Jump to content
The Education Forum

Tony Blair and BAE Systems


Recommended Posts

Guest David Guyatt

Anyone see tonight's Panorama on the BAe/Al Yamamah deal? It was strange to the extent that the only Saudi Prince to be named was Bandar. Is he being hung out to dry - limited hangout, I wonder?

Edited by David Guyatt
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 66
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Remember, any government scandal always turns out worse than first it seems. Remember too that if it involves an assertion by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, race to the kitchen and count your spoons.

I thought that little more could be squeezed from the Guardian's BAE/Saudi corruption story until the BBC's revelation on Monday that long-denied bribes had actually been countersigned by the Ministry of Defence. Those who jeer at the ethical standards of foreign governments should understand that these officials, were they in Washington, would now be in handcuffs.

Even the French, since the 1998 OECD anti-corruption convention, have held eight prosecutions for international bribery. Britain has held none. If the al-Yamamah case ever comes within sight of justice, it will be no thanks to an honest prime minister, an alert cabinet, a Wilberforce-style MP, a government auditor, a policeman or a lobbyist. It will be thanks to a muck-raking media, described yesterday by Tony Blair as a "feral beast" of cynicism.

I recall a British civil servant seeing a picture of a veiled Margaret Thatcher descending the steps of a jet to grovel at the feet of some Saudi princes at the time of the 1985 al-Yamamah contract. "This," he said with a sigh, "will end in tears." Thatcher was also negotiating the Pergau dam deal with Malaysia, heavy with kickbacks. Tony Blair did likewise with the Tanzania radar contract, a third of which comprised bribes. Prime ministers seemed to think themselves above the law. In both latter cases they overruled ministers and officials.

The £43bn al-Yamamah deal was not so much about defence as laundering huge sums of surplus oil revenue into the pockets of the Saudi rich, distorting Britain's heavily subsidised defence industry into the bargain. The Saudis do not fight. They have no plausible army. Their purchases of overpriced ships and planes must be operated by mercenaries from Pakistan and elsewhere and sit rusting in docks and deserts.

Saudi foreign policy is based shrewdly on paying for protection from fundamentalist groups that might stir internal dissent. The Saudis financed the Taliban in Afghanistan, and intelligence suggests this is continuing through Gulf "charities". It is inconceivable that Saudi intelligence, so highly valued by Blair, was ignorant of Osama bin Laden's activities before 9/11, which were run mostly by Saudis. The threat to the present Riyadh regime is internal and is not to be met by Tornados and British destroyers. It is met with brutal repression, torture, sharia law and medieval treatment of women and foreigners. Yet this is a government that Britain's most sanctimonious of prime ministers calls a "good friend of ours".

Industry estimates put the price of 120 al-Yamamah jets at roughly 30% over cost. While America was excluded from the contract by its Israel lobby, the alternative supplier, France, must be assumed not to have overbid the British but to have declined to pay so much "commission". This went chiefly to the very man who negotiated the deal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The money, accepted as more than £1bn, was paid to a Riggs Bank account in Washington - now closed - to cover his gigantic jet and other luxuries.

Al-Yamamah was not just the biggest arms contract in the world but also the most opaque. It was awarded unprecedented protection from audit, a unique Bank of England facility, and payments through offshore companies into various Swiss bank accounts. All prime ministers and defence secretaries have taken oaths of allegiance to these mysteries as a mark of their machismo. All participants protest their innocence of wrongdoing, yet go berserk at the mention of the National Audit Office, the Serious Fraud Office or, more recently, the OECD. I repeat, in any honest country they would be in jail.

BAE announced this week that the former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf no less, had been ensnared into "heading an inquiry into the company's operations and ethical practices", but he had been warned off al-Yamamah, presumably because it is considered beyond the power of whitewash. When BP asked James Baker, a former US secretary of state, to look into its safety record, he was told specifically to examine the Texas City catastrophe, the reason for his appointment. Lord Woolf must be soft in the head to fall for BAE's ruse.

