over" and turned informant, enabling the Feds to begin an investigation of investment banker Dan Lasater, a close personal friend and campaign contributor of Clinton's. This investigation, it was clear, could spill over into Lasater's firm, possibly exposing CIA money-laundering and other possible illegal activities. [1]

The investigation of Clinton's brother had been carried out largely by disloyal state police officials who were backing White, and without Clinton's knowledge, when the inquiry was first initiated. Terry wondered whether a "coup" was building? Clinton was clearly in big political trouble, and his demeanor now was not the cool and composed man people saw on television. Perhaps the CIA and the Reagan administration wanted another "presidente," a Republican one, in its banana republic?

Rumors were also running wild that the bond underwriting business, in which Lasater was a major figure, had been used to launder drug money. In addition, candidate White had another big issue to run with. He would charge later that Clinton was directing choice state legal work as bond counsel to the prestigious Rose Law firm, where his wife, Hillary, was a senior partner. And Clinton had to be fearful that exposure of the Mena operations would be the death blow to his reelection hopes. And, if that weren't enough ammunition, the governor was also facing a possible state budgetary shortfall of more than $200 million.

By his comments, the governor's political problems and his potential exposure were clearly on his mind. Clinton showed his contempt for the young man from Washington as he lost his composure, jumped to his feet and shouted: "Getting my brother arrested and bringing down the Arkansas bond business in the process isn't my idea of kosher! You gents live a long way from here. Your meddling in our affairs here is gonna carry long-term exposure for me! I mean us. And what are we supposed to do, just pretend nothing happened?" He was angry.

"Exactly, pretend nothing's happened," Johnson snapped back. "It's just like the commercial, you're in good hands with Allstate. Only in this case, it's the CIA." Johnson paused, took a deep breath, and continued. "Mr. Clinton, Bill, if you will, some of those loose ends you refer to here were definitely brought on by your own people, don't you agree? I mean your brother didn't have to start shoving Mr. Seal's drugs up his nose and your friend, Lasater, has been flaunting his new wealth as if he's trying to bring you down. We're having to control the SEC and the IRS just to keep him afloat.

"Our deal with you was to help 'reconstruct the South,''' Johnson sniped, using a term Southerners hate, since it reminds them of the post-Civil War Yankee dominance of the South. "We didn't plan on Arkansas becoming more difficult to deal with than most banana republics. This has turned out to be almost comical."

"Bobby! Don't sit here on your black ass and take this Yankee shit!" Clinton yelled at Nash in an appeal for support. "Tell him about Seal bribing those federal agents!" It was getting to resemble a verbal tennis match as volleys were being lobbed, each one with more intensity. From the comment about Seal, Terry concluded that Clinton did in fact have his own intelligence network, too.

"Why, Mr. Clinton, with racial slurs like that, the federal government could terminate educational busing aid here," Johnson wryly shot back. "I thought Arkansas was an equal opportunity employer!"

Nash touched the governor's arm, coaxing him back into his chair.

Johnson continued, "The deal we made was to launder our money through your bond business. What we didn't plan on was you and your token nigger here to start taking yourselves seriously and purposely shrinking our laundry."

"What do you mean by shrinking the laundry?!" Clinton asked still shouting. By now, Clinton's face was flushed with anger....

Arkansas desperately needed new businesses -- and so did the CIA. It had plenty of black money, but that alone was not enough. "You can't kill an enemy by lobbing dollars at him" was the phrase Cathey had used with Terry to explain the CIA's dilemma of having the monetary resources to fund the Contras, but no legal way to deliver it directly. The Agency was barred by Congress from converting the cash into weapons and training the Contras needed on the battlefield, at least not through traditional Department of Defense suppliers.

Under Director William Casey's plan, the CIA needed other companies that would be a source of secretly-produced weapons that would find their way into the hands of the Contras. These selected businesses needed payment to perform these services for the CIA, and that cash came to them conveniently in a legal and undetectable manner, through ADFA, in the form of industrial development loans backed by tax-free development bonds. The CIA should have been showing a profit through accrued interest on their secured investments. But a problem had arisen. As Johnson had said, the "laundry" was shrinking.

And Johnson was not happy about that as evidenced by the way he was firing back at Clinton. It was apparent that Johnson knew Clinton and his people had not abided by his agreement with the Agency.

"Our deal was for you to have 10 per cent of the profits, not 10 per cent of the gross," Johnson sternly admonished Clinton.

"This has turned into a feeding frenzy by your good ole boy sharks, and you've had a hand in it, too, Mr. Clinton. Just ask your Mr. Nash to produce a business card. I'll bet it reads Arkansas Development and Finance Authority. We know what's been going on. Our people are professionals; they're not stupid. They didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, as you guys say. This ADFA of yours is double-dipping. Our deal with you was to launder our money. You get 10 per cent after costs and after post-tax profits. No one agreed for you to start loaning our money out to your friends through your ADFA so that they could buy machinery to build our guns. That wasn't the deal. Mr. Sawahata tells me that one of ADFA's first customers was some parking meter company that got several million in ... how shall we say it ... in preferred loans.

"Dammit, we bought a whole gun company, lock, stock and barrel and shipped the whole thing down here for you. And Mr. Reed even helped set it up. You people go and screw us by setting up some subcontractors that weren't even authorized by us. Shit, people who didn't even have security clearances. That's why we're pulling the operation out of Arkansas. It's become a liability for us. We don't need live liabilities."....

Clinton had paused for a moment to ponder Johnson's words. "What do ya' mean, live liabilities?" he demanded.

"There's no such thing as a dead liability. It's an oxymoron, get it? Oh, or didn't you Rhodes Scholars study things like that?" Johnson snapped.

"What! Are you threatenin' us? Because if ya' are ..."

Johnson stared down at the table, again took a deep breath, and paused. It appeared he wanted to elevate the tone of the disintegrating exchange.

"Calm down and listen," Johnson said. "We are all in this together. We all have our personal agendas ... but let's not forget, both the Vice President and Mr. Casey want this operation to be a success. We need to get these assets and resources in place and get them self-sustaining and prospering on their own while we have the chance. This is a golden opportunity. The timing is right. We have communists taking over a country in this hemisphere. We must all pull together and play as a team. This is no time for lone wolves. Mr. Seal is an example of what happens to lone wolves. They just don't survive in the modern world of intelligence.

"I'm not here to threaten you. But there have been mistakes. The Mena operation survived undetected and unexposed only because Mr. Seal carried with him a falsely created, high-level profile of a drugrunner. All the cops in the country were trying to investigate a drug operation. That put the police in a position where we could control them. We fed them what we wanted to feed them, when we wanted to feed them; it was our restaurant and our menu. Seal was himself a diversion. It was perfect until your brother started free-enterprising and now we have to shut it down. It's as simple as that. Mr. Seal was a good agent and it's a shame he's dead. But, hopefully, our new operation will build on Seal's success in sustaining our Contra support effort while goddamn Congress dilly dallies around as the Russians take over Nicaragua."

Clinton just glared back. "That was a good sermon, but what can you specifically do to end this investigation concerning my brother and the bond business?"

"Your brother needed to go to jail," Johnson said staring at the governor. "As governor you should intervene and make things as painless as possible now. As far as the money investigation goes, Mr. Meese is intervening right now. There will be no money investigation. The U.S. attorney's office (in Little Rock) is 'getting religion' as we speak. *

"There may be nothing we can do about your friend Lasater's drug problem. I suggest that he and everyone else caught with their pants down take the bad along with the good and do a little time -- as your brother has. It's a shame. But bartenders shouldn't drink. If some of our people are going to be in the drug business as a cover, they should do as Mrs. Reagan says and 'just say no'."

