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Context of 'September 2003: Republican-Connected Company Partners Up with Firm to Provide Security to Western Businesses in Iraq'

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An alliance of Republican lobbyists form the company New Bridge Strategies to seek rights for major US companies to distribute their products in Iraq. The website states the company has been “created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the US-led war in Iraq.” As one unnamed partner at New Bridge will explain to the Washington Post in the fall of 2003, “Getting the rights to distribute Procter & Gamble products would be a gold mine. One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out 30 Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country.” Another person involved in the company will note that an order signed by Paul Bremer in September (see September 19, 2003) allowing foreign companies to establish 100 percent ownership of firms in Iraq increases the attraction of doing business in Iraq. [Washington Post, 9/12/2003; New York Times, 9/30/2003; Washington Post, 10/2/2003] New Bridge has close connections to the Bush administration and highlights these ties on its website noting that its chairman, Joe Allbaugh, was “chief of staff to then-Gov. Bush of Texas and was the national campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.” The site also says, “The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq.” [New York Times, 9/30/2003] Allbaugh dismisses criticisms that he is using his connections to profit from the war. “The stories I’ve seen have been couched as if people are trying to game the system, and that’s not what we’re about,” Allbaugh tells the New York Times. “We are trying to help Iraq become a capitalist country, and a leader throughout the Middle East. Iraqis themselves are asking for help…. We fought a war, we displaced a horrible, horrible regime, and as a part of that we have an obligation to help Iraqis. We can’t just leave in the middle of the night.” [New York Times, 10/6/2003] Individuals involved in the company include:
bullet Joe M. Allbaugh, chairman. The majority of Allbaugh’s career was spent in Texas politics. He was chief of staff to Governor Bush; later became his 2000 presidential campaign manager, and then was appointed by Bush as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Allbaugh currently runs his own consulting firm, the Allbaugh Company. [Allbaugh Company, 3/17/2007]
bullet John Howland, president. He is currently a principal of Crest Investment in Houston and formerly headed the company American Rice, which was once a major exporter to Iraq. [New York Times, 9/30/2003]
bullet Edward M. Rogers, vice chairman. Rogers served as a deputy assistant to President Bush Sr. and as an executive assistant to the White House chief of staff. In addition to his involvement in New Bridge Strategies, he is also vice chairman of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, an extremely well-connected Republican lobbying firm. Rogers’s wife, Edwina, is an associate director of the White House National Economic Council. [New York Times, 9/30/2003]
bullet Lanny Griffith, a director. He is chief operating officer of Barbour Griffith & Rogers. He served under the first President Bush as special assistant for intergovernmental affairs and then worked under him again as an assistant secretary of education. [New York Times, 9/30/2003]
bullet Jamal Daniel, a principal. Daniel has been an associate of George Bush’s younger brother, Niel, for more than a decade. An investigation by the Financial Times will find that Daniel, along with John Howland, has “attempted to exploit their association with the president’s brother to help win business and investors” on several occasions. “Three people contacted by the FT have seen letters written by Neil Bush recommending business ventures promoted by Mr Howland, Mr Daniel and his family in the Middle East. Mr Daniel has also had his photograph taken with the elder Mr Bush. Such letters and photographs can be valuable props when doing business in the Middle East.” Daniel is also involved in the investment fund, Crest Investment Corporation, of which Howland is also a member. The firm, which employs Neil Bush as its co-chairman, helped fund Neil Bush’s educational software company, Ignite. And according to one Middle Eastern businessman, Daniel sometimes introduces himself to potential investors as a founding backer of the Ignite. [Financial Times, 12/11/2003] Daniel, from a Christian Syrian family, also has links to Saddam Hussein’s Baathist party. The Financial Times reports he “is said to have been involved in the founding of the Baath Party and sustained links with it in both Syria and Iraq even after being expelled from Syria in about 1966 after Hafez al-Assad came to power. Mr Daniel has told friends that when he was young Tariq Aziz, later foreign minister of Iraq, was a visitor to the family home.” [Financial Times, 12/12/2003]

Entity Tags: Lanny Griffith, New Bridge Strategies, Jamal Daniels, Edward M. Rogers, John Howland, Joseph M. Allbaugh

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

The Republican-connected firm New Bridge Strategies partners up with Diligence-Iraq to provide security for companies wanting to do business in Iraq. Diligence vets local employees and partners, reviews potential investments, provides daily intelligence briefs, and supplies security for company personnel and assets. Its fees are based on the level of risk involved. Diligence was formed in 2000 by two former intelligence officers, Nick Day and Mike Baker. Day, an expert in Islamic militant groups, is a former MI5 agent, and Baker was a CIA covert field operations officer specializing in “counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and counterinsurgency operations.” The company employs about 200 people—mainly former members of the US Special Forces, New Zealand’s equivalent of the Green Berets, and the Iraqi military—and has offices in London, the US, Geneva, and the Middle East. Its annual gross revenue is around $10 million. The company works hand-in-hand with New Bridge Strategies, whose chairman, Joe M. Allbaugh, formerly served as director of FEMA under President Bush. In addition to being Diligence-Iraq’s chief executive officer, Baker also serves on New Bridge’s advisory board member. Diligence received its initial financial backing from the Republican-connected lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers (BGR). Like New Bridge, Diligence shares office space at BGR’s office in Washington DC. BGR also provided Diligence with its well-connected chairman Richard Burt, former US ambassador to Berlin, as well as its impressive advisory board. One of the advisers is Ed Mathias of the Carlyle Group. [New York Times, 9/30/2003; Washington Post, 10/2/2003; New York Times, 10/6/2003; Financial Times, 12/12/2003; Independent, 2/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Richard Burt, Diligence-Iraq, Ed Mathias, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Mike Baker, Nick Day

