ed marszewski on 15 Jan 2001 09:46:24 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] COUP 2K PT 1

A great take on GOP coup during the American Election.
This version will appear in lumpen magazine.
POB 47050 CHiLL, 60647  USA

By John Dee

We’re living in the new dark ages
Read about it in the magazine pages.
-The Mutants

     It was the Republicans who first bandied the term "coup d’etat" to 
describe the 2000 presidential election.  Jack Kemp, Dole’s running-mate in 
1996, flat-out called Florida Supreme Court rulings that ordered the votes 
should be counted a "judicial coup d’etat."  The theme was echoed in a 
chorus that included Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, Ann Coulter, 
Rush Limbaugh, and other right-wing propagandists.
     Since then, observers ranging from Studs Terkel1 to the London 
Observer2 have turned the tables and labeled the Bush victory a coup.  But 
how much of this is merely rhetoric?
     During the election crisis, the absence of "tanks in the streets" was 
often cited as a sign that however wacky things were, democracy was still 
intact.  And indeed, the popular conception of a "coup d’etat" is of a 
violent uprising, usually by the military, with shooting in the streets, 
mass arrests, secret executions and torture.  Sometimes even the 
presidential residence is blown to smithereens.
     In reality, this perception of coups is somewhat mistaken.  Strictly 
speaking, that sort of military overthrow is more properly considered a 
"putsch."  Coups are often a different breed of covert action altogether, 
and often much quieter.
     In fact, much of what we just witnessed not only matches historical 
examples from the CIA’s past history of election rigging and outright 
overthrows, but can be found in a respected coup "manual" authored by a 
one-time advisor to President Reagan.  While a detailed analysis of the 
election along these lines would easily fill an entire book, here are some 
key points for consideration.

What is a Coup d’Etat?
     One of the landmark studies of the mechanics of coups d’etat was first 
published in 1968 by Harvard University.  Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook 
was written by Edward Luttwak, a conservative scholar with a long career in 
the national security system.  During the Reagan-era, he served as a 
"consultant" to the National Security Council and the State Dept.  
Currently, Luttwak is a senior fellow of "Preventive Diplomacy" at the 
Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank with 
close ties to US intelligence.  He is also a member of the National Security 
Study Group of the Dept. of Defense.3
     In his study, Luttwak writes that while a coup may have characteristics 
of other, more violent forms of extra-legal seizure of power, "the coup is 
not necessarily assisted by either the intervention of the masses, or, to 
any significant degree, by military-type force."4
     But if a coup does not use warfare or a mass uprising to seize control, 
then where does it get the power to do so?  "The short answer," Luttwak 
says, "is that the power will come from the state itself… A coup consists of 
the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, 
which is then used to displace the government from its control of the 
     Normally, a coup does not seek to destroy the basic structure of the 
existing government, which is more typical of a revolution or a war for 
liberation.  Instead, Luttwak explains, those undertaking a true coup d’etat 
"want to seize power within the present system, and [they] shall only stay 
in power if [they] embody some new status quo supported by those very forces 
which a revolution may seek to destroy."6 (Emphasis in original.)
     In other words, the coup takes advantage of the governmental structure 
itself, as well as the bureaucratic nature of modern governments.  There is 
an established hierarchy, an accepted chain of command, and standard 
procedures that are followed when instructions come down this pipeline.  So 
long as the instructions come from the appropriate source or level of 
authority, they will almost always be followed even if from a new, and 
illegitimate, holder of that authority.
     Luttwak explains that a coup "operates by taking advantage of this 
machine-like behavior: during the coup because it uses parts of the state 
apparatus to seize the controlling levers; afterwards because the value of 
the ‘levers’ depends on the fact that the state is a machine."7
     Thus, by gaining control over a few carefully selected pivotal points 
of power within the government bureaucracy, the plotters of the coup can 
effectively gain control over the entire "machine" of state.
     During the presidential election, the key pivot points proved to be 
quite limited in number, not to mention patently obvious.  The first was the 
state government of Florida, the second the US Supreme Court.  But first, 
every puppet needs a puppeteer.

