By Alex Constantine
Free enterprise — it’s free enough no doubt.
Anything they give away you’re better off without.
A little war does wonders for free enterprise.
They used to end on gibbets and dance against the skies,
And now they live on top the town and sport their minks and cars around,
And buy up Congress by the pound, free enterprise.
They gag you if you holler, they kick you if you sneeze,
They throw you in the hoosegow for singing songs like these.
The only way to like it is to close your ears and eyes,
It’s good for G. M. Company, Morgan and the A&P,
But it’s just no darn good for me, free enterprise.
— Malvina Reynolds
“Live Aid Money Aids in Killing, Relief Workers Charge”
The UPI headline on June 11, 1986 was jarring, the story grotesque. A panel of African relief workers maintained that the Ethiopian government under Mengistu Hailemariam — once idealistic in its Marxist aims but increasingly given to authoritarian distortions of socialism — was diverting Live Aid proceeds and other western relief funds to underwrite “a massive resettlement program leading to the deaths of thousands of people.”1
“These institutions make themselves accomplices of a genocide,” said Dr. Rony Brauman, president of the French medical relief group Medicins San Frontiers. “The magnitude of the famine and human rights violations in Ethiopia can only be compared to the Khmer Rouge,” recalling a similar resettlement program in 1976 that killed an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians.
“This for us would be an act of complicity in mass murder if we kept silent.”
UPI: “Brauman and two anthropologists who specialize in the problems of Africa charged that the relief stations set up by relief groups, such as Unicef and Save the Children” — both charities were recipients of Live Aid largesse — “are used as ‘bait’ to draw Ethiopians away from their homes,” a tactical maneuver in the government’s counter-insurgency program. Instead of feeding them, Derg (“Committee”) troops uprooted the starving Ethiopians, who were forced at gunpoint to board trucks for resettlement to concentration camps, then to makeshift villages in unpopulated zones where they could not be recruited by murderous, far-right, CIA-supported Tigray rebels, constituting, in Reagan-speak, “democratic resistance” to the Derg in accord with the administration’s destabilizing third world Contra strategy laid out in National Security Directive 75, January 1983.2
On March 3, 2010 — after a year-long investigation – the BBC reported that tens of millions of dollars raised by Live Aid had been diverted by the Tigrays to buy guns, possibly 95 percent of the net proceeds. Robert Houdek, Washington chargé d’affaires in Addis, confirmed to the BBC that the US government was aware of the genocidal diversion of famine aid funds.
But the report was retracted a full eight months after an obscenity-laced denial from Bob Geldof. The BBC apologized for “errors” in the report. Scores of reporters throughout the media have excoriated the retraction, not the story itself.3 On November 4, the day the BBC rescinded the story and issued an apology, the Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners — a group opposed to the dictatorship that arose from the ashes of Derg rule — released this statement:
SOCEPP was pleased when concerned individuals and the BBC reported, albeit very belatedly, that the aid for famine victims collected through Live Aid/Band Aid and via other NGOs had been diverted by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is now in power, to buy arms from China using Sudanese and Somali user-end certificates. …. SOCEPP was delighted because a crime against thousands was finally exposed and that the rigors of real politic (and Cold War) had finally been cast aside for the truth to come out. That the BBC joined in the exposition of the fact that famine aid was diverted to buy weapons and that many of the donors knew and supported this diversion was a surprising but positive development. The BBC has now recanted and said sorry to Bob Geldof (and by consequence to the other NGOs like War on Want, Save the Children UK, Oxfam UK, IRC, Concern, Goal Ireland, World Vision, Norwegian Council of Churches and many more) declaring that it had “no evidence” to air the program exposing the financing of the TPLF by using famine aid as a cover. That the TPLF diverted famine aid and that it was helped in this by western intelligence agencies out to topple the pro Soviet regime was denounced at the time by various quarters including the dissidents of the TPLF, some Sudanese officials, the EPRP, etc. TPLF leaders who left the organization over the years have also confirmed that Live Aid and Band Aid money, among others, was indeed diverted.4
After the initial BBC report, Ethiopian reporter Hama Tuma of Amnewsupdate offered her own perspective of Live Aid “charity” in the region:
What was really happening was exposed by other insurgent movements like the EPRP back then in 1984 but the Geldofs, sure of themselves, smugly refused to lend an ear. … The Tigrean Front received hundreds of Scania, Volvo, Mercedes and Isuzu trucks and Toyota and other Japanese four wheel drives as well as cash. Thousands of tons of sugar that it received were sold as received in the Sudan itself. The same with grain (called Reagan’s wheat at the time). What was going was not secret. Most of the cash thus obtained was deposited in British banks, in the Saudi American bank in Jeddah and other banks in the USA (found in New York and Washington mostly). Again, this was not a secret to the CIA or to British intelligence, to the Sudan or to Ethiopians living in the Sudan at the time. The persistent call made NOT to give the aid directly to the Tigrean front or to the Mengistu regime as both would not distribute it to the famine victims was ignored. Ethiopians told the Geldofs and the BBC too “we know our crooked politicians and they will starve us to death” but cold war politics was played on the life of the Ethiopians and many perished as a result.5
Some of the charities entrusted with disbursement of the Live Aid millions:
