Tag Archives: Bette Davis Eyes

Has Donald Trump Ever Been Rich?

I had always thought of Donald Trump as someone who had once been very rich, lost a great deal of money, and now tried to pass off his fractional fortune as the bounty of a Midas. This ancient article, “All of the People, All the Time” from the valuable Spy magazine archive puts that idea to rest for me. This creature was always a nuisance, and never rich.

I excerpt the beginning, three interesting points, and its conclusion.

The opening:


How Donald Trump Fooled the Media, Used the Media to Fool Banks, Used the Banks to Fool the Bondholders and Used the Bondholders to Pay for the Yachts and Mansions and Mistresses

by John Connolly

With his bluster and his extravagance and his tabloid love life, Donald Trump has always been a source of considerable entertainment. If we’re honest, we all have to admit that after his every achievement in greed or vanity we’ve said to ourselves, Heck, you’ve gotta love that guy! Like some funny, impossibly venal puppet in a Punch-and-Judy show, Trump has always given us a good laugh. In fact, Trump’s image as a buffoon is just another example of how the press has protected him from real scrutiny for so long. While one would prefer not to be considered a joke, that is not so bad if it distracts people from seeing what one really is: a charlatan, a liar, a cheat. But if Trump has thrown the press and public off his trail during the last year, he has not managed the same trick with law enforcement. SPY has learned that Trump’s 1988 sale of Resorts International to Merv Griffin is now the subject of two criminal investigations, one by the FBI. “We are looking into the organized-crime [side of it],” says a law-enforcement official. Furthermore, John Sweeney of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement confirms that his agency is also studying Trump’s participation in the Resorts deal.

A former…well, top Trump executive told SPY he considers Trump “evil incarnate.” A mobster who knew Trump socially said of him once, “He’d lie to you about what time of day it is – just for the practice.” And indeed, a close study of Trump’s actions over the past few years reveals a man addicted to deception, a man who invested like a fool, a man who shaved from deals and bled failing companies of cash so that he could live with absurd excess, a man who borrowed huge amounts from credulous banks and investors, a man who not only is not now a billionaire but never had $1 billion or $500 million or – very possibly – even $100 million and who has been strapped since 1987. Donald Trump is not just some cartoon character, a guy with a comb-over and a press agent and a board game named after him; he is and always has been a real and fairly treacherous human being.

In the history of finance, Donald Trump will be known for one brilliant innovation. No one before Trump had used the press so cunningly to give himself legitimacy with creditors. Trump made the media his balance sheet. Reports of Trump’s wealth in newspapers and especially in sober business magazines such as Fortune and Forbes and Business Week were the basis upon which banks lent him money and the public bought his bonds.

A spokesman for Arthur Andersen, Trump’s accountants until 1990, admitted to SPY that they had never conducted a financial audit of Donald Trump. Andersen did conduct “financial reviews” – the term for a very superficial analysis of management and procedures, a once-over quite unlike an audit, which would include the accountants’ solemn opinion of the finances under examination. Sources at Chase Manhattan and Citibank – from which Trump borrowed $290 million and $990 million, respectively – say that although Trump may have given the bank audited financial statements for certain specific properties, they never had an audited statement of Donald Trump and his finances generally. Bankers Trust – which has lent Trump more than $100 million with no collateral – declined to comment for this article. Manufacturers Hanover – which has lent Trump $160 million – also declined to comment.

Two of the most powerful banks in the world report that no one ever audited Donald Trump. Some of the loans that the banks made to Trump even had provisions stating that if his net worth fell below a certain level ($600 million, for example), Trump would have to pay back the loans immediately. Very prudent – except that the banks never insisted that Trump verify his net worth by audit.

So, without audits, often without collateral, how did Trump manage to borrow all that money? Well, every one knew that Donald Trump was a billionaire, and who wouldn’t lend money to a billionaire? Banks are in the business of making loans, and in the overheated eighties, a banker couldn’t wait to make a loan to Donald Trump. The banks and the people who bought Trump’s bonds were influenced by the news accounts of Trump’s billions.

If Trump had told the press the truth, or if the press had held his claims up to even a rudimentary level of scrutiny, then Trump might not owe the banks $2 billion on which he has suspended interest payments, and he might not have sold $1.277 billion in bonds that are now worth only $493 million. But Trump didn’t tell the truth, and the media were pathetically gullible. Even the press reports of Ivana’s prenuptial agreement are wrong – it is for $10 million, not $25 million. The information presented below is not based on hindsight – if journalists had been inclined to look, they could have found out the truth at any time.

Interesting point one:

Trump Tower and the Grand Hyatt were Trump’s first major projects. Both were initiated when New York was still reeling from the fiscal crisis of the mid-seventies and was willing to make any deal with any developer, just as long as he developed. As New York’s economy took off in the early eighties, the deals made Trump look like a winner. What the media have ignored for purposes of assessing Trump’s wealth and ability, though, is that neither project was Trump’s alone. The Hyatt, a renovation of the 64-year-old Commodore Hotel, is half owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago. Equitable Life holds the mortgage to the hotel, and since the Pritzkers presumably really are worth about $5 billion, Equitable probably felt safe entering a deal with them. What did Trump bring? He knew his way around city government, so he won the tax abatements that made the Hyatt a success.

Equitable then agreed to be Trump’s partner in Trump Tower, putting up half the money. Equitable sold those condos at the height of the market and then wanted out of the market and then wanted out of the retail and commercial space. Trump bought them out with a $75 million loan from Chase Manhattan. He has come to them with other plans, but they have decided to pass on these ventures.

It is difficult to determine exactly what value to place on Trump’s equity in the Hyatt and Trump Tower. One popular misconception is easily remedied, however: Donald Trump in no sense owns Trump Tower. The condominiums that make up all but 19 floors of the building are owned, of course, by the people who bought the apartments. Trump owns only the retail space and his apartment and office. He surely made some money on those condominiums, with Equitable’s help, and the Hyatt continues to be profitable. But like a movie star with a couple of early hits, Trump traded on those successes for a decade.


During our look into Trump’s stock transactions, we came across an interesting item. In 1986, Trump, the “billionaire,” needed $31 million to meet a margin call for his purchase of Bally Corporation stock. The funds to meet the margin call came from his Holiday Corporation stock profits; a credit line from Bankers Trust; a distribution from Trump Equitable 5th Avenue Corporation, which is the agent for Trump Tower commercial space; miscellaneous credit lines from other banks; and a 1985 federal income tax refund. All this desperate scrounging by a top-of-his-form billionaire for a measly $31 million.

And three; the cited article is “The Unmaking of a Documentary” by Edwin Diamond.

“[Trump] had the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Company do a special audit. The CPAs declared Trump had cash assets of $700,125,00 as of November 30, 1988…So much for Trump’s not being as big as he says he is”

– “The Unmaking of a Documentary,” New York, September 4, 1989

Ah, yes, “So much for Trump’s not being as big as he says he is.” In some ways, his use of the Arthur Andersen letter is Trump’s most elegant deception. The accountants’ carefully worded letter did say – perfectly accurately – that on the specified date Trump had $700,125,000 in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. Having seen the lengths to which Trump was driven in order to raise a mere #31 million back in late 1986, we may be surprised to learn that on a typical day in 1988 he had 20 times that in liquid assets. Fortunately, a simple explanation presents itself: if one interprets it properly, which the Trump-adoring editors at New York were in no way inclined to do, the Andersen letter actually demonstrates that on November 30, 1988, Donald Trump was $20 million in the red.

The date of the review was not the end of a fiscal year or quarter, but neither was it arbitrary. It happened to be eight days after Merrill Lynch had given Trump $651 million in cash specifically for the purpose of building the Taj Mahal. The money had been raised through a junk-bond offering. The accountants’ letter made only passing reference to the possibility that any of the $700 million was earmarked for specific projects. It also failed to explain that the marketable securities were shares in Alexander’s department stores – stock that Trump had borrowed $69 million from Citibank and Bear Stearns to buy.

Andersen stated that Trump had $700 million in cash and stock. Deduct the $69 million owed on the stock, and that leaves Trump with $631 million. But Merrill Lynch had just given Trump $651 million for the Taj Mahal, so, in fact, he was “overdrawn” for $20 million.

The conclusion. The Castle referred to is the Trump Castle Casino, an Atlantic City casino, now called the Atlantic City Golden Nugget.

A fool and a liar and a deadbeat Trump may be, but no one can say that he doesn’t have touching, human qualities. Take his solicitude to his aging father. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had surreptitiously borrowed $3 million from Fred Trump to help him make an $18.4 million Castle Casino bond payment. A week before Christmas, Trump had Howard Snyder, an attorney for his father, walk into the Castle, go up to the cashier’s window, buy $3 million in chips and leave with those chips. With that $3 million, Trump had the money he needed to make the bond payment.

The CCC requires that all loans be reported. Needless to say, Trump did not advise the Commission of the loan from Fred. “We found out about [the transaction] the next day. We began to look into it right away,” John Sweeney, the new director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, told SPY. “We sent a letter to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We are treating it as a loan.'” This is what things have come to for Donald Trump. The boy from Queens had to go back to Queens for a bailout.

Addendum, added on September 17th, 2013:

While reading Mark Singer’s collection of profiles, Character Studies, I came across the one source of actual, substantial income by which one might label Trump rich, not mega-rich, not the wealth of Midas that he affects, but still very rich. It occurred after his supposed heyday, with the sale of his share of the Grand Hyatt Hotel to the Pritzkers. I give it over to Singer:

Then, last October, Trump came into possession of what a normal prson would regard as real money. For $142 million, he sold his half interest in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on Forty-second Street, to the Pritzker family, of Chicago, his longtime, and long-estranged, partners in the property. Most of the proceeds weren’t his to keep, but he walked away with more than $25 million. The chief significance of the Grand Hyatt sale was that it enabled Trump to extinguish the remnants of his once monstrous personally guaranteed debt. When Forbes published its annual list of the four hundred richest Americans, he sneaked on (373rd position) with an estimated net worth of $450 million. Trump, meanwhile, had compiled his own unaudited appraisal, one he was willing to share along with the amusing caveat “I’ve never shown this to a reporter before.” According to his calculations, he was actually worth $2.25 billion – Forbes had low-balled him by 80 percent. Still, he had officially rejoined the plutocracy, his first appearance since the blip.

I hand off the ending of this post to the ending of Singer’s own piece, which is as memorable and well-written as anything in the collection. The profile came out shortly after Trump’s first divorce:

Next, we headed north, to Mount Kisco, in Westchester County – specifically to Seven Springs, a fifty-five-room limestone-and-granite Georgian splendor completed in 1917 by Eugene Meyer, the father of Katharine Graham. If things proceeded according to plan, within a year and a half the house would become the centerpiece of the Trump Mansion at Seven Springs, a golf club where anyone willing to part with $250,000 could tee up.

From the rear terrace, Trump mapped out some holes of the golf course: an elevated tee above a par thre, across a ravine filled with laurel and dogwood; a couple of parallel par fours above the slope that led to a reservoir. Then he turned to me and said, “I bought this whole thing for seven and a half million dollars. People ask, ‘How’d you do that?” I said, ‘I don’t know.’ Does that make sense?” Not really, nor did his next utterance: “You know, nobody’s ever seen a granite house before.”

Granite? Nobody? Never? In the history of humankind? Impressive.

In Trump’s office the other morning, I asked whether, in light of his domestic shuffle, he planned to change his living arrangements. He smiled for the first time that day and said, “Where am I going to live? That might be the most difficult question you’ve asked so far. I want to finish the work on my apartment at Trump International. That should take a few months, maybe two, maybe six. And then I think I’ll live there for maybe six months. Let’s just say, for a period of time. The buildings always work better when I’m living there.”

What about the Trump Tower apartment? Would that sit empty?

“Well, I wouldn’t sell that. And, of course, there’s no one who would ever build an apartment like that. The penthouse at Trump International isn’t nearly as big. It’s maybe seven thousand square feet. But it’s got a living room that is the most spectacular residential room in New York. A twenty-five-foot ceiling. I’m telling you, the best room anywhere. Do you understand?”

I think I did: the only apartment with a better view than the best apartment in the world was the same apartment. Except for the one across the park, which had the most spectacular living room in the world. No one had ever seen a granite house before. And, most important, every square inch belonged to Trump, who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul. “Trump” – a fellow with universal recognition but with a suspicion that an interior life was an intolerable inconvenience, a creature everywhere and nowhere, uniquely capable of inhabiting it all at once, all alone.

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Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and a Tea Party Leader

Occasionally, one comes across an old story, an obscurity, that is like a small rock launched at fine glass, the spiderweb of cracks traveling out from the initial impact, all the way to the edges of the frame. It is marring, and destructive, yet we are held agape at the reach of this forgotten moment. The auguring incident is a magnet for any writer, so much so that a now extinct magazine Spy made fun of this technique, with its Ten Years Ago in Spy Today, where it would approvingly quote a decade-old story from its pages unerringly anticipating contemporary events; Spy was a magazine full of vicious satire, and these decade old stories were always made up. The necessary repetition involved in writing is too frequently unacknowledged, and I am by no means the first to cite this feature in an introduction; James Traub, a Spy veteran1, did so effectively in “The Way We Live Now”, and he gives a more succinct intro to this feature: “There used to be a column in Spy magazine, Ten Years Ago in Spy, which featured astonishing and, of course, completely fictitious acts of journalistic foresight. ‘NASA’s enthusiasm notwithstanding, the space shuttle is a potentially deadly hodgepodge of untested technologies,’ ran one breathless article. ‘High on the list of suspected components are the enormous flexible gaskets…'”

I give some extensive mention to this, because it is in the pages of this magazine that we can find the epicenter of one such quaking event. This magazine is ancient, this magazine is extinct – an ad makes you think, “Oh, these are the people Patrick Bateman killed” – but its tremors reach us even now. The story is diligent, quality reporting – Spy‘s alumni are widely spread and fertile spores, its writing a shaming standard to the low watermark that’s attempted now – but very much a back of the book, short feature, its ominous qualities impossible for the writers of the time to discern, but obvious to most readers now. We go back not ten years, but twenty two, to August 1990, the magazine’s cover featuring a weeping pseudo-billionaire still very much with us, and inside is “Fooled on the Hill: How some die-hard Cold Warriors and a Belgian con artist tried to change U.S. policy in Africa”, by David Aronson and David Kamp.

The piece opens with the tumult around the inauguration of the president of Namibia, a country sharing borders with both Angola and South Africa. The nation was beginning its transition to independence, after decades of being the vassal state of apartheid South Africa, the ruthless segregation policy of that country imposed on Namibia as well. For this transition to independence to take place would require UN supervision, which would require funding from wealthier nations, including the United States. Many hard-line conservatives, however, did not want this independence to take place, people like the notorious senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. They tried to stop it from happening through legislative chicanery and deception. I quote extensively from the piece, because it tells the story better than I can paraphrase it, and I begin such quoting now:

Four months earlier Helms and his right-wing allies had managed to put the United States in a position of disapproving of Namibian independence by sneaking a rider through a budget bill through Congress. The rider authorized the president to halt U.S. funding for a United Nations team, called UNTAG, that was overseeing Namibia’s peaceful, carefully negotiated secession from South Africa. As we shall see, the basis of Helms’s legislative gambit was bogus, a fabrication that might have been revealed had Congress administered some rudimentary tests before enacting the bill into law.

Helms, like most of Capitol Hill’s extreme conservatives, never wanted an independent Namibia, a country whose dominant party (SWAPO) is aligned with Moscow. Neither do Helms and his ilk hold much affection for Namibia’s friendly neighbor, Angola, whose Marxist government is backed by Cuba and is fighting a civil war against Jonas Savimbi’s U.S.-supported UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) guerillas. In December 1988, Angola, Cuba, and South Africa signed an agreement in which Cuba promised to withdraw its troops from Angola by mid-1991 and South Africa agreed to allow Namibia’s independence. This deal was not universally approved; Duncan Sellars, chairman of the conservative International Freedom Foundation (IFF) in Washington, says that after the agreement was signed, right-wingers thought of it as “a sellout of [South Africa-controlled] Namibia and a sellout of UNITA.”

This group then goes into action:

Helms and a platoon of right-wing operatives (the lobbyists at Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, who represent UNITA, and the think-tankers at the Heritage Foundation and the IFF) coalesced around a piece of legislation – the rider to the budget bill – that would have given President Bush an excuse for withholding Washington’s funding for the UN team in Namibia if any evidence was found that the Cubans were using chemical weapons to support their Marxist pals in Angola. In other words, the bill said that if the Commies misbehaved in Angola, we couldn’t help pay for Namibia’s transition to independence.

We are then told the genesis for this action:

The idea for the bill was born during a trip taken to Angola in March 1989 by Michael Johns, the Heritage Foundation’s policy analyst for African affairs.

There he met Andries Holst, a West German who claimed to be filming a documentary about Cuba’s use of chemical weapons in Angola. Johns brought Holst to Washington where the German filmmaker was introduced to Helms, State Department officials, lobbyists and other conservatives likely to be moved by his footage, which purported to show the horrors of chemical warfare.

