September 2010


As the Atlantic Bridge is thrust into a mire of legal wrangling I thought that it might be worth collecting my notes on the thing before it gets forgotten. Enjoy, anoraks all.

William Domhoff describes the Bilderberg Group as a place where elites can “reach consensus” and “affirm cohesion“. The Atlantic Bridge, though lower-key, was not dissimilar. Plutocrats and powermongers met to drink, dine and discuss their nation’s weighty role in geopolitics. It was billed as a “think tank” but doesn’t seem to have forged ideas; rather, hawkish and Atlanticist perceptions were affirmed. As it boasted so many figures from our Coalition it’s worth being inquisitive.

The Atlantic Bridge was formed in 1997 but gained charitable status in 2003. Dubbed an “education and research scheme“, it was led by Liam Fox, then the Shadow Secretary of State for Health. From the start its hawkish credentials were flaunted cheerfully: Fox proclaiming, at its launch event, that “peace without security is fear, peace without justice is tyranny, peace without freedom is slavery“. He liked this statement so much he pinned it to their website. The group’s stated mission was to form and promote politicies of Transatlanticism, while “establish[ing] a strong, well-positioned, network of those in politics, business, journalism and academe“. In a later dialogue with the Tribune Review, Fox expounded on the latter…

I think it is very important to create not only the intellectual framework that will strengthen the special relationship, but actually to create the network of individual people who can know one another. That needs to be in politics, and in the media, and in the military, and in academia. And that’s what we’re trying to do: We are trying to bring people together who have common interests and to recognize that in an ever-more globalized economy, we will all be called upon to defend those common interests.

Reaching a consensus, then. Affirming cohesion.

At first the group’s activities were influenced by Fox’s role. In May 2003 it held a conference to discuss “Scientific Research and Medical Provision” (“the Anglo-American Dynamic“, whatever that is). The agenda is unknown buts its attendees offer clues: among those who shared “common interests” with the Bridge was a host of figures from the pharmaceutical trade. Kevin Rigby of Novartis; Peter Farrow of Pfizer; Tim Morris of GlaxoSmithKline. Morris spoke in opposition to “threats to development“, which apparently included “regulation” and “militant activists“. This came on the heels of GlaxoSmithKline paying millions for deceptive promotion and was followed by a chain of scandalous mistruths in years ahead. Fox also spoke with Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Insitute, on “[whether] the…UK health care model [was] sustainable” and “what lessons could be learnt from [America]“. As the Institute is a reknowned foe of “government-controlled medicine” I think that one can guess the answers.

The Bridge’s stock began to grow as Fox attempted to unite the British and U.S. Conservatives. Shamelessly ignoring its non-partisan status[1] he told an audience that…

In the era where spin is king it is all the more vital to hold on to the truth.

How many Americans, for example, when admiring the backing given to the US by our Prime Minister Tony Blair will be aware that he could only deliver that backing through Parliament because of the support of the Conservative opposition, such was the anti-war split within his own Labour party.

Yes, Fox seems to be implying that the Big Lie of Iraq was that it was a Labour mission, not a Conservative one.

At the same event Margaret Thatcher pecked some U.S. rump, giving the “President Bush…credit for victory. First in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq, [where] the forces of tyranny and darkness have been routed“. Ah, hindsight: the greatest judge. All this sycophancy won the Bridge friends in high places. Karl Rove gave an address and Fox met with the vile John Ashcroft. Soon, he was made Shadow Secretary for Defence, and was joined by front-bench colleagues Michael Gove, George Osbourne, Chris Grayling and William Hague. U.S. hawks like Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman climbed aboard while Amanda Bowman, a ludicrous torture defendant, was hired as Chief Executive.