Goldsmith announced last December that the SFO's head, Robert Wardle, had spontaneously recalled his investigators from Switzerland for "reasons of national security". Goldsmith briefed that the £2m investigation, which he had approved, was collapsing for lack of evidence. This is now seen as the reverse of the truth. The inquiry was called off for gathering too much incriminating evidence, after frantic lobbying by the prime minister. This indicated that BAE's protestations of innocence were untrue. Bandar's "commission" went way beyond Trade Department protocols stipulating that no more than 5% of a contract value be paid to "local agents". Far worse for Goldsmith, the inquiry had discovered the government's own fingerprints all over the disbursements from the Bank of England.

Panorama revealed that the Ministry of Defence specifically processed, and may still be processing, quarterly invoices for £30m to Bandar. It so happens that the head of the relevant MoD sales unit, Alan Garwood, is a former BAE executive. He reports to Lord Drayson, the arms sales minister, who gave Labour £500,000 within weeks of being made a life peer in 2004 and described himself as "entrepreneur-in-residence" at the Said Business School in Oxford. Wafic Said was Bandar's aide in negotiating al-Yamamah and is assumed to figure among its many beneficiaries. That Blair should have made Drayson political overseer of the Bandar payments cannot be a coincidence.

As the onion skins peel back, al-Yamamah emerges as not a defence contract at all but a vehicle for financial "skimming" by rich Saudis (and Britons such as Mark Thatcher). While British governments could argue that before the 1998 convention such payments were legal, that has not been so since and they were specifically outlawed in 2001. Whitehall has been complicit in a colossal, secret and illegal act of bribery to win a grossly inflated contract. That is why Goldsmith had to suppress the SFO inquiry and why BAE dare not let Lord Woolf near the stinking trough. And Blair has the gall to call the press cynical.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,2101560,00.html

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest David Guyatt

On those "other luxuries"...

Years ago I was told that Bandar was trying to purchase a small and very private Swiss bank in Basel and it was, therefore, interesting that during the Panorama doco there was a segment discussing Bandar travelling to Basel in his private plane just after the BAe payoff story broke. The filmmakers considered this important, in view of the SFO's statement in the film that it was when they began looking into the Swiss bank (unnamed) connections of Bandar that the pressure was put on them to close down their investigation.

The story got really very strange because the bank Bandar was negotiating with back in the 1990's to purchase, was Bank Kuenzler AG, Basel. Kuenzler is, of course, a German name of Jewish origin. Even stranger was that a suitable "Chairman" had been selected to manage the bank on Bandar's behalf. The gentleman in question was both a Special Assistant to President Reagan (during that Administration) and a leader in the Mormon Church (which was where my interest was centred because of the gold laundering activity of numerous Mormons).

The American spelling of the name is Kunzler - without the "e" and there is, or was, a company with that name that was a Gambino crime family front (or something similar anyway -- memory lapses these days).

I remember thinking at the time how strange the whole set-up was... a Saudi prince looking to buy a Jewish bank domiciled in Switzerland that was quite possibly associated with the Sicialian mafia and that was to be managed by a leading Mormon. Talk about cross-denomination business interests...

I don't know if the Kuenzler bank deal was ever consumated but with some of the abundant wealth at his disposal, Bandar was also at that same time , looking to purchase Hackney Greyhound stadium -- of all things. And a bolt-hole (niftly described as "in times of deployment) for his direct family in the Algarve.

On these deals, Bandar was operating under the patronage of HRH Mutaab and not off his own bat.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought that little more could be squeezed from the Guardian's BAE/Saudi corruption story until the BBC's revelation on Monday that long-denied bribes had actually been countersigned by the Ministry of Defence. Those who jeer at the ethical standards of foreign governments should understand that these officials, were they in Washington, would now be in handcuffs.

Even the French, since the 1998 OECD anti-corruption convention, have held eight prosecutions for international bribery. Britain has held none. If the al-Yamamah case ever comes within sight of justice, it will be no thanks to an honest prime minister, an alert cabinet, a Wilberforce-style MP, a government auditor, a policeman or a lobbyist. It will be thanks to a muck-raking media, described yesterday by Tony Blair as a "feral beast" of cynicism.

The £43bn al-Yamamah deal was not so much about defence as laundering huge sums of surplus oil revenue into the pockets of the Saudi rich, distorting Britain's heavily subsidised defence industry into the bargain. The Saudis do not fight. They have no plausible army. Their purchases of overpriced ships and planes must be operated by mercenaries from Pakistan and elsewhere and sit rusting in docks and deserts.

