March 24 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez grounding and the smearing of 1,200 miles of Alaska’s coastline with its oil. It also marks the 30th Anniversary of a lie. Lots of lies... ...more
The Kochs have giant refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. They can't use Texas oil because it's not heavy and filthy enough, so they have to take almost all their oil from Venezuela. ...more
5 years ago, we located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry. The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said ...more
Only 17 months before BP's Deepwater Horizon rig suffered a deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP deepwater oil platform also ...more
Yesterday TransCanada called for the State Department to pause its review of the Keystone XL Pipeline until after the 2016 election. Of course, with every Democratic candidate against the filthy crude tube, and every ...more
For Vice Magazine
London, February 2002. A tiny, dark and intense woman waited at the end of a lecture until I was alone, brought her face strangely close to mine and whispered, “President Chavez needs you. Right now. To Caracas. Right now. You must come to see him.”
President Who? All I knew about this Hugo Chavez guy was that he was an Latin-American jefe, led a bungled coup and was filled with a lot of populist bullshit and a lot of oil.
And I also knew that no one at BBC Newsnight …more
From the Joker’s Wild card deck
Sam Wyly is one of the planet’s “Ten Greenest Billionaires,” according to Forbes. And, the magazine should have added, the one that deserves the most prison time.
Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged billionaire Sam and his billionaire brother Charles with a stock market fraud which sucked over a half billion dollars out of their victims’ pockets. That’s nothing. The SEC has only uncovered the rattling tale of the Wyly snake.
This billionaire boys club is best known for backing the smear campaign against John McCain credited with giving George W. Bush the GOP nomination for President in 2000. In 2004 they backed the Swift Boat smear on John Kerry.
Last week, Mike Papantonio told us on GRITtv that there was no fund from BP to pay for the oil disaster, and raised some questions about Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the damages to Gulf residents. Today investigative journalist Greg Palast answers some of those questions–and raises a few of his own.
Palast has been investigating BP for years, and right now is working on The Amazon to Arctic Investigation (and could use your help). He’s also got a bit of his own experience with Kenneth Feinberg, and he joins us in studio to lay out the history of cases like this, where the people hurt by corporate negligence end up getting doubly screwed when it comes time to get their benefits.
Wally Hickel invented Alaska and told me he regretted it. He also invented Sarah Palin, and I was hoping, when I travel to Alaska next month, to ask him whether he also regretted that second creation.
Hickel wanted to be President; of what nation, well, that changed. First, he wanted to be President of the United States. That required that his home, Alaska, become united with the States, a task he accomplished in 1959 with the help of his buddy, and later enemy, Richard Nixon.
“That was a mistake,” he said, referring to US Statehood. “We should have been our own nation,” which, I pointed out, would have made him President instead of Governor.
Hickel grinned and took me over to a globe. As he massaged and caressed the planet’s crown, he talked about his long-held dream to create a circumpolar resource cartel linking Siberia, Alaska, sub-polar Scandinavia and northern Japan, tied together by a rail tunnel under the Bering Sea. Alaska was too small; his plan was for a Confederation of the North, an Arctic Empire that circled the top of the planet. Benevolently ruled, he made clear, by Emperor Wally.
John Kennedy said we are “a nation of immigrants.” That’s the sanitized phrase. We are, in fact, a nation of refugees, who, despite the bastards in white sheets and the know-nothings in Congress, have held open the Golden Door to a dark planet. We are not imperialists and that’s why Bush lies and Cheney lies and, yes, the Clintons lied.
Winston Churchill didn’t lie to the Brits about their empire: He said, These lands belong to the Crown, we own’m and we’ll squeeze the value from them. “Imperialism,” as Karl Marx complained, was a good word in Britain, a word that got you elected in Europe until too recently.
Ignore the fey university hideouts of Europe. Go to Vietnam or to Brazil or to Morocco or to Tibet and you’ll find the same thing: America’s music, America’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of spirit and the heartfelt friendship of Americans for others have made the USA truly “the light unto the nations.” Americans are not liked worldwide, but loved-sometimes. I find that weird, but it’s true-and that drives Osama to bombs and madness.
We are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the cause that all men and women are created equal. It’s silly and precious to point out that these ideals have been mangled, abused, ignored and monstered by those with plans to make us an empire. We know that.
America is indeed exceptional. That’s not a boast, that’s a job we have to do. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson burdened us with that exceptionalism in crafting the most important international law signed up until the Geneva Convention: The Alien Torts Act, in which the USA takes onto itself the right to bring civil penalties against any act of torture, political murder and piracy that occurs anywhere in the world. It is now being used in suits brought against Chevron Oil in Ecuador and against IBM for the death of slave laborers in Nazi Germany.
