Shorter Question Everything
You know the guy, Ben-Menashe, of Iran Contra, October Surprise [1980 version with Bush in Paris on behalf of Reagan] and all sorts of shady deals fame? yeah, him. Now his place in Montreal has been firebombed, but nothing to see here, right?
• The investigation of the firebombing of the upscale Montreal home of ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe is looking at the possibility the accelerant was more sophisticated than available to common criminals.
• FLASHBACK: The long reach of Ari Ben-Menashe. [12 Nov 2011]
One of Ari Ben-Menashe’s arms deals landed him in a U.S. jail for nearly a year. He was, he claims, an Israeli spy who was directly involved in the Iran-Contra affair. His food-export businesses seemed to produce more lawsuits than grain shipments. He helped manufacture the “evidence” that resulted in treason charges against Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, and his 2003 testimony in the subsequent trial led the judge to brand him “unreliable and contemptuous.”
But none of that has prevented members of Canada’s corporate elite from doing business with the notorious lobbyist. On Thursday, Arthur Porter resigned as chairman of Canada’s Security Intelligence Review Committee after the National Post exposed his dealings with Mr. Ben-Menashe.
The Post has now learned that a senior partner at one of Canada’s largest law firms also has a business relationship with Mr. Ben-Menashe.
Jacques Bouchard Jr., director of international business at Heenan Blaikie LLP, met the president of the Central African Republic last year and signed a contract on behalf of Mr. Ben-Menashe that promised to obtain “at least a dozen” Russian attack helicopters for the small African nation.
…Mr. Ben-Menashe, 59, is a former Israel government employee who claims to have been intimately involved in some of that country’s secret intelligence operations in the 1980s. In 1989 he was arrested in the United States and charged with illegally attempting to sell three military aircraft to Iran. He went to trial in New York and spent 11 months in jail before eventually being acquitted. Since settling in Canada, he has been involved in many controversial deals involving foreign governments. A grainy videotape shot in Mr. Ben-Menashe’s Montreal office of Zimbabwe’s then opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, seeking to “eliminate” the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, led to a treason trial in Harare. Mr. Tsvangirai was acquitted after the judge concluded there was no evidence of an assassination plot.
More on Created Terror
• The owner of a Texas dry cleaning business who was arrested in October had fraudulent CIA credentials, various weapons and camouflage items including raid gear, according to a federal search warrant obtained by NBCDFW.com. Until his Oct. 2 arrest, Azeez Al-Ghaziani, 30, owned a dry cleaner in the city of Hurst. Found: fraudulent CIA credentials; Department of Defense military credentials; assorted digital camouflage items; body armor carrier; raid jacket with duty belt; and half-gram of white powder which tested positive for methamphetamine. Al-Ghaziani, a one-time soldier in the U.S. Army, is from Fort Worth, his attorney said.
• Army opens new CBRNE research facility. The U.S. Army recently unveiled a new shared resource meant to support applied and basic research projects related to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive issues. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center officially launched the Proteomics Core Facility on October 10. The resource will be used to support the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Joint Science and Technological Chemical and Biological Defense Program along with the missions of the two institutions to prevent soldiers from biological and chemical agents. The organizations will support sponsored research in the facility related to whole transcriptome analysis, expression analysis, microRNA and whole genomic sequencing and finishing. The facility meets a need for both the MRICD and ECBC.
• East Germany’s secret police sold citizens to western pharmaceutical companies to use as human guinea pigs in drug trials. Tens of thousands of sick people in the former German Democratic Republic were treated with medicines not approved in the West to see how effective they were. Details of the top secret project have been unearthed in the files of the Stasi secret police in Berlin. The communist regime profited with millions in hard currency. The practice was exposed by journalists Stefan Hoge and Carsten Opitz and screened this week in Germany in a disturbing documentary entitled ‘Test and Dead’. The Stasi files – miles and miles of yellowing paperwork which the hated secret police of East Germany failed to destroy when the country imploded in 1989 – revealed details of how it became one of the most important testing arenas for western drug companies. The conspiracy involved the state, doctors and western big pharma firms.
• Thousands of US troops arrive near Syrian shore on USS Eisenhower. The USS Eisenhower, an American aircraft carrier that holds eight fighter bomber squadrons and 8,000 men, arrived at the Syrian coast yesterday in the midst of a heavy storm, indicating US preparation for a potential ground intervention. While the Obama administration has not announced any sort of American-led military intervention in the war-torn country, the US is now ready to launch such action “within days” if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decides to use chemical weapons against the opposition, the Times reports.
• Clinton to Discuss Syrian Conflict With Russian Counterpart. A new round of diplomacy on the conflict in Syria will begin on Thursday afternoon when Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy, hosts an unusual three-way meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov.
• Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed with opposition protesters outside the presidential palace Wednesday in the fiercest violence of the country’s two-week-old political crisis, pelting each other with stones and molotov cocktails and intensifying the pressure on Egypt’s embattled new government. Three of Morsi’s advisers resigned Wednesday evening over the conflict, which has pitted Egypt’s first democratically elected president and his Islamist backers against a broad coalition of liberals, secularists, human rights activists and loyalists to the old regime. Analysts and protesters said the deepening crisis could soon provoke intervention by the country’s military. Supporters and opponents of Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi fought with rocks, firebombs and sticks outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday. Each side accused the other of stoking the violence outside the palace, which health officials said left more than 120 people injured. At least five have been killed in the unrest, Egyptian state television said.