The filmmaker’s evidence, however, does not persuade, so another tact is tried:

For whatever reason, Holst did not impress, and Hems’s bill foundered. To salvage the effort, the IFF’s Duncan Sellars refocused attention on a scientific report Holst had commissioned from Aubin Heynrickx, a toxicologist from the University of Ghent in Belgium, which substantiated Holst’s claims. In July, Sellars brought Heyndrickx to Washington to tour the same conservative network Holst had earlier traveled. The difference: Heyndrickx’s opinions carried the heft and credibility of science.

And this time, it works.

While Heyndrickx held forth, Helms rallied his allies on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to lash the rider to a vital appropriations bill and Black, Manafort’s lobbyists hit the Hill. And son of a gun, with the boost Heyndrickx provided, the plan worked: on November 21, George Bush put his signature on a bill containing the Cuban-chemical-warfare provision.

There is a caveat:

But what might look like a model of parliamentary maneuvering is more likely an instance of ultraconservative fraud. For as it turns out, Holst is an impostor with no serious journalistic or filmmaking credentials, and Heyndrickx, on whose reports the rider was entirely predicated, is a publicity-seeking showboat.

The evidentiary foundation of this bill, the proof of use of chemical weapons, is soon revealed to be bunk:

Heyndrickx’s examination of Holst’s bomb fragments and environmental samples showed that chemical weapons were used. Other chemical-weapons experts – one is tempted to say real chemical-weapons experts – disagree. Finland’s Marjatta Rautio, who is perhaps the world’s preeminent expert in this field, examined Heyndrickx’s data and reports. “I don’t see the connection between the results and the conclusions,” she says. Julian Robinson, senior researcher at the University of Sussex, doubts Heyndrickx’s descriptions of the victims’ medical conditions. And André De Leenheer, Heydrickx’s overseer at Ghent, is frankly contemptuous. “I’ve been studying everything in detail that has been written,” De Leenheer says of Heyndrickx’s findings. “It’s a real joke.” De Leenheer says he would kick out any student who handed in a similar report.

A toxicologist claims that a soviet journal gave high marks to Heyndrickx’s work, but it turns out that the source for this commendation is Heyndrickx himself. The lobbying firm behind this whole effort, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, gave no scrutiny whatsoever of the work of this supposed expert. When Heyndrickx passed the material on to the state department, their tests came back negative for any evidence of chemical contamination. A representative of UNITA, the Angolan military group that helped shepard Heyndrickx’s work to those in the U.S., claimed that he had discussed the work with other experts at “a university of chemical warfare” in Switzerland. When a swiss embassy is contacted, the reporters are told that no such studies are undertaken at any swiss university, and no such university in Switzerland exists. The article puts it best: “this significant piece of legislation was passed with no credible substantiation whatsoever.”

The article ends with a definitive putdown: “Is Heyndrickx a charlatan?” A chemical weapons expert at the state department responds, “I have no doubt about that,” adding, “That’s for sure.” Of course, this is not the story’s true end, but part of a larger picture. Anyone who reads this piece now sees immediately its unconscious prescience for the war in Iraq: poorly examined evidence passed to the U.S. by third parties with a vested interest that such evidence prompts the U.S. into action, all helpfully co-ordinated by a lobbying group that has no problem representing a murderous dictator, but has no interest in anyone working minimum wage. Then, the price would have been Namibian independence; in Iraq, it was death and maiming for hundreds of thousands. So, this small story (though not small at all, especially if one is from Namibia) holds that illumination, but it holds other light as well, by simply examining some of the players in the context of what a brief two decades of extra knowledge can give us.

At least one of the participants, the film-maker Andries Holst, has seemingly disappeared from the eye of history. Aubin Heynrickx, the ridiculed toxicologist, shows up again during the lead-up to the trials over the massacre of Kurds in northern Iraq, “In Iraq chemical arms trial, scientists face many burdens of proof”. He is described as “somewhat of a maverick in the field”, Heynrickx asserting that the Iraq army used cyanide and biological toxins, an assertion which most in his field disagree with2. No mention is made of his sorry involvement in the attempt to block Namibian independence. The best known members of the lobbying powerhouse Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly are Charlie Black, Roger Stone, and Lee Atwater. Atwater, a man best known for his use of the infamous Willie Horton ad during the 1988 election, died, thankfully, very young. Roger Stone, a Nixon campaign alumnus, would go on to stage the Brooks Brothers riot in the 2000 election in order to stop vote counting in Miami3, help destroy the Reform party in that same year in order to eliminate a third-party threat on the right4, as well as fund and co-ordinate Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential run in order to hurt the eventual democratic candidate with black voters5. Other notable incidents included his work as a liaison for the ill-viewed NXIVM cult6, flogging the possibility of a Michelle Obama “whitey tape”7, and a consulting venture with Scott Rothstein, the man behind the largest ponzi scheme in Florida history, now serving half a century in prison8. After a New York campaign in which he backed distribution of a flyer accusing a libertarian candidate of being a pedophile9, he would go on to run the campaign of the libertarian federal candidate, Gary Johnson, either out of devout libertarian belief, financial need, or perhaps again manipulating a third party or outsider candidate to arrange for a republican win10.

Charlie Black would continue to be a man of incredible power and toxic clientele. His list of clients would include Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile behind most of the bunko evidence of biological and chemical weapons, as well as the mercenary firm Blackwater, which he called “a fine company that’s provided a great service to the people of the United States and Iraq”, along with Phillipine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and Phillip Morris11. He would retire from lobbying when he went to work in the 2008 race for the crusading anti-lobbyist candidate John McCain; following the campaign, he un-retired from lobbying, and went back to work at his old firm12. During that same campaign, Mitt Romney criticized McCain for having so many lobbyists as associates. When someone pointed out that Romney also had plenty of lobbyists in his campaign, the candidate insisted that they were not involved in his campaign, but simply informal advisers13. In 2012, Black would join Romney as an informal adviser as well. Not that he was actively participating in any way: “No formal role in the campaign. Just offer advice occasionally.”14

These men, however, were well known already for their ignoble work. There was one player, crucial in the incident, that was behind a veil, and this was the International Freedom Foundation. I re-quote again their first appearance in the story: “Duncan Sellars, chairman of the conservative International Freedom Foundation (IFF) in Washington, says that after the agreement was signed, right-wingers thought of it as ‘a sellout of [South Africa-controlled] Namibia and a sellout of UNITA.'” The IFF was a think tank started by Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who served half a decade in prison15. This, however, is not the chief notoriety of this organization; its chief notoriety is that a substantial amount of its funding secretly came from the apartheid government of South Africa, for the purpose of opposing sanctions, defaming its opponent, the ANC, and the ANC’s leader, Nelson Mandela. The funding of the IFF within the South African intelligence service was sometimes referred to as “Pacman”, and sometimes as “Operation Babushka” – a babushka is one of those wood russian dolls which contain another doll within16. This operation was handled by Craig Williamson, an intelligence agent who was also behind the assassination of Ruth First, Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists17. The South African interest in this case was that the country very much wanted to remain in Namibia, where it could continue its apartheid policy. Namibian independence would end all that.

This information all came out a half-decade after the Spy magazine piece, during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here is the foundation as described in volume two of the commission’s summary report:

An overview is provided below of certain projects undertaken by the South African Defence Force (SADF), South African Police (SAP), National Intelligence Service (NIS), Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of National Education, as presented to the Kahn Committee, the Ministers’ Committee on Special Projects and the Secret Services Evaluation Committee.

Most projects appear to be related to the establishment of front organisations or actions aimed at counteracting the activities of the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies, primarily in the sphere of information, communication, disinformation, propaganda and counter-propaganda. Other projects were aimed at circumventing sanctions.

South African Defence Force (SADF)

The SADF secret projects covered a range of activities such as publications, front organisations, and support to surrogate groups.

Two of the more costly projects were Pacman and Byronic. Pacman was the code name for the International Freedom Foundation, which had offices in Johannesburg, Washington, London, Brussels and Bonn. Its objectives were described as the combating of sanctions and support to constitutional initiatives through publications, lobbying, conferences etc. It specifically supported Mr Jonas Savimbi and UNITA. Leading personalities in government circles in Europe and the USA were involved, with half of its funds coming from abroad. Pacman’s annual budget for 1991/92 was listed as over R10 million. In late September 1991, the Minister of Finance agreed to a one-off payment of R7 million, approved by Minster of Defence, “to enable the country to withdraw from the enterprise”. This payment was vested in a trust controlled by trustees appointed by SADF.

All those who had any connection with the IFF, or might have had any connection with the IFF, denied knowing of the South African funding. “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it,” said Sellars, now a Virginia businessman18. Jesse Helms, the senator who put the rider in the original legislation, would deny even having knowledge of the group, through his then spokesman, Marc Thiessen: “Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them.”19 Thiessen would go on to be a speechwriter for George W. Bush, and would write a book defending the administration’s use of torture, Courting Disaster. In her review, “Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program”, Jane Mayer, author of the definitive torture history The Dark Side, would write that the book “downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality under the Bush Administration to the point of falsification.”20

Abramoff also denied knowing of the source of funds for his organization, though another Abramoff venture makes this less credible. The IFF was only one Abramoff project which involved Africa; another was a symbolic meeting of anti-communist unity, the Democratic International, organized in Jamba, Angola, of various cold war anti-communist leaders: Contras, Afghan mujahaiden, Angola’s UNITA, among others. None of these groups spoke each other’s language, they soon ran out of food, the pact of co-operation signed there had no meaning and led to nothing21. The only one to benefit from this meaningless ceremony was Abramoff, who was approached to make a movie of Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, a man who was later to be charged with war crimes, before being killed in battle22. “Nobody watches documentaries,” replied Abramoff, and instead he made Red Scorpion 23. Scorpion is a too little examined movie which is ostensibly anti-communist (Cuban and Russian military are the main villains), but whose chief purpose appears to serve as South Africa propaganda24. Its hero is a Russian defector who does not look slavic at all, but resembles nothing less than the aryan ideal of a blonde superman. This man helps the black insurgents against their true oppressors, the Soviet alliance, much as South Africa tried to set up allied governments in Namibia and Angola which fought against anti-colonial movements that had soviet support. The movie ends with a triptych that illustrates how a white south african military man might see himself during that struggle – the Aryan ideal flanked by his allies, an unctuous american reporter and a black rebel leader. That the movie strongly suggests South African propaganda is not an accident – Williamson, the South African intelligence agent would say that Scorpion was funded by “our guys”, and that they also provided military equipment for the production25. Russell Crystal, an adviser to F.W. DeKlerk, South Africa’s president, was an informal producer on the film26. After Swaziland fell through as a filming location, it would be shot in Namibia, then the protectorate of South Africa27. Abramoff planned on using South African Defense Force (SADF) troops and equipment; Carmen Argenziano, the actor playing the villainous Cuban colonel, confirms that many of those playing Russian and Cuban troops were SADF soldiers28.

That South Africa was heavily involved in such ventures, a connection seemingly unknown to so many, was seemingly known very well to others. “We heard that very right-wing South African money was helping fund the movie,” said Argenziano, “It wasn’t very clear. We were pretty upset about the source of the money. We thought we were misled. We were shocked that these brothers who we thought were showbiz liberals – Beverly Hills Jewish kids – were doing this.”29 Chester “Chet” Crocker, assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1981 to 1989, did not think there was any way the Democratic International could have been organized without help from the SADF.30 “We knew that the IFF was funded by the South African government,” Herman Cohen, who ran Africa operations for the National Security Council during the Reagan era, would tell Salon magazine. “It was one of a number of front organizations.”31 When asked about South Africa’s involvement with the IFF and Scorpion in 1995, at the time of the Truth commission revelations, Abramoff called them “outrageous.”32 When his brother, Robert, was asked about the allegations in 2006, after Jack’s arrest, he would say, “It’s a family matter and I prefer not to comment on anything.”33

The exact influence of the South African government on the conservative movement is difficult to discern exactly, because they often seem to move in lockstep, without dissent or question, whether it be opposition to sanctions, support for South Africa in Naimbia, support for the South African proxy in Angola, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, harsh criticism of Nelson Mandela, or strong support for Madela’s rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. A good way of getting insight into this is by looking at the writings of Michael Johns, then an africa specialist for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. It is Johns, remember, who is the seed of the Namibian chemical weapons story. I quote again the relevant section:

The idea for the bill was born during a trip taken to Angola in March 1989 by Michael Johns, the Heritage Foundation’s policy analyst for African affairs.

There he met Andries Holst, a West German who claimed to be filming a documentary about Cuba’s use of chemical weapons in Angola. Johns brought Holst to Washington where the German filmmaker was introduced to Helms, State Department officials, lobbyists and other conservatives likely to be moved by his footage, which purported to show the horrors of chemical warfare.

Johns was a passionate supporter of Jonas Savimbi, the head of Angola’s UNITA – as mentioned already, a man later indicted as a war criminal and killed in battle. After Angola’s independence from Portugal, UNITA would break away from the coalition which fought for this independence, and wage a long civil war; it fought entirely out of self-interest, colluding with the former colonial power of Portugal34. UNITA had nothing like the support of the other political parties in the country, and would not have been able to wage its long struggle without military support and funding from South Africa and the United States35. Savimbi was fluent in four languages, an educated man, a brilliant tactician, an opportunist, and a sociopath36. Chester Crocker described him as “a brilliant military warlord who operated by the gun, lived by the gun, and died by the gun.”37 Don Steinberg, ambassador to Angola during the first Clinton administration, on Savimbi: “He was the most articulate, charismatic homicidal maniac I’ve ever met.”38 He recruited children into his armies, he burned women for being witches, he specifically targeted medical workers and school teachers for killing39. When he suspected top members of his command of betrayal, the men who were his ambassadors to the United States, he had them and their families killed. UNITA, according to one survey, was responsible for the majority of the landmines in Angola, supplied by the United States, and placed in fields – a measure which had a devastating effect on agriculture and triggered a famine40. He was seen as an anti-communist by the U.S., but those within his movement say that Savimbi ran UNITA like a communist organization41. After a long, bloody war, there were finally elections in 1991. When Savimbi lost at the ballot box, he went back to living by the gun42. The campaign of maiming, killing, and mining by UNITA continued for another decade, funded by blood diamonds43. In 1999 he was indicted for war crimes, and then, finally, out of some strange mercy, he was killed in battle, and Angola’s civil war ended. Angola is still recovering from this time of horrors: it is a hideously inequitable place, the most expensive country in the world, its economy designed around guest workers for the oil industry and the ruling elite, who get swimming pools, nightclubs, and underage girls, while most citizens get shantytowns44.

It is in this context that we can read Johns on Savimbi. In 1990, after the end of the Cold War, he argues for continuing aid to this man so that he might finally take power. In the essay, “With Freedom Near Angola: This Is No Time To Curtail UNITA Assistance”, he charges that the obstacle to freedom and democracy in Angola lies not with Savimbi, but his opponents:

Since it began arming UNITA in 1986, Washington has made a substantial investment in UNITA’s bid for a democratic Angola. American support for UNITA has discouraged Soviet and Cuban military involvement in southern Africa. Indeed, having been defeated in battle, some 65,000 Cuban troops in Angola are now headed back to Havana as a result of a negotiated settlement reached in December 1988.

American support for UNITA since 1986 has also helped advance the cause of democracy in Angola, raising hope that the 15-year conflict can be settled without further loss of blood. Angola’s Marxist regime took power in 1975 promising free and fair multi-party elections; it has yet to hold them. Since 1975, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has been demanding that the Angolan regime keep its promise. George Bush has supported Savimbi’s objective, promising last January that UNITA will receive American support `until genuine national reconciliation has been achieved.’

Ted Kennedy, the usual conservative bogeyman, is the enemy in all this for his opposition to more aid for Savimbi. Kennedy’s action, Johns warns, will lead to a longer war:

In Angola, where a civil war has raged for 15 years between the country’s Soviet-backed Marxist regime and an American-supported resistance movement, peace and freedom are now within sight. Unable to achieve a military victory, the Angolan regime of Jose Eduardo dos Santos is at last considering resistance demands for multi-party elections. These elections would allow a cease fire in the Angolan civil war. An obstacle to this has appeared not in Angola, but in the U.S. Congress. There Senator Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, intends this week to attach an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would end American military assistance to Angola’s democratic resistance forces, known as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Kennedy thus would remove all incentive for Angola’s Marxist regime to continue negotiations, and would likely encourage that regime again to seek a military–rather than diplomatic–solution to Angola’s civil war.

It ends with this vision of what would take place if military aid to Jonas Savimbi is ended:

It would open the door for further militarism on behalf of the Angolan regime, and close the door on the democratic aspirations of the Angolan people.

We also have this piece, again by Johns, “Namibian Voters Deny Total Power to SWAPO” read into the congressional record by Indiana congressman Dan Burton [archive link], in reaction to the vicious smear of Savimbi by those who wanted an end to U.S. aid for this man. Again, it is Savimbi fighting for democracy and good government, ideals blocked by his opponents:

Over the past 12 months, an estimated $1.5 billion in Soviet military assistance has arrived in Angola with the sole intention of driving the Angolan freedom fighters into the ground.

But Jonas Savimbi is still standing. His forces operate in every Angolan province, and over one-third of the country is firmly in their control. All this from a movement whose every survival remains nothing short of miraculous.

In resistance terms, Savimbi is clearly correct. UNITA has won the war. In political terms, however, the struggle for Angolan freedom remains even elusive. The Angolan regime shows little sign of agreeing to the free and fair elections it promised in 1975, leaving Savimbi with little alternative but to continue his battle for freedom.