Johnson had applied the balm and now the massage began. "Bill, you are Mr. Casey's fair-haired boy. But you do have competition for the job you seek. We would never put all our eggs in one basket. You and your state have been our greatest asset. The beauty of this, as you know, is that you're a Democrat, and with our ability to influence both parties, this country can get beyond partisan gridlock. Mr. Casey wanted me to pass on to you that unless you fuck up and do something stupid, you're No. 1 on the short list for a shot at the job you've always wanted.

"That's pretty heady stuff, Bill. So why don't you help us keep a lid on this and we'll all be promoted together. You and guys like us are the fathers of the new government. Hell, we're the new covenant."

-- Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA: How the Presidency was Co-opted by the CIA, by Terry Reed & John Cummings


Damage control began immediately. Local narcotics officers who had developed much of the original and most compelling evidence against Roger -- and the most damning for the governor -- were deliberately excluded from the arrest and systematically cut out of the subsequent investigation and evolution of the prosecution's case. "We had a lot more than just Roger, like Lasater and who owned who in places like Springdale, and buys that included the state police," said one local officer close to the case. "But Roger cops out, our narcs get taken out, and the case stops there." On August 14, represented by Lasater lawyer Wilson and his partner Engstrom, Roger Clinton was arraigned before Oren Harris, a former Democratic congressman and one of the more infirm judges on the federal bench, who was known locally for his relative deafness, his dim eyesight, and "a propensity," as Meredith Oakley noted, "for nodding off during prolonged testimony." Roger pled not guilty to every count. After less than ten minutes before the doddering Harris, he was released on $5,000 bail, with trial scheduled for November 9, days after the general election. Governor Clinton, spokesmen assured the public, "had no idea he had even tried drugs," as a reporter summed up the claims, "let alone that he had become addicted to cocaine."

Roger continued to come and go at the mansion with some abandon. Virtually from the hour of the arraignment there had been negotiations to arrange a plea bargain, so long as the formal admission of guilt came only after the election. In return for testifying against certain accomplices, the younger Clinton would avoid his own potentially revealing trial, face fewer counts, and receive a lighter sentence. In partial preparation for the plea bargain and sentencing, Roger and his immediate family attended token sessions of counseling on drug addiction and codependency. Even these cursory sessions, which both Virginia and Bill described later in general terms, opened the "rawest wounds," as one account put it. Though neither Virginia nor Bill mentioned it, it was Hillary who, according to Judith Warner, her biographer, "took a leading role in the discussions and was quite astute at pointing out patterns and weaknesses to the assembled family." Warner adds pointedly that, "though he was grateful, her participation didn't always endear her at the time to her husband." According to friends who heard contemporaneous accounts from Virginia, her daughter-in-law raised unexamined questions of denial and irresponsibility and other topics that sent the mother away in tearful fury and the thirty-eight-year-old governor into yet another round of distraction and debauchery.

On November 9, 1984, three days after his half brother's resounding victory at the polls, Roger Clinton was back in court to change his plea to guilty of conspiracy and a single count of drug distribution. He was "one tentacle of cocaine distribution in Arkansas," said Republican US attorney Asa Hutchinson, though most of the other arms of the figurative monster would never be pulled in. In a subsequent trial Roger testified for the government to convict a boyhood friend, Sam Anderson, Jr., a Hot Springs lawyer and the son of Virginia's old attorney. But there the inquiry stopped for the moment. "I guess I'm going to do Roger's time for him," Anderson would say bitterly the following March. In his last days at large the younger Clinton took women in and out of the governor's mansion for parties and went on with his cocaine habit despite the certainty of discovery before sentencing. On January 28, 1985, when Roger again appeared before Judge Harris, now "exceptionally alert," as Oakley saw him, there was no denying that he had used drugs consistently even after his arrest and during his months on bail. A dour, publicity-conscious Harris suspended the three years on the distribution charge but for the count of conspiracy imposed two years in the federal prison at Fort Worth. Both the governor and Hillary stood there with a lip-biting Virginia as Roger Clinton -- " a fourteen-year-old in a twenty-eight-year-old's body," as his mother now came to see him -- was summarily handcuffed and driven off by marshals. At no point in the five months of bargaining, suppression, and calculated betrayal of cohorts had there been an inkling of the videotaped footage implicating the governor or even of the graphic physical evidence of Roger's addiction, which would have belied the governor's bland protestations of ignorance. "I feel more deeply committed than ever before to do everything I can to fight illegal drugs in our state," Bill Clinton said in a rehearsed statement outside the courtroom as his half brother was taken away.

In the little more than a year Roger served in prison, as Virginia told the story later, he would "grow up some." Out on probation in the spring of 1986, he worked with a construction crew building bridges "on the winding old Benton highway," Virginia recorded, "the one Bill and I had taken years before on those horrible Sundays when we had gone to visit my mother in the state mental hospital."
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:13 pm

George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (EXCERPT)
by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

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The drug plague is an area in which the national interest requires results. Illegal narcotics are one of the most important causes of the dissolution of American society at the present time. To interdict the drug flows and to prosecute the drug money launderers at the top of the banking community would have represented a real public service. But Bush had no intention of seriously pursuing such goals. For him, the war on drugs was a cruel hoax, a cynical exercise in demagogic self-promotion, designed in large part to camouflage activities by himself and his networks that promoted drug trafficking. A further shocking episode that has come to light in this regard involves Bush's 14-year friendship with a member of Meyer Lansky's Miami circles who sold Bush his prized trophy, the Cigarette boat Fidelity.

Bush's war on drugs was a rhetorical and public relations success for a time. On February 16, 1982, in a speech on his own turf in Miami, Florida, Bush promised to use sophisticated military aircraft to track the airplanes used by smugglers. Several days later, Bush ordered the US Navy to send in its E2C surveillance aircraft for this purpose. If these were not available in sufficient numbers, said Bush, he was determined to bring in the larger and more sophisticated AWACS early warning aircraft to do the job. But Bush's skills as an interagency expediter left something to be desired: by May, two of the four E2C aircraft that originally had been in Florida were transferred out of the state. By June, airborne surveillance time was running a mere 40 hours per month, not the 360 hours promised by Bush, prompting Rep. Glenn English to call hearings on this topic. By October, 1982 the General Accounting Office issued an opinion in which it found "it is doubtful whether the [south Florida] task force can have any substantial long-term impact on drug availability." But the headlines were grabbed by Bush, who stated in 1984 that the efforts of his task force had eliminated the marijuana trade in south Florida. That was an absurd claim, but it sounded very good. When Francis Mullen. Jr., the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) criticized Bush for making this wildly inaccurate statement, he was soon ousted from his post at the DEA.

In 1988, Democratic Congressman Glenn English concluded that Bush's "war on drugs" had been fought with "little more than lip service and press releases." English wrote: "There has been very little substance behind the rhetoric, and some of the major interdiction problems have yet to be resolved. The President assigned...Bush to coordinate and direct federal antidrug-abuse programs among the various law enforcement agencies. However, eight years later it is apparent that the task has not been accomplished." [fn 1] No observer still stationed in reality could dispute this very pessimistic assessment.

But the whole truth is much uglier. We have documented in detail how the Iran-contra drug-running and gun-running operations run out of Bush's own office played their role in increasing the heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana brought into this country. We have reviewed Bush's relations with his close supporters in the Wall Street LBO gang, much of whose liquidity is derived from narcotics payments which the banking system is eager to recycle and launder. We recall Bush's 1990 meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad, who is personally one of the most prolific drug pushers on the planet, and whom Bush embraced as an ally during the Gulf crisis.