Damn right America is exceptional. It is America that defiantly walked out of the first “world trade organization,” known as the British Empire, announcing, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are ENDOWED BY THE CREATOR with INALIENABLE rights, and AMONG THESE are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Now, think about that. These rights don’t come from Congress or Kings or Soviets, they come from The Creator, that is, we are born free-and “we” are Sri Lankans as much as Minnesotans. Our rights are “INALIENABLE”: no one, NO ONE, may take them away, not the Ayatollahs of Tehran or Generalissimo Negroponte at the Department of Homeland Security or the kill-o-crats in Baghdad pre- or post- Saddam.
Will the snarling closet imperialists try to turn America from its cause and soul? Damn right they will. That’s why two U.S. military lawyers resigned from their posts at the GuantÃ¡namo prison camp. They wouldn’t put up with Bush-niks tearing up their Constitution. (“We the people” own it, not “them the Republicans.”) In Iran, these two guys would have been shot, in Britain arrested. In America, Bush fears them-that their story would come out-as it did. Only in America could that happen.
No question, the USA holds itself exempt from the legal standards of this world-which are execrable. Whose standard should we adopt? China’s torture standard? Britain’s Secrecy Act as a standard? Switzerland’s Nazi-money-protection standard?
Only in America would a Lyndon Johnson order federal troops to protect Black school kids’ right to attend class. You don’t have to tell me that Johnson then ordered the slaughter of three million Vietnamese-I know, I went to jail to oppose it. But go to Vietnam today and ask what people they most admire? Mention Russians, they laugh; mention Chinese, they may hit you; mention Americans and they say (to my astonishment, I’ll admit), “We love Americans.”
They don’t love Bush. That’s because George Bush is not an American. Look, I didn’t think much of Bill Clinton, and he dropped into some of the worst quasi-imperial habits of the New World Trade Order. But Clinton was also more popular worldwide than the pope and pizza combined because he represented that American sense of giving- a-shit, empathy and sincere friendship which are hallmarks of America’s Manifest Destiny.
Yes, America does have a Manifest Destiny-to Let Freedom Ring-which the evil and greedy and pernicious would twist into a grab for land and resources and ethnic cleansing. And so the Manifest Destiny of the journalists in our shitty little offices in New York and London is to expose these motherfuckers.
Ronald Reagan said, “America is the shining city on the hill.” And he hated it, doing his best to turn it into a dark Calcutta of the helpless. And when that didn’t work, George II tried to drown us in the Mississippi.
Go back to Taos, New Mexico, Voting Precinct 13. What you’ll find there is Pueblo Native war veterans who raise the flag every day and will fight and die for it knowing full well that the fight must also be taken to the pueblo’s racially biased voting booths.
Howard Zinn, a shining historian on our hill, reminds us, “It should be understood that the children of Iraq, of China, and of Africa, children everywhere in the world, have the same right to life as American children.”
Damn right, they do. That’s what Jefferson meant by “inalienable.”
And they won’t get their rights to life and liberty from Osama’s Caliphate of oil states or China’s money-crazed “Communism” nor half of Africa’s neo-colonial presidential Draculas or the puppet princes installed today in Iraq by George Bush.
Bush is so far away from his refugee loser roots that he just doesn’t get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. When they take away your Social Security and overtime and tell you sleeper cells are sleeping under your staircase, you don’t take a chance, you lose your chance, and the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear and suspicion, an armed madhouse.
You want to say that George Bush is an evil sonovabitch? I’d go further: he’s UN-AMERICAN.
And that’s why he lost the election. TWICE.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild from which this is excerpted. Sign up for Palast’s investigative reports at http://www.GregPalast.com
A reader response –
Some of us care. After caring for so many years, I’m tired of the feeling of futility. I watched Grapes of Wrath last night. I was discouraged by the beautiful landscape, devoid of cars and houses, that we no longer
have. And somewhat surprised by the similarity of those thug ranch hands to some of the tactics that still exist today. Although there has been an evolution of caring brought about by presidencies of long ago. They still exist, although conservatives are still trying to turn this nation into a sweatshop.
One thing that keeps coming back to me with regards to almost everything is that we are the final word. The buck stops with the people. Mrs. Joad said that, when she was learning and growing stronger in the end. But what I find so disturbing about this country now. It’s “me”, instead of “we”. We’ve let the comfort that petroleum has brought us turn us into greedy and selfish monsters. Even the kind ones. Kind monsters. Unintended, but nonetheless careless. Too busy to care. Working, breeding, driving,
We get what we deserve. And those who don’t deserve it get it whether they fight it or not. Those who are selfish are dragging us all down.