In Washington, the picture is no prettier. The Angolan government had launched a propaganda campaign intended to discredit the Angolan freedom fighters among its Washington supporters.

Last week, the Angolan government purchased advertising space in the Washington Post and the New York Times in which it quoted from an August National Review article that described Savimbi’s intentions as fighting to extend ‘his autocratic grip on the people within his domain.’ Despite Savimbi’s consistent support for democratic values, the author described UNITA as ‘a highly centralized, Leninist organization.’

The radical organization TransAfrica, which has received donations from the governments of Cuba and Angola, is also weighing in against the freedom fighters. Last week TransAfrica director Randall Robinson held two press conferences in one week to denounce UNITA, and in an apparent effort to overturn any diplomatic gains made by Savimbi’s Washington visit, his organization invited Angolan dictator dos Santos to visit Washington to press his case for a termination of UNITA aid.

We can discern a strong contrast with the way in which Johns views Savimbi and Nelson Mandela. While Savimbi’s murder of civilians goes unmentioned in Johns’ writing, Mandela, though praised sparingly for his work combating apartheid, is described as a terrorist, the head of a communist affiliated terrorist organization, the ANC, and a man who deserved to spend decades in prison. From “For Mandela’s Visit, Some Words of Caution”, written after Mandela was released from prison, just prior to his first visit to the United States:

It is appropriate that one of apartheid’s most heralded resistance figures, Nelson Mandela, will be welcomed to the U.S. next week. Mandela will meet with George Bush on Monday. He will address a joint meeting of Congress the following day, joining the ranks of Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Douglas MacArthur, and more recently Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.

Americans nevertheless have reasons to be skeptical of Mandela. First, Nelson Mandela is not a freedom fighter. He repeatedly has supported terrorism. Since Mandela’s release from prison and his subsequent refusal to renounce violence, the Marxist-dominated ANC has launched terrorism and violence against civilians, claiming several hundred lives. Further, the ANC, in which Mandela serves as Deputy President, has tortured and executed its own members when they have refused to tow the party line, a fact Mandela conceded in a press conference on April 14. ANC dissidents who escaped to Kenya in April contend that at least 120 political prisoners are being detained and tortured in ANC camps in Angola and Uganda. Because of its support for violence against civilians, Mandela’s ANC was labeled a “terrorist” organization last January in the U.S. Defense Department’s Terrorist Group Profiles.

He then goes on to paint Mandela as a potential communist dictator:

Second, though Mandela has spoken out against apartheid, he is not likely to support economic and political freedom if he or the ANC takes power in South Africa. At the very moment communism was collapsing in Eastern Europe, Mandela praised the South African Communist Party in his first speech following his release from prison. Mandela said in Cape Town on February 11: “We are heartened by the fact that the alliance between ourselves and the [communist] party remains as strong as it always was.” Mandela also continues to propose the nationalization of South African industry, even though this failed policy has been rejected not only throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia, but increasingly in Africa.

Johns appears to have a strong preference for Mandela’s rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, instead:

In forming its South Africa policy, Washington must now decide what sort of political system it wants in South Africa. Partly because of its terrorism and alliance with South Africa’s communist party, not all South African blacks support the ANC, and many have sought political alternatives. Foremost among these is the Zulu-dominated Inkatha movement, led by Chief Manosuthu Buthelezi, which represents some 1.5 million black South Africans.

A deferential attitude on the part of Johns towards South Africa is most strikingly revealed in a Heritage lecture on Namibia. From “Namibia and the Global Democratic Revolution”:

Part of the reason the potential dangers of the Namibian independence process, most notably, the rise of a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship in Namibia, receive so little attention in the U.S. is that there is a general feeling that South Africa knows about Namibia – that South Africa has carefully weighted the potential benefits and costs of granting Namibia independence, and if South Africa views the independence process as acceptable to their security interests, there is little reason for the U.S. to have further concern. Our questioning South Africa’s Namibia policy is viewed a little bit like South Africa questioning our Mexico policy.

This lecture was made in 1989, after the U.S. had imposed sanctions on South Africa with overwhelming public support. The apartheid state was viewed as utterly evil; yet here Johns is arguing that the common sense U.S. perspective is that this same apartheid state should have full sway over the government of its neighbors. Note that this is not simply his perspective, it is supposedly the general feeling in the United States, at a time when the public was strongly supporting sanctions, that South Africa should have such sway, and that it is expected for such rule to go unquestioned.

Equally insightful is a review of After Apartheid: The Solution for South Africa by Leon Louw and Frances Kendall (“Swiss Family Buthelezi”). Though the anti-apartheid struggle involved the collective effort of people from many native tribes, as well as south-east asians, Johns opens his review by portraying the country as a place of ethnic strife, where prejudice of white against black is just one conflict of many, and as if that hostility is equal to both sides, and between parties of equal power:

South Africa is a rich and beautiful land where many people hate each other. The hostilities are not simply betwen black and white, or Zulu and Xhosa, or Hindu and Moslem, or Afrikaner and Anglophone. Sometimes the bloodiest conflicts are between rival political organizations within the same ethnic group, especially between radical blacks in the townships associated with the African National Congress (ANC) and the leaders of tribal homelands with strong rural power bases.

We have the continued defamation of the ANC:

It has long been the aim of the South African Communist Party, which exerts significant influence on the ANC, to take control in a unitary state, destroy the power bases of the country’s independent black leadership, and assume totalitarian control. And in pursuit of this objective they have accepted and actively sought the support of the Soviet Union. Occasionally, the ANC might try to cover these facts with cosmetic remarks and there may even be differing viewpoints toward Marxism-Leninism within the organization, but it remains clear that the ANC leadership is, in fact, wedded to terrorism and violence, and very much aligned with Soviet ambitions in southern Africa.

[If] there has been one common characteristics to ANC rhetoric and actions since its 1969 Morogoro conference, it has been that total uncompromising power in South Africa is their only objective, and they have seldom spared any level of violence to achieve this end.

Another figure is brought in to deal with this book’s primary flaw of its insufficiently critical look at the ANC. The man is Warwick-Davies Webb, and I award no points for guessing which think tank he’s from. I will also make the small observation about a strange quality of this review of a South Africa policy book: the only people quoted in the review on the feasibility or commendability of a canton type government appear to be members of its white minority.

However since the ANC cannot thrive without Soviet and other external assistance, why not insert a meaningful constitutional provision that would outlaw foreign intervention in South African affairs? “The book does not take into consideration the possible exploitation of the system by totalitarian groupings,” says Warwick Davies-Webb of the International Freedom Foundation’s Johannesburg office, a group committed to individual liberty and free-market values. The totalitarian threat, Webb thinks, would probably be greatest during the transitional phase. “By bringing in the SACP, ANC, and PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress) into the transitional phase, Leon [Louw] fails to take into account their nature and their short term expedient tactic of accepting co-option into the system in order to further their own political agenda,” he says.

This might be one of the only times where I have seen a book, and its review, refer to the apartheid state as a product of both right and left prejudice, of apartheid as a problem of statism, and most strikingly, one characterized as implicitly racist – if there is any system whose defining, explicit purpose is racist, it would be apartheid.

Again, from the review:

The book contains a brilliant analysis of how apartheid has thrown the South African economy into near shambles. While mineral wealth has kept the country alive, regulations on who can buy and sell goods, who can own property, and who can be employed have generally crippled economic growth. Before “grand apartheid” was enacted by the National Party in 1950, apartheid laws were intended to protect white farmers and workers from black competition. And this is a shame, Kendall and Louw argue, because the South African black tradition – back to the 1800s when the Mgengus and Ngunis were successful herdsmen and farmers – falls solidly in the entrepreneurial tradition. “There is an extraordinary implicit racism in all of this,” remarks Louw, “from the Left and the Right, but especially from the Left. The Left regard blacks as welfare cases, disabled people, for whom the only hope is a masssive paternal welfare state.”

Today South Africa is swamped with a whole array of white-sponsored statist laws that discourage individual initiative and disrupt free enterprise, including minimum standards regulations, extensive licensing laws, discretionary laws regulating the opening of new businesses, and large levels of government ownership over the means of production. South Africa remains perhaps the most overregulated economy in the non-Communist world, and the dead hand of bureaucracy is most stifling for blacks.

The problem is not primarily apartheid, but a strong state. The state must be weakened, for the greater economic benefit of South Africa, to avoid the dominance of a white minority by a black majority, and to prevent the outbreak of ethnic strife warned of in the first paragraph.

The “one man, one vote” unitary state proposed by the ANC and its front organization, the United Democratic Front (UDF), would be unacceptable to Afrikaners and other whites who fear being governed by a black majority, to smaller black ethnic groups who fear oppression of tribal minorities so typical in much of the rest of Africa, and to homeland leaders who fear they would lose their local political authority. The most pressing political challenge for the nation, then, is to find a way of broadening democratic participation while at the same time preventing any one racial, ethnic, or political group from dominating the others.

The book’s solution, one that Johns commends, is for a federal, decentralized state:

For a number of years, many South Africans have argued that strong local government – federalism – is the only democratic system that realistically could replace apartheid. With power decentralized, each group would have the opportunity to govern itself in the areas where it composes a majority. The struggle for national power would become less important if each group knew it would be protected in its own area; national conflict would therefore be diffused.

Johns presents this solution as one equally opposed by the ANC and the pro-apartheid National Party, which is a little unusual, since this federal solution seems uncannily like the one put forth by the same National Party during negotiations over the post-apartheid state, and described by Nelson Mandela in his memoir Long Walk to Freedom, as apartheid in disguise:

Despite [F.W. De Klerk’s] seemingly progressive actions, Mr. de Klerk was by no means the great emancipator. He was a gradualist, a careful pragmatist. He did not make any of his reforms with the intention of putting himself out of power. He made them for precisely the opposite reason: to ensure power for the Afrikaner in a new dispensation. He was not yet prepared to negotiate the end of white rule.

His goal was to create a system of power-sharing based on group rights, which would preserve a modified form of minority power in South Africa. He was decidedly opposed to majority rule, or “simple majoritarianism” as he sometimes called it, because that would end white domination in a single stroke. We knew early on that the government was fiercely opposed to a winner-takes-all Westminster parliamentary system, and advocated instead a system of proportional representation with built-in structural guarantees for the white minority. Although he was prepared to allow the black majority to vote and create legislation, he wanted to retain a minority veto. From the start I would have no truck with this plan. I described it to Mr. de Klerk as apartheid in disguise, a “loser-takes-all” system.

The Nationalists’ long-term strategy to overcome our strength was to build an anti-ANC alliance with the Inkatha Freedom Party and to lure the Coloured Afrikaans-speaking voters of the Cape to a new National Party. From the moment of my release, they began wooing both [Mangosuthu] Buthelezi and the Coloured voters of the Cape. The government attempted to scare the Coloured population into thinking the ANC was anti-Coloured. They supported Chief Buthelezi’s desire to retain Zulu power and identity in a new South Africa by preaching to him the doctrine of group rights and federalism.

The use of Inkatha and Buethelezi to divide and conquer is another example of the striking lockstep in the attitudes of the hardline conservative intellectual class of the U.S., including Johns, and the government of South Africa. We have seen this already in the way Johns gives far more sympathetic treatment to Buthelezi than Mandela in his writing. Buthelezi, along with Savimbi, were both invited to speak at Johns’ think tank, the Heritage Foundation45. The other side of this wicked arrangement took place in South Africa, again, like the funding of the International Freedom Foundation, behind a veil. For even though he was thought to be an independent actor, Buthelezi, just like the IFF, had received secret aid from the South African government. Some of this was to sustain his party, the Inkatha, while the more nefarious involved collusion and training between Inkatha members and the South African Defense Force, collusion which resulted in the Inkatha instigating ethnic violence, the very violence that Johns cites as a reason for why a strong, single state would be impossible.

This is a controversial subject, so I quote at length from the relevant notes on Buthelezi from the Truth commission – on his attraction for conservative whites overseas, his collusion with the apartheid government, as well as the violence and autocracy which characterized KwaZulu, his tribal region (note: Buthelezi refused to co-operate with the Truth commission and did not offer testimony which might have qualified or refuted any testimony against him). All the following excerpts are from volume two of the commission:

During the latter part of the 1970s, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi became vocal in his opposition to protest politics, economic sanctions and the armed struggle being promoted by the ANC in exile. This, together with his calls for investment and a free-market economy and his embracing of constituency politics, won him increasing support from the white business and white community at large. However, it placed him at odds with the ANC’s leadership in exile. The leaders of the two parties met in London in October 1979 to discuss their differences. At the London meeting Chief Buthelezi accused the ANC leadership of being hypocritical and of having deserted black South Africans.

Following the 1979 meeting, Chief Buthelezi faced growing hostility from an increasing number of Zulu-speaking people in Natal and the KwaZulu homeland for his rejection of the ANC’s strategies and, in particular, for his decision to participate in the homeland system, to work through the tribal authorities, the KLA and the black urban councils. The two organisations’ differing approaches to opposing apartheid laid the basis for the bitter and bloody political conflict that ensued.

Note that the roots of the conflict between these groups is not ethnic, as Johns states, but over political beliefs.

During the early 1980s, Chief Buthelezi still had high standing in the international community and amongst South African (white) businesspersons. Part of this was due to Inkatha’s official and international rhetoric of non-violence. This was indeed true of Inkatha’s stance towards the South African government and the white electorate. Inkatha supporters did not bomb shopping centres or defence force installations, or kill black Security Branch members. However, Inkatha members clearly employed violence against the ANC/UDF and against other extra-parliamentary opponents of the state, as did members of the UDF. The following quotes from speeches made by Chief Buthelezi at Inkatha meetings or in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly during the early 1980s indicate an increasingly militaristic tone emerging in his addresses to his constituency:

I believe we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy our property and kill us.

I have stated that our commitment to peaceful change does not take away the inalienable right which every individual has to defend himself or herself…We cannot, just because we are a peaceful movement, lie down so that people can trample on us or destroy us without lifting a finger.

There are many examples of such violence; one of the more prominent was the Umlazi Cinema massacre:

On 1 August 1985, Victoria Mxenge, an UDF executive member, was murdered at her home in Umlazi, Durban. A memorial service was held in her honour in the Umlazi Cinema building on 8 August 1985. Whilst the service was in progress, hundreds of Inkatha vigilantes armed with assegais, knobkieries and firearms burst into the cinema, and began randomly stabbing and shooting at the mourners. In the attack, fourteen people were killed and many others injured. Witnesses allege that the attackers included Inkatha vigilantes recruited from the adjacent shack settlements and from Lindelani, north of Durban. The soldiers and police were allegedly still present but did not act to prevent the attack. This was the worst incident yet of clashes between Inkatha and UDF.

The following excerpts provide some illustration of the co-operation between Buthelezi, Inkatha, and the South African government:

An Inkatha-supporting and state-sponsored vigilante group known as the A-Team was set up with the help of the SAP [South African Police] Riot Unit, in 1983/4 in the Chesterville township, Durban. Statements made to the Commission allege that the A-Team was responsible for the perpetration of human rights abuses in the township between 1985 and 1989. These included at least ten killings, several cases of attempted killing and many incidents of arson and severe ill treatment.

The picture painted by witnesses who gave evidence at public hearings of the Commission in Durban was that this group established a reign of terror in Chesterville over a number of years. They took over Road 13, illegally occupying houses in that road and burning surrounding houses in order to make a safe area for themselves. They also allegedly brought in Inkatha youths from other townships to bolster their power-base. Their sole aim was to target members of youth and other UDF-linked organisations. This they did with the active complicity of the SAP, including the Riot Unit and the Security Branch.

In his application for amnesty, former member of the Durban Riot Unit, Mr Frank Bennetts, gave evidence of the extent of the Security Branch’s involvement in and collusion with members of the A-Team. He described the A-Team as:

a group of Inkatha supporters who were acting in their capacity, or so I believed, in assisting the police in the curbing of the growth and support of groups and organisations opposed to the government and the order of the day.

According to Bennetts, the A-Team assisted the Riot Unit by identifying alleged perpetrators and UDF activists to be detained. They also served as informants, passing on information to the security forces. In return, the Riot Unit offered them protection by putting extra patrols into the street where they lived, and giving them escorts in and out of the township if and when they required it.

Bennetts told the Commission that the A-Team members were never detained under the emergency regulations, although there was good cause to detain them. He said that had the police arrested the A-Team members, the incidents of violence in Chesterville would have been reduced “by 99.99%”. In his words, ‘[The A-Team] wrecked half the township”. Nevertheless, the Riot Unit openly and blatantly sided with the A-Team, perceiving the gang as a legitimate ally in their struggle against the UDF.

The latter 1980s: Collusion with the South African security forces

By 1985, Inkatha supporters found themselves increasingly under attack by virtue of the positions they held within local government and homeland structures. Threats of assassination against Chief Buthelezi in 1985 prompted the Inkatha leader to turn to the South African government, in particular to the SADF, for assistance to take on the ANC/UDF. Contact with the central government had of necessity to be secret given Chief Buthelezi’s public stance towards the South African government. During the latter half of the 1980s, Inkatha began to draw increasingly upon the support of the South African government, and to rely more heavily on the South African and KwaZulu government’s infrastructure and resources. In the process, its aggression turned away from the apartheid state and became directed at those who were advocating alternative structures and thus threatening its power-base.