Bush's "soft on drugs" profile went further. In the Pakistan-Afghanistan theatre, for example, it was apparent that certain pro-Khomeini formations among the Afghan guerillas were, like the contras, more interested in trafficking in drugs and guns than in fighting the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul and the Red Army forces that maintained it in power. There were reports that such activities on the part of such guerilla groups were seconded by parts of the Pakistani secret intelligence services, the Inter-Service Intelligence, and the National Logistics Cell. According to these reports, Bush's visit to Pakistan's President Gen. Zia ul-Haq in May, 1984 was conducted in full awareness of these phenomena. Nevertheless, Bush chose to praise the alleged successes of the Zia government's anti-narcotics program which, Bush intoned, was a matter of great "personal interest" to him. Among those present at the banquet where Bush made these remarks were, reportedly, several of the officials most responsible for the narcotics trafficking in Pakistan. [fn 2] But there is an even more flagrant aspect of Bush's conduct which can be said to demolish once and for all the myth of the "war on drugs" and replace it with a reality so sinister that it goes beyond the imagination of most citizens.

Those who follow Bush's frenetic sports activities on television are doubtless familiar with Bush's speedboat, in which he is accustomed to cavort in the waters off his estate at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine. [fn 3] The craft in question is the Fidelity, a powerboat capable of operating on the high seas. Fidelity is a class of boat marketed under the brand name of "Cigarette," a high-priced speedboat dubbed "the Ferrari of the high seas." This detail should awaken our interest, since Bush's profile as an Anglo-Saxon aristocrat would normally include a genteel predilection for sailing, rather than a preference for a vulgar hatrod like Fidelity, which evokes the ethos of rum-runners and smugglers.

The Cigarette boat Fidelity was purchased by George Bush from a certain Don Aronow. Bush reportedly met Aronow at a boat show in 1974, and decided to buy one of the Cigarette boats Aronow manufactured. Aronow was one of the most celebrated and successful powerboat racers of the 1960's, and had then turned his hand to designing and building these boats. But according to at least one published account, there is compelling evidence to conclude that Aronow was a drug smuggler and suspected drug-money launderer linked to the Genovese Purple Gang of New York City within the more general framework of the Meyer Lansky organized crime syndicate. Aronow's role in marijuana smuggling was reportedly confirmed by Bill Norris, head of the Major Narcotics Unit at the Miami US Attorney's office and thus the top federal drug prosecution official in south Florida. [fn 4]

Aronow numbered among his friends and acquaintances not just Bush, but many international public figures and celebrities, many of whom had purchased the boats he built. Aronow's wife was said to be a former girlfriend of King Hussein of Jordan. Aronow was in touch with King Juan Carlos of Spain, Lord Lucan (Billy Shand-Kydd, a relative of Princess Diana's mother), Sir Max Aitken (the son of British press baron Lord Beaverbrook), Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Eastern Airlines chairman and former astronaut Frank Bormann, Kimberly-Clark heir Jim Kimberley, Alvin Malnik (one of the reputed heirs to Meyer Lansky) and Charles Keating, later the protagonist of the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal. Some of these exalted acquaintances are suggestive of strong intelligence connections as well.

In May of 1986, Aronmow received a letter from Nicolas Iliopoulos, the royal boat captain to King Hussein of Jordan expressing on behalf of the King the latter's satisfaction with a powerboat purchased from Aronow, and conveying the compliments of King Juan Carlos of Spain and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who had recently been the Jordanian sovereign's guests on board. Aronow sent a copy of this letter to Bush, from whom he received a reply dated June 6, 1986 in which Bush thanked him "with warm regards" for forwarding the royal note and added: "I can repeat that my old Cigarette, the "Fidelity" is running well too. I've had her out a couple of weekends and the engines have been humming. I hope our paths cross soon, my friend." [fn 5]

Aronow was reportedly a close friend of George Bush. In his book-length account of the life and death of Aronow which is the basis for the following analysis, Thomas Burdick quotes an unnamed Justice Department official relating the comments of one of his friends on the Bush-Aronow relation: "My friend said, 'I guarantee you I know what the connection was between him and Bush. It's the boats. The guy loves fucking boats." A Secret Service agent also referred to Bush as a "boat groupie." [fn 6] But does this exhaust the topic?

Over the years, Bush had apparently consulted with Aronow concerning the servicing and upkeep of his Cigarette boat. During 1983, Bush began to seek out Aronow's company for fishing trips. The original engines on Bush's Cigarette boat needed replacement, and this was the ostensible occasion for renewing contact with Aronow. Aronow told Bush of a new model of boat that he had designed, supposedly a high-performance catamaran. Bush planned to come to Florida during the New Year's holiday for a short vacation during which he would go bonefishing with his crony Nick Brady. During this time he would also arrange to deliver an antidrug pep-talk.

On January 4, 1984, George Bush rendezvoused with Don Aronow at Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Earlier in the day, Bush had delivered one of his "war on drugs" speeches at the Omni International Hotel in Miami. Bush and Brady then proceeded by motorcade to Islamorada, where Aronow was waiting with his catamaran. Accompanied by a flotilla of Secret Service and Customs agents in Cigarette boats that had been seized from drug smugglers, Bush, Brady, Aronow, and one of the latter's retainers, the catamaran proceeded through moderate swells to Miami, with White House photographers eternalizing the photo opportunity at every moment. Bush, who had donned designer racing goggles for the occasion, was allowed to take the wheel of the catamaran and seemed very thrilled and very happy. Nick Brady, sporting his own wrap-around shades, found the seas too rough for his taste.

After the trip was over, Bush personally typed the following letter to Don Aronow on his vice presidential staionery, which he sent accompanied by some photographs of Bush, Aronow, Brady and the others on board the catamaran:

January 14, 1984

Dear Don,

Here are some pretty good shots which I hope will bring back some pretty good memories. I included one signed shot in your packet for [Aronow's pilot] Randy [Riggs]. Also am enclosing a set of picture [sic] for Willie not having his address or knowing how he spells Myers? Will you please give them to him and thank him for his part in our wonderful outing. He is quite a guy and I learned a lot from him on the way up to Miami from the Keys.

Again Don this day was one of the greatest of my life. I love boats, always have. But ever since knowing you that private side of my life has become ever more exciting and fulfilling. Incidentally, I didn't get to tell you but my reliable 28 footer Cigarette that is, still doing just fine...no trouble at all and the new last year engines.

All the best to you and all your exciting ventures. May all your boats bee [sic] number one and may the horses [sic] be not far behind.

At the end of this message, before his signature, Bush wrote in by hand, "My typing stinks." [fn 7]

As a result of this outing, Bush is said to have used his influence to see to it that Aronow received a lucrative contract to build the Blue Thunder catamarans at $150,000 apiece for the US Customs Service. This contract was announced with great fanfare in Miami on February 4, 1985, and was celebrated a week later in a public ceremony in which Florida Senator Paula Hawkins and US Customs Commissioner William von Raab mugged for photographers together with Aronow. The government purchase was hyped as the first time that the Customs would receive boats especially designed and built to intercept drug runners on the high seas, a big step forward in the war on drugs.

This was the same George Bush who in March, 1988 had stated: "I will never bargain with drug dealers on US or foreign soil."

As one local resident recalled of that time, "everyone in Miami knew that if you needed a favor from Bush, you spoke to Aronow." [fn 8] It was proverbial among Florida pols and powerbrokers that Aronow had the vice president's ear.

The Customs soon found that the Blue Thunder catamarans were highly unseaworthy and highly unsuitable for the task of chasing down other speedboats, including above all Aronow's earlier model Cigarette boats, which were now produced by a company not controlled by Aronow. Blue Thunder was relatively slow class, capable of a top speed of only 56 miles per hour, despite the presence of twin 440-horsepower marine engines. The design of the catamaran hulls lacked any hydrodynamic advantages, and the boats were too heavy to attain sufficient lift. The stern drives were too weak for the powerful engines, leading to the problem of "grenading" : when the drive shafts severed, which was often, the engines began to rev far beyond their red line, leading to the explosion or disintegration of the engines and the shrapnel-like scattering of red-hot steel fragments through the boat. This meant that the boats had to be kept well below their maximum speed. Most Blue Thunders spent more time undergoing repairs than chasing drug runners in the coastal waters of Florida. Blue Thunder was in boating parlance "wet," a complete lemon, useful only for photo opportunities and publicity shots.