- World Vision is a front for the CIA and Christian Right that, according to a 2009 Swan’s Commentary investigation, serves as “a vital means by which elite policymakers have cynically maintained a disparity of wealth between nations while simultaneously professing to do the opposite. … If you believe in the goals of Christian evangelism, or alternatively are a strong supporter of the US government’s brutal foreign policy, then World Vision is the charity for you. ”6
- The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is also a CIA front. Eric Thomas Chester, in Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA, offers that “throughout the Cold War, the IRC was deeply involved in the volatile confrontations between the two superpowers and participated in an array of sensitive clandestine operations. The IRC thus evolved from a small organization of committed activists to a global operation functioning as one link in the CIA’s covert network.”7
- Charles MacCormack — former president of Save the Children, currently teaching at the Harvard Business School — once wrote in a confidential internal memo: “As communities often receive a small portion of the sponsor’s contributed dollar, they are obviously going to ask questions about where the money goes. All the explaining in the world would not make this question go away or our own strategy look good in an investigative report.” An ABC News PrimeTime Live investigation of Save the Children was titled, “A Different Kind of Child Abuse,” and reported, “much less than 80% goes to the sponsored child and community — often little or nothing.”8
- Karen Rothmyer, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, accused Oxfam officials of making false of statements to the press: “Stories featuring aid projects often rely on dubious numbers provided by the organizations.” She cited reporting by journalist Lauren Gelfand, who took a year off from news reporting to work for Oxfam; “A lot of what Oxfam does is to sustain Oxfam.” Linda Polman, author of the Crisis Caravan, was speaking of the UK charity when she reported: “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Theresa.”9
The mishandling of Live Aid funds was mass murder, a disaster that has only worsened poverty overall in Ethiopia.
Geldof has taken the brunt of criticism for the mishandling of an estimated $100-million in donations to the star-studded “Miracle Show.” But in the intervening decades since Live Aid, not one journalist has investigated the actual culprit in charge of the funds — Michael C. Mitchell, a veteran of the Nixon administration with ties to the Mafia and some of the most corrupt ultra-conservative corporatists in the Republican Party, currently the financial manager of Steve Robertson’s Project Peace on Earth in Castaic, California, a for-profit “charity” patterned after Live Aid, operating under a business license suspended by the state, that nevertheless broadcasts by satellite from Jerusalem once a year.
Universally, without exception, the press has described Mitchell as a “Hollywood producer.” He isn’t. He did preside at Worldwide Sports and Entertainment, Inc., the now-defunct company that produced Live Aid, but he had no role in actual production. That was the responsibility of Hal Uplinger, a former professional basketball player and producer of sports programming at ABC/Cap Cities, the CIA-Mafia front.10
Strictly speaking, Mike Mitchell is CEO of an architectural design firm, McM International Group, Inc. (the initials are eponymous), not a producer, and his office is in the port city of Long Beach, California, a good 30 miles south of Hollywood.
Mitchell is guarded about his past. There is no Wikipedia entry for Mike Mitchell, despite his prominence as financial manager of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and Live Aid, and biographical data on the Internet is scarce. The image that emerges, once many small pieces of the puzzle are assembled, is of a world-class con artist with a progressive profile and an ultra-conservative shadow.
Live Aid Financial Manager Mike Mitchell, hailing from the Nixon administration, posed as an “ABC Executive Producer” (screen capture, left) in a pitch for Live Aid, the famed “concert that changed the world,” televised in the U.S. by ABC/Cap Cities, a CIA front. Mitchell assumes a liberal profile, but he is in fact a Little Hitler who almost single-handedly diverted the lion’s share of Live Aid millions for the Agency under DCI Bill Casey, leaving thousands to starve to death in Ethiopia. The financial diversion — a tactical parallel of the Iran Contra scandal that broke at the same time Casey quickly (and conveniently) perished from brain cancer — laundered by western “charities” with CIA ties, was largely spent on arms and supplies for the Ethiopian rebels, who subsequently overthrew the Marxist government in power and rule today. (Oliver North would call this a “right good idea,” as he did the illegal sale of cruise missiles to a country on the government’s list of terrorist states to fund the Nazi-trained Contras in Nicaragua.) Today, Mitchell heads up an international architectural design firm in Long Beach, CA, and handles financial accounts for Project Peace on Earth, a “New Age” musical “charity” based on the Live Aid model. Project Peace on Earth was founded by Hollywood TV producer Steve Robertson, who hears “voices” in his head, promotes the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” and “Zeitgeist,” the anti-Semitic 9/11 disinfo-conspiracy film downloaded from the web by millions around the globe.
Mike Mitchell is from Oregon.11 An McM International Group pamphlet, prepared for release in China, notes that he was “trained in economics and planning and during his last year at university in 1969 he was selected as one of ten students throughout America to serve on SCOPE (Student Council on Pollution and Environment),” a program established by Walter Hickel, secretary of the interior under President Nixon. “Mr. Mitchell was assigned to the Federal Water Quality Administration. This office became the core agency of the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” He reported to William Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator. “Mr. Mitchell was on the team that helped define the Environmental Impact Statement which became the basis for all environmental impact assessment programs throughout the world.”