The South African government not only welcomed but also actively promoted this covert alliance with Inkatha, as it fell squarely into its response to what it saw as the total revolutionary onslaught against it. Covert logistical and military support to UNITA in Angola, RENAMO in Mozambique and to the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was a critical part of the South African government’s counterrevolutionary strategy. Although these operations were external, the State Security Council resolved in 1985 to establish such groups internally, in addition to those it was already supporting. Inkatha was seen as being able to play the same counter-mobilisation role inside the country as their external surrogates (such as UNITA) had played, and had become a “middle force” between the South African government and its political enemies. A common feature of the external and the internal operations, was that in both cases training and weapons supply were undertaken by the SADF’s DST, and by Special Forces personnel.

Furthermore, the media images projected of white policemen assaulting and shooting at black demonstrators were clearly unacceptable internationally, and there was a feeling that repression should as far as possible not be carried out by state security forces, but by black surrogate groups. Part of the government’s strategy was to characterise the political conflict in the country as “black-on-black” violence.

One of the first instances of covert military assistance between Inkatha and the South African government was Operation Marion, the SADF Military Intelligence project set up in early 1986 in order to provide assistance to Inkatha and the KwaZulu government. During 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted by Military Intelligence to alleged assassination plans against him. This prompted him, in late 1985, to approach Military Intelligence with a request for various capabilities, including an offensive paramilitary capacity, in order to take on the ANC/UDF.

Flowing out of this was what has become known as the Caprivi training, the clandestine training in offensive action of some 200 Inkatha supporters conducted by the Special Forces arm of the SADF in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/Namibia in 1986. Secret military intelligence documents make it clear that the project was undertaken as much to further the strategic aims of the South African government and Defence Force, as it was in response to a request from Chief Buthelezi. Planning for this project took place in circumstances of utmost secrecy, and involved the highest echelons of the State Security Council and Military Intelligence on the one hand, and Chief Buthelezi and his personal assistant, Mr MZ Khumalo, on the other. The defence force was at pains to ensure that the entire project was covert, and that the funding of the project could not be traced back to its source.

The trainees were controlled and supervised by a political commissar, later to become their commander, Mr Daluxolo Wordsworth Luthuli. Luthuli was a former ANC guerrilla fighter who had recently joined Inkatha after being released from a lengthy term of imprisonment on Robben Island. His appointment was authorised by Chief Buthelezi.

Luthuli was unequivocal concerning the purpose of the Caprivi training. He told the Commission that the training was aimed at equipping Inkatha supporters to kill members of the UDF/ANC. According to Luthuli and other Caprivi trainees who spoke to the Commission, this is what they were explicitly told by their SADF instructors. They knew that they were being trained as a hit squad.

With their deployment in various parts of KwaZulu and the former Natal, the trainees were partly responsible for the dramatic escalation of the political conflict in the region, and fundamentally changed the political landscape in the former KwaZulu homeland, the repercussions of which are currently playing themselves out in this region. Their modus operandi, their mobility, their access to infrastructure and sophisticated weaponry exposed large numbers of people and vast areas of the province to their activities. As a result, they were responsible for facilitating the easy and quick resort to violence as a means of settling political scores and greatly enhanced the development of a culture of impunity and political intolerance that is so well established in the province at the present time.

The Commission heard evidence of the involvement of Caprivi trainees in the KwaMakhutha massacre on 21 January 1987 in which thirteen people, mostly women and children, were killed and several others injured in the AK-47 attack on the home of UDF activist Bheki Ntuli. A large number of people including former Minister of Defence General Magnus Malan and MZ Khumalo of the IFP, were tried for murder in 1996 in the Durban Supreme Court. Although the accused were acquitted, the Supreme Court found that Inkatha members trained by the SADF in the Caprivi were responsible for the massacre and that the two state witnesses, being members of the SADF Military Intelligence, were directly involved in planning and execution of the operation. The court was not able to find who had provided backing for the attack.

Following the revelation of the depth of their collusion with the apartheid government, Buthelezi’s Inkatha party would end up boycotting the elections: “Inquest Finds South Africa Police Aided Zulus in Terror Campaign” by Bill Keller.

With the end of the Cold War, Johns leaves the Heritage Foundation, goes to work for Eli Lily, health care lobbyists S.R. Wojdak & Associates, then Gentiva Health Services, and for the past decade, work as an executive at Electric Mobility Corporation46. Electric Mobility sells Rascal scooters, motorized wheelchairs which allow the elderly and disabled to travel with greater ease; it is an interesting company. Prior to Johns tenure there, it was fined close to a quarter of a million dollars by the state of New Jersey and signed an agreement with the state’s attorney general to cease hard-sell practices, such as misinformation on medicare reimbursements47. Michael Flowers, the president of the company, objected to the reporting of this as a fine. Electric Mobility was not fined, he wrote: “Electric Mobility entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the State of New Jersey. By doing so, we believe that we have set the industry standard for ethical sales practices.”48 This same Consumer Affairs site now lists 69 complaints about Rascal scooters. I include some of the more notable, from 2005 through to December of last year, all after Johns had joined the company:

I have Rascal 115 scooter that quit working. I called Rascal in February 2012 and was directed to service center Watkins & Riggs in Ocala, FL. I was called a couple days later and was told speed controller was bad and was on backorder. After three weeks, I called service center to find they were still waiting on parts. So I then called Rascal and left message as directed but never got a call back. A month later, I called Rascal again and call got redirected to new owner who in just a few words told me that they just purchased Rascal and any problem before the buyout two weeks ago was not their problem. Again, I called service center who again told me parts are still on backorder. What good is a product that you need but cannot get parts?

Bought Rascal 600 scooter. It worked for about 6 months then just stopped working. Was taken to an authorized repair shop, they didn’t know what was wrong & why it stopped. After having it at their shop. Weekly calls on when it would be fixed, was told someone would call. Finally had to stop at shop. They would try to find what was wrong. Repeated calling again, I took it home worked for couple of months, stopped again-took back to same shop for help. Both times had to pay for shop time & was not told what the problem was.

I am 83 years old-diabetic neuropathy both legs and feet. Can’t walk. Has caused mental/emotional distress! My lifestyle is limited. Very unhappy with performance! Help. Medicare will not let me get another & I am on limited income. I would like to live the rest of my life enjoying the outdoors and being mobile again! I would like to have this “Lemon” scooter replaced! Can I sue for damages or another option? Please help me!

I was looking at numerous electric mobility scooter, and I chose the “Rascal 600 B”. The representative came to my home to show me how the “rascal 600 B” looks and operates. I was told that the Rascal company would file with Medicare all papers that I provided to him at the time of purchasing. He told me that I would be getting 80% of my money back. I had all the correct paper work that he needed to file my claim on 5-27-10. Since then I’ve been turned down by Medicare, stating that the forms & codes were improperly filed.

I have contacted and informed the Rascal company regarding this matter. I have stage 4 lung cancer and cannot walk short or far distances without the help of this scooter. I have neuropathy of both feet & legs and some in my hands. Using this scooter has improved my living skills in my home and outside, where I could not walk w/o pain. I’m asking that someone check into this claim. If I don’t get any compensation for this scooter, fine, but I was told that I would get 80% back. No consequences, I’m using the scooter for self well being. It’s just that I was lied to and nothing can take that away. If I’m not going to get some money back, don’t tell me such.

I just found your site and read complaints from buyers of the Rascal Scooters. My parents, in their 80’s at the time, were also scammed by the saleswoman, promising Medicare would reimburse the cost of the Rascal Scooter. I contacted the Rascal Company and the creditor to no avail. I contacted the saleswoman and she claimed she never said any such thing, and that there was nothing she could do for them now. Unfortunately, my father suffered a massive stroke and never even used the thing. I ended up paying off the remainder of the bill, just to relieve some of the stress in the months following my father’s death. It now (2 1/2 years later) sits in my driveway with a For Sale B/O sign. I know we’ll never get near the full purchase price. Oh well, live and learn. Do not trust the Rascal sales reps!

My 82-year-old mother received an unsolicited high pressure sales call today from a salesman named Mike who insisted he had an appointment for a scooter demonstration and said he would not leave unless she agreed to a demo. When she said she had not requested an appointment and did not want a demo and was not able to participate in a demo because of her health, he became very hostile and repeatedly said he would not leave until she agreed to a demo. She said she was going to call the company and demand to know who said they scheduled the demo. The salemand [sic] physically jerked his business card from my mothers hand and left.

The hostile and high pressure sales tactics including refusing to leave when asked threatened my mother who is recovering from hip replacement surgery with complications from a staff [sic] infection.

I was told by Jerri, telephone sales, that I could get a new scooter by having an Orthopaedic Surgeon order one for me. Mine gave me a prescription for one, but she sent papers for a power chair to him. He filled them out and I received a power chair INSTEAD of the scooter, which I needed. I was told by Lauren, who made the delivery, that it was a power chair or nothing!

I did not want it, but was afraid to refuse it, since I don’t know when I may get worse. I have serious heart trouble and, being preoccupied with my other disabilities, I just let the chair sit unused until October when I began to try to get it exchanged for a scooter.I was told by another dealer that Electric Mobility pushed the chairs because they made 3 times as much on them as on the scooters. Tim called me last week and said that my family physician could now request a scooter for me and, if he filled out the papers, EM would pick up the chair and bring me a scooter.

Today I was called by an arrogant motor-mouth named Steve who would hardly let me get a word in edgewise. HE said Tim was wrong about the family physician, etc., and pretty much told me I was out of luck. He would not allow me to talk with a rational representative and kept threatening to terminate this conversation until I finally gave up and hung up. I refuse to believe that I have to be run over and mistreated by Electric Mobility and that they have a license to steal from Medicare and Blue Cross. They billed around $6,000 for a useless chair; I have seen scooters for sale at Costco for $1,200! Something doesn’t smell right! Do you agree?

They seem to figure that all older people who have trouble walking are also brain-dead. They assign a fast-talking slick,sleazy spokesman to out-talk and put off the old folks. Since my brain still works, I want to see that this abuse is corrected.

This is Johns’ vocation, but he has a far more distinctive avocation. Of all those involved in the Namibia chemical weapons scam, Charlie Black is the most powerful, but Johns is the most visible. He has not vanished from the earth, and in fact is more prominent than ever before. He is the national chairman of The Patriot Caucus, a three thousand member strong Tea Party organization, listed in National Journal’s “12 Tea Party Players To Watch”. By virtue of his leadership of this group, he’s also listed on “The Top Conservatives to Follow on Twitter”, in the coveted intellectual acreage between Michelle Malkin and John Boehner. He’s there speaking at the March for Liberty, Washington D.C. (part one and two); the Dallas Tea Party, same day (part one, two, three); a Philadelphia Tea Party rally; a softball Katie Couric interview with Tea Party patriots; he has a blog devoted to freedom and prosperity, and a twitter feed devoted, presumably, to these same.

Johns is Janus-like in his promotional work; with Couric, he affects a congenial, open-minded pose. At tea party rallies, his voice is almost always an uncontrolled, angry shriek, so he resembles no one so much as Chris Farley’s lunatic motivational speaker. His rhetorical approach at these meetings is simple, beginning with a premise that few would consider controversial (we differ on many issues, but we still have shared beliefs) and then moving on to the supposed shared belief, which is more than a little controversial – Hillary Clinton is a traitor, America is inherently a christian nation, etc.

One example, from a Philadelphia Tea Party rally:

Michael Johns at a Philadelphia Tea Party rally

Let me say this: America has a unique standing in the world. And we may differ over issues here and there, but I know we are united on one. This state department, under Mrs. Clinton, is surrendering american autonomy to international bodies…they are surrendering our constitutional rights to form our own foreign policies, to make our own national security interests [sic], the message needs to go out to Washington, MR. OBAMA, WE WILL DEFEND AMERICA, NOT THE UNITED NATIONS!

Another, from a Boston Tea Party gathering, 2009:

Michael Johns at a Boston Tea Party rally

Let me just say, as we gather today, republicans and democrats, liberals and republicans, independents, third party members, many members of the Ron Paul movement, maybe there is a new coalition emerging right now. Maybe this is the beginning of something truly exciting. Maybe we can put aside whatever petty differences that have kept us from working together and start anew, and build a new resistance in this country that is rooted in the belief of the american people [sic], in a free market enterprise system, in our democratic processes, and our national autonomy.

I want to be clear on one other comment. Mr. Obama was in Europe. Made a very controversial statement. Said this is not a christian nation. (audience loudly boos) The message needs to go forward to Washington, Mr. Obama every historical document signed in Philadelphia, every founding document of this nation, has cited our creator, that is the basis on which we distinguish ourselves from the world (audience cheers). That is the foundation of our liberties, and our god-given freedoms. AND THEY ARE GOD GIVEN FREEDOMS. A nation that denies its creator, and rejects its principles will not long endure. And we need to re-unite today with an understanding of the principles, start with Sam Adams, start with the bravery of these men and…who led this great initiative which has started and begun the most powerful nation in the world. The time has come to defend those principles, THEY ARE BEING ERODED!

When America stops being a christian nation, it will end up living in a van down by the river.

Most of his writing is the expected angry boilerplate. “Release the Birth Documents Already”, demands one blog post; “Van loads of Somalis being transported to #Ohio polls, instructed to vote straight Dem ticket. goo.gi/qLVv“, warns a tweet49. When a Marvel comic pokes fun at the tea party movement, by suggesting they are slightly less than heterogeneous in skin color, he is alert, active, and involved, demanding why Marvel didn’t issue an apology the moment they saw the comic panel50. “The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans,” says Johns, who appears to live in a different universe than I do, “Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines.” He was an unambivalent supporter of the Iraq war; in 2007, he defends the cruddy intelligence that got the U.S. into the war, then waves the point away, insisting that whatever started the war is irrelevant, since Iraq is now the central point of the war on terror, then demands an apology from Harry Reid for having the audacity to call the Iraq war a failure51.

There is a foolish game that someone outside Africa can play, and I’m certain I’ve played it, where, as if by a magic trick, the people of the continent are made to be either people or as inanimate as sticks, depending on one’s convenience. When one wants to feel warmth over some compassionate act, they are human; when one feels guilt over some neglect, or the possible horror that a politician one supports has inflicted on a country there, they are suddenly sticks again. When one wishes to grief an enemy over the harm they’ve caused some place on the continent, they are human, and when this griefing is returned in kind over one’s own misdeeds, the continent’s people are suddenly sticks again. For me to invoke the dead of Angola for the sole purpose of an argument is to diminish them, and as someone outside Angola, I cannot demand an apology on their behalf. So, my curiousity is my own, and my curiousity is this: whether this man, Michael Johns, who demands apologies of so many, for so many slights, has ever felt the impulse to ask forgiveness for the thousands dead from the civil war unleashed by Jonas Savimbi, the man he abided, abetted, and encouraged. The head of Zambia’s government, which gave support to Savimbi during the long civil war, gave apologies for this support52. I know that the dead of Angola are not an important issue – nowhere near as important as a panel in a Marvel comic – but I can only hope that they are important enough that what took place there would be remembered, prompt some questions of why it took place and how to keep such a thing from ever happening again, and might prompt something other than the simple dictum that African life is cheap. That African life is viewed cheaply is beyond dispute, but that other lives can be viewed as cheaply, that there is nothing inherent in those who live on the continent that renders it cheap, is not beyond dispute either. The lives of Angolans were thrown away easily. The independence of Namibia was almost thrown away just as easily. Ten years later, the lives of americans in Iraq were thrown away very easily as well. That Iraqi life was extinguished with even greater ease is another indisputable. That all these lost lives once had great political significance, their fight of great political convenience, and their deaths now incredibly inconvenient, something that must be forgotten as soon as possible, so that we might all move on to the next frame of the movie, to a place without horror – this is a horrific truth as well.

On February 27th, 2008, William Buckley died, and Johns eulogized him as if he were a messiah: “There was the time before him and there was the time after him…We will not likely see his type again.” (“Walking the road that Buckley built”) It is in this modern messiah that we might have the rosetta stone of why conservatives were so pliant before the efforts of South African intelligence, why their approach was often indistinguishable from official policy in South Africa. In 1957, with the public conflagration over civil rights only kindling, Buckley’s National Review would feature an editorial, unsigned – though most likely written by the messiah himself – which asked, “whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced one.” Then: “If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”53 Thirty years later, National Review would ask whether the South African majority were “intellectually and practically prepared to assume the social, economic, and political leadeship in a highly industrialized country?”54 Africa was across the ocean, and Africa was here as well. Just a few short years before apartheid was destroyed, Buckley would advise the U.S. to forget about the “one man/one vote” business over there55. Various states are now weighing measures so that rural votes count for more than urban ones56. George Will praised the idea of deterring “potential voters with the weakest motivations”57. The day after Barack Obama’s re-election, Johns’ former employer, the Heritage Foundation, declared war on the president58.