Documents found by Burdick in the Dade County land records office show that USA Racing, the company operated by Aronow which built the Blue Thunder catamarans for the Customs service was not owned by Aronow, but rather by a one Jack J. Kramer in his capacity of president of Super Chief South Corporation. Jack Kramer had married a niece of Meyer Lansky. Jack Kramer's son Ben Kramer was thus the great nephew and one of the putative heirs of the top boss of the US crime syndicate, Meyer Lansky. Ben Kramer was also a notorious organized crime figure in his own right. On March 28, 1990 Jack Kramer and Ben Kramer were both found guilty of 23 and 28 counts (respectively) of federal money laundering charges. In the previous year, Ben Kramer had also been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for having imported half a million pounds of marijuana. Bush had thus given a prime contract in waging the war on drugs to one of the leading drug-smuggling and money-laundering crime families in the US.

Don Aronow was murdered by Mafia-style professional killers on February 3, 1987. During the last days of his life, Aronow is reported to have made numerous personal telephone calls to Bush. Aronow had been aware that his life was in danger, and he had left a list of instructions to tell his wife what to do if anything should happen to him. The first point on the list was "#1. CALL GEORGE BUSH." [fn 9] Lillian Aronow did call Bush, who reportedly responded by placing a personal call to the MetroDade Police Department homicide division to express his concern and to request an expeditious handling of the case. Bush did not attend Aronow's funeral, but a month later he sent a letter to Aronow's son Gavin in which he called the late Don Aronow "a hero."

When Lillian Aronow suspected that her telephone was being tapped, she called Bush, who urged her to be calm and promised to order an investigation of the matter. Shortly after that, the suspicious noises in Mrs. Aronow's telephone ceased. When Lilian Aronow received reports that her husband might have been murdered by rogue CIA operatives or other wayward federal agents and that she herself and her children were still in danger, she shared her fears in a telephone call to Bush. Bush reportedly later called Mrs. Aronow and, as she recalled, "He said to me, 'Lillian, you're fine.' He said that 'ex-CIA people are really off.' That's the truth." [fn 10] Later, Mrs. Aronow heard that Gen. Noriega of Panama was interested in buying some of her boats, and she began to prepare a trip to Panama in the hope of generating some orders. Before her departure, she says she called Bush who advised her against making the trip because of Noriega's involvement in "bad things." Mrs. Aronow cancelled her reservations for Panama City. But in the summer of 1987, Bush snubbed Mrs. Aronow by pointedly avoiding her at a Miami dinner party. But during this same period, Bush frequently went fishing with former Aronow employee Willie Meyers, whom he had mentioned in the letter cited above. According to Thomas Burdick's sources, Willie Meyers was also a friend of Secretary of State George Shultz, and often expressed concern about damaging publicity for Bush and Shultz that might derive from the Aronow case.

According to Thomas Burdick, Meyers says that Bush talked to him about how the vice president's staff was monitoring the Aronow investigation. Bush lamented that he did not have grounds to get federal agencies involved. "I just wish," said Bush to Meyers, "that there was some federal aspect to the murder. If the killers crossed state lines. Then I could get the FBI involved." [fn 11] The form of the argument is reminiscent of the views expressed by Bush and Tony Lapham during the Letelier case.

In May or June of 1987, several months after Aronow had been killed, Mike Brittain, who owned a company called Aluminum Marine Products, located on "Thunderboat Alley" in the northern part of Miami (the same street where Aronow had worked), was approached by two FBI special agents, Joseph Usher and John Donovan, both of the Miami FBI field office. They were accompanied by a third FBI man, whom they presented as a member of George Bush's staff at the National Drug Task Force in Washington DC. The third agent, reportedly named William Temple, had, according to the other two, come to Miami on a special mission ordered by the Vice President of the United States.

As Brittain told his story to Burdick, Special Agent Temple "didn't ask about the murder or anything like that. All he wanted to know about was the merger." [fn 12] The merger in question was the assumption of control over Aronow's company, USA Racing, by the Kramers' Super Chief South, which meant that a key contract in the Bush "war on drugs" had been awarded to a company controlled by persons who would later be convicted for marijuana smuggling and money laundering. Many of the FBI questions focused on this connection between Aronow and Kramer. Later, after Bush's victory in the 1988 presidential election, the FBI again questioned Brittain, and again the central issue was the Aronow-Kramer connection, plus additional questions of whether Brittain had divulged any of his knowledge of these matters to other persons. A possible conclusion was that a damage control operation in favor of Bush was in progress.

Tommy Teagle, an ex-convict interviewed by Burdick, said he feared that George Bush would have him killed because information in his possession would implicate Jeb Bush in cocaine smuggling. Teagle's story was that Aronow and Jeb Bush had been partners in cocaine trafficking and were $2.5 million in debt to their Columbian suppliers. Dr. Robert Magoon, a friend of Aronow, is quoted in the same location as having heard a similar report. But Teagle rapidly changed his story. [fn 3] Ultimately, an imprisoned convict was indicted for the murder of Aronow.

But the circumstances of the murder remain highly suspect. Starting in 1985, and with special intensity during 1987-88, more than two dozen persons involved in various aspects of the Iran-contra gun-running and drug-running operation met their deaths. At the same time, other persons knowledgeable about Iran-contra, but one or more steps removed from eyewitness knowledge of these operations, have been subjected to campaigns of discrediting and slander, often associated with indictments on a variety of charges, charges which often stemmed from the Iran-contra operations themselves. Above and beyond the details of each particular case, the overall pattern of these deaths strongly suggests that they are coherent with a damage control operation by the networks involved, a damage control operation that has concentrated on liquidating those individuals whose testimony might prove to be most damning to the leading personalities of these networks. The death of Don Aronow occurred within the time frame of this general process of amputation and cauterization of the Iran-contra and related networks. Many aspects of Aronow's life suggest that his assassination may have been a product of the same "damage control" logic.
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:51 am

Obama's "Mob-Tie" $idekick
by New York Post
September 5, 2007

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WASHINGTON – A man who has long been dogged by charges that the bank his family owns helped finance a Chicago crime figure will host a Windy City fund-raiser tonight for Sen. Barack Obama.

Alexi Giannoulias, who became Illinois state treasurer last year after Obama vouched for him, has pledged to raise $100,000 for the senator’s Oval Office bid.

Before he promised to raise funds for Obama, Giannoulias bankrolled Michael “Jaws” Giorango, a Chicagoan twice convicted of bookmaking and promoting prostitution.

Giannoulias is so tainted by reputed mob links that several top Illinois Dems, including the state’s speaker of the House and party chairman, refused to endorse him even after he won the Democratic nomination with Obama’s help.

Giannoulias was the bank’s vice president and chief loan officer for most of the more than $15 million in loans.

He was not charged with breaking any laws. The Obama campaign disputed any suggestion that Obama is tarnished by the association.