I find it completely repulsive when British politicians go onto television and claim that we have the least corrupt political system in the world. It is just the least reported corrupt system. Not the same thing at all.

It is an important point that these defence contracts are a money laundering scam. It is government ministers and MoD officials who are being well paid for this service.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith is to step down after six years in office. He said he will leave his post next week - as Tony Blair quits after 10 years as prime minister. Goldsmith says he has resigned but in reality he has been told by Gordon Brown that he was going to be sacked.

The legal spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes, said Lord Goldsmith would be remembered as "one of the most controversial attorney generals in post-war British politics... He will always share responsibility for the decision to invade Iraq and to drop the investigation into alleged corrupt dealings between BAE and the Saudi government in connection with Britain's biggest ever defence contract."

Hughes is being too kind. Goldsmith is the most corrupt Attorney General in our history. Gordon Brown has made a gesture that he is about to clean-up politics. I only believe that if he orders a re-opening of the investigation into BAE and the Saudi government.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest David Guyatt

I heartily agree with your sentiments John, but I really don't see Brown opening up the BAe scar again.

Firstly, Brown is part of the same American influenced school as Blair and other leading members of New Labour. Neither Brown nor Blair were direct members of BAP but they were, as you can see, heavily influenced by them. See: http://www.unclenicks.net/bilderberg/www.b...erg.org/bap.htm and also: http://www.nthposition.com/inlovewithamerica.php

Secondly, the Saudi royal family are, besides being thoroughly greedy and corrupt --- not to mention very nasty --- far too close and important to America to allow the newly formed scab on this scandal to be torn open again.

This is only a personal view, but it is based on some insights. Several years ago I was given a brief opportunity to read hundreds of pages of Saudi royal family documents relating to all sorts of business projects and other matters that made fascinating reading. These included a Saudi financed GCC contract for the removal of Iraqi chemical weapon residue ("war gases") from Kuwait in the post Desert Storm period. Since it officially remains the case, in the west (because we supplied Saddam with his "toys"), that Saddam didn't use chemical weapons at any point during Gulf War I, you can see how embarrasing this fact alone would be if the House of Al Saud leaked the story with corroborating documentation. Imagine the financial burden of compensation that would land at the door of the MoD and the Pentagon (just to name two) from Vets suffering (and from families where Vets have died) from Gulf War Illness that results from exposure to chemical weapons, but which both countries still officially deny were used or even deployed by Iraq in Kuwait.

My guess is that if the Saudi's went down then a whole load of other people in America and Europe know they would go down with them.

David

Link to post
Share on other sites
I heartily agree with your sentiments John, but I really don't see Brown opening up the BAe scar again.

Firstly, Brown is part of the same American influenced school as Blair and other leading members of New Labour. Neither Brown nor Blair were direct members of BAP but they were, as you can see, heavily influenced by them. See: http://www.unclenicks.net/bilderberg/www.b...erg.org/bap.htm and also: http://www.nthposition.com/inlovewithamerica.php

Secondly, the Saudi royal family are, besides being thoroughly greedy and corrupt --- not to mention very nasty --- far too close and important to America to allow the newly formed scab on this scandal to be torn open again.

You are probably right that Gordon Brown will continue to participate in the cover-up. However, it is true that Brown hates Blair with a passion and that he could use these legal cases to destroy his reputation as an honest politician (some people would argue that this reputation has already been destroyed).

So far the right-wing press have gone fairly easy on Blair over the BAE Systems scandal. That is because of Margaret Thatcher’s involvement in the original deal. However, as we move closer to the General Election, Brown will be very vulnerable to attacks about covering up New Labour scandals. Brown might find that he will need to expose Blair’s involvement in these scandals in order to protect his own reputation and to keep his job as prime minister.

There are several rumours circulating at the moment about Lord Goldsmith. It has been noted that he resigned late on Friday night. This is the best time to bury bad news. The timing of this is very significant. Why did he not announce his intentions several weeks ago? For example, when John Reid and Hilary Armstrong announced their intentions not to serve in Brown’s government (they both knew they would be sacked by Brown).