In 1989, the year before Namibian independence, the article “Young Bucks”, by Bob Mack, a very good writer perhaps best known as editor of the greatest magazine in the history of journalism, appeared in the now extinct Spy. “Young Bucks” dealt with the going-ons at the National Review. One staff meeting, headed by Buckley, discussed the issue of the week before, one featuring a provocative cover story titled “Blacks and the G.O.P.: Just Called to Say I Loved You”, on the difficulties the republican party had attracting black voters. Buckley was a man known for his sterling silver wit, and he had just the bon mot for this provocative cover. “Maybe,” he began, the brilliant, rare wine of a yacht and windsor knot mind about to be poured, “Maybe it should’ve been titled ‘Just Called to Say I Love You, Niggah.'”59

(On January 16th, 2014, the transcript of the Whitey tape video in footnote #7 was added. On April 10, 2015, this post underwent a session of copy editing. On April 14, 2015, the stills from Red Scorpion were replaced with higher quality images.)


1 He wrote this insightful piece on William Kunstler, “Still Crazy After All These Years”.

2 He is mentioned at the beginning of “In Iraq chemical arms trial, scientists face many burdens of proof”:

For 18 years, Dr. Aubin Heyndrickx has tended the sealed jars containing strands of hair and scraps of clothing he gathered from a dead woman’s body. Collected in Halabja, one of many Kurdish towns in northern Iraq that were attacked with chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein’s army in 1988, they have sat in a blue plastic drum in his lab ever since, waiting.

Now, as prosecutors prepare to try Saddam in Baghdad for genocide against the Kurds, Heyndrickx would like the material to be analyzed. “May I insist these proofs are mentioned at the trial?” the doctor asks.

He is one of a small group of doctors, scientists and Middle East experts who have studied chemical weapons use by Iraq against its Kurdish citizens in the 1980s. Now, they are dusting off evidence and attempting to collect new data in an effort to define the scope of a distant tragedy that is only now to come under scrutiny in court.

Near the very end is a brief reference to his maverick quality:

Because of the lack of hard data and the imprecise testing there is some disagreement about how many people were affected and what chemical compounds were used.

Heyndrickx, somewhat of a maverick in the field, believes that the Iraqi Army also used cyanide and biological toxins, although most other scientists disagree.

Still, he was one of the few Western experts on the ground in Halabja just after the attack, and the samples in his lab – particularly the clothing – could still provide valuable clues if they were properly sealed and stored, Hay said.

3 From a profile of Stone, “The Dirty Trickster” by Jeffrey Toobin; Stone’s role in the riot is disputed.

A substantial contingent of young Republican Capitol Hill aides, along with such congressmen as John Sweeney, of New York, who had travelled to Miami, joined in the protest. Thanks to this delegation, the events at the Clark center have come to be known as the “Brooks Brothers riot,” but Stone disputes that characterization. “There was a Brooks Brothers contingent, but the crowd in front of the courthouse was largely Spanish,” he said. “Most of the people there were people that we drew to the scene.”

At one point on November 22nd, Stone said, he heard from an ally in the building that Gore supporters were trying to remove some ballots from the counting room. “One of my pimply-faced contacts said, ‘Two commissioners have taken two or three hundred ballots to the elevator,’ ” Stone said. “I said, ‘O.K., follow them. Half you guys go on the elevator and half go in the stairs.’ Everyone got sucked up in this. They were trying to keep the doors from being closed. Meanwhile, they were trying to take the rest of the ballots into a back room with no windows. I told our guys to stop them-don’t let them close the door! They are trying to keep the door from being closed. There was a lot of screaming and yelling.” (In fact, the Gore official in the elevator, Joe Geller, was carrying a single sample ballot.) The dual scenes of chaos-both inside and outside the building-prompted the recount officials to stop their work. The recount in Miami was never re-started, depriving Gore of his best chance to catch up in the over-all state tally.

As is customary with Stone, there is some controversy about his precise role. “I was the guy in charge of the trailer, and I coördinated the Brooks Brothers riot,” Brad Blakeman, a lobbyist and political consultant who worked for Bush in Miami, told me. “Roger did not have a role that I know of. His wife may have been on the radio, but I never saw or heard from him.” Scoffing at Blakeman’s account, Stone asserts that he was in the trailer; he said that he had never heard of Blakeman. (Rule: “Lay low, play dumb, keep moving.”)

4 “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House” by Wayne Barrett explores the strange and labyrinthine sex scandal involving Pat Buchanan and the reform party. Stone himself confirms his work in a Reason magazine interview:


Should the libertarian party continue to exist?


Well, as one who, I think, either helped kill, or killed the Reform party, because I believe they cost us the White House in 1992 and 1996…their lack of any ideology at all…it was a hodgepodge of vegetarians, goldbugs, and a few libertarians, and gun people, and gun control people, there was no consistency there other than people who couldn’t make it in any other party.

In an interview with Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie and in a classroom discussion moderated by Gillespie, political operative Roger Stone states openly and explicitly that he destroyed the third party Reform Party in 1992 and 1992 because it split the conservative vote, and caused the Republicans to lose. Taken from the interviews, “Roger Stone at Reason November 28, 2007” and “Roger Stone on New Media and Old Campaign Tricks”.

5 Wayne Barrett’s “Sleeping with the GOP: A Bush Covert Operative Takes Over Al Sharpton’s Campaign” is the definitive piece on the strange alliance of Sharpton and Stone.

On Sharpton’s attacks on the front-runner, designed by Stone himself:

While Bush forces like the Club for Growth were buying ads in Iowa assailing then front-runner Howard Dean, Sharpton took center stage at a debate confronting Dean about the absence of blacks in his Vermont cabinet. Stone told the Times that he “helped set the tone and direction” of the Dean attacks, while Charles Halloran, the Sharpton campaign manager installed by Stone, supplied the research. While other Democratic opponents were also attacking Dean, none did it on the advice of a consultant who’s worked in every GOP presidential campaign since his involvement in the Watergate scandals of 1972, including all of the Bush family campaigns.

On the Sharpton campaign as part of a larger Bush strategy:

The Washington Post recently reported that the Bush campaign was planning a special advertising campaign targeting black voters, seeking as much as a quarter of the vote, and any Sharpton-connected outrage against the party could either lower black turnout in several key close states, or move votes to Bush. Both were widely reported as the consequences of Sharpton’s anti-Green rhetoric in 2001, [Mark Green, democratic candidate for New York City mayor, beat Fernando Ferrer, the Sharpton backed candidate in a bitter primary race]a result Sharpton celebrated both in his book and at a Bronx victory party on election night.

6 Stone’s connection with NXIVM was first reported in the New York Post, Top GOPers ‘Cult’ Favorites; The Times-Union series on NXIVM is the definitive work on the cult, comprising “Secrets of NXIVM”, “‘NXIVM is a litigation machine'”, “In Raniere’s shadows”, “‘Ample evidence’ to justify investigation”, all by James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish. “Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman” by Maureen Tkacik, is an insightful read as well.

7 “Roger Stone Brings Up the Infamous ‘Whitey’ Tape!”:

The following is a transcript of the video, with the most striking text bolded:

Roger, I want to start with you. You have some news, or at least your own incendiary prediction on Michelle Obama’s allged vulnerabilities. What do you know, or at least, what do you think you know?

Well, there’s a buzz which I believe now to be credible, some indelible record exists of public remarks that Michelle Obama allegedly made, which are outrageous at worst – at best – but could be termed racist, including some reference to white people as “whiteys”. Allegedly. And there’s been a race here, Geraldo-

Now, wait a sec- wait a sec- Roger, you can’t just say that when there’s no proof for it-

No no, let me finish. There’s been a race here between Clinton research people who are seeking this tape, and the republican opposition researchers and the Republican National Committee. I now believe a network has this tape, I believe that reliably, something like that could roil the race, which explains why, to me, Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. What other reason is there to stay in this race, other than hoping that there is a bomb, at high level, Clinton operatives say there is a bomb of this nature. I have heard that from credible-

Hold it there…okay. We hear that you heard it. Let me go to Michael Brown for his response, and let me also point out that Roger Stone was the person who said that he heard that New York governor Eliot Spitzer was using the services of prostitutes, and at least in that incendiary allegation, there was some facts behind it, and ultimately it was proven true. But Michael Brown why don’t you respond to what you just heard from Roger Stone?

Well, I’m not gonna question whether he believes what he’s saying is true. But I will say that the Republicans are up to their usual stuff, when they cannot beat Democrats on issues, they always go personal negative. That’s what this is all about. We’re gonna see this for the next six months from the Republican party, this is what they do. I don’t know why we should be shocked by all of this. I think they’re starting a little early, they’re probably off their timeline a little bit…I’m not surprised by this, it has nothing to do with anything except flat-out politics, and it’s ugly, and these are the kinda things that don’t help the American people come to the polls to vote. They don’t keep people inspired and I’m sure the Obamas will obviously prevail on issues like this and stay focused on issues, assuming he’s the nominee.

This really has very little to do with the general election, this has a lot to do with why Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. Look, there’s already a buzz in Washington. At least seven news organizations have contacted me, wanting to know, how to get their hands on this tape, giving me more information than I had after I spoke to each one of them. I now believe the tape exists, I believe a network has it. If this pans out to be true, based on Michelle Obama’s previous comment, that this was the first that she had been proud of her country…which I think shows, an attitude that is problematic.

And I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I don’t believe it’s true. Michael Brown, you respond.

Well, his premise is that this is why Hillary Clinton is staying in, hoping that this bombshell derails Senator Obama’s nomination effort. That’s not why Senator Clinton is staying in the race. She’s staying in the race, hoping that now she has the popular vote lead, the superdelegates will say, maybe Senator Clinton is the best person to take on John McCain. That’s why she’s staying in the race. She wants to make the argument to superdelegates. And to obviously put out this notion that there’s some race between the Clinton campaign and the news media organization is nonsense. This is a republican tactic-

And the republicans.

And the republicans. Roger, you and I both know that this is a republican tactic, this is what they do. And this is what we’re going to continue to see for the next six months, because they have no answer about the war, they have no answer about gas prices, they have no answers about health care, so they do smear. That’s what they do.

Michael Brown, thank you. Roger Stone, thank you, we’ll see.

8 Stone’s work at the Rothstein firm is mentioned in “Roger Stone, Political Animal” by Matt Labash.

Stone has a nice life in Miami. He gets out to kayak quite a bit, enjoying the year-round good weather. He and Nydia have five grandchildren. A power law firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, recently brought him on to head their burgeoning public affairs side. The firm’s head, Scott Rothstein, is a pitbull litigator with a taste for Bentleys and $150,000 watches. He shares Stone’s operating philosophy, telling me that he tells all his lawyers, “Get into the game, or get the f– out of the way.”

A good overview of the Scott Rothstein scheme can be found on the episode of “American Greed”, “$1.2 Billion Scam: Ft. Frauderdale”

9 The flyer in question:

Angola Namibia South Africa

From “False, Defamatory Lit Distributed Against Libertarian Warren Redlich” by Celeste Katz:

This grossly false and damaging flier, accusing Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Warren Redlich of being a dangerous “sexual predator” and credited to “People For A Safer New York,” is being circulated in the Capitol Region and perhaps beyond. Redlich, as you can read below, has naturally condemned the material.

I am admittedly late to the game on this one, and it’s frankly because I struggled with whether to write about this at all. Redlich, by nature of his candidacy, is a public figure, but this is extreme, to say the least. (The usual reminder: I am not a member of any political party and I do not support any candidate for any office, financially or otherwise.)

The backstory is that this seems to come out of a comment Redlich made on his “Stop Wasting Money” blog about the “hubbub” over racy pictures of Miley Cyrus, which reads, in part, “If you look at literature like Shakespeare, and at some historical figures like Sir William Johnson (a prominent pre-revolutionary leader in New York), you get the impression that it used to be normal for men, even much older men, to be interested in teenage girls.”

From the Times-Union “Capitol Confidential”:

I asked Roger Stone, a self-avowed political dirty trickster and Davis’ campaign manager, if he knew about the mailer. (The sex predator flier came from a group called “People for a Safer New York” that I can’t find a record for.)

“I’ve seen both mailers, I think that they’re both accurate. People for a Safer New York is called a first amendment group,” Stone told me by phone. “I’m in touch with them. Who are they? They’re a first amendment organization I urged them to do this, this is a first amendment issue.”

He defended the flier, even though he declined to claim credit for it when I asked him. (Or otherwise characterize how heavily involved with this he is.)

“Let’s be very clear: everything here is 100 percent legal, everything here is 100 percent accurate,” Stone said. “As somebody who has two granddaughters, I really find Redlich’s advocacy and defense of sex with underrate girls disgusting and repugnant, and voters need to know about it prior to voting on Tuesday.”

10 The NSFW Corporation’s “The Gary Johnson Swindle and the Degradation of Third Party Politics” by Marc Ames looks at this story in-depth; my own “Maureen Otis: A Mystery Inside A Mystery” touches on it as well.

11 From “‘Steady Hand’ for the G.O.P. Guides McCain on a New Path” by Kate Zernike:

Blackwater, he says over steak salad at the Morton’s off the K Street lobbying corridor, “is a fine company that’s provided a great service to the people of the United States and Iraq.” Saudi Arabia, another client: “a great ally.” Mr. Savimbi, the brutal Angolan leader whom President Ronald Reagan promoted as a freedom fighter but many Democrats derided as an ally of apartheid South Africa: “a great pleasure to work with.”

From “McCain Adviser’s Work As Lobbyist Criticized”, by Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

In addition to Savimbi, Black and his partners were at times registered foreign agents for a remarkable collection of U.S.-backed foreign leaders whose human rights records were sometimes harshly criticized, even as their opposition to communism was embraced by American conservatives. They included Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Nigerian Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre, and the countries of Kenya and Equatorial Guinea, among others.

From “‘Steady Hand'” by Zernike:

Mr. Black has worked for some of the city’s most controversial clients (Jonas Savimbi, Philip Morris, Blackwater) and with the baddest boys of Republican politics (he cut his teeth on Jesse Helms‘s campaigns, and was a mentor to Lee Atwater). But he has managed to stay ahead of controversy himself.

That year was the last moment when Black was able to stay outside of controversy; during the election, a MoveOn.org ad would specifically target the list of reprehensible men the super-lobbyist had taken on as clients.

12 From “McCain Adviser’s Work As Lobbyist Criticized”, by Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

Black has retired from lobbying, having left BKSH & Associates recently. But he says he has no intention of leaving the campaign and is unapologetic about a lobbying career spanning 30 years and seven presidential campaigns. He said his firms never represented foreigners “without first talking to the State Department and the White House and clearing with them that the work would be in the interest of U.S. foreign policy.”

“Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Shear:

During 2008, Mr. Black resigned from the lobbying firm he founded, BKSH while he traveled with Mr. McCain. He returned to the firm after Mr. McCain lost to President Obama. The firm has now merged with another company and is called Prime Policy Group.

13 “Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Michael D. Shear:

Four years ago, Mr. Romney assailed Mr. McCain for having close ties to big-time Washington lobbyists like Mr. Black.

“I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,” Mr. Romney said at the time. “Somebody doesn’t put the kind of financial resources that I have put into this campaign and the personal resources I have put into this campaign in order to do favors for lobbyists.”

When a reporter pointed out at the time that Mr. Romney had lobbyists who worked on his campaign, Mr. Romney insisted they were merely informal advisers, and were not paid to run his campaign.

14 “Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Michael D. Shear:

In an e-mail to The Caucus, Mr. Black said he and his wife, Judy, decided to support Mr. Romney about six weeks ago, but he said he was not actively participating in the presidential campaign.

“No formal role in the campaign. Just offer advice occasionally,” Mr. Black said. “The right man to be president.”

15 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

In 1986, [Jack Abramoff] founded the International Freedom Foundation, whose stated goal was “to foster individual freedom throughout the world by engaging in activities which promote the development of free and open societies based on the principles of free enterprise.” More specifically, among the IFF’s aims were to oppose the Anti-Apartheid Act and other sanctions and to urge greater support in Washington for Pretoria and less support for the African National Congress, the party that would come to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela. At its height, around the time “Red Scorpion” was released, the IFF employed about 30 young ideologues in offices on G Street in Washington, Johannesburg, London and Brussels. Churning out reports and presentations (for one such presentation on the Contras, it borrowed the slide show that North had used to raise money for his arms-deal network, according to Pandin), the IFF attracted notable members such as Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.

16 This material comes from an important Newsday article, “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps, that has almost entirely vanished from the web, except for Lexis-Nexis. It can be found in full at the disreputable conspiracy site bilderberg.org, though its most shocking points are re-iterated in the AP story, “Report: Conservative Think Tank Was Front For Apartheid”. The post “Apartheid Regime” by Joe Amato at the Crooks and Liars blog also contains many relevant extracts.

The relevant excerpt about the IFF:

The International Freedom Foundation, founded in 1986 seemingly as a conservative think tank, was in fact part of an elaborate intelligence gathering operation, and was designed to be against apartheid’s an instrument for “political warfare” against apartheid’s foes, according to former senior South African spy Craig Williamson. The South Africans spent up to $1.5 million a year through 1992 to underwrite “Operation Babushka,” as the IFF project was known.

“We decided that, the only level we were going to be accepted was when it came to the Soviets and their surrogates, so our strategy was to paint the ANC as communist surrogates,” said Williamson, formerly a senior operative in South Africa’s military intelligence, who helped direct Babushka. “The more we could present ourselves as anti-communists, the more people looked at us with respect. People you could hardly believe cooperated with us politically when it came to the Soviets.”

I re-post the article from the bilderberg site, making only the small correction of Thiessen’s name (they had it as “Mere”).

Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power

Sunday July 16, 1995

This article was reported by Dele Olojede in South Africa and Timothy M. Phelps in Washington, and was written by Olojede.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa A respectable Washington foundation, which drew into its web prominent Republican and conservative figures like Sen.. Jesse Helms and other members of Congress, was actually a front organization bankrolled by South Africa’s last white rulers to prolong apartheid, a Newsday investigation has shown.

The International Freedom Foundation, founded in 1986 seemingly as a conservative think tank, was in fact part of an elaborate intelligence gathering operation, and was designed to be against apartheid’s an instrument for “political warfare” against apartheid’s foes, according to former senior South African spy Craig Williamson. The South Africans spent up to $1.5 million a year through 1992 to underwrite “Operation Babushka,” as the IFF project was known.

The current South African National Defence Force officially confirmed that the IFF was its dummy operation.

“The International Freedom Foundation was a former SA Defence Force project,” Army Col. John Rolt, a military spokesman, said in a terse response to an inquiry. A member of the IFF”s international board of directors also conceded Friday that at least half of the foundation’s funds came from projects undertaken on behalf of South Africa’s military intelligence, although he refused to say what these projects were except that many of them were directed against Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

A three-month Newsday investigation determined that one of the project’s broad objectives was to try to reverse the apartheid regime’s pariah status in Western political circles. More specifically, the IFF sought to portray the ANC as a tool of Soviet communism, thus undercutting the movement’s growing international acceptance as the government-in-waiting of a future multiracial South Africa.

“We decided that, the only level we were going to be accepted was when it came to the Soviets and their surrogates, so our strategy was to paint the ANC as communist surrogates,” said Williamson, formerly a senior operative in South Africa’s military intelligence, who helped direct Babushka. “The more we could present ourselves as anti-communists, the more people looked at us with respect. People you could hardly believe cooperated with us politically when it came to the Soviets.”

The South Africans found willing, though possibly unwitting, allies in influential Republican politicians, conservative intellectuals and activists. Sen. Jesse Helms, now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, served as chairman of the editorial advisory board for the foundation’s publications. Through a spokesman, Helms said that he did not know anything about the foundation.

“Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them,” Marc Thiessen, a Helms spokesman, said.

Rep. Dan Burton, who was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on Africa, and Rep. Robert Dornan were active in IFF projects, frequently serving on its delegations to international forums. Alan Keyes, currently a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, also served as adviser. (He did not return a call seeking comment.) The Washington lobbyist and former movie producer Jack Abramoff, and rising conservative stars like Duncan Sellers, helped run the foundation.

All those contacted denied knowing that it was controlled and funded by the South African regime.

Although there are strong indications that U.S. laws may have been broken some IFF officials have admitted in interviews that they knew that South African military intelligence money helped pay for the foundation’s activities in Washington there is no clear evidence that the politicians associated with IFF either took campaign contributions or otherwise directly benefited financially from the foundation .

Under U.S. law, anyone who represents a foreign government or acts under its orders, direction or control, has to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Asked if a “think-tank” sup up and supported by a foreign government has to register, a Justice official said, “If the foreign [government] has some say in what they are doing and, obviously, if they are funding it they probably do then they probably do have to register.” Violation of the law carries a fine up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to five years.

Several key figures involved in the IFF and contacted by Newsday denied any knowledge that the foundation was a front for the political agenda of a foreign government. Duncan Sellers, now a Virginia businessman, said, “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it.”

“The Congressman didn’t know anything about it,” said a spokesman for Dornan, Paul Morrell. “This is all news to him if it is true.” Morrell described Dornan’s impression of the IFF as simply “pro-freedom, pro-democracy, pro-Reagan.”

Phillip Crane, another U.S. representative listed as an IFF editorial adviser, joined the board in 1987 at the request of Abramoff, said an aide, and by 1990 had quit. “He never attended a board meeting that he can recall,” said the aide, Bob Foster. “He had no idea that any such situation [intelligence connections] existed.”

Williamson said that the operation was deliberately constructed so that many of the people would not know they were involved with a foreign government. “That was the beauty of the whole things guys pushing what they believed,” he said. Helms for example, voted against virtually every punitive measure ever contemplated against South Africa’s white minority government, however mild. And Burton was nearly hysterical in arguing against sanctions that a large bipartisan majority passed in 1986 over President Ronald Reagan’s veto, at one point warning that “there will be blood running in the streets” as a result.

But in some cases, such as Abramoffs, the relationship with the South African security apparatus was more than merely coincidental, according to Williamson and others. A former chief of intelligence, now retired, said emphatically that the South African military helped finance Abramoffs 1988 movie “Red Scorpion.” The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of an anti-communist African guerrilla commander loosely based on Jones Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader allied to both Washington and Pretoria. Williamson also said the production of “Red Scorpion” was “funded by our guys,” who in addition provided military trucks and equipment – as well as extras.

Abramoff reacted with anger when told of the allegations Friday, saying his movie was funded by private investors and had nothing to do with the South African government. “This is outrageous,” he said.

Details of South Africa’s intelligence operations in the last years of apartheid have begun to rapidly emerge with the imminent establishment of a Truth Commission by the Mandela government. The commission will elicit confessions of “dirty tricks” by apartheid’s foot soldiers and their Commanders, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Williamson, for instance, recently revealed that he was involved in the assassination of Ruth First, wife of the ANC and South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists.

In South African government thinking, the IFF represented a far more subtle approach to defeating the anti-apartheid movement. Officials said the plan was to get away from the traditional allies of Pretoria, the fringe right in the United States and Europe, “some of whom were to the right of Ghengis Khan,” said one senior intelligence official. Instead, they settled for a front staffed with mainstream conservatives who did not necessarily know who was pulling the strings.

“They ran their own organization, but we steered them, that was the point,” Williamson said.

“They were very good, those guys, eh?” said Vic McPheerson, a police colonel who ran security branch operations and participated in the 1982 bombing of the ANC office in London. “They were not just good in intelligence, but in political warfare.”

Starting in 1986, when Reagan failed to override comprehensive U.S. economic sanctions, the South African government began casting about for ways to survive in an international environment more hostile to apartheid than ever. A very senior official in South African military intelligence, to whom IFF handlers reported at the time, said the operation cost his unit between $l million and $1.5 million a year. The retired general said the funds represented almost all of the IFF’s annual operating budget, although the foundation gained such legitimacy that it began to attract funding from individuals and groups in the United States.

On at least one occasion, the IFF had trouble accounting for its money. It was unable to comply in 1989 with a New York State requirement that it provide an accountant’s opinion confirming that its financial statements “present fairly the financial position of the organization.” It was eventually barred, in January, 1991, from soliciting funds from New York. According to financial records provided by Jeff Pandin, the foundation’s last executive director in Washington, IFF revenue in 1992 dropped by half of the preceding year’s, to $1.6 million. It just so happened that President Frederik W. de Klerk ended secret South African funding for the foundation in 1992, in response to pressure from Mandela to demonstrate that he was not complicit in “Third Force” activities. Pandin expressed shock that much of the organization’s money had been coming from clandestine South African sources. “I worked for the IFF from Day One to Day End,” he said. “This is complete news to me.” He said he once had met Williamson when he was in Mozambique, but was unaware of any official links.

On the surface, the IFF’s headquarters was in north-east Washington, D.C., , at 200 G Street, next door to the Free Congress Foundation, another conservative institution. From that base, it launched campaigns against communist sympathizers and perceived enemies of the free market. It broadly supported Reaganism, and its principal officers ran with the Ollie North crowd. But it always paid special attention to ANC. When Mandela made his first visit to the United States in 1990, following his release from prison, the IFF placed advertisements in local papers designed to dampen public enthusiasm for Mandela. One ad in the Miami Herald portrayed Mandela as an ally and defender of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The city’s large Cuban community was so agitated that a ceremony to present Mandela with keys to the city was scrapped.

The IFF published several journals and bulletins, in Washington and in its offices in Europe and Johannesburg. One of its contributors was Jay Parker, an African-American who was a paid public relations agent of successive apartheid regimes throughout the 1970s and 1980s. People like Henry Kissinger were invited to IFF seminars to deliver keynote speeches. The foundation brought together the together the world’s top intelligence experts at a 1991 conference in Potsdam, Germany, to mull over the changing uses of intelligence in the post-Cold War world. Among those in attendance was former CIA director William Colby and a retired senior KGB general, Oleg Kalugin. The IFF also waged a major but not surprisingly futile campaign for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal. But its main purpose was always to serve the ultimate goals of the South African government, according to those who helped nudge it in that direction. The former senior South African military intelligence official said he traveled to the United States and Canada in 1988 as a guest of the IFF. But the real reason for his trip, he said, was to try to strengthen South African intelligence operations on the ground, at diplomatic posts and the North American offices of Satour, the country’s tourism promotion agency.

“I was surprised at the kind of access the IFF operation provided us,” said Wim Booyse, who went by the title of Senior Research fellow at the Johannesburg office of the IFF. Booyse said when he visited Washington In 1987 to attend IFF-sponsored seminars, part of the propaganda training he and other visitors received came from a disinformation specialist at the United States Information Service, an official he identified as Todd Leventhal. Leventhal said in response that he remembered meeting with Booyse and possibly a few other IFF people, but gave no formal talk and talked to them only about countering disinformation, not spreading it

Far from being a mere branch of the IFF, the Johannesburg office was in fact the nerve center of IFF operations worldwide. According to Martin Yuill, who served as administrator of the “branch,” he began to realize that perhaps Johannesburg was not just a branch office after all, since it was always deciding how much money the other offices, Including the Washington headquarters, should have. “I guess one would have to conclude that that was the case,” he said.

Although he insisted that the IFF was no clandestine operation, Russell Crystal who ran the Johannesburg office, said it was vital to the foundation. He said Friday in an interview that “jobs” for South African intelligence provided at least half of total IFF revenue, and that he sometimes asked military intelligence to send the fees from these “jobs” directly to the Washington office of the IFF.

“The military intelligence, there were certain things they wanted done — tackling the ANC as a terrorist-communist organization,” Crystal said. “The projects we did for them, they paid for. ” He added that it was not impossible that South Africa accounted for far more than his estimated 50 percent, of IFF revenues.

As an example of this “tackling,” Crystal cited the targeting of Oliver Tambo, whenever the late exiled leader of the ANC traveled around the world. Once, when Tambo visited with George Shultz, then-secretary of state, the IFF arranged for demonstrators to drape tires around their necks to protest the “necklace” killings of suspect ed government informers in black townships in South Africa.

“The advantage of the IFF was that it pilloried the ANC,” said Williamson. “The sort of general western view of the ANC up until 1990 was a box of matches [violence] and Soviet-supporting — slavishly was the word we latched on. That was backed up with writings, intellectual inputs. It was a matter of undercutting ANC credibility.”

By 1993, the IFF effectively shut down after de Klerk pulled the plug on many politically motivated clandestine operations. But the IFF did not go down before one final parting shot.

In January that year, the foundation financed a investigation into alleged human rights abuses during the 1980’s at ANC guerrilla camps in Angola. Bob Douglas, a South African lawyer, concluded there was evidence of torture and other abuses, forcing the ANC to acknowledge some abuses. Douglas said Friday he did not believe that the IFF worked for military intelligence. “I did a professional job for which I charged professional fees,” he said crossly. “I did my job of work, I finished my work, and had nothing to do with it since then.”

17 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Williamson, for instance, recently revealed that he was involved in the assassination of Ruth First, wife of the ANC and South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists.

18 “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Several key figures involved in the IFF and contacted by Newsday denied any knowledge that the foundation was a front for the political agenda of a foreign government. Duncan Sellers, now a Virginia businessman, said, “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it.”

19 “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

“Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them,” Marc Thiessen, a Helms spokesman, said.

20 From “Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program”, by Jane Mayer:

“Courting Disaster” downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality under the Bush Administration to the point of falsification. Thiessen argues that “the C.I.A. interrogation program did not inflict torture by any reasonable standard,” and that there was “only one single case” in which “inhumane” techniques were used. That case, he writes, involved the detainee Abd al-Rahim Nashiri, whom a C.I.A. interrogator threatened with a handgun to the head, and with an electric drill. He claims that no detainee “deaths in custody took place in the C.I.A. interrogation program,” failing to mention the case of a detainee who was left to freeze to death at a C.I.A.-run prison in Afghanistan. Referring to the Abu Ghraib scandal, Thiessen writes that “what happened in those photos had nothing to do with C.I.A. interrogations, military interrogations, or interrogations of any sort.” The statement is hard to square with the infamous photograph of Manadel al-Jamadi; his body was placed on ice after he died of asphyxiation during a C.I.A. interrogation at the prison. The homicide became so notorious that the C.I.A.’s inspector general, John Helgerson, forwarded the case to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution. Thiessen simply ignores the incident.

21 From “My Dinner with Jack” by Mark Hemingway:

In the summer of 1985 Abramoff helped plan and organize an event that, as Abramoff told me, inspired Red Scorpion. Abramoff joined forces with Jack Wheeler, another anti-Communist activist, to create the “Jamboree in Jamba”–known more formally as the Democratic International. The pair approached Lewis Lehrman, a conservative benefactor who made a fortune off his Rite-Aid drugstores, with the idea: For years the Soviets had been sponsoring what amounted to supervillain summits, where Sandinistas, African Communist insurgents, and representatives of the PLO and Cuba convened presumably to stroke their fluffy white cats and update their arms-dealer Rolodexes.

Abramoff convinced Lehrman that this put the “good guys” at a comparative disadvantage–the Nicaraguan contras, the Afghan mujahedeen, Savimbi’s rebels in Angola, and other freedom fighters needed a meeting of their own. Congress was in the process of cutting off aid to the contras, and anything that could be done to bolster the group’s public reputation would be politically helpful to Reagan. Lehrman agreed to fund it, and Rohrabacher was brought in to help muster support from inside the White House. Abramoff and Wheeler would handle the details on the ground.

According to Abramoff, the event was a goat rodeo from the start. Hardly a government in the world was enamored of the idea, and simply deciding where to hold the event was no small affair. Only two governments were publicly supportive: South Africa and Israel, and for PR reasons it was quickly decided that neither country was a suitable venue.

So they settled on Jamba, Angola, the home base of Savimbi’s UNITA movement (National Union of Total Independence for Angola), which was fighting the Cuban troops that propped up the Soviet-backed Angolan government. Not exactly the most hospitable locale.

Logistically, the event was a nightmare. Simply trying to get the attendees into the Angolan hinterland provoked international incidents. Pakistan blocked some Afghan rebels from leaving, and skittish Thai officials almost stopped Laotian anti-Communist leader Pa Kao Her from departing Bangkok.

Facilities consisted of little more than grass huts and an airstrip, and managing the various cultures and egos proved challenging, as demonstrated by Abramoff’s deft and hilarious impersonation of a frenzied Afghan warlord who insisted on ranting and raving for 45 minutes, long after the translator who had been procured on his behalf proved worthless. Not only was Abramoff’s mimicry compelling, he gestured wildly with his hands in a way that caught me totally off guard, making me laugh harder. He clearly wasn’t afraid to embarrass himself, a quality that was endearing, considering I had started out the evening somewhat intimidated. I also became aware of how carefully he was gauging my reaction to his tale. He didn’t care about impressing me; it was obvious he had little to prove. But he did tell his story in a generous way–he wanted me to enjoy it, and I did.

The final insult in Jamba was running out of food. Abramoff, who keeps kosher, had packed all his own provisions into the African jungle. Upon leaving the event early, he stood on the stairs of the plane auctioning off his remaining cans of tuna for as much as $20 to ravenous members of the press who had yet to leave.

The jamboree itself ended up being largely ceremonial. Everyone pledged to share intelligence, and Lehrman read a letter Rohrabacher had drafted on Reagan’s behalf, expressing solidarity with those struggling against the Soviet empire. The Time reporter on the scene concluded that the meeting marked the beginning of “a new lobby to urge Congress to support the Nicaraguan contras and other anti-Communist guerrillas.” Considering the improbability of the thing coming together at all, everyone involved considered it a success.

22 “Angola seeks Savimbi’s arrest” by Lara Pawson:

The Angolan Government has issued a warrant for the arrest of Unita leader, Jonas Savimbi.

Late on Friday state radio broadcast a statement from the national department for criminal investigations.

Rebellion, sabotage and the use of explosives are among a long list of crimes alleged to have been committed by the Angolan rebel leader.

The announcement comes seven months after the Prosecutor General labelled Savimbi a war criminal, shortly after a fresh outbreak of war in the battered southern African state in December.

Under Angolan law, the Unita leader is accused of committing a myriad of crimes, ranging from murder and assault to the trafficking of war material.

Indeed, there is no shortage of allegations against Dr Savimbi.

Aside from official testimonies given by victims of Unita, hundreds of thousands of Angola’s displaced recount similar tales of massacres in their rural villages. More often than not, they blame Dr Savimbi for the deaths of their relatives and friends.

From “Jonas Savimbi, 67, Rebel Of Charisma and Tenacity” by Michael T. Kaufman:

Jonas Savimbi, who was killed yesterday by Angolan government soldiers, spent more than 35 years in the African bush battling first for Angolan independence and then for personal power.

At least one conservative mourned the death of this man, even after all the blood on his hands, and this was Howard Phillips.