• ElBaradei appointed general coordinator of opposition group, threatens nationwide protests. ElBaradei’s warning came at a press conference Tuesday night attended by the leaders of the National Salvation Front, including Sabbahi and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa. The National Salvation Front is a coalition of political powers opposing Morsy’s 22 November constitutional declaration, which gave him the ability to override judicial decisions. The front brings together ElBaradei of the Constitution Party, Sabbahi of the Popular Current Party, Moussa of the Conference Party, Al-Sayed al-Badawy of the Wafd Party, and other political figures. ElBaradei held Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the violent clashes at the presidential palace in Heliopolis between pro- and anti-Morsy protesters.
• Pentagon planning for multinational military operation in Mali. U.S. military planners have begun to help organize a multinational proxy force to intervene next year in Mali, the famine-stricken, coup-wracked African country that has become a magnet for Islamist extremists, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The international force would be led on the ground by several thousand Malian and West African troops but would receive extensive support from the Pentagon and the State Department, which would help train, equip and transport the troops, Obama administration officials said.
• Near-brawl erupts in House of Commons between Tory minister, NDP leader. Peter Van Loan, the government’s House leader, appeared to set off the incident when he stormed across the floor of the Commons to confront his NDP counterpart, Nathan Cullen. Microphones were shut off but video tape shows Van Loan waving his finger at Cullen and speaking in a heated manner. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Cullen’s seat mate, stands up, whereupon a number of New Democrats surround Van Loan and appear to urge him to leave. Finally, Defence Minister Peter MacKay rushes over, puts his hand on Van Loan’s shoulder and ushers him back across the centre aisle of the Commons to the government benches. The contretemps was sparked by an NDP attempt to have a vote on the government’s omnibus budget bill ruled invalid because Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had been absent, even though he was named as the mover of the motion to pass the bill.
• Canada’s immigration minister on Wednesday identified a human-smuggling ring that brought 85 Romanian nationals into Canada in waves over the past year, via Mexico and the United States. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney described the operation as “very well organized,” explaining how the illegal migrants flew from Romania to Mexico, where they did not require a visa to enter, and would typically spend a few days in Mexico before illegally crossing into the United States. Then they would drive by car to Canada and request asylum, he said. Most of them ended up in Toronto, but some also settled in Montreal, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, the minister said.
• Fears about the health of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, have re-emerged since his unexpected trip to Cuba last week for follow-up treatment after undergoing chemotherapy and surgery earlier this year. In a letter the national assembly, which had to approve the trip, Chávez said the treatment would include hyperbaric oxygenation, which involves breathing pure oxygen inside a sealed chamber, to repair bone and tissue damage from radiation treatment. Chávez, who was diagnosed with an unspecified type of cancer 18 months ago, has not been seen in public since 15 November, when he held a meeting with ministers.
• The Oklahoma State Supreme Court struck down a state law mandating women hear a description of their fetus while having an ultrasound image shown to them before having an abortion. It also ruled a ban on drugs used to end pregnancies was unconstitutional. Oklahoma lawmakers passed the restrictive abortion law in 2010, but lower courts prevented its implementation, citing a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Associated Press reported. The state Supreme Court decision Tuesday ruled that the lower courts were right in following the higher court’s mandate.
• Property magnate Donald Trump has gone to war with one of the world’s largest whisky companies after it sponsored an award given to an arch critic of his controversial Scottish golf course. In what is emerging as the battle of the billionaires, Trump said he has banned every brand of whisky sold by William Grant & Sons from his resorts and hotels after Michael Forbes, his obstinate neighbour in Aberdeenshire, was voted Top Scot in a ceremony sponsored by the distiller’s top brand, Glenfiddich. The closest resident to Trump’s golf course, Forbes won the award last week after a public vote, beating the Olympics tennis gold medallist and New York open winner Andy Murray. … William Grants & Sons gave short shrift to Trump’s criticisms, which he first aired on Twitter on Tuesday, insisting it had nothing to do with the voting for the award, which Glenfiddich has sponsored for 15 years. …“Top Scot is a totally open category in which the people of Scotland can vote for whomsoever they choose and Glenfiddich has no influence on this decision. [The] Top Scot may be one of that year’s category nominees or may come from any walk of life. The person receiving the greatest number of votes, cast by the people of Scotland, wins the award.”
• Evidence released in the case of the Florida watch volunteer who fatally shot an unarmed teen included testimony claiming racism in the local police department. The latest batch of evidence in the George Zimmerman case released Tuesday included details about Zimmerman’s interest in law enforcement and testimony alleging racism and sexism in the Sanford Police Department, which initially investigated the incident in which Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black youth, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Among the newly released documents were FBI reports that are part of a civil rights investigation into the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, including interviews with Sanford police, Zimmerman’s neighbors and at least one co-worker. One witness, Sanford Senior Project Manager Andrew Thomas, described the police as a “good old boys network.”