When money smells bad 2

Hillary Clinton did no good and a lot of harm when she was Secretary of State. The chaos that is Libya is her most notorious “achievement”.

But she did manage to use her position to make a great deal of money.

Now we have nothing against money. On the contrary, unpopular though it apparently is among the moralists of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, global warming “scientists”, and Democratic candidates for high office, we like it.

So it is not the riches of the Clintons we are against. It is how they acquired them.

The Romans used to say, “Pecunia non olet” – money doesn’t stink.

But the Clintons’ money actually does. It stinks of corruption.

The Clintons used the State Department as their own private team of enablers for their artful dodging. 

The Washington Times reports:

Back when they occupied the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton boasted that Americans “got two for the price of one”. The folks in Ireland have a good sense now what that actually costs.

As Irish businesses were arranging for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to make one of her last official visits to Ireland in December 2012, her husband, Bill, suddenly landed a half-million speaking gig for his foundation on the Emerald Island, according to newly released emails from the conservative group Citizens United that show the business of State and the business of Bill were often intertwined.

A review of Mrs. Clinton’s official travel and the former president’s for-pay speechmaking, in fact, found several instances like Ireland in which the couple passed through the same foreign country — one for government business, the other for profit or charity — within a few short weeks of each other.

We looked into the Clintons’ “charity”. How much of the Clinton Foundation’s revenue goes to charity? And what charities? For answers, put these titles into our search slot: Touched by the Clintons; What needs to be known about the Clintons’ charities; Floating up now from a sewer called Clinton; The great good works and wonky dilemmas of William J. Clinton. 

For example, Mr. Clinton gave a speech to a prestigious nonprofit in Sweden for $425,000 in May 2012, and Mrs. Clinton visited the country less than a month later to promote a Clean Air convention. On the same trip, Mr. Clinton made a stop in Denmark to give a paid speech to World Management Limited. Mrs. Clinton visited Denmark the following month for a Green Partnership for Growth event.

In June 2012, Mr. Clinton gave a $450,000 speech to YPY Holdings in France. Less than a month later, Mrs. Clinton was in the country for official business. In August of that year, Mr. Clinton made a trip to Brazil and pocketed $850,000 for two days’ work at two different venues. Mrs. Clinton was in the country two months earlier for a United Nations conference on sustainable development.

The amount Mr. Clinton commanded for speeches seemed to rise after Mrs. Clinton became America’s top diplomat.

Of the 13 speeches for which Mr. Clinton personally collected $500,000 or more each, 11 were while Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state, according to federal disclosure records. Others, such as the donation Mr. Clinton scored while in Ireland, went directly to the Clinton Foundation.

State officials on government time also spent a significant amount of time vetting Mr. Clinton’s private activities, raising a question of what benefit taxpayers received in return.

Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle at State, including Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, often were involved in the discussions, emails show.

For instance, Mr. Clinton scheduled a trip to Africa several weeks prior to Mrs. Clinton, on official business to promote the foundation’s charitable works there. The trip was cleared through the State Department, which had to check with its embassies to ensure there would not be any problems.

“Cheryl: our embassies in both Kampala and Pretoria have informed me that they see no/no problems (with their host governments or otherwise) with President Clinton’s visit to Uganda and South Africa two/three weeks before the Secretary,” Johnnie Carson, a State official, wrote to Ms. Mills.

Ms. Mills forwarded the email to Amitabh Desai, a Clinton Foundation official, who replied: “Thanks. I also think we need a talking point for the media who ask about the timing of their trips.”

For paid speeches that presented bad optics, Mr. Clinton would ask the State Department whether the money could be donated to his charity rather than taking it personally.

In June 2012, Mr. Desai wrote an email to Ms. Mills and Ms. Abedin, along with other top State Department officials asking whether Mr. Clinton could give a speech in Congo — which included a photo line with past dictators — for $650,000.

“This did not clear our internal vet, but [Mr. Clinton] wants to know what state thinks of it if he took 100% for the foundation,” Mr. Desai wrote.

