Friday, October 23, 2009

A Social Event

When Paulson learned that Goldman’s board would be in Moscow at the same time as him, he had [Treasury chief of staff] Jim Wilkinson organize a meeting with them. Nothing formal, purely social — for old times’ sake.

For fuck’s sake! Wilkinson thought. He and Treasury had had enough trouble trying to fend off all the Goldman Sachs conspiracy theories constantly being bandied about in Washington and on Wall Street. A private meeting with its board? In Moscow?

For the nearly two years that Paulson had been Treasury secretary he had not met privately with the board of any company, except for briefly dropping by a cocktail party that Larry Fink’s BlackRock was holding for its directors at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi in June.

Anxious about the prospect of such a meeting, Wilkinson called to get approval from Treasury’s general counsel. Bob Hoyt, who wasn’t enamored of the “optics” of such a meeting, said that as long as it remained a “social event,” it wouldn’t run afoul of the ethics guidelines.

Still, Wilkinson had told [Goldman chief of staff John] Rogers, “Let’s keep this quiet,” as the two coordinated the details. They agreed that Goldman’s directors would join him in his hotel suite following their dinner with Gorbachev. Paulson would not record the “social event” on his official calendar…

“Come on in,” a buoyant Paulson said as he greeted everyone, shaking hands and giving bear hugs to some.

For the next hour, Paulson regaled his old friends with stories about his time in Treasury and his prognostications about the economy. They questioned him about the possibility of another bank blowing up, like Lehman, and he talked about the need for the government to have the power to wind down troubled firms, offering a preview of his upcoming speech.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And So Naturally The Peace Prize

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to an article that Sy Hersh wrote in The New Yorker, where he says, “One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. ‘This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,’” said Tufts University professor Nasr, who went on to say, “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.”

Then Sy Hersh goes on to say, “The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to [the former CIA agent Robert] Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefiting from U.S. support.” That was Sy Hersh in The New Yorker.

I have been watching the mainstream media coverage in this country, and they are immediately dismissing the Iranian leadership’s allegations that this has anything to do with US or British or Pakistani support of Jundallah.

PEPE ESCOBAR: Well, Amy, the thing is, the brother of Abdul Malik Rigi, Abdulhamid, he was captured last year by the Pakistanis, by the way, in Baluchistan, and then he was extradited to Iran. He was executed in Iran, in fact. Last year—if I’m not mistaken, last year he gave an interview to Press TV, the semi-official Iranian TV network, where he explained in—I would say in a reasonable detail how the CIA approached his brother starting in 2003 and offering not only support, but cash. He specifically talked about a $100,000 cash advance by the CIA so Rigi could organize not only kidnappings, but starting to behead hostages live on camera and put it on YouTube. In fact, some of these tapes circulated on YouTube, in fact, some who were beheaded, if I’m not mistaken, in an attack in 2007, these hostages. So there is direct involvement of CIA.

It’s—obviously none of us can prove directly. We rely on sources from captured Jundallah soldiers, in fact, who volunteer their confessions, and many good Pakistani analysts, especially Baluchi analysts who have good connections with Baluchi separatist movements, which is not the case of Jundallah, by the way. Jundallah is a sectarian, anti-Shiite movement. They are not involved in Baluchistan nationalism, unlike many other Baluchi separatist groups. So if we take these confessions and some of this analysis, there’s a very good case pointing to direct US involvement supporting Jundallah, as the West supported the Mujahedin-e-Khalq based in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq against Iran, as the US supports, as well, separatists in Khuzestan province, where the oil of Iran is concentrated, as well.