The unsavoury acquaintanceships continued to be made. Rudy Giuliani had his Presidential campaign boosted on receiving an “Atlantic Bridge Award“. Frank Gaffney, an absurd and nasty U.S. neocon, addressed the group on terrorism. Financial compadres were added to its corporate ones[2] as Lehman Brothers high-ups made several appearances. Finally, the Bridge announced that Liam Fox was to award the “Margaret Thatcher Medal of Freedom” to that bloody old crook Henry Kissinger. In his talk, to an audience who’d each paid £400 to attend, he claimed that Britain and America needed to “seek to bring order” – a “world order” – to a “world of turmoil“.

The Atlantic Bridge shows that some leading Coalition figures tend towards Atlanticist interventionism. Bullish rhetoric abounded on its much be-flagged website, with demands for policies “to bring about a resurgence of U.S strength, pride and global standing“. Modern-day ideologues – Gaffney and James Hirsen – and grizzled old “statesmen” – Kissinger, Giuliani – helped affirm a consensus for Anglo-U.S. domination. The sizeable influence of business and financial power might hint at a “common interest” in this theme and more besides.

European integration wasn’t favoured by the Bridge. Its donors and officials were stridently anti-EU, while it carried articles that damned the “Franco-German Axis” and plans for “a European super-state“. This isn’t a bother for me – I’m no friend to the EU – but considering the violence, lies and secrecy that an ox-strong U.S./U.K. alliance has wrought these fellows might end up replacing one corrupt union with another. And, besides some powermongers, that’s in no one’s interests. Still, perhaps it’s futile to try and worm out policies. The whole thing, with prizes, gala dinners and a procession of shart-suited, slick-tongued and cold-hearted “statesmen” reeks of nothing more than men tripping out on power. And now, of course, they are in power.

Notes

[1] I’m not too interested in the Bridge’s partisanship but, yes, it is quite partisan. It’s staffed by Tories and solely promotes Conservatives. Thatcher lauded it as a “bulwark…against the Left“; Fox used it to boost the Right and Bowman, under her title as C.E.O., “look[ed] forward to…Cameron assum[ing] power“. It’s funded by Michael Hintze, a Conservative donor.

[2] As well as Hintze, the Bridge received donations from one Michael Lewis, who has given to both Labour and the Tories, mostly, it would seem, in the interests of Israel. He was involved in the Conservative friends of the same and is central to BICOM, the British Israel Communications and Research Centre.

[3] The banner is courtesy of the Bridge’s old website. Uproariously they’d titled it “great_leaders“.

Via, Senator Robert Menendez holds forth on Lockerbie…

The more it seems that this was a miscarriage of justice, the more it emboldens would-be terrorists who realize they can get away with murder. The more it seems like a rigged decision, the bigger an insult it is to the families of 189 murdered Americans – 38 of whom lived in New Jersey.

Outrageously, the Senator’s discussing Megrahi’s release.

Yes, this is the investigation into that black and fateful day when a cancerous 57 year-old was packed off home to die. I could understand some outrage if his guilt had been established. Yes, the anger at his not being dead would be a mite distasteful but a reasonable soul could argue justice had been wronged. Yet that’s patently untrue. Megrahi was not consigned to a life of imprisonment but was, in fact, awaiting the appeal he’d won a blessing for. A promising one, indeed: the Scottish Review Commission had dismissed most of the “evidence” against him and left no real case to prosecute. The guilty verdict had no strong foundations. Now, just over a year on, all this has been forgotten and the farce these Senators enact can while into irrelevance. Can you believe that people get cynical about politics?

I note that John Kerry’s stuck inside this bizarro world. Is it bad he wasn’t elected? Is the Pope happily married?

After Megrahi’s release Richard Marquise, head of the FBI’s task force into the case, penned an article opposing “the view of much of the world” that there had been “a miscarriage of justice“. He’s claimed the mine of evidence against Megrahi is richer than that of any other case and thus the nuggets he drew out are quite revealing: so bitty and tarnished that they’re incidental evidence of just how poor the verdict was.