That same month, Mr. Desai wrote the same group at State a similar email, concerned that a group that invited the former president to give a speech for $200,000, the Luca International Group on behalf of the U.S. China Energy Summit, didn’t check out.

“Would [the State Department] have any concerns about [Mr. Clinton] taking this and directing the proceeds to the Clinton Foundation?” Mr. Desai asked. “Don Walker is concerned about the host and agrees with us it’s strange we can’t get any more information on this host and they have no track records of prior events.”

Mr. Clinton never made those speeches, but it serves as an example of ways Mr. Clinton thought of skirting State Department ethics determinations for foundation gains. The foundation also asked in May whether the State Department would have any concerns about an invitation he received on behalf of North Korea.

“Decline it,” Ms. Mills abruptly wrote to Mr. Desai. But that didn’t stop a follow-up question.

This came via Tony Rodham [Mrs. Clinton’s brother]. So we would be grateful for any specific concerns that we could share, beyond just saying it would be concerning for [the State Department],” Mr. Desai wrote.

“If he needs more, let him know his wife knows and I am happy to call him secure when he is near a secure line,” Ms. Mills wrote back.

The Ireland trips included a fascinating web of private and public interests.

In 2012, Mrs. Clinton’s final year in office, Irish racing executive JP McManus was looking for a high-profile keynote speaker to help him hand out the All-Ireland Scholarships his charity donates annually at Limerick University. He considered Mr. Clinton to be the perfect choice.

Mr. McManus secured Mr. Clinton’s interest “with the help of friends”. “I got a friend of mine to make an inquiry,” he told the Limerick Leader in an article published Nov. 20, 2012, a few days after Mr. Clinton’s arrival. Mr. McManus’ charity also donated as much as $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, to secure the endeavor, records show.

One of Mr. McManus’ friends is Kieran McLoughlin, CEO of the Ireland Funds, who was set to host Mrs. Clinton as a keynote speaker at one of its events the following month in Belfast. It was Mrs. Clinton’s last trip to a foreign country as secretary of state.

Not only did Mr. McLoughlin attend Mr. Clinton’s speech in Limerick, according to press reports, but in the months prior, Mr. McLoughlin and Mr. McManus also celebrated in Chicago to kick off the Ryder Cup, and in Morocco, where Mr. McManus was honored by the Ireland Funds for his charitable work.

Request for comment from Mr. McManus’ charity went unreturned. A spokeswoman for the Ireland Funds said Mr. McLoughlin attended the Limerick University speech as a guest and had no involvement whatsoever in the organization of the event. The charity did give Mr. McManus a $100,000 grant in 2011 to support the work of the Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership, of which the McManus Foundation is a lead supporter. None of the funding given to Mr. McManus was used to help attract Mr. Clinton to the Limerick event, the spokeswoman said.

(Our emphasis.) So the $1 mllion that Mr. McManus’s charity donated to the Clinton Foundation (ostensibly to go through it to some other charity which the McManus charity could easily have donated to directly) came from a different compartment of Mr. McManus’s charity’s cash box? Money not after all being fungible? So no one is lying?

At the same time Mr. Clinton’s speaking engagement in Ireland was being arranged, Irish interests were pursuing Mrs. Clinton for two other opportunities: an official state visit in December 2012 and a women’s forum in 2014, after she left government.

The web of connections between the Clintons’ public and private interests was complicated throughout the Ireland conversations.

For instance, Ms. Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, was arranging the December 2012 trip for the secretary to speak before the Ireland Fund on behalf of the State Department as part of an official trip. At the same time, though, she also was working for a private firm, Teneo Group, that was involved in the event, emails show.

The Women in Business in Northern Ireland group, seeking to get Mrs. Clinton to speak at a forum in 2014, was simultaneously talking with President Clinton’s foundation about getting more involved in its charitable work.

During those conversations, executives of the women’s business lobby asked a top official of Mr. Clinton’s foundation whether they could arrange to be invited to Mrs. Clinton’s December 2012 trip so they could “share our ambitions” with the secretary.

