Interviews Greg Palast (with notes by Mike Rectenwald on his Fox News
With Alan Colmes Interview on Feb. 24th)
CLG Interviews Greg Palast (with notes by Mike Rectenwald on his Fox News With Alan Colmes Interview on Feb. 24th)
Michael Rectenwald, with Lori Price
By Michael Rectenwald, with Lori Price
The award-winning investigative journalist and author Gregory Palast first came to the attention of this writer during the presidential election debacle in 2000. When I first heard of the voter purge, based on Greg’s coverage and carried in my local newspaper on page A-22 in an AP article in early December, I realized immediately that this story might well be the real “smoking gun” of the “election.” More than the discounted over-votes (some 100,000 or more), more than the butterfly ballots (a loss for Gore of some 20,000 votes), more than the fraudulently wrought absentee ballots (remember the Republican “operatives” working illegally in election headquarters in two counties, illegally ‘fixing’ applications?), more than “the bourgeois riot,” more than the “reproduced ballots” (imagine that!), or the illegally counted absentee ballots from overseas (no post-marks and arriving late)—this was the story that demonstrated clearly an orchestrated attempt on the part of Republican operatives to steal the state of Florida for Bush and thus the national election.
My mind hasn’t changed much since then, although even more salient crimes come to mind: for example, the Supreme Court decisions based as they were on twisted legal nonsense and obvious conflicts of interest. So Greg Palast came to my attention and became a beacon, a light out of this horrible storm known as the Bush coup now moving Eastward across the planet and visiting its plague on the Middle East, bullying, bribing and threatening everything in its path.
Last night I [Mike R.] appeared on the debut national Fox News radio show, Fox News with Alan Colmes (a.k.a. “Faux News with Faux Liberal”). Alan asked me why “I” (we) continue to harp on the stolen election and Bush’s illegal and anti-democratic seizure of power. I tried to explain (although yelled over) that what we witnessed in Florida is being played out in large scale across the world. Bullying, lying, bribing, presenting faux evidence, and god-knows-what else---this is how Bush got his position and this extends his position, and this simply IS his position! Is that so hard to understand? Is there no sense of history’s importance and how it connects to and forecasts the present? Why the ahistorical vacuum? Why not connect the dots—Bush is a liar, thief and a grand larcenist. He was and continues to be one. He stole the election and has no regard for democratic principles. He murdered retarded people in Texas and will bomb helpless ones in Iraq. He will install a military puppet in place of Hussein, and, to quote one of his ministers, “exploit the peace”, i.e. the natural and strategic resources, of Iraq. And, there’s a family pattern too. That should be recognized. We on the “left” call it “congenital homicidal tendency.” It goes back to Bush’s dad, who bombed Iraq mercilessly, and to his grandfather, who funded the Nazis. The latter is a matter of public record. Just ask the curator of the holocaust museum in Miami.
In light of the importance of history and the connection of issues, one to the other, Lori Price and I interviewed Greg Palast this past weekend, to get his take on the way things have steadily grown more horrible and deplorable since the Bush coup. This is something the CLG predicted two years ago, and many voters, before that. After all, “Stop Bush” signs were the clearest emblematic expression of the “decision” to be made in the 2000 “election.” And “Stop Bush” is now the rallying cry of the world at large. One saving grace is that Europe isn’t cowed and propagandized daily by US rightwing pundits and pukes, and has a mind of its own. So, we asked Greg some questions—about the upcoming war, the coup attempt in Venezuela, the face of globalization under Bush, the perception of Bush & Co. in the UK and the EU in general, and more. As usual, Greg’s answers cut to the quick with wit, humor and a lacerating accuracy that have had some of the ‘subjects’ of his investigations writhing in pain and back-lashing in scorn (but without rebuttal).
By the way, while the CLG is such an anachronism according to Alan Colmes, Greg Palast recommends (in the latest edition of his new book, and below) that his readers join us. We thank you, Greg.
CLG: When you interviewed [Venezuela President, Hugo] Chavez, what was your impression of him? Does he seem like the maniac that the US media and the current US regime is making him out to be?
GP: Chavez is the Nelson Mandela of Venezuela and for five centuries, a white elite has controlled that nation. And for the first time ever, the majority of Indian population has elected their own president. At the end, he is their elected defender and the fact that he has survived kidnapping and assassination attempts orchestrated by the Bush Administration proves that he could not be very crazy. The only indication that he is crazy is that he has taken on the US oil companies.
CLG: What proof exists of Bush complicity in the coup attempt(s)?
GP: For example, Otto Reich of the US state department met with the coup plotters just before the coup and US Ambassador [Charles S.] Shapiro met with the coup leaders while they were holding the elected president of Venezuela, hostage.
