LI is planning on going out later today and getting champagne. We are also making – from a recipe forwarded to us by our invaluable friend, S. – cigarette borek. And then we are going to a friends house to watch the destruction of the Coup – or so we have high hopes.

Not that the Coup isn’t leaving as much poison behind as possible. Naomi Klein’s column in the Guardian, today, is an excellent piece of reporting about the venture vultures who have looked at Iraq as the kind of pickings worthy of… well, the Carlyle Group. LI first became aware of the Carlyle Group after 9/11, when there was a paranoid story linking the WTC mass murder to the group. This is what we said back then:

"Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, reacted with disbelief to The Wall Street Journal report of yesterday that George H.W. Bush, the father of President Bush, works for the bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm. The senior Bush had met with the bin Laden family at least twice. (Other top Republicans are also associated with the Carlyle group, such as former Secretary of State James A. Baker.) The terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had supposedly been disowned by his family, which runs a multi-billion dollar business in Saudi Arabia and is a major investor in the senior Bush s firm." If you read further in the article, you'll find that Judicial Watch, the public interest firm that spreads intellectual corruption like an infected rat spreads plague, has no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden's ties with his family's business haven't been cut. But witchhunting groups racial profiling happily through the Wall Street Journal don't care, really.

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me at all if O. bin Laden did have money in the Carlyle group, but it wouldn't surprise me, either, if he had money in Judicial Watch -- the way investment has been freed up from those national agencies that wish to track it is pretty well known among real public interest groups.”

Little did we know that even the left (re Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11) would be complicit in anti-Arab racebaiting.

However, the CG deal with Iraq is a different story. We were puzzled, when the Big Eight met this summer, that Bush never pushed Chirac on canceling Iraq’s debts. This, we think, would be fairly popular in France, especially among the socialists. And surely picking on France is about the most popular thing Bush could do for his base. And, officially, the U.S. line has been to forgive the debts that Iraq rang up.

However, that official policy hasn’t reached down to the absurd insistence of the rich state of Kuwait that Iraq pay war reparations in perpetuity.

As Klein revealed in the Nation, the Carlyle Group, which boasts of two disgusting vultures, Dem Margaret Albright and Rep James Baker, has been quietly trying to get guarantees that Iraq will make good on the reparations. Since James Baker is also the official Bush delegate to creditor countries on behalf of Iraq, this is quite a conflict of interest. After the story broke, the CG publicly distanced themselves from that role. And so, supposedly, lost their chance for a billion dollar commission.

But it turns out that there is no paper proof that CG actually is backing off. It is the Jackel’s word we are supposed to be taking. Here are three paragraphs displaying the unedifying spectacle of the wealthiest squeezing the poorest for their medical money, while the U.S. government stands by, in its occupying role, playing the hypocritical role of helpless bystander. I believe there is a slang word for it in Dickens that I haven't been able to find – the word for the pickpocket’s assistant who obstructs the victim once the victim becomes aware of the crime, thus helping the perp to escape.

“The central question remains unanswered by the White House: have Baker's business interests compromised his performance as debt envoy? That question does not go away simply because $1bn will stay in the coffers of a wealthy oil emirate rather than in a Carlyle equity fund. The week after losing the deal, Carlyle handed a record-breaking $6.6bn payout to investors.
In Iraq, the last 18 months have been markedly worse, and the stakes for Baker's job performance there are considerably higher. This was underlined on October 13, when Iraq's health ministry issued a harrowing report on its post-invasion health crisis, including outbreaks of typhoid and TB and soaring child and mother mortality rates. A week after the report, Iraq paid out another $195m for war reparation debts, mostly to Kuwait. Meanwhile, the state department announced that $3.5bn for water, sanitation and electricity projects was being shifted to security in Iraq, claiming that, according to deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, debt relief is on the way.

Is it? In fact, Iraq is being plunged deeper into debt, with $836m in new loans and grants now flowing from the IMF and the World Bank. Meanwhile, Baker has not managed to get a single country to commit to eradicating Iraq's debts. Iraq's creditors know that while Baker was asking them to show forgiveness, his company was offering Kuwait a special side deal to push Iraq to pay up. It's not the kind of news that tends to generate generosity and goodwill. And the timing couldn't be worse: the Paris Club is about to meet to hash out a final deal on Iraq's debt.”