“Just wondering if you had any more information on the Clintons trip to Ireland,” one executive wrote the foundation. “We would really like to get involved at some level so your help here, if possible, would be great.”

The foundation’s solution? They forwarded the women’s group’s request to Ms. Abedin at the State Department.

The circular chain linked together the State Department, Mr. Clinton’s private charity and Mrs. Clinton’s future private speaking engagement.

Kent Cooper, a former federal election regulator and respected political ethics analyst, said the blurred lines between State and the foundation in the Clinton world validated the axiom that “there are many pockets in a politician’s coat to line”. 

“There are the official pockets, the political pockets, in this case the foundation’s pockets and then their own private pocketbooks, and you can see how special interests subtly work all of them with invitations, pressure and money to try to get what they want,” he said.

“There seem to have been no ethical boundaries or double checks on conflicts of interest between the activities of the secretary of state as a government official, the fundraising of a private foundation, the fees of a private consultant, and the personal income of a former government official, that being the former president.”

No Jews, no news from the heart of darkness 9

We seldom quote the leftist anti-Semitic Guardian/Observer, but today we make an exception for extracts from a horrifying account, by Ian Birrell, of the little-reported savage war in the Congo. His completely irrelevant opening sentences tell you (or at any rate tell us) it is by a lefty anti-Semite – his bitter implication being “no Jews, no news” (but whose fault is that if not the likes of him?), but read on:

Once again, the apparently insoluble struggle between Israel and Palestine has flared up before flickering into uneasy standoff. As usual, world leaders issued fierce warnings, diplomats flew in and the media flooded the region to cover the mayhem as both sides spewed out the empty cliches of conflict. After eight days of fighting, nearly 160 people lay dead.

Meanwhile, 2,300 miles further south, events took a sharp turn for the worse in another interminable regional war. This one also involves survivors of genocide ruthlessly focused on securing their future at any cost. But the resulting conflict is far bloodier, far more brutal, far more devastating, far more destructive – yet it gains scarcely a glance from the rest of the world.

[It is taking place in] the Democratic Republic of the Congo – scene of massacres, of mass rape, of children forced to fight, of families fleeing in fear again and again, so many sordid events that rarely make the headlines. …

A rebel army of 1,500 men waltzed into Goma, a city of one million people, on Tuesday. In doing so, they humiliated not just the useless Congolese government but also the hapless blue helmets of the biggest United Nations peacekeeping mission, costing nearly £1bn a year.

Where on earth have UN peacekeeping forces been effective? Notoriously they themselves raped and murdered civilians in the Congo, as the Guardian itself reported in 2010.

There are so many peacekeepers and development agencies in Goma it has become a boom town, home to some of the most expensive housing in Africa. Yet again, all these people proved impotent. 

The leaders of this insurgent force, the M23, have declared their aim to march across this vast country to capture the capital, Kinshasa. Since it is backed by Rwanda and Uganda, which used proxy armies to do this once before in 1997, such threats cannot be dismissed. Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, who, through fear of a coup, corruption and incompetence, castrated his own military, is reported to have responded by asking Angola to send troops to save him.

It is all a dismal echo of  the Great African War, which officially ended in 2003 but dribbled on for another five years. This began when Rwanda and Uganda invaded in 1998, saw 11 countries from Angola to Zimbabwe involved and left more than five million dead and millions more displaced. There were war crimes on all sides as armies brutalised those unfortunate people living above the fabulous seams of minerals that fuelled the fighting.

It is hard to fathom the real aims of M23, formed earlier this year by mutinous Congolese Tutsi army officers. It could be they hope the Kabila government will implode or it may be they wish to create an independent state in the east of the country. One thing is clear: the international community needs to take tough and urgent action to stop a festering sore from poisoning a huge chunk of Africa once again.

Ah yes. The West – read “chiefly the US”  – which Guardian journalists despise on principle, must intervene to stop Third World savages (whose culture, don’t forget, is quite as good as ours, if not better) are doing what they habitually do.

The west bears some responsibility for the latest act in the Congolese tragedy. Not just because the ethnic divisions that cause such fear were inflamed during dark years of Belgian misrule.

