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President Bush recently called for an end to the “reign of fear” in Burma and announced new sanctions against the military dictatorship in that country, telling the United Nations it should “help the Burmese people reclaim their freedom.” But it’s worth noting that not so long ago, a major Republican lobbying firm, whose employees included a long-time friend of the president’s, was lobbying the administration on behalf of the Burmese generals.
The firm in question is called DCI Associates. It also works for a number of major corporate clients, including Google. According to its website, DCI employs “a campaign-style approach to help [clients] address their most critical communications and public policy challenges . . . Our firm consistently delivers results that surpass our clients’ expectations.” CEO Doug Goodyear formerly served as political director for the Colorado state GOP; founding Partner Tim Hyde worked for R.J. Reynolds between 1988 and 1997 and has held several national and state political positions, including the post of Deputy Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Back in 2002, DCI signed a $35,000 per month deal to work for the Burmese junta, which calls itself the State Peace and Development Council (it was previously called the State Law and Order Restoration Council until one of the generals figured out that name might not be good for PR). A lead lobbyist for the generals was Charles Francis, chairman of the Republican Unity Coalition (RUC), which describes itself on its website as “a relatively new name in gay political circles.” One triumph, the site says, was when Francis “managed to bring Mary Cheney, the Second Family’s daughter and a former gay and lesbian outreach operative for the Coors brewery, out of the shadows of Colorado and on to the RUC advisory board.” The website also says that Francis’ relationship with Bush (“which is a major asset for his RUC activities”) dates to Texas, when his brother Jim chaired GWB’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign, when Bush defeated Democratic incumbent Ann Richards.
The deal with Burma called for DCI to help identify “potential means of improving relations” between Burma and the United States. Issues to be addressed included the “War on Terrorism,” “human rights,” and the “War on Drugs,” which turned out to be the focus of the contract.
DCI had its work cut out for it, given that Burma is one of the world’s largest producers of heroin and the generals are known to have close ties to international drug traffickers. A Washington Post story in late 2002 said that thanks to DCI, the State Department was “close to recommending Burma’s removal froma list of ‘major’ drug producers,” which would have allowed the junta “to press for significant counternarcotics funding.” The story cited a speech by Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly, who had pointed to Burmese efforts on drugs as a rare bright spot in a “most frustrating challenge for American diplomacy.”
Ultimately, the State Department backed away in the face of protests from Congress, where some of the more finicky members were troubled by the junta’s use of rape against civilians as a weapon of war. In 2003, Burma terminated its deal with DCI.
Incidentally, Burma employed two other lobby shops with strong GOP connections during the 1990s–Jefferson Waterman International, and a firm headed by Edward von Kloberg. Both quit because they were disgusted by the junta–not for its human rights record, but because it stiffed them for fees. Von Kloberg committed suicide two years ago, jumping from a castle in Rome with a copy of a 1997 issue of Prime magazine whose cover featured a picture of him with President George H.W. Bush. Draw your own conclusions.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount of time a child spends in Santa Claus’s lap at Macy’s (in seconds):
Beer does not cause beer bellies.
Following the arrest of at least 10 clowns in Kentucky and Alabama, Tennesseans were warned that clowns could be “predators” and Pennsylvanians were advised not to interact with what one police chief described as “knuckleheads with clown-like clothes on.”
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”