One rumour is that just before he goes next week, Lord Goldsmith will announce that he has decided not to prosecute any of those involved in the cash-for-honours affair. There would be an outcry but because the front pages would be dominated by news of Brown’s arrival as prime minister, he will get away with it.

Another possibility is that Brown will appoint a Liberal Democrat as Attorney General. For example, Lord Carlile and Lord Lester, have been suggested as people who might replace Goldsmith. Then Brown could then argue that the decision not to prosecute Lord Levy for selling honours was taken by someone outside the Labour Party. The problem with this is how can Gordon Brown ensure that the new Attorney General makes this decision? All I will say on this is that Lord Goldsmith, Lord Levy, Lord Carlile and Lord Lester have something in common. They also have this in common with the people who initially funded Blair’s campaign to become prime minister.

Lord Carlile would be my choice if I was Brown. Carlile has been a loyal government supporter of the Blair government. He is the so-called independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws, and has advocated the development of legislation in conformity with provisions of the Bush government's USA PATRIOT Act. Among those civil liberties targeted included the right to a trial, the requirement that charges be issued against the imprisoned, and limits on government wiretapping of citizens.

Link to post
Share on other sites

UK defence firm BAE Systems has said it is the subject of an anti-corruption probe by the US Department of Justice. According to BAE, the probe will look at its compliance with anti-corruption laws including its business "concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". BAE faces allegations that it ran a fund to help it win plane and military equipment orders from Saudi Arabia.

Maybe it was the BAE Systems deal that gave George Bush a hold over Tony Blair. Now that Blair is going, Bush has allowed the US Department of Justice to go ahead. It might be used to negotiate with Gordon Brown if he is thinking of removing all British troops from Iraq.

The interesting thing about the al-Yamamah contract is that it was between the British and Saudi governments, not between BAE and Saudi Arabia, and that BAE was only the contractor.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Gary Loughran

Blair as Middle East envoy is currently being prosposed and discussed.

Would this allow him to keep his fingers in the till, as it were?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Blair as Middle East envoy is currently being prosposed and discussed.

Would this allow him to keep his fingers in the till, as it were?

In truth Blair will be working as an arms salesman in the Middle East. It is not in the interests of the arms manufacturers in the UK and the US for a peace agreement in the Middle East.

Interesting development in the BAE scandal has recently emerged. Politicians have to find ways of getting bribes into their accounts. For example, LBJ did it via his wife’s radio station in Texas. The money took the form of paid advertising. If you look through the radio station’s accounts you can find some strange companies buying advertising on the radio station.

The Blairs set up a family trust in 1997. This was used to buy property. This included the famous incident where Cherie arranged for Australian crook, Peter Foster, to buy two flats in Bristol (Cheriegate). It was claimed that these flats were to be for the Blair children when they were at university. This was in itself embarrassing as it was at the same time when Blair had reneged on his promises on university fees. Unfortunately most students don’t have parents to buy them flats while at university.

It has emerged that a company called Thales has paid a large sum for the use of these flats for their Bristol executives. Thales and the Blair Trust have refused to reveal how much money was paid to rent these flats. Thales is a company that gets defence contracts from the government. Alex Dorrian, chief executive of Thales, successfully lobbied ministers to stop the SFO inquiry into the alleged bribery of Saudi Arabia officials in the multi-billion-pound al-Yamamah arms deal. Thales now stands to earn tens of millions of pounds from the supply of Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia, which had been threatened by the bribes inquiry.

Martin Paisner is one of two trustees who run the Blair trust. He is the co-owner of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), a London legal firm. BAE Systems is also being investigated for corruption by South African officials. They have discovered that Thales paid a £69,000 bribe to Jacob Zuma, former Vice President of South Africa, to stop an investigation into another multi-million arms deal. This money was paid to Zuma via a Berwin Leighton Paisner bank account. Just a coincidence of course.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest David Guyatt

That’s very interesting John. I remember Cheriegate very clearly and well, darn it, I just jumped to the conclusion about payoffs and corruption etc. Cynical old me.