Albeit the Belgians – who did indeed govern their colonies cruelly – left the Congo more than fifty years ago, two generations back.

Nor simply because we gobble up those minerals that fund the warlords.

See how wicked we Westerners are? We buy their minerals, which lay unprofitably in their soil for millennia before any Belgian ventured into the heart  of their darkness.

But because at the heart of the horror in a country the size of western Europe is the tiny nation of Rwanda, darling of western donors seeking to assuage their guilt over inaction during its own genocide.

And we’re wrong, wrong, wrong, if we feel guilt for not intervening in the Rwanda massacre in 1994? Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Britain and America in particular have lionised a regime guilty of ghastly internal repression and gruesome foreign adventurism, with catastrophic consequences for millions of Congolese. Admirers of Paul Kagame, the despotic Rwandan president, praise his country’s economic development, ignoring that it is part-financed by trade in minerals plundered and pillaged from a ravaged neighbour. As far back as 2001, a Congolese rebel leader admitted such theft was Rwandan state policy.

Meanwhile, the west ignored repeated war crimes committed by this regime. The first invasion, originally to drive out Hutu genocidaires who fled over the Congo border and were allowed to regroup by aid organisations, led to an estimated 300,000 deaths of innocent refugees. One expert called this a genocide of attrition. The second invasion sparked even worse carnage. … Rwandan troops and their allies slaughtered children, women and elderly people, often with the crudest weapons such as knives, ropes and stones.

Yet western leaders hailed Kagame as the modern face of Africa and pumped vast aid into his arms.

Here’s a particular on which we at TAC agree with the writer. (We agree with him in general of course that what is happening in the Congo is pitiful and atrocious.) We are against all foreign aid (but we bet he isn’t!).

Britain is the biggest bilateral donor; we directly funded agencies of repression, then led moves for Rwanda to join the Commonwealth. The links between our two countries are alarmingly close … Tony Blair advises Kagame on “governance”, even while swanning around seeking peace in the Middle East. …

“Swanning around”? Implication of contempt. So again we can agree. Tony Blair and his mission are both superfluous to any requirement.

After weeks of prevarication, Britain has finally admitted evidence of Rwandan support for M23 was “credible”. Now we must make up for supporting this monstrous regime by cutting all aid, imposing tough sanctions and seeking war crimes proceedings against Kagame and his senior officials. The UN needs to review its peacekeeping mandate in Congo. Rwanda is set to join the UN Security Council in January, even as fears grow it may end up with a pliable client state carved out in eastern Congo.

Rwanda carving out a client state? How the world turns!

Rwanda is far from the only villain in this drama. Uganda, another western ally, is also linked again to the latest unrest, the president’s own brother accused of backing the M23. But Rwanda is the cause of much of the trouble. The truth is that six times as many people have died already in the Congolese wars as died in the Rwandan genocide. Time to say never again – or does the blood of Congo not count?

Oil the Savior from God in the heart of darkness 2

On October 14, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that 100 U.S. troops, acting as advisors to the Uganda military, will help in military action against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) — a rebel force roaming northwest Uganda, recruiting child soldiers, committing atrocities, and taking hostages (including slave “wives”) for more than fifteen years.

Information on the origin and nature of the appalling Lord’s Resistance Army is provided here at PJ Media by Harvey Glickman, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Haverford College, who also speculates on the reasons for the recent stepped-up US involvement against it in Uganda. (For more on the LRA see our post The Lord’s army of child slave cannibals, June 14, 2011.)

The LRA’s main goal is to live off the terror it creates. Northwest Uganda, northeast Congo, and southeast Sudan (now divided by the new border with South Sudan) have all seen decades of bloody disorder as the LRA traversed international borders to elude Ugandan troops. At times, the LRA has also attacked in Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Republic of Sudan, and Uganda, committing atrocities in those countries.

The LRA emerged as an atrocity-anarchy mechanism in the mid-1980s. It arose among the long-neglected Acholi people in northern Uganda, whose brief period of ascendancy during the brutal Idi Amin regime was overthrown by the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni, in 1986. Museveni parlayed his military success into the presidency and remains there today.