Mitchell left the EPA in 1973, the year that Ruckelshaus was appointed FBI director, a position left vacant by the death of J. Edgar Hoover. But it will be seen that Mitchell forged connections in the ultra-conservative reaches of the GOP that would serve him later as the financial manager of Live Aid.
For a year he was a senior manager of Clear Creek, an environmental magazine with national distribution. He was employed in the corporate environmental technology field until 1980, when he was hired to manage the planning and design of the World Expo in Alaska, and “create the first environmentally sustainable community in the world.
“MCM Group International was founded in December 1984 after Michael C. Mitchell completed his tenure as head of planning, finance and operations of the Los Angeles Olympics.”12
The Olympics was a turning point in his career — and the history of the Games. Under Peter Ueberroth, a Coca-Cola director, and 38-year-old Mike Mitchell, the event was corporatized and metamorphosed from a non-profit sporting spectacle with zero assets into “Olympics, Inc.,” a windfall for Coke, among other multinational sponsors. They went for the gold, made a $220-million profit.
The Olympics were privatized and would never be the same.
Ueberroth, a politically-connected predatory capitalist, was president of the LAOOC. His name is typically associated with the 1984 Olympics, but the CEO of the LAOOC was Paul Ziffren, a mobbed-up attorney from Chicago and California’s Democratic Party national committeeman in the 1950s.
Gus Russo, author of Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and Associates Controlled America, reports that movie mogul Lew Wasserman, real estate speculator Ziffren and mob-fixer Korshak fronted for the Mafia in Hollywood.
Dan Moldea, in the opening chapter of Dark Victory, Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob, elaborates: “Korshak quickly became one of the most powerful influences in the entertainment industry and in California politics. One of his key political connections was another former Chicagoan, Paul Ziffren, who at one point was California’s delegate to the National Democratic Committee. (He would not seek reelection after his ties to major organized crime figures were exposed by a national magazine.) Korshak also associated himself with top Republican leaders to hedge his bets — and always have friends in power.”13
Mafia Cut-Out Paul Ziffren
Ziffren, after his departure from the Democratic Party, and William French Smith, who would be appointed attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, partnered in a law firm.
We’ve examined how the money shook out to CIA “charity” fronts, forced resettlements of the bekum mot (“living dead”), the arming of insurgents, the installation of a dictatorship. A close look at the financial chicanery behind the scenes at Live Aid is an education in Reagan-era covert ops.
After the Olympics, Mitchell maneuvered his way into Geldof’s inner-circle. Hal Uplinger: “Mike was the number three man on the games … he was really the financial person in charge. I got to know and like Mike and we became friends. … After the Olympics, Mike met an Indonesian [actually Malaysian] businessman headquartered in London who wanted to fund a company with him. … Mitchell, through his business contact, met Bob Geldof in New York. Geldof told Mitchell that he wanted to do sister concerts, a worldwide television show to raise a lot of money. Mike then called me from New York. … That day was May 1, 1985.”14
The Malaysian businessman was T. Ananda Krishnan, a billionaire oil baron, media tycoon, and a cohort of News International chairman Rupert Murdoch.15
(Murdoch has a place in this story 20 years later, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, when a close associate of the Murdoch family would talk a reluctant Bob Geldof into organizing the Live8 concert, featuring 100 leading music celebrities. “Bono and Richard Curtis were keen from the start, Bob Geldof was concerned that it could never work,” London’s Observer reported on July 2, 2005. Richard Curtis is famed in the UK for his charity, Comic Relief – which, come to learn, has invested millions of pounds in donations in tobacco, alcohol and arms manufacturers, according to the BBC.16 The Observer: “Aside from his own high-profile, Curtis’s long-term partner is television and radio presenter Emma Freud whose brother Matthew is one of Britain’s best known public relations people. He is married to Elisabeth Murdoch, whose father Rupert commands a media empire peerless in its global reach. Freud ensured that useful links were maintained between Rupert Murdoch, Bono and Curtis as well as James Murdoch, Elisabeth’s brother, who runs BSkyB in Britain. Notably, the Murdoch-owned Sun has been one of the campaign’s most ardent supporters.”)
Sir Peter Abeles, Rupert Murdoch’s business partner in Australia, conspired with the CIA to launder Southeast Asian heroin proceeds at Nugan Hand Bank
Murdoch had a few notable CIA and Mafia ties of his own. His partner in his formative years as an Australian newspaper publisher was Mafia kingpin Peter Abeles, instrumental in the founding of Nugan Hand Bank, the notorious launderer of revenue from CIA heroin trafficking. Investigative journalist Sterling Seagrave reports that Bill Casey, chairman of ABC/Cap Cities — broadcaster of both the ’84 Olympics and Live Aid concert — before his appointment as CIA director under Reagan, “was one of the key men in the acquisition of media after WW2. It was one of his protégés (a young German immigrant to the US) who was sent back to Germany after the war to take over Bertelsmann and build it up. Rupert Murdoch was very tight with [Iran Contra’s Ted] Shackley, which is how he got launched on his global acquisitions and has now taken over the WSJ. Murdoch was running a failed national newspaper in Australia while Shackley was station chief in Oz. Then suddenly he becomes a US citizen literally overnight and goes on an endless buying spree. Shackley’s pockets were infinitely deep. At the time, Murdoch was facing the likely closure of his newspaper The Australian. His ticket out was Shackley. This also explains why Murdoch was allowed to break all the rules in acquisition of media in America.”17
Rupert Murdoch/Mike Mitchell crony Ananda Krishnan provided financial backing for Live Aid. Mitchell plied the connection — and bank account — to worm his way into the position of the “charity’s” financial manager. Once inside Geldof’s inner-circle, Mitchell repeated his performance at the LAOOC, and made the rounds of the world’s largest multinationals, “preaching his gospel, selling his products,” as Inc. Magazine reportedt:
“’Helping the less fortunate is good business,’ Mitchell says. ‘There’s more money to be made in hunger than in war.’ Mitchell reports that General Motors Corp. and PepsiCo are among the companies that have now approached him to ‘tailor-make a global village event around their products.’ He has also been approached by several foreign governments. … Arguably, Mitchell’s most ambitious project, however, is to persuade USSR General Secretary Mikail Gorbachev and his family to participate in a seven-nation supershow on Christmas Day 1986.”18
First Mitchell corporatized the Olympics. Now he was doing the same for Third World hunger and CIA coup plots.