The Godfather
     Whatever his strengths might be, no one seriously believes that George 
W. Bush has the acuity or connections necessary to plan…well anything, 
really.  Although conspicuously absent throughout the entire campaign, it 
goes without saying that GW’s secret patrone was one of the best in the biz: 
  his father, George Herbert Walker Bush.
     These days, the Bush pater familias is a fairly well-known quantity. As 
the first head of the CIA (or DCI) to be elected President, not to forget 
(or belittle) his eight-year tenure as VP, GHW Bush’s crimes are now 
legendary.  Over the years he formulated, directed and otherwise facilitated 
brutal guerilla wars, coups, death squads, propaganda operations, money 
laundering, assassinations8, and drug smuggling9.  And that’s just for 
     Most importantly in our context, GHW Bush has a documented history of 
using former and active-duty CIA agents in election campaigns.
     During his 1979 bid for the presidential nomination, Ray S. Cline, 
former Dep. Director of the CIA, spearheaded an effort to form a "loose 
organization" of former agents and spooks to back the ex-DCI.10  It didn’t 
take much work; the agents flocked to the cause.  They hated Carter. At 
least 30-40 "retired" agents joined up, and that’s not counting the 190 
members of the Assoc. of Former Intelligence Officers who sported "Bush for 
President" buttons at their annual convention.
     But it wasn’t just "retired" spooks who "helped" Bush during the 1979 
campaign.  Angelo Codevilla, an early Bush supporter, told a 1984 House 
investigation in a sworn affidavit that he was "aware that active duty 
agents of the Central Intelligence Agency worked for the George Bush primary 
election campaign."12
     When Reagan ultimately won the nomination, an old Bush family friend – 
William Casey – convinced him to name Bush as his VP.  Casey was not only 
Reagan’s campaign manager, he was himself a former OSS13 officer and 
soon-to-be head of the CIA.  With Bush on the ticket, the spies climbed 
     What followed was a slew of partisan covert operations that are now 
largely forgotten. But the most important one is still remembered today as 
"The October Surprise."14  It was a covert operation by the Reagan-Bush 
campaign that secretly forged a deal with the Iranian radicals who, after 
overthrowing the US-backed Shah, were holding 52 Americans (including 
several CIA agents) as hostages. In exchange for holding the hostages until 
after the election, the Reagan-Bush team offered the Iranians millions of 
dollars in arms, material, and other considerations.  Sure enough, the 
hostages were held until minutes after Reagan’s inauguration, then 
"suddenly" released.
     Bush and Casey personally participated in the secret negotiations. 
James Baker, who would be Reagan’s chief of staff and Bush’s Sec. of State, 
was also involved. To this day, Bush et al. vehemently deny the plot, but 
their alibis don’t hold up to scrutiny and just such secret arms shipments 
undeniably took place.  Most damning is the fact that other participants, 
including senior Iranian government officials and intelligence operatives 
from several countries, have publicly confirmed they were involved in secret 
     Further confirmation came in 1993, in the form of a six-page Russian 
intelligence report that corroborated much of the story.  The sensitive 
report was released by Russia’s prime minister as a gesture of post-Cold War 
cooperation, in response to a request for information from a US 
Congressional task force investigating the charges.15  But the report was 
suppressed, task force chairman Rep. Lee Hamilton (backed by Henry Hyde) 
sandbagged the rest of the inquiry, and the final verdict was that there was 
"no credible evidence" of a secret deal.  The "investigation" was such a 
sham that Hamilton publicly exonerated Bush (by then the president) before 
it even started.16
     By engaging in renegade "foreign policy," the Reagan-Bush team undercut 
President Carter’s own secret efforts to free the hostages and thereby stole 
the White House.  It was, in fact, a coup d’etat.