Joseph Kony, a member of the Acholi people originally from Gulu in northern Uganda, founded the LRA, and instigated a rebellion against the Ugandan government in 1986. His ostensible purpose was to establish a theocracy based on orders from God communicated to him via spirits. His method to spread the “Word” encompassed unspeakable atrocities and child abduction, eventually displacing two million people in his rampages through northern Uganda, Congo, and Sudan.

After the September 11 attacks on the United States, the Ugandan military reinterpreted its own measures against the LRA rebellion as part of the global war against terrorism. In 2002 the Uganda parliament passed a Suppression of Terrorism Act. The United States rewarded Uganda’s support for the war in Iraq by restarting a military training and assistance program in 2003. The agreement provided for electronic technology and some direct military assistance, but not weapons. Part of the program was to “win the hearts and minds” of the Acholi people, whose territory within Uganda has been most ravaged by LRA depredations.

By 2003 it was estimated the LRA had 3,000 fighters under arms and 2,000 camp followers, many involuntary. In October 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for five leaders of the LRA, including Kony.

Early in 2010, however, the Ugandan military stated that the LRA was at its weakest point in the past fifteen years. More recently, it claims there are only 200 to 400 soldiers still in the field for the LRA.

So why does the U.S. government pick this moment to get involved?

It turns out that the United States has been involved with this issue for some time. As early as 2003, the United States contributed aid to the Uganda defense budget as part of the expanded struggle against global terrorism. And President Obama has disclosed that since 2008 the United States has helped efforts in the region to protect local people by pursuing the LRA.

U.S. Public Law 111-172 — the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009” — was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 24, 2010. The bill, combining national security and humanitarian goals, was sponsored by Senators McCain and Feingold to provide financial and material assistance to Uganda’s counterinsurgency efforts.

But U.S. support for the anti-LRA war has not been an unmitigated success. The National Security Council authorized training and financial support for the December 2008 Operation Lightning Thunder, a joint Uganda-Congolese-South Sudan campaign. This resulted, however, in major casualties among Congolese civilians, with 200,000 people displaced and the LRA escaping to fight another day.

Again the US is invoking R2P – the Responsibility to Protect – as its reason for intervention in a foreign war. It was the reason given for US military intervention in Libya. But if the intention really was to protect civilians, that intervention must be counted as a failure. (See our posts The danger of R2P, March 23, 2011; A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011; NATO bombards civilians in Libya, October 5, 2011.)

There were other reasons for the US and NATO to go to war in Libya, among them the need for European NATO member-states to ensure their access to that country’s oil. And there are surely other reasons for the US to go to war in Uganda.

Somewhat puzzling about the new U.S. deployment “to protect civilians” — as stated by the U.S. Embassy in Kampala on October 17, 2011 — is the fact that the Ugandan army announced that the Kony/LRA problem is no longer a threat in Uganda, but a regional problem. So, apparently the UPDF is joining the U.S. in an African regional conflict. Uganda has been a leader in the African Union’s battle against the al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia, and suffered a retaliatory bombing in Kampala by them in July 2010.

So does this new operation mean a wider U.S. regional military action in East Africa in support, however reluctant, of Kenya’s incursion into Somalia against al-Shabaab? Is this part of an expanded role for AFRICOM, the U.S. military command in Africa?

Among the possible motives that Glickman considers for more military action by the US in the region, one makes more sense than most:

There is one other possible factor inspiring this new U.S. effort. The geographic areas in which the LRA operates are in the middle of recent discoveries of oilfields. The finds are substantial. Three companies have bought the drilling rights. Heritage sold its interests to Tullow, Tullow sold 30% of its interests to Total and CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which is state-run). …

The Obama administration’s motives are still not clear. Given this list of possibilities, the way the campaign develops should provide some answers.

We think oil is a very good reason to go to war. It would be an added benefit, greatly to be welcomed, if in the course of such a war the Lord’s Resistance Army were to be destroyed.