I know it sounds pathetic. But it is. When will we realize that we’re in Iraq because we don’t demand that we leave. Or demand impeachment now. That “table” Pelosi talks about is ours. Not hers. Although I don’t know
the intricate workings of Washington. I do know that impeachment is not off the table. Global warming is because of us. Not George Bush. And we shouldn’t depend on him to do anything about it.
We’re dependent. And I’ve always been offended by Independence Day since I was just a young adult. We’ve been dependent so long we take it for granted. We take democracy for granted. And we don’t participate. So it’s no longer an independent democracy. Lobbyists even paid our representatives to vote a certain way.
I appreciate the work you do. It takes more than that, though. I’m afraid the people don’t realize that until it’s too late. They’re too busy shopping.
Today I have a nervous feeling in my stomach. I’m finally running out of steam. When one studies and discovers what has really gone on, it takes the wind out of one’s sails to see others who deny those truths. Without truth, what do we have. The truth is so scrambled now that it is one reason why apathy is so rampant.
I’m afraid that it’s still Grapes of Wrath. You are Tom Joad. I am Tom Joad. There is optimism in our potential power. But until we use it, it’s just potential.
I’m sorry for rambling. Especially since you know it all. But sometimes one must vent. And sometimes a voice out of the dark gives light.
Or Kyrgyzstan. Or Turkmenistan. But as your kids will be fighting there among the oil pipes, you should kiss Ted Rall’s crazy ass for going there first – and getting it all down in a book of dead-on cartoons and reportage, Silk Road to Ruin.
Rall almost didn’t make it back. The Taliban who was supposed to execute Rall spoke English – the gunman picked it up as an NYU grad student. As happens when two guys from New York get together, they talked about New York women. Rall told his executioner that you could learn a lot about women by looking at their legs. The Talib said he looks at their eyes. “Not like you got much choice,” Ted opined, noting the draped figures nearby.
This was, by definition, gallows humor. Lucky for Ted, the fanatic shooter needed a couple of chuckles. We all do. And Ted gives us plenty to laugh at in his journey through a horrific wonderland run by a gaggle of lunatic, blood-guzzling dictators (in other words, allies in our War on Terror) where locals play hockey with goat heads.
Silk Road even includes the recipe of Uzbekistan’s President, Islam Karimov, for boiling dissidents alive. (I suggest you skip page 160 where Rall includes a photo of a boiled father of four.)
Instead of a bullet through Rall’s head, the Taliban gave him a “safe-conduct” pass. But Rall’s conduct was anything but safe. When, recently, Bill Clinton flew to …more
5 July 2007
I remember John Perkins. He was a real jerk. A gold-plated, super-slick lying little butthole shill for corporate gangsters; a snake-oil salesman with a movie-star grin, shiny loafers, a crooked calculator and a tooled leather briefcase full of high-blown bullshit.
This was two decades ago. The early 1980s. I wore sandals, uncombed hair down to my cheap collar and carried a busted ring-binder filled with honest calculations and sincere analysis. It was Economic Hit Man Perkins vs. Economic Long-Hair Palast. I didn’t stand a chance. The EHM was about to put a political bullet hole through me wider than a silver dollar.
Hit Men have “clients.” Perkins’ was a giant power company, Public Service of New Hampshire. PSNH was trying to sell New England lobstermen and potato farmers on the idea that they desperately needed a multi-billion dollar nuclear plant. The fact that this bloated atomic water kettle, called “Seabrook,” would produce enough electricity for everyone in the Granite State to smelt iron didn’t matter. That the beast could add a surcharge to electric bills equal to home mortgages was simply smiled over by Perkins and his team of economic con artists.
To steal millions, you need a top team of armed robbers. But to steal billions, you need PhD’s with color charts and economic projections made of fairy dust and eye of newt. Perkins had it all – including a magical thing called a computer-generated spreadsheet (this was well before Excel).
I was an expert witness for some consumer groups, trying to explain to state officials that Perkins’ numbers were bogus as a bubble-gum bagel and his financial projections were from some New Hampshire on another planet.
But this was the key point: Perkins slept in a suite at the Omni. I had truck-rumble insomnia at the motel off exit 68. He glared and grinned and glad-handed. I tried to keep my eyes open.
Here’s how it ended. The local Joe’s jumped head-first into the Perkins fantasy and bought his client’s power plant boondoggle. Within a couple years, the local electric companies had all gone bankrupt, the state treasury was drained, electric bills went from lowest to highest in the nation causing factories to close and dump, I figure, about 11,000 jobs.
