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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:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”