He is mentioned in the John’s article arguing for continued aid to UNITA, read into the congressional record by Indiana’s Dan Burton [archive link]:

Savimbi told conservative leader Howard Phillips and me last March during a visit to Savimbi’s headquarters in the Angolan bush, `there are a lot of loopholes in that agreement. The agreement is not good at all.’

A background on this figure can be found at “Howard Phillips’ World” by Adele Stan.

On the event of Savimbi’s death, Phillips and his son, David, issued a statement via Newsmax, “Angolan Christian Rebel Leader Assassinated”, mourning the rebel’s death and blaming it on the collusion of George W. Bush, the state department, Chevron, and the Angolan government.

From the statement of David Phillips:

My family and I have spent the weekend grieving the loss of a longtime friend and heroic Christian leader, Dr. Jonas Mahleiro Savimbi.

Savimbi was the leader of the only organized opposition to the totalitarian rule in Luanda. He sacrificed his life for more than 40 years in pursuit of liberty and self-determination for his people. He had a following in Angola up until his death because he personified hope for the most marginalized and downtrodden segment of Angolan society, the indigenous non-assimilated African people.

The son of an evangelical pastor and railway stationmaster, he relied on his Christian faith for strength, courage and wisdom to wage a lifelong struggle for the freedom of the Angolan people.

Africa has lost one of its best Christian leaders and America has lost one of its most faithful Cold War allies.

From the statement of his father, Howard:

Dr. Jonas Savimbi was a great Angolan patriot, truly a man who served as a loving, self-sacrificing father to those of his countrymen who shared his love of freedom and who were willing to die to escape the bonds of Portuguese colonialism and Communist tyranny.

In the war against Soviet imperialism America had no more faithful and courageous ally.

In 1992, Savimbi won a popular election, which victory was stolen from him even more blatantly than Mayor Daley stole Illinois for John F. Kennedy in 1960.

[With] no fear of rebuke from those who govern the New World Order of socially respectable international opinion, the Angolan Reds targeted Dr. Savimbi to be hunted down and murdered.

His death is a tragic loss.

His blood is on the hands of the government of the United States, as well as on the hands of the Angolan gangster government which directly gave the orders.

23 Mark Hemingway’s “My Dinner with Jack”:

But for Abramoff, the pivotal moment in Jamba came when he was approached by someone trying to secure funding for a documentary about Savimbi. Abramoff scoffed. Rambo: First Blood Part II had just been released in theaters three weeks earlier, becoming the first film to open on more than 2,000 screens. “Why would you want to make a documentary? Nobody watches documentaries,” he told me. “I said to the guy, ‘You should make an action film.'”

YOU CAN ALSO SAY THIS for Abramoff–the man has a gift for making wild ideas a reality. Jack revisited his movie idea in an entertainment law class he took while finishing his degree at Georgetown a few years later. He sketched out a story based loosely on what he knew about Savimbi’s plight and the Soviet operations in that part of Africa.

24 The movie opens with the credits featuring a name that is now indissolubly linked with D.C. scandal:

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

It is a movie about a russian fighter who, after seeing the plight of africans under russian siege, defects to their cause and fights on their behalf. His appearance, that of a blonde, muscular uberman, is the aryan ideal; his identity is inextricably linked with being a warrior. He is a member of the spetsnaz – russian special forces – and, over and over again, this is how he identifies himself: “I am spetsnaz.” After defecting, he is re-captured, and his captors humiliate this man by exiling him from this group: “you are no longer spetsnaz.” One of his last lines is declaring that he still belongs to this military ideal, while no longer belonging to the soviet state: “I am still spetsnaz, but I am no longer you.” This man fits the aryan ideal, but the fascist ideal as well, a man for whom belonging to the military group is more important than his belonging to the larger society.

That this man defects from a colonial group, then ends up fighting against it, is analogous to the Boers of South Africa, who came as colonizers to the continent, and then ended up fighting against Europe itself. The National Party which took power after World War II was pro-Germany and opposed to South African involvement on the side of Britain. The Red Scorpion title character fights against the colonizers of which he was once one, becomes a savior to african freedom fighters, and possibly, the true heir to africa. This man’s transformative moment is to meet the chief of a group of Kalahari San (they are also called the Bushmen, which I believe is considered a pejorative), who burns on this man a tattoo signifying membership in their tribe. The Red Scorpion hunts with an african spear as well or better than the chief, and the chief gives this man his spear, a gesture which I read as signifying tribal membership, access to tribal hunting grounds, and status as an african warrior.

It is impossible to watch the movie without thinking immediately of Susan Sontag’s “Fascinating Fascism” which found links between the aryan ideal of the Nazis and the warrior ideal of the Nuba tribe. Even though the Kalahari are not the Nuba, the Kalahari’s culture distinct and dissimilar from that of the Nuba, what is striking is that all the features Sontag cites as a crucial part of the warrior ideal celebrated by Leni Riefenstahl in both Europe and Africa are in Red Scorpion: the celebration of the physical over the mental – the title character never solves a problem through ingenuity, only strength or marksmanship – and the sublimation of the self into some larger martial force, in this case, the spetsnaz. The Red Scorpion moves from being a warrior in a soviet military force to being a warrior in a tribe of hunters – the same warrior character is never altered, only re-directed towards a different enemy. There is also an important distinction. When Riefenstahl traveled to Africa, the Nazi warriors were either dead or elderly, while the Nuba still had youthful devotees to their ideal. The Red Scorpion, on the other hand, is the youngest member of the cast, and the youngest, fittest man compared to any of the Kalahari, whose chief is elderly, and played by an actor in his nineties; the implicit message is that the future of Africa lies with the Red Scorpion, not the Kalahari.

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion - passing the spear - URL if gif doesn't load: http://gfycat.com/LikableUnkemptHyena

Red Scorpion

The movie ends with an image which might embody how a white south african military man might see himself: the aryan ideal, flanked by a sycophantic american journalist, their conservative allies in the U.S., and an african anti-Soviet freedom fighter, someone like Jonas Savimbi, to whom the South African government gave so much financial and military aid.

Red Scorpion three together

25 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

A former chief of intelligence, now retired, said emphatically that the South African military helped finance Abramoffs 1988 movie “Red Scorpion.” The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of an anti-communist African guerrilla commander loosely based on Jones Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader allied to both Washington and Pretoria. Williamson also said the production of “Red Scorpion” was “funded by our guys,” who in addition provided military trucks and equipment – as well as extras.

26 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

[Jeff] Pandin [an Abramoff associate] recalled that Abramoff enlisted Russell Crystal, the head of the IFF’s Johannesburg office and an advisor to F.W. DeKlerk, to be an informal producer on “Red Scorpion” (whether this meant Crystal helped fund the film, Pandin did not remember).

27 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

Initially, the movie was set to shoot in Swaziland, but at the last minute Abramoff moved the production to Namibia, which was occupied by South Africa’s apartheid government.

28 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

The actor Carmen Argenziano, who played the villainous Cuban colonel, said he knew that many of the men playing Russian and Cuban soldiers were actual SADF soldiers.

29 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

“We heard that very right-wing South African money was helping fund the movie,” [Carmen] Argenziano said. “It wasn’t very clear. We were pretty upset about the source of the money. We thought we were misled. We were shocked that these brothers who we thought were showbiz liberals – Beverly Hills Jewish kids – were doing this.”

30 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

By 1988, when shooting started on the film, Abramoff likely had connections in the South African government. For a decade, after all, South Africa had been Savimbi’s main backer, and according to [Chester] Crocker and others, Abramoff would not have been able to put together the Democratic International without extensive help from the SADF.

31 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

“We knew that the IFF was funded by the South African government,” Herman Cohen, who ran Africa operations for the National Security Council, told Salon. “It was one of a number of front organizations.”

32 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Abramoff reacted with anger when told of the allegations Friday, saying his movie was funded by private investors and had nothing to do with the South African government. “This is outrageous,” he said.

33 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

After Jack returned to Washington, Robert Abramoff stayed in Los Angeles and continued to produce films. He is now a full-time lawyer. Reached at the offices of Burgee & Abramoff in Woodland Hills, he refused to speak about his brother or “Red Scorpion.” “It’s a family matter and I prefer not to comment on anything,” he said.

34 From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

During Angola’s war of independence against the Portuguese in 1961-1974, Savimbi was an impressive guerrilla leader, but his movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, was far weaker than Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA.

In February 1972, Savimbi proposed to have his forces cooperate with the Portuguese to “eliminate” the MPLA. The Portuguese responded favorably, and for the next 18 months Savimbi was their ally. But in late 1973, Lisbon broke the agreement and attacked UNITA. And so Savimbi became known, much against his will, as a “freedom fighter,” even though he was still trying to forge a new alliance with Lisbon when the Portuguese regime was overthrown in April 1974.

By 1977, the story of Savimbi’s betrayal of the Angolan independence movement was public knowledge in Western Europe. In 1979, the mainstream Lisbon weekly Expresso concluded: “The fact that Savimbi collaborated with the Portuguese colonial authorities has been so amply proven that no one can question it in good faith.”

No one, that is, but Americans.

Savimbi’s betrayal of the independence struggle has been overlooked in the thousands of press reports and scores of books written about Angola, and, even now, in the articles about his death.

35 From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

Within weeks of the collapse of the Portuguese dictatorship, Savimbi approached the white rulers in Pretoria for help in the impending civil war in Angola. If he won, he promised to maintain friendly relations with the apartheid regime. How tempting, particularly when the MPLA vowed that there would be no peace in southern Africa until apartheid had been defeated.

In July 1975, with Washington’s blessing, South Africa began its covert operation in Angola to support Savimbi.

Yet Savimbi was not a South African puppet. He was simply being true to himself. He was a warlord whose overriding principle was absolute power, and if this required an agreement with Portuguese colonial authorities first, and then a dalliance with apartheid, so be it.

In October 1975, with Washington’s urging, South African troops invaded Angola. Crashing through MPLA resistance, they would have taken Luanda, the MPLA stronghold, had Fidel Castro not sent Cuban soldiers to Angola in early November. Contrary to U.S. reports of the time, Castro did so without consulting Moscow. He was no client. “He was probably the most genuine revolutionary leader then [1975] in power,” Kissinger writes in his memoirs.

From “Land Mines in Angola: An Africa Watch Report”:

In late 1983, the UN Security Council demanded that South Africa withdraw from Angola. Shortly afterwards, Angola and South Africa signed the Lusaka Accords, under which South Africa agreed to withdraw if Angola ceased support for SWAPO. However, South African withdrawal was extremely slow, and was reversed in 1985 when another invasion was launched, in support of UNITA which was facing defeat against a full-scale attack by FAPLA with Cuban support. The government clearly believed that if South African support for UNITA was withdrawn, it would be able to achieve a military solution to the conflict.

36 From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

Jonas Savimbi, a member of Angola’s largest ethnic group, the Ovimbundu, was born and raised in the southern Angolan province of Moxico. A bright, charismatic, former doctorate student, Savimbi became fluent in more than six languages–including Portuguese, French, and English. His knack for learning languages boosted his credibility among the various groups with whom he negotiated. His gift in European languages facilitated his dealings with political opponents, diplomats, and foreign reporters, while he switched into Umbundo when rallying his followers among the Angolan people.

From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

Friend and foe acknowledged the abilities and charisma of Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who was killed by government troops last month.

“Savimbi is very intelligent,” Lucio Lara, a senior aide to his bitter rival, Agostinho Neto, once admitted.

Savimbi also never deviated from his overriding goals or principles. It is odd, however, that Americans have failed to appreciate what these goals and principles were.

During Angola’s war of independence against the Portuguese in 1961-1974, Savimbi was an impressive guerrilla leader, but his movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, was far weaker than Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA.

We might end this note on Savimbi’s formidable intellectual abilities with a contrast in how he is portrayed in the videogame Black Ops II; from “Call of Duty: the recall of Jonas Savimbi” by Sean Jacobs:

Black Ops II paints Savimbi as some kind of brute with his halting English and screams. But he was, in fact, a consummate media figure and understood the power of western press on public opinion. Three clips – the first in French (with Portuguese subtitles), the second in Portuguese, and a third in which Savimbi answers questions, in English, at a surreal “Unita News Conference with Republicans” – provide a brief contrast to his depiction in Black Ops II. He spoke many languages fluently. His English speech and diction was refined – not the kind of brutish bush English they give him.

37 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

[Chester] Crocker described Savimbi, who was killed in 2002, as “a brilliant military warlord who operated by the gun, lived by the gun, and died by the gun and ultimately had a failure of judgment, like warlords often do.”

38 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

Others are less charitable. “He was the most articulate, charismatic homicidal maniac I’ve ever met,” said Don Steinberg, ambassador to Angola during the first Clinton administration.

39 From “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

By the end of the 1980s his proxy army, supplied and funded by the CIA and aided by numerous South African invasions, had sabotaged much of Angola. Swathes of the countryside were cut off from agriculture by minefields, mine victims and malnourished children swamped the hospitals and tens of thousands of children were also kidnapped by Unita troops and taken to Unita-controlled areas in the south around Savimbi’s capital at Jamba.

Appalling rites, such as public burning of women said to be witches, characterised the reign of terror in which many of Savimbi’s close associates were imprisoned or killed on his orders.

From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

For decades, Savimbi’s forces fought Angola’s MPLA government, which was supported militarily by the Soviet Union and thousands of Cuban troops–and was recognized by every country in the world except South Africa and the United States. In order to instill terror in the population and to undermine confidence in the government, Savimbi ordered that food supplies be targeted, millions of land mines be laid in peasants’ fields, and transport lines be cut. As part of this destabilization effort, UNITA frequently attacked health clinics and schools, specifically terrorizing and killing medical workers and teachers. The UN estimated that Angola lost $30 billion in the war from 1980 to 1988, which was six times the country’s 1988 GDP. According to UNICEF, approximately 330,000 children died as direct and indirect results of the fighting during that period alone. Human Rights Watch reports that because of UNITA’s indiscriminate use of landmines, there were over 15,000 amputees in Angola in 1988, ranking it alongside Afghanistan and Cambodia.

40 “The dragon of death who had to be slain”, an account by Fred Bridgland of Savimbi and the murder of one of Savimbi’s closest associates, Pedro “Tito” Chingunji, and Chingunji’s family:

With Savimbi that day was a tall, slim 19-year-old guerrilla with soft, intelligent eyes, wearing a beret set at a jaunty angle. Pedro “Tito” Chingunji was to become my closest African friend; in due course, Savimbi would execute him and his entire family, including his one-year-old twins.


Then Tito asked me to fly to meet him in Washington on a matter of life or death. It was the most disturbing conversation I have ever had.

His mother, father, three brothers and a sister had been executed by Savimbi. His wife and children were being held hostage at Savimbi’s bush headquarters, Jamba, to ensure that Tito continued to perform diplomatic miracles in Washington.

The slaughter of his family was only part of the horror, said Tito. Savimbi had also ordered the public burning on bonfires of dissident women and their children.

On his next visit to Jamba, Tito was arrested and put on trial for trying to open a dialogue with the MPLA, for allegedly trying to overthrow Savimbi and for allegedly having had an affair with one of Savimbi’s many wives and concubines.

I never saw Tito again. We now know that he and his wife and children were executed shortly before Angola’s first election in 1992. Savimbi narrowly lost the election. With Tito and a whole range of other second-tier leaders he either executed or forced to flee, Savimbi might have won.

From “Land Mines in Angola: An Africa Watch Report”:

In Africa Watch’s 1992 survey, among a total of forty-five, six said that FAPLA [Forças Armadas Popular para a Libertação de Angola, the Angolan army] was to blame (including one soldier blown up by a mine his colleagues had planted earlier), twenty-seven said UNITA, and twelve said that they did not know. Many of the “don’t knows,” particularly the six who were interviewed in Luanda, may have been reluctant to mention FAPLA.

The 1990 ICRC survey came up with a similar result. Eighty-three blamed UNITA (73.5 percent), fourteen blamed FAPLA (12.4 percent), one blamed the Cubans (0.7 percent), and fifteen said that they did not know (13.3 percent).

The war was fought in a manner that reduced much of Angola’s population to a state of famine. There were no recognized front lines, and fighting raged backwards and forwards over large areas of the country. As a result, a very large proportion of the population was directly affected by the war, and an even larger number of people lived with the pervasive fear that fighting could come to their locality at any time. The widespread use of land mines, especially on roads and paths, was a crucial factor in creating famine. The threat of land mines prevented free movement of people and commerce, and proved a serious obstacle to relief efforts.

During 1990, serious food shortages threatened much of the country. According to estimates by the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, up to 10,000 people died in the first four months of the year. In September, the United Nations estimated that about 1.9 million Angolans in nine central and southern provinces faced famine. About three quarters of those at risk were in areas made inaccessible for relief. About 1.2 million people were in the central Planalto of Huambo and Bíe provinces and the neighboring areas. This, the most fertile and densely populated part of Angola, was the center of UNITA’s war effort. UNITA aimed to destabilize the government by preventing it from exercising any form of authority in these provinces. This strategy, together with the shifting battle lines, meant that the delivery of relief to the Planalto by establishing tranquil zones or safe passage agreements would be possible only if UNITA dramatically revised its military strategy.