But consider Mitchell’s position for a moment. He was surrounded by famous musicians at Live Aid, almost all of them leftists. What if they, or a nosy muckraker from the rock press, smelled a rat and started asking questions? To extricate that eventuality, he hired “auditors” to give his covert operation the appearance of transparency.
On July 1, 1985, Knight-Ridder reported:
Accountants to Keep Tabs on Live Aid
Philadelphia: The organizers and promoters of the July 13 Live Aid mega-concert are being very careful to keep everything on the up and up.
They have cause for concern. Questions about the dispersal of funds raised by earlier charity concernts — notably George Harrison’s concerts for Bangladesh — cast shadows over what were intended as magnanimous gestures.
To avoid questions of impropriety, the flow of megabucks that will flow in — and roll out — via the Live Aid concerts will be scrutinized by accountants.
The financial hawkeye is Stanley Lappen, a partner in Laventhal & Horwath, an international accounting firm headquartered here.
Although one of the concerts and Lavanthal’s main office are in Philadelphia, Lappen’s Los Angeles office is overseeing the event because the Live Aid Foundation was established as a non-profit, public benefit corporation. (The legal work was done free of charge by the Los Angeles law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, according to Sheri Leinwald, an attorney with the firm.) …
Michael Mitchell, executive producer of the concert and president of the Live Aid foundation in America, promises full financial disclosure. “We are more sensitive to the safeguards than you are,” Mitchell said, “because my livelihood is on the line.” …
Mitchell made one ironclad promise: “We guarantee to the public that all of the money they send in (through broadcast appeals) will go to Africa. Period. One hundred percent of all that money goes there.”19
And it did go to Africa, technically, most of it to the TPLF. Mike Mitchell gave himself away with the the selection of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to deal with Live Aid legal work. William French Smith, Ronald Reagan’s personal attorney in California and Reagan’s pick for Attorney General in his first term, was a senior partner at GD&H. (Smith’s obituary in the New York Times on October 30, 1990 recalled that “his espousal of conservative causes led to cries of outrage from civil rights and women’s groups. But the overall effect of his efforts remains cloudy, since many changes were thwarted by Congress or the courts.”) GD&H may be one of the premier firms in LA, the LawCrossing website reports, but “it is far more Washington, D.C. than it is Hollywood. The firm has handled a host of cases with dramatic political ramifications. Famed Gibson Dunn litigator Theodore Olson” — today the Koch brothers’ attorney and a regular opinion-shaper on Murdoch’s Fox News — “helmed the Bush/Cheney side of the debate during the disputed presidential election of 2000. Other notable Washington connections include former partners Eugene Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin, and Ken Starr, Whitewater special prosecutor.”20 And the clean slate that the firm gave BridgeGate’s Chris Christie may go down as the most amusing political scandal of 2014. Business Insider reports: “As expected, the lawyers, who received at least $1 million in legal fees paid for by state taxpayers, exonerated the governor and found no evidence he played a role in last September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge or an alleged scheme to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid funds from Hoboken, N.J. unless the mayor there approved a real estate development.”21
Telltale political ties lurked behind Live Aid auditors Laventhal & Horwath, too, but the accounting firm’s involvement in a litany of fraud cases would only become public knowledge in November, 1987, when it was named as a defendant in a lawsuit that sought $758 million concerning a massive financial fraud orchestrated by PTL founder Jim Bakker.22
In 1988, Laventhol & Horwath was dragged into court repeatedly for its role in multiple fraud schemes:
Laventhol To Pay $15 Million In Suit
By Richard Burke
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 1988
Laventhol & Horwath, the Philadelphia-based accounting and consulting firm, has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a class-action lawsuit for its role in a failed tax-shelter program that bilked more than 2,000 investors.
The settlement agreement was signed Friday, three months after a federal- court jury in Sacramento, Calif., found that Laventhol & Horwath had violated anti-racketeering statutes as auditor for a cattle-breeding venture in which 2,850 investors lost more than $20 million.
The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Raul A. Ramirez, who presided over the trial, before any money can be distributed to investors.