Marquise claims that “evidence was elicited that the Station manager…in Malta” – Lamin Khalifa Fhima, Megrahi’s co-accused – “kept explosives in his desk“. Yet the judge’s verdict ruled this allegation “sound[ed] improbable” and held themselves “unable to place any reliance on th[e] account“. Unsurprising as the source, one Abdul Majid Giaka, was exposed a thoroughly disreputable witness. (Do see Adam Larson’s blog for more on this character: the Libyans were indicted on the strength of his claims yet the Camp Zeist trial would expose him as a fantasist.) Thus, Marquise – head of the FBI’s inquiry; prime defendant of its case – used “evidence” dismissed eight years before by the very judgement that he was endorsing. Nice work, guy! Matt Berkley at JREF – to whom this post is indebted – notes several further contradictions.

This wasn’t a first for Marquise. Writing for the Sunday Times he’d been reliant upon the statements of Anthony Gauci. We’ve seen how unreliable this testimony was but – rather more importantly – so had the Scot’s Review Commission. Over a year before the piece was written they’d held that Gauci had been “undermine[d]” as a witness and that usage of his word had “no reasonable basis“. Marquise wrote inside the Times that he “believe[d] the evidence [h]e presented was sound“. Shame that courts and legal bodies had dismissed it years before.

As I’ve said, there’s no real evidence against Megrahi.

From Bill Wilson MSP (via Medialens)…

Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament notes a report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009, on the effects of the United Kingdom and United States’ attack on Fallujah in 2004; notes the reports that this attack involved the use of illegal chemical weapons, phosphorous bombs and nerve gas; understands that it has been further reported that this has led to an explosion of infant mortality, leukaemia and cancers, exceeding those following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the extent that local doctors are advising women not to have children; supports the international courts in their pursuit of war criminals since 1945; believes that no individual guilty of such crimes should escape justice, and calls for the detention and trial of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

A hearty well done to Aileen Campbell, Bill Kidd, Jamie Hepburn, Gil Paterson and Joe Fitzpatrick for supporting it. All Scottish nationalists, which might be revealing: come on Scottish Labour, where’s yer teeth? One correction to Wilson’s piece, however: Busby’s paper didn’t lay the blame on chemical weapons but notes them as one possible source. An investigation’s needed to determine the cause; how prevalent it might be and what action needs to be taken. Good on ‘im for bringing it to light, though. Onwards!

Europe according to Britain…

More at Mapping Stereotypes.

Here’s a real book-burning outrage from the United States. The Pentagon has destroyed nearly 10,000 copies of Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer’s memoir Operation Dark Heart

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency attempted to block the book about the tipping point in Afghanistan and a controversial pre-9/11 data mining project called “Able Danger.”

In a letter obtained by Fox News, the DIA says national security could be breached if “Operation Dark Heart” is published in its current form. The agency also attempted to block key portions of the book that claim “Able Danger” successfully identified hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat to the United States before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Specifically, the DIA wanted references to a meeting between Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, the book’s author, and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, removed. In that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, Shaffer alleges the commission was told about “Able Danger” and the identification of Atta before the attacks. No mention of this was made in the final 9/11 report.

A 9/11 coverup is not a radical idea. In fact – as it took me far, far too long to recognise – to draw attention to it is to state the obvious.

A typical day inside the White House: sun dapples the lawn’s crisp grass; children’s laughter fills the air; smells of fresh-baked bread drift and governmental lawyers try to shoot down(pdf) a case brought against their frankly despotic assassinations program. Marcy Wheeler deals with the substance of their claims so why not head on over, have a read and give your deepest sympathies.

One tactic that Obama’s men resort to is an invocation of state secret privileges. Amusingly, they try to act as if this is unusual…

The government does not invoke the protections of the state secret privileges lightly…

No, it invokes them heavily: shielding Bush’s chums from justice; protecting the NSA; covering the ass of powerful and moneyed businesses. Heck, it seems like they’re rolled out whenever there’s a threat to power. And, indeed, it seems that way because it’s absolutely true. The government, as we have seen, is a miserable little pile of secrets. It tries to seem more cultured, more urbane than its predecessor but the smell that filters from its chichi suits is just as rank.

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