“Barack Obama has a long record of fighting for ethics reform from his days as a state senator,” a campaign rep said.

churt@nypost.com
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:01 am

Tony Rezko (EXCERPT)
by Wikipedia
9/24/16

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Antoin "Tony" Rezko (born 1955) is an American businessman. He was a fundraiser for Illinois Democratic and Republican politicians. After becoming a major contributor to Rod Blagojevich's successful gubernatorial election, Rezko assisted Blagojevich in setting up the state's first Democratic administration in twenty years and as a result he was able to have business associates appointed onto several state boards. Rezko and several others were indicted on federal charges in October 2006 for using their connections on the state boards to demand kickbacks from businesses that wished to engage in dealings with the state. While the others pleaded guilty, Rezko pleaded not guilty and was tried. He was found guilty of 16 of the 24 charges filed against him and on November 23, 2011, he was sentenced to 10-1/2 years in prison.[1]

Early life and education

Tony Rezko was born in 1955 in Aleppo, Syria, to a prominent Syriac Catholic family.[2] After graduating from college there, Rezko moved to Chicago and earned an undergraduate and a master's degree in civil engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the late 1970s. He joined an engineering company, designing nuclear power plants, then left to design roads for the state Transportation Department, making $21,590 in his first year there.[3][4]

Career

While he was an engineer, Rezko started buying vacant lots and developing single family residences. He also began investing in fast-food restaurants, including the first Subway in Chicago. Many properties were in lower-income African American neighborhoods[2][5] where he met Jabir Herbert (J.H.) Muhammad, former manager of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and son of the late Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad. Rezko was asked in 1983 to support the successful mayoral candidacy of African-American Harold Washington. J.H. Muhammad's company, Crucial Concessions, hired Rezko in 1984 and won a food contract on Lake Michigan beaches and in many South Side parks. Rezko put together endorsement deals for Ali, became the executive director of the Muhammad Ali Foundation, and traveled the world with Ali for five years.[2]

In 1997, Crucial Concessions opened two Panda Express Restaurants at O'Hare, under the city's minority set-aside program. It lost those franchises in 2005, on the grounds that J.H. Muhammad was merely a front man for Rezko, who had been appointed trustee of Elijah Muhammad's affairs in the early 1990s. In March 2008 Muhammad sued Rezko, alleging that he had been swindled out of his home and business interests.[4][5][6]

In January 1989, Rezko and attorney Daniel Mahru, CEO of a firm that leased ice makers to bars and hotels, founded a real-estate development and restaurant holding corporation called Rezmar Corporation. Between 1989 and 1998, Rezmar rehabilitated 30 buildings, a total of 1,025 apartments, spending more than $100 million from the city, state and federal governments and bank loans. Rezko and Mahru weren't responsible for any government or bank loans or the $50 million in federal tax credits they got to rehab the buildings. Rezmar put just $100 into each project and got a 1% stake as the general partner in charge of hiring the architect, contractor, and the company that would manage the buildings. They selected Chicago Property Management, also owned by Rezko and Mahru, to manage the buildings, including selecting the tenants and making repairs. Rezmar also got upfront development fees of at least $6.9 million in all. Under its deals with the Chicago Equity Fund, Rezmar promised to cover all operating losses in any building for seven years, but had no obligation after that, although the Federal Government could recover the tax credits that Rezmar sold from the holders if the projects did not survive for fifteen years or more.[4] By 1998 the company had a net worth of US$34 million[7] and it then turned to purchasing old factories and parcels of land in gentrifying areas of Chicago and turning them into upscale condominium complexes.[4][8] Rezko was named "Entrepreneur of the Decade" by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association.[9]

Rezko's investment in restaurant food chains had started with a chain of Panda Express Chinese restaurants. In 1998, Rezko opened his first chain of Papa John's Pizza restaurants in Chicago and by 2002, he had twenty-six stores in Chicago, at least fifteen in Wisconsin, and seven in Detroit, part of the financing for these stores was through GE Capital.[3] By 2001, Rezko began to fall behind on his franchise payments and loans and he transferred the franchises to several business associates. In 2006, during a lawsuit with Papa John's over his franchise fees, Rezko renamed his Papa John's restaurants to Papa Tony's.[9] Rezko also had a lien filed against his home after losing a civil lawsuit to GE Capital.[3]

As his business ventures began failing, Rezko entered into several partnership with Iraqi-born business executive Nadhmi Auchi, including a massive 2005 real estate development project on Chicago's South Loop whose value was pegged by an observer familiar with the deal at $130.5 million.[10] In 2008, Rezko was imprisoned for his failure to disclose a $3.5m loan from Auchi.

Legal troubles

Rezko was later convicted on 16 charges of corruption and fraud and was sentenced to serve 10 1/2 years in prison.

Public corruption charges

In October 2006, Rezko was indicted along with businessman Stuart Levine on charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and attempted extortion as a result of a federal investigation known as "Operation Board Games."[11][12] Levine was once a top Republican fund-raiser who had switched loyalty in recent years.[13] Rezko and Levine were charged with attempting to extort millions of dollars from businesses seeking to do business with the Illinois Teachers System Board and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board from 2002 to 2004. Levine pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Rezko and others. While the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, Levine expects to receive about a 5-1/2 year sentence in return for his testimony.[14] The case was prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald.

Rezko pleaded not guilty, and the trial related to his charges from Operation Board Games began on March 6, 2008.[15] He was jailed shortly before the trial began when he received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Lebanon. Rezko had told the court that he had no access to money from overseas. Ten weeks into the trial, on April 18, Judge Amy St. Eve released Rezko, after friends and relatives put up 30 properties valued at about $8.5 million to secure his bond. Prosecutors opposed the motion for release, saying that Rezko was a flight risk.[16] On May 6, both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases. Government prosecutors spent 8 weeks presenting their case. Rezko’s lawyer, Joseph J. Duffy, chose not to present any witnesses, saying that he did not believe that the prosecution had proven the charges.[17] Prosecutors contended that they had shown Rezko's "corrupt use of his power and influence" to gain benefits for himself and his friends. Duffy argued that the prosecution had exaggerated Rezko's influence in state government, and attacked Levine's credibility as a witness.[18]

The case went to the jury on May 13 and after three weeks of deliberation, the jury found Rezko guilty of six counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, two counts of corrupt solicitation, and two counts of money laundering, but found him not guilty on three counts of wire and mail fraud, one count of attempted extortion, and four counts of corrupt solicitation.[19] According to CBS News the "high-profile federal trial provided an unusually detailed glimpse of the pay-to-play politics that has made Illinois infamous."[20]

While the jury was deliberating on the Board Games trial, an arrest warrant was issued in Las Vegas for passing bad checks in two casinos and failing to pay $450,000 in gambling debts that were accrued between March and July 2006.[21] Another casino had also filed a civil complaint for a total of $331,000 in 2006 and was given a judgment of default in 2007.[21]

Charges related to private business dealings

Rezko was indicted, along with a business associate, for wire fraud related to the alleged sale of his pizza business to a straw buyer at an inflated price in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans from GE Capital.[22] Rezko initially pleaded not guilty to these charges.[23] In 2011, Rezko would change his plea to guilty.[24] As part of a plea deal and his agreement to drop his appeal of his previous conviction, Rezko pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was given a 7 1/2 year sentence to run concurrently with the 10 1/2-year sentence he is presently serving for his previous conviction.[24]

Release from federal prison

In July 2015 Tony Rezko was released from federal prison to a halfway house in Chicago.[25]

Ties to politicians

Ties to Rod Blagojevich


Rezko's relationship with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his family were at the root of the federal corruption case which led to Rezko's conviction.[3] Rezko donated $117,652 to Blagojevich's campaigns,[5] and is credited by the prosecutor in his trial with having delivered bundled contributions totalling almost $1.44 million.[26] Since 1997, Blagojevich's wife, Patricia, has made at least $38,000 acting as Rezko's real-estate agent on several of his company's property acquisitions. When Blagojevich won the Illinois gubernatorial election in 2002, Rezko assisted Blagojevich in setting up the state's first Democratic administration in twenty years.[3] Rezko recommended many of his business associates and their relatives for positions within state government, three of whom were appointed to the state board that oversees hospital projects. the state's development board was run by another former Rezko business associate. Rezko and Republican fundraiser Stuart Levine were charged in a 24-count federal indictment for allegedly using Rezko's influence with public officials to demand millions of dollars in kickbacks from companies that wanted to do business with the state.[3][5] Levine pleaded guilty and served as the chief witness against Rezko at trial. Levine and several other witnesses implicated Blagojevich in the schemes.[27][28]

The last indictment in Operation Board Games before Blagojevich himself was indicted was that of William F. Cellini who was indicted for conspiring with Rezko to shake down Chicago-based Capri Capital to get a substantial contribution to Blagojevich in exchange for allowing Capri to manage $220 million in the Teachers Retirement System. After Thomas Rosenberg of Capri threatened to tell authorities, the plan was abandoned.[29] Capri has substantial investments in the Watergate complex and King Abdullah Economic City.