Thales is the new spin name of the old bad-press name Thomson CSF that originally arose as a joint French American (General Electric) company but which Mitterand nationalised. Then Raytheon crept into the picture via a joint venture company. From the point of view of corrupt practises, it has more “hair” on it than Madonna.

If you press in some of its more sensitive parts, the Saddam and weapons of mass destruction issue pops up. Ditto the name Bin Laden. I also seem to remember some appalling accusations of corruption made against the very nice Jacques Chirac and the special relationship he had with what is now Thales. Also, wasn’t there a real rumpus years ago about graft and corruption centred on the equally very nice former Chancellor Kohl where the money originated in France?

Thales also has close ties to the French aircraft company Dassault. Btw, I once met him you know, the young Dassault. Very charming fellow. Awfully corrupt according to whispers I’ve heard (obviously totally untrue, naturally).

Then, of course, there was that special arms deal between Saddam and Thales for a formidable radar system valued at billions of euros that was negotiated by Saudi prince Nayef – that is to say, the two-ton-pure-Colombian- cocaine-toting suitcases-shipped-into-France-on-a-Saudi-jet-under-diplomatic-immunity prince Nayef.

What I say is that it’s just as well that these profiteering deals are in the national interest. And that they are usually covered by government backed ECGD insurance. For if the importer neglects to pay for his goods and services, then it is only fair that the British taxpayer picks up the bill. After all, we can’t all be multi-billionaires can we. And only a few can be above the law or else anarchy would reign. Init.

David

Edited by David Guyatt
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest David Guyatt

Having mentioned Raytheon, Saudi jets and royals and Osama Bin Laden (well, Bin Laden anyway) in almost one breath, I feel compelled to add a rider.

Because, Raytheon, or more specifically, the Raytheon private hanger terminal at Tampa airport is where the so caled "phantom flight" carrying Saudi royals left hot on the heels of 911 -- when US airspace was closed to everyone. Little did I know, until I got an email message this morning from Danny Hopsicker about his latest story (see: http://www.madcowprod.com/06282007.html) that the FBI now admit that Osama bin Laden may have privately chartered a plane in the wake of 911 to escape from the good ol US of A.

David

Link to post
Share on other sites

BAE, Baroness Symons, In Black Operations Against LaRouche

by Anton Chaitkin

http://www.larouchepac.com/pages/breaking_...ns_Blackops.asp

As documented in the widely circulating broadside, "BAE Scandal Demands Cheney's Immediate Impeachment" (see lead article in this section) Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to bury the BAE scandal in both Britain and the United States, precisely because investigation of this $80-100 billion British/Saudi slush fund could reveal the authors of very "black" Anglo-American covert intelligence operations, amongst them 9/11. According to British and other news accounts, Cheney prevailed upon Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.K. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to shut down the British Serious Fraud Office's investigation of BAE, on "national security" grounds.

Ongoing investigations also shed new light on the role of Cheney crony Baroness Elizabeth Symons in covering up the BAE operation and in British black propaganda attacks on Cheney's leading U.S. political antagonist, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. Based on this background, it is hardly remarkable that Symons baldly proclaimed to Reuters news agency on Feb. 27, 2007, that the British criminal investigation of BAE was shut down because there was no evidence of bribery—"the reason they did not find anything is because there was nothing to find." Symons' attempt to bury the matter occurred just at the time that the cries of "coverup" were reaching a crescendo in the British press, and major investigations of BAE were developing internationally.

Elizabeth Symons was one of a handful of political operatives who shaped the 1990s rise of Tony Blair's New Labour as a poorly disguised Thatcherism. Her father, Ernest Vize Symons, had been director-general of the U.K. tax department (Inland Revenue), and a governor of the English-Speaking Union, which sought to reunite the U.S.A. with the British Empire. When her father retired in 1979, Elizabeth began working in the trade union division of the Inland Revenue, and later in other unions, in an effort to emasculate the unions and separate them from political power.

In 1996, Tony Blair nominated Symons for a life peerage for having helped create a labor-free Labour Party. By this time, Symons had long been a Fellow of the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a project to tie together British and American defense and secret services strategists. (This was begun by Sir Charles Villiers in 1985, when his son-in-law, John Negroponte, now U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, was boosting the Contras as Ambassador to Honduras.)