The United States government and Congress have been significant though inconsistent supporters of UNITA, and have provided financial and military support. At least seven types of US-manufactured mines are present in Angolan soil. Major Cox of the British army noted that “the mines laid by UNITA forces were mainly from the USA.” He did not, however, say who was the immediate supplier of mines to UNITA. His fellow British officer, Col. Griffiths also declined to characterize the US as a major direct supplier of mines. At this writing, the United States government has not accepted that it bears any responsibility for the large number of US-manufactured mines in Angola.

41 From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

Whatever the case, Savimbi certainly showed his skill as a political chameleon. In 1988, several former UNITA members reported to the Portuguese newsweekly, Espresso, that UNITA’s political elite all followed the precepts of Savimbi’s Practical Guide for the Cadre, which was described as “a manual of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism with a distinct trait of Stalinism and Maoism.” The UNITA dissidents claimed that the Guide was taught in a room filled with Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung busts, where the anthem of the Communist International was sung every day. These former UNITA members denounced as fraudulent Savimbi’s widely publicized pro-Western ideology and defense of democracy. They pointed out that there was a huge discrepancy between what UNITA claimed abroad as its objectives (i.e., negotiations with the MPLA, reconciliation, and coalition) and what the Guide taught. The Guide, said to be written by Savimbi, was considered a secret book accessible only to the political elite of UNITA.

42 “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

US pressure brought the Angolan government to accept a peace agreement at Bicesse in 1991 that required both sides to disarm and demobilise before a UN-monitored election in 1992. Washington was confident that Savimbi would win the election. But in February 1992 his oldest associate, Antonio da Costa Fernandes, and another leading Unita cadre, Nzau Puna, defected, declaring publicly that Savimbi was not interested in a political contest, but was preparing another war. However, so strong were US ties to Savimbi that those warnings and others were disregarded.

He launched a catastrophic new war when he lost the election in late September, and came close to seizing power in the following months.

43 From “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

Jonas Savimbi, who has died aged 67, was, for 20 years, a figure as important in southern Africa as Nelson Mandela, and as negative a force as Mandela was positive.

For the past 10 years, using the proceeds of smuggled diamonds from eastern and central Angola, he fought an increasingly pointless and personal bush war against the elected government in which hundreds of thousands of peasants were killed, wounded, displaced, or starved to death.

44 From “Welcome to the World’s Richest Poor Country” by John Kampfner:

Aihameselle Mingas beckons me inside his house. He wants to show me his new architect-designed kitchen, with its floor-to-ceiling fridge, and its architect-designed sitting room with its Italian furnishings. Each room has a plasma home-entertainment screen. “Come see the marble. It’s from Brazil,” he says.

I have seen conspicuous consumption in London, Moscow, New York, and Paris, but never a contrast such as this. Outside the high walls of Aihameselle’s house stand two dilapidated tower blocks. The holes in the road resemble lunar craters. Dozens of bored youths stand around, their eyes blank. And the stench. The shit is, literally, floating down the street.

Luanda was built for less than half a million folk. The war drove the population up to four million people, fleeing as the two sides – the communist government backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the rebel UNITA forces supported by America and apartheid South Africa – fought out one of the most vicious conflicts of the Cold War. That is why you have such fast urbanisation. That is why everywhere you look, you see shanties, shacks in fetid and treeless slums that stretch for miles to the horizon. That is why the city suffers power cuts, why traffic doesn’t move and why sanitation has collapsed. When it rains, the polluted Bengo river overflows; the water merges with the garbage-strewn banks, producing yet another bout of cholera.

By night, people party – hard, until dawn. Then, before they return home (drivers have been sleeping in the car park), they gather for one last time to eat fish soup. A popular night-time venue for drink and watching bands play Kuduro music, is Miami. This is a younger, more local and hipper crowd, a far cry from the sad middle-aged men I see at another place down the road, accompanied by their catorzinagas, 14-year-old escorts.

For the rest, life consists of eking out a miserable existence, working on construction sites, if you are lucky, or hawking anything you can find. Life expectancy is 42. Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Three quarters of the population earn less than a dollar a day – the UN definition of absolute poverty. Some 50 per cent of people have no access to clean water; 24 percent of children under 14 are forced to work.

45 “My Vision For South Africa” is the lecture Buthelezi gave at Heritage; Savimbi’s has the sick joke of a title, “The Coming Winds of Democracy in Angola”.

46 From Johns’ LinkedIn profile:

Michael Johns is a health care executive with extensive experience in leading medical device, medical supply, home health, pharmaceutical and specialty pharmaceutical revenue and market share growth. His industry expertise includes executive management, sales and marketing management, operational management and efficiencies, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance contract and reimbursement management, investor and public relations, the development and implementation of organic and acquisition-oriented growth strategies and other industry functions.

As Divisional Head and Corporate Vice President for Electric Mobility Corporation, a global medical device company, Mr. Johns drove top-line sales from $3.8 million to $30 million, increased divisional profit contribution by 150 percent, and reduced Medicare, Medicaid, and managed care DSO by 75 percent. He launched a national clinical sales force of 200 from scratch and developed over 250 managed care contracts. Prior to this, he was Vice President and a member of the senior management team of Gentiva Health Services, the world’s largest home health care company.

Prior to beginning his health care management career in 1994, Mr. Johns was a White House speechwriter to the President of the United States, a senior aide to the Governor of New Jersey and a U.S. Senator, and a policy analyst and editor at one of the nation’s most influential public policy research institutes.

47 From the Consumer Affairs website, “Electric Mobility Fined $225,00 by New Jersey”:

Electric Mobility has agreed to pay more $225,000 in fees and consumer redress after an investigation by the state of New Jersey. The company also agreed that it distributors will prominently state the conditions under which Medicare is likely to pay some or all of the purchase cost of a motorized wheelchair.

The company also agreed to clearly disclose the requirements for transporting the scooter in the consumer’s personal vehicle, including the need to disassemble the device or to use a ramp or other accessory that must be purchased separately.

48 The full letter, from the Consumer Affairs site:

Mr. James R Hood
Editor in Chief & President
Consumer Affairs.Com
400 N Capitol St., NW Suite G-50
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Hood,

Once again, I have viewed, with great concern, the misinformation you have posted to your website concerning Electric Mobility Corporation. Electric Mobility was not fined $225,000 by the State of New Jersey as your website erroneously reports.

Electric Mobility entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the State of New Jersey. By doing so, we believe that we have set the industry standard for ethical sales practices. It is also important to note that this was an amicable agreement and that Electric Mobility voluntarily cooperated and agreed to this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. Furthermore, the agreement resolved and settled all issues in controversy without any findings of law or fact. Moreover, the agreement, executed by the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey and me, specifically acknowledges “Electric Mobility admitted no wrongdoing and the fact that Electric Mobility promises to act in specific ways or not to act in specific ways does not constitute an admission that Electric Mobility has acted any differently in the past. Indeed, Electric Mobility contends that it has always been in compliance with the laws and regulations of New Jersey.”

The majority of the provisos contained in the Agreement have been in place for many years. Medicare coverage criteria is a complicated issue—one that we have always addressed during our sales presentation. Whenever customers do not meet this criteria, we have had the customers execute an Advance Beneficiary Notice, as required by Medicare regulations. We have taken additional steps to change our documentation to assure that all Medicare beneficiaries now acknowledge, in writing, that they have received both the Medicare coverage criteria and the fee schedule amount applicable to their state of residence.

Electric Mobility paid the amount specified in the Agreement for “attorney fees, investigative costs and future consumer initiatives” and to establish an escrow fund. After resolution of any previous consumer concerns, the remaining balance of the escrow fund will be returned to the company. Nowhere in the agreement is the there any mention of “fines” as purported in your website.

We believe that we have always upheld high ethical standards in our industry. We voluntarily entered into this Agreement to assure our customers and all persons associated with the company are aware of the standards to which we are committed.


Michael Flowers

49 The tweet itself:

50 From “Tea Party Jab to Be Zapped From Captain America Comic, Writer Says”:

In issue No. 602 of Captain America, “Two Americas, Part One,” the title hero and The Falcon, a black superhero from New York City, stumble upon a protest rally in Boise, Idaho. They see scores of protesters carrying signs that say “Stop the Socialists!” and “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!”

Captain America says the protest appears to be an “anti-tax thing,” and The Falcon jokes that he likely would not be welcomed into the crowd of “angry white folks.”

Ed Brubaker, who wrote the story, told FoxNews.com he did not write the “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!” sign shown in the edition, insisting that the words were added by someone in “lettering or production” just before being shipped to the printer. It will be changed in subsequent editions, he said.

“I don’t know who did it, probably someone who thought it was funny,” Brubaker wrote in an e-mail. “I didn’t think so, personally. That’s the sign being changed to something more generic for the trade reprint, because I and my editor were both shocked to see it.”

But the change may come too late to placate a chorus of critics who noticed the apparent jab at the Tea Party movement and who accused Marvel of making supervillains out of patriotic Americans.

Michael Johns, a board member of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, said he felt the “juvenile” dig will ultimately do more damage to Marvel’s brand than to the Tea Party movement. He also disputed the insinuation that the growing movement lacks diversity.

“The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans,” Johns said. “Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines.”

Johns accused Brubaker of “blame-shifting” and questioned why an apology or retraction hadn’t been issued as soon as the writer or Marvel executives noticed the politically charged signs.

The offending image:

Angola, Namibia, South Africa

51 From “One Iraq Option Only: Victory”

Disturbingly, there is an emerging consensus among the Democrat-led United States Congressional leadership that the war in Iraq is “lost.” The most recent example that this thesis has worked its way into official party talking points was offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, who pointedly stated last month that “…this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything….”

Setting the obvious contrarian politics aside, could there be a more defeatist, demoralizing and undermining statement at this time?

Clearly, one hopes that is not a message Congressional Democrats want to be sending al-Qaeda and America’s enemies in the region at this juncture, and I think it would be unfair to assign any member of Congress such malicious motives. But it’s already becoming very clear that driving the Republicans from the White House will first mean ensuring no 2008 Republican candidate can run on the coattails of a Bush-led victory in that nation. Putting politics ahead of national security, this nation’s Democratic leadership knows all too well what the prolonged nature of the Iraq War has done to President Bush’s national popularity. It has set the table for the Democrats to reclaim the Presidency in a mere 20 months.

If it is not politics that is driving the Democratic inclination to label the Iraq War “lost,” then Senator Reid’s course of action should be clear: He owes this nation, its deployed troops and their families an apology because this conflict has been anything but “lost.”

This demand for an apology from Reid for calling the Iraq war “lost” is especially interesting given the veneration Johns has for William F. Buckley. From “Buckley Says Bush Will Be Judged on Iraq War, Now a `Failure'”, by Heidi Przybyla and Judy Woodruff, a year before Johns made his demand:

William F. Buckley Jr., the longtime conservative writer and leader, said George W. Bush’s presidency will be judged entirely by the outcome of a war in Iraq that is now a failure.

“Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq,” Buckley said in an interview that will air on Bloomberg Television this weekend. “If he’d invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn’t get him out of his jam.”

52 From allAfrica, “Angola: Zambia Leader Apologises Over Past Support to Jonas Savimbi”

Lusaka – Zambia has apologised to neighbouring Angola over the Frederick Chiluba-led Government’s support to late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, President Michael Sata confirmed today.

Savimbi, who waged an almost three-decade-long civil war against President José Eduardo dos Santos’ regime, died in combat aged 68 in 2002.

Speaking at State House in Lusaka when he received credentials from Angola’s new Ambassador to Zambia Balbina Malheiros Dias Da Silva on Wednesday, President Sata said he had sent Zambia’s founding father, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, to apologise to President José Eduardo and Angolans.

President Sata, a long-time ally of the late Chiluba – Zambia’s president between 1991 and 2001 – and key leader of the then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), said the MMD was “very treacherous” during Angolan Government’s battle against Savimbi.

“I apologise on behalf of Zambia that what our colleagues in MMD did was fraudulent, was greed,” said President Sata, 74, who is less than one month old in power.

“As I am talking, our first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda is in Angola. I sent him as my envoy to go and personally apologise to the President.”

53 This editorial, along with much National Review archive material has been pulled by the magazine from the internet. I am deeply grateful to Bradford DeLong who preserved a copy in his post “From National Review’s Archives”, and I re-paste it here.

National Review editorial, 8/24/1957, 4:7, pp. 148-9: The most important event of the past three weeks was the remarkable and unexpected vote by the Senate to guarantee to defendants in a criminal contempt action the privilege of a jury trial. That vote does not necessarily affirm a citizen’s intrinsic rights: trial by jury in contempt actions, civil or criminal, is not an American birthright, and it cannot, therefore, be maintained that the Senate’s vote upheld, pure and simple, the Common Law.

What the Senate did was to leave undisturbed the mechanism that spans the abstractions by which a society is guided and the actual, sublunary requirements of the individual community. In that sense, the vote was a conservative victory. For the effect of it is–and let us speak about it bluntly–to permit a jury to modify or waive the law in such circumstances as, in the judgment of the jury, require so grave an interposition between the law and its violator.

What kind of circumstances do we speak about? Again, let us speak frankly. The South does not want to deprive the Negro of a vote for the sake of depriving him of the vote. Political scientists assert that minorities do not vote as a unit. Women do not vote as a bloc, they contend; nor do Jews, or Catholics, or laborers, or nudists–nor do Negroes; nor will the enfranchised Negroes of the South.

If that is true, the South will not hinder the Negro from voting–why should it, if the Negro vote, like the women’s, merely swells the volume, but does not affect the ratio, of the vote? In some parts of the South, the White community merely intends to prevail on any issue on which there is corporate disagreement between Negro and White. The White community will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that it has its way.

What are the issues? Is school integration one? The NAACP and others insist that the Negroes as a unit want integrated schools. Others disagree, contending that most Negroes approve the social separation of the races. What if the NAACP is correct, and the matter comes to a vote in a community in which Negroes predominate? The Negroes would, according to democratic processes, win the election; but that is the kind of situation the White community will not permit. The White community will not count the marginal Negro vote. The man who didn’t count it will be hauled up before a jury, he will plead not guilty, and the jury, upon deliberation, will find him not guilty. A federal judge, in a similar situation, might find the defendant guilty, a judgment which would affirm the law and conform with the relevant political abstractions, but whose consequences might be violent and anarchistic.

The central question that emerges–and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal–is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced ace. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage. The British believe they do, and acted accordingly, in Kenya, where the choice was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism, and elsewhere; the South, where the conflict is by no means dramatic, as in Kenya, nevertheless perceives important qualitative differences between its culture and the Negroes’, and intends to assert its own.

National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numberical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

The axiom on which many of the arguments supporting the original version of the Civil Rights bill were based was Universal Suffrage. Everyone in America is entitled to the vote, period. No right is prior to that, no obligation subordinate to it; from this premise all else proceeds.

That, of course, is demagogy. Twenty-year-olds do not generally have the vote, and it is not seriously argued that the difference between 20 and 21-year-olds is the difference between slavery and freedom. The residents of the District of Columbia do not vote: and the population of D.C. increases by geometric proportion. Millions who have the vote do not care to exercise it; millions who have it do not know how to exercise it and do not care to learn. The great majority of the Negroes of the South who do not vote do not care to vote, and would not know for what to vote if they could. Overwhelming numbers of White people in the South do not vote. Universal suffrage is not the beginning of wisdom or the beginning of freedom. Reasonable limitations upon the vote are not exclusively the recommendations of tyrants or oligarchists (was Jefferson either?). The problem in the South is not how to get the vote for the Negro, but how to equip the Negro–and a great many Whites–to cast an enlightened and responsible vote.

The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class. It is tempting and convenient to block the progress of a minority whose services, as menials, are economically useful. Let the South never permit itself to do this. So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization, as is the Congress that permits it to function.

54 From Jacob Heilbrunn’s masterful “Apologists Without Remorse”, on the sorry history of conservative intellectual attitudes toward South Africa:

As [Chester] Crocker [undersecretary of state] told a South African reporter in October 1980, “all Reagan knows about southern Africa is that he’s on the side of the whites.” “To what extent,” asked the March 14, 1986, National Review, “is the vast majority of South African blacks intellectually and practically prepared to assume the social, economic, and political leadership in a highly industrialized country?”

55 From Jacob Heilbrunn’s “Apologists Without Remorse”:

On August 1, 1986, William F. Buckley, Jr., advised the United States to forget about the “one-man/one-vote business.”

56 There are may pieces out there discussing this issue. One of the more recent is Jonathan Chait’s “Who Needs To Win To Win?”

57 From “Mountain out of a molehill”:

Because the likelihood of any individual’s vote mattering is infinitesimal and because the effort required to be an informed voter can be substantial, ignorance and abstention are rational, unless voting is cathartic or otherwise satisfying. A small voting requirement such as registration, which calls for the individual voter’s initiative, acts to filter potential voters with the weakest motivations. They are apt to invest minimal effort in civic competence. As indifferent or reluctant voters are nagged to the polls – or someday prodded there by a monetary penalty for nonvoting – the caliber of the electorate must decline.

58 “Stand With Us”:

59 As this is a slightly controversial quote, I upload scans of the article portion where it’s featured, so there won’t be doubts as to its veracity. The anecdote begins on page 73 and continues on to page 74; I thought it was a distraction to mention in the main piece the insight of one of the Review editors that, “under a real government, Bishop Tutu would be a cake of soap.”

Angola Namibia South Africa

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