Perkins’ clients walked away with barrelfuls of billions.
And Dr. Perkins pocketed plenty for his mortal soul.
But, as in every moral tale, Perkins, the modern Dr. Faust, found redemption in confession.
And we’re lucky he did. Because, in Perkins’ confessionals, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” and his latest, the just-released “Secret History of the American Empire,” we find out what makes these guys tick. By “these guys” I mean the vultures who suck up development aide, the sharks who use the World Bank as their enforcers, the corporate marauders, power pirates and hedge fund hogs with their snouts in the economic trough.
In “Secret History,” Perkins, from the inside, gives the details of the weird moral emptiness and pitilessness of men who waylay the riches of the planet from the people to whom it rightly belongs.
In New England, the pain imposed by the clients of the economic hit men were financial; but, as Perkins wants us never to forget, in much of the planet, the slick sales pitch of the economic hit man is enforced by squads of hit men with less subtle weaponry. Perkins writes:
“Three men toting AK-47s stood at attention outside. They saluted as we drove past. One of the three opened the front door opposite the driver. Leather Jacket and I climbed in. He spoke into a walkie talkie. Tinted windows made it impossible to see inside.”
In lines heavy with Hemingway, Perkins takes us to Indonesia, Bolivia, even tiny Diego Garcia and other victim-states where doctorate-armed “consultants” put an academic gloss on militarized plunder.
In the story of the guys with the AKs, Perkins is on assignment in Guatemala for an outfit called SWEC, a Bechtel twin trying to foist another mad power plant horror show on the natives of Guatemala. (About the same time, I convinced the state of New York to bring racketeering charges against SWEC and its partners in a massive power plant building fraud. SWEC and co-defendants settled the civil charges for a payment of nearly half a billion dollars.)
Unlike the yokels of New Hampshire who fell for the smooth Perkins line, the Guatemalans were no pushovers. Skeptical locals, suspicious indigenous shamans and a couple of improbably courageous politicians simply wouldn’t roll over to the corporate conquistadores.
The resisters, we are led to presume, will be dealt with accordingly. As Perkins explains it, if his pie-charts don’t make the sale, the little men in his darkened car know a little explosive wired to an ignition could be persuasive.
However, by time he got to Central America on the corporate assignment, Perkins was already ill at heart with the SWECs of this world. Ultimately, he refused to back their destructive scheme.
Perkins had switched sides – and, in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” gets his soul back from Satan only a little soiled. In Secret History, the personal confession turns into an illuminating, world-spanning jeremiad. From Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, Perkins leaps from his own story to the widespread misery caused by the greed armies sent marching from the boardrooms of New York and London.
Today, Perkins is my confrere and colleague. He wears his hair longish and I wear mine . . . well, I’ve stopped wearing hair altogether.
And in his writings today, Perkins heart goes out to the Third World targets of this new empire ruled by shock troops and spread sheets. His empathy extends to those in the occupied territory known as the USA. Because, says Perkins, when the wretchedly ripped-off of the Earth rise in rebellion, the lash of the backlash is felt by the children of the lobstermen of New Hampshire, shivering under Humvees in Falluja, and never the EHM’s clients’ fortunate sons, frolicking in their Ferraris.
Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.
To read an except from Perkins’ latest book, The Secret History of the American Empire, go here.
BadThursday, May 17, 2007
Even George Bush couldn’t save Paul Wolfowitz’ job as President of the World Bank after the vulpine neo-con was caught slipping a load of …more
Read the Interview with Palast from the Dollars & Sense magazine spring issue about to hit the streets Dollars & Sense: In the new edition of your book, ARMED MADHOUSE, you report on the theft of the 2008 election. How do know what they’re doing? Any way to stop them?
Palast: I know because I have Karl Rove’s emails. No kidding. He and his team aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. They sent copies of their plans to GeorgeWBush.ORG instead of GeorgeWBush.COM addresses — and, heh heh, they ended up in my in-box. Who says this job ain’t fun?
Don’t check the casket. I know he’s back. When I saw those lights flickering out at La Guardia Airport yesterday and heard the eerie shrieks and moans in the dark, broiling subway tunnels, I just knew it: Ken Lay’s alive! We can see his spirit in every flickering lightbulb from Kansas to Queens as we head into America’s annual Blackout season. …more
Did the Jews do it?
The US Congress will open hearings this week on the War in Iraq — a wee bit late one might think. But one question at the forefront of the minds of many on both the Left and the Right is sure not to be asked: Did the Jews do it? I mean, after killing Jesus, did the Elders of Zion manipulate the government of the United States into invading Babylon as part of a scheme to abet the expansion of Greater Israel? …more