Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The vast right-wing conspiracy

From an interview with Richard Carlson by Brian Lamb, proving again that here are no coincidences (I’ve pointed out some coincidences in red):

“LAMB: Speaking of connections, in my research for talking with you I found an interesting connection. First of all, you’re Vice Chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.

CARLSON: Correct.

LAMB: Is there a Chairman?

CARLSON: Jack Kemp is the Chairman. Yes. Is he not listed on there because he’s…

LAMB: I don’t think he’s listed as Chairman.

CARLSON: …he is the Chairman, yes.

LAMB: But I found, for instance, on that, on your board of advisors for that, Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and James Woolsey.


LAMB: And then it pops up on the Libby Legal Defense Trust, the same four, Forbes, Kemp, Kirkpatrick, and Woolsey.

CARLSON: Well, I think – I ensure you it’s a total, it’s totally coincidental. I’ve never had a conversation with any of those people, any one of them or all of them, on the subject of Libby…

LAMB: And you’re on the Libby…

CARLSON: …oh, I’m a good friend of Scooter Libby’s. You know what it boils down to on this, I assure you it’s totally – it’s probably consonant with the political views of the people, but beyond that I actually didn’t realize that Woolsey was active on that.

But it makes sense. They’re friends, Woolsey, anyway, is a friend of Scooter’s. I’ve been a friend of Scooter’s for years. Scooter Libby is a person, in my view, of great integrity and character. He was my lawyer at one time, before he went into the government.

He was – he and Leonard Garment were partners in a law firm, Decker (ph), Price, and Rhodes (ph)…

LAMB: Former Counsel to Richard Nixon, Leonard Garment.

CARLSON: …yes, Leonard, a great guy, in my view, and a good friend of mine. And that’s how I met Scooter, through Leonard. Actually, Scooter represented me – this is interesting, I’ve never mentioned this because nobody ever asked me but I represented Monica Lewinsky in her book deals. I was her book agent.

And I sold the book that My Story book. Anyway, I did. And I did a couple of other things for her having to do with representing her, not a press representation. I stay out of the press, but sort of a praise-eye legal representation.

And when I drew up the contract with Monica it was Scooter Libby who drew it up for me. So, I mean, I was…

LAMB: How did you get into that?

CARLSON: Well, Monica’s mother married – this is, we talk about coincidences, married a fellow who had been, Peter Strauss (ph), who had been Director of the Voice of America in the Carter administration.

Peter Strauss (ph), fine guy from New York, owned Strauss (ph) Communications, which had radio stations and newspapers. And Monica’s mother, after the scandal broke within about six or seven months, that summer, I didn’t know Monica’s mother and I didn’t know Monica but I knew Peter Strauss (ph).

Peter Strauss’s (ph) wife, Ellen Saltzberger (ph), had died two, three years before. He was older. And Peter married Monica’s mother. And then Peter called me and said, that summer, the summer of – the scandal had broken around December, as I remember, called me and asked me if I would come to New York and talk to Monica because they were trying to find ways that Monica could legitimately and at a minimal amount of embarrassment, make money to help pay for her legal fees.

And I could see what the problem was because Peter has children, grown children, Peter was then probably (ph) 75, and the fact that she had these enormous fees, hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably was difficult with his family, I would imagine. I’m guessing.

And her father, who’s a physician in Los Angeles, was not forthcoming about paying for the fees. So I went up and I spent two weeks with Monica across the hall in the Essex House, in a hotel in New York, under assumed names and I went through all of her mail and all of the offers, of which there were hundreds and hundreds of offers of different kinds, some ridiculous, some not, in an attempt to find a way to make money so she could pay these legal fees.

And she had just taken on two new attorneys here in Washington, actually, and DeMorris (ph) and, what’s his name, the other guy, anyway. So I succeeded. And I approached the publisher ultimately and an author and anyway, we did the book and so on.

Now why was I telling you all of that? Because Scooter Libby wrote the contract with me as her book agent but we kept it secret.

Carlson’s organization, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a counter-terrorism think tank, has a Zionist connection (remember, ‘Jewish philanthropists’ = ‘Israel Lobby’):

“LAMB: As you know, there have been articles written that accuse you all, I don’t know if it’s accusation, but it’s a pro-Zionist group, not really interested in terrorism but more interested in Zionism.

CARLSON: Well, I’d say consider the source. They come from the people who use the word Zionist a lot.