The case is believed to be the first in which a major accounting firm lost a jury trial under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Barry S. Augenbraun, chief counsel for Laventhol & Horwath, yesterday described the settlement as a compromise but called the RICO charges a “gross misuse of the original intentions” of the statute. … Laventhol & Horwath could have been ordered to pay as much as $60 million under the RICO statute. …
The tax-shelter case is one of several legal actions in which Laventhol & Horwath, the nation’s ninth-largest accounting firm, has been accused of complicity in allegedly bogus business schemes.
In June Laventhol & Horwath paid an undisclosed portion of a $4.8 million settlement to shareholders of an Upper Darby computer firm that bilked investors of more than $5 million. Laventhol & Horwath had audited the company’s financial statements, which later were found to be inflated.
In 1986 Laventhol & Horwath agreed to pay a $6.5 million settlement for its involvement with J. David Dominelli, a San Diego businessman who was convicted of fraud in connection with a bogus currency-speculation fund he operated in 1982. At the time, Laventhol & Horwath was auditing a Dominelli commodity pool that contained transactions related to that fund.
In Georgia, a pending shareholder suit charges Laventhol & Horwath with ignoring danger signals in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud investors in the construction of a life-care home for the elderly in Winter Haven, Fla. …
Laventhol & Horwath buckled in November 1990 under the sheer weight of legal defense costs alone.
Live Aid, the “global jukebox,” aired on July 13, 1985, hosted by Dick Clark. The Boomtown Rats were there, and so were The Style Council, Prince, Adam Ant, Ultravox, Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, The Four Tops, Black Sabbath, Phil Collins, Sting, The Beach Boys, Bryan Adams, Mick Jagger, The Pretenders, Santana, Elton John, Madonna, Paul McCartney, and a host of sundry heavyweight starsuckers.
The event raised over $100-million.
Time travel now to November 22, 1985. The Washington Post reports that a lynch mob is pounding on Mike Mitchell’s door: “It began last August, when Live Aid offices in Los Angeles were flooded with hundreds of famine relief proposals seeking to tap the millions raised at a pair of televised rock concerts in Philadelphia and London. Mike Mitchell, a Hollywood producer and one of the Live Aid concert organizers, decided that Live Aid’s Los Angeles operation could not handle the requests for money. Mitchell was also anxious, now that the concert had been successfully staged, to return his full attention to his entertainment business.” As mentioned, Mitchell was not, and has never been, in the entertainment business.
So who did Mitchell contact to see about unloading all of that hard cash? “Mitchell’s Washington attorney, John Ward, a Georgetown graduate and law partner of former Reagan campaign manager John Sears, volunteered to contact the university to see if it might be willing to sponsor a Live Aid center.”
Of all the fixers in the world who would have been pleased to help Mitchell dispense with the Live Aid millions, he contacted John Ward — outside counsel to the 1980 Reagan Campaign managed by ABC/Cap Cities’/future CIA Director/Iran Contra conspirator Bill Casey — a partner of John Sears: a New York State Court of Appeals law clerk, 1963-1965, when he joined Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Alexander, Guthrie & Mitchell, where he worked 1969-70 — and in that period made a harrowing contribution to history at the 1968 Republican National Convention by securing Nixon’s nomination for the White House — then joined Nixon’s staff, served as deputy counsel to the president until 1970, whereupon, at the age of 27, he pushed off to work at the Gadsby & Hannah law firm in D.C., then went on to manage Ronald Reagan’s 1976 run for high office in the GOP primaries against incumbent Ford, nearly winning the nomination, inspiring, four years later, another Reagan run, and Sears was superseded as campaign manager by Casey, but was hired to oversee the national Reagan campaign in Washington – that John Sears.23
But there is more to Ward and Sears than their ties to Reagan, Casey and the CIA, and it relates directly, tragically, to mass starvation in Ethiopia. The Post story neglected to mention that Mitchell’s attorney John Ward was employed at Baskin and Sears, the leading lobbyist for South Africa’s apartheid government in the United States.24
Project Censored reports:
“Justice Department documents show that 31 agents, some with close ties to the Reagan administration, now represent South African interests in the United States, compared with 22 in 1979. The Department’s records reveal that South African lobbying strategy embraces a wide array of social and official contacts on Capitol Hill and in the Reagan administration. Baskin & Sears, a prominent Pittsburgh law firm, has been paid half a million dollars since 1981for its services to South Africa. The firm is head by Philip Baskin, a Mondale fund-raiser, and John P. Sears, the original director of Reagan’s 1980 campaign. Baskin & Sears, a prominent Pittsburgh law firm, has been paid half a million dollars since 1981for its services to South Africa. The firm is head by Philip Baskin, a Mondale fund-raiser, and John P. Sears, the original director of Reagan’s 1980 campaign.”25
The mind reels …
Mike Michell and his attorney couldn’t very well turn the Live Aid millions directly over to CIA Director Casey, so Ward contacted Georgetown University, a school on close terms with the CIA, instead. The Post story reported that university officials directed Ward “to Father Bradley” (a Catholic priest, of course, because Casey was a Knight of Malta), “director of Georgetown’s Center for Immigration Policy and Refugee Assistance (CIPRA). On Sunday, Sept. 29, Bradley met with Live Aid founder Geldof in Washington; in early October, he flew to London to negotiate a final agreement. Under that agreement, all of the Live Aid center’s administrative costs are covered by CIPRA’s own budget, according to Bradley.”