Ties to Barack Obama

History


In 1990, after Barack Obama was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, Rezmar Corp. offered him a job, which Obama turned down. Obama instead took a job with the firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland,[30] which primarily worked on civil rights cases. The firm also represented Rezmar and helped the company get more than $43 million in government funding. The firm's former senior partner, Allison S. Davis, later went into business with Rezko and, in 2003, was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Investment by Governor Blagojevich at Rezko's request.[7][31] On July 31, 1995, the first ever political contributions to Obama were $300 from a lawyer, a $5,000 loan from a car dealer, and $2,000 from two food companies owned by Rezko.[32] Starting in 2003, Rezko was one of the people on Obama's U.S. Senate campaign finance committee, which raised more than $14 million.[7] Rezko organized an early fundraiser for Obama that Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell claims was instrumental in providing Obama with seed money for his U.S. Senate race.[2] Obama in 2007-2008 identified over $250,000 in campaign contributions to various Obama campaigns as coming from Rezko or close associates, and said that he donated almost two-thirds of that amount to nonprofit groups.[33][34]

Real estate dealings

In 2005 Obama purchased a new home in the Kenwood District of Chicago for $1.65 million (which was $300,000 below the asking price but represented the highest offer on the property) on the same day that Rezko's wife, Rita Rezko, purchased the adjoining empty lot from the same sellers for the full asking price.[35] Obama acknowledged bringing his interest in the property to Rezko's attention,[36] but denied any coordination of offers. According to Obama, while the properties had originally been a single property, the previous owners decided to sell the land as two separate lots, but made it a condition of the sales that they be closed on the same date. Obama also stated that the properties had been on the market for months, that his offer was the better of two bids, and that Ms. Rezko's bid was matched by another offer, also of $625,000, so that she could not have purchased the property for less.[37]

After it had been reported in 2006 that Rezko was under federal investigation for influence-peddling, Obama purchased a 10-foot-wide strip of Ms. Rezko's property for $104,500, $60,000 above the assessed value.[7][35] According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Mark Brown, "Rezko definitely did Obama a favor by selling him the 10-foot strip of land, making his own parcel less attractive for development."[38] Obama acknowledges that the exchange may have created the appearance of impropriety and stated "I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it."[37]

On December 28, 2006, Mrs. Rezko sold the property to a company owned by her husband's former business attorney. That sale of $575,000, combined with the earlier $104,500 sale to the Obamas, amounted to a net profit of $54,500 over her original purchase, less $14,000 for a fence along the property line and other expenses.[39][40] In October 2007, the new owners put the still vacant land up for sale again, this time for $1.5 million.[41]

Obama's letters

In June 2007, the Sun-Times published a story about letters Obama had written in 1997 to city and state officials in support of a low-income senior citizen development project headed by Rezko and Davis. The project received more than $14 million in taxpayer funds, including $885,000 in development fees for Rezko and Davis. Of Obama's letters in support of the Cottage View Terrace apartments development, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "This wasn't done as a favor for anyone; it was done in the interests of the people in the community who have benefited from the project. I don't know that anyone specifically asked him to write this letter nine years ago. There was a consensus in the community about the positive impact the project would make and Obama supported it because it was going to help people in his district." Rezko's attorney responded that "Mr. Rezko never spoke with, nor sought a letter from, Senator Obama in connection with that project.[42]

In the South Carolina Democratic Party presidential debate on January 21, 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton said that Obama had been associated with Rezko, whom she referred to as a slum landlord.[43] The L.A. Times indicated that its own review showed Rezko played a deeper role in Obama's political and financial biography than Obama has acknowledged.[44] Within days of the debate, a photo of Rezko posing with Bill and Hillary Clinton surfaced. When asked about the photo, Hillary Clinton commented "I probably have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door."[45]
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:48 am

Obama Union Pledge Raises Questions
By John B. Judis
May 19, 2008

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The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last summer, Illinois Senator Barack Obama told officials in the Teamsters union that he favored ending the Independent Review Board (IRB) that was created in 1989 by the federal government to rid the union of organized crime. Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama, confirmed the story, saying that the candidate believed that the IRB had "run its course" because "organized crime influence in the union has drastically declined." The Teamsters subsequently endorsed Obama for president, in late February.

Obama and the Teamsters bristled at suggestions that any deal was made. The Obama campaign also circulated a tape of a speech that Senator Hillary Clinton made last March to the Teamsters saying "at some point the past has to be opened," but Clinton's statement, like those made by Senator John Kerry in 2004, stopped well short of committing her to end oversight of the Teamsters. Based on the statements the newspaper quoted, it is fair to assume that The Wall Street Journal got the details right.

There are two reasons to be concerned about Obama's actions here. The first is procedural. Obama's promise to close down the IRB suggests a Bush-like contempt for the customary relationship between government and the judicial process. The president himself can't shut down the IRB. He can only recommend to his attorney general that he recommend to the U.S. Attorney in New York that it be shut down. But in these kind of touchy matters, presidents usually defer to the judgment of their attorney generals. By coming close to promising a shutdown, Obama was putting politics above judicial procedure - which is just the kind of "Washington" behavior that he likes to criticize his opponents for doing.

The second reason for concern is more substantive. Labor leaders have made plausible arguments for shutting down the IRB, but a Chicago politician should be extremely wary of acceding to them. If there is continuing mob influence in the Teamsters, it is probably centered in the Chicago area. And in the last decade, the Teamsters in Chicago have shown little enthusiasm for rooting out corruption in their ranks. As a veteran Chicago politician surrounded by a veteran Chicago campaign staff, Obama had to have known this - and that makes his warm words to the Teamsters all the more disturbing.

The IRB achieved some success in policing the Teamsters. In its first decade, it suspended or ousted more than 500 individual Teamsters and recommended that the union place 27 locals under "trusteeship," which consists of replacing the local's leadership with outsiders appointed by the international. It also instituted democratic elections of the top officers in the union, and ordered the ouster of former Teamster president Ron Carey for accepting illegal campaign donations in his 1996 election defeat of James P. Hoffa, who succeeded Carey three years later, and continues to lead the union today.

But Hoffa and the Teamster leadership have chafed under government supervision. To build an argument for getting rid of the IRB, Hoffa set up his own internal oversight group. It was called RISE (or Respect, Integrity, Strength, and Ethics) and was run by a former federal prosecutor and organized crime expert Ed Stier. In August 2001, Hoffa said, "It's time for the government to move out. We've created programs where the union is clean, and it's time for us to get from under government supervision." And Hoffa, President Bush and Representative Peter Hoekstra, a conservative Republican who chaired a key House subcommittee, began an elaborate courtship aimed on Hoffa's part at disbanding the IRB.