LAMB: The American Conservative is one of them. Pat Buchanan’s presentation (ph).

CARLSON: Oh, OK. All right. I didn’t know – oh, I remember that article, actually. It seems not uncomplimentary, in some ways.

LAMB: No, and I didn’t mean it as an accusation. They said that was the foundation and the reason. And a lot of Jewish philanthropists funded this thing in the first place.

CARLSON: That’s not necessarily true, but we do, we run a program for college students and we do it with the University of Tel Aviv, and Tel Aviv University. And we chose Israel because Israel is a country under siege. And it’s a democracy in a part of the world where there are no democracies.

And it’s under constant irregular terrorist attack and threat. So it seemed like a logical place. If you’re going to study certain diseases, you might go Africa. In the case of terrorism, going to Israel is a good place to go.

That may be what’s stuck in their craw. I don’t know.

LAMB: I don’t think it’s stuck in their craw, but one of the things you find interesting is that these organizations often have a lot of the same people on it. The reason I asked you that is…

CARLSON: For sure.

LAMB: …where does this strong motivation come from for these organizations? And I know you’ve seen people give money. Why do they give money to make these things happen? What do they want out of this?

CARLSON: Well, I think in the case of the people on our board, they ask for nothing. And, you know, we have – our board of advisors, and we do have democrats. It’s not all on the right. Donna Brazile is one of them. Chuck Schumer’s another one.

Donna Brazile, whose foreign policy views are pretty damn sensible…

LAMB: Joseph Lieberman.

CARLSON: …in my view. Yes, Joe Lieberman. I mean, there are…

LAMB: Louis Freeh, Newt Gingrich


LAMB: …Gary Bauer, Bill Kristol…”


“LAMB: How do you vet (ph) people that end up on your board of advisors? I mean, do you ever make mistakes?

CARLSON: Well, that’s a good question. No, there’s no formal vetting (ph) process, and most of them are people whose careers are reasonably open and about whom there’s much information to make subjective judgments.

So if you name them all, many of them are well known or reasonably well known. And so…

LAMB: Zell Miller, Richard Perle, Chuck Schumer, Marc Ginsberg, Frank Gaffney, J.D. Hayworth.”

Note that the Foundation is described as non-partisan, as it includes ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’, as long as everybody is firmly Zionist (Israel Lobby at work!).  The backers are pure Lobby (more emphasis in red):

In early 2001, a tightly knit group of billionaire philanthropists conceived of a plan to win American sympathy for Israel’s response to the Palestinian intifada. They believed that the Palestinian cause was finding too much support within crucial segments of the American public, particularly within the media and on college campuses, so they set up an organization, Emet: An Educational Initiative, Inc., to offer Israel the kind of PR that the Israeli government seemed unable to provide itself.

At first, Emet floundered, without an executive director or a well-defined mission. But that changed after Sept. 11, and Emet changed too, into what is now the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The name is different, but the goal of influencing America’s opinion-forming classes remains.”


“What makes all of this possible is the support the foundation receives from its billionaire backers. Its nearly $3 million annual budget comes from 27 major donors, most of whom are members of ‘the Study Group’ – also sometimes called the ‘Mega Group’ because of their sizeable contributions – a semi-formal organization of major Jewish philanthropists who meet twice a year to discuss joint projects.

The group’s membership includes, among others, U.S. Healthcare founder Leonard Abramson, New York financier Michael Steinhardt, Seagrams patriarch and Jewish World Congress president Edgar S. Bronfman Sr. and his brother Charles, and Lynn Schusterman, widow of Oklahoma oilman Charles Schusterman. Some of the group’s projects have been establishing and funding Birthright Israel, which provides Jewish youths with free travel to the Holy Land; a synagogue restoration program called STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal); and the renovation and re-invigoration of Hillel, the Jewish campus chaplaincy. More than a few of these projects have generated controversy among some American Jews, who see this small group of mega-donors exercising considerable influence over Jewish-American affairs. But for all the debate that has attended some of these projects, none before has been as overtly political as Emet or FDD.

