|Friday, Nov. 21, 2003. Page XII
By Chris Floyd
Although the “conquest” of Iraq has unraveled into murderous chaos, at least the Bush Regime is winning its ferocious battle against another dangerous foe: American soldiers who were captured and tortured by Saddam Hussein’s forces in the first Gulf War.
The Bushists’ relentless fight to block the American captives from receiving any compensation from Iraq has eerie echoes of a similar move, more than 50 years ago, to prevent American victims of Japanese torture from filing legal claims against their tormentors. The two cases seem tied by a common ulterior motive: protecting war booty used as slush funds for “black ops” and crony kickbacks.
The 1951 peace treaty “ending” the American post-war occupation of Japan (of course, U.S. troops are still there), contained a curious provision, devised in secret by U.S. envoys. It blocked almost all claims for reparations “arising out of any actions taken by Japan and its nationals in the course of the prosecution of the war.” Considering that tens of millions of people were killed, robbed or forced into slave labor by Japanese forces, this shadowy codicil was generous indeed. Thus for half a century, American victims of Japan’s slave labor program have had their claims to compensation stymied by their own government. Why such legal protection for indefensible evils? U.S. historian Chalmers Johnson tells the sorry tale in this week’s London Review of Books.
As Japanese armies rampaged through Asia, they grabbed a staggering amount of loot from the conquered populations. New research reveals that Emperor Hirohito set up a secret organization, Golden Lily, to keep this swag under imperial control, dispatching family members to oversee the operation. Civilian slaves and POWs were used to build elaborate underground stashes throughout the conquered territories; when sites were completed, the workers and often the Japanese officers supervising them were buried alive with the treasure, to ensure secrecy.
After Japan surrendered in 1945, American forces found some of these hoards, worth billions of dollars. Washington decided to keep the finds secret; publicizing them would have destroyed the fiction at the heart of the American-installed post-war government: that the Emperor and most of the Japanese ruling elite had been nothing but powerless figureheads in the wartime regime.
Instead, Washington used the money to bankroll covert operations by the newly formed CIA: an untraceable slush fund, free of Congressional oversight, stashed under various fronts in 176 banks in 42 different countries. Over the years, the money helped the Agency overthrow governments, subvert elections, smuggle cash to despots like Saddam Hussein, arm terrorist paramilitaries in Latin America, establish its own venture capital funds to infiltrate the business world, and so on and sickeningly on.
One of Golden Lily’s chief bagmen, gangland chief Yoshio Kodama, used his stolen billions to bankroll the pro-American political faction that has controlled Japan for almost 54 years. As Johnson reports, the gangster then “went to work for the CIA and later became the chief agent for the Lockheed Aircraft Company, bribing and blackmailing politicians” to buy U.S. military hardware.
So when it devised the 1951 treaty, Washington couldn’t allow compensation lawsuits that would delve into Japan’s wartime and post-war finances. The money that might have been used for reparations had already been confiscated for the CIA. Many of the Japanese officials involved in snatching this blood-soaked loot were now pro-American statesmen spending billions on U.S. weapons and cutting sweet deals with U.S. corporations. Tossing a few scraps of compensation to the broken, ravaged victims of war crimes just wasn’t good for business.
Now comes George W. Bush a proud scion of the CIA, whose headquarters bears his father’s name carrying on this tradition. Last year, a U.S. judge awarded American captives tortured by Saddam almost $1 billion in compensation, to be taken from Iraqi assets frozen in the U.S. since the 1991 Gulf War. But Bush has thus far successfully blocked the award. Why? Because that money doesn’t belong to Iraq anymore; it belongs to Bush.
Just before invading Iraq in March, Bush signed an executive order confiscating those assets. At first he insisted that this money was desperately needed for the “reconstruction” of the country he was destroying. But when the Gulf War victims said they’d be happy to postpone the award for years if necessary to help Iraq get back on its feet, the Regime changed tack.
Bushist minions now maintain that the money is gone, spent on, yes, “reconstruction,” the NY Times reports. In other words, it’s been given to Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, the Bushist fiefdoms of Bechtel and Carlyle, and to arms merchants like Yoshio Kodama’s old outfit, Lockheed (now grown into the gargantuan oligarchopoly Lockheed Martin).
But of course, no one really knows where the money has gone. After all, the Bushists maintain a bewildering array of slush funds for their ever-growing range of “black work,” as Stalin liked to call it: assassinations, paramilitary operations by irregulars in mufti, bribes for warlords, torturers, Central Asian despots. As Slate.com reports, even the recent $87 billion war pork bill contained $9 billion in slush money for Don Rumsfeld to spend at his whim: dark dosh for the various “secret armies” he’s gathering, says the L.A. Times.