Banana Repugnant
     On election day, after Florida was first called for Gore, candidate 
Bush was indignant while speaking with reporters.  It was just impossible, 
he said.  His big brother Jeb had "promised to deliver the state" for him.  
More telling words are rarely spoken.
     Consider, if you will, the history of John Ellis "Jeb" Bush.17  This is 
no Jeb-come-lately: not only is he a party veteran, but his documented ties 
to covert operations are worthy of his family heritage.
     During the mid-‘80s, while head of the Dade County Republican Party, 
Jeb served as a secret White House liaison to Contras and allied anti-Castro 
Cubans operating out of Miami.  Jeb publicly denied any such connection, 
telling the Washington Post in 1986 that while he supported the Contras "I 
have not been involved in aiding them directly."18  Of course he had to deny 
it: at the time supporting the Contras was against the law.
     But less than a year later the Miami Herald uncovered a letter he had 
written in 1985 to a right-wing Guatemalan who was seeking to establish a 
medical brigade for the Contras.  "My staff has been in contact with Lt. 
Col. North concerning your projects," Jeb wrote.  He also named a member of 
his own staff, dedicated to Contra liaison, whom Castejon could contact 
directly. It was further revealed that Jeb was routinely forwarding similar 
contacts directly to his father who, as Vice President, was secretly in 
charge of managing all US covert operations.19
     During the same period, Jeb was involved in a different, elaborate 
scheme that was a combination covert medical effort for the Contras, 
Mafia-backed bust-out, and "fundraising" scam for right-wing Cuban exiles.  
It involved a billion-dollar HMO called International Medical Centers (IMC), 
which at the time was one of the largest in the country.  Headed by a 
right-wing Cuban named Miguel Recarey Jr., the HMO became embroiled in a 
dizzying array of criminal activities:  international money laundering, 
massive Medicare fraud, bribes to government and union officials, and even 
gun running.  Even legendary Mafia kingpin Santo Trafficante Jr. was an 
"investor" in the HMO.  Strangest of all, IMC was a veritable den of spies.  
According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, IMC "engaged at least a 
dozen people who had worked in foreign intelligence," including one fellow 
whose resume "claimed training by both the CIA and the KGB, plus work for 
the Cuban DGI."20
     Jeb’s role was tailor-made for the son of a Vice President.  In 
exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in "consulting fees", he helped to 
smooth things with nosey regulators and secured special exemptions to 
bothersome rules.  Naturally, he also served as a secret conduit to the 
Reagan White House.
     In a separate case, federal prosecutors tied Jeb Bush to a Contra 
cocaine smuggler named Leonel Martinez. While it is not certain whether Jeb 
was fully aware of Martinez’s drug activities, there is no question that he 
gave over $10,000 in "contributions" to Jeb’s party coffers, a Bush-run PAC 
and the 1987 Bush for President campaign.21
     There is also the matter of Jeb’s support for admitted anti-Castro 
Cuban terrorists, Orlando Bosh and Luis Posada – two of the bloodiest 
anti-Castro terrorists around.  Most of their activities have had the 
backing, tacit or otherwise, of the CIA.  They were also deeply involved in 
the CIA-assisted plot to assassinate Orlando Letelier, the foreign minister 
to overthrown Chilean president Salvador Allende, who was killed by a 
car-bomb in downtown Washington, DC.  As the CIA director at the time, the 
elder Bush had played a key role in the plot.22
     In 1988, Bosh was convicted of a terrorist attack and sent to a Miami 
prison.  In 1990, Jeb Bush took it upon himself to lobby his father for 
Bosh’s release.  Naturally, the pleas were well-received and Bosh was once 
again free to kill innocent people (and help the CIA).
     The current relevance is that two Bosh comrades, Posada and Guillermo 
Novo, were recently arrested in Panama in a foiled plot to assassinate Fidel 
Castro during a Latin American summit.  They, along with two others, were 
apprehended Nov. 17 – only 10 days after the US election.  Posada has now 
confessed they had planned to do the hit with a car bomb (a la Letelier) but 
aborted at the last moment, supposedly because "too many innocent people 
would be hurt."23  We are to believe that the unexpectedly-contested 
election of their familia especiale had nothing to do with it.

     And let us not forget Florida Sec. of State Katherine Harris.  Within 
days of the election, Governor Jeb recused himself to avoid the "perception" 
of a conflict of interest.  At that point, Harris became the single most 
important member of the Florida executive branch as far as the election was 
concerned: she had the sole authority to certify the winner.
     Harris herself had overwhelming grounds for recusal.  Not only did she 
co-chair the Bush 2000 campaign in Florida, but it was well-known that she 
was under serious consideration for a cushy ambassadorial post in Europe.  
All the negative publicity may have soured that prospect, but post-election 
press reports indicate she is still in the running for a Latin American 
     But would the sudden absence of a key player like Jeb Bush have a 
negative impact on a coup plot?  Not necessarily.  As we have seen, absence 
of an overt role in no way precludes a covert role.  Plus, as Luttwak 
explains in his study, having an identifiable (or even titular) leader is 
actually a disadvantage during the active phase.

With detailed planning, there will be no need for any sort of headquarters 
structure in the active stage of the coup; for if there is no scope for 
decision-making there is no need for decision-makers and their apparatus. In 
fact, having a headquarters would be a serious disadvantage: it would 
constitute a concrete target for the opposition and one which would be both 
vulnerable and easily identified. …The leaders of the coup will be scattered 
among the various teams, each joining the team whose ultimate target 
requires his presence….24

---END PART 1___
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