Leonard Abramson was the point man for establishing Emet. He, Michael Steinhardt, and Edgar Bronfman were the foundation’s board of directors at the time of its incorporation in the spring of 2001. Their original plan called for Emet to have centers in both the U.S. and Israel, with the Israeli branch to be located at Tel Aviv University under its president, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich. Emet was to have close ties to the Israeli government as well—so close, in fact, that there was some dispute between the mega-donors and the Israeli Foreign Ministry over just whose project this was. On March 9, 2001, three days before Emet’s articles of incorporation were filed in New York, the Forward reported that ‘A[n Israeli] Foreign Ministry source leaked news of the initiative – called ‘Emet,’ or ‘truth,’ in Hebrew – to Israel Radio, portraying the effort as a Foreign Ministry project that the Americans were trying to co-opt.’ According to the Forward, the mega-donors were quick to assert their control in a letter to the Foreign Ministry, saying in part, ‘Either the Ministry will be part of the project or the Ministry will be left out.’

Israel was the focus of Emet’s first and only major project. Emet worked through Hillel to sponsor fellowships for 40 undergraduates from North America to go to Israel, where ‘Hillel experts will help students prepare proactive Israel advocacy action plans for their campuses,’ according to a Hillel press release dated July 10, 2001. At that time, Nir Boms was the only person working for Emet full-time. By the beginning of September, the mega-donors were looking to jump-start the organization. According to a report publishing in the Forward on Sept. 7, 2001, Emet – even before it became the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies – was already looking to recruit Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick, two future FDD board members, to ‘speak out on Israel’s behalf.’ At the same time a prospective board of directors was being assembled, Emet’s backers and their associates were also in discussions with Clifford May about becoming the group’s executive director. When Emet was re-launched as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies shortly after 9/11, May was its president, and Kemp, Kirkpatrick, and Steve Forbes – and also, initially, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) – were on its board of directors.

Money was still coming in from the mega-donors. Edgar Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, together with Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, each gave the organization $250,000 in 2002. (Bronfman and Marcus gave their money directly; Steinhardt’s contribution came through the Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation.) Leonard Abramson, Charles Bronfman, and Lynn Schusterman each gave $100,000 or more individually or through personal foundations, as did several other major donors associated with the Study Group. Dalck Feith, father of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, also gave $100,000. The foundation’s revenue in 2002 came to $2.9 million. In addition to such prominent, high-dollar donors, FDD also boasted a board of advisors that reads like a Who’s Who of neoconservative wonks – Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, and Frank Gaffney among them – and politicians and political activists from both parties, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.). Fully funded, fully staffed, and able to claim support from members of both major parties, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, after a slow start as Emet, was ready to step into action.

Along the way the idea for an Israeli branch was jettisoned. May says he is unfamiliar with any plans there may have been for an Emet center in Tel Aviv. And, although there might be some broad similarities between the Emet fellowship program with Hillel and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ own fellowships, May insists that they are two different things. ‘My conception of what kind of program we should do was rather different,’ he says, ‘… to be honest, I just wasn’t terribly impressed with [Emet’s] conception.’ Israel is still the site for the fellowship program, according to May, because it provides a setting in which students and faculty can see terrorism and counter-terrorism up close.

‘We take them to Israel for the same reason that you’d take them to Kansas to study tornadoes or equatorial Africa to study tropical diseases. It’s a place where you know you’ll see the impact of terrorism and you’ll see a small country fighting terrorism every day. You can, as we did this summer, take our students, who include Christians – mostly Christians – Jews and, this summer, two Muslims, and you take them to the border with Lebanon, and you can say, ‘You see right there? Look through the binoculars, that’s the Hezbollah outpost. Notice that it’s flying a Hezbollah flag, not a Lebanese flag. Now look over there. That’s a UN outpost. The UN does nothing about Hezbollah except to protect Hezbollah.’

May and others at FDD emphasize that the foundation is about more than just Israel, however. If Israel seems especially important, that is in large part because of the extensive experience Israel has had with jihadist terrorism. Jihadist terrorists are of more interest than other kinds of terrorists, such as the IRA or the Columbian FARC, simply as a matter of priorities, FDD says. Andrew Apostolou, the foundation’s director of research, notes that other kinds of terrorism may require more attention in the future: ‘Remember that the worst war crimes of the last decade were committed by Orthodox Christians in the Balkans and these people are perfectly capable of striking out one day, [but] they haven’t yet.’”


“For all that, one will not find anyone speaking in behalf of Palestinian complaints against Israel at FDD. Asked about this, Gordon said that addressing such grievances is outside the foundation’s purview.”


One of Carson’s sons is Tucker Carlson, the embarrassing conservative television talking-head, the other, Buckley, works with Republican pollster/spinner Frank Luntz.  It’s a small world.