As Prime Minister in 1997, Blair appointed Baroness Symons to the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office. Symons represented the Foreign Office in the House of Lords in March 1998, when she was questioned about the coup and countercoup in Sierra Leone in West Africa. Executive Outcomes, a mercenary group tied to the British Crown, had moved a protection racket into Sierra Leone in 1993, taking its payoff in diamonds. When Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was elected President of the country in 1996, he acted on the encouragement of U.S. President Bill Clinton to cancel the British mercenaries' contract, despite the Executive Outcomes threat that he would be overthrown.

A military coup then removed Kabbah; British High Commissioner Peter Penfold, in exile with Kabbah, successfully urged him to hire Sandline, Executive Outcomes' partner mercenary company. Sandline shipped in 30 tons of arms, contravening the United Nations sanctions on arms to that civil-war-devastated country.

Sandline had fully informed the Foreign Office, and others in the Anglo-American black-operations chain of command. A Foreign Office official had told BBC on March 9, 1998, that Baroness Symons was in the circles that had been briefed on the transactions, and that she knew of the ongoing criminal investigation by British law enforcement.

On March 10, 1998, Lord Avebury, a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, asked Baroness Symons on the official record, would she investigate press reports that "the future diamond resources of the country have been mortgaged in an illegal arms transaction in which a British company, Sandline International, was involved?"

Symons denied all, obfuscating that "the newspaper article to which the noble Lord refers ... was in several respects not entirely accurate, or at least not on all fours with the reports that Her Majesty's Government are receiving." There were then calls for Symons' resignation, which Blair rebuffed. As BBC reported the same day: "The Prime Minister has leaped to the defence of foreign office minister Baroness Symons, at the centre of allegations that she misled parliament over the arms-to-Africa affair. Tony Blair told MPs ... that he had not asked her to resign and said there was 'not a shred of evidence' that she ... had deliberately misled anyone."

In 2000, Dick Cheney, chairman and CEO of the Halliburton oil services company of Houston, Texas, and candidate for Vice President, was the American co-chairman of a British conference held April 14-16, on the subject of privatizing the British and American armed forces. This was the special project of Baroness Symons, whom Blair had appointed in 1999 as Minister for Procurement in the Ministry of Defence. The conference was attended by all the main Ministry of Defence officials working to implement her plans for military "Public Private Partnerships," the "Smart Acquisition" initiative, and the "Private Finance Initiative." The event was sponsored by the Rand Corporation, and hosted by the Ditchley Foundation, an Anglo-American power elite group in which Baroness Symons is a trustee and governor.

In his opening remarks to the conference, Cheney referred to his own leadership, first, as Defense Secretary (1989-93), in scheming to have private companies and mercenary soldiers usurp the traditional national military function, and then, steering his Halliburton company to play that role. Cheney said: "I have approached the question of privatization of defense support services from several different perspectives: first as a member of Congress, then as Secretary of Defense, and currently as chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton." He noted that "our British colleagues are far ahead of us in ... successful privatization efforts." Cheney complained that a "challenge for DoD [Department of Defense] is to develop a strategy for countering political resistance. This conference ... provides a tremendous opportunity for us to share experiences, and to learn how the U.S. might take advantage of the concepts and principles that are embodied in the U.K. experience."

Cheney's personal appearance in England at just that moment coincided with Baroness Symons' first planned big privatization: Martin Kitterick, a Defence Ministry consultant on Symons' "Private Finance Initiative," spoke to the conference on the scheme to turn transport of battle tanks over to private companies' trucks and drivers, a contract that Halliburton wanted.

On April 17, 2000, the day after the Cheney-Ditchley conference, the Ministry of Defence announced Baroness Symons' plan for privatizing the British government's giant Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Baroness Symons then led the parliamentary debate on the plan, reassuring the Lords that she was working closely with the Americans.

After the Supreme Court decision of Dec. 12, 2000, Dick Cheney was designated as Vice President and George W. Bush as President of the United States, to take office Jan. 20, 2001.