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Senate Democrats are wary of the newly released National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), recalling the highly inaccurate intelligence reports in the October 2002 NIE that concluded Iraq was rife with WMDs and Saddam Hussein was allied with al-Qaeda. That NIE became one of the foundations of the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq, and one of the prime reasons many Congress members voted to authorize the use of military force in that country. During Senate confirmation hearings for Admiral John McConnell, the nominee to replace John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says, “One of the sort of deeply held rumors around here is that the intelligence community gives an administration or a president what he wants by way of intelligence.” Sen. Christopher Bond (D-MO), adds, “[W]e are not going to accept national security issue judgment[s] without examining the intelligence underlying the judgments, and I believe this committee has an obligation to perform due diligence on such important documents.” He adds that previous attempts to obtain intelligence material to back up a 2005 NIE on Iran had “run into resistance.” [Washington Post, 2/2/2007]

Entity Tags: Chris Bond, Dianne Feinstein

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Tom Brokaw.Tom Brokaw. [Source: David Shankbone]NBC anchor emeritus Tom Brokaw defends the media’s performance during the run-up to the Iraq war, and says that it was too much to expect that the media be able to cut through what he calls “the fog of war,” even before the war. In an interview with his successor, Brian Williams, Brokaw says that the coverage “needs to be viewed in the context of that time. When a president says we’re going to war, that there’s a danger of the mushroom crowd. We know there had been experiments with Iraqi nuclear programs in the past. Honorable people believed he had weapons of mass destruction. But there’s always a drumbeat that happens at that time. And you can raise your hand and put on people like Brent Scowcroft, which we did, a very creditable man who said this was the wrong decision.… There was this feeling, that this was a bad man, he had weapons of mass destruction, we couldn’t make the connection that he was sponsoring terrorists or harboring them, we raised that question day after day. But this president was determined to go to war. It was more theology than it was anything else. That’s pretty hard to deal with.… [T]here is a fog of war, Brian, and also the fog in covering war.” Many Democrats, too, went along with the Bush administration’s push to war, Brokaw adds.
Brokaw Considers War Propaganda Standard Procedure - Williams notes that former press secretary Scott McClellan has said that the war was “based on propaganda.” Brokaw replies: “All wars are based on propaganda. John Kennedy launched the beginning of our war in Vietnam by talking about the domino theory and embracing the Green Berets. Lyndon Johnson kept it up and so did Richard Nixon. World War II—a lot of that was driven by propaganda, and suppressing things that people should have known at the time. So people should not be surprised by that. In this business we often bump up against what I call the opaque world. The White House has an unbelievable ability to control the flow of information at any time but especially at a time when they are planning to go to war.”
Rebutting Brokaw - Editor & Publisher’s Greg Mitchell calls Brokaw’s arguments “bankrupt,” and counters several specifics. For Brokaw to say that it was “hard to deal with” the administration’s “drumbeat” for war is specious, Mitchell says: “NBC and others chose to focus on the ‘evidence’ of WMD rather than the evidence that the administration was simply bent on going to war, WMD or not.” Neither Brokaw nor most of his colleagues spent much time focusing on the fact that UN inspectors had found no evidence whatsoever of the WMD programs being hyped by the administration. Mitchell finds Brokaw’s dismissal of the administration’s propaganda efforts disturbing, and writes: “For Brokaw, who has embraced the notion of [World War II] being the ‘good war,’ to put the Iraq invasion in the same class is outrageous. There is a huge difference between admitting that there is a propaganda element to every war—and pointing out that certain wars are mainly based on propaganda and that a country has been misled, or lied, into war. Surely, Brokaw doesn’t think FDR hyped the Japanese and German threat—or was hellbent on war.” Mitchell finds Brokaw’s note that NBC allowed war critic Brent Scowcroft on the air to be disingenuous: “Studies… have shown that such critics were vastly—hideously—outnumbered by war supporters who got face time.” As for Democratic complicity, Mitchell retorts, “What kind of journalist explains a failure to probe the real reasons for a war on others who may not be doing their own due diligence?” [Editor & Publisher, 5/31/2008]

Entity Tags: Scott McClellan, Brian Williams, Brent Scowcroft, Bush administration (43), NBC, George W. Bush, Tom Brokaw, Greg Mitchell

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Domestic Propaganda

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