Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain's Top Adviser Lobbied For Bloody Dictators

Charles Black, John McCain's chief political strategist: Made a fortune of blood money

WaPo: Charles Black, Foreign Agent

McCain adviser Charles Black and his lobbying partners have represented some of the world's most notorious leaders. Now, that work is prompting calls by Democrats for Black's firing from the campaign. Here is a sampling of clients: [UNITA, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Phillipines, Zaire]

WaPo: McCain Adviser's Work As Lobbyist Criticized
Foreign Clients Included Notorious Rulers

Longtime uber-lobbyist Charles R. Black Jr. is John McCain's man in Washington, a political maestro who is hoping to guide his friend, the senator from Arizona, to the presidency this November.

But for half a decade in the 1980s, Black was also Jonas Savimbi's man in the capital city. His lobbying firm received millions from the brutal Angolan guerrilla leader and took advantage of Black's contacts in Congress and the White House.

Justice Department records that Black's firm submitted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act detail frequent meetings with lawmakers and their staffs and lavish spending by Black and his partners as they attempted to ensure support for Savimbi, whose UNITA movement was fighting the Marxist Angolan government.

Then in his 30s, Black already had established himself as a pioneer of the revolving door between campaign consulting and lobbying, having been a senior adviser on President Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign before returning to K Street. And his clients, as often as not, were foreign leaders eager to burnish their reputations.

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.

Here is just a little information about some of the bloody dictators Charles Black represented. He made money off blood diamonds, illegal ivory trade, ethnic cleansing, and plain old thievery. No wonder John McCain still has 115 lobbyists working for him. His top adviser would literally take money from anyone, no matter how corrupt, no matter how murderous. He already has. And he's McCain's top guy.

Guardian (uk): Jonas Savimbi, Obituary, February 25, 2002

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.

CNN: Mobutu Sese Seko Obituary, September 7, 1997

In 1965, Mobutu seized power with the backing of the military and tacit support of Western countries, who saw him as a bulwark against communist expansion in Africa. He established a one-party state, banning all other political organizations but his own.

Over the next three decades, Mobutu led one of the most enduring regimes in Africa -- and, said his critics, one of the most dictatorial and corrupt.

Despite the country's obvious natural resources, including copper, gold and diamonds, much of Zaire's population continued to sink further into poverty. But Mobutu, known for his trademark leopard-skin hat, amassed a personal fortune estimated to be as much as $5 billion, with homes in Switzerland and France.

NYTimes: Anatomy of an Autocracy: Mobutu's 32-Year Reign

IndependentOnline: Nigeria's 'evil genius' [Ibrahim Babangida] enters election race

In 1986, shortly after coming to power, he executed his bosom friend and then minister of the Federal Capital Territory, General Mamman Vatsa, and dozens of other officers convicted of involvement in a failed coup plot against him.

Scores of military officers and civilians convicted of involvement in another failed coup attempt four years later were also executed despite local and international plea for clemency.

For many though, Babangida, with his toothy smile, is synonymous with corruption, the depreciation of the country's currency and general economic mismanagement.

He is widely believed to have syphoned off tens of millions of dollars during his time in office and he looks the most wealthy of all the 2007 presidential hopefuls.

His critics allege he mismanaged or stole the some 12 billion dollars Nigeria made from oil sales during the Gulf War.

"Babangida promoted the culture of corruption into national ethos," one newspaper columnist wrote.

"If God were a Nigerian, Babangida would have attempted to bribe him," said another.

Independent (uk): Obituary: Siad Barre
[I]n the early hours of 21 October, Siad led 20 army officers and five police officers in a bloodless coup d'tat.

Significant political figures were detained, the constitution suspended, the national assembly closed, political parties banned and the Supreme Court abolished. The country was renamed the Somali Democratic Republic and on 1 November the conspirators constituted themselves the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC).


The complex security paraphernalia and the paramilitary organisations so typical of all repressive states, whether of the right or the left (and Somalia was a confused mixture of both), were installed. The new National Security Service (NSS) began to run its own interrogation and detention centres and even courts. Prison conditions for a growing number of political and other prisoners were uniformly harsh and torture was rife.


To Siad, the mnemonics of liberation fronts merely hid angry clan groupings. Once so identified, whole areas were devastated. Among the first to suffer were the Majeerteen. But it was confrontation with the Isaak, the largest clan in the north, which revealed the depths which Siad and his relative-generals were prepared to plumb. The word ''genocide'' came to be used by international human rights observers.

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