The announcement by Baroness Symons, that a consortium headed by the Halliburton company was awarded the £300 million contract to privatize military heavy transport, was graciously delayed until Jan. 24, after the inauguration. Cheney was then presumed to be out of the company, although his Halliburton stock options and continuing compensation became an increasingly heated Washington topic. While Cheney was in England, another British contract went up for grabs. The U.S. Lockheed Martin Corporation was bidding for the Joint Strike Fighter program. In 1994, just after Dick Cheney had taken the helm at Halliburton, his wife, Lynne, had become a Lockheed director, serving on the board's Finance, Nominating, and Corporate Governance committees. Lynne Cheney stepped down from the Lockheed board on Jan. 5, 2000.

On Jan. 17, just before Dick Cheney took power, Symons was in Washington. At the Pentagon she ceremonially signed Britain's commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter program. This Anglo-American venture was labelled "the largest defense procurement program ever conceived." The Defence Ministry announcement awarding British funds to Lockheed in the Joint Strike Fighter program came in October 2001, at a decent time interval from the Halliburton announcement.

On June 11, 2001, Baroness Symons moved out of the Defence Ministry, becoming simultaneously Minister of State for the Middle East, in the Foreign Office, and Minister of State for Trade, in the Department of Trade and Industry.

On July 1, 2001, just after Symons' departure from Defence, the shape of her overall scheme for a private power-and-money grab came before the public. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was split into a huge private firm, to be called QinetiQ, and a smaller residual government agency. In the next year, the Blair government shocked some people with the announcement that the Carlyle Group—the private equity fund tied tightly to the Bush family—was to be awarded a large stake in QinetiQ, the "public private partnership." On Feb. 28, 2003, less than a month before the Cheney-Blair-Bush invasion of Iraq, the Carlyle group paid £42.3 million for a 34% holding in QinetiQ. When a large block of QinetiQ stock shares was later put on the public market, the Carlyle Group got about an eight-fold return on its investment. Among those reaping gold from Baroness Symons' planning was former Tory Prime Minister John Major, who had become European Chairman of the Carlyle Group while Baroness Symons was Minister for Defence Procurement.

Baroness Symons' own machinations on behalf of BAE Systems began surfacing in 2005, when the Observer newspaper described her earlier intervention with her Washington circles. This had been in the Summer of 2002, when Cheney was driving hard for war with Iraq.

The story, as told by the British media, is that, at a dinner given by a neo-conservative professor, the Baroness sat next to Attorney David Mills, husband of Tessa Jowell, Blair's Minister of Culture, Media, and Sport. Mills had arranged a $200 million deal with BAE Systems for the Iranian company Mahan Air to buy a fleet of passenger jets. Mills asked Symons to use her influence in Washington to get around the U.S. sanctions law that would penalize a company doing that kind of business with Iran.

On July 9, 2002, ten days after the dinner, Mills wrote to Symons that "BAE will sell or lease as the case may be to [name redacted], a company incorporated in the UAE [united Arab Emirates] and majority-owned by UAE citizens for which I act. It is a condition precedent of the deal that there will be no US objection. It is my understanding, however, that the US government operates the embargo with a degree of discretion. I am sure HMG [Her Majesty's Government, that is, the Blair regime] will wish to offer such support as it can to smooth the path with our American friends, and I would be very grateful if you could do what you can to ensure that BAE get the help they will ... need."

Baroness Symons wrote back to Mills, "Given the obvious political sensitivities you will need to tread very carefully with this one. This is a difficult time to be raising Iran policy in Washington. The advice I have been given, with which I am inclined to agree, is that our official support for you with the administration would raise the profile of the case and, by so doing, increase the chance of eliciting a negative response. So you will need to think very carefully about a lobbying strategy calibrated to achieve the right result. I am pleased that Allan Flood [the BAE Systems director] will be in Washington next week and that he will be calling on the embassy to discuss this further. They are best placed to advise on next steps."

Nothing happened to the Baroness when this was published; David Mills was subsequently charged with money laundering and tax crimes (indicted July 2006) as a cohort of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of the Cheney-Blair-Bush war axis. That August, Dick Cheney was raving that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear bomb capability. The same theme was rattling around the Prime Minister's office, where Baroness Symons' husband, Phil Bassett, was a longtime Blair aide. From September 2002 until October 2003, Bassett was senior advisor and headed the Strategic Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister's office. It was there that Bassett helped pull together Blair's Sept. 24, 2002 "Big Lie" dossier claiming that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" ready to launch at 45 minutes' notice.