We’ve followed the money this far, so to move on to the Georgetown Center’s budget: “CIPRA’s administrative expenses, totaling about $1 million over the last five years, have been paid for by grants from the Engelhard Foundation, whose endowment comes from a family fortune that originated in South African gold mines.” Human rights activists have been screeching about those gold mines for years. If Geldof had known about the source of the Center’s funding, South African gold mines, would he have gone along with Mike Mitchell’s plan to drop the Live Aid money at CIPRA? Unlikely. So “Bradley said he never informed Geldof or any other Live Aid officials that CIPRA’s administrative expenses have been covered by the New Jersey-based foundation.”
The Charles Engelhard Foundation is named for a modern robber baron, virulently racist Nazi sympathizer and CIA collaborator who made a fortune exploiting black labor:
“Charles W. Engelhard, Jr. (February 15, 1917 – March 2, 1971),” was an American businessman who controlled an international mining and metals conglomerate and who was also a major owner in Thoroughbred horse racing. … On the death of his father in 1950, Charles Engelhard inherited the family business. He substantially expanded operations to South Africa, South America and Europe and built it into one of the world’s leading refiners of precious metals. In 1958, he consolidated the various operating companies into Engelhard Corporation and issued a public share offering on the New York Stock Exchange. As a result of his company’s need for gold acquisitions from South African suppliers, Charles Engelhard became a major investor in the country, acquiring gold, copper and coal mining ventures as well as investing in industrial concerns. He set up a publicly traded holding company in the U.S. that raised capital for investments in South African business. The company made investments alone and in conjunction with South African business tycoon, Harry Oppenheimer, whose Anglo American plc dominated the South African mining industry. Engelhard maintained a residence in South Africa and was elected to Anglo American’s Board of Directors. … Some 12 days prior to the CIA spearheading the rigged South African General Elections of May 26th, 1948 that brought to power for an uninterrupted period of some 45 odd years, the most heinous, the most brutal, the most anti-free market regime in the history of the world, the South African Apartheid Regime … in return buttered so very well their benefactors, beginning with American Charles W. Engelhard and Co.26
That 45 years of scabrous Apartheid rule, ushered in by the CIA under Allen Dulles, lapsed under the Marxist Derg. A Boomtown Rat’s dream of breathing life into the bekum mot restored it.
An American financial atrocity was unfolding, but liberal critics complained that CIPRA wasn’t spending the Live Aid money fast enough.27 By Christmas, 1985, roughly $10 million was disbursed to NGO charities — despite the fact that the Agency for International Development, joined at the hip to the CIA, and the Treasury Department under James A, Baker, were “assisting” in CIPRA’s distribution of the funds.28
Understandably, the Live Aid Trust is extremely guarded about its accounts. In March, 2010, after the BBC reported that a sizable share of the funds had been diverted to arm the Ethiopian rebels, inciting Geldof’s tirade, reporters for England’s Daily Mail contacted the Trust and asked to take a look at the books:
… For its part, the Band-Aid Trust has said it will report the BBC World Service to Ofcom and the BBC board of directors.
Surely, then, they are keen to disprove the allegations. On the contrary, when approached by the Daily Mail, The Band-Aid Trust proved extremely reluctant to hand over its accounts.
Charity Commission regulations require them to keep accounts for only six years.
Eventually, the Trust passed on accounts dating back to 1995. The files for the previous decades are archived, they say, and not available for some time. They could perhaps then be viewed — at a cost.
After much probing, some further figures are released by accountant Joe Cannon, with a message: ‘Please note that there will be professional time costs for extracting the relevant information and responding to your emails, which will need to be recharged to the Daily Mail. We will forward full details of these costs to you in due course.’
In fact, the Trust proves elusive on every point — it does not have an office, questions have to be put, through its accountants, in writing to the trustees, who will decide if they deign to reply.
They do not reply. …29
Mike Mitchell was the Ollie North of the Ethiopia Contra scandal, and this Enterprise, funded by the world’s most popular rock artists, armed right-wing insurgents, leaving an untold number of Africans to starve to death. To this day, however, Bob Goldof and the Live Aid team bask in misdirected admiration from a willfully ignorant press.
The grating sound you may hear in the distance is John Lennon turning in his grave.
1. “Live Aid Money Aids in Killing, Relief Workers Charge”, UPI, June 11, 2986: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2245&dat=19860609&id=7BM0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=NDIHAAAAIBAJ&pg=6973,5966843
2. For details of the forced resettlement, see “1983–85 famine in Ethiopia,” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983%E2%80%9385_famine_in_Ethiopia#CITEREFde_Waal1991
3. See, for instance: Zoe Brennan, “Sorry Bob, Band Aid millions DID pay for guns: Charity’s man in Ethiopia tells his disturbing story,” Daily Mail, March 18, 2010. “Max Peberdy, a charity worker from Christian Aid, carried nearly $500,000 in Ethiopian currency across the border in 1984, which he used to buy grain from merchants. … A candid black and white photograph from the time has come to light, graphically showing the set-up. There is Peberdy — the cliche of the sandal-wearing foreign aid worker — opening a satchel full of Western cash, which is being counted by Araya and Tekleweyni Assefa, director of the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) — a group which was, in effect, run by the rebels. BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar worked in Ethiopia in the early Nineties. He confirms the situation: ‘REST was undeniably the humanitarian wing of the rebel movement. Of that, there is no doubt. The relief agencies had no way of knowing whether the official buying grain for them from REST was an independent local aid worker, or a member of the rebel group posing as one. The TPLF is the most ruthlessly organized and efficient guerilla group I have ever encountered.’ The BBC says that Band Aid’s accounts show that it gave almost $11million to the society and other groups close to the rebels. In response to questions from the Daily Mail, a spokesman for the Band Aid Trust said: ‘Grants totalling $7,207,723 were provided to REST between 1985 and 1991.’”