But Hoffa's efforts were derailed by a sensational IRB report that appeared late that year detailing the efforts of Chicago Teamsters, working with a Chicago labor broker, Richard Simon, whom Stier would later describe as "having ties to organized crime," to undermine a Teamster local in Las Vegas by negotiating non-union, low-wage agreements to service the city's numerous business conventions. (I wrote an article, "Dirty Deal," about this investigation in The New Republic on April 1, 2002.) The arrangement was a clear breach of the union's commitment under the National Labor Relations Act to offer "fair representation" to its members. Yet Hoffa and his top leadership initially aided the scheme by firing Las Vegas Teamster officials who objected. Finally, the IRB expelled William Hogan, the President of local 714, the most powerful Teamster in Chicago, and forced the Teamsters to put a stop to the collusion between the Chicago officials and Simon in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Stier did feel that he was making progress in his first years on the job, and it was not out of the question to imagine that RISE could not merely supplement, but supplant the IRB. In 2002, Teamster Spokesman Bret Caldwell told me that once the IRB was shut down, RISE will "ensure that corruption is fully eliminated from the union." For Stier, however, those hopes were dashed the next year when he began investigating Chicago-area Teamster locals for corruption. As he later detailed in a report, Stier discovered "multiple issues related to organized crime [and] corruption" in Local 714, and similar issues in five other area locals. The report concluded, "Issues related to organized crime infiltration and associated corruption in the Chicago area are numerous and cut across jurisdictional lines." But in the fall of 2003, as Stier was still in the midst of his investigation, the Teamster leadership began objecting vociferously to it, and in February 2004, Hoffa shut it down.

That April, Stier and 20 other investigators and lawyers involved with RISE resigned in protest. In the report that Stier subsequently issued, he put the blame for his departure on Hoffa's Executive Assistant and on the president of Chicago Joint Council 25 of the Teamsters. He accused them of bowing to present from "the Chicago organized crime family - known as the Chicago 'Outfit' - [which] concluded that its interests in Teamster matters were threatened by IBT investigative activities and had ordered those activities shut down."

Hoffa and the Teamsters released a report of their own in 2005 dismissing Stier's charges. And that's where matters would have stood - except for the IRB. Last October, the IRB recommended that the Teamsters remove the leadership of the main target of Stier's probe, Local 714, and place the union in trusteeship. It detailed numerous abuses by the union's leadership. Stier told the Chicago Tribune, "I'm glad to see that the IRB is pursuing these corruption issues in Chicago. I think there is more to do." The IRB's actions, taken in the wake of Stier's resignation and the end of RISE, made a pretty good case that the IRB was still needed.

All of this may be new information for people who don't live in Chicago, but it can't have been unknown to Obama and the Chicagoans who run his campaign. Stier's resignation and the IRB investigation, and the charges of corruption and organized crime have been covered over the years by Chicago Tribune reporter Stephen Franklin and other local journalists. Yet the taint of corruption and of ties to organized crime seemed not to ruffle Obama and his campaign. According to the Journal report, the Obama campaign brokered the candidate's promise to end the IRB with John Coli, the Chicago-area chairman of Joint Council 25, whom Stier identified in his report as one of the people responsible for shutting down his investigation. (Obama's Federal Election Commission records also show a hefty contribution to his senatorial and presidential races from the same Richard Simon who hatched the Vegas scheme to undercut local union workers and who, according to Stier, has mob ties.)

Voters, of course, understand that in order to get endorsements, politicians often turn a blind eye to corruption. They employ lobbyists who have worked for nefarious domestic or foreign clients or whose private activities contradict the politicians' public pronouncements. But if Barack Obama wants to run as the candidate of good government and higher morality, the place to start may not be Washington, but his home town of Chicago.
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:46 pm

Trump Casinos are Mobbed Up! Shocker!
by Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, MD, PhD
September 2, 2016

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For those of you who have never heard of the ‘mob’, I can assure you that it did exist. It is still extant. Equally important, it will continue to flourish in America, especially in the concrete/construction business.

Contrary to the nonsensical FBI tales of “Donnie Brasco” [Johnny Depp] where an Italian American FBI agent infiltrated the Italian Mob, for the most part the Jewish/Italian mob worked with the FBI as an informants,as depicted in the film, “The Departed” [DiCaprio,Damon]. More importantly, it is crucial to understand that not one real estate development company in the NYC/NJ area can exist without utilizing the “S&A Concrete”, a company owned by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, the ‘boss’ of the Genovese crime family. [March 2,2016, Linda Qiu, PolitiFact].

Trump admitted his association:

“Virtually every building that was built with these companies… these guys were excellent contractors…. They were phenomenal.. Trump Tower… other buildings”.

In order to develop Trump World Tower, Donald needed to work with the Quadrozzi Concrete Company, owned by John Quadrozzi Sr, a member of the Lucchese family.Trump admitted that he had to work with Kenneth Shapiro, ‘a third-rate,local real estate mafia’ [NJ] and a close friend of mob boss, Nicky Scarfo. He had to also utilize the services of Daniel Sullivan, “a guy who killed Jimmy Hoffa.”

Sullivan had helped the novitiate real estate developer Donald to buy the Grand Hyatt which was his first property that he developed in NYC. Philadelphia mob boss, Salvatore Testa, sold the NJ land for Trump’s first casino for only a mere $1.1 million at more than 3X the original market value of $195,000.

Donald attempts to explain his affiliation with the NJ Mob accordingly:

“..every single casino company in NJ used the same [mob] companies..”

Despite accusations that Trump is xenophobic, his association with the notorious Chinese 14 K Triad Gang proves that he is willing to deal with any ethnic group which can help him make money. In 1992, Donald appointed Danny Leung as VP of Foreign Marketing at the Las Vegas Taj Mahal. Danny was a major associate of the Hong Kong based14K Triad Group.

Trump used a Russian emigre, Felix Sater, to promote Trump’s SoHo hotel.Needless to say, Sater was subsequently indicted for taking part in a $40M stock scheme involving four Mafia families.

By now, you get the idea that Trump is definitely “mobbed up”.

What does that really mean?

From my point of view, it places Donald Trump right in the same “mobbed-up corner” with our illustrious predecessors: FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Reagan, Clintons, Bushs, and Obama.In other words, we, Americans, will have to deny him the election for what he did according to the elementary rules of major city real estate development: work with the mob or die!

I can’t condone this type of activity because he clearly had a choice. So did: Hillary, Bill, Obama, W., FDR, JFK, LBJ, et. al.

We have to decide: Are we better off with Trump or someone [Hillary] who pretends to be above the sanctity of Mother Teresa [she will receive Sainthood status this Sunday]?

As Al Capone said so insightfully:

“You get much further with a kind word and a gun then you can with a kind word.”

However, in the perspicacious words of Carlo Gambino, who places all irrelevant observations into perspective, let me quote you what he had said:

“Judges, lawyers, and politicians have a license to steal, we don’t need them.”
The choice is ours once again, America!
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Re: Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? I've spen

Postby admin » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:48 pm

Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta Tied to Russian Mafia, Money Laundering: Emails released by Wikileaks show Podesta shared in the Clintons' corrupt schemes via the Clinton Foundation and oligarch Viktor Vekselberg's Skolkovo Foundation
by Roger Stone
Oct 16, 2016

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The attack on me by Clinton campaign chief John Podesta is an attempt to deflect attention from his criminal activities in the former Soviet Union. Podesta is at the heart of a Russian-government money laundering operation that financially benefits Podesta personally and the Clintons through the Clinton Foundation.

To be clear, although I have had some back-channel communications with Wikileaks I had no advance notice about the hacking of Mr. Podesta nor I have I ever received documents or data from Wikileaks.

The charge that I am working for Russian intelligence or any Russian interest is also false. Don’t confuse me with John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta, who runs the firm that got $180,000 from Uranium One, the Russian government’s uranium company to which Hillary Clinton transferred 20 percent of U.S. uranium.