Bassett and government Press Secretary Alastair Campbell went to Washington in October 2002, to coordinate strategy for lying about the Iraq danger. With the White House, they established the Coalition Information Centre, which Tucker Eskew, Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Communications, then went to London to implement with Bassett and Campbell. This apparatus and MI6 continued to produce falsified Iraq intelligence as a pretext for war.

Then a factional brawl broke out in London and in the United States, with intensified opposition in leading circles against the Cheney-Blair Iraq War.

On April 3, 2003, two weeks after the start of the war, BBC interviewed Lyndon LaRouche on the "Live Five" show for six minutes, introducing him as a leading critic of the Iraq War policy, and as a candidate for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination. Two days earlier, the LaRouche campaign had released a quarter-million-run pamphlet, "Children of Satan: The 'Ignoble Liars' Behind Bush's No-Exit War." On June 9, 2003, BBC's "Live Five" interviewed LaRouche again, this time for 12 minutes, on LaRouche's recent call for Cheney's impeachment and on Cheney's role in faking Iraq intelligence—faking that Blair, Campbell, and Bassett had also done. In between these two LaRouche interviews, BBC ran two stories (May 29 and June 2), using leading British government weapons scientist Dr. David Kelly as its source, charging that the propaganda team in Tony Blair's office had "sexed up" their Iraq-weapons dossier to make a better excuse for war. After being bullied during interrogation by Blair-controlled members of Parliament, Dr. David Kelly turned up dead, an alleged suicide.

The counterattack by the Blair-Cheney gang also aimed directly at LaRouche. In March 2003, Jeremiah Duggan, a British student studying abroad, committed suicide while in attendance at a Schiller Institute conference in Germany. The Schiller Institute has long been associated with the international economic development proposals of Lyndon Larouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche. German police and prosecutors thoroughly investigated Duggan's death and ruled it a suicide.

Baroness Symons, however, met on April 1, 2004 with Erica Duggan, Jeremiah's mother, announcing that she would appoint a lawyer to work with the Duggan family to pressure German authorities to reverse their assessment of the case. What has followed has been a lurid international propaganda campaign, alleging that Jeremiah was murdered or terrorized to death, without a scintilla of factual evidence contradicting the German findings. The latest twist in the Symons-steered crusade is the Spring 2007 introduction of a resolution in the House of Commons, agitating for a new British investigation into the death of Jeremiah Duggan.

Since leaving her ministerial posts in 2005, Baroness Symons has been Tony Blair's Special Envoy to the Middle East, and to Saudi Arabia, standing as an inner-circle guard for the British-Cheney-Bandar relationship, and, by extension, the lucrative Al-Yamamah project. She is chairman of the British-Saudi Business Council, and vice president of the Middle East Association.

From her station in the House of Lords, she has chaired the all-party group on Qatar. That tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, bordering on Saudi Arabia, has just set up the Qatar Financial Centre, a projected speculators' paradise modelled on the City of London financial district. The BAE Systems company, shaken by mushrooming scandal and facing several potential U.S. investigations, has reached into Qatar to give itself hoped-for credibility. Lord Harry Woolf, the former Chief Justice of England, now works as "chief judge" in the Qatar Financial Centre, alongside Tony Blair's brother, attorney William Blair, who heads the Centre's regulatory body. BAE Systems has hired the Qatar-based Lord Woolf to head a panel of experts to decide whether the company is completely ethical, or needs sprucing up. On June 28, the Qatar Financial Centre sponsored a conference on the potential uses of the sea of money now washing through the hands of Britain's Persian Gulf clients. Baroness Symons was scheduled to chair the meeting.

Now officially in private life, although still Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, and so on, the Baroness is a paid consultant to the Anglo-American law firm DLA Piper, long the attorneys for Halliburton. Recently her London DLA Piper office has been home base to Michael Lester, who had been general counsel and a director of BAE Systems from the year (1999) that Symons became Minister for Defence Procurement. He had been responsible for BAE's "ethical policies and principles." Lester's entry into Baroness Symons' firm was announced on Dec. 16, 2006—the day after the Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigation of BAE Systems.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...