5. Hama Tuma, “The Charity Business and the Apoplexy of Sir Bob Geldof,” Amnewsupdate, March 17. 2010. http://articles2u.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/the-charity-business-and-the-apoplexy-of-sir-bob-geldof/
6. Michael Barker, “The Religious Right And World Vision’s ‘Charitable’ Evangelism,” Swan’s Commentary, December 27, 2009.
7. See Questia Library website: http://www.questia.com/library/84052038/covert-network-progressives-the-international-rescue.
8. See: http://www.akha.org/content/missiondocuments/savethechildren.html, and
9. Wikipedia, “Oxfam”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfam
10. Andy Boehm, “The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company,” LA Weekly, February 1987, pp. 20-27.
11. Jay Sharbutt, “Live Aid: Good Deeds, Deals” Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1985.
12. McM pamphlet: www.landscape.cn/Special/mcm/images/Michael.ppt
13. Dan Moldea: http://www.moldea.com/MCA.html
14. Jon Eklund, “What Live Aid was and how Uplinger got Involved,” Interview with Hal Uplinger, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Division of Computers, Information, & Society, April 7, 1993.
15. Ananda Krishnan’s “little black book includes names like Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch and Maurice Greenberg, not to mention veteran rock star Sir Bob Geldof, with whom he mounted the Live Aid charity concert in 1985 in London and Philadelphia to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine victims.” http://compsol-successfulentrepreneur.blogspot.com/2011/11/ananda-krishnan-ceo-maxis.html
16. See: “The Politics of Heroin at Fox News – Rupert Murdoch, the CIA, Shackley, Nugan Hand Bank & Crimes of Patriots,” The Constantine Report, November 9, 2009. https://constantinereport.com/the-politics-of-heroin-at-fox-news-rupert-murdoch-the-cia-shackley-nugan-hand-bank-crimes-of-patriots/
17. Among other sources, “’Invisible’ dealmaker billionaire Ananda Krishnan back in spotlight (update),” The Star, March 7, 2012: “Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil civil servant, Ananda rarely makes public appearances. Perhaps the only time he hit the limelight, and that too briefly, was in the mid1980s when he financed the Live Aid concert organized by rock star Bob Geldof.”
18. A. Craig Copetas, “Make Profits, Not War,” Inc., from updated version of the story, January 1, 1986.
19. Stuart D, Bykofsy, “Accountants to Keep Tabs on Live Aid,” Knight-Ridder News Service, July 1, 1985. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19850701&id=QPsRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=F-8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6982,53607
20. Adam Silver, “Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher,” LawCrossing:
21. Hunter Walker, “Read The ‘Bridgegate’ Report Prepared By Chris Christie’s Lawyers,” Business Insider, March 27, 2014.
22. Jeff Brown, “Laventhol & Horwath Plan Okd Former Partners Must Pay,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 25, 1992. http://articles.philly.com/1992-08-25/business/25989614_1_laventhol-horwath-liquidation-plan-bakker-case: “The most important settlement was reached over the weekend, when attorneys for Laventhol met with lawyers representing 160,000 people who claimed that Laventhol’s accountants had helped Jim Bakker, head of the now-defunct PTL ministry, defraud them of $1,000 each for lifetime memberships sold during the 1980s. The PTL group had won a lawsuit against Bakker in North Carolina in 1990 and been awarded $453 million, which it has been unable to collect because PTL was bankrupt and Bakker in prison. The PTL group also sued Laventhol and attempted to make the firm accountable for the award in the Bakker case. But that trial was suspended when Laventhol filed for bankruptcy in November 1990.”
23. For background on John Ward, see http://www.globecom21.com/abMagmt.htm. Also,“John Sears,” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Sears_(political_strategist)
24. Joe Schmitz, “Influential Law Firm Here Lobbying for South Africa,” Pittsburgh Press, February 22, 1984. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19840222&id=r-odAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6WEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2646,3224056
25. Project Censored, “U.S. MEDIA NEGLECT SOUTH AFRICA POLITICS,” undated. http://www.ringnebula.com/project-censored/1976-1992/1983/1983-story7.htm
26. “Spitting Devil rears his ugly head — The hand to ward off the evil eye,” 2FaceTruth website: http://www.2facetruth.com/spitting-devil-rears-his-ugly-head-the-hand-to-ward-off-the-evil-eye/
27. Dennis MacDougal, “Live Aid Money Going to Africa at a Slow Pace,” Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1985.