Just how much money did Viktor Vekselberg, a controversial Russian billionaire investor with ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, launder through Metcombank, a Russian regional bank owned 99.978 percent by Vekselberg, with the money transferred via Deutsche Bank and Trust Company Americas in New York City, with the money ending up in a private bank account in the Bank of America that is operated by the Clinton Foundation?

Wikileaks emails tie John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, into the money-laundering network with the confirmation Podesta had exercised 75,000 shares out of 100,000 previously undisclosed stock options he was secretly issued by Joule Unlimited, a U.S. corporation that ties back to Vekselberg connected Joule Global Stichting in the Netherlands – a shady entity identified in the Panama Papers as an offshore money-laundering client of the notorious Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

As a clear indication of guilty conscience, the Wikileaks Podesta file further documents that Podesta made a serious effort to keep the transaction from coming to light as evidenced by his decision to transfer 75,000 common shares of Joule Unlimited to Leonidio LLC, another shady shell corporation – this one listed in Salt Lake City at the home apartment of the gentlemen who registered the company.

Further research has documented that Viktor Vekselberg arranged for two transfers of unknown amounts to a private Clinton Foundation account in the Bank of America, with the funds passing though a pass-through account at Deutsche Bank and Trust Company Americas in New York City – with the first transfer made on Feb. 10, 2015, and the second on March 15, 2016.

Neither transaction shows up in any Clinton Foundation press releases or publicly disclosed financial statements.

Further research is that Viktor Vekselberg, in true Russian Mafia fashion, also owned Skolkovo, the Russian foundation set up to be a Silicon Valley counterpart Russia, designed to be Russia’s major player in the “reset” technology transfer scheme engineered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011.

Millions skimmed off Skolkovo in Russia

Russian news reports have documented that all Skolkovo Foundation money was deposited in Viktor Vekselberg’s Metcombank.

“Metcombank was the only commercial bank willing to accept the Foundation’s liquid assets in a bank account with the ability to immediately withdraw them without receiving a fine and with interest at a rate higher than the market average,” the Skolkovo Foundation http://rbth.com/news/2013/03/01/skolkov ... 23414.html said in statement made public in 2013.

That same year, Russian investigators analyzing Federal Security Service, FSB, data in Russia determined the Skolkovo Fund misappropriated 3.5 billion rubles (approximately $55 million) allotted from the Russian government’s budget for the Skolkovo technology cluster’s development – a sum that was documented to have disappeared after it was deposited with Metcombank.

In reporting the disappearance of these funds, the Russian media reported Cyprus-based Winterlux Ltd. holds nearly 100 percent in Metcombank registered in Kamensk-Uralsky, the Sverdlovsk region, and Winterlux is controlled by Vekselberg through a chain of other companies including Mendo Portfolio, Renova Industries, and Renova Holding – confirming that Vekselberg is the primary beneficiary of a chain of offshore corporations involved in international money laundering that stretch from Cyprus to the Bahamas, ending up in the British Virgin Islands.

It turns out http://www.ewdn.com/2013/03/04/skolkovo ... stigation/ that of the 31.6 billion rubles (approximately $1 billion) the Skolkovo Foundation received from the state budget from 2010 through October 2012, just 18.9 billion, or less than 60 percent, was actually spent.

Predictably, the Skolkovo Foundation, http://sk.ru/news/b/pressreleases/archi ... lkovo.aspx in an official statement, denied any wrongdoing, arguing that once Russian government budget funds are transferred to the Foundation, they can no longer be considered as budget means, such that the funds can be used in any way the Foundation deems legitimate, according to Russia’s budget code.

“Among the offers made [to the Skolkovo Foundation] by several banks, Metcombank’s terms were just unprecedented,” Skolkov Foundation’s Vice President for External Communications Alexander Chernov elaborated in an exchange with Kommersant, a nationally distributed newspaper published in Russia, dealing mainly with business and politics.

Metcombank provided a 5.65 percent interest rate when the average market average was around 4 percent. This permitted Chernov to argue as follows: “The extra-high rate allowed the Skolkovo Foundation to earn around 80 million rubles ($2.6 million) in interest, so what violations are we talking about?”

In April 2013, Russian government authorities raided Skolkovo, arresting executive Aleksey Belyukov for graft, in a move that clearly looked like a scapegoat had been found, https://www.rt.com/politics/vice-presid ... graft-932/ allowing the Skolkovo Foundation and Metcombank to continue their serendipitous relationship.

To date, the Russian government has not given an accounting what happened to the missing funds supposedly once deposited in the Skolkovo Foundation’s account at Metcombank

A Johnny Chung replay?

Between 1994 and 1996, Johnny Chung was a major player in Washington political finance and a star guest of the Bill Clinton White House, as a result of his donating some $366,000 to the Democratic National Committee, until it became public knowledge Chung’s funds traced back to military intelligence sources in the Chinese government.

What is suspicious about the Vekselberg connections to the Clintons and Podesta is not only Vekselberg’s generous donations to the Clinton Foundation but also his close ties to Russian military intelligence.

“Skolkovo’s link to the Russian military-intelligence apparatus is not in dispute,” noted the Government Accountability Institute’s http://www.g-a-i.org/u/2016/08/Report-S ... 012016.pdf report entitled “From Russia With Money: Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset, and Cronyism,” issued in August this year.

The Government Accountability Institute report continued:

The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth issued a report in 2013 (written in 2012) about the security implications of Skolkovo. The report declared that the purpose of Skolkovo was to serve as a “vehicle for worldwide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.” Of course, technology can have multiple uses—both civilian and military. And the report noted that “the Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine.


Security expert and former National Security Analyst Agency analyst John R. Schindler picked up the theme http://observer.com/2016/08/hillarys-se ... nraveling/ in an article published in the Observer on Aug. 25, 2016, entitled “Hillary’s Secret kremlin Connection is Quickly Unraveling.”

“Schweizer shows that John Podesta sat on the board of a Dutch-registered company that took $35 million from the Kremlin [Joule, the same company from which Podesta got the undisclosed stock options],” Schindler wrote. “The company was a transparent Russian front, and how much Podesta was compensated—and for what—is unclear. In addition, Podesta failed to disclose his position on that board to the Federal government, as required by law.”

Schindler next turned his attention to Secretary of State Clinton.

“Even worse is how Clinton, Inc. profited from the Russian ‘reset’ that was one of the big achievements of Hillary’s tenure at Foggy Bottom,” Schindler continued. “Never mind that the reset was a disaster, culminating in Kremlin aggression against Ukraine. Hillary’s signature program at the State Department ended in unambiguous failure. Yet Clinton, Inc. did very well out of the temporary warming of relations with Moscow.”

Peter Schweizer, in his bestselling book entitled “Clinton Cash,” noted that of the 28 U.S., European, and Russian companies that participated in Skolkovo, 17 of them were Clinton Foundation donors or had hired former President Clinton to give speeches, concluding that Skolkovo benefactors ended up giving Clinton, Inc. somewhere between $6.5 million and $23.5 million – a figure that is indeterminate, and could yet be higher, because the Clinton Foundation has yet to reveal all its donors.

Finally, Schindler agreed Skolkovo was merely an extension of Russia’s military intelligence network.

“Therefore, it’s no surprise that Western intelligence considers Skolkovo to be an extension of Russia’s military-industrial complex—and its intelligence services,” Schindler wrote.

“A July 2013 unclassified study by U.S. European Command that surveyed Skolkovo activities http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/Collab ... olkovo.pdf suggested, in delicate language, that Russia’s Silicon Valley is ‘an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage,’” Schindler noted. “Stealing the West’s hi-tech secrets has long been a Kremlin forte, and Skolkovo is merely the newest effort to purloin our advanced technology.”
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