CLG: What is the relationship between President Chavez opponents and US oil companies?
GP: The leader of the failed coup d'etat Pedro Carmona is an oil industry executive and lobbyist for the oil industry. This was as much a corporate takeover of government as a coup d'etat.
CLG: Speaking of oil, Greg, what is the relationship of the proposed Iraqi War and the oil industry? Do you think that the war is really about oil, or is that just a leftist conspiratorial myth?
GP: It's not just oil. It’s the issue of water resources. Though most important, is that Bush is using the war as a weapon of mass distraction. We cannot find and we are not trying to hard to find, Osama bin Laden, who is a true threat to America. And Bush has successfully played ‘bait-and-switch’ with the public, putting a turban and beard on Saddam, so that most Americans believe we are attacking the guy who attacked us, while the real perpetrator is laughing all the way to the bank.
CLG: How will the war change the oil relationships of the US? What will be the upshot, economically and in terms of world opinion?
GP: It wouldn't change world opinion at all because most of the world believes that George Bush the 'oil man' has once again, put his Texas oil buddies first. So, this time, Exxon is going to have to make room for British Petroleum.
CLG: Bush's budget proposals for 2003 included no humanitarian aid for Afghanistan (congress intervened and added $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds.) Does this fact foreshadow a possible inconsistency with Bush's assertion that he wants to ‘liberate Iraq’ i.e., a ‘faked’ concern?
GP: Well, we were told we were liberating Afghanistan for democracy. In fact, we now have a country run by a group of warlords and drug dealers. In 1991, Daddy Bush told us we were liberating Kuwait for Democracy. I haven't seen the latest election results from Kuwait. So now, for the third time, the bush family is going to create another 'democracy'. Do they mean like Afghanistan or do they mean like Kuwait?
CLG: We at the CLG think that the US has undergone a serious mutation in its history with the Bush coup and current drive for a new imperialism. Do you see the US entering a wholly new stage in history?
GP: In Bush's fantasy, yes. Which, he dreams of America as the world's sheriff. But, American history shows that we are a people who have never been comfortable with 'empire' and it is to great credit of the American public, as Daniel Ellsberg says, that our government has to lie to us to sell its policy.
CLG: Greg, you've written an enormous amount about globalization. Our question is: do you see any relationship between globalization and the current regime in the US, or, would this same process have continued regardless of the regime?
GP: The growing power of the World Bank and the IMF dictates the economic terms to the developing nations. It has taken on a new meanness since the 'Bush-leaguers' came to office as we have seen, in the ever more brutal treatment of Argentina, which is explained in my book.
CLG: Greg, you've spent a good part of the last few years in England. How would you characterize any change in opinion about the US since Bush's policies for the world have become so apparent? We know that there has always been a tradition of leftist anti-Americanism. What changes have you noted in the rest of the political spectrum, with reference to the US since Bush's coup?
GP: Bill Clinton is the most popular political figure in Europe. Without question, if he agreed to it, he could be elected prime minister of England and prime minister of France, tomorrow. George Bush has utterly destroyed the good will toward America felt by most Britons and Europeans.
CLG: What can we expect in the coming edition of your book? What new material is forthcoming?
GP: The new book comes out this week, totally rewritten top to bottom, and twice as long --a special new US edition. This is in paperback. We do have hope in America, because through groups like CLG [Citizens for Legitimate Government, http://www.legitgov.org/], we do have an alternative means of getting the information denied us by the mainstream corporate press and a new method for organizing, rapidly, to counter the arrogance of an unelected president.
CLG: Greg, one possible criticism of your work is that it gives us little hope of opposing the corporate global agenda. How do you respond to this criticism? Do we have reason to be cynical? What chance do activists have for exposing and opposing the Bush regime, the World Bank, the IMF, globalization, etc.?
GP: In fact, in the new book, I recognize CLG criticism of my dark view and I've corrected my ways. Therefore, the new edition has a brand new ending with several pages of specific actions Americans can take to counter the sense of helplessness. And, one of my recommendations in my book is to join CLG.
Switching gears, you uncovered the (illegal) purging of 97,000 Florida
Voters by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris before the 2000 Presidential
"Election". Is this covered in your book and can you
GP: The new US edition of the book reveals the latest and ugliest facts about the theft of the election in Florida. Just to warn you, Katherine Harris says that Greg Palast is 'twisted an maniacal,' and that's a quote --but she didn't say I was wrong. The deep evil is that the same crew is planning and preparing to manipulate the voting machinery and procedures for 2004, which is new to my book. The new computer machines that are being forced on governments nationwide are being pushed by a lady named Sandra Mortham, who was Secretary of State in Florida before Harris. And Mortham is the founder of 'Women for Jeb Bush.’