Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Partner of My Partner 

The Rev. Pat Robertson told MSNBC that he plans to skip the Republican convention:
Some prominent evangelical Christians say they have not been invited to participate in or attend the Republican National Convention less than three weeks before the event is to begin . . . .

The Rev. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a onetime Republican presidential candidate, said, “I’ve had no request from anybody to be there.” Unlike Falwell, Robertson believes the Republican Party is deliberately keeping him and other evangelicals away.

“In the last convention, the thought was to keep all the conservatives out of sight,” said Robertson, who has attended every Republican convention since 1988 but said he would not go this year. “The general thrust will be to entice the so-called independent moderates, and I am not sure that there would be much reason for a conservative to be there.”
We can think of at least one other reason why Robertson's presence on the dais might register as something less than a PR coup. Here's Colbert King in the Washington Post, November 2001:
Joseph Mathews is Pat Robertson's point man in a Liberian mining venture called Freedom Gold Limited. Mathews doesn't much care for what has appeared in this column about his boss's business dealings in Liberia, so he's trying to put a little distance between the televangelist and that West African nation's strongman, Charles Taylor.

Wrote Mathews in a fax sent from Freedom Gold's headquarters in Virginia Beach last week: "Dr. Robertson has no more of a relationship with President Taylor than any foreign business investor in the United States can be said to have with President Bush."

Oh, really?

Let's see. Has President Bush -- or any American president, for that matter -- personally signed an agreement with a foreign mining company that gives his administration a 10 percent equity interest in the investment with a right to purchase at least 15 percent of the shares after the exploration period? Have I missed something?

This much is known, however, based primarily on information obtained from Freedom Gold Limited. Pat Robertson did learn about the gold mining investment opportunity from a visiting Liberian delegation. Robertson did subsequently create the for-profit Freedom Gold Limited in the Cayman Islands in December 1998 in which he was listed as the president and the company's sole director. He did conclude a mining agreement signed personally by him, Charles Taylor and key members of Taylor's cabinet on May 18, 1999. And the deal does give the Taylor regime a cut of the action . . . .

Before Taylor, Robertson was in cahoots with the late brutal and rapacious dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, alias the "President of Kleptocracy." Mobutu gave Robertson's privately formed African Development Co. concessions to hunt for diamonds and gold in Zaire in the '90s. That venture, alas, went bust.
You'll find more on Robertson's partnerships with Taylor here, here, and here. So why are we suddenly flogging a series of three-year-old exposés? Because a story we read last week (thanks to our esteemed colleague Alex, the Yorkshire Ranter) just happened to jog our memory:
The senior Al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan last week met with former Liberian president Charles Taylor in the years before and after Sept. 11, 2001, and received refuge from the former US ally while planning further terrorist operations, according to US intelligence officials and United Nations investigators.

The officials and investigators also painted a picture of Liberia under Taylor as a haven for Al Qaeda, and raised new questions about why the United States waited so long to support Taylor's ouster and continues to refrain from using its influence to bring him before a UN war crimes tribunal.

The Defense Department approved a special forces raid to capture Al Qaeda leaders under Taylor's protection in 2001, but called it off and never reactivated the plan, the US officials said in recent interviews, on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, senior leaders of Al Qaeda continued to receive Taylor's protection.

On July 25, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was arrested in eastern Pakistan along with more than a dozen other Qaeda operatives and is being held in connection with the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. But for at least three years beginning in the late 1990s, he lived in an army camp and hotels run by Taylor's government in Liberia. In addition, Taylor's forces harbored other suspected Al Qaeda leaders, including MIT-educated biologist Aafia Siddiqui, US officials and UN investigators said.

Al Qaeda allegedly paid Taylor for protection and then joined him in the African diamond trade, raising millions of dollars for terrorist activities, according to UN war crimes documents.

Taylor, who was deposed last year, is living in exile in Nigeria under a deal brokered by the United States. The US government has been under increasing pressure to help persuade Nigeria to turn Taylor over to the UN tribunal in Sierra Leone, which has indicted him for atrocities in various West African nations. But the United States, which officials have said used Taylor as a CIA informant and backed his Revolutionary United Front in the mid-1990s, has so far refused . . . .

According to the UN investigation, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, ''the corrupt regime of President Charles Taylor of Liberia facilitated access for Al Qaeda operatives into Sierra Leone and Liberia in exchange for diamonds and weapons."

''Charles Taylor was in the back pocket of Al Qaeda," said a US intelligence official who corroborrated the UN's main findings.

The official said the Liberian strongman was personally paid at least $1 million by Al Qaeda for his assistance: ''He was helping them launder money through the diamond mines" . . . .

As recently as June 2003, the FBI reported to the US General Accounting Office that there was no Al Qaeda presence in West Africa, despite what intelligence and military officials say was a plan to capture Ghailani and Mohammed in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks using a US special forces team stationed in nearby Guinea. That mission was called off, although it is unclear why . . . .

Some specialists suggest the United States did not take seriously the reports of Al Qaeda's links to Taylor -- and has not pressed for his trial in Sierra Leone because of his longstanding ties with the intelligence community.

According to Douglas Farah, a senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center in Washington and author of ''Blood from Stones," an account of the terrorist trade in precious stones in West Africa, Taylor bragged that ''he worked for the CIA for years."
Now let's revisit Pat Robertson's explanation of the root causes of 9/11. In the Reverend's own words:
We have imagined ourselves invulnerable and have been consumed by the pursuit of financial gain. The focus of many in America has been on the pursuit of health, wealth, material pleasures and sexuality. Sadly, those in the churches have been as self-indulgent as those in the world.

We have allowed rampant pornography on the Internet, and rampant secularism and the occult, etc. to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered by our society.

We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said, "We are going to legislate You out of the schools and take Your commandments from the courthouses in various states. We are not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We are not going to allow the Bible or prayer in our schools" . . . .

Don't ask why did it happen. It happened because people are evil. It also happened because God is lifting His protection from this nation and we must pray and ask Him for revival so that once again we will be His people, the planting of His righteousness, so that He will come to our defense and protect us as a nation.
Hey, Rev, here's a reason you forgot: it happened because that murdering scumbag you crawled into bed with sheltered and helped finance the guys who did it.

Do you think he might have laundered his blood money through your joint venture? We've been told that God works in mysterious ways, but we never knew He had such a taste for irony.

UPDATE (via Josh Marshall): Another distinguished theologian heard from:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes said Monday that women who choose to undergo abortions and the physicians who perform the procedure are essentially terrorists because "the evil is the same."

The remarks came as Keyes was explaining why three months ago he said that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were a "warning" from God to "wake up" and stop "the evil" of abortion.

"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on September 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life?" Keyes said in a May 7 speech in Provo, Utah. "We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning."
Our Plea to the RNC: Put 'em on stage, willya? Pat, Alan, and any more like them you can find. Put 'em all on stage so they can explain about divine retribution, hastening the Rapture, etc. In Prime Time, preferably. You know you want to. The base'll eat it up. Please?

Pretty please?

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