Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hooray for Democracy Cha Ching!!

You'd have to be naive to think no hanky-panky would plague those much ballyhooed elections earlier this year in Iraq. Mr. Bush and his boys, and girls, (don't forget Condi!) reassured us the elections would be fair and free, and Washington would stand aside to let the Iraqis decide. Yeah... well, reality is always a little more icky. It seemed only a matter of time for a story on U.S. backdoor dealing vis-a-vis the elections to come out. And now it has in the New Yorker by Seymour Hirsch, about the only Yank journalist holding up the mantel of journalistic ethics. Here's how AFP summarizes what he found:

President George W. Bush's administration sought to influence the outcome of Iraq's January elections, using covert operations to avoid a landslide by Shiite Muslims close to Iran, according to a US magazine article released Sunday. The Bush administration debated last year whether to give direct support to former Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite favored by US officials, and other parties seen as close to the United States, according to the New Yorker. But the plan was opposed by non-governmental organizations brought in to help with the elections, and then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage put an end to the project, according to the article. In the same period, however, "the White House promulgated a highly classified presidential 'finding' authorizing the CIA to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration's view, were seeking to spread democracy," the magazine said, citing former military and intelligence officials. "The finding was general," a recently retired high-level CIA official told the New Yorker. "But there's no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way."

The great thing about the whole thing is how it's haloed in faux legitimacy. The White House issues a "Finding" to justify subverting the democratic process. Makes it sound clean and neat, not some decision reached in some back room in hushed tones. This story is another one you can file away in the soon to be consigned to the memory hole. Yoohoo!

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