Money for torturers, despots, and cronies: but no money no law, no justice for America’s own defenders, drowned in the flood of greed and dominion. Behind all the scripted rhetoric about freedom and “values,” this is the reality of Bush’s imperium.
The Looting of AsiaLondon Review of Books, Nov. 22, 2003 issue
Rumsfeld’s $9 Billion Slush FundSlate.com, Oct. 10, 2003
The CIA Goes CorporateSlate.com, Nov. 4, 2003
The Secret WarLos Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 2002
Assassins R UsTomDispatch, the Nation Institute, Nov. 16, 2003
Bush Can’t Account for Half of Iraq Spending, Senator SaysAssociated Press, Sept. 18, 2003
In Afghanistan, 'Friendly Fire’ [Agents in mufti]Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 19, 2003
U.S. to Seize Iraqi AssetsCNN, March 20, 2003
Pentagon Defends Use of Civilian Clothes for U.S. ForcesAssociated Press, April 4, 2003
Military Stashes Covert MillionsSt. Petersburg Times, Sept. 28, 2003
Get Ready for the American NinjasWashington Post, Feb. 24, 2003
Secret SoldiersLos Angeles Times, June 22, 2003
The CIA’s Secret ArmyTime Magazine, Jan. 26, 2003
Two CIA Operatives Killed in Ambush in AfghanistanNew York Times, Oct. 29, 2003
SAIC: In the Company of SpiesBusiness 2.0, May 2003
US Assassins 'Kill Iraqi Chiefs’ in BaghdadThe Scotsman, March 30, 2003
Bush’s Death SquadsRatical.org, Jan. 31, 2002
Planning for Martial Law? The Shadow GovernmentSalon.com, March 15, 2003
US Plans Hit Squads to Target Al Qaeda WorldwideThe Independent, Aug. 13, 2002
CIA Takes on Major Military RoleBoston Globe, Jan. 20, 2002
America’s Shadow WarriorsDer Spiegel, March 3, 2003
Rumsfeld Weighs New Covert Acts by Military UnitsNew York Times, Aug. 12, 2002
The Pentagon Mindset: Poison Them!The Progressive, Feb. 18, 2002
Bush and Blair’s Friend in UzbekistanThe Guardian, Oct. 28, 2003
The BCCI AffairCommittee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Dec. 1992
Spies Hide as Bank of England Faces BCCI ChargesObserver, Jan. 19, 2003
CIA Plotted Killing of 58 in GuatemalaNew York Times, March 28, 1997
MacMillian Backed US-UK Syrian Assassination PlotThe Guardian, Sept. 27, 2003
IraqgateColumbia Journalism Review, March/April 1993
Bin Laden Money Flow Leads to Midland, TexasIn These Times, October 2001
Iraqi WMD: Made in AmericaThe San Francisco Bay Guardian, Feb. 25, 1998,
A CIA Officer’s Calamitous ChoicesConsortiumnnews.com, May 15, 2003
Gonzalez’s Iraq ExposeWashington Post, March 22, 1993
Bush Administration Uses CIA to Stonewall Iraqgate InvestigationCovert Action Quarterly, 1992
The BCCI Affair: Matters for Further InvestigationCommittee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Dec. 1992
Kissinger, Scowcroft and Arming IraqScoop, Jan. 28, 2003
Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in Time of War Despite Use of GasNew York Times, Aug. 18, 2002
A Tainted Deal: CIA and DrugsMother Jones, June 16, 1998
CIA Admits 'Tolerating’ Contra Drug TraffickingConsortiumnews.com, June 8, 2000
Iraqgate: Confession and CoverupConsortiumnews.com, May/June 1995
Wackenhut: Inside the Shadow CIASpy Magazine, Sept. 1992
The CIA’s Gentlemanly Planner of AssassinationsSlate.com, Nov. 1, 2002
Declassified Files Confirm US Post-War Collaboration With NazisSan Francisco Bay Guardian, May 7, 2001
The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup, 1953National Security Archive, Nov. 29, 2000
CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet’s RepressionNational Security Archive, Sept. 19, 2000
U.S. Documents Show Embrace of Saddam Despite WMD, Aggression and Human Rights Abuses,"
Nixon Rigged 1971 Uruguay ElectionsNational Security Archive, June 20, 2002
JFK and the Diem CoupNational Security Archive, Nov. 5, 2003
CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 DocumentsNational Security Archive, May 23, 1997
Guatemala: Memory of SilenceReport of the Commission for Historical Clarification,"
Firewall: Inside the Iran-Contra CoverupConsortiumnews.com, 1997
Death, Lies, and BodywashingConsortiumnews.com, May 27, 1996
Kissinger Gave Green Light for Israeli Offensive Violating 1973 Cease-Fire,"
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