28. Dennis McDougal, “Geldof’s Edict: Spend It, Now,” Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1985.
The Yemeni government paid the families of those killed or injured in a U.S. drone strike last year more than $1 million, according to documents that provide new details on secret condolence payments seen as evidence that civilians with no ties to al-Qaeda were among the casualties.
The documents, which are signed by Yemeni court officials and victims’ relatives, record payouts designed to quell anger over a U.S. strike that hit vehicles in a wedding party and prompted a suspension of the U.S. military’s authority to carry out drone attacks on a dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate.The records reveal payments that are many times larger than Yemeni officials acknowledged after the strike. The $1 million-plus figure also exceeds the total amount distributed by the U.S. military for errant strikes in Afghanistan over an entire year.[Documents: Final compensation to Yemeni families of those killed or injured in drone attack]The documents also contain other details, including the identities of those killed or wounded in the Dec. 12 operation by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Among them were a father and son with identification cards listing them as associates of a Yemeni organization working to curb Islamist militancy.
ID cards of Abdallah Mohammad Ahmed al-Taisi and his son Ali Abdallah Mohammad al-Taisi. (Reprieve)
The father survived the strike, but his 29-year-old son was killed.
The records were provided to The Washington Post by Reprieve, a London-based human rights organization that has worked in Yemen to document civilian casualties of the U.S. drone campaign.
Kat Craig, a legal director for the group, said the records undermine U.S. claims “that the victims of this drone attack were anything other than civilians” and said the size of the payouts suggest that the Yemeni government — among the poorest in the Middle East — is being reimbursed by the United States.
The records indicate that families of those killed were each given Yemeni currency worth approximately $60,000, with smaller amounts paid to those who sustained injuries or whose vehicles were damaged or destroyed. “In Yemen, that is a life-changing amount of money,” Craig said. “I can’t believe those types of figures would be initiated by the Yemeni government.”
U.S. officials declined to comment on the Dec. 12 strike or any U.S. role in the payments but acknowledged offering money to victims and their families when civilians are injured or killed.
“Although we will not comment on specific cases, were non-combatants killed or injured in a U.S. strike, condolence or other ex gratia payments, such as solatia, may be available,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House, said in an e-mailed statement. She also said the U.S. government “takes seriously all credible reports of non-combatant deaths and injuries” and seeks “to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimize such risk to non-combatants.”
Other U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity denied any U.S. involvement in the payments.
Ali Abdallah Mohammad al-Taisi was killed in a drone strike. (Reprieve)
Yemeni officials also declined to discuss the Dec. 12 strike or the payments, but a Yemeni government official who viewed the Reprieve documents said they appeared to be authentic.
The records make no mention of the United States or its use of armed drones to carry out strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the group’s Yemen-based affiliate is known.
Nevertheless, the documents serve as the only public record associated with the highly classified U.S. drone campaign in Yemen and offer new details of a strike that remains the focus of debate within the United States.
U.S. military officials have defended the attack and indicated that a subsequent investigation determined that al-Qaeda-linked operatives — and no civilians — were killed.
But others in the Obama administration hold different views of the attack, which contributed to concerns among senior lawmakers that the U.S. military is not ready to assume exclusive control of the drone campaign.
U.S. officials have said that both the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center, which was directed by the White House to review the operation, concluded that civilians were probably injured or killed.
The U.S. military has since abided by a Yemen-imposed suspension of JSOC’s authority to conduct strikes in the country. U.S. officials indicated that the restriction is being reconsidered, but for now only the CIA has authority to launch lethal strikes in Yemen.
Airstrikes on Saturday that reportedly killed five militants in Yemen’s Shabwa province were widely described as U.S. drone strikes in media accounts but were carried out by Yemeni aircraft, officials said.
The documents obtained by Reprieve are essentially receipts collected by the government for the cash it handed out.
Recipients acknowledge collecting their share of payments approved by Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi. They were also required to waive any rights to make future financial claims.
“The case is closed” on the Dec. 12 strike in the central province of Bayda, the documents declare in handwritten Arabic script, as well as “any consequences arising from it.” The records bear signatures of a district judge and are dated from May of this year.
The pages spell out a range of payments. Families of the 12 killed in the attack were entitled to 12.7 million riyals apiece, or about $60,000. Fifteen who were wounded could collect about $20,000, with sums earmarked for damage to vehicles and other property.
Overall, the documents account for payouts totaling $809,000 to victims and their families and refer to separate but related payments exceeding $265,000. The sums go far beyond the disbursements of $110,000 in cash and 101 rifles acknowledged by Yemeni officials last year.
Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert who recently published a detailed investigation of the strike and payments to victims, said it was extremely unlikely that cash-starved Yemen would make such large payments on its own.
Even if Yemen was not directly reimbursed by the United States, it collects hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid. In December, the Pentagon indicated that it planned to spend $64 million in fiscal 2014 for “counterterrorism security assistance.”
The U.S. military has in recent years made hundreds of “solatia” payments to compensate victims for errant strikes in war zones, but the payments rarely exceed $5,000 per recipient. A 2013 report by ProPublica cited information from the Pentagon indicating that U.S. forces made 219 payments totaling $891,000 in 2012 in Afghanistan.
The documents also put into question whether the Dec. 12 strike met newcriteria imposed by President Obama last year. In a May 2013 speech, Obama said strikes were